A Possible Chronology for Isaiah Chapters 1-39

A Possible Chronology for Isaiah Chapters 1-39

I created the following chronology as a background resource for my senior thesis at Harvard Divinity School. I have not had time to research  needed revisions. I’m sure it is not completely accurate. Imperfect though it may be, I offer it to anyone who may find it at least partially useful in understanding Isaiah 1-39 (aka “First Isaiah”). There are other ways to devise a chronology for Isaiah 1-39, but this is mine. Keep in mind that these data are merely tentative, and they come from me, not from a genuine scholar of Isaiah.




Historical Context  (location in all cases is Judah)

6 742 BC Call of Isaiah at death of Uzziah (Azariah), king of Judah. Uzziah’s son Jotham becomes king and reigns 16 years (Jotham’s son Ahaz apparently reigns alongside Jotham for several years preceding Jotham’s death).



735-715 Reign of Ahaz, king of Judah. He promises that Judah will become part of the Assyrian empire in return for Assyria’s protection from attacks by Judah’s neighbors Israel and Aram.
28 722 Just before the destruction of Israel, the northern kingdom. (Note: The following year, in 721 BC, Israel is completely obliterated by Assyria under king Shalmanezer V and, after Shalmanezer V’s death during the siege of Samaria [Israel’s capital], under his successor Sargon II.)
14:28-32 715 Death of Ahaz. His son Hezekiah becomes king of Judah. Judah remains a vassal of Assyria.
18-19 715-714 Ethiopians rule Egypt and try to revive the Egyptian empire.
20 712-711 Aftermath of Judah’s rebellion, after it tried unsuccessfully to throw off the yoke of Assyria. The Philistine city of Ashdod had masterminded the rebellion. The rebel coalition had counted on Egypt to join them, but this didn’t happen. Assyria, under king Sargon II, destroyed Ashdod.
38-39 703? Beginnings of alliance between widely-scattered parts of the long-dominant Assyrian empire, with the idea (yet again!) of eventually rebelling against Assyria. (Note: Assyria doesn’t fall until about 91 years later, in 612 BC, at the hands of the Babylonians).
29-32 703-701 Judah, under king Hezekiah, once again contemplates alliance with Egypt in rebellion against Assyria. See chapter 20—apparently the lesson of 711 BC hasn’t sunk in!
22:15 –22:25 703-701 Reign of Hezekiah before invasion by Assyrians (under their king Sennacharib), who soon arrive to punish the rebellion.
1, 36-37,  33 701 Invasion of Assyrians under Sennacharib.
22:1-14 701 Immediately after Sennacharib and his Assyrian armies leave, having unsuccessfully besieged Jerusalem (but having decimated the rest of Judah).

Miscellaneous passages that cannot clearly be placed in a specific historical context

1314:1-27    Against Babylon (Babylonia is not a significant power during Isaiah’s time)

15-16                Against Moab

17:7-14            Against the cult of the god Adonis

23                       Against Tyre

24-27                Concerning end times

34-35                Concerning end times; also against Edom

21                       Against Babylon (see Note for 1314:1-27); also against Arabia