Thursday, December 21, 2006

Background for Sunday: King Hezekiah's Era

For the immediately preceding post on Micah 5, click here.
We have been mentioning Micah's reaction against the abuse of centralized power in his times. Let me briefly give a few more details about what King Hezekiah was up to in this era, and how it was affecting Micah and his kinfolk in the rural areas of Judah.

Although Hezekiah is notable for good reforms in the area of worship, his reign was sadly lacking in the areas of economic and legal justice. His negligence in these areas stemmed in no small measure from his determined efforts to fortify Jerusalem and its satellite fortresses against a mounting military threat from the Assyrian empire to the east. For a good summary of all this, click here. For a summary of a very recent lecture on Hezekiah by Nadav Na'aman, click here (with some interesting back-and-forth in the comments that follow the post).

Here is a great image of work on the walls of Jerusalem under Hezekiah:

Through an amazing engineering feat, he also channeled the Jerusalem's water supply inside the city by means of a tunnel cut through underground rock. Here is a photo of me inside this famous tunnel:

All these building projects took a heavy toll on the people of the countryside, Micah's constituency. In effect, Hezekiah abandoned the country-folk, planning to leave their villages, homes, and lands exposed during the Assyrian invasion. When the armies of Assyria came, the people would have to rush to the fortified cities to defend them during long periods of Assyrian siege.
In the meanwhile, marshal law and forced work on the fortification of Jerusalem and the fortresses was the order of the day. Add to all this, the cheating and land-grabbing of Jerusalem's elite, who were accumulating vasts tracks of land for themselves at the expense of country citizens, and you can see why God announced through Micah the coming of a Messiah whose kingdom was not "of this world," i.e., based in the mindset of this sort of Jerusalem and this sort of king (Hezekiah).


Blogger S and C said...

Prof. Lawson Stone has a nice post on Hezekiah's wall (click here). --SLC

Thu Jan 04, 10:29:00 AM GMT-5  

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