A Prophecy Against Ashur and P’leshet (P’leshet) ~ Yesha’yahu 14:24-32

In my last post, we learned that God promises to restore Isra’el, and after they have rested, they will sing A Taunt-Song Against Bavel ~ Part 2 in Yesha’yahu 14:12-23. In this post, we learn of A Prophecy Against Ashur and P’leshet in Yesha’yahu 14:24-32.

A Prophecy Against Ashur (Assyria)

The prophecy shifts focus from Bavel to the northern center of Mesopotamian power, Ashur. Ashur was the nation that under Tiglath-pileser III reduced the size of the northern kingdom of Isra’el in the 730’s BCE. In 722 BCE, under Shalmaneser, Ashur deported all the northern kingdoms citizens. But God will bring even this strong kingdom to an end.

24 Adonai-Tzva’ot has sworn, “Just as I thought it, it will occur; just as I planned it, so it will be. 25 I will break Ashur in my land; I will trample him down on my mountains. Then his yoke will fall off them; his burden be removed from their shoulders.”

On a human level, Ashur seemed invincible, but God assured His people of His determination to judge the Ashurim people. The judgment appears to refer to the destruction of Sennacherib’s army outside Yerushalayim in 701 BCE. The yoke was a common metaphor for political servitude.

26 This is the program planned for all the earth; this is the hand stretched out over all the nations. 27 Adonai-Tzva’ot has made His decision. Who is there that can stop Him? He has stretched out His hand. Who can turn it back?

The obvious answer to the questions in verse 27 is NO ONE! Jon Courson opines that the who is a reference not only to Ashur, but also the Antichrist. [1]

A Prophecy Against P’leshet (Philistia)

The prophecy against P’leshet is the first in a series of oracles against nations that were immediate neighbors of Israel. Indeed, P’leshet occupied part of the promised land in a region west of Yerushalayim on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. The book of Genesis records the interaction between the patriarchs and the P’lishtim (Genesis 10:14; 21:32,34), but it was not until the period of the united monarchy that we hear of a sizeable presence of P’lishtim in the region. Both Sha’ul and David waged war against them.

The chronology of this period is very complicated, and it is not easy to determine the year of Achaz’s death. Some chronological systems overlap Achaz and his son Hezekiah in a coregency, with Hezekiah being the lead ruler. His death may have come as early as 726 BCE or as late as 715 BCE. The earlier one is supported by 2 Kings 17:1.

28 In the year that King Achaz died, this prophecy came: 29 Do not rejoice, P’leshet, any of you, that the rod which struck you is broken; for out of the snake’s root will come a viper, and his offspring will be a flying fiery serpent.

P’leshet had been under the control of Y’hudah during the reign of Uzziah, which took up the whole first half of the eighth century. It regained its independence during the reign of Achaz and became the aggressor. With the rise of the Neo-Ashurim empire, P’leshet came under attack just as the rest of the nations did. Tiglath- Pileser targeted Gaza in his campaign of 734 BCE, and the cities of P’leshet thus became tribute-paying vassals. When Sargon came to the throne, the P’lishtim attempted to break free of Ashur, but in 720 BCE P’leshet again came under attack and Gaza renewed its loyalty. In 712 BCE Sargon again had to come west to subdue the revolt led by Ashdod. Sennacherib’s campaign in 701 BCE brought changes on the thrones of several of the P’leshet cities. Through most of the eighth and seventh centuries, the P’lishtim shared the fate of their neighbors in Y’hudah. [2]

30 While the firstborn of the poor graze and the needy lie down in safety, I will kill off your root with famine and slaughter the rest of you. 31 Howl, gate! Cry, city! Melt away, P’leshet, all of you! For a smoke is coming from the north, with not a straggler in its ranks. 32 And what is one to answer the messengers of the nation? That Adonai founded Tziyon, and there the poor of His people will find refuge. ~ Isaiah 14:24-32 (CJB)

The cloud of dust coming from the north will be none other than the Ashurim army that will destroy P’leshet.

In my next post, we will continue in our study of Yesha’yahu by examining A Prophesy Against Moav in Yesha’yahu 15.

Click here for a PDF version.

[1] Jon Courson’s Application Commentary Old Testament Volume 2.

[2] The IVP Bible Background Commentary – Old Testament.

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