The Historical Background of Isaiah


The Prophet Nephi in 2 Nephi suggests four ways to understand Isaiah: know the manner of prophesying among the Jews, have the spirit of prophecy yourself, know the history and geography of the middle east in 700 BC and live in the last days. This timeline and the maps and chart should help you with the big picture.

Old Testament History

Recently I completed an adult Institute course on Isaiah, taught by my friend Blair Van Dyke. Blair has worked in the Church Education System for a number of years and the course on Isaiah is one of his favorites.

To begin each class, he sets the stage with maps and a timeline that he roughs out on the whiteboard for his classes. It was always fast and nearly always the same, but I really could not take notes to help you, my readers in Discover Isaiah with Darryl, so I looked into the back issues of the Ensign for resources.

In January 2002, the Ensign offered this great Old Testament Timeline listing major events, prophets, and kings in the Old Testament. You can download it here or view the next few screens to see where Isaiah comes into the big picture.

Timeline of the first half of the Old Testament
Genesis is an overview of Moses other books: Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. Genesis recounts events of the first 2000 years and the dispensations of Adam, Enoch, Noah, and Abraham.
Timeline of the books of the Old Testament
The end of Genesis and Exodus cover most of the third thousand years and tell of Gods people leaving Egypt, how they conquered the Promised Land and were first governed by Judges. Then sadly in Kings how they surrendered their freedom to be like others in the region first with Saul as King and then David and his son Solomon
Timeline of the events in the Golden Age of Israel under Kings David and Solomon.
This next time period runs between 1000–500 BC and includes the Golden Age of Israel under Kings David and Solomon. This includes the remaining books in the Old Testament from Kings to Malachi. Begining at 750 BC, Isaiah begins his service to four kings (see chart below)

Isaiah and the Kings of His Day Timeline of the kings in Isaiah's day

Geography of the Middle East in 740–700 BC

Map of Assyria, Syria, Israel, and Judah

Map of Israel, Judah and its Other Neighbors

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Darryl Alder is a retired professional, with an adopted family of four, and a lovely wife of 40+years. He has blogged for a variety of sites and loves to bake, garden, camp, and study ancient scripture, all of which is reflected in his posts at,, and various Scouting blog sites


  1. I really loved this article! All these pictures and graphs make the Old Testament so much simpler. This really helps me in my understanding of the New Testament!


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