12 February 2012: It has come to my attention recently through Christian foum posts and Email exchanges that there are Bible prophecy teachers today who are teaching that the prophesied destruction of Damascus by Isaiah (Chapter 17) was fulfilled in 723 BC in the Assyrian conquest of Aram-Damascus by Tiglath-Peleser.
I am going to be very blunt about this: such teaching does not originate from within the Word of God. Period.
Damascus was not destroyed in the Assyrian conquest. Damascus did not "cease from being a city," and it was not reduced to "a heap of ruins" as prophesied by Isaiah.
The conclusive answer to this question originated elsewhere within God's Word. The Assyrian conquest of Aram-Damascus in 732 BC is discussed in detail in 2 Kings 16. 2 Kings 16 is the Lord's historical record.
As the 2 King 16 historical record points out Judah's king Ahaz instigated Tiglath-Peleser of Assyria to launch an invasion of Aram-Damascus which then was under the reign of king Rezin. Moreover, it was Judah's king Ahaz who paid for the Assyrian invasion of Aram-Damascus with gold and silver he took from the Temple in Jerusalem.
Then we read in 2 Kings 16:9:
"So the king of Assyria heeded him; for the king of Assyria went up against Damascus and took it, carried its people captive to Kir, and killed Rezin."
In the very next verse (verse 10) we see Judah's king Ahaz meeting with Assyria's king Tiglath-Peleser in the city of Damascus. Clearly the city of Damascus was not destroyed in any manner, and most certainly not according to the prophecy of Isaiah 17. The Aramean population of Aram-Damascus was deported as the Assyrian standard operating procedure following a conquest dictated. The Assyrians then re-populated the city with people from elsewhere within the empire and Damascus has remained a settled city continuously for the past 2,744 years.
There are these additional facts which have been known to scholars and historical researchers for thousands of years.
- Damascus was still mentioned in Assyrian sources in 727, 720, and 694 B.C.E. and even as late as the reign of Ashurbanipal (668–627 B.C.E.).
- Assyrian decline led to Damascus being taken over by Pharoah Necho II of Egypt circa 610 BC. Damascus then fell to the Babylonians when Pharoah Necho II lost the epic Battle of Carchemish in 605 BC.
- In the Persian period, Damascus was an important administrative center, and may have been the capital of the satrapy of Trans-Euphrates (cuneiform, ebir nãri; Aram. avar nahara [Ezra:4:10, etc.]; Heb. ever ha-nahar [Ezra 8:36; Neh. 2:7, 9]).
- Circa 333 BC there occurred the conquest of Damascus under the rule of Darius III of Persia by Alexander the Great. Damascus was thereafter a Macedonian colony and the capital city of Coele-Syria and Phoenicia to 111 BC.
- Then to the Roman times when Damascus was conquered from the Seleucid's by Roman General Pompey in 64 BC, and of course, the many references to Damascus in the New Testament.
Let these teachers take note and make the required correction immediately. Since 2 Kings 16 does not tell us that Damascus ceased "from being a city," that it became "a ruinous heap" at the hands of Assyria's Tiglath-Pileser, then what would the correct prophecy teaching regarding Isaiah 17 be?