2 Kings 18

Hezekiah and Sennacherib


Hezekiah the son of Ahaz, king of Judah, became king (2 Kings 18:1).

At least nine seal impressions have been discovered that once belonged to Hezekiah and bear his name. Although they vary somewhat, most bear an inscription reading “Belonging to Hezekiah, [son of] Ahaz, king of Judah.” Like the one shown here, they all feature Egyptian iconography; in this case, the central figure is a winged sun disk, flanked by a set of ankhs (the Egyptian symbol of life). In addition to these seal impressions, at least another 20 are known that belonged to men identified as servants of Hezekiah. This makes Hezekiah’s rule one of the best-attested epigraphically among the kings of Judah.


He removed the high places, and broke the pillars, and cut down the Asherah (2 Kings 18:4).

Archaeological evidence for Hezekiah’s reforms has been discovered at Lachish, Arad, and Beersheba. The blocks of this sacrificial altar were discovered in secondary use in the walls of a storehouse. The excavators suggested that it was dismantled by Hezekiah as part of his religious reforms. The large size of the altar indicates that it was used for sacrifice. Note the horns that are located at each corner, as well as the snake figures that are etched on the face of the corner block. The altar was reconstructed by the archaeologists and is now on display at the Israel Museum.

"LMLK" Jars

Then he rebelled against the king of Assyria and did not serve him (2 Kings 18:7).

There are a number of indicators in the archaeological record that Hezekiah made extensive preparations for a potential conflict with Assyria. One was the development of a new system for systematically collecting and storing goods against a siege. The jars are four-handled amphora, like the one pictured here, and held 9–14 gallons (34–53 liters). At least one handle on each jar was stamped with a seal featuring the inscription “LMLK,” that is, “belonging to the king.” It is commonly thought that these jars were intended to hold wine or olive oil. The specimen shown here has a stopper covering its mouth. G. M. Grena has written the most detailed study of these seal impressions, and he argues that they belong to collections of tithes made for the Lord (“the king”) throughout Hezekiah’s reign.

Sennacherib in Judah

Now in the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah, Sennacherib king of Assyria came up against all the fortified cities of Judah and took them (2 Kings 18:13).

Sennacherib’s campaign is one of the most well-attested events in biblical history, attested in both biblical and secular sources. Pictured here is the Taylor Prism, where Sennacherib records, “As for Hezekiah, the Judean, I besieged forty-six of his fortified walled cities and surrounding smaller towns, which were without number.” Sennacherib’s claim does not appear to have been an exaggeration.

The Lachish Reliefs

And Hezekiah king of Judah sent to the king of Assyria to Lachish (2 Kings 18:14).

In Sennacherib’s new palace in Nineveh, he had his throne room decorated with a series of reliefs celebrating his victorious battle at Lachish. When these reliefs were excavated by Sir Austen Henry Layard in 1845 to 1847, they were shipped to the British Museum where they were installed in a room resembling Sennacherib’s throne room. The panels are arranged in the same order as in the original palace (with portions not preserved), so that the visitor today can follow the progress of the battle and marvel at Sennacherib’s great achievement.

Purchase the Collection:

2 Kings (Photo Companion to the Bible)

FREE Shipping plus Immediate Download