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He first set himself to break up the powerful combination of princes who were in league against him. Among these was Hezekiah, who had entered into an alliance with Egypt against Assyria. He accordingly led a very powerful army of at least 200,000 men into Judea, and devastated the land on every side, taking and destroying many cities (2 Kings 18:13-16; compare Isaiah 22, 24, 29, and 2 Chronicles 32:1-8).
His own account of this invasion, as given in the Assyrian annals, is in these words:
Hezekiah was not disposed to become an Assyrian feudatory. He accordingly at once sought help from Egypt (2 Kings 18:20-24). Sennacherib, hearing of this, marched a second time into Israel (2 Kings 18:17, 37; 19; 2 Chronicles 32:9-23; Isaiah 36:2-22.
Isaiah 37:25 should be rendered “dried up all the Nile-arms of Matsor,” i.e., of Egypt, so called from the “Matsor” or great fortification across the isthmus of Suez, which protected it from invasions from the east).
Sennacherib sent envoys to try to persuade Hezekiah to surrender, but in vain. (See TIRHAKAH.) He next sent a threatening letter (2 Kings 19:10-14), which Hezekiah carried into the temple and spread before the Lord.
Isaiah again brought an encouraging message to the pious king (2 Kings 19:20-34). “In that night” the angel of the Lord went forth and smote the camp of the Assyrians. In the morning, “behold, they were all dead corpses.” The Assyrian army was annihilated.
This great disaster is not, as was to be expected, taken notice of in the Assyrian annals.
Though Sennacherib survived this disaster some twenty years, he never again renewed his attempt against Jerusalem. He was murdered by two of his own sons (Adrammelech and Sharezer), and was succeeded by another son, Esarhaddon (B.C. 681), after a reign of 24 years.