Assyria Advances on Jerusalem

Isaiah 10:24-34

Like the climax of a nail-biting thriller, Isaiah 10:24-34 traces the movements of an overwhelming force of Assyrians closing in on the city of Jerusalem, but just when all seems lost and the enemy is shaking his fist over the city, the Lord delivers his people. It is not clear if this story is only happening in Isaiah’s imagination or if Isaiah is recounting an actual historical event, such as Sennacherib’s invasion of Judah in 701 B.C. Either way, his point is clear: God’s people should trust in his sure salvation and not fear Assyria’s might. Earlier in the same chapter Isaiah reiterates the Assyrians’ boast of the cities that have already fallen to their power (verses 8-11), including Samaria, so this story must be set after Samaria’s fall in 722 B.C. The Assyrians begin their attack by traveling south along the Central Ridge Route, the primary north-south artery running through the central hill country, and then they turn off at Bethel to cross the pass at Michmash, perhaps to avoid the fortifications at Mizpah (see 1 Kings 15:22). Then they rejoin the main route at Ramah. Isaiah echoes the terror facing each of the towns along the Assyrians’ path, culminating with the Assyrians shaking their fist over Jerusalem from Nob, likely on the summit of the Mount of Olives. Before the enemy can take the city, however, the Lord cuts the Assyrians down and saves his people.

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