New Passover and New Exodus in Isaiah 36-39, 40-66
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If there is going to be a New Exodus in the book of Isaiah (40-66), there has to be a new Passover as well (36-39).1

Certain passages in the latter part of the book easily demonstrate the ‘new exodus’ typological replication (cf. 43:14-21; 44:27; 50:2; 51:9-11), but as we work through 36-39 notice three parallels to the Exodus story: first, the Passover of the Israelites; second, the judgement upon the Assyrians (‘Egypt’); and, third, the reversion of Israel to a ‘golden-calf-like’ event (Isa. 39:1-8). At least a few pointers guide us to understand Hezekiah’s event as a New Passover.

First of all, note that the event starts in Hezekiah’s fourteenth year. The author does not use any other ‘chronological markers’ in the rest of the text, which is pertinent because it demonstrates that the author is not interested in chronology for chronology’s sake (cf. the vague timekeeping in Isa. 38:1) – rather, the mention of the year is meant to connect us to the Passover event, which was always connected with ‘fourteen’ because passover is always held on the 14th day of the month.

It would be like me saying that on the 25th of the month (which most of us know is Christmas), such and such happened. And, like Moses and Israel were under threat by Pharaoh, Hezekiah and Jerusalem remain in danger from Sennacherib, the Assyrian king. Sennacherib ‘shut up Hezekiah’ like a bird in a cage. 2

Rabshakeh gave the Jews a warning (36:18-29), that they would be humbled by foreign gods, but it eventually comes to pass instead that the Lord’s destruction resembles the ‘angel of death’ in Exodus (Isa. 37:36; Ex. 12:29-36) on the Assyrian army. And, remember, Passover itself tends to have a ‘night deliverance’ (Judg. 7:19-25) too!

So, like Pharaoh, Sennacherib survives the death, but eventually is assassinated – a new twist on the Exodus account. Yet, it is likewise compared.

There, here, exists a conceptual parallel, as Leithart says, “Sennacherib himself survived the slaughter, but returned home only to be assassinated. The sword of the Lord reached even into “Pharaoh’s” house.”

And, though the sword reaches “Pharaoh’s (Sennacherib’s) house”, Hezekiah is spared, though in great illness – he recovers. Hezekiah figuratively is ‘passed over’, representing the nation’s “pass-over”. Yet, immediately, just like the Israelites and the golden calf, Hezekiah shows his treasures to the king of Babylon (Isa. 39:1-8, cf. Ex. 32-34).

Quite terribly, the Israelites revert to the addiction of sinful behavior, much like our own communities. Even in light of God’s awesome mercy, and terrible justice upon the wicked, we often revert to golden-idols. And the relapse often seems worse than the first, for we should know better. Yet, God’s New Exodus will come through Israel’s ‘death’ – its deportation to Babylon. God’s victory actually transcends what seems most hopeless in human eyes.

Footnotes

  1. Biblical Horizons 63
  2. Attested to by the Sennacherib prism in the Oriental of Institute of Chicago
News Reporter
From Madison, Wisconsin. B.A. Biblical Studies: Moody Bible Institute, Chicago. M.Div. Student at Tyndale Seminary in Toronto, Ontario.

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