The Setting: Judah/Jerusalem – Southern Kingdom/Israel
The Date: Approximately 720 – 690 B.C.
Historical and Political Climate: Sennaherib was the King of Assyria the strongest political and military power in the known world in and around the same time of Hezekiah. He had cruelly attacked and punished the various peoples and cultures who had dared to defy him openly or secretly. He suppressed the revolt of Babylon, and after he had defeated all his enemies in the east and north, he went west to punish Phoenicia, the Philistines, the Samaritans and the entire Southern Kingdom and peoples of Israel. Sennaherib exiled the native populations of the various countries and resettled them in different places in order to undermine their national spirit and severe their ties to their soil and nationalism. Sennaherib’s governors supplanted the native kings and administration were centralized in Nineveh, the capital of Assyria. After all of this aggression and tyrannical measures murder and destruction, Sennaherib marched against Jerusalem.
It was the prophet Isaiah who strengthened Hezekiah the King of Judah (Southern Kingdom – Israel) with Divine assurances that no nation would be able to do harm to the land as long as the people went with God. Isaiah even suggested to Hezekiah that Judea should completely throw off the yoke of Assyria which it had suffered since King Ahaz’ unfortunate reign by having to pay regular tribute (money) in recognition of Assyrian supremacy. Hezekiah’s faith and confidence in God’s help was so great that he did not doubt the Isaiah’s word that even Assyria, the greatest and mightiest military power in the known world, would be unable to punish Judea for their defiance and independence; and he made definite plans to stop the tribute payments, and to prepare his little nation against a certain and immanent attack from the forces of Assyria.
Archaeological Evidence: The royal seal of Hezekiah, king of Judah, was discovered in the Ophel excavations under the direction of renowned archaeologist Eilat Mazar.
For the first time, the royal seal of King Hezekiah in the Bible was found in an archaeological excavation. The stamped clay seal, also known as a bulla, was discovered in the Ophel excavations led by Dr. Eilat Mazar at the foot of the southern wall of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The discovery was announced in a press release by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Institute of Archaeology, under whose auspices the excavations were conducted.
The bulla, which measures just over a centimeter in diameter, bears a seal impression depicting a two-winged sun disk flanked by ankh symbols and containing a Hebrew inscription that reads “Belonging to Hezekiah, (son of) Ahaz, king of Judah.”
Please Watch: https://youtu.be/j4n-QxzyRW
Why this is Important
This Historical and Archaeological context is important to modern Christians because of the evidential connection to past – present – future. The connection to the future becomes relevant because of Isaiah’s prophetic words revealing the Messiah (Jesus Christ) to not only the Jews, but to all Non-Jewish people for all times and all places. Listen to his description…
Who has believed what they heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.
Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for sin, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.