Monday, December 14, 2015

First Attempt to Bypass the Leaders and Directly Address the Masses

The first recorded attempt to speak directly to the masses, bypassing the politicians or heads of state:

The speech delivered by Rabshakeh (2 Kings 18) is divided into two parts. In vv. 19–25, Rabshakeh delivers a message from Sennacherib, “the Great King, King of Assyria,” to Hezekiah (whom he refrains from calling “King of Judah”), the essence of which is that Hezekiah’s confidence in Egypt, in his own strength, and even in Yahweh are unfounded, since it was Yahweh himself who sent Sennacherib to ravage Judah. After hearing this, Hezekiah’s three officials entreat Rabshakeh, “Please speak to your servants in Aramaic, for we understand it; do not speak to us in Yehudit within the hearing of the people who are on the wall” (part 2, vv. 26–35), to which Rabshakeh admits that his words were not really intended for Hezekiah but, rather, precisely for “the people sitting on the wall.” Rabshakeh then turns to the people themselves, loudly and in their own language, imploring them not to believe Hezekiah’s promises that Yahweh will save them, since no other god has ever saved his people from Sennacherib’s might. He advises the people of Jerusalem to surrender and to be deported willingly “to a land like your own land, a land of grain and wine, a land of bread and vineyards, a land of olive oil and honey, that you may live and not die.” 


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