I've always wondered why Hezekiah showed the Babylonian foreign diplomatic envoys all the wealth & power of the Israelite kingdom.

  1. Was Hezekiah just naive, and just talking too much(being loose lipped)?

  2. Or Was Hezekiah just bragging and/or being boastful in a prideful manner?

  3. It's interesting to note that 2 Kings 20:13a states the following:

2 Kings 20:13a

13 Hezekiah listened to them, and showed them all his treasure house, .....

Furthermore, 2 Chronicles 32:31a states the following:

2 Chronicles 32:31a

Even in the matter of the envoys of the rulers of Babylon, who sent to him to inquire of the wonder that had happened in the land

2 Kings 20:12 states that a son of the King of Babylon named Berodach-baladan sent letters and gifts because he heard that King Hezekiah had been sick but then 2 Chronicles 32:31a verse states that the Babylonian envoys were concerned about the wonders in the Israelite kingdom.

2 Kings 20:13a and 2 Chronicles 32:31a seemed to suggest that the Babylonian foreign diplomatic envoys were more interested in the wonders occurring in the Israelite kingdom which in turn seemed to suggest/hint that said envoys were spies.

Therefore, there is some suggestion/hint that said envoy may have been spying. Would the aforementioned evaluation of the Babylonians being spies be correct?

2 Kings 20:12-21

Hezekiah Shows Babylon His Treasures

12 At that time [a]Berodach-baladan a son of Baladan, king of Babylon, sent letters and a present to Hezekiah, for he heard that Hezekiah had been sick. 13 Hezekiah listened to them, and showed them all his treasure house, the silver and the gold and the spices and the precious oil and the house of his armor and all that was found in his treasuries. There was nothing in his house nor in all his dominion that Hezekiah did not show them. 14 Then Isaiah the prophet came to King Hezekiah and said to him, “What did these men say, and from where have they come to you?” And Hezekiah said, “They have come from a far country, from Babylon.” 15 He said, “What have they seen in your house?” So Hezekiah [b]answered, “They have seen all that is in my house; there is nothing among my treasuries that I have not shown them.”

16 Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Hear the word of the Lord. 17 ‘Behold, the days are coming when all that is in your house, and all that your fathers have laid up in store to this day will be carried to Babylon; nothing shall be left,’ says the Lord. 18 ‘Some of your sons who shall issue from you, whom you will beget, will be taken away; and they will become officials in the palace of the king of Babylon.’” 19 Then Hezekiah said to Isaiah, “The word of the Lord which you have spoken is good.” For he [c]thought, “Is it not so, if there will be peace and truth in my days?”

20 Now the rest of the acts of Hezekiah and all his might, and how he made the pool and the conduit and brought water into the city, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah? 21 So Hezekiah slept with his fathers, and Manasseh his son became king in his place.

2 Chronicles 32:27-31

27 Now Hezekiah had immense riches and honor; and he made for himself treasuries for silver, gold, precious stones, spices, shields and all kinds of valuable articles, 28 storehouses also for the produce of grain, wine and oil, pens for all kinds of cattle and [a]sheepfolds for the flocks. 29 He made cities for himself and acquired flocks and herds in abundance, for God had given him very great [b]wealth. 30 It was Hezekiah who stopped the upper outlet of the waters of Gihon and directed them to the west side of the city of David. And Hezekiah prospered in all that he did. 31 Even in the matter of the envoys of the rulers of Babylon, who sent to him to inquire of the wonder that had happened in the land, God left him alone only to test him, that He might know all that was in his heart.

1 Answer 1


The incident involving Hezekiah's illness occurred during the hegemony of Assyria, about 700 BC during the reign of Sennacherib. The government of Babylon was almost a government in exile and struggling to survive and needed all the friends it could get.

According to the record in 2 Chron 32:24-31; 2 Kings 20:1–19; and Isaiah 38:1 - 39:8, the envoys from Babylon came for two stated reasons:

  1. A mission of goodwill that Hezekiah had recovered. They carried a token gift of their goodwill, 2 Kings 20:12, Isa 39:2
  2. The Babylonians were astronomers and geometers and had presumably observed the sun shadow going backward due to Hezekiah's prayer. Thus, they "came to see the wonder in the land", 2 Chron 32:31.

Unfortunately, instead of telling the envoys about the power and greatness of Hezekiah's God, YHWH, he boasted about his great wealth. Hezekiah had completely missed the opportunity to exercise the principle expressed in Jer 9:24 -

But let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD, who exercises loving devotion, justice and righteousness on the earth—for I delight in these things,” declares the LORD.

Additionally, Hezekiah failed to express the method in which YHWH had fought for Israel, as displayed in 2 Kings 19:35, and the many other times He had intervened for Israel.

Thus, while the envoys from Babylon came on a mission of goodwill and enquiry about the the LORD God of Judah, they went away impressed with the wealth of Judah and 95 years later, 605 BC, invaded the land (under Nebuchadnezzar) and carried off much wealth and captives from Jerusalem. It is likely that they recorded the wealth which they witnessed, and such records could have easily influenced the decision on whether Israel was worth conquering.

Thus, Hezekiah's pride turned envoys of goodwill into spies. As a result, the prophet Isaiah strongly reprimanded Hezekiah, Isa 39:5-7, 2 Kings 20:16-18.

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