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Josiah’s reforms

Josiah’s reforms reveal the true extent of Judah’s idolatry (23:1–27). Despite God’s commands to worship him alone, his people adopted Canaanite gods, including Baal, Asherah, and Molech. They also worshiped the stars and small household idols.

The host of heaven

The host of heaven refers in 23:4 to false gods, represented by celestial bodies such as the sun, moon, and planets. King Josiah ordered the destruction of all these symbols of pagan worship.

Hezekiah’s tunnel

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

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 […]

“Please speak in Aramaic.”

“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 […]

Why were the Israelites deported?

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 […]

Menahem’s tax receipts?

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).


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.