Isaiah 3 – The Judgment of the Lord & The Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III

Finger Pointing UpYou weren’t messing around were You?  This sounds like it was worse than when You flooded the entire world (Gen 6).  At least all the people had to do was die, but it sounds like You made them live a horrible life and let their fellow man kill them.  Am I correct on that?  Did you really do that?

1 For, behold, the Lord, the LORD of hosts, doth take away from Jerusalem and from Judah the stay and the staff, the whole stay of bread, and the whole stay of water,

Leaders would be taken away by either death or deportation (see 2 Kgs 24:1-4, 25:18-21).

2 The mighty man, and the man of war, the judge, and the prophet, and the prudent, and the ancient,

1 Ruins of the ancient city of Jerusalem
Discovery of City of David ruins fills gap in Jerusalem history
Archaeologists think construction on this ancient building started in the early second century B.C. and continued into the Hasmonean period.

Archaeologists have discovered the first ruins of a building from the Hasmonean period in Jerusalem, filling a gap in the ancient city’s history, the Israeli Antiquities Authority (IAA) announced.

The building’s remains were uncovered during an extensive dig at the Givati Parking Lot, located in Jerusalem’s oldest neighborhood, the City of David. Excavations over several years at the site have turned up some remarkable finds, including a building from the Second Temple period that may have belonged to Queen Helene, a trove of coins from the Byzantine period, and recently, a 1,700-year-old curse tablet in the ruins of a Roman mansion.

Despite extensive excavations in Jerusalem, IAA archaeologists Doron Ben Ami and Yana Tchekhanovets said there has been an absence of buildings from the Hasmonean period in the city’s archaeological record. Simon Maccabeus founded the Hasmonean dynasty in 140 B.C. This group ruled Judea until 37 B.C., when Herod the Great came into power.

3 The captain of fifty, and the honorable man, and the counselor, and the cunning artificer, and the eloquent orator.

“Prudent…eloquent orator” are terms that in Hebrew refer to occult practitioners and snake charmers (see Deut 18:19; Jer 8:17), whose activities were condemned.  Both legitimate and illegitimate kinds of assistance would be removed or deported (see Kgs 24:14-16; Hos 3:4).

4 And I will give children to be their princes, and babes shall rule over them.

5 And the people shall be oppressed, everyone by another, and every one by his neighbor: the child shall behave himself proudly against the ancient, and the base against the honorable.

6 When a man shall take hold of his brother of the house of his father, saying, Thou hast clothing, be thou our ruler, and let this ruin be under thy hand:

Normally it was unnecessary to force anyone to be a leader.  In 4:1 the same social upheaval is seen as seven women “take hold of” one man.

“Thou hast clothing” – there will be extreme poverty in the aftermath of God’s judgment that the one brother who has a cloak will be placed in a position of leadership.

7 In that day shall he swear, saying, I will not be a healer; for in my house is neither bread nor clothing: make me not a ruler of the people.

8 For Jerusalem is ruined, and Judah is fallen: because their tongue and their doings are against the LORD, to provoke the eyes of his glory.

A prophecy not completely fulfilled until almost 150 years later.

9 The shew of their countenance doth witness against them; and they declare their sin as Sodom, they hide it not. Woe unto their soul! for they have rewarded evil unto themselves.

The deviant looks on their faces show their contempt for God.

Sodom – see 1:9-10.

10 Say ye to the righteous, that it shall be well with him: for they shall eat the fruit of their doings.

11 Woe unto the wicked! it shall be ill with him: for the reward of his hands shall be given him.

12 As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths.

In the Near East, neither the rule of the young nor that of women was looked on with favor.

13 The LORD standeth up to plead, and standeth to judge the people.

14 The LORD will enter into judgment with the ancients of his people, and the princes thereof: for ye have eaten up the vineyard; the spoil of the poor is in your houses.

“Vineyard” represents Israel (see 5:1).

15 What mean ye that ye beat my people to pieces, and grind the faces of the poor? saith the Lord GOD of hosts.

2 Stamped Bulla
Stamped bulla (front/seal side) of a servant of King Hezekiah formerly pressed against a cord surrounding a papyrus document; unprovenanced Redondo Beach collection of antiquities; actual size of the overall object is approximately 1/2-inch (12mm) long

The leaders were grinding the poor, as men grind grain between two millstones.

16 Moreover the LORD saith, Because the daughters of Zion are haughty, and walk with stretched forth necks and wanton eyes, walking and mincing as they go, and making a tinkling with their feet:

In the Near East the way one walked communicated specific attitudes.  Ornaments on ankles made short steps necessary.

“Making a tinkling with their feet” – the sound of the ornaments on their ankles as they walked.

17 Therefore the Lord will smite with a scab the crown of the head of the daughters of Zion, and the LORD will discover their secret parts.

The Lord will shame them by exposing their nakedness as they are led away as captives.

18 In that day the Lord will take away the bravery of their tinkling ornaments about their feet, and their cauls, and their round tires like the moon,

“Cauls…round tires like the moon” – round and crescent-shaped jewelry, indicating their veneration of the sun and moon.

19 The chains, and the bracelets, and the mufflers,

20 The bonnets, and the ornaments of the legs, and the headbands, and the tablets, and the earrings,

21 The rings, and nose jewels,

“Rings” contained a seal and were a mark of authority (see Gen 41:42).

“Nose jewels” were sometimes made of gold and worn by brides.

22 The changeable suits of apparel, and the mantles, and the wimples, and the crisping pins,

23 The glasses, and the fine linen, and the hoods, and the veils.

24 And it shall come to pass, that instead of sweet smell there shall be stink; and instead of a girdle a rent; and instead of well-set hair baldness; and instead of a stomacher a girding of sackcloth; and burning instead of beauty.

“Girdle…burning” – instead of wearing their expensive clothing, the women of Zion were taken away as captives and treated like cattle.  They were led away by ropes and branded.

Versus 16-24 is a New Testament warning against overemphasis on outward adornment (see 1 Pet 3:3-4).

25 Thy men shall fall by the sword, and thy mighty in the war.

26 And her gates shall lament and mourn; and she being desolate shall sit upon the ground.

“Her gates” – the gates personified, as in Ps 24:7, 9.  They lamented because the crowds that used to assemble there were gone.

The Black Obelisk
of Shalmaneser III

4 Megiddo gaming board
A 58 Holes Gaming Board from the Late Bronze Age of Megiddo, Israel on display at the Oriental Institute Museum at the University of Chicago.

Alternate Names
Other names for the game refer to the form of the most well preserved board (The Shield Game), or its decoration (The Palm-Tree Game) or to the pieces (The Game of Dogs and Jackals). The game is also found in several different versions with varying lengths of routes. The pattern of the route itself, however, seems to be similar enough across different examples that all probably represent the same game.

More than twenty boards of this type have been discovered at archaeological sites, mostly from ancient Egypt, but very similar boards have also been found at sites in Persia (Iran) Mesopotamia (Iraq), Assyria (Iraq) and at Megiddo in Jerusalem. The oldest games in Egypt date to the Egyptian Middle Kingdom around 2040 BCE. Artefacts, and sometimes, playing pieces, of variously shaped boards date over a period 2500 years.

The most famous of all boards of this type is from the Egyptian site Deir-el-Bahri. It is known by many names including The Palm Tree Game, from the design on the board; The Shield Game, from the shape of its board; Dogs & Jackals or Hounds & Jackals from the peg playing counters used to play it. The board is remarkably intact and complete with animal-shaped table legs.


3 The Black of Obelisk
The Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III is a black limestone Assyrian sculpture with many scenes in bas-relief and inscriptions. It comes from Nimrud (ancient Kalhu), in northern Iraq, and commemorates the deeds of King Shalmaneser III (reigned 858–824 BC). It is on display at the British Museum in London, and several other museums have cast replicas.

It is the most complete Assyrian obelisk yet discovered, and is historically significant because it is thought to display the earliest ancient depiction of a biblical figure – Jehu, King of Israel. The traditional identification of “Yaw” as Jehu has been questioned by some scholars, who proposed that the inscription refers to another king, Jehoram of Israel. Its reference to Parsua is also the first known reference to the Persians.

Tribute offerings are shown being brought from identifiable regions and peoples. It was erected as a public monument in 825 BC at a time of civil war, in the central square of Nimrud, close to the much earlier White Obelisk of Ashurnasirpal I. It was discovered by archaeologist Sir Austen Henry Layard in 1846 and is now in the British Museum.

The Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III is a four-sided monument or pillar made of black limestone. It stands about 6 1/2 feet tall. It was discovered in 1846 by A.H. Layard in the Central Palace of Shalmaneser III at the ruins of Nimrud, known in the Bible as Calah, and known in ancient Assyrian inscriptions as Kalhu. It is now on display in the British Museum.

It contains 5 rows of bas-relief (carved) panels on each of the 4 sides, 20 panels in all. Directly above each panel are cuneiform inscriptions describing tribute offered by submissive kings during Shalmaneser’s war campaigns with Syria and the West.

The “Jehu Relief” is the most significant panel because it reveals a bearded Semite in royal attire bowing with his face to the ground before king Shalmaneser III, with Hebrew servants standing behind him bearing gifts. The cuneiform text around it reveals the tribute bearer and his gifts, it says:

“The tribute of Jehu, son of Omri: I received from him silver, gold, a golden bowl, a golden vase with pointed bottom, golden tumblers, golden buckets, tin, and a staff for a king [and] spears.”

The Assyrians referred to a northern Israel king as a “son of Omri,” whether they were a direct son of Omri or not. Other Assyrian inscriptions reveal Israel’s southern kings from Judah, as recorded on Sennacherib’s Clay Prism (also known as the Taylor Prism) which reads “Hezekiah the Judahite”.

The Black Obelisk has been precisely dated to 841 BC, due to the accurate Assyrian dating methods. One modern scholar refers to the accuracy of Assyrian records:

“Assyrian records were carefully kept. The Assyrians coordinated their records with the solar year. They adopted a system of assigning to each year the name of an official, who was known as the “limmu.” In addition, notation was made of outstanding political events in each year, and in some cases reference was made to an eclipse of the sun which astronomers calculate occurred on June 15, 763 B.C.

Assyriologists have been able to compile a list of these named years, which they designate “eponyms,” and which cover 244 years (892-648 B.C.). These records are highly dependable and have been used by Old Testament scholars to establish dates in Hebrew History, particularly during the period of the monarchy.”

Scroll to Top
Skip to content