Hezekiah – An Early Day Engineer
by John C. Westervelt
Israel, the Northern Kingdom, worshiped false gods, so the Lord sent them into exile in Assyria. As if God was giving Judah, the Southern Kingdom, another chance, He brought Hezekiah to the throne in 715 B.C. Hezekiah trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel. There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, before or after him.
Judah, just like her neighbor to the north, had been worshiping false gods. In his first month as King, Hezekiah started the repair of the temple. He rejuvenated the Levites as priests. The priests then went into all the rooms of the temple to gather idols and trash into baskets. They carried the false gods and other refuse out to the Kidron Ravine and dumped the rubbish there. With the temple cleansed, Hezekiah ordered that cymbals, harps, lyres, and trumpets be readied. In a few days, the sounds of the orchestra and the singing voices could be heard all across Jerusalem.
Hezekiah called on his people to rebuild the broken-down walls of the city. He appointed army officers and organized the craftsmen. Soon the smell of fire and the clang of hammers on hot metal signaled the making of weapons and shields.
The military buildup was none too soon, for King Sennacherib of Assyria arrived in Judah to besiege the fortified cities. He ordered a propaganda war. His men yelled at the Jewish people on Jerusalem’s walls in the Hebrew language, asking them to surrender and enjoy good times in Assyria. The people, following Hezekiah’s instructions, said nothing in reply. Hezekiah encouraged his people to be strong and courageous. He said, “With King Sennacherib is only an arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God to help us fight our battles.”
Hezekiah began to pray, “...O Lord our God deliver us from Sennacherib’s hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You alone are God.”
The Lord answered, “...I know your sitting down, and your going out and coming in...” Then it happened that night that a plague struck the Assyrian camp and killed 185,000 soldiers, and Sennacherib fled to Assyria.
In the fourteenth year of Hezekiah’s reign, he became mortally ill. Isaiah the prophet told Hezekiah that he was going to die. Hezekiah prayed, “O Lord, remember how I’ve always tried to obey you and to please you in everything I do.” Then he broke down and cried. Before Isaiah had gone out of the middle court, the Lord told him that Hezekiah would be granted fifteen more years to live.
When not busy defending his country against the Assyrians and Philistines, Hezekiah was strengthening Judah and improving the living conditions of his people.
Hezekiah, an early day engineer, had a vision for bringing water from Gihon Spring outside the east wall of Jerusalem into the city. Two hundred and fifty years earlier, Solomon had been crowned king at Gihon. Hezekiah instructed his men to dig a tunnel from Gihon Spring to the southern part of the lower city where the Pool of Siloam was constructed to serve as a reservoir for the water entering Jerusalem. Seven hundred years later, Jesus put mud on the eyes of the blind man and said to him, “Now go and wash in the Pool of Siloam.”
Under Hezekiah’s direction, workers dug from both ends, meeting in the middle to complete the tunnel – an engineering marvel. The elevations through the 1777-foot long tunnel were accurately controlled to let the water from Gihon Spring flow by the force of gravity to the Pool of Siloam. Hezekiah met both the spiritual and physical needs of his people for twenty-nine years, and then he died.
2 Kings 18-20; 2 Chronicles 29-32; John 9:6-7
Atlas of the Bible Lands ISBN 0-8437-7055-4
Copyright 2002 by John C. Westervelt
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