2 Kings 18:1-12 Ahaz, King of Judah, dies in 716BC and is succeeded by his son Hezekiah, who has ruled as co-regent since 727BC.
Hezekiah destroyed the pagan places of worship in Jerusalem and throughout Judah, and trusted in the LORD. He cut down the Asherah poles and smashed the bronze snake (the ‘Nehushtan’) that Moses had set up, as the people were worshipping it (see Numbers 21:4-8).
The Bronze Serpent monument on Mt Nebo (Jerzy Strzelecki)
Hezekiah’s faithfulness to the LORD was accompanied by great military achievements. In 705BC, Sargon II of Assyria died whilst fighting in Cappadocia. Hezekiah seized the opportunity and rebelled against the new King of Assyria, Sennacherib. He refused to pay tribute to the Assyrians, defeated the Philistines at Gaza, and secured a defensive treaty with the King of Egypt.
Hezekiah prepared for reprisals from the Assyrians by rebuilding Jerusalem's fortifications. He ensured its water supply during any future siege by replacing the shallow Siloam Channel that led outside the city walls to the Lower Pool with a new underground tunnel from the Gihon Spring to the Upper Pool (see Map 61). Both the Pools of Siloam, and the nearby houses of many Jewish refugees who had settled here when the northern kingdom fell to the Assyrians a few years earlier, were brought inside an extension to the city walls. Hezekiah’s Tunnel and the two Pools of Siloam can still be seen in Jerusalem today.
The entrance to Hezekiah's Tunnel