Author: Ron Graham
Time ~ 7. Exile and Scattering
Span ~ 200 years
Books ~ Jer, Lam, Eze, Dan, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Obadiah, [Joel]
Figures ~ Jeremiah, Daniel
Begins with ~ Wars upon Israel and Judah
Ascendant empire ~ Babylon
After Israel fell to the Assyrians, the city of Jerusalem, capital of the small kingdom of Judah, was vulnerable. The Assyrian military commander Sennacherib knew it, and laid seige to Jerusalem. Hezekiah king of Judah was distressed, and sought the help of Isaiah the prophet.
When everything looks as grim as it can possibly look, you do what Hezekiah did.
"He spread it before the LORD. Then Hezekiah prayed to the LORD" (2Kings 19:14-16).
It worked for Hezekiah. "Indeed for peace I had this bitterness, but you have lovingly delivered my soul from the pit" (Isaiah 37:14-15, 38:17)
A few years after Samaria fell and the kingdom of Israel was led into exile, the Assyrians turned their attention to Judah where Hezekiah was reigning (after his father Ahaz died) and Isaiah the prophet was preaching God's message. Sennacherib the ruthless commander of the Assyrian army, made a seige.
This would surely have meant the immediate fall of Jerusalem, and Judah would have gone the same way as the northern kingdom. The Assyrians, however, were not to have their way. It would be many years later, under a new superpower (the Babylonians), that Judah would be taken captive.
This reprieve for Judah was God's response to the humility and righteousness of Hezekiah the king and of Isaiah the prophet. Under their combined leadership Judah was purged of evil. The LORD therefore saved the small kingdom, weak as it was, against the might of Sennacherib's army.
Sennacherib demonstrated that he was a master of warfare both psychological and material. He made the serious mistake, however, of boasting against the LORD. So the LORD's angelic warriors showed him, in one dreadful night, that the power of God, not Assyria, is invincible.
"But as for Hezekiah, the Jew, who did not bow to my yoke, forty-six of his strong walled towns, and innumerable smaller villages in their neighbourhood, I besieged and conquered by stamping down earth ramps and then by bring up battering rams, by the assault of foot soldiers, by breaches, by tunnelling and military engineering operations.
I made to come out from them 200,150 people, young and old, male and female, innumerable horses, mules, donkeys, camels, large and small cattle, and counted them as spoils of war. He himself I shut up like a caged bird within Jerusalem his royal city. As for Hezekiah, the awful splendour of my lordship overwhelmed him."
(From Sennacherib's inscription on a hexagonal clay prism)