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|Hephzibah, the Queen of Judah despised Isaiah and saw him for the lunatic that he was. She was livid at the political sway he held over her imbecile husband. Isaiah was Hezekiah's Chief Executive Officer in charge of religious persecution, and he was also the purveyor of some very bad civil advice. When Sargon of Assyria died, leaving his son Sennacherib to be king, Isaiah urged Hezekiah to take the opportunity to revolt against Assyria.
Hephzibah pleaded with Hezekiah not to execute this insane, suicidal plan. She didn't mind if he killed himself, but she didn't think he should take the entire nation with him.
"It's a catastrophe," she remarked to her son Manasseh. "They're like two lemmings headed toward a cliff at top speed." (I have no idea if there were lemmings in ancient Judah.)
|Long story short, despite copious war preparations involving the conscription (euphemism for slavery) of most of the men of Judah, Sennacherib kicked Hezekiah's ass. Sennacherib captured all the main cities of Judah and left Hezekiah imprisoned in his Jerusalem palace with his taxes to the empire tripled. He had to tear the gold and silver adornments from the Temple in order to have enough to pay the tribute to Sennacherib. And so, maybe a few thousand people starved to death after the war because all the wealth of the nation was diverted to paying tribute. But, hey, at least Hezekiah didn't suffer idols! And that's the only qualification for being a hero in the Men's Bible.
So, here's how the revolt went down: Sennacherib, having defeated all of Judah's other urban centers, sent a multi-lingual general to speak to the people of Jerusalem in Hebrew and urge them to surrender. Hezekiah's diplomats tried to convince the general to speak to them instead of the people, in Aramaic, which the masses wouldn't understand. No government wants its sensitive negotiations monitored by the populace- I'm sure Hezekiah claimed the secrecy was a matter of national security. (Like Bush's secret evidence of Iraq's nukes, right?)
The general refused and proceeded to shout in Hebrew to the soldiers stationed on the wall of the city: (2Kings 18: 29-30 & 33-34) "Hear the words of the great king, the king of Assyria; Let not Hezekiah deceive you; for he shall not be able to deliver you out of my hands; Neither let Hezekiah make you trust in Yahweh saying Yahweh will surely deliver us. Has any of the gods of the nations been able to deliver its land out of the hand of the king of Assyria? Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvim, Dena and Ivah? Has Yahweh delivered Samaria (Israel) out of my hands?"
|While Hezekiah was busy gnashing his teeth and tearing his clothes over Sennacherib's strategic democratic appeal, Queen Hephzibah decided to take matters into her own hands, in hopes of saving the lives of her children, herself, her friends, neighbors, and compatriots. She locked Hezekiah in a closet and went out of the palace to meet Sennacherib's general.
On her way out, she was stunned to learn that far from being swayed by Sennacherib's appeal to their own individual rights of self-determination, not to mention reason (they were all sure to be wiped out by the vastly superior army), the superstitious Jerusalemites were vowing to fight Sennacherib to the last woman, child,
|and man for the glory of Yahweh. "That won't be necessary," the Queen disdainfully informed them as she passed through to the exit of the city. She was thinking, "What a bunch of moronic dick wavers!"
She proceeded to a main gate, outside of which waited Sennacherib's general. She unlatched a small, well-guarded door that led to an antechamber in the gate and then to a wide, dark buffer zone between the interior and exterior battlements of the city wall. She exited the safety of the city, alone, unarmed, and prepared to negotiate with the general.
As he approached on horseback, she noticed he was dark, handsome, and exquisitely built, but she allowed no hint of her attraction to be manifested in her countenance. This was business, not pleasure. He did not dismount as would have been polite in the presence of a Queen, but looked down on her, smirked, and leered at her beauty. He snapped rudely, "So, Hezekiah sends a woman to surrender for him."
The attraction evaporated in that instant. He was an arrogant ass like her husband. "I am the Queen of Judah. I carry a message for the great king of Assyria. We choose peace. We will pay tribute. My husband is ill and was not in his right mind when he conceived this mad plot to revolt against the great king of Assyria. We hope that you will lower the tribute since we have acquiesced, and we will make up the deficit with trade goods when we get back on our feet. Our people are starving right now due to the war. I can assure you there will be no more rebellion." The general signaled retreat to his troops. Thus went the first insanity plea.
"A woman with a mad husband must have need of a real man," ventured the Lotharian general.
In no mood for more dick waving, Queen Hephzibah turned her back on him, marched back to the city gate, and replied just as she disappeared through the portal, "Better I should lie with the barn keeper who slings dung all day long." The lady had impeccable timing.
|Hezekiah became a figurehead king after that. Hephzibah ruled Judah and initiated a program to integrate Judah into the wealthy economic system of the Assyrian empire, by producing and exporting olive oil and wine, and managing local commerce along the important trade route between Assyria and Egypt, the two richest countries in he world. Judah prospered.|
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