Concerning the coming of “Jehovah’s day,” the apostle Paul explained that it would be when the cry of “Peace and security!” is being proclaimed. Then “sudden destruction is to be instantly upon them just as the pang of distress upon a pregnant woman; and they will by no means escape.” (1 Thess. 5:2, 3) Labor pains come very suddenly, the exact day and hour not foreknown. The pains first are fifteen to twenty minutes apart, becoming closer together as labor advances. In most cases the time of labor is relatively short, especially in its second stage, but once labor pains begin, the woman knows that a birth is approaching and that the ordeal must be undergone. There is no “escape.”
In the apostle John’s vision in Revelation he saw a heavenly woman crying out “in her pains and in her agony to give birth.” The child born was “a son, a male, who is to shepherd all the nations with an iron rod.” In spite of the dragon’s efforts to devour it, “her child was caught away to God and to his throne.” (Rev. 12:1, 2, 4-6) The catching up of the son by God would denote his acceptance of the child as his own, just as the custom was in ancient times to present the child before its father for acceptance. (See BIRTH.) It would follow that the “woman” is God’s “wife,” the “Jerusalem above,” the “mother” of Christ and his spiritual brothers.—Gal. 4:26; Heb. 2:11, 12, 17.
God’s heavenly “woman” would, of course, be perfect and the birth would be perfect and without literal pain. The labor pains would, therefore, symbolically indicate that the “woman” would realize that the birth was at hand—would be in expectation of it shortly.
Who would this “son, a male,” be? He was to “shepherd all the nations with an iron rod.” This was foretold of God’s Messianic king, at Psalm 2:6-9. But John saw this vision long after Christ’s birth on earth and his death and resurrection. The vision would therefore appear to refer to the birth of God’s new administration for the universe, the Messianic Kingdom in the hands of his Son Jesus Christ, who, on being raised from the dead, “sat down at the right hand of God, from then on awaiting until his enemies should be placed as a stool for his feet.”—Heb. 10:12, 13; Ps. 110:1; Rev. 12:10.
This was an expected event, and as the time drew near the expectation of it in heaven and on earth would become great, for fulfilled prophecy would be a sure indication of its nearness. So it would be, as the apostle pointed out to Christians, with the coming of “Jehovah’s day”: “Now as for the times and the seasons, brothers, you need nothing to be written to you,” and, “You, brothers, you are not in darkness, so that that day should overtake you as it would thieves.”—1 Thess. 5:1, 4.
A Judean city in the Shephelah. (Josh. 15:21, 33, 39) Lachish is generally identified with Tell ed-Duweir, a mound surrounded by valleys and lying some fifteen miles (24 kilometers) W of Hebron. Anciently this site occupied a strategic position on the principal road linking Jerusalem with Egypt. At one time the city covered an area of about eighteen acres (7 hectares) and perhaps had a population numbering between 6,000 and 7,500 persons.
At the time of Israel’s conquest of Canaan, Japhia the king of Lachish joined four other kings in a military offensive against Gibeon, a city that had made peace with Joshua. (Josh. 10:1-5) In response to Gibeon’s appeal for aid, the Israelite army staged an all-night march from Gilgal. With Jehovah’s help, they defeated the Canaanite alliance, and the kings themselves were trapped in a cave and thereafter executed. (Josh. 10:6-27; 12:11) Later, the city of Lachish was taken in less than two days of fighting and its inhabitants were slain. Also, Horam the king of Gezer, who came to the aid of Lachish, suffered defeat.—Josh. 10:31-35.
Some archaeologists link Israel’s campaign against Lachish with a thick layer of ash uncovered at Tell ed-Duweir, in which, among other things, a scarab of Rameses was found. But the Bible does not state that the city was burned, as it does in the case of Jericho (Josh. 6:24, 25), Ai (Josh. 8:28) and Hazor. (Josh. 11:11) Rather, Joshua 11:13 seems to indicate that the Israelites rarely burned “cities standing on their own mounds.” So there is no Scriptural basis for placing the destruction causing the ash layer in the time of Joshua and then dating the Israelite conquest of Canaan accordingly. It is also noteworthy that it cannot be definitely established to which Rameses the scarab should be assigned. At least one archaeologist attributed the scarab to Rameses III and advanced the thought that Lachish was destroyed by the Philistines in the twelfth century B.C.E.
During Rehoboam’s reign (997-980 B.C.E.) Lachish was strengthened militarily. (2 Chron. 11:5-12) Later, in 829 B.C.E., King Amaziah fled to Lachish to escape conspirators but was pursued and put to death there.—2 Ki. 14:19; 2 Chron. 25:27.
BESIEGED BY SENNACHERIB
Lachish was besieged by Assyrian King Sennacherib in 732 B.C.E. From there he sent Rabshakeh, Tartan and Rabsaris with a heavy military force to Jerusalem in an effort to move King Hezekiah to surrender. Through his chief spokesman Rabshakeh, Sennacherib defied Jehovah, and later sent messengers to Jerusalem with letters of continued taunt and threat designed to bring about Hezekiah’s surrender. This defiance of Jehovah God finally led to the annihilation by God’s angel of 185,000 Assyrian warriors in one night.—2 Ki. 18:14, 17-35; 19:8-13, 32-35; Isa. 36:1-20; 37:8-13, 33-36.
A portrayal of the siege of Lachish, from Sennacherib’s palace at Nineveh, indicates that the city was encompassed by a double wall having towers at regular intervals and that palms, grapes and figs flourished in the surrounding hilly area. The scene showing Sennacherib receiving the spoils of Lachish is accompanied by the following inscription: “Sennacherib, king of the world, king of Assyria, sat upon a nimedu-throne and passed in review the booty (taken) from Lachish (La-ki-su).”
CAPTURED BY BABYLONIANS
When the Babylonians under Nebuchadnezzar overran Judah (609-607 B.C.E.), Lachish and Azekah were the last two fortified cities to fall before Jerusalem was taken. (Jer. 34:6, 7) What are known as the “Lachish Letters” (written on pottery fragments, eighteen of which were found at Tell ed-Duweir in 1935 and three more in 1938) appear to relate to this period. One of these letters, evidently directed by a military outpost to the commander at Lachish, reads in part: “. . . we are watching for the signal-stations of Lachish, according to all the signs which my lord gives, because we do not see Azekah.” This message suggests that Azekah had already been taken so that no signals were received from there. It is also of interest that nearly all the legible “Lachish Letters” contain words such as “May YHWH [Yahweh or Jehovah] cause my lord to hear this very day tidings of good!” This shows that the name “Jehovah” was then in common use.
At Micah 1:13 Lachish is addressed prophetically: “Attach the chariot to the team of horses, O inhabitress of Lachish. The beginning of sin was what she was to the daughter of Zion, for in you the revolts