2 Kings 17–18

1 In the twelfth year of Ahaz king of Judah, Hoshea son of Elah became king in Samaria over Israel for nine years. 2 He did evil in the sight of the Lord, only not as the kings of Israel who were before him.

3 Shalmaneser king of Assyria came up against him. Hoshea became his servant and gave him gifts. 4 But the king of Assyria found conspiracy in Hoshea, for he had sent messengers to So king of Egypt and offered up no gift to the king of Assyria as he had done year by year. So the king of Assyria detained him, and then put him in prison.

5 Then the king of Assyria went throughout all the land, went up to Samaria, and besieged it for three years. 6 In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria seized Samaria and exiled Israel to Assyria. He put them in Halah, in Habor by the River of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes.

7 This happened because the children of Israel had sinned against the Lord their God, who had brought them up from the land of Egypt from under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. They had feared other gods 8 and walked in the statutes of the nations, whom the Lord dispossessed before the children of Israel, and walked in the statutes which the kings of Israel had made. 9 The children of Israel ascribed things to the Lord their God that were not so, and they built for themselves high places in all their cities from the watchtower to the fortified city. 10 They set up standing stones and Asherah poles on every high hill and under every green tree. 11 There they burned incense on all the high places, as the nations did whom the Lord had carried away before them. And they did wicked things to provoke the Lord to anger, 12 for they served idols, of which the Lord had said to them, “You shall not do this thing.” 13 But the Lord warned Israel and Judah by all the prophets and by all the seers, saying, “Turn from your evil ways, and keep My commandments and My statutes, according to all the law which I commanded your fathers and which I sent to you by My servants the prophets.”

14 But they would not listen. They stiffened their necks, like the neck of their fathers, who did not believe in the Lord their God. 15 They rejected His statutes and His covenant that He had made with their fathers and the decrees He had given them. They followed idols, and became idolaters, and followed the surrounding nations, concerning whom the Lord commanded them, that they should not do like them.

16 They forsook all the commandments of the Lord their God, made themselves cast images (two calves), made an Asherah pole, worshipped all the host of heaven, and served Baal. 17 They caused their sons and daughters to pass through the fire, used divination and omens, and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the Lord to anger Him.

18 Therefore the Lord was very angry with Israel and removed them from His presence. None remained except the tribe of Judah. 19 Judah also did not keep the commandments of the Lord their God, but walked in the statutes of Israel which they made. 20 The Lord rejected all the seed of Israel, afflicted them, and gave them into the hand of plunderers until He had cast them out of His presence.

21 For He had torn Israel from the house of David, and they made Jeroboam the son of Nebat king. Jeroboam diverted Israel from following the Lord and caused them to sin greatly. 22 For the children of Israel walked in all the sins which Jeroboam committed. They did not turn aside from them 23 until the Lord removed Israel from His presence as He had said by all His servants the prophets. So Israel was exiled from their land to Assyria until this day.

24 Then the king of Assyria brought people from Babylon, Kuthah, Avva, Hamath, and Sepharvaim and put them in the cities of Samaria instead of the children of Israel. They possessed Samaria and lived in its cities. 25 Right at the beginning of their settling there, they did not fear the Lord, so the Lord sent lions among them, and they killed some of them. 26 So they said to the king of Assyria, “The nations which you have exiled and settled in the cities of Samaria do not know the law of the god of the land. Therefore He has sent lions among them; they are killing them, because they do not know the requirements of the god of the land.”

27 Then the king of Assyria commanded, “Escort back one of the priests whom you exiled from there and let him go and dwell there. Let him teach them the law of the god of the land.” 28 Then one of the priests whom they had exiled from Samaria came and lived in Bethel. He taught them how they should fear the Lord.

29 But each nation was making its own gods, and they put them in the houses of the high places that the people of Samaria had made, each nation in the cities where they were living. 30 The men of Babylon made Sukkoth Benoth, the men of Kuthah made Nergal, the men of Hamath made Ashima, 31 the Avvites made Nibhaz and Tartak. The Sepharvites were burning their children in fire to Adrammelek and Anammelek, the gods of Sepharvaim. 32 They feared the Lord and made from amongst themselves priests of the high places, who were working for them in the houses of the high places. 33 They feared the Lord, and they were serving their own gods, after the manner of the nations whom they exiled from there.

34 To this day they continue to practice their former customs. They do not fear the Lord, nor are they doing according to the statutes, requirements, the law or commandment that the Lord commanded the children of Jacob, whom He named Israel. 35 The Lord had made a covenant and commanded them, saying, “You shall not fear other gods, nor bow yourselves to them. You shall not serve them or sacrifice to them. 36 Rather, the Lord, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt with great power and an outstretched arm, Him you shall fear, to Him you shall bow down, and to Him you shall sacrifice. 37 The statutes, the ordinances, the law, and the commandment, which He wrote for you, you shall observe to do forever. And you shall not fear other gods. 38 The covenant that I have made with you, you shall not forget. You shall not fear other gods. 39 Rather the Lord your God you shall fear, and He will deliver you from the hand of all your enemies.”

40 But they did not listen; rather they were practicing their former customs. 41 So these nations feared the Lord and were serving their carved images, both their children and their grandchildren, as their fathers did, and so they are doing to this day.

Chapter 18

1 In the third year of Hoshea son of Elah, king of Israel, Hezekiah the son of Ahaz, king of Judah, became king. 2 He was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Abi daughter of Zechariah. 3 He did what was right in the sight of the Lord, according to everything that David his father had done. 4 He removed the high places, broke down the sacred pillars, cut down the Asherah poles, and crushed the bronze serpent that Moses had made, for until those days the children of Israel had made offerings to it. They called it Nehushtan.

5 He trusted in the Lord God of Israel. Afterwards, there was no one like him among all the kings of Judah or among those who were before him. 6 He clung to the Lord. He did not depart from following Him, but kept His commandments, which the Lord commanded Moses. 7 The Lord was with him. Wherever he went, he prospered. He rebelled against the king of Assyria and did not serve him. 8 He struck the Philistines as far as Gaza and its territory, from watchtower to fortified city.

9 In the fourth year of King Hezekiah, which was the seventh year of Hoshea son of Elah, king of Israel, Shalmaneser king of Assyria came up against Samaria and besieged it. 10 He seized it at the end of three years. In the sixth year of Hezekiah, that is, the ninth year of Hoshea king of Israel, Samaria was taken. 11 Then the king of Assyria exiled Israel to Assyria and put them in Halah and in Habor by the River of Gozan and in the cities of the Medes, 12 because they did not obey the voice of the Lord their God, but transgressed His covenant and all that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded, and would not obey or do them.

13 In the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah, Sennacherib king of Assyria came up against all the fortified cities of Judah and captured them. 14 Hezekiah king of Judah sent word to the king of Assyria at Lachish, saying, “I have done wrong; turn away from me. I will bear whatever you put on me.” So the king of Assyria required of Hezekiah king of Judah three hundred talents of silver and thirty talents of gold. 15 So Hezekiah gave him all the silver that was found in the house of the Lord and in the treasuries of the king’s house.

16 At that time Hezekiah cut off the gold from the doors of the temple of the Lord and from the doorposts that Hezekiah king of Judah had overlaid and gave it to the king of Assyria.

17 Then the king of Assyria sent the Tartan, the Rabsaris, and the Rabshakeh from Lachish to King Hezekiah with a great army against Jerusalem. So they went up and came to Jerusalem. When they went up, they came and stood by the conduit of the upper pool, which is on the highway of the Fuller’s Field. 18 Then they called to the king, and Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, who was over the household, Shebna the scribe, and Joah the son of Asaph, the recorder, came out to them.

19 Then the Rabshakeh said to them, “Speak to Hezekiah:

“Thus says the great king, the king of Assyria: What is the basis of your confidence? 20 You speak empty words concerning counsel and strength for the war. Now on whom do you trust, that you have rebelled against me? 21 Now, look! You trust in the staff of this bruised reed, on Egypt, on which if a man leans, it will enter his hand and pierce it. So is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all who trust in him. 22 But if you say to me, ‘We trust in the Lord our God,’ is it not He, whose high places and altars Hezekiah has removed, saying to Judah and to Jerusalem, ‘You shall worship before this altar in Jerusalem’?

23 “Now, make a wager with my lord king of Assyria. I will give you two thousand horses if you are able to set riders on them. 24 How can you turn away one official of the least of my master’s servants and put your trust on Egypt for chariots and horsemen? 25 Have I come up apart from the will of the Lord against this place to destroy it? The Lord said to me, Go up against this land and destroy it.”

26 Then Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, Shebna, and Joah said to the Rabshakeh, “Speak to your servants in Aramaic, for we understand it. Do not speak with us in the language of Judah in earshot of the people who are on the wall.”

27 But the Rabshakeh said to them, “Has my master sent me to speak these words to your master and to you, and not to the men sitting on the wall, who are about to eat their own dung and drink their own urine with you?”

28 Then the Rabshakeh stood and called with a loud voice in the language of Judah, “Hear the word of the great king, the king of Assyria. 29 Thus says the king: ‘Do not let Hezekiah deceive you, for he is not able to deliver you from my hand. 30 Do not let Hezekiah make you trust in the Lord, saying, The Lord will surely deliver us, and this city will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.’

31 “Do not listen to Hezekiah, for thus says the king of Assyria: ‘Submit to me; come out to me, so that every man may eat from his own vine and his own fig tree and drink water from his own cistern, 32 until I come and take you to a land like your own land, a land of grain and wine, a land of bread and vineyards, a land of olive oil and honey, that you may live and not die.’

“Do not listen to Hezekiah when he leads you astray saying, The Lord will deliver us. 33 Has any of the gods of the nations at all delivered its land from the hand of the king of Assyria? 34 Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivvah? Have they delivered Samaria from my hand? 35 Who among all the gods of the lands have delivered their land out of my hand, that the Lord should deliver Jerusalem from my hand?”

36 But the people were silent and answered him not a word, for the king’s command was, “Do not answer him.”

37 Then Eliakim son of Hilkiah, who was over the household, Shebna the scribe, and Joah the son of Asaph, the recorder, came to Hezekiah with their clothes torn and told him the words of the Rabshakeh.

John 3:22–36

22 After these things Jesus and His disciples came into the land of Judea. He remained with them there and baptized. 23 John also was baptizing in Aenon toward Salim, because much water was there. And people came and were baptized. 24 For John had not yet been put in prison. 25 Then a dispute arose between some of John’s disciples and the Jews about ceremonial cleansing. 26 They came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, He who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you bore witness, look, He is baptizing, and everyone is going to Him.”

27 John answered, “A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven. 28 You yourselves bear witness of me, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ,’ but ‘I have been sent before Him.’ 29 He who has the bride is the bridegroom. But the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled. 30 He must increase, but I must decrease.”

31 He who comes from above is above all. He who is of the earth is earthly and speaks of the earth. He who comes from heaven is above all. 32 He bears witness of what He has seen and heard, yet no one receives His testimony. 33 He who has received His testimony has certified that God is true. 34 For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without measure to Him. 35 The Father loves the Son, and has placed all things into His hand. 36 He who believes in the Son has eternal life. He who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.