Lesson 100

2 Kings 18–20

“Lesson 100: 2 Kings 18–20,” Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual (2014)


Hezekiah, king of Judah, reigned in righteousness and removed idolatry from his kingdom. During his reign, Assyria carried the Northern Kingdom of Israel into captivity and later invaded the southern kingdom of Judah. Under threat of attack, Hezekiah sent servants to the prophet Isaiah to ask him to pray for the people. The Lord, through Isaiah, told the people to not be afraid; He would help them. Hezekiah further prayed about the Assyrian threat, and the Lord assured him that He would defend the city. An angel sent by the Lord smote the Assyrian camp, killing 185,000 Assyrians. Later, because of Hezekiah’s pleading and righteousness, the Lord extended his life.

Suggestions for Teaching

2 Kings 18

Assyria conquers Israel and later threatens Hezekiah and the people of Judah

Invite students to respond to the following questions in their class notebooks or scripture study journals:

  • What challenges or fears do you have?

  • How might those challenges or fears test your faith in the Lord?

Explain that 2 Kings 18–20 records the challenges and fears of Hezekiah, the king of the Southern Kingdom of Judah. Invite students to look for principles that can help them with their challenges and fears as they study these chapters.

Ask a few students to take turns reading aloud from 2 Kings 18:3–8. Invite the class to follow along, looking for the good things Hezekiah did as king.

  • What words or phrases in verses 3–8 describe Hezekiah’s righteousness?

  • According to verse 7, what blessing did Hezekiah receive for trusting in the Lord and keeping His commandments?

  • What principle can we learn from these verses? (Students may use different words but should identify the following principle: If we trust in the Lord and keep His commandments, then He will be with us.)

  • In what ways do we benefit from having the Lord with us?

Summarize 2 Kings 18:9–12 by explaining that Assyria conquered the Northern Kingdom of Israel—the 10 tribes who mostly lived in the regions of Samaria and Galilee—“because they obeyed not the voice of the Lord their God, but transgressed his covenant” (2 Kings 18:12).

Explain that about seven years after the Assyrian king Sargon (who succeeded Shalmaneser [see verse 9]) conquered the Northern Kingdom of Israel and carried the people away into captivity, Sennacherib succeeded him as the king (see 2 Kings 18:9–10, 13). Ask a student to read 2 Kings 18:13 aloud. Invite the class to follow along, looking for what Sennacherib decided to do.

  • What did Sennacherib decide to do?

map, Dead Sea and region north of it

Draw the accompanying map on the board. Point out that Sennacherib planned to conquer Jerusalem—the capital of the kingdom of Judah. The Assyrian army appeared to be unstoppable. They had a reputation of viciously desolating the lands and torturing the people they conquered, thus inspiring fear in those who opposed them.

  • What thoughts or feelings would you have had if you had lived in Jerusalem and knew the Assyrian army was approaching?

Explain that the prophet Isaiah prophesied of the Assyrian invasion. Ask a few students to read Isaiah 10:28–32 aloud. After each verse is read, invite the class to report what Isaiah said would happen at each city. As students report on each city, cross it out on the map on the board to show that it would be conquered by the Assyrian army. Explain that the cities of Madmenah and Gebim (see verse 31) are not included on the map because we do not know where they were located.

Point out that the city of Nob was less than one mile (1.6 km) north of Jerusalem. This means that the Assyrian army came extremely close to Jerusalem.

  • What do you think it means in verse 32 that Sennacherib would “shake his hand against … Jerusalem”? (He would threaten it but not destroy it. Do not cross out Jerusalem on the map.)

Explain that as recorded in Isaiah 10:33–34, Isaiah compared the Assyrian army to a bough, or large branch, of a tree. Ask a student to read these verses aloud. Invite the class to follow along, looking for what Isaiah said would happen to the Assyrian army before it could conquer Jerusalem.

  • What did Isaiah say would happen to the Assyrian army?

Point out that the book of 2 Chronicles preserves important details about how Hezekiah led his people during this time. Invite a student to read 2 Chronicles 32:6–8 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Hezekiah told the people of Jerusalem.

  • How did Hezekiah demonstrate his faith in the Lord at this time?

Explain that just as Isaiah prophesied, the Assyrian army arrived outside of Jerusalem after conquering the cities along the way. One of the Assyrians’ strategies was to send negotiators to a city before their army would attack. The Assyrians used their reputation as brutal, ruthless warriors to intimidate cities and persuade them to surrender. Sennacherib sent negotiators to Jerusalem, where they were met by Hezekiah’s representatives.

Invite two students to come to the front of the class. Assign one to be Rab-shakeh (Sennacherib’s negotiator) and the other to be Eliakim (one of Hezekiah’s representatives). You may want to make name badges for the two students to wear.

Explain that the conversation between Rab-shakeh and Eliakim was witnessed by the people in Jerusalem, who were watching from atop the city walls (see 2 Kings 18:26). Invite the rest of the class to imagine they are like the people on the wall and can see the Assyrian army right outside their city as they listen to the conversation.

Ask the student representing Rab-shakeh to read 2 Kings 18:19–20 aloud. Invite the class to listen for the questions Rab-shakeh asked.

  • What questions did Rab-shakeh ask? What do you think his intention was?

Summarize 2 Kings 18:21–25 by explaining that Rab-shakeh then scoffed at Judah’s alliance with Egypt and mocked the Lord.

Ask the student representing Eliakim to read 2 Kings 18:26 aloud. Invite the class to listen for the request he made.

  • Why did Eliakim want Rab-shakeh to speak in Syrian? (So the people of Jerusalem would not be able to understand his threats.)

Invite the student representing Rab-shakeh to read 2 Kings 18:28–35 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for Rab-shakeh’s response to this request.

  • What did Rab-shakeh say to try to convince the people of Jerusalem to surrender?

Thank the students who participated in the role play, and invite them to return to their seats.

  • How might Rab-shakeh’s words have persuaded some people in Jerusalem not to trust in the Lord?

  • In what situations might others try to sway us from trusting in the Lord?

2 Kings 19

Hezekiah asks the Lord to save Jerusalem, and an angel destroys the Assyrian army

Ask a student to read 2 Kings 19:1 aloud. Invite the class to follow along, looking for Hezekiah’s response when he received news of Rab-shakeh’s threats.

  • Why do you think Hezekiah “rent his clothes, and covered himself with sackcloth”?

  • Where did Hezekiah go?

Summarize 2 Kings 19:2–5 by explaining that Hezekiah sent messengers to inform the prophet Isaiah of the Assyrians’ threats, to seek his counsel, and to ask him to pray for the people.

Ask a student to read 2 Kings 19:6–7 aloud. Invite the class to follow along, looking for Isaiah’s response.

  • How was Isaiah’s response similar to his prophecy in Isaiah 10?

Explain that Rab-shakeh then sent messengers to Hezekiah with another message. Ask a student to read 2 Kings 19:10–11. Invite the class to follow along, looking for Rab-shakeh’s message.

  • What choice did Hezekiah have to make? (Whether to believe Isaiah and trust in the Lord or believe Rab-shakeh and surrender to Assyria.)

  • What would you do if you had to make a difficult decision like this? Why?

Invite a few students to read 2 Kings 19:14–19 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Hezekiah did during this difficult time.

  • What did Hezekiah choose to do?

Ask students to read 2 Kings 19:20 silently, looking for evidence that the Lord heard Hezekiah’s prayer. Invite students to report what they find.

Summarize 2 Kings 19:21–34 by explaining that Isaiah again reassured Hezekiah that the Lord would defend Jerusalem against the Assyrian army.

Ask a student to read 2 Kings 19:32–37 aloud. Invite the class to follow along, looking for what happened to the Assyrian army and their king, Sennacherib.

  • What happened to the army during the night? What happened to Sennacherib?

  • What principles can we learn from this account? (Students may identify several principles, including the following: If we turn to the Lord, then He can help us overcome our fears and challenges.)

  • When have you turned to the Lord for help with a fear or challenge? How did the Lord help you? (You may want to share one of your own personal experiences.)

Point out that Hezekiah did three things to turn to the Lord: (1) he went to the temple (see 2 Kings 19:1); (2) he sought the counsel of the prophet (see 2 Kings 19:2–5); (3) he prayed to the Lord (see 2 Kings 19:14–19). Invite students to write in their class notebooks or scripture study journals how well they feel they are doing in each of those three areas and how they can improve.

2 Kings 20

The Lord extends Hezekiah’s life, and Hezekiah entertains Babylonian messengers

Explain that Hezekiah later faced another challenge. Ask students to read 2 Kings 20:1 silently, looking for the challenge Hezekiah faced.

  • What challenge did Hezekiah face?

Ask a student to read 2 Kings 20:2–6 aloud. Invite the class to follow along, looking for how Hezekiah responded to this challenge.

  • What did Hezekiah do? How was he blessed?

  • What principle can we learn from this account? (Students may use different words but should identify the following principle: If we exercise faith in the Lord, we can be healed according to His will. In rare circumstances the Lord in His mercy will extend the life of an individual in mortality.)

Summarize 2 Kings 20:7–20 by explaining that the Lord showed Hezekiah a sign to confirm that He would heal him. Later, Isaiah prophesied that Babylon would conquer the kingdom of Judah.

Invite students to ponder how they can apply the principles discussed in this lesson when they face their challenges or fears. Testify of these principles, and invite students to apply them in their lives.

scripture mastery iconScripture Mastery Review

On the board, write the list of Basic Doctrines (see the appendix of this manual) and list several Old Testament scripture mastery passages. Consider using the references to the 10 passages that students have learned so far in this course. Invite students to draw lines from the references to the Basic Doctrines that relate to those verses. Then ask students to explain the connections they have made.

Commentary and Background Information

2 Kings 18. Brutality of the Assyrian army

The common practice for the Assyrian army after they captured a city or country was to cut down all the trees, sow the fields with salt, and poison the wells. The soldiers were rewarded for the head of every enemy brought to their captain, so after a military victory they would decapitate the dead. Captives were often flayed alive or roasted over fire or in kilns. Other captives were impaled on stakes. Nobles taken captive were thrown from towers or had their ears, nose, hands, and feet cut off. Those who were not killed were taken away while the city was burned. Having this terrifying reputation, the Assyrians sent negotiators to a city before the actual battle began, telling the people to surrender or suffer the consequences. Many cities chose to surrender.

2 Kings 20. Those who die instead of being healed

Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles identified the sources we can turn to when we need to be physically healed:

“Latter-day Saints believe in applying the best available scientific knowledge and techniques. We use nutrition, exercise, and other practices to preserve health, and we enlist the help of healing practitioners, such as physicians and surgeons, to restore health.

“The use of medical science is not at odds with our prayers of faith and our reliance on priesthood blessings. …

“Of course we don’t wait until all other methods are exhausted before we pray in faith or give priesthood blessings for healing. In emergencies, prayers and blessings come first. Most often we pursue all efforts simultaneously” (“Healing the Sick,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2010, 47).

While it is true that if we exercise faith in the Lord, we can be healed, modern revelation states: “And again, it shall come to pass that he that hath faith in me to be healed, and is not appointed unto death, shall be healed” (D&C 42:48). Thus, if an individual is appointed unto death, the Lord’s plan provides for that individual to go to the spirit world and continue to progress.

Consider the example given by Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of a young father who learned that his four-year-old daughter was critically ill:

“The father was found on his knees in prayer, asking that the life of his daughter be spared. Yet her condition worsened. Gradually, this father sensed that his little girl would not live, and slowly his prayers changed; he no longer prayed for healing but rather for understanding. ‘Let Thy will be done’ was now the manner of his pleadings. …

“Discerning and accepting the will of God in our lives are fundamental elements of asking in faith in meaningful prayer. However, simply saying the words ‘Thy will be done’ is not enough. Each of us needs God’s help in surrendering our will to Him.

“‘Prayer is the act by which the will of the Father and the will of the child are brought into correspondence with each other’ [Bible Dictionary, “Prayer”]. Humble, earnest, and persistent prayer enables us to recognize and align ourselves with the will of our Heavenly Father” (“Ask in Faith,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2008, 96–97).