The events of 2 Kings 17 and 18 overlap. So we read in chapter 17 of the Assyrian king Shalmaneser invading and conquering the northern kingdom of Israel. There is a long explanation there for why it happened, but if you’ve been reading even casually, you know the reason. In chapter 18 we read the same story but with less detail because the writer moves from the northern kingdom to the southern kingdom.
If you are one of those readers who likes numbers and dates and time lines, and if you are trying to create one here, you are going to be filled with frustration. The fall of Samaria is dated in chapter eighteen as the seventh year of Hezekiah. Hezekiah didn’t actually become king until about six years later. Is this an error in the Bible? It certainly looks that way, but frankly, the seventh year of Hezekiah might well refer to a later campaign of Sennacherib. There were, after all, at least eight of those and at least two of them were focused against Hezekiah.
What is important is to see correspondences between this story and some others.
In chapter eighteen, Hezekiah offers Sennacherib whatever he demands to be left alone. Sennacherib, “feeling his oates,” rather boldly proclaims that he is superior to the God of Judah and they have no chance against him. This reminds us of The Syrian king Ben-Hadad in 1 Kings 20, who vowed to do whatever he pleased with Israel and there was nothing to stop Him. In both stories there is a tendency to discount the Lord, and in both cases, there is miraculous deliverance. The same God who is at work in one story, is also at work in the other. The story in 2 Kings 18 – 20 is also the hinge on which the two large sections of Isaiah hang (chapters 1 – 35, 40 – 66).