The vision of Isaiah

This is the title of the whole Book.

Concerning Judah and Jerusalem

This is the subject of the book. It is not concerning the “Church” or the “world”: nor to other nations except as they come into contact with “Judah or Jerusalem” Its theme is the salvation of the nation by Jehovah through judgement and grace, as being “life from the dead” (Rom 11:15). It is addressed to those who look for Messiah (Isa 8:17 45:22) and those who wait for Him (Isa 8:17; 25; 9; 26:8; 33:2)

 

Romans 11:15 For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?”

 

Isaiah 8:17 And I will wait upon the Lord, that hideth His face from the house of Jacob, and I will look for Him.”

 

Isaiah 45:22 Look unto Me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.”

 

Isaiah 25: 9 And it shall be said in that day, “Lo, this is our God; we have waited for Him, and He will save us: this is the Lord; we have waited for Him, we will be glad and rejoice in His salvation.”

 

Isaiah 26:8 Yea, in the way of thy judgments, O Lord, have we waited for thee; the desire of our soul is to thy name, and to the remembrance of thee.’

 

Isaiah 33:2 ‘O Lord, be gracious unto us; we have waited for thee: be thou their arm every morning, our salvation also in the time of trouble.’

 

Admonition (counsel or warning against fault or oversight). The book of Isaiah is one of the longest books of the O.T. as it is one of the most important. Its influence is not as great as that of the Pentateuch, for the Pentateuch has exerted an influence on the religions of mankind without parallel in any other book.

It is the foundation of Judaism, and the roots of Mohammedanism also draw supplies from it or rest upon its solid foundations of the knowledge of God. http://www.godsplan.org.uk/knowledge.htm http://www.ucg.org/christian-living/old-testament-new-testament/  

The influence  of the book of Isaiah upon Christianity is less than the incomparable book of Psalms, for in all periods of its history the Christian Church has sung its way out of tribulation in the hymns, whose matchless beauty, grace, and emotion have welled up wherever men rejoiced or suffered, despaired or hoped. But when the Pentateuch and the Psalter are set aside there be little doubt that Isaiah ranks next in power over Christian thought.

The earliest struggle of Christians to win Jews to their faith drew largely upon the Messianic portions of this glorious book. Isaiah himself was not so great a prophet as Jeremiah, for there are no words in any of his sermons so profound in their meaning, so clear in anticipation in the Lord’s own message as the prediction of the New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31—34), but Jeremiah even at the highest pitch of his eloquence was no so great a wizard of words as Isaiah, again and again in the earlier chapters.

 

Jeremiah 31:31—34

31 Behold, the days come,’ saith the Lord, ‘that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:’”

32 ‘Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which My covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them,” saith the Lord:

33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days,’ saith the Lord, ‘I will put My law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.’”

34 And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know Me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.’”

 

And if we spring over the historical section and add to these chapters 40—45, then there surge in a mighty sea of eloquence words so magical, so musical, and withal so full of moving thought as are not easy to parallel elsewhere in Holy Writ.

Yet great and full of majesty, dignity, and worth as is this book of Isaiah, taken as a whole it is in its entirety but little known among us, and especially in America and U.K., and the rest of the English speaking countries, is this true. At the Advent season Isaiah 9 & 11 are wont (accustomed) much to sound forth among us, and at other times ministers of religion are oft impelled (to drive or cause to move onward) to read in public chapters 40, 53, & 60, largely perhaps, because 53 suggests so wonderfully the sufferings of our Lord,  http://www.godsplan.org.uk/thesufferingsandglory.htm while 40 & 60 are so eloquent that even the deaf must hear their music and the dumb must repeat it.

But if the ministry confines its exposition almost wholly to chapters 9, 11, 40, 53, & 60 there is no need that all God’s people should learn so little of this portion of the sacred Scriptures. To learn more is easy enough with a little patience, a leavening of perseverance, and a gift of continuance. Come now, O thou reader of a goodly and Godly Spirit, essay this pleasant and most profitable task, lay down this Commentary for the nonce (arbitrary number used only once) seize the O.T in the Companion Bible KJV, shut yourself up from the world, and read the book through as a whole. Did you give a sigh of doubt before and a deep sigh of relief after? It may be so.

There were hard spots, none too easy to understand. So you say, and you are right. I should be telling you that shortly, but it is much better to have discovered it yourself. Knowledge, self-acquired is a rich acquisition.  

And what was the nature of these difficulties? There were certain words difficult to understand in their connections. That is true enough. To meet these difficulties commentaries have been written. But there were also difficult allusions to events long gone by; yes, and for the full explanation of these, historical knowledge is needful, and histories and commentaries have been composed. But as you read you came upon places where there seemed to be an enigmatic break in the connection of thought, which you caught up and connected somewhat later. Even so; and to meet this, men have invented and almost perfected systems of literary criticism by which they are able, however imperfectly, to show that portions of the book are widely separated in their time of origin, and there are books which expound these processes and make the book more surly intelligible.

Now, read the book through again, and yet again, and for the fourth time. You are increasing gently and surely in knowledge now. You are discovering the ways of the Lord of the Scriptures. It is the Lord who has been speaking, but He has not been speaking in fire, or thunder, or earthquake. but in and through the words of men.

These men lived and worked in history. God spoke through them in human history, and other men collected their sermons or addresses, or their writings, and preserved them for us. God did not miraculously preserve them from ill arrangements of the prophetic words, nor prevent the corruption of word or phrase by careless copyists. Many of the difficulties thus introduced have been successfully sought out and garnered for instruction, and libraries have been written by learned men to set forth all that has been won. We who now live are the heirs of all the ages of biblical learning, and for few, the book has so much been done as for this book of Isaiah. Come, then, and let us make a beginning; let us ask those who have gone before to select for us from the mighty aggregations of learning so much as we can duly assimilate, wisely use, and completely make our own. Let us be content no longer with Chapters 9, 11, 40, 53, & 60.  

 

           THE BOOK OF THE PROPHET

                ISAIAH                    

THE STRUCTURE OF THE BOOK AS A WHOLE

 

A| 1:2—5:30 EHORTATIONS: REPREHENSORY. PROPHETIC.

  B| 6:1—13 The VOICE from the TEMPLE. The Scattering.

    C| 7:1—12:6 HISTORIC. Events and Prophecies (AHAZ).

       D| 13:1—27:13 BURDENS. Alternated with ISRAEL’S Blessings.

      D| 28:1—35:10 WOES Alternated with JEHOVAH’S Glories.

    C\ 36:1—39:8 HISTORIC Events and Prophecies (HEZEKIAH).

  B| 40:1—11 The VOICE from the WILDERNESS. The Gathering.

A| 40:12—66:24 Exhortations: Promissory. Prophetic.

 

For the Canonical order and place of the Prophets See Appendix 1 http://levendwater.org/companion/index_companion.html

and notes on the Prophets as a whole. Page 1207.

For the Chronological order of the Prophets, see App 77. http://levendwater.org/companion/append77.html

For the inter-relation of the Prophetic Books, see App 78. http://levendwater.org/companion/append78.html j

For the Prophets and their calling, see App 49. http://levendwater.org/companion/append49.html

For the Formulć of Prophetic Utterances, see App 82 http://levendwater.org/companion/append82.html

For References to the Pentateuch in the Prophets, see App 92 http://levendwater.org/companion/append92.html

For the Quotations and Verbal Allusions to Isaiah in the N. T., see Ap 80 http://levendwater.org/companion/append80.html

For Evidences of One Authorship, see Ap 79 http://levendwater.org/companion/append79.html  

 

The Structure, above, declares the unity of the book, and effectually disposes of the alleged dual authorship and the hypothetical division of the book by modern critics into two parts: the “former” part being chapters 1—39,

the “latter” part chapters 40—66.

The “Voice”, in chapters 40:1—11, is necessitated in order to complete the “Correspondence” with chapter 6:1—13; and, if an hypothesis is admitted on the one side, then it must be admitted on the other; and it is hypothetically incredible (so extraordinary as to seem impossible) that this dual reference to the “VOICE” could have been the outcome of a dual authorship. For other evidences see Application 79, 80, 82.

·        The Date of the book is given as “in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah”.

·        In Chapter 6:1, the prophesy there is given as being “In the year that King Uziah died”.

·        According to App 50 page 59 (Compare Ap 77), Uzziah died in 649 B.C.

·        Historically, Isaiah disappears from view after delivering the great prophecy of the Babylonian Servitude (2 Kings 20:16—18 & Isaiah 39:1—8).  This was in the year 603 B.C., after Hezekiah’s illness at the close of the siege of Jerusalem by Sennacherib in Hezekiah’s fourteenth year (compare App 50, page 60).

We have thus two fixed dates, and between them a period of forty-six years, during which, undoubtedly, “the word of Jehovah came” through Isaiah, and “God spake” by him.

Though this period was covered and overlapped by the Prophet’s life, it was not the whole of the period covered by the “vision”, which goes far beyond the prediction of the Babylonish Captivity. Hezekiah lived for fifteen years after his illness, dying therefore in 588 B.C. Manasseh, his son, born in the third of the fifteen added years, succeeded in the same year (588 B.C.).

How soon after his accession the Manassean persecution began we are not told; however; it is highly improbable that a boy of twelve would immediately commence the horrible things of which we are told  in 2 Kings 21 & 22 Chronicles 33.

The unutterable “religious” practices that lie behind the descriptive words in these chapters point clearly to some four or five years later, when Manasseh would be sixteen or seventeen. According to Jewish traditions, Isaiah perished in the Manassean persecution; when, it is said, he took refuge inside a hollow mulberry tree, which Manasseh ordered to be sawn through. This may be referred to in Heb 11:37.

 

Hebrews 11:37 They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; 

   

If we take the fifth year of Manasseh (584 B.C.) as the date of Isaiah’s death (violent or natural, we have no means of determining), then, from “the year that King Uzziah died” (6:1, which forcibly suggests the terminus a quo of the whole book).to this point, we have sixty-five years from the commencement of the “visions” until the supposed date of his death (649—584 B.C. = 65) See App 77. http://levendwater.org/companion/append77.html

If Isaiah was about the same age as Samuel, Jeremiah, and Daniel were, at the beginning of their ministries viz 16—18, then we may conclude that the length of his life was some 81—83 years. There is no evidence that “the Word of the Lord came” to Isaiah after the reign of Hezekiah ended in 588 B.C., therefore the whole period covered by “the vision” of Isaiah is sixty-one years (649—588 = 61).

From that year onward to the thirteenth year of Josiah in 518 B.C., there were seventy years during which God did not speak “by the prophets” (588—518 = 70).

The chart of the Prophets (App 77) shows that.

·        Isaiah was contemporary with Hosea from 649—611 B.C. =  38 years.

·        with Micah from 632—611 B.C. =  21 years.

·        and with Nahum in the year 603 B.C. =  1 year.

 

The Purpose of the Author of the Commentary

The author aims no higher than to merely introduce the beginner to the accumulated stores of knowledge which the years have assembled and made available to us. Every generation stands on the shoulders of its predecessors. It sees further afield because other generations have laboured and the newcomer who enters into their labours, possesses their results. Yet each generation must make, so far as it may, its own contribution. Science, art, and letters must make some advance, somewhere, somehow, or the minds of men must stagnate and progress cease. This progress, is, however, achieved almost always at the hands of a few leaders. Others must be content to garner their results and pass them on down the long oncoming line. Real originality is far less common than the half-crazed optimists who prate (talk long, and idly) in every market place, would have us imagine.

Yet even if it be absent in any large degree, every individual must cultivate in himself whatever spark of originality may be his, and with it seek to increase his own judgement, learn how to use, not as a slave, but as a freeman, the results attained and promulgated by the great leaders of thought. To do this he must be modest, willing to be taught the ABC of the subject, whatever it may be. When these have been learned, the foundations have been laid, and the building of an independent structure may begin.

But this cannot even be begun, much less finished, without individual effort, the exercise of personal thought, the assembling of one’s own materials, the testing of the results of others, the subjecting of them to thoughtful research. The swallowing whole the work of others (devoid of research) is not an intellectual enterprise. This little commentary on the book of Isaiah is not intended for technical scholars, who, having already found their way and are now walking serenely therein. It is written only for beginners in the study of this prophet. It makes no pretence of breaking new ground. Its author could, with much less labour and concern have written for scholars.

The writer must avoid tediousness as a plague, and must leave out much that he would fain (happily) discuss, must try to catch the thing which may be difficult to some mind, without making the matter a bore to those who have advanced  beyond the need of such exposition.

 

The Apparatus

He who now begins his serious study of the book of Isaiah must begin his work with one absolutely indispensable piece of working apparatus, and for some time to come needs only one, The Companion Bible; The Authorised version of 1611. With the structures and Critical Explanatory, suggestive notes as well as 198 Appendixes.  http://www.godsplan.org.uk/biblicalunderstanding.htm  

“When thou goest, it shall lead thee;

When thou sleepest, it shall keep thee;

And when thou awakes, it shall talk with thee.”

                                                   (Proverbs 6:22)

 

But its possession without daily use is valueless. Knowledge comes to him who works for it; to none other is it granted. Nothing worth possessing comes without some drudgery. This is true of the knowledge of the book of Isaiah as of any other book, or any other subject. The first, the very first call to be made is a call to read and again, and yet again the book of Isaiah. It ought to be read through at one sitting; then the first thirty-five chapters should be read separately, not once but repeatedly; then the historical episodes in chapters 36—39; then the splendid chapters 40—55 over and over again; and finally chapters 56—66 also repeatedly.

This is foundational work, and without it there is no independence in study possible. He who has the will to this, the courage to undertake it and the perseverance to complete it will someday know something for himself, and not merely because someone else has said it. He is now really ready to read the pages which follow and to get profit from them.

But before he does this, let him make one more serious resolve. Let him determine to seek out and read for himself the references to other parts of the book, and to other parts of Scripture, for only so will he be able to judge for himself whether this writer has judged  rightly, or has leaped hastily and unwisely to conclusions. The reader who does these things, and not merely dreams of them, has already become a student, and his reward is sure. Mastery up to the full measure of his native ability will be granted him in due season.

 

A Word for the Courageous    

If you are a reader who will do and dare, then come, follow on to know, delve deeper, and read through slowly and methodically what is here written. Let it now be confessed that you will still not know much about the great prophetic book. For it is an encompassing book, a book of wide horizons and mighty deeps. You will only have begun, but even though, for the present, you go no further you will have your reward, and will be able to take any other prophetical book with far greater ease. But if you decline to wander straightaway into other fields, you will need to be advised where fuller and better knowledge may be sought. Let me then here set down the name of the greater books on Isaiah, but not a mere skeleton list, but a list with such description or characterisation as will give you real light upon the literature already made available for you. From such a list you will be able to select what you will next read, whither future studies may well lead you.

 

Thomas K Cheyne, The Prophecies of Isaiah, 1870—1889.

 

The Book of Isiah, in two volumes. George Adam Smith. 1889—1890, New and Revised Edition1927. The Expositor Bible.

 

Isaiah, John Skimmer, (1896—18980.

 

The Book of the Prophet Isaiah, With introduction and notes, G. W. Wade (1911).

 

The Historical Background

The book owes its origins to Isaiah of Jerusalem, who began his prophetic work about 740 B.C., and continued it for forty years. Years of fate where they to his people, and his words, to be clearly understood, should be read against the background of the history in which he lived, in which he was an actor, and for which he toiled and suffered. http://www.godsplan.org.uk/hebrew.htm

 To behold the man as he was in the times in which he lived we need to reconstruct his times as well as we may, and, matching knowledge with a trained and restrained imagination, seek both to see him, and hear him. But to secure the picture we must go behind the days of his activity and see what was going on in the days of his childhood and youth.

Isaiah was partly contemporaneous with Amos and Hosea, of whom there is much to be read elsewhere under appropriate headings elsewhere in this Commentary. It will be sufficient for now to remind ourselves that Amos preached in Bethel in the Northern Kingdom, probably between 746 and 734 B.C. The message of Amos was concerned with righteousness, and righteousness was the character of the God whom he preached to a wicked and adulterous generation. A message of greater tenderness and of a deeper religious experience was that of Hosea, for his emphasis was upon God as a being of love.

The men being different, the message from God must be different, and yet there was no conflict between the two messages. Each saw truly what he did see and gave forth truly what God gave him to see and to know. Righteousness and love are both alike attributes of our God; both attributes needed declaration and emphasis. If Israel were but able to take the Devine love into human breasts, and work out the Divine righteousness in human word and deed, a new and better world would be forming. But for messages of such moment, of consequence so far reaching, the times were ill-fitted. Amos spoke to the people full of the glory of victory and suddenly enriched by successful war. Jeroboam II the Aramean’s, plundered their chief cities of Damascus and of Hamath, and the fruit of victorious war was expressed in corruption in high places, and in ritualistic but un-moralised religious worship. To these people Amos preached a declaration of doom. Against them Amos declared that a fearful war was in preparation sent by a God of righteousness.     

He declared that this war would come against Damascus, Gaza, Tyre, Edom, Ammon, Moab, Judah, and Israel. For such a war as that a mighty power would be needed, strong enough to assail these nations one by one, and beat them into pieces. Amos knew that such a power already existed, but he did not name it. What he does say is this, “Therefore, thus saith the Lord God: an adversary!—even round about the land: and he shall bring down thy strength from thee, and thy places shall be plundered. 

 

Amos 3:11 Therefore thus saith the Lord God; “An adversary there shall be even round about the land; and he shall bring down thy strength from thee, and thy palaces shall be spoiled.” KJV

 

Amos knew full well what power this was, which should thus execute judgement upon Israel, for there are hints enough in his book to indicate he meant the Assyrians.

Hosea also knew fully well that disaster was in preparation and spared nothing in a passionate description of it. Not even the eloquence of Amos could excel words like these:

 

Hosea 13:16 Samaria shall become desolate; for she hath rebelled against her God: they shall fall by the sword: their infants shall be dashed in pieces, and their women with child shall be ripped up.”

 

The Assyrian Empire had but small beginnings in a territory only about twenty five square miles in extent between the Tigress and the lower Zab rivers. But it displayed early, a genius for war; and the conquest of neighbouring peoples, the acquisition of territory for expansion, and a threat against all western Asia were soon to be seen. About 1120 B.C. the Assyrians produced a great king who took the name or style of Tiglathpileser I, who made raids westward and was even said to have reached the Mediterranean. That would be sufficient cause for apprehension among several peoples who carried on their political and social existence along the Mediterranean littoral and its hinterlands. But the Assyrians were not able to produce another such king as he had been until about 885 B.C., when Ashurnazirpal III began to reign over them, and even more violently shook the western lands with plundering raids. Still more dangerous were the threats of his successor Shalmanesar III (859—824 B.C.), who set systematically about the task of subduing the western peoples and of plundering their possessions. Eleven or twelve of the small nations of Western Asia had the foresight to oppose him and the courage to unite and face him in a decisive battle at Karkar in northern Syria (854 B.C.).     

The Assyrian king has left us boastful accounts of a great victory and a heavy slaughter of his opponents. But it was a victory without evident or extensive results, and he was compelled to return to Assyria and recruit. At Karkar, among the kings who sought to save the west was no less a person than Ahab, king of Israel, who contributed two thousand chariots and ten thousand men. For his sad matrimonial alliance, and his weakness in suffering the religion of Israel to come into danger of corruption, the prophets of Israel, with the mighty personality of Elijah at their head, have covered him with denunciation (to denounce),  but as a national hero in defence of his land and people we may justly give him praise and honour.

Very different was Jehu (842—814 B.C.), who sent costly tribute to the Assyrian king, and so gave him the first deadly grip on Israel, which should never be wholly relaxed until the end of the little kingdom in 722 B.C. But that day was yet a long way off, and the Assyrians were not able to produce another such king as Shalmaneser III. But however deferred his day of coming might be, a virile people like the Assyrians were sure to produce another great king at some time. He came in 745 B.C. in the person of a man whose name had probably been Pul, or Pulu, a man of determined energy and of immense resources alike in war and peace.

 

2 Kings 15:19 And Pul the king of Assyria came against the land: and Menahem gave Pul a thousand talents of silver, that his hand might be with him to confirm the kingdom in his hand.

 

He was not likely to miss any favourable opportunity for fishing in troubled waters anywhere, and, as the outlook for Assyrian ambition had long been westward, Syria and Palestine would be most tempting. The Phśnicians held a strip of sea coast which their commercial genius had made into centres of world trade, as were the Aramćan cities centres of land commerce.; the Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon ranges between these two produced cedar which was coveted beyond every other wood; the plains of Jezreel and of Samaria possessed fertile stretches much superior to anything the homeland of Assyria could boast, and they with Phśnicia formed a bridge by which the untold wealth of Egypt might be reached. All of this part of western Asia was divided among small peoples, each too weak to make any determined opposition to Assyrian aggression. These little states had indeed made once made common cause for a few glorious years, about 854 B.C., but were now severed, jealous of one another, blind to the signs of the times, incapable of any serious common enterprise. The Assyrians under Tiglathpileser III would be ready to strike at any favourable moment.

If there were space, it would be easily possible to show that every one of these petty commonwealths of the west was ripe for the plunder, but for our present purpose it is chiefly Israel and Judah that must claim our attention. The kingdom of Israel had received a new impetus from the conquests of Jeroboam II, and wealth in an enlarging stream had flowed into it, but social and religious weakness had come with it, or in its train. There were swift changes in the royal Dynasties, the kings were weak and vacillating (un-deciding) in their external policies and the political disorganisation of the country went on apace (quickly).    

In the southern kingdom, the kingdom of Judah, there were interesting parallels to the experiences of Israel. Nearly contemporaneous with Jeroboam II of Israel, Judah had a strong king in Uzziah (782 (?)—740 or 737 B.C.). Edom was conquered and the Red sea port of Elath restored.

 

2 Kings 14:22 He built Elath, and restored it to Judah, after that the king slept with his fathers.

 

These successful moves gave Judah control over the rich caravan trade with southern Arabia. The revenue thus secured developed the resources of the country and much increased its military efficiency.

 

2 Chronicles 26:1--15

01 Then all the people of Judah took Uzziah, who was sixteen years old, and made him king in the room of his father Amaziah.

02 He built Eloth, and restored it to Judah, after that the king slept with his fathers.

03 Sixteen years old was Uzziah when he began to reign, and he reigned fifty and two years in Jerusalem. His mother's name also was Jecoliah of Jerusalem.

04 And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his father Amaziah did.

05 And he sought God in the days of Zechariah, who had understanding in the visions of God: and as long as he sought the Lord, God made him to prosper.

06 And he went forth and warred against the Philistines, and brake down the wall of Gath, and the wall of Jabneh, and the wall of Ashdod, and built cities about Ashdod, and among the Philistines.

07 And God helped him against the Philistines, and against the Arabians that dwelt in Gurbaal, and the Mehunims.

08 And the Ammonites gave gifts to Uzziah: and his name spread abroad even to the entering in of Egypt; for he strengthened himself exceedingly.

09 Moreover Uzziah built towers in Jerusalem at the corner gate, and at the valley gate, and at the turning of the wall, and fortified them.

10 Also he built towers in the desert, and digged many wells: for he had much cattle, both in the low country, and in the plains: husbandmen also, and vine dressers in the mountains, and in Carmel: for he loved husbandry.

11 Moreover Uzziah had an host of fighting men, that went out to war by bands, according to the number of their account by the hand of Jeiel the scribe and Maaseiah the ruler, under the hand of Hananiah, one of the king's captains.

12 The whole number of the chief of the fathers of the mighty men of valour were two thousand and six hundred.

13 And under their hand was an army, three hundred thousand and seven thousand and five hundred, that made war with mighty power, to help the king against the enemy.

14 And Uzziah prepared for them throughout all the host shields, and spears, and helmets, and habergeons, and bows, and slings to cast stones.

15 And he made in Jerusalem engines, invented by cunning men, to be on the towers and upon the bulwarks, to shoot arrows and great stones withal. And his name spread far abroad; for he was marvellously helped, till he was strong.

 

Judah was now as rich as Israel, and rich enough to be an object of cupidity to its neighbours. “The land was full of silver and gold, and there was no end of its treasures; the land was full of horses and there was no end of their chariots.”

 

Isaiah 2:7 Their land also is full of silver and gold, neither is there any end of their treasures; their land is also full of horses, neither is there any end of their chariots:

 

But as in Israel so also in Judah, prosperity brought incalculable evils in its train, both social and religious. Luxury and debauchery spread widely among the upper classes.

 

Isaiah 3:16—23

16 Moreover the Lord saith, Because the daughters of Zion are haughty, and walk with stretched forth necks and wanton eyes, walking and mincing as they go, and making a tinkling with their feet:

17 Therefore the Lord will smite with a scab the crown of the head of the daughters of Zion, and the Lord will discover their secret parts.

18 In that day the Lord will take away the bravery of their tinkling ornaments about their feet, and their cauls, and their round tires like the moon,

19 The chains, and the bracelets, and the mufflers,

20 The bonnets, and the ornaments of the legs, and the headbands, and the tablets, and the earrings,

21 The rings, and nose jewels,

22 The changeable suits of apparel, and the mantles, and the wimples, and the crisping pins,

23 The glasses, and the fine linen, and the hoods, and the vails.

 

Isaiah 5; 11—12, 22

11 Woe unto them that rise up early in the morning, that they may follow strong drink; that continue until night, till wine inflame them!

12 And the harp, and the viol, the tabret, and pipe, and wine, are in their feasts: but they regard not the work of the Lord, neither consider the operation of his hands.

22 Woe unto them that are mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink.

 

Isaiah 28:1—8

1 Woe to the crown of pride, to the drunkards of Ephraim, whose glorious beauty is a fading flower, which are on the head of the fat valleys of them that are overcome with wine!

2 Behold, the Lord hath a mighty and strong one, which as a tempest of hail and a destroying storm, as a flood of mighty waters overflowing, shall cast down to the earth with the hand.

3 The crown of pride, the drunkards of Ephraim, shall be trodden under feet:

4 And the glorious beauty, which is on the head of the fat valley, shall be a fading flower, and as the hasty fruit before the summer; which when he that looketh upon it seeth, while it is yet in his hand he eateth it up.

5 In that day shall the Lord of hosts be for a crown of glory, and for a diadem of beauty, unto the residue of his people,

6 And for a spirit of judgment to him that sitteth in judgment, and for strength to them that turn the battle to the gate.

7 But they also have erred through wine, and through strong drink are out of the way; the priest and the prophet have erred through strong drink, they are swallowed up of wine, they are out of the way through strong drink; they err in vision, they stumble in judgment.

8 For all tables are full of vomit and filthiness, so that there is no place clean.

 

Isaiah 32:9--20

09 Rise up, ye women that are at ease; hear my voice, ye careless daughters; give ear unto my speech.

10 Many days and years shall ye be troubled, ye careless women: for the vintage shall fail, the gathering shall not come.

11 Tremble, ye women that are at ease; be troubled, ye careless ones: strip you, and make you bare, and gird sackcloth upon your loins.

12 They shall lament for the teats, for the pleasant fields, for the fruitful vine.

13 Upon the land of my people shall come up thorns and briers; yea, upon all the houses of joy in the joyous city:

14 Because the palaces shall be forsaken; the multitude of the city shall be left; the forts and towers shall be for dens for ever, a joy of wild asses, a pasture of flocks;

15 Until the spirit be poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness be a fruitful field, and the fruitful field be counted for a forest.

16 Then judgment shall dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness remain in the fruitful field.

17 And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.

18 And my people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places;

19 When it shall hail, coming down on the forest; and the city shall be low in a low place.

20 Blessed are ye that sow beside all waters, that send forth thither the feet of the ox and the ass.

 

Capital increased in the hands of the few, and the old landowners were gradually deprived of their little farms, which were replaced by great landed estates, and a destitute and oppressed lower class was formed.

 

Isaiah 5:8 Woe unto them that join house to house, that lay field to field, till there be no place, that they may be placed alone in the midst of the earth!

 

Micah 2:2, 9

2 And they covet fields, and take them by violence; and houses, and take them away: so they oppress a man and his house, even a man and his heritage.

9 The women of My people have ye cast out from their pleasant houses; from their children have ye taken away My glory for ever.

 

When Uzziah died, about 740 B.C., the times called earnestly for a strong voice to be raised against these conditions. It seems, as we look back upon these events, that the leaders both in Israel and Judah ought to have had vision enough to recognise Assyria as the great and growing danger, but there was not enough foresight, by political or religious leaders, in either kingdom to have grasped the situation. So has it been over and over again in every succeeding age. Few indeed were they who foresaw the coming of the Great and Second World Wars in our day, or made any provision for its dangers.

Assyrian powers seemed far away, and when Shalmaneser III was dead there seemed to western observers to be no successor to him. Even when Tiglathpileser III ascended the throne there were some years without much threat in them. If men of vision had ruled in Samaria and Jerusalem, there might have been a different story to tell, but Jeroboam II was busy with the aggrandisement of his kingdom at the cost of the Aramćans, and Uzziah with the enrichment of his people at the charge of Edom. But there was much worse in store. The only hope for the perpetuation of independent kingdoms in Syria and Palestine was in union for defence against Assyria instead of a move, which seems to us so obvious. Rezin (the name should be really written “Rezon”) king of the Aramćans (the people of Damascus), and Pekah, king of Israel, conspired to attack and plunder Judah. The scheme, mad enough for the minds of lunatics, was apparently begun in the reign of Jotham, but came to full force in the reign of Ahaz, king of Judah. The latter was a weak man and ought to have taken the advice of Isaiah, whose vision  of events present and approaching extend beyond the borders of Judah. Ahaz could see only the present and pressing danger. He appealed to Tiglathpileser III for help against this coalition, and promptly received it.  

Tiglathpileser III invaded Israel in 734 B.C., plunging through Gilead, Galilee, and taking captive some of the inhabitants of Naphtali.

 

2 Kings 15:29 In the days of Pekah king of Israel came Tiglathpileser king of Assyria, and took Ijon, and Abelbethmaachah, and Janoah, and Kedesh, and Hazor, and Gilead, and Galilee, all the land of Naphtali, and carried them captive to Assyria.

 

The effect was immediate Rezon and Pekah had approached Jerusalem but were compelled by this move Tiglathpileser to withdraw. Judah was saved, but at fearful cost. Ahaz went off to Damascus to pay homage to his deliverer, and Judah as well as Israel had by this short-sighted folly of the Judćan king been placed in a position of tutelage (guardianship) to the great king from the Tigress Valley. The Assyrians would duly draw the proper conclusion from these situations, and arrange to take profit from them. Henceforth Judah had to pay a heavy annual tribute to the Assyrian overlord, and the Assyrian kings knew well how to make their annual collections from states which had accepted their over-lordship. In 727 B.C. the Great Assyrian king died and Shalmaneser V became his successor.  He was far from equal to Tiglathpileser III, and, as happened so often in Oriental history at a change in kings, rebellions began in various parts of the empire.

Hezekiah was now king in Jerusalem, though uncertainties in the chronological material make it doubtful whether Ahaz had died and Hezekiah had succeeded him, or was still alive with Hezekiah acting as Regent. The Egyptians were doing their utmost to foment disturbances in Western Asia, hoping to profit there-from, but there is no evidence Judah yielded to them. In the Northern Kingdom, however, the case was entirely different. Hoshea was now king in Samaria, having been appointed to office by Tiglathpileser III as an Assyrian vassal. He was so mad as to yield to Egyptian intrigue, having entered into treasonable negotiations with a petty Delta king in Egypt, whose name is handed down in the Hebrew text in the form of So, but named Sibe, or Sabe, by the Assyrians, which implies that the Hebrew form should be Seve. Hoshea refused the annual tribute and Shalmaneser moved against him, received shortly his personal surrender and began a siege of Samaria. The little city held out bravely against great odds for nearly three years, and surrendered to the Assyrian army in 722—721 B.C.

In that very hour Shalmaneser died and one of the greatest kings ever produced in Assyria took his place, assuming the ancient name of Sargon, and fit for any enterprise, as his great Babylonian namesake had been. He incorporated the kingdom of the Ten Tribes into the Assyrian Empire. http://godsplan.org.uk/fulltentribes.htm    

 

2 Kings 17:3—6

3 Against him came up Shalmaneser king of Assyria; and Hoshea became his servant, and gave him presents.

4 And the king of Assyria found conspiracy in Hoshea: for he had sent messengers to So king of Egypt, and brought no present to the king of Assyria, as he had done year by year: therefore the king of Assyria shut him up, and bound him in prison.

5 Then the king of Assyria came up throughout all the land, and went up to Samaria, and besieged it three years.

6 In the ninth year of Hoshea the king of Assyria took Samaria, and carried Israel away into Assyria, and placed them in Halah and in Habor by the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes.

 

But the people of Israel were not so easily mastered, and the small neighbouring peoples in Syria gained sufficient support and encouragement to begin a very promising revolt. Had the Assyrian been a man of less force and character, the west might have won at least a fresh breath of independence. But there was no reason to hope for such a happy issue when Sargon was on the throne. He came west and opposition crumpled before him. The last grasp of Israel as a separate kingdom had come, and the whole of Syria went down with it. Sargon penetrated the coast to Ashdod, about thirty-three miles west of Jerusalem, and took it in 711 B.C.

 

Isaiah 20:1 In the year that Tartan came unto Ashdod, (when Sargon the king of Assyria sent him,) and fought against Ashdod, and took it;

 

And at Raphia defeated the allied forces to which the Egyptians had made a contribution. Judah had most wisely remained neutral, and so secured another breathing spell, or she would have then and there vanished out of independent existence. Sargon’s period of reign was now soon to end, for in 705 B.C. he was dead and his son Sennacherib ruled in his stead. Sennacherib inherited a vast empire, but many perplexities and dangers came with it. Babylon was a dangerous problem, for a skilful and energetic Chaldean named Merodachbaladan seized the city for his people, and by this coup encouraged the western peoples to rebel while Sennacherib was detained by eastern problems. The advisors of Hezekiah thought the hour propitious (favourably disposed) for an attempt to cast off the Assyrian yoke altogether. Flattery of the king, of his wisdom and supposed prowess in war, may have had something to do with his decision to join in a rebellion against the Assyrian over-lordship, and to cut off the annual tribute.

The Assyrians regarded the people of Ekron as the real leaders of the uprising, for they had seized their Assyrian governor. Padi by name, expelled him from office, and handed him over to Hezekiah for imprisonment. All these western peoples were more or less obsessed with the greatness of Egypt, and were ever ready to believe help against the Assyrians might hence be derived. There could seldom have been less justification for any such hope than at that hour. For Egypt had lost its national unity and the land was divided, as it had been more than once before, under the control of pretenders who each sought to rule in his own nome, or district. (Nome may refer to: A country subdivision Nome (Egypt) an administrative division within ancient Egypt) hoping that some chance might make him ruler over all the land. There was at least one competent observer of events in Jerusalem who knew that Egypt was in grievous danger internecine civil war and therefore helpless to give aid. Isaiah saw the whole situation with amazing clarity of view and soundness of judgment, saying in God’s name;

 

Isaiah 19:2 And I will set the Egyptians against the Egyptians: and they shall fight every one against his brother, and every one against his neighbour; city against city, and kingdom against kingdom.

 

These would be sorry helpers in an uprising against a power so united and so well directed as Assyria. However; the die was cast and Judah must take the consequences of her king’s folly.

Sennacherib set his troops on the march and in 701 B.C. invaded the west, striking the Mediterranean coast at or near Tyre. He did not, however, attempt the reduction of the city, which would have been impossible without a naval force. Sidon was taken without a blow, and Ethobal was set up as its king, receiving authority as far south as Mount Carmel. This spectacular success over the Phśnicians alarmed the faint-hearted members of small states who had joined the coalition, and who now sent deputations with gifts and promises of fealty (faithfulness). But in spite of defections in Arvad, Gebal, Ashdod, Moab, Ammon, and Edom the rest of the little confederation stood fast. Sennacherib pushed on down the coast, and took Ashkelon, carrying its king off as a prisoner to Assyria; so suffered also the towns of Beth-Dagon, Bene-barqa, and Azuru. The way was now open to the chief culprits in Ekron unless help came speedily. Strangely enough, a force did come out of Egypt but was quickly defeated at Eltekeh. Ekron was now taken and severely handled.

 

Then came Judah’s turn. Sennacherib marched from the coast up the fertile valleys toward Jerusalem, claiming in his own official story to have taken forty-six cities. Jerusalem was blockaded, but not taken, and the great king contented himself with the picturing of the taking of Lachish upon slabs of stone used as wainscoting of his palace walls. He was, however, not leaving this as the sole record of his triumph, for on his most beautiful scribed prism he has caused to be inscribed a full account of his punishment of these foolish rebels.         

It is a most remarkable result of the discoveries and investigations of our times that we should possess a contemporaneous account of these tragic events from the Assyrian point of view. Let us here set down, in translation, a small portion of the king’s beasts, that we may relate it to the Biblical accounts and the better place Isaiah in his historical setting.

 

Hear Sennacherib speaking:

“I drew near to Ekron, the governors and princes, who had committed sin (i.e. rebellion against him) I slew, and hung their bodies on poles around the city. The townsfolk who had committed wickedness and offence I counted as spoil; to the rest of them, who had not committed sin and wickedness, in whom no guilt was found, I proclaimed pardon. Padi, their king, I brought out from Jerusalem, and set him on the throne of dominion over them, and the tribute of my dominion I laid upon him. And of Hezekiah, The Judćan, who had not submitted to my yoke, forty-six strong cities, with walls, the smaller cities which were around them without number, by the battering of rams, and the assault of engines, the attack of foot soldiers, mines, beaches, I besieged and captured them. Two hundred thousand, one hundred, and fifty men, young, old, male and female, horses, mules, asses, camels, oxen and sheep without number I brought out from them and counted as booty.

[Hezekiah] himself I shut up like a caged bird within Jerusalem, his royal city. I cast up entrenchments against him, and whosoever came forth from the gate of his city I turned back. His cities, which I had plundered, I separated from his land, and gave them to Mitinti, king of Ashdod, Padi, king of Ekron, and Sillibel, king of Gaza, and diminished his land. Beside the former taxes, paid yearly, I added the tribute and presents of my dominion, and laid these upon him. As for Hezekiah, the fear of the majesty of my dominion overwhelmed him and the Arabs, and good troops whom he had brought in to strengthen Jerusalem, his royal city, deserted. With thirty talents of gold, and eight hundred talents of silver, precious stones, antimony, lapsis-lazuli, couches of ivory, seats of ivory, elephant hide, ivory, boxwood, and ebony, diverse objects, a heavy treasure, and his daughters, the women of his palace, male musicians, female musicians, he dispatched after me to Nineveh, my capital city. He sent his ambassador to give tribute and make submission.” (A Translation of the Taylor Cylinder, col iii. lines 1—41).

Here, then, is Sennacherib’s own version of these calamitous events. This campaign took place in 701 B.C., and is briefly characterised in (2 Kings 18:13—19:8) In this passage it is declared that Sennacherib withdrew because of some tidings which had come to him, for so do these words signify:

 

2 Kings 19:7 Behold, I will send a blast [spirit] upon him, and he shall hear a rumour, and shall return to his own land; and I will cause him to fall by the sword in his own land.     

 

Jerusalem had not been taken, and the Assyrians withdrew without securing the chief prize of their enterprise. Yet had Judah suffered terribly for her madness in aiding the confederation, and Isaiah was not slow in reminding king and people of their losses, in words that both moan and sting.

 

Isaiah 1:7—8

7 Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire: your land, strangers devour it in your presence, and it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers.

8 And the daughter of Zion is left as a cottage in a vineyard, as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers, as a besieged city.

 

However; Sennacherib, at any rate, was gone, and king and people must pull themselves together as best they might, and they were soon as bold as before, and ready to take risks again. If, now, we correctly understand the rest of the narrative in (Second  Kings 19:9), the events that followed were these: 

Sennacherib did not give up the hope of ultimately taking Jerusalem, but sought and found another opportunity for the attempt. We know that Sennacherib was again in the West at some time between 688 & 682 B.C., for he has left us a tiny little text which may be translated thus:

Telknunu, the queen of Arabia, in the midst of the desert, from her I took away a thousand camels. The fear of my dominion cast her down and Hazael also. They left their tents and fled to Adummetu, whose location is in the desert, a thirsty place where there is neither provision nor places to drink.” This indicates quite clearly that he was now near enough to threaten Jerusalem, and we may suppose while on this expedition he sent messengers to Hezekiah. Tirhakah was now

(689—663 B.C.), ruler in Egypt, and it was rumoured that he might take sides against Sennacherib, and Sennacherib took the first move and summoned Jerusalem to surrender.

 

2 Kings 19:9 And when he heard say of Tirhakah king of Ethiopia, “Behold, he is come out to fight against thee: he sent messengers again unto Hezekiah, saying,”

 

Isaiah stiffened the back of Hezekiah to refuse, assuring him that “By the way that he came, by the same shall he return, and he shall not come into this city saith the Lord.”

 

2 Kings 19:33 By the way that he came, by the same shall he return, and shall not come into this city,” saith the Lord.

 

Following shortly upon this a great disaster befell the army of Sennacherib, for “it came to pass that night that the angel of the Lord went forth and smote in the camp of the Assyrians a hundred fourscore and five thousand: (185,000) and when men arose early in the morning, behold, these were all dead bodies. 

 

2 Kings 19:35And it came to pass that night, that the angel of the Lord went out, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses.

 

So was Judah delivered providentially and spared for a season of hope and opportunity, which it was little able to profitably use. We have now surveyed the whole historical situation in Israel and Judah during the life of Isaiah. Let us turn now to the man himself and seek some picture of him as we see his noble and commanding figure against the background of his sadly troubled age.

 

Isaiah 6: 11--13

11 Then said I, “Lord, how long?” And He answered, “Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desolate,”

12 And the Lord have removed men far away, and there be a great forsaking in the midst of the land.

13 But yet in it shall be a tenth, and it shall return, and shall be eaten: as a teil tree, and as an oak, whose substance is in them, when they cast their leaves: so the holy seed shall be the substance thereof.”

But yet in it shall be a tenth, &c. = Still, there is in it (the land) a tenth part, and it (the tenth part) shall again be swept away; yet as with terebinth and oak, whose life remains in them when felled, the holy seed will be the life thereof. This is no “interpolation”; it is necessary to complete the structure (above) B| 6:1—13 The VOICE from the TEMPLE. The Scattering http://godsplan.org.uk/fulltentribes.htm.      

Teil tree = terebinth.

 

Isaiah 7:10 Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.

Make &c = Declare or foretell that the heart of this People will be fat. Isaiah could no more.

This prophecy is of the deepest import in Israel’s history. Written down seven times (Matt 13:14. Mark 4:12. Luke 8:10. John 12:40. Acts 28: 26—27. Rom 11:8).

Solemnly quoted in three great dispensational crises:-

1.      By Christ (Matt 13:14), as coming from Jehovah on the day a council was held “to destroy Him”.

2.      By Christ, as coming from Messiah in His glory (John 12:40—41) after counsel was taken to “put Him to death” (John 11:53, and compare 12:7).

3.      By Paul, as coming from the Holy Ghost when, after a whole day’s conference, “they believed not” (Acts 28:25—27).

 

Matthew 13:14 And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive:

 

John 12:40—41

40 He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.

41 These things said Esaias, when he saw His glory, and spake of Him.

 

John 11:53 Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put Him to death.

 

compare John 12:7 Then said Jesus, “Let her alone: against the day of My burying hath she kept this.”

 

Acts 28:25—27

25 And when they agreed not among themselves, they departed, after that Paul had spoken one word, “Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet unto our fathers,”

26 Saying, “Go unto this people, and say, Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive:’

27 For the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.’”

 

ISAIAH THE MAN http://www.godsplan.org.uk/The%20Prophet%20Isaiah.htm

 

ISAIAH THE MAN