Man responds to incentives. If the constitution of a country declares, “all men are equal,” but yet those who constitute the dominant group in the society punish those, among themselves, who attempt to live by the constitution, with fear of such persecution at back of their minds, persons in dominant groups who have wives, husbands, or children become risk averse in respect of doing of what is right. We have then that it is not so much what the laws of a country say that are most important for facilitation of right actions, but rather presence or absence of incentives, that is, presence or absence of rewards for doing of what is right.
In respect of the foregoing, if a White man who recruits on basis of ability, as such sometimes recruits Black men over White men is blacklisted by his or her White peers for doing of what is right, doing of ‘what is right’ becomes more difficult than doing of ‘what is wrong’. Only in presence of Courage then is such a White man able to persevere at doing of what is right.
When incentives, that is, rewards are skewed in favor of wrong actions, we arrive at necessity of Courage for actualization of ‘what is right’ in society. In this respect, it is matter of fact that casualties of the fight for civil rights included both Blacks and Courageous Whites.
King Hezekiah was one of the good kings of the Jews. King Hezekiah is not a myth. The conquest of Judah by king Nebuchadnezzar subsequent to demise of King Hezekiah is well documented in documents of the Babylonian Empire that have been excavated by archaeologists. For evidence, check out the Wikipedia page on king Nebuchadnezzar.
In those documents, consistent with Biblical declarations of greatness of the kingdom of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar, a king who ruled over just about all of the then known world, declared conquest of Judah his most singular military accomplishment.
There is not any great king who declares an unworthy kingdom a worthy adversary. If Judah was a worthy enemy, it was itself a great kingdom.
In course of the reign of king Hezekiah, Sennacherib, ruler of Assyria attacked Judah. Whether or not we believe the biblical account that God sent a divine messenger who killed off 185,000 of Sennacherib’s soldiers (2Kings 19:35), historical accounts outside of the Bible assert that, consequent on his invasion of Judah, Sennacherib was disgraced to the extent his own sons — Adrammelech and Sharezer — assassinated him, this while he prayed in the house of his gods. Sennacherib’s son, Esarhaddon, whose reign also is well documented in extra biblical sources, would reign in stead of his assassinated father. For a discussion of the historical extra biblical account, check out the Wikipedia page on king Sennacherib.
In historical times, if sons of a Noble or king felt that their father had disgraced himself in context of battle, as such shown himself a coward, for saving of themselves from participation in the shame of their father, they were allowed remedy of killing of their father. Not that this was right, but rather that in those barbaric times, such was the custom in many societies. In this respect, Adrammelech and Sharezer assassinated their father so their brother Esarhaddon could ascend to the throne. If someone else were to assassinate Sennacherib, not only would Sennacherib’s sons lose the throne, their lives also would be in danger. Better then to assassinate their father, run away from Nineveh, capital of Assyria, and provide opportunity for one of their own, Esarhaddon to ascend to the throne.
If you are familiar with the concept of a ‘dominant equilibrium’ , a concept that is taught in Economics, you are able to discern that, relative to the alternative that was feasible — ascendance to the throne of some usurper, actions of Adrammelech and Sharezer constitute what is referred to as a ‘dominant strategy’.
Better to have your brother swearing to the people that he eschews your actions, yet be protected and funded in exile by your brother who now is king, than, without resources, have yourselves, and your brother who could have become king, running from an usurper who kills your father —killing of Sennacherib was, by customs of those times inevitable — and ascends to the throne.
When a Spartan wife tells her husband to return from battle ‘either with his shield, or on it’, she declares the custom of the time, namely, a king who returned alive from a battle in which he was disgraced was considered a disgrace to his family, and a liability to his kingdom.
Based on the accounts in extra biblical sources, whether or not it was a single divine messenger who defeated Sennacherib, we arrive at one agreed fact, namely, Sennacherib was humiliated by a people who, by their very own account, asserted lack of sufficient weaponry for fighting off of a huge horde of soldiers (2 Kings 18:23). The strength, however, of Jerusalem, capital of Judah resided not primarily in its fighting force, but relative to other nations, impregnability of walls of Jerusalem. In this respect, it took king Nebuchadnezzar a full 18 months to breach the walls of Jerusalem (Jeremiah 39:1–2). And this was after he already had subjugated Judah as a vassal kingdom, that is, a tribute paying kingdom for, at the very least, 20 years (2 Chronicles 36:5–11, & Jeremiah 39:1–2).
Consider then that Nebuchadnezzar asserts Judah as his most difficult conquest, because it was in conquest of that military campaign that the greatest demand was placed on his technology for waging of military campaigns. It was demand for technology, not demand for a fighting force that was essence of difficulty of the victory. In the same vein, Alexander the Great’s defeat of Tyre & Sidon is considered one of his greatest victories, because he developed technology for building of a causeway on top of the sea from the Mainland to the Island in order to win the victory.
The Biblical and extra Biblical accounts agree on one overarching fact, namely, Sennacherib was humiliated by Hezekiah and the people of Judah.
Turns out, great kings define their greatest victories, not in terms of size of the force with which they contend, but by demands placed on the mind for achieving of victory.
With the victory over Sennacherib at back of his mind, and with respect for his God’s characterization of right and wrong evident in his actions, Hezekiah began to consider the victory over Sennacherib his, not God’s. Given we now resort to the Biblical account, the only source of history about Hezekiah’s life, note that it was not Hezekiah who defeated Sennacherib, but rather, it was Hezekiah’s God, Jehovah who defeated Sennacherib. It is right and proper then that credit for the victory belonged, not to Hezekiah who did not have to fight in order to win, but to Hezekiah’s God.
With sinful pride seeping into Hezekiah’s heart, for preservation of Hezekiah’s salvation, that is, his opportunity for resurrecting with Jesus Christ spiritually in future, Jehovah decided it was time for Hezekiah to die. Upon hearing of his impending demise, Hezekiah prayed to God, provided as evidence that he deserved more of life, all of his obedience to Jehovah in context of doing of what is right, and eschewing of what is wrong. Jehovah heard Hezekiah’s prayer, healed him of the disease of which he was supposed to die, added 15 more years of life to Hezekiah.
Why would Jehovah reverse course?
If you are God, as such all powerful, and a person who has been faithful to you accuses you of been unloving, the rational and loving course of action is to provide your faithful son with the benefit of the doubt.
So now, Hezekiah would have to demonstrate whether or not he had capacity for eschewing of sinful pride, an attitude that can be difficult to detect in actions of persons who are moral.
During those 15 years, Hezekiah would give birth to the son who would become king after him, Manasseh. The Bible declares that Manasseh was the most evil king who ruled over the people of Judah. So then, as outcome of an extra 15 years of life, Hezekiah gives birth to a great evil.
Round one of the dispute between Hezekiah and Jehovah?Goes to Jehovah.
But how exactly did this evil come to be?
When Jehovah informed Hezekiah that he was going to die, Hezekiah felt vexed that Jehovah was not taking into cognizance all of the good that he had accomplished for the people of Judah. Hezekiah then, felt unappreciated. Consequent on this feeling, he would invite the king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar to send emissaries who would be able to confirm the glory of the kingdom of Judah. If Jehovah would not appreciate his greatness, Hezekiah would seek appreciation from another great king. Hezekiah then fails a litmus test of faith in God. For it is normative that:
But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6).
In respect of rewards from God, is it not only while a man is alive that He is rewarded on earth for diligent seeking of God? The record declares that Hezekiah got much spoil (wealth) from the defeat of Sennacherib, and reaped peace for Judah in response to his faithfulness to God (2 Chronicles 32:22–23). So then, was Hezekiah not richly rewarded for his faithfulness to Jehovah?
If a man is rewarded with great wealth, and exaltation that produces peace in his circumstances by God, this because he loves to do what is right, absent emergence of sinful pride in the heart, such a man ought not be displeased with God.
Is there anything else that God can give man that is greater than combination of great wealth, honor in eyes of both his own people, and people of other nations, and peace in circumstances of life?
Manasseh was born three years after the healing of Hezekiah, lived 12 years with his father Hezekiah. In the attitude of his father, Manasseh picked up the bad signal that Jehovah could not be trusted to reward a man for the good that he does in context of obedience to Jehovah. So then, Manasseh made up his mind to do as much evil as he could muster. In this respect, the record asserts as follows.
“….He did much evil in the sight of the Lord, to provoke Him to anger (2 Chronicles 33:6).”
Consider, however, fallibility of Hezekiah’s response to Jehovah, namely, no matter how righteous a man is, a day of death eventually arrives. If every righteous man dies, clearly, arrival at death cannot have character of failure of God to recognize a man’s achievements. In fact, for a righteous man, God’s personal declaration of timing of death is evidence that such a man is recognized by God.
If all who are righteous die, death is neither reward nor punishment. Announcement of timing of death by God is, however, evidence to a man that God recognizes him or her.
Round 2 of the dispute between Hezekiah and Jehovah? Hezekiah falls prey to sinful pride (2 Kings 20:14–19). So then, Round 2, the final round, also goes to Jehovah.
So then, Manasseh set his heart to do evil, until he was captured in course of battle with the kingdom of Assyria, and taken captive to Babylon.
While in Babylon, Manasseh recognizes his foolishness, repents of his attitude towards Jehovah, and receives what hardly any king ever receives, is allowed by Nebuchadnezzar to return to Judah and rule as king. With his repentance genuine, Manasseh would spend the rest of his time as king doing right by his people, would transform from an evil, unbelieving king, to a good believing king.
Why did God favor Manasseh, such that in spite of all of the evil that he did, he was able to arrive at repentance, and then at restoration to his throne?
Because Manasseh’s rebellion was rooted in the sinful signal from his father that God was not faithful to His promises, that God is not a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
While Hezekiah’s signal to his son was not cognizant of the truth, in the mind of an impressionable child, resentment of his father seemed real, seemed justified. Well, if his father was right, Manasseh would reason, what good would it be for him, his father’s son, to set his heart towards worship of the same God who had refused to reward his father for his faithfulness?
Rather rationally, but yet on erroneous evidence, Manasseh set his heart to do all the evil that is heart could muster to do, set his heart to provoke God to anger. In this respect, Manasseh was no different from every child who, in presence of an unloving earthly father, finds concept of a loving heavenly Father difficult to digest.
But can a God who gives his sons who are faithful benefit of the doubt, such that they are able to engage with Him in reasoning and attempts at provision of evidence that they are right, be an unloving God?
In the actions of parents and society, children arrive at insights into whether parents and society reward what is right, and discourage or disincentivize what is wrong. In assertions of parents and society about God, children arrive at insights as to whether those who precede them in this life consider God credible or non-credible.
Prior to arrival at their own experience of God, insights that are derived by children can lead to production of much misery, suffering, and wrongdoing in context of social, economic, and political interactions that subsist in society.
The easiest path to producing of a ‘next generation’ that despises either of God, or ‘doing of what is right’ is to signal to children that God is not a rewarder of those who set their hearts to doing of what is right; and absent pointing out of evil of such outcome, to assert that society does not reward doing of what is right.
Simultaneously, the easiest path to improving of the probability that children love to do what is right is to signal that God is a rewarder of those who set their hearts to doing of what is right; and that society functions right via rewarding of doing of what is right.
On which side of this fence, would you deem yourself to be?