Truth, Understanding, Insight

When Isaiah Walked Naked 3 years (1080 days)

24th June 2012, hej


1) Isaiah Chapter 20

Isaiah 20 might be read and passed over. It seems at first glance about events which are totally historical. From this prophecy Isaiah's reputation as a prophet was established in his own lifetime, as it was fulfilled in his lifetime. For this reason alone it is important. In the prophecy Isaiah acted out the events. Let us pause and consider what this acting out might indicate.

Records of Assyria show when Tartan came to Ashdod, which has been dated at 711BC. Archaeologists in excavations at Ashdod have found a Basalt Stela of Sargon II at Ashdod noting his conquests and confirming Isaiah's statement he took the city. The prophecy that the Egyptains and Ethiopians would be led away barefoot was was fulfilled in Isaiah's lifetime when Esarhaddon (son of Sennacherib) in a campaign conquered Egypt in the year dated by historians as 671BC . Esarhaddon called himself king of 'Egypt, Pathros and Kush' and made a victory stele. The Egyptians rebelled but were oppressed again when he returns in 669BC, but he dies that year.

The point of the prophecy is that the inhabitants of the coasts of Israel ask a question,

And the inhabitant of this coast (in context, Ashdod) shall say in that day, Behold, such is our expectation, whither we flee for help to be delivered from the king of Assyria: and how shall we escape? (Isaiah 20:6)

The reason for the question is that,

they shall be afraid and ashamed of Ethiopia their expectation, and of Egypt their glory. (Isa 20:5)

Already they were ashamed as Egypt had come to help Ashdod with Edom, Moab and also Judah, and still they lost to Assyria.

Isaiah's prophecy concerns the nations, specifically a witness about Egypt and Kush

And the LORD said, Like as my servant Isaiah has walked naked and barefoot three years for a sign and wonder upon Egypt and upon Ethiopia; (Isa 20:3)

The question that may be asked in retrospect is, 'why three years', when the affliction of Esarhaddon's captivity was one event? Why ask a prophet to expose himself even to cold and to wonder for 3 years on what seems a simple point? In context it seems that he was walking barefoot about the beginning of Hezekiah's reign. After Sargon II takes Ashdod he turns to take Babylon the next year and rules from Babylon. When Isaiah put back on his sackloth clothing and shoes Sargon II marries his son Sennacherib to an Aramic noblewoman. From this union came Esarhaddon.

The ascension of Hezekiah may have required a more extraordinary witness. The conquest of Babylon might underline the eclipse of Egypt, but they still do not explain why Isaiah put on such a show. Then also, why such an ordeal for Isaiah when there is no reference to Israel and Judah? It is 'the coasts' that fear.

Not long after Judah's king Ahaz dies Isaiah writes of Moab, who was also involved fighting Assyria at Ashdod,

But now the LORD has spoken, saying, Within three years, as the years of an hireling, and the glory of Moab shall be contemned, with all that great multitude; and the remnant shall be very small and feeble. (Isaiah 16:14)

It seems unlikely that the prophecy of 3 years illustrated the other as Isaiah's three years of naked witness is not related to hire, but to captivity and slavery. The connection might be that 3 years is the time of hire so Isaiah was 'hired' by God as a witness.

It may just be that the 3 years was needed to make the witness plain regarding Egypt and Ethiopia.

But what if we may parallel Isaiah's actions with Ezekiel's where a day stood for a year? (Ezekiel 4:6) Three years is then 3 x360 days or 1080 prophetic years.

This is a large slab of time. Do three prophetic years, 1080 days, of Egyptian and Ethiopian servitude fit directly from 671BC? From 671BC, 1080 years ends in 409AD. In that era Egypt rose again and became the King of the South against the Greco-Roman king of the North in a battle for the coasts. At that time the Assyrians were in eclipse, even their culture Hellenised.

Did an Assyrian-like power oppress both Egypt and Ethiopia for a long time in the era since? As the prophecy featured comment by the people of the coast of the Levant, the Philistines, or in modern terms Palestine. We might look for the 1080 years to begin after this name 'Palestine' became used for the whole area where Isaiah witnessed..

2) Assyria: The Damascus Connection

In 661 the Caliphate which was to dominate Egypt and then Ethiopia was established in Damascus a part of the Assyrian empire. At first the Arabs merely defeated the Byzantines, and imposed tribute, but by 725 the Copts were feeling oppressed enough to lead an Egyptian revolt. So in 727 Arabs colonized Egypt and began to introduce Arabic. The Copts revolted again in 739 and 750. By 750 the Caliphate itself is taken over by those who desired to force Islam on the conquered and moved to Baghdad. Baghdad had four walls named 'Kufa', 'Basra', 'Khurasan', and 'Damascus'. The centre of the Islamic power was to fluctuate and sometimes divide, but it dominated the coasts of Palestine. In this way the people of the coast of Palestine once again might have asked, 'how shall we escape?' (Isaiah 20:6) The Islamic conquests in scope covered the land and exceeded the Assyrian empire.

An era of 1080 years from 725-750 comes to 1805-1830. This era signals the beginning of Modern Egypt. The rule by Islam reduced Egypt to servitude and this increased after the Ottomans conquered Egypt in1517. In 1798 Napoleon with French forces invaded Egypt. The defeat of the French by Ottoman, Malmuk and British forces led to four years of anarchy, out of which in 1805 (precisely 1080 years from the first Coptic rebellion) Muhammad Ali established Egyptian identity and removed Egypt from Ottoman power. From 1820-4 he conquered the northern Sudan so it was allied with Egypt, and then he took the coast of the Levant with his son Ibrahim Pasha taking Beirut in 1830. By 1833 he had taken Syria. Beirut is on the coasts as described by Isaiah's prophecy. It was a centre for the revolt of Egypt from Ottoman rule and its capture in 1830 is exactly 1080 years after the last Coptic revolt of 750. In 1838 the Turks began war against Egyptian control of Syria. Though he was forced to give Syria back to the Ottomans in 1841, he had firmly established that Egypt was no longer subject to the power based in the former Assyria. Though Egypt was a 'base nation' it was no longer in servitude.

3) Isaiah's witness was also before Jews

The Jews were involved as the Jews of Safed were targeted by those revolting against the Egyptians in 1834. Co-incidentally there was a massive earthquake in Safed in 1837 that only left one synagogue standing and the wall of the Torah scrolls the other synagogue. There was a 3 day pogrom in the same city in 1838 related to the 1838 Turkish war against Egyptian rule. The result was counter-intuitive as Jews around the world began taking a strong interest in building in Safed.

Isaiah's prophecy was not irrelevant at the time to Jews, as Judah foolishly relied on Egypt and Ethiopia, despite the prophecy. It was not irrelevant to Jews in the era that brought the Romans to power as once again Egypt was shown to be unreliable and no match for other powers. The prophecy was also later to be relevant to Jews on the basis of a day for a year, for all the time Egypt was subjected. The overall situation has much to do with Jews as many Jews lived in these areas, including in Egypt and Ethiopia and they were subjected to being 'dhimmis' ('one whose responsibility has been taken' which is another way of saying that they are a servant, as if one has responsibility one has power and can rule). Though it seemed things were not different the years1830-1838 might be seen to have brought a significant change to the 'coasts' of the land called Palestine (Philistine) that Isaiah had spoken of. It contributed to the English occupation with the Eastern Question. In 1844 the Western powers, notably England, led Turkey to issue edict relating to religious toleration to all (nations) within their borders.

Jews had sought with some messianic fervour to return to Jerusalem in 1700. They began to build a Synagogue, but could not pay the debt and it led to their expulsion from Jerusalem in 1720 and the destruction of the synagogue in 1721- giving it the name Hurva or 'ruin'. But Jews had returned and under Ibrahaim Pasha were allowed to begin building again which they did in 1836 (completed in 1856). This is highly significant as this date then marks the rebuilding of the 'ruin', and coincides with the beginning the emancipation of Jews in Europe and elsewhere, so that they might hold positions of power. It was in 1837, the year Victoria became Queen of Britain, that Disraeli was first elected, becoming Prime Minster in 1868. He was to have significant influence in the British connection to Egypt.

The Hurva Synagogue has an odd postcript. It means 'ruin' and retained that name despite being rebuilt, but it was destroyed again in 1948 by Jordan's Arab Legion. It remained a ruin from 1967 with only an arch commemorating it after 1977. It was rebuilt from 2000, opening again in 2010, but having been built in the old style it has not escaped its name 'Hurva', meaning 'ruin'.

4) Isaiah's witness and Christians

In Europe also the year 1830 was turbulent and there were revolutions in 1848. Again about the year 1830 signals a new era, even in Europe.

Isaiah's three years of walking naked and barefoot spoke of servitude as a servant of God. He acted out as a servant, and obediently wandered barefoot and with no covering, where his prophets covering of sackcloth was to be put off. He was a witness of the fate of Egypt and Ethiopia. We might compare

I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.(Rev 11:3)

This is 3.5 years. Does the 3 years of Isaiah have any relevance? For the servants of Y'shua, the Christians, perhaps we could consider that from 754 when Pepin fought to give the Papacy political power marks a point of the servants being made to go 'barefoot', as from that era nothing restrained the Papacy from persecuting and making the true Christians 'go barefoot', as they did what they could to 'enslave' people or disperse them.

When were the true Christians able to emerge and speak freely without persecution? If we add the 3 years of days or 1080 years to 754 it results in the year 1834. In 1834 revolts began in Piedmont. Though suppressed, this movement for an Italian republic would finally remove Papacy from temporal rule. In July 1834 the Spanish Inquisition is ended by Royal decree. To underline the point of the end of Ethiopian oppression, the Christian effort against the slave trade, results in slavery being abolished in the British Empire in August 1834. This marked an era of many people seeking and gaining freedom.

This might be speculation but it does serve to make us ponder that there does seem indeed a set time for events, with patterns within patterns all leading to when the kingdoms of this age and their oppression of the coasts of the Philistines, and their oppression of Palestine, begin to lift with the establishment of Israel. Beyond this we look to the time when all political powers are replaced with the kingdom of the Lord. When,

In that day shall Israel be the third with Egypt and with Assyria, even a blessing in the midst of the land: Whom the LORD of hosts shall bless, saying, Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel mine inheritance. (Isaiah 19:24-25)

Topics: prophecy, Isaiah

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