Isaiah described Assyria as the ‘rod of YHWH’s anger’ (Isa 10:5). The Neo-Assyrian Empire was the dominant power during the period of First Isaiah. After discussing the historical, canonical and geopolitical background I will explain the imprint of the Assyrian Empire on the book of Isaiah. I will use 10:5-19 as a case study to demonstrate the impact and adaptation of imperial themes within the book.
Isaiah saw a vision of YHWH enthroned in glory and he was commissioned with an unusual task for a prophet – that is to harden the hearts of the people. Judgement had been passed on Israel and Isaiah was charged with communicating the verdict to the people in a manner that would ensure they would not repent. After examining the various scholarly proposals for the hardening motif in Isaiah 6, I will offer my own proposal that the commission to harden the hearts is as a direct result of the idolatry of the people. I will go on to describe how the hardening motif functions in this passage and in the rest of Isaiah.