Study Guide

Book of Isaiah Chapter 36

Chapter 36

Rabshakeh Laka Laka

  • This chapter moves from recording prophecies back to narrative. The Assyrian king, Sennacherib, has just taken over every fortified city in Judah.
  • Three Jewish officials—Eliakim, Shebna, and Joah—come out from the walls of Jerusalem to meet with the Assyrians.
  • Sennacherib's vizier (like a high-ranking political advisor), the Rabshakeh, tells them to give a message to their king, Hezekiah, mocking their alliance with Egypt.
  • The Rabshakeh says that they might say that they're actually relying on God more than on Egypt—but isn't it God who ordered the King of Assyria to attack and destroy Judah in the first place?

Siege Rations

  • Eliakim, Shebna, and Joah tell him to speak to them in Aramaic instead of Hebrew, so that the Jewish soldiers standing on the city walls won't be able to understand what their conference is about.
  • The Rabshakeh sarcastically asks what the difference is, since the people on the wall are doomed to meet the same fate as all the other Hebrews—eating their own excrement and drinking their own pee as the Assyrians besiege and starve Jerusalem (totally gross).
  • But, says the Rabshakeh, if they don't listen to Hezekiah and his orders to rely on God to save them, if they don't welcome the King of Assyria into Jerusalem instead, then they'll be able to eat their own grapes and figs and drink their own water before the King of Assyria takes them away to serve in his own kingdom. That place is supposed to be pretty nice.
  • The Rabshakeh says that none of the gods of any of the other cities Assyria has conquered managed to save those places, so why should Jerusalem expect anything better?
  • They refuse to answer Rabshakeh (Hezekiah told them not to). But they tear their clothes and run to tell Hezekiah what the Rabshakeh said.