In the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah’s reign, Sennacherib king of Assyria attacked all the fortified cities of Judah and captured them…The commander replied, “Was it only to your master and you that my master sent me to say these things, and not to the people sitting on the wall—who, like you, will have to eat their own excrement and drink their own urine?” Then the commander stood and called out in Hebrew, “Hear the word of the great king, the king of Assyria! This is what the king says: Do not let Hezekiah deceive you. He cannot deliver you from my hand… Do not let the god you depend on deceive you when he says, ‘Jerusalem will not be given into the hands of the king of Assyria.’ 11 Surely you have heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all the countries, destroying them completely. And will you be delivered (2 Kings 18:13, 27-29; 19:10-11 NIV) ?
Besieging a city was a tactic often used in the Old Testament, where you starve the residents until they surrender—or die. And we see here that Jerusalem is in a pretty desperate situation, whether citizens may have to drink their own urine and eat their own dung. The situation was dire indeed, since these were the same people which attacked, defeated and then hauled away the Jews of the northern kingdom of Israel. To make matters worse, the Assyrian commander was yelling at the dwellers of Jerusalem were telling them not to trust in Hezekiah, their King, nor trust in their God.
BTW, there were 185,000 enemy troops in Jerusalem. And I wondered, how many square feet would 185,000 troops take up if they practiced social distancing? The answer: 26,640,000. And if you put a ring of 1,000 men deep around the city, it could surround the city of 5 square miles. And likely, the city of Jerusalem was about a mile and half square. Imagine looking out in any direction and seeing a thousand men deep surrounding your city. Terrifying.
After all of the above ranting, he delivered a letter of demands to Hezekiah who promptly took the letter and laid it out before the LORD in His temple. Soon after that, Isaiah brought God’s answer to Hezekiah “I will defend the city and save it, for My sake and for the sake of David My servant.”
Following Isaiah’s delivery of God’s message to Hezekiah this is what happened that very night:
That night the angel of the Lord went out and put to death a hundred and eighty-five thousand in the Assyrian camp. When the people got up the next morning—there were all the dead bodies! So Sennacherib king of Assyria broke camp and withdrew. He returned to Nineveh and stayed there (2 Kings 19:35-36 NIV).
It is not my intent to compare a city besieged by foreign enemies with a country or world besieged by a virus. In their situation, the people of Jerusalem chose to trust God and He delivered them. Should we not do the same?
Hezekiah’s reign is a great piece of history. You may want to read it in chapters 18 and 19 of 2 Kings.