No Good News

Isaiah 36:21-22. “But they held their peace, and answered him not a word: for the king’s commandment was, saying, Answer him not. Then came Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, that was over the household, and Shebna the scribe, and Joah, the son of Asaph, the recorder, to Hezekiah with their clothes rent, and told him the words of Rabshakeh.”

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Eliakim, Shebna, and Joah obeyed Hezekiah’s order. They were not to answer Rabshakeh. They remained silent, but they were in such inner turmoil that they did something typical of their time. They tore their clothing in their grief and dismay, and reported back to Hezekiah in that condition.

I’ve never been tempted to tear my clothing when I get bad news, but to do so was customary back then. It was an expression of grief, of sorrow, and perhaps of a sense of helplessness. These three men knew exactly what their city faced at the hands of Assyria, and there had been no chance of coming to any sort of truce with Rabshakeh.

I can imagine the heaviness of their hearts as they made their way back to the palace to see Hezekiah and tell him their news.

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