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[15] About the same time also the king of Assyria wrote an epistle to Hezekiah, in which he said he was a foolish man, in supposing that he should escape from being his servant, since he had already brought under many and great nations; and he threatened, that when he took him, he would utterly destroy him, unless he now opened the gates, and willingly received his army into Jerusalem. When he read this epistle, he despised it, on account of the trust that be had in God; but he rolled up the epistle, and laid it up within the temple. And as he made his further prayers to God for the city, and for the preservation of all the people, the prophet Isaiah said that God had heard his prayer, and that he should not be besieged at this time by the king of Assyria 1 that for the future he might be secure of not being at all disturbed by him; and that the people might go on peaceably, and without fear, with their husbandry and other affairs. But after a little while the king of Assyria, when he had failed of his treacherous designs against the Egyptians, returned home without success, on the following occasion: He spent a long time in the siege of Pelusium; and when the banks that he had raised over against the walls were of a great height, and when he was ready to make an immediate assault upon them, but heard that Tirhaka, king of the Ethiopians, was coming and bringing great forces to aid the Egyptians, and was resolved to march through the desert, and so to fall directly upon the Assyrians, this king Sennacherib was disturbed at the news, and, as I said before, left Pelusium, and returned back without success. Now concerning this Sennacherib, Herodotus also says, in the second book of his histories, how "this king came against the Egyptian king, who was the priest of Vulcan; and that as he was besieging Pelusium, he broke up the siege on the following occasion: This Egyptian priest prayed to God, and God heard his prayer, and sent a judgment upon the Arabian king." But in this Herodotus was mistaken, when he called this king not king of the Assyrians, but of the Arabians; for he saith that "a multitude of mice gnawed to pieces in one night both the bows and the rest of the armor of the Assyrians, and that it was on that account that the king, when he had no bows left, drew off his army from Pelusium." And Herodotus does indeed give us this history; nay, and Berosus, who wrote of the affairs of Chaldea, makes mention of this king Sennacherib, and that he ruled over the Assyrians, and that he made an expedition against all Asia and Egypt; and says thus: 2

1 What Josephus says here, how Isaiah the prophet assured Hezekiah that "at this time he should not be besieged by the king of Assyria; that for the future he might be secure of being not at all disturbed by him; and that [afterward] the people might go on peaceably, and without fear, with their husbandry and other affairs," is more distinct in our other copies, both of the Kings and of Isaiah, and deserves very great consideration. The words are these: "This shall be a sign unto thee, Ye shall eat this year such as groweth of itself, and the second year that which springeth of the same; and in the third year sow ye, and reap, and plant vineyards, and eat the fruit thereof," 2 Kings 19:29; Isaiah 37:30; which seem to me plainly to design a Sabbatic year, a year of jubilee next after it, and the succeeding usual labors and fruits of them on the third and following years.

2 That this terrible calamity of the slaughter of the 185,000 Assyrians is here delivered in the words of Berosus the Chaldean, and that it was certainly and frequently foretold by the Jewish prophets, and that it was certainly and undeniably accomplished, see Authent. Rec. part II. p. 858.

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