The Siege And Deliverance Of The City Of David In Isaiah 29:1–8 -- By: Robin L. Routledge

Journal: Tyndale Bulletin
Volume: TYNBUL 43:1 (NA 1992)
Article: The Siege And Deliverance Of The City Of David In Isaiah 29:1–8
Author: Robin L. Routledge


The Siege And Deliverance Of The City Of David In Isaiah 29:1–8

Robin L. Routledge

The description of the siege of the city of David in Isaiah 29:1–8, and not least the suddenness with which the picture changes from judgment and devastation (vv. 1–4) to deliverance (vv. 5–8), has occasioned much debate among commentators.1

One explanation has been to deny the unity of the passage. Clements for example claims that only vv. 1–4, which pronounce the coming judgment of God on the city, are the authentic Isaianic prophecy.2 This, he suggests was delivered, probably not long before 701, when the threat to Judah from Assyria was at a height, and a siege seemed the likely outcome. The promise of deliverance in vv. 5–7 is, according to Clements, the result of a Josianic redaction, which interpreted the fact that Jerusalem did not fall in 701 BC as a victory for Yahweh and an indication of the divine purpose to save Jerusalem from the threat of Sennacherib,3 and also developed from it the wider doctrine of Zion’s inviolability—in the face not only of Assyria, but also of ‘all the nations that fight against Ariel’ (v. 7).4

Kaiser goes further, suggesting that the passage betrays no Isaianic nucleus, and that it gives rather the impression of having being patched together.5

It is not the intention of this article to argue that this and other passages are or are not authentic to Isaiah; the circularity involved in the approach makes it impossible to draw conclusions of that sort. It is my purpose to show that the passage may be taken as a self-consistent unity; and to note that its different strands accord both with the message and theology of the rest of the prophecy of Isaiah, and with historical events.

To what, then, does Isaiah attribute this dramatic reversal? In vv. 1–4 Isaiah presents the siege of Jerusalem as the work of Yahweh;6 nonetheless, it is clear that the description is of an attack by a human enemy—generally identified as the Assyrians,...

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