I will encamp on all sides against you,And I will besiege you with a palisade And raise up siegeworks against you. –Isaiah 29:3
In his letter to Romans Paul offers one of the few crucial keys for interpreting prophesy .In Romans 15:4 we read :” For all the things that were written beforehand were written for our instruction, so that through our endurance and through the comfort from the Scriptures we might have hope.”
Isaiah was inspired to prophesy against Jerusalem of his days but his words foreshadow also a series of events that were to take place in our days .His words describe the fall of the earthly part of Jehovah’s heavenly organization (heavenly Jerusalem) in the days leading up to the end of this system of things.In the 29th chapter of Isaiah’s prophesy we read for the first and the last time in the Bible about the city of Ariel ,a cryptic name for the city of Jerusalem, a name well chosen to describe a city ignorant to it’s spiritual demise and oblivious to it’s impending attack by Satan the Devil and the political element of this world.
The Watchtower Society initially acknowledged the significance of this prophesy in a Questions from Readers articles back in 1961 but later on having realised its implications obscured and lied about its original position .For that reason they have nothing or little to say about the rest of the 29th chapter of Isaiah’s prophesy.
In Isaiah 29:3 we read :
In the book Isaiah’s Prophesy Volume I ,chapter 22 and page 297 ,the Watchtower has the following few lines to offer in explanation of these verses :
This is simply wrong! While the verse is reminiscent of many different attacks against the city of Jerusalem first by the Assyrians ,later by the Babylonians and finally by the Romans ,there is only one enemy that accurately fits the profile of the attacker of the city of Ariel.Simply considering the following verses of chapter 29 the reader discovers for himself that whoever that enemy was never got to finally destroy the city or its temple .For that reason alone the Babylonians of 607 B.C.E. or the Romans of 70 C.E. can easily be dismissed as not fulfilling all parts of the prophesy .That leaves us with just one contender ,one that not only fulfills all parts of the prophesy but one that Isaiah himself had to encounter during his lifetime ,the Assyrians.
During king’s Hezekiah 14th year on Judah’s throne and while Isaiah was still alive in 732 B.C.E. the Assyrians under the command of king Sennacherib invaded Phoenicia and Palestine capturing many cities like Sidon, Achzib, Acco and others on the Phoenician coast, and then they headed south. Frightened kingdoms, including those of Moab, Edom, and Ashdod, are listed as now sending out tribute to express submission. Recalcitrant Ashkelon was taken by force along with the nearby towns of Joppa and Beth-dagon. An Assyrian inscription accuses the people and nobles of the Philistine city of Ekron of having handed their king Padi over to Hezekiah, who, according to Sennacherib, “held him in prison, unlawfully.” (AncientNear Eastern Texts, p. 287; compare 2Ki 18:8.) The inhabitants of Ekron are described as having petitioned Egypt and Ethiopia for help to stave off or thwart the Assyrian attack.
“I will encamp on all sides against you” God regards the armies which he would employ as under his control, and speaks of them as if he would do it himself (see Isaiah 10:5).These words describe the strategy of an Eastern siege, as we see it in the Assyrian sculptures—the mound raised against the walls of the city, the battering-ram placed upon the mound, and brought to bear upon the walls. Something similar is described in other prophetic accounts of that time like Jeremiah 33:4 and Ezekiel 4:2. Artificial mounds were raised up against the walls of cities by the Assyrians, as a foundation from which to work their battering rams with greater advantage against the upper and weaker portion of the defenses (see ‘Ancient Monarchies,’ vol. 2. p. 80).
“And rise up siegeworks against you” . “Forts” were usually movable, and accompanied the battering-ram for its better protection. Archers in the forts cleared the walls of their defenders, while the ram was employed in making a breach (see Layard, ‘Monuments of Nineveh,’ Second Series, p. 21).
Sennacherib and the siege of Jerusalem