If you know much about the history of Israel - or more specifically - Judah, you may remember King Hezekiah of Judah as being the dying king unto whom the Prophet Isaiah announced that God would extend his life by 15 years.
Did God really tell him that his life would be lengthened 15 years?
Personally I doubt it. Maybe you would like it if God told you when you were going to die, but me?; I'll settle for the surprise thank you very much.
I'm not saying that Hezekiah was not healed by God, only that I doubt very much that God would actually tell him how much time he had left.
What is most probable is that the later redactors simply calculated how much extra time he lived, and just filled in the blank.
It's funny how so many people refuse to treat the Gospels as 'gospel', but have no problem treating non-Biblical historical manuscripts as such.
The book of Kings and Chronicles were written as 'history books'. Certainly they record some of the words of God that were spoken by the Prophets, but at the end of the day, they were meant to be read as historical texts.
Unfortunately, for many academics and lay people alike, those history books, which were written about 3 centuries after the time of Hezekiah, and compiled from a variety of different records, create a host of problems.
That period in history from the time of King Uzziah to the time of Hezekiah, contains quite a lot of confusing chronological material, and no one has quite figured it all out yet. Most scholars simply dispense with what the Bible says, and do what they do best - 'Make it up as they go'.
The King's Calendar: The Secret of Qumran, which successfully synchronises all the chronological material for the Divided Kingdom Period using an artificial calendrical construct, has no real problem with this time period at all.
When you just follow the Biblical chronological details without reading the Narrative text, it becomes quite clear that the redactors confused the identities of three successive kings. This is not exactly a difficult thing to do in Hebrew, especially when the records at hand seem confused.
King Uzziah's son Jotham, who is usually written off as not actually having had his own independent reign, is (according to the King's Calendar computer generated synchronous history of Israel), the Jehoahaz recorded in Ancient Assyrian Records. Unfortunately our brilliant scholars assume that this must have been the 'full' name of King Ahaz, whose proper name, (in all probability), was Ahaziah. Then of course there is the problem of King Hezekiah.
Right about now you think that I am making up a fanciful story about how ancient writers, three centuries after the fact, mixed up the names of some kings. Well! You'd be wrong. It actually makes a whole lot of sense when you study 'just the chronology' contained in the Bible for this period of history.
Let's look a little further into what is and is not a problem when it comes to the chronology of the Bible for this time period.
The Bible tells us that King Sennacherib of Assyria invaded Judah in the 14th year of Hezekiah, and our brilliant historians tell us that this happened in 701 BCE.
So What? That just means that Hezekiah started ruling in 715/714 BCE right?
The Bible also tells us that when King Hoshea of Samaria (Israel) lost his country to the Assyrians, King Hezekiah was in his 6th year of reign.
Since Samaria fell in 722 BCE, that means that Hezekiah commenced his reign in 727/728 BCE.
Starting to get the picture?
The King's Calendar Computer Generated Chart presents a scenario that shows how the Bible Chronologies came to be misinterpreted.
But it is just a little problem - right? We'll just say that Hezekiah was co-reigning with his father Ahaz. That solves the problem right? Not quite!
You see there are also the records relating to Ahaz that one has to consider. There was this thing called the Syro-Ephraimitic War, in which Samaria (Israel) and Syria were attacking Judah, and the King of Assyria, Tiglath-Pileser III, had to sort it all out.
Now according to the Bible, King Hoshea, the one who lost Samaria in 722 BCE, only reigned 9 years, and commenced in the 12th year of Ahaz.
So 722 BCE + 9 years = 731 BCE + 12 years to the commencement of Ahaz' reign = 743 BCE.
So in 743 BCE, Ahaz became king of Judah.
Now here we have another problem, because according to Assyrian records, Tiglath-Pileser, in his third year of reign (743 BCE.) invaded Samaria / Israel, and took tribute from King Menehem.
Menehem died in the 49th of King Uzziah of Judah's 52 year reign.
So this means that King Ahaz of Judah commenced to reign three years before King Uzziah died. So What you ask.
I'll tell you what! "What happened to King Jotham?"
You see King Jotham (according to the Bible), reigned for 16 years prior to King Ahaz.
"Well," you say; "The Bible must be wrong!"
You remember that big phrase, 'Syro-Ephraimitic War'? Well, when you read the Bible, you will read 'two different accounts' of what happened during that war.
In one account, Tiglath-Pileser listened to King Ahaz' appeal for help, and in the other, he didn't. Strange that!
What the King's Calendar discovered, is what I mentioned earlier. Someone jumbled up the names of the Kings of Judah. The chronological details are all correct. The problem is only that where it should read "Jotham/Jehoahaz", it reads "Ahaz/Ahaziah". And where it records Hezekiah reigning at the time of King Hoshea of Samaria, it should in fact read, "King Ahaz". So Simple!
According the Bible Synchronisms, as seen through the King's Calendar computer generated reconstruction,
King Uzziah died before April of 742 BCE
King Jotham reigned until the end of 728 BCE (So he was the King of Judah at the time of the Syro-Ephraimitic War
King Ahaz reigned until 714 BCE - and -
King Hezekiah commenced his reign at the same time that King Sargon commenced his Ashdod Campaign (714-712 BCE)
So what about Hezekiah's healing?
Well, that story is found in 2 Kings Chapters 18 & 19, which are quite obviously [when you take the time to really study them], a composite account of two vastly different situations in Hezekiah's life.
The Bible makes it appear that the timing of Hezekiah's illness and healing, coincides with Sennacherib's invasion in 701 BCE during Hezekiah's 14th year.
This is clearly incorrect, because in the Biblical story, King Merodach Baladan sends Hezekiah an envoy. That King Merodach Baladan was overthrown in 710 BCE. So clearly Hezekiah was healed prior to 710BCE.
My guess is that a redactor, writing 3 hundred years after the event, and believing that Hezekiah was healed in 701 BCE, calculated how much longer he lived, and just wrote in the figure, putting it in the mouth of the Prophet Isaiah.
He made a mistake. He confused the two invasions of Assyrian kings, and assumed that the healing took place in 701 BCE.
So there you have it. Quite simple really.
Someone makes a small error in identifying a few characters in Hebrew names, and everything goes out of kilter. Poor Hezekiah - So little understood!
R.P.BenDedek is the Author of 'The King's Calendar: The Secret of Qumran' and a guest columnist at Magic City Morning Star News.
"The King's Calendar" [ on sale - while the economic recession is on], is a chronological study of the historical books of the Bible (Kings and Chronicles), Josephus, Seder Olam Rabbah, and the (Essene) Damascus Document of The Dead Sea Scrolls. See Chapter Precis page.
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