I have realized while doing Lesson 9 of Bible Study Fellowship that the history of what is going on between these nations needs to be understood in order to understand the lesson better. So, I’ve gathered my Internet resources and put them together for those of you who are interested.
In the late 7th century BC (when Isaiah was prophesizing), the kingdom of Judah was a client state of the powerful Assyrian empire. In the last decades of the century, Assyria was overthrown by Babylon, which at the time was an Assyrian province. Most of us know Babylon as a powerful country in its own right and as we have seen was founded by Nimrod. Egypt throws it’s two cents in the mix: fearing the sudden rise of Babylon, Egypt seizes control of Assyrian territory up to the Euphrates River in Syria. Babylon counter attacks this move and during this time, Josiah, the King of Judah was killed around 609 BC. Judah is now a Babylonian client but the stage is set for a future alliance with Egypt. Babylonian captivity occurs in 586 BC.
Most of this is taken from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Babylonian_captivity
In 609 BC, Babylon defeats Egypt at the battle of Carchemish, usurping Assyria as the dominant power in the region. Jerusalem was then conquered by Babylon in 586 BC when the main exile begins. The Book of Daniel is the only record of Israel’s time in Babylon. In 539 BC, Persia replaces Babylon as the new dominant world power. Unlike Babylon, Persia believes in resettlement, which allowed the Jews to return to their land and re-build the Temple.
Most of this is taken from: http://www.essortment.com/all/historybabylon_rzyf.htm
As we’ve learned, Judah/Israel is a tiny country compared to its neighbors and it is constantly jockeying for position. It switches alliances to whomever promises the best deal at the time (very common in history), whether or not God says so or not. Judah is petrified of being conquered and rightly so. It is struggling to maintain its autonomy.
However, it seems to me Judah’s defeat was inevitable. From my previous posted map, you can see Judah was surrounded. In order to stay alive, it had to have help from its neighbors or miracles from God. God kept Judah alive as long as possible by providing them with miraculous military defeats until He decided no more and allowed His people to be conquered. The fact Judah did survive as long as it did is a miracle from God and only by his decree. Otherwise, Judah would have disappeared long before.