The final years before the fall of Judah

Isaiah 36:1-22   During the fourteenth year of Hezekiah's reign (in 702BC), Sennacherib of Assyria attacks and conquers Lachish (see the feature on Lachish).

Hezekiah tries to buy the Assyrians off, but Sennacherib threatens to destroy Jerusalem as well as Lachish (see 2 Kings 18:13-37).

Isaiah 37:1-38   The people are terrified, but Isaiah tells King Hezekiah that the Assyrians will withdraw. Hezekiah prays to the LORD for deliverance from the Assyrians. An epidemic strikes the Assyrian camp and Sennacherib withdraws to Nineveh with his booty and captives from Lachish (see 2 Kings 19:1-37).


Judaite captives and Assyrians carrying booty from Lachish (British Museum)

Judaite captives (below) and Assyrians carrying booty from Lachish (above)   (British Museum)


Isaiah 38:1-22   In an aside that took place ten years earlier, King Hezekiah of Judah falls ill. Isaiah heals the king’s boils with a poultice of figs. He assures Hezekiah that the LORD will defend Jerusalem from the Assyrians, and he makes the sun’s shadow go backwards miraculously to demonstrate the LORD’s power (see 2 Kings 20:1-11).


Sundial at Packwood House

A sign from the LORD: the sun's shadow went backwards (Isaiah 38:7-8) 


Isaiah 39:1-8  Envoys arrive in Jerusalem from Marduk II, the King of Babylon (Hebrew, ‘Merodach’) in 712BC. Hezekiah welcomes them into his palace where they see the wealth of the kingdom of Judah on display. Isaiah prophesies that a time will come when the Babylonians will conquer Judah and carry away all its wealth. Hezekiah’s descendents will be taken away and will become eunuchs in the palace of the King of Babylon (see 2 Kings 20:12-21).

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