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Our Young Folk's Josephus by  William Shepard
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THE DESTRUCTION OF SENNACHERIB'S ARMY

IN the fourteenth year of the reign of Hezekiah, king of Judah, the king of Assyria made war against him and took a great many of his cities. This was not the same king of Assyria who had destroyed the kingdom of Israel, but his successor, Sennacherib. When Sennacherib laid siege to Jerusalem, Hezekiah sent ambassadors promising him large presents if he would withdraw his army. Sennacherib took the presents, and then treacherously refused to raise the siege. He himself, indeed, crossed over to Egypt with a portion of his army to fight against the king of that country, but he left behind him a great number of men under his general, Rabshakeh, commanding him to destroy Jerusalem.

Rabshakeh, with several of his captains, came close up to [224] the walls of Jerusalem, and commanded the people to give up their town to him if they did not wish his army to destroy it utterly.

The people were frightened at these words, and Hezekiah himself was much troubled. He rent his clothes and fell on his face, and besought God to assist him. He sent messengers also to a great prophet, whose name was Isaiah, asking him what he should do. And Isaiah returned answer, "God will destroy thy enemies, and they shall be beaten without fighting, and shall go home sorry and ashamed, and without that insolence they now show. And as for Sennacherib, he shall fail of his purpose against Egypt, and when he comes home he shall perish by the sword."

Everything happened as the prophet had foretold, for Sennacherib hastily retreated from Egypt on learning that a great army was coming to assist the king of that country, and when he joined his general, Rabshakeh, before Jerusalem, he found that on the very first night of the siege a grievous distemper had been sent down by God upon the Assyrians, so that one hundred and eighty-five thousand perished in one night.

So the king was in great fear, and fled with what remained of his forces to his own country and to his city, Nineveh. A little while after he was treacherously killed by his own son.


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