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301

BOOK IV.

JERUSALEM AND SENNACHERIB, 701 B.C.


302

Isaiah:—
xxxvi. 1. Early in 701.
i.  "        "
xxii.  "        "
xxxiii. A little later.
xxxvi. 2-xxxvii.  "        "
        ——        ——
xxxviii.-xxxix. Date uncertain.

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BOOK IV.

Into this fourth book we put all the rest of the prophecies of the Book of Isaiah, that have to do with the prophet's own time: chaps. i., xxii. and xxxiii., with the narrative in xxxvi., xxxvii. All these refer to the only Assyrian invasion of Judah and siege of Jerusalem: that undertaken by Sennacherib in 701.

It is, however, right to remember once more, that many authorities maintain that there were two Assyrian invasions of Judah—one by Sargon in 711, the other by Sennacherib in 701—and that chaps. i. and xxii. (as well as x. 5-34) belong to the former of these. The theory is ingenious and tempting; but, in the silence of the Assyrian annals about any invasion of Judah by Sargon, it is impossible to adopt it. And although chaps. i. and xxii. differ very greatly in tone from chap. xxxiii., yet to account for the difference it is not necessary to suppose two different invasions, with a considerable period between them. Virtually, as will appear in the course of our exposition, Sennacherib's invasion of Judah was a double one.

1. The first time Sennacherib's army invaded Judah they took all the fenced cities, and probably invested Jerusalem, but withdrew on payment of tribute and the surrender of the casus belli, the Assyrian vassal Padi, whom the Ekronites had deposed and given over to the304 keeping of Hezekiah. To this invasion refer Isa. i., xxii. and the first verse of xxxvi.: Now it came to pass in the fourteenth5353   It is confusing to find this date attached to Sennacherib's invasion of 701, unless, with one or two critics, we place Hezekiah's accession in 715. But Hezekiah acceded in 728 or 727, and 701 would therefore be his twenty-sixth or twenty-seventh year. Mr. Cheyne, who takes 727 as the year of Hezekiah's accession, gets out of the difficulty by reading "Sargon" for "Sennacherib" in this verse and in 2 Kings xiii., and thus secures another reference to that invasion of Judah, which he supposes to have taken place under Sargon between 712 and 710. By the change of a letter some would read twenty-fourth for fourteenth. But in any case this date is confusing. year of King Hezekiah that Sennacherib, King of Assyria, came up against all the fenced cities of Judah and took them. This verse is the same as 2 Kings xviii. 13, to which, however, there is added in vv. 14-16 an account of the tribute sent by Hezekiah to Sennacherib at Lachish, that is not included in the narrative in Isaiah. Compare 2 Chron. xxxii. 1.

2. But scarcely had the tribute been paid when Sennacherib, himself advancing to meet Egypt, sent back upon Jerusalem a second army of investment, with which was the Rabshakeh; and this was the army that so mysteriously disappeared from the eyes of the besieged. To the treacherous return of the Assyrians and the sudden deliverance of Jerusalem from their grasp refer Isa. xxxiii., xxxvi. 2-xxxvii., with the fuller and evidently original narrative in 2 Kings xviii. 17-xix. Compare 2 Chron. xxxii. 9-23.

To the history of this double attempt upon Jerusalem in 701—xxxvi. and xxxvii.—there has been appended in xxxviii. and xxxix. an account of Hezekiah's illness and of an embassy to him from Babylon. These events probably happened some years before Sennacherib's invasion. But it will be most convenient for us to take305 them in the order in which they stand in the canon. They will naturally lead us up to a question that it is necessary we should discuss before taking leave of Isaiah—whether this great prophet of the endurance of the kingdom of God upon earth had any gospel for the individual who dropped away from it into death.


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