Isaiah chapter 20 is a record of events from 712 BC and continued for 3 years until 709 BC.
Sargon (721-705 BC) is mentioned only here in the Bible. This battle siege at Ashdod is recorded in Assyrian documents and is clearly seen in the archaeological layers which preserved the Assyrian victory stela.
Isaiah’s ministry began in 740 BC, but by 712 BC he is wearing sackcloth which is a symbol of mourning. The Lord instructs Isaiah to give the people of Jerusalem a symbolic prophetic image to think about. This is the only symbolic action used by Isaiah. Jeremiah and Ezekiel have many.
The Lord tells Isaiah to remove his sackcloth and his sandals. The impression is that Isaiah went about in private and in public naked and barefoot. Some commentators seem to feel it is necessary to give Isaiah a loin cloth or some covering, but this seems to mute the point and compromise the image.
The removal of foot coverings was a sign of humiliation and punishment. An ancient Hittite text describes the punishment for a guard who neglected his duty as the removal of the guard’s shoe.
Clearly prisoners of war where led away naked. This is seen in full graphic detail in the images on inscriptions and monuments from this time. Sometimes the dignitaries were led away completely stripped naked, but still wearing their crowns or hats that indicated their position of royalty.
At the end of three years the Lord revealed the meaning and gave the interpretation of Isaiah’s actions. The men and the nations that Judah had trusted in would be captured and led away naked by the Assyrians. Judah had failed to trust the Lord. They had instead trusted these international treaties and promises of men who would be walking away into captivity naked and humiliated. Judah’s hope in men was hopeless and disgraceful.
(See HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE.)