Hezekiah’s tunnel. As Assyria prepared to attack Jerusalem, the city faced a crisis, since its water supply was outside the city walls. King Hezekiah responded by ordering the construction of a tunnel from the water source to the Pool of Siloam, within the city walls (20:20).
Siege mounds were mounds or ramps built out of dirt, rubble, and timbers. They were designed so that soldiers could batter down a city’s walls and fortifications. The Assyrians were the first to use wheeled towers with these mounds. Protected inside the tower as it was moved up the ramp to the wall, the soldiers could then exit the tower and invade the city. A siege mound can still be found today at Masada.
“Please speak in Aramaic.” As Assyria tried to conquer Judah, they sent a delegation to Jerusalem to engage in “psychological warfare” (18:17–37). They made public proclamations intended to turn the Judeans against their king. The Judean officials begged the Assyrians to speak only in Aramaic (v. 26), which these officials would have understood but which the ordinary bystanders did not understand. But the Assyrians went on speaking in Hebrew, seeking to demoralize all those who were listening.
Why were the Israelites deported? The Babylonians had learned that destroying an enemy’s land but allowing them to remain in it was a bad idea. It ruined potential crop resources and gave an opportunity for the conquered people to regroup and rebel. Instead, they deported the conquered people to other lands, and brought in people from other places to live in the conquered territory. This mixing of ethnic groups made any organized rebellion less likely.
Menahem’s tax receipts? Archaeologists working at the site of Samaria have discovered 63 shards of pottery, dating to about the time of King Menahem, on which tax payments are noted. These may be a record of the additional tax payments Menahem imposed on Israel to pay off the Assyrian king (15:19–20).More
Elath (14:22) was a strategic seaport on the northernmost tip of the Red Sea. It was located at the southern end of the King’s Highway, which ran north all the way to Damascus.
Hazael (12:17) was king of Syria from 843–796 b.c. He threatened Israel during the reigns of Jehu (1 Kings 19:17), Joram (8:28), and Jehoahaz (13:22).