from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Defeat of Sennacherib before Jerusalem (according to biblical tradition), Peter Paul Rubens , 1st half of the 17th century

Hezekiah (Ezechia, Hezekiah or Hezekiah, Hebrew חזקיהו Chiskiyahu ; born around 750 BC Chr .; died 696 BC BC ) was from 725 BC. BC to 696 BC King of Judah as successor to his father Ahaz . After 2 Kings 18.2  EU and 2 Chr 29.1  EU he became king at the age of 25 and ruled for 29 years. He was in his sixth year of reign when Samaria was taken by the Assyrians 2 Kings 18.10  EU .


Hezekiah reported the conquest of the northern kingdom of Israel by the Assyrians in 722 BC. Witnessed. Even the southern kingdom of Judah, now a vassal of Assyria , was in danger of being conquered by the Assyrians. He had Jerusalem's city ​​walls reinforced. Whether the 500 m long so-called Hezekiah tunnel was built under Hezekiah remains unclear, as an inscription above it that is not completely preserved says nothing. The tunnel led the Gihon spring in front of the city into the pond of Siloam located within the walls in order to ensure the water supply of Jerusalem in the event of a siege.

Biblical tradition

The rescue from Assyrian conquest

In the biblical narration , Hezekiah asked YHWH for assistance. Hearing this request, an angel was sent to slay 185,000 soldiers of Assur in one night ( Isa 37,36  EU ). Sennacherib , the Assyrian king, had to call off the siege of Jerusalem. As a result of this defeat, Sennacherib, who had returned to Assyria, was murdered by two sons. The biblical version is associated with Herodotus' account, who blamed a mouse plague for the deaths of 185,000 soldiers. Some modern authors see this report as an indication of an epidemic.

Hezekiah's cult reform

The fall of Samaria in 722 BC As a result, thousands of Israelites fled the northern kingdom in the direction of Judah. Especially under the influence of the student group of the Israelite prophet Hosea , the discussion of the reasons for this political catastrophe in Judah led to social and religious reforms.

In 2 Kings 18.4  EU there is a report on the cult reform of Hezekiah, in which cult heights (not necessarily, but mostly elevated cult sites) were abolished and mazzeben (stone monuments) and ashes (cult stakes) were destroyed. Even the brazen serpent Neḥushtan ( Num. 21, 4-9  EU ), which can be traced back to Moses, is smashed. This gives place to the cult of YHWH in the central shrine in Jerusalem.

In addition to the cultic reforms mentioned in the Bible, additional social and theological reforms are mentioned in the 2nd Book of Moses ( Ex 20.23 - 23.19  EU ). Even if not mentioned in the 2nd Book of Kings , the covenant book is to be regarded as the basis of the Hiskijan reform. This reform, which put the sole veneration of YHWH in the center , was abolished again with the son and successor of Hezekiah, Manasseh ( 2 Kings 21  EU ).

Hezekiah's disease

Singing Hezekiah in the Très Riches Heures

According to the Tanakh , Hezekiah was cured of a dangerous disease by YHWH ( Isa 38  EU ), with the prophet Isaiah playing an important role as mediator .

Hezekiah's death

Hezekiah died in 697 BC. And left the throne to the twelve-year-old son Manasseh.

Historical information

Sennacherib's 3rd campaign

701 BC Hezekiah dared to revolt against Assyria in covenant with Ascalon and trusting Egyptian help, which prompted Sennacherib to march into the region of Jerusalem during his third campaign, during which the city ​​was conquered . According to the inscription on the Sennacherib prism , he reports the events in the Jerusalem area:

“Hezekiah was locked in his royal residence like a bird in a cage. I threw entrenchments against him, and I made it impossible to go out of his city gate ... I drove away 200,150 people, horses, mules, donkeys, camels, innumerable large and small cattle ... I gave his fortified cities to Mitinti of Asdod , Padi of Ekron and Zilbel from Gaza . "

- Sennacherib

Consequences of the uprising

In addition to the deportation to Assyria, 30 talents of gold and 800 talents of silver were then transported away. The freed King Padi of Ekron was reinstated in his office. A wall relief that was found in the palace of Nineveh and is now exhibited in the British Museum in London tells of this campaign . Sennacherib died in 681 BC. BC, 20 years after this campaign. Herodotus' report refers to Sennacherib's campaign against the Egyptian Pharaoh Shabataka , during which Sennacherib's attack on Egypt suddenly had to be broken off.


Archeologically, excavation layers from the time of the campaign can be identified in the economically important places for Hezekiah. So were z. In Lachisch, for example, the archaeologist David Ussushkin found remains of the Assyrian ramp bulwark as well as evidence that documented the destruction of the city. Furthermore, the biblical account of the economic development of Jude and Hezekiah's cult reform is supported by archeology. The Assyrians deported after 722 BC. BC probably mainly the upper class in northern Israel. Comprehensive archaeological surveys in recent years have shown that the vast majority of the rural population seems to have remained settled in the villages. Only in the south of the northern kingdom, mainly in the area of ​​the tribe of Benjamin, did the population and the number of villages rapidly decrease. As a result, the Assyrians tried to settle here foreign residents, probably mainly from the area around Babylon , who operated an important olive oil production here. In doing so, they created a buffer zone to the growing southern empire.

The number of villages and residents of Judah and Jerusalem increased suddenly. In many provincial towns, such as Lachish, the fortress Arad , which has now been massively expanded, and Be'er Scheva , temples or altar remains were found that were either ritually buried or built, at least apparently removed from their cultic purpose. At the same time, the writing culture in Jerusalem , which was previously only developed in the region at the court in Samaria, was massively developed, combined with the consistent introduction of standardized seals, stone weights and storage jugs for the royal economy. In December 2015 it was reported that an imprint of the king's seal was discovered during excavations in Jerusalem. The seal imprint, the find situation and other Hezekiah seal imprints are described and discussed in detail in the excavation report by Eilat Mazar and in German by Andreas Späth / Peter van der Veen .

Elaborately designed family and rock chamber graves on the steep slopes to the east and south of Jerusalem as well as the rock chambers a few hundred meters north of the city now bore inscriptions. What is particularly striking, however, is the Hebrew inscription on the Hezekiah tunnel , which was discovered in 1880. Hezekiah's reform seems to have been primarily a political one; he probably tried to fuse the Saulian traditions with the Davidic tradition of the south through a uniform cult and a common tradition.

Liturgical reception

The Canticum Ezechiae , song of Hezekiah from Isa 38 : 9-20  EU , was part of the lauds in the Office of the Dead and can therefore be found in all books of hours .


Web links

Commons : Hezekiah  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Notes and individual references

  1. Raik Heckl: Art. Hiskija in: Das Wissenschaftliche Bibellexikon im Internet ( www.bibelwissenschaft.de/wibilex/ ), December 2012, accessed on February 14, 2018.
  2. Corinna Körting: The sound of the Shofar: Israels Feste im Herbst (= supplements to the journal for Old Testament science; vol. 285). De Gruyter, Berlin / New York 1999, ISBN 3-11-016636-4 , p. 79.
  3. Texts from the environment of the Old Testament Volume 1 / Old Series of Sennacherib's 3rd Campaign, p. 391f.
  4. “According to the biblical report, 300 quintals of silver and 30 quintals of gold, cf. 2 Kings 18,14b  EU . Even the doors of the temple, which Hezekiah first covered with gold, have to be stripped of their splendor in order to satisfy Sennacherib's greed, cf. 2 Kings 18,16  EU . Sanherib's report (Chicago-Taylor clay prisms) is much more detailed. This is understandable because, in addition to Hezekiah's tribute, he also counts the results of the looting throughout Judah among his booty. In addition to the 30 quintals of gold, he even mentions 800 quintals of silver, antimony paste, large blocks of stone, ivory beds, armchairs clad with ivory, elephant skin, ivory, ebony, juniper wood and numerous other valuables; see. M. Weippert: Historical text book on the Old Testament , in: Grundrisse zum Alten Testament , Volume 10, ed. by H. Spiekermann and RG Kratz, Göttingen 2010, p. 333. The latter are described in more detail on the Rassam cylinder: garments made of colored linen, blue and red purple wool, bronze, iron, copper, crenellated implements, irons, chariots, slingshots , Lances, mail shirts, daggers, belts, bows, arrows, (other) weapons, war equipment in innumerable quantities. ' M. Weippert, Historisches Textbuch, p. 333, FN 55. In addition, 200,150 people, including Hezekiah's daughters, palace women and singers, are counted among the prey on the Chicago Taylor prisms. There is also detailed talk of cattle “without number”. M. Weippert, Historisches Textbuch, p. 333. Sennacherib seems to have plundered the 46 conquered fortress towns and villages 'without number' thoroughly. Possibly. this is how the difference in the silver weight comes about. "A. Späth: " And the Lord heard Hezekiah "- A biblical-archaeological synopsis, Part IV, in: DIAKRISIS, No. 1/2017, 38th year, p. 50.
  5. D. Ussishkin: Biblical Lachish - A Tale of Construction, Destruction, Excavation and Restauration , Jerusalem 1994 (Engl.)
  6. Seal of the Judean King Hezekiah discovered , www.idea.de, accessed on December 6, 2015.
  7. Eilat Mazar: The Ophel Excavations to the South of the Temple Mount 2009–2013 , Final Reports Volume I, Jerusalem 2015 (Eng.)
  8. ^ Andreas Späth, Peter van der Veen: New find from King Hezekiah's palace archive in Jerusalem. In: DIAKRISIS, No. 1/2016, Volume 37, pp. 51–60.
predecessor Office successor
Ahaz King of Judah
727-698 BC Chr.