HezekiahAccording to the Bible, Hezekiah (which means "whom Jehovah has strengthened") was the son of Ahaz (2 Kings 18:1; 2 Chr. 29:1), whom he succeeded on the throne of the kingdom of Judah. He reigned twenty-nine years (726 BC- 688 BC). (For a revised updated absolute chronology, please refer to the paragraph below and the list of kings at Kingdom of Judah.)
The Biblical history of this king is contained in 2 Kings 18:20, Isaiah 36-39, and 2 Chronicles 29-32. He is spoken of as a great and good king. In public life he followed the example of his great-granfather Uzziah. He set himself to abolish idolatry from his kingdom, and among other things which he did for this end, he destroyed the "brazen serpent," which had been removed to Jerusalem, and had become an object of idolatrous worship (Numbers 21:9). A great reformation was wrought in the kingdom of Judah in his day (2 Kings 18:4; 2 Chronciles 29:3-36).
On the death of Sargon and the accession of his son Sennacherib to the throne of Assyria, Hezekiah refused to pay the tribute which his father had paid, and "rebelled against the king of Assyria, and served him not," but entered into a league with Egypt (Isaiah 30; 31; 36:6-9). This led to the invasion of Judah by Sennacherib (2 Kings 18:13-16), who took forty cities, and besieged Jerusalem with mounds. Hezekiah yielded to the demands of the Assyrian king, and agreed to pay him three hundred talents of silver and thirty of gold (18:14).
But Sennacherib dealt treacherously with Hezekiah (Isaiah 33:1), and a second time within two years invaded his kingdom (2 Kings 18:17; 2 Chronicles 32:9; Isaiah 36). This invasion issued in the destruction of Sennacherib's army. Hezekiah prayed to God, and "that night the angel of the Lord went out, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians 185,000 men." Sennacherib fled with the shattered remnant of his forces to Nineveh, where, seventeen years after, he was assassinated by his sons Adrammelech and Sharezer (2 Kings 19:37), and Esarhaddon became the Assyrian king.
The narrative of Hezekiah's sickness and miraculous recovery is found in 2 Kings 20:1, 2 Chronicles 32:24, Isaiah 38:1. Various ambassadors came to congratulate him on his recovery, and among them Merodach-baladan, the viceroy of Babylon (2 Chronicles 32:23; 2 Kings 20:12). He closed his days in peace and prosperity, and was succeeded by his son Manasseh. He was buried in the "chiefest of the sepulchres of the sons of David" (2 Chr. 32:27-33). He had "after him none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor any that were before him" (2 Kings 18:5).
Initial text from Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897 -- Please update as needed
An absolute date, confirmed by astronomical calculations, offers itself near the end of the fourteenth year of Hezekiah, king of Judah. That miraculous heavenly sign, the foretold backward position of the sun's shadow, must have been due to an eclipse of the sun, probably on May 6, 724 BCE (2 Chronicles 32: 24, 2 Kings 20: 5-11). It took place between 6:09 and 8:24 a.m. Its maximum was 64.3% at 7:15 a.m. Therefore, Hezekiah reigned from 738 to 709 BCE. It is possible that Isaiah (38: 7-8) had been informed beforehand by an astronomer, perhaps by one of Merodach-Baladan's envoys, about the expected date of a solar eclipse on May 6, so Isaiah conforted the king on May 3. John D. Davis, Davis dictionary of the Bible (Baker Book House, 1975: 184) confirms the possibility that 2 Kings 20: 11 and Isaiah 38: 8 may be explained by a solar eclipse, and the stairway of Ahaz may have been a dial with a projecting gnomon to cast a shadow. This eclipse occurred near the beginning of a Year of Jubilee (Isaiah 37: 30). The regnal years of the Judean kings in the Old Testament between the death of King Solomon (992 BCE) and this eclipse (724 BCE) add up to 268 years as follow: 17+3+41+25+8+1+6+40+29+52+16+16+14. This chronological scheme seems credible, agreeing with Jeremiah 25: 1. Professor Aurel Ponori-Thewrewk (1985: 645-646) may have been the first scholar offering an astronomical explanation for the phaenomenon in Hezekiah's 14th year as a solar eclipse. He observes that new Bible translations use "the sundial of Ahaz," while other Bibles "the stairway of Ahaz." He states that the original Hebrew text says ma(c)alóth, the plural of ma(c)alah. Therefore, his conclusion is that it had a double meaning. It meant the steps over which the shadow has already passed, but it may have meant the instrument (?) of Ahaz which had obviously contained more than ten units, and on which Hezekiah was able to observe the movement of the sun's shadow. But whatever has been the original meaning of the Hebrew word, he says, the shadow had made an abnormal movement on it. He can imagine a pole in such position that it casts a shadow on a plane that is perpendicular to it. The shadow can move ahead for a while, than it can move backward on that plane.
For this updated chronological system in context, mainly for the reigns of King David and King Solomon please see more data under Phoenicians and Phoenician chronology, Josephus Flavius, and Chronology of Israel.