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ISAIAH (Heb. יְשַׁעְיָה ,יְשַׁעְיָהוּ "Salvation of yhwh"), one of the eight books (as the Rabbis and the Masorah count them) of the Nevi'im, or Prophets, the second division of the Hebrew canon (see *Bible, Canon).


Outside the Book of Isaiah itself, the prophet is mentioned in ii Kings 19–20 and ii Chronicles 26:22; 32:20, 32. He is called the son of Amoz, who is otherwise unknown. According to a tradition in the Babylonian Talmud (Meg. 10b), Amoz was the brother of *Amaziah, king of Judah. A contemporary of *Micah, Isaiah was preceded slightly by Hosea and Amos, both of whom preached in the Northern Kingdom.

The pseudepigraphical Ascension of *Isaiah relates that Isaiah was "sawn asunder" by the wicked *Manasseh (5:1ff., cf. also Heb. 11:37). A variation of this theme is found in the Babylonian Talmud (Yev. 49b), which relates that a genealogical record in Jerusalem reports the death of Isaiah by the hand of Manasseh: Isaiah was "swallowed by a cedar tree, and the tree was sawn asunder." Also in the Jerusalem Talmud (tj, Sanh. 10:2, 28c), Isaiah is said to have hidden in a cedar tree which was then "sawn asunder." The tradition is therefore consistent that the prophet was martyred in the days of Manasseh.

For other biblical figures with the name Isaiah see Ezra 8:7; 8:19; Neh. 11:7; i Chron. 3:21; 25:3, 15; 26:25.

survey of views of the authorship of isaiah

Ben Sira attests that by 180 b.c.e. Isaiah had already reached its present form (Ecclus. 48:17–25). This is corroborated by the Isaiah scroll discovered in the area of the Dead Sea which contains all 66 chapters of Isaiah (but see W.H. Brownlee, The Meaning of the Qumran Scrolls for the Bible (1964), who believes, on the basis of a gap following chapter 33 in the Isaiah scroll, that a literary division should be made at that point). On the basis of this evidence, it is highly unlikely that some portions of Isaiah date from the Maccabean period (see R.H. Kennett, The Composition of the Book of Isaiah in the Light of History and Archaeology (1910)). The New Testament speaks of the entire book as Isaianic: John 12:38 refers to Isaiah 53:7 by the formula "spoken by the prophet Isaiah" while the next verse, 12:39, refers to Isaiah 6:9, 10 with the statement "For Isaiah again said…" (see further E.J. Young, Who Wrote Isaiah? (1958), 11ff.). According to Bava Batra 15a, Hezekiah and his colleagues "wrote" Isaiah. However, it was generally axiomatic among the rabbis that the Book of Isaiah was the work of one prophet, and they answered the apparent time discrepancy by attributing the latter chapters to the outcome of prophetic powers. Abraham ibn Ezra, anticipating modern criticism, hints that because chapters 40–66 of Isaiah contain historical material subsequent to the time of Isaiah, it is likely that these chapters were not written by Isaiah ben Amoz (see M. Friedlaender, Commentary of Ibn Ezra on Isaiah (1873), 170). Modern criticism began with J.B. Koppe's observation, in the German edition of Lowth's Commentary (1780), that chapter 50 may not have come from the prophet. In 1789, J.C. Doederlein denied the Isaianic authorship of chapters 40–66. Taking up the issue, J.G. Eichhorn and E.F.K. Rosenmueller defined the criteria for distinguishing between genuine Isaianic and non-Isaianic portions. By the middle of the 19th century, these views had a very wide following, although they were challenged by C.P. Caspari, J.A. Alexander, and, in his early years, F. Delitzsch. More and more scholars began to write on the subject, refining and correcting previous positions. Among these were G.A. Smith (1889) and B. Duhm, who, in 1892, labeled chapters 40–55 and 56–66 of the book Deutero-Isaiah and Trito-Isaiah, respectively. In 1914, H. Gressmann applied the method of Formgeschichte to the study of Isaiah (in: zawb, 34 (1914), 254–97). This method, introduced by H. Gunkel and H. Gressmann, is concerned with identifying the Gattungen (literary types) of a given book and placing them in their Sitz im Leben (life situation, historical context). C.C. Torrey maintained that chapters 34–66, excluding 36–39, were the work of one author, writing that "the paring process, begun with a penknife, is continued with a hatchet, until the book has been chopped into hopeless chunks" (The Second Isaiah: A New Interpretation (1928), 13). There has been a trend toward synthesizing the methods of literary criticism and the methods of Formgeschichte in the manner of Childs' Isaiah and the Assyrian Crisis, 1967. Y.T. Radday has attempted to utilize computers in determining the authorship of the work (Y.T. Radday, in: Tarbiz, 39 (1969/70), 323–41; idem, in: jbl, 89 (1970), 319–24; idem. in: Computers and the Humanities, 5 no. 2 (1970), 65ff.). Radday's work concludes that there was at least one other author for the second part of Isaiah. J.H. Hertz put the traditional Jewish viewpoint on this subject thus: "This question can be considered dispassionately. It touches no dogma, or any religious principle in Judaism; and, moreover, does not materially affect the understanding of the prophecies, or of the human conditions of the Jewish people that they have in view" (The Pentateuch and Haftorahs (1956), 942). For a more recent survey of Isaiah scholarship see J. Sawyer, dbi i, 549–54.

The virtually unanimous opinion in modern times is that Isaiah is to be considered the work of two distinct authors: First Isaiah (chs. 1–39) whose prophetic career in Jerusalem covers the years c. 740–700 b.c.e., and that of an unknown prophet (Deutero-Isaiah, chs. 40–66; see below) whose prophecies reflect the experience and events of the Babylonian Exile (c. 540 b.c.e.).

The beginning of (First) Isaiah's prophetic career (6:1; "the year of the death of King Uzziah," c. 740 b.c.e.) coincided with the onset of a highly critical period in the fortunes of both the kingdoms of Israel and Judah, and the events of this period furnish the immediate background of Isaiah's prophecies. The march of conquest of both Babylonia and Syria, launched by Tiglath-Pileser iii upon his accession to the Assyrian throne (745 b.c.e.), raised a looming threat to the future independence and, indeed, to the very existence of both kingdoms. The coming to power of the usurper Pekah (736 b.c.e.) in Israel marked a concerted effort, in which he was joined by Rezin, king of Damascus, and a few other neighboring principalities, to throw off the yoke of Assyrian domination. Upon King Ahaz of Judah's refusal to join the alliance, his kingdom was invaded by the leaders of the anti-Assyrian alliance who proposed to depose him and replace him with a pro-Aramean puppet, the "son of Tabeel" (ii Kings 15:37; 16:5; Isa. 7:1ff.). In that critical hour, in a meeting with the panic-stricken monarch, Isaiah urged the king to be confident and calm. Ahaz spurned the prophet's quietistic counsel and, instead, sent an urgent appeal for help, accompanied by tribute, to Tiglath-Pileser (ii Kings 16:7). Thus, the independence of Judah was surrendered. For Isaiah, the fateful act, while buying temporary security for Judah, ultimately invited disaster at the hands of its rescuer. King *Hezekiah (c. 715–687 b.c.e.), Ahaz's son and successor to the throne, cautiously stayed aloof, for a time, from abortive attempts initiated by Egypt to throw off the Assyrian yoke. Perhaps it was the insistence of the prophet on the futility of an alliance with Egypt that prompted this attitude; Isaiah dramatized his insistence by going about barefoot and naked for three years as a symbol of the fate that would overtake Egypt and its ally Nubia at the hands of the Assyrians (ch. 20). Some years later, internal troubles in Assyria apparently persuaded Hezekiah that, despite the prophet's warnings and dire predictions (39:5–7), the hour was ripe to break the yoke of vassalage. Isaiah's warning that dependence upon Egyptian aid could only lead to disaster went unheeded (31:3). In 701 b.c.e. Sennacherib invaded Palestine, after defeating an opposing Egyptian and Nubian force at Eltekeh. The countryside was quickly overrun (22:7), and much of its population deported. Soon afterward Jerusalem was besieged. Isaiah, prompted by his faith in the inviolability of Jerusalem, encouraged Hezekiah to refuse to surrender the city to the invader despite the threats and demands of Sennacherib's high officer (36:4ff.; ii Kings 18:17ff.). The prophet predicted that Jerusalem would not be taken and that God would "turn back the invader the way by which he came" (37:22–29). The siege of Jerusalem was lifted, an event credited to a divine visitation (37:36; ii Kings 19:36) that devastated the camp of Sennacherib. (For Sennacherib's account see Pritchard, Texts, 287–8; cos ii: 302–3; L.L. Honor, Sennacherib's Invasion of Palestine, 1926.) Though the political and military events of the prophet's time, briefly described above, help to illuminate a number of passages in Isaiah (essentially, those already cited), the major portion of the book is devoted not to Judah's foreign policy but to the inner state of the nation, its social order, and its religious situation. Isaiah's career began at a time of growing prosperity that brought comfort and luxury. Material growth was accompanied by the territorial expansion of the Kingdom of Judah, achieved by military power cultivated by King Uzziah (ii Chron. 26:6–15). The economic and political situation never seemed brighter. A national sense of complacent self-satisfaction and pride could hardly be avoided. Isaiah, however, saw that wealth had been purchased at the price of oppression. Corruption was rife in high places (1:23); the guilty were acquitted for bribes and the innocent were denied justice (5:23); the fatherless went undefended (1:23); the mansions of the rich contained the spoils of the poor (3:14); the poor farmer was evicted from his land to make room for the estate of the plutocrat (5:8). The aristocratic women of Jerusalem, in their elaborate attire and jewelry, especially served the prophet as target for his denunciations and predictions of doom (3:16–24). Foreign trade and imports apparently brought with them idolatrous religious practices and superstitions; at least, the prophet links the two (2:6–8) and he charges that "Everyone worshippeth the work of his own hands" (10:10f.). The prophet does not repudiate the sacrificial cult carried out in the Temple; indeed, he seems to have been a frequent Temple visitor, for it is here that he receives the divine call to prophecy in a vision. However, sacrifice and oblations brought by hands "full of blood" are "vain" and an "abomination" (1:11–15). If the divine demand "to seek justice, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow" (1:17) is heeded, "ye shall eat the good of the land"; if not, "ye shall be devoured by the sword" (1:19, 20). The coming of God in His fierce anger to punish Israel and the nations is a recurrent theme (5:15, 16, 24, 25; 9:14–19; 13:11–13; 30:27, 28; cf. 9:20; 10:4). Yet, the divine anger is but an instrument where-with to humble the arrogant and punish the evildoers. Once it has accomplished its purpose, God will show His graciousness and mercy (10:25; 26:30; 30:18). The latter are presumably meant for the "holy seed" that will remain when the work of destructive purification has been fulfilled (6:13). Only a remnant of Israel shall return (8:18; 10:21, 22; Heb. She'ar Yashuv, the symbolic name of the prophet's son, 7:3). In addition to the concrete historical hope of the survival of a remnant, the prophet holds out an eschatological hope, one to be consummated at the end of days when the whole world will be transformed. Isaiah's eschatology is grounded in his faith in God's permanent attachment to Israel and to Zion (28:16). God's design for the history of the nations is to reach its fulfillment in Zion, to which the nations will repair to learn the ways of God and to walk in His paths (2:2–4, 5; 33:20; 28:16; cf. Micah 4:14). The denouement of history will see the abolition of war and the turning of the nations to peace. Closely linked to Isaiah's eschatology are his visions of the messianic figure. Sprung from the root of Jesse (father of David), he will be endowed with the spirit of God in its fullness. With unblurred vision, he will intervene on behalf of the poor and deliver them from their persecutors, establishing thereby a reign of righteousness and truth. Under his reign, even the ferocity of the wild beasts will be transformed into gentleness (11:1–10). In a similar passage, the prophet invests the messianic king with extraordinary traits, calling him "Wonderful in counsel… the everlasting father, the prince of peace" (9:5ff.). In summary fashion, the essential doctrines of Isaiah may be described as

(1) an emphasis on the holiness of God;

(2) a rejection of human schemes and wisdom as the means of working out the destiny of Israel and, in their stead, a total reliance on God;

(3) an ardent faith in Jerusalem as the inviolable city of God and its proclamation as the future site of universal acceptance of the God of Israel by the nations;

(4) the delineation of the messianic king under whose reign final justice and peace will be inaugurated;

(5) the doctrine that only a remnant of Israel shall emerge out of the doom to be visited upon it;

(6) the primacy of the moral dimension of the religious life without which ritual observance becomes an abomination in the sight of God.

Chapters 40–66 of the Book of Isaiah constitute the prophecies of an unknown prophet of the Babylonian Exile, commonly referred to as Deutero-(Second) Isaiah. Fairly widely accepted critical opinion (but with exceptions) attributes chapters 56–66 to a different prophet conveniently called Trito-Isaiah. (Since the essential ideas of these latter chapters form a consistent whole with chapters 40–55, for purposes of this article they will be considered in conjunction with them.) The dramatic turn of events of his time, the impending conquest of Babylonia by Cyrus, the Persian king of Anshan (539 b.c.e.), to which the prophet alludes (45:1ff.; 47:1), enables the prophet's utterances to be dated with approximate accuracy to 540 b.c.e. In the light of the predicted downfall of Babylonia, and hence presumably an end to exile, the prophet's message to his people who are in despair over the ruin of Judah is, in the first instance, one of hope and consolation. He speaks in vivid terms of "the waste and desolate places, the land that has been destroyed" (49:19). Zion is a widow bereaved of her children (49:19ff.) or a barren mother without offspring (54:1; cf. 51:18–20). It was not only the thought of Zion in ruins that weighed heavily on the mind and heart of the prophet; hardly less oppressive was the fact that thousands of his fellow countrymen, owing to a variety of circumstances, had been widely scattered and were to be found at all points of the compass (43:5; 49:12, 22). To judge from repeated references, the exiles in Babylonia were subject to contempt and hostility (41:11; 51:7, 13, 23; 54:15). A pervasive despair and fear, coupled with a sense of abandonment by God, had overcome the exiles (40:27; 49:14; 50:1). Here and there, some, despairing of the God of Israel's power to deliver them (40:28; 45:24; 46:12; 50:2), had readily succumbed to the lure of Babylonian idolatry (44:17; 48:5). In the midst of the depressing situation, the anonymous prophet reaffirms with striking emphasis and clarity the ancient faith that the God of Israel is not only the creator of heaven and earth (40:26; 44:24; 45:7), but the ultimate arbiter of the destinies of the proud empires, to do with them as he would (40:15ff.). It was the God of Israel who directed history (43:12) and who, even now, was guiding the course of events in bringing overwhelming victory to Cyrus (41:2ff., 25). Incisively, he predicts the collapse of the idols of Babylon (46:1ff.) and sets forth again and again the exclusive divinity of the God of Israel besides whom there is no redeemer (43:10; cf. 44:24; 45:6, 18, 21; 46:9; 48:11f.). True, Israel had sinned (43:27f.; cf. 48:1ff.), but divine wrath and punishment were things of the past, and God had freely pardoned Israel's sins (40:2; 44:22; cf. 48:9; 51:22; 54:6ff.). As expressions of God's love and His assurance that they had not been abandoned, the prophet employs a whole series of endearing epithets for Israel (43:7; 44:1, 5, 21; 51:4, 16; 54:17). In precise terms, the exiles would be released from Babylonia when that empire had vengeance wreaked upon it for its oppression of Israel (45:1ff.; 47:1ff.). It is Cyrus, heir to Babylonia's throne, who would let the exiles go free (45:13; 52:11ff.). The return to Zion would be led by God Himself (40:9ff.). The Temple would then rise upon a new foundation, and Zion would gain a new, incomparable splendor (54:11f.). There would also be a vast ingathering of Israelites out of the lands to which they had been scattered (43:5f.; cf. 49:12; 51:11; 53:12). Non-Israelites would join the House of Israel in allegiance to its God (44:5). The prophet speaks warmly of the aliens who associate themselves with the faith of Israel and assures them that they will receive an "everlasting memorial" (56:4–8). In a burst of exaltation at the thought of Israel's forthcoming restoration, he sees Israel as supreme over the nations and the latter as subservient to it (43:3; 45:14; 49:22f.; 54:3). A group of passages in Second Isaiah (42:1–4; 49:1–6; 50:4–9; 52:13–53:12) are known as songs of the Servant of the Lord. Around the question of the identity of the figure described in these passages, a vast literature has grown up. The preponderance of scholarly opinion inclines to the conclusion that the Suffering Servant is to be identified with the people of Israel and, at the same time, perhaps with an "individual who both represents the whole community and carries to its supreme point the mission of the nation" (H.H. Rowley, The Faith of Israel (1953), 122). The mission of the servant is not only "to raise up the tribes of Jacob" but to be a "light to the nations" (49:6). His task is to set justice in the earth, bringing it forth in truth (42:3, 4), and to serve as liberator (42:7; see *Servant of the Lord).

[Theodore Friedman]

first isaiah

Within this can be distinguished (1) the core, chapters 1–33, and (2) the historical appendix, chapters 36–39. The latter, a variant of ii Kings 18:13, 17–20:19, does not purport to be by Isaiah, and was only copied from (a variant recension of) the Book of Kings and appended to Isaiah 1–33 because it tells about Isaiah. Even within chapters 1–33 there are some pericopes which are about, rather than by, Isaiah (e.g., ch. 20) and some which are neither by Isaiah nor about him. For the authentic utterances of Isaiah, the dating by the (not Isaian, but editorial) superscription 1:1 "in the reigns of Kings Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah of Judah" is reliable, and the modern student of Isaiah does well to add: "and of Kings Tiglath-Pileser (iii, 745–727), Shalmaneser (v, 726–722), Sargon (ii, 722–705), and Sennacherib (705–681) of Assyria."

Divisions and Content of Chapters 1–33

The block Isaiah 1–33 falls into two main divisions of unequal length: a. The Diary, chapters 1–12; b. The Archive, chapters 13–33. The Diary has been so named by Ginsberg (1964) because despite deviations (which can be accounted for) its arrangement is chronological (c. 740–715 b.c.e.) in principle, with the result that when read in light of the most up-to-date knowledge of the relevant history it resembles a diary. The Archive, on the other hand, is a repository of prophecies of which only a minority at the end seem to be arranged chronologically.

the diary, chapters 1–12

The Diary, Chapters 1–12, may be likened to a triptych with a narrow inner panel, chapter 6, and two broad outer panels, chapters 1–5 and 7–12, each of which is divided (horizontally or vertically, according to the reader's preference) into two fields. Panel 1 dates basically from before the death of King Uzziah; Panel 2 – as 6:1 states – from "the year that King Uzziah died"; Panel 3 – as stated by 7:1 – begins in the reign of Ahaz, whether it continues into the reign of Hezekiah depends on whether Ahaz's reign was short (some date his death as early as 727, see below) or long (some have him live till 715). The somewhat detailed discussion which follows will serve as an introduction to the person, background, style, and outlook of Isaiah and will make possible considerable economies of space in the treatment of the Archive.

Panel 1, Field A, Chapter 1

*Ewald titled this chapter "The Great Arraignment." More apt would be "The Great Exhortation" for it appeals for reform (vv. 16–18), and offers total remission of even grave past sins on condition of reform (18–20). S.D. Luzzatto pointed out that Lekhu na (note the precative particle na!) ve-nivvakheḥah (we-niwwakheḥah) can only mean "Come, let us reach an understanding," since that is the only meaning that fits both here and in the only other undamaged passage in which the nifal of ykḥ occurs, Job. 23:7 (Gen. 20:6b is obscure). And escape is offered to everyone in Zion who reforms: verse 27: "In the judgment, Zion shall be saved (as in Job 5:20); in the retribution (so ẓedakah (ẓedaqah) is also to be rendered in 5:16; 10:22; 28:17), those in her who turn back." Only the rebels and sinners will perish, verse 28. The implication is that they will be a minority. When it is noticed that nowhere else does Isaiah summon to repentance, but only expects it after an ever greater depopulation (even in 31:6, the continuation in the third person in the same verse and in the following one show that shuvu [imperative, "turn back!"] is to be emended to we-shavu, "The children of Israel will then turn back to him to whom they were so false"), it is clear that chapter 1 belongs exactly where it is, at the beginning of the book; only verses 5–9 (10?) have been added – by Isaiah – either after the extinction of the Kingdom of Ephraim in 722 or after Sennacherib's invasion of Judah, his transfer of some of its territory to the Philistines, and his imposition of a heavy tribute on Hezekiah in 701. The fact that 1:2–20 (apart from the verses just mentioned) is Isaiah's maiden composition may explain its heavy dependence on earlier models. The models in question are the Song of Moses and the message of Amos. Isaiah 1:2 may be said to summarize the whole of Deuteronomy 32:1–18. Isaiah 1:2a = Deuteronomy 32:1–4 minus the elaborate adornment: Let heaven and earth give respectful attention, for these are the words of no other than the Lord. Isaiah 1:2b = Deuteronomy 32:5–18 in a nutshell: children nurtured and reared (Deut. 32, less restrained, also uses five verbs of engendering, Deut. 32:6b, 18) by the Lord have defected from him. Isaiah 1:3 merely repeats the preceding thought: ox and ass acknowledge their master and feeder, Israel does not. In turning from heaven and earth to address Israel reproachfully, Isaiah 1:4 takes its cue from Deuteronomy 32:6, but two of its epithets are inspired by Deuteronomy 32:5: "corrupt children" (Heb. banim mashḥitim) goes back to Deuteronomy 32:5a, which even in its mutilated condition has preserved the elements banaw and shiḥet and which originally may have read very much like banim mashḥitim yalad, "He gave birth to corrupt children," while zeraʿ mereʿim, "brood of evildoers," is synonymous with Deuteronomy 32:5b, "a crooked and twisted generation." Here the echoes of Deuteronomy 32 in content and diction cease, but its form persists through Isaiah 1:20. For just as in Deuteronomy 32 the speaker alternately utters his own "discourse" (lekaḥ, leqaḥ, verse 2), verses 1–18, 36a, 43, and introduces and quotes yhwh, verses 19–35, 36a–42, so Isaiah 1:2–20 gives the following alternation: Isaiah introduces and quotes yhwh, 2–3; Isaiah adds his own comment, 4–9 (but 5–9 were added by him later); Isaiah introduces and quotes yhwh, 10–18; Isaiah adds his own interpretation, 19–20. The idea of disloyal children is repeated in 30:1, 9. The last cited verse is preceded (30:8) by an introduction remarkably reminiscent of the introduction to the Song of Moses, Deuteronomy 31:19, for as the Targum, among other versions, realized, lʿd in the former is to be vocalized le-ʿed, "for a witness"; but in this case it is hard to decide which passage is dependent on which. As for the message of Isaiah 1:10–17 – the protest against the topsy-turvy scale of values applied to cult and justice – its dependence on Amos 5:21–25 is obvious, and the identical or equivalent elements can be picked out. The themes of the oppression of the poor and the subversion of justice occur again both in Isaiah and in Amos, and it is not difficult to recognize in Amos 2:6b–7a; 3:15; 5:11–12 the elements of Isaiah 5:8–10 (cf. 1:29–30, which speak not of cult gardens but of luxury gardens in view of verse 31 he-ḥason… u-foʿalo ("treasure… and he who amassed it"); 5:23, 10:1–2). Not dependent on either the Song of Moses or the words of Amos is the glorification of Jerusalem, Isaiah 1:21–27. Disappointed as he is in her present state, Isaiah firmly believes that she was a faithful city where justice dwelt in the past, and will be such again in the future. He may well have idealized the past unduly. Jerusalem's judges had probably been officials appointed by the king ever since David's conquest, and it seems that in the Ancient Near East it was understood that an official derived much of his income from the gifts of the private persons who needed his services. From the start, therefore, a judge was exposed to a powerful temptation (1) to be too busy to hear an action brought by a widow or an orphan, who could not afford to bring an adequate gift (Isa. 1:23), (2) not only to hear but also to favor a litigant who did bring such a gift. However, Isaiah is to be judged as a prophet, not as a historian. The initial impression of nobility of thought and language is confirmed by the following chapters.

Panel 1, Field b, chapters 2–5

Furnished with a superscription of its own, 2:1, this collection dates from a slightly later period than Field a, as explained above, but the last pronouncement in it, 5:25ff., dates still from the reign of Uzziah, since the latest misfortune it speaks of as having already occurred (though it is not destined to remain the last) is the famous earthquake of Uzziah's reign (Amos 1:1; Zech. 14:5). The pericope 9:7[8]ff., which begins its survey further back in history, also knows of later calamities as having already been endured: it comes to the earthquake in 9:18[19]a, and goes on in 9:18b–20a [19b–21a] to speak of Ephraim's savage civil wars – see ii Kings 15:9–16, 23–25 – and of its ensuing attack on Judah, for which see ii Kings 16:5–6; Isaiah 7:1ff. The date of this last event is 733, and if there were any merit to the argument that Isaiah 5:25 (with or without 5:26ff.) belongs in the context of 9:7[8]ff. "because it has the same refrain" it would follow that Isaiah 5:25(ff.) likewise dates from 733. However, the said argument begs the question; for a stich that occurs only once is not a refrain, and in chapter 5 the stich "Yet his anger has not turned back, and his arm is outstretched still" (5:25b) occurs only once. No time need be wasted on R. Kittel's egregious suggestion (Biblia Hebraica, 19293, which is not peculiar to him) that the statement at the beginning of 5:25 to the effect that God's anger has been roused against his people and that he has extended his arm to strike it, presupposes four previous occurrences of "Yet his anger has not turned back and his arm is outstretched still." But it is also the opposite of probable that Isaiah contemplated repeating "Yet his anger has not turned back, etc," and going on to depict still further slaughter either in Israel or in Judah at the time when he announced (5:26–29) the coming with uncanny speed "from the end of the earth" of a legendary nation of barbarians equipped with the fangs (for ʾg [so the consonantal text] read wšnym, we-shinnayim), the voracity, and the irresistibleness of lions. (The description no more contemplates a specific, real, nation – like the Assyrians – here than in Deut. 28:49–51; Jer. 5:15–17.) What more was necessary for making the land desolate (Isa. 6:11–12)? See also Panel 3, Field a.

Excursus: The Zion Vision, 2:2–4

This is one of the most remarkable pericopes in the entire Book of Isaiah. It reads as follows (verse 2): "In the days to come, the Mount of the Lord's House shall stand firm above the mountains and tower above the hills; and all the nations shall gaze on it with joy. (3) And the many peoples shall go and shall say: 'Come, // Let us go to the mount of The Lord,/to the House of the God of Jacob;// That he may direct us according to his ways,/And that we may walk in his paths'//For direction shall be forthcoming from Zion,/And words of the Lord from Jerusalem.// (4) Thus he will judge among the nations/And arbitrate for the many peoples,//And they shall beat their swords into plowtips/and their spears into pruning hooks://Nation shall not take up/Sword against nation;//They shall never again know war."//The use of the verb "to direct" (horah) of the issuing of messages by the Lord and of the delivering of such messages by prophets is characteristic of Isaiah (9:14; 28:9, 26; 30:20 [bis]), and the use of the noun "direction" (torah) of messages from superhuman sources is even more characteristic of him (1:10; 5:24; 8:16, 20; 30:9). This is true of ad hoc prophecy that is characteristic of Isaiah, though occasionally emulated by Habakkuk (2:19). Not merely characteristically Isaian but specifically Isaian is the parallelism "direction//word of the Lord" (or, once, "utterance of the Holy One of Israel"): 1:10; 5:24. In this as in other matters (see below), Isaiah's weaknesses lie in the field of practicality. Isaiah 2:2–4 is unmistakably Isaian not only in its diction but also in its ideology. For both its Zion-centeredness and its concern that other nations beside Israel may be spared the horrors of war (contrast Lev. 25:18; 26:5; Jer. 30:10; 46:27; Hos. 2:20) are in line with much else. Although the prophecy occurs again in Micah 4:1–4, its uniquely Isaian " Torah //word of the Lord," which has already been commented upon, makes it unlikely that it is the work of some anonymous genius who preceded both Isaiah and Micah; and both this feature and the ideological congruence with Isaiah and clash with Micah – who cancels the universalism of the passage in the very next verse (Micah 4:5) as well as in 5:7–8, and its Zionism (he was a provincial from Morashah, 1:1) in 3:12 – preclude the priority of Micah (see Kaufmann on Micah).

Panel 2, chapter 6

Both the rabbis and modern research regard this as Isaiah's earliest prophecy (his "inaugural vision"); but Kaplan and Kaufmann have dissented, as have Milgrom, Knierim, and Schmidt. There is a new harshness here. God tells Isaiah to go and harden the hearts of "that people" (ha-ʿam ha-zeh, verses 9, 10) – the first occurrence of this deprecating designation; contrast "my people," 1:3 (though God is here reproaching Israel); 3:15 – in order that it may not (pen) "turn back and be healed" (cf. 19:22). To Isaiah's shocked question, "How long, O Lord?" – with which is to be compared Ezekiel's horrified exclamation (Ezek. 11:13b), "Oh, Lord yhwh, You are completely destroying the remnant of Israel!" – yhwh replies, just as He does to Ezekiel (Ezek. 11:14–21), that a small remnant shall turn back to the Lord and be spared. Unless we-hayetah levaʿer is moved, for purely stylistic reasons, to the end of verse 11, Isaiah 6:13 is to be rendered thus: "But while a tenth part still remains in it, it shall turn back (cf. Sheʾar-yashuv (Shear-Jashub), "a remnant shall turn back," the name of the son with whom Isaiah appears, a year or two later, in 7:3; see also 10:21). For it shall be ravaged (we-hayetah levaʿer) like the terebinth and the oak, of which stumps remain even when they are felled; its stump shall be a holy kindred." The only interpolation in Isaiah 6 is verse 12a, "The Lord will remove the population," which – referring to the Lord in the third person in the midst of a speech by the Lord – stems from a post-Exilic glossator who thought the prediction of devastation was a prediction of the exiling of the population to Babylonia (a century and a half later). In the inaugural visions Exodus 3:2–4:17; Jeremiah 1:4–9 (verse 9 makes this a vision); and Ezekiel 1:1–3:13, there are no participants but God and prophet (in the last cited vision the Lord does not address the creatures that bear His throne), and there is no call for a volunteer: the prophet is assigned his mission willy-nilly. The true analogue to Isaiah 6 is i Kings 22:17 ff.; in the former, however, the prophet is purged by a peculiar visionary rite (Isa. 6:6–7) so that he, as well as the celestial creatures of the Lord's council, may participate (imitated in Zech. 3:4–7). No wonder he believes that not only he but also his unnamed wife (she is simply "the Prophetess," perhaps herself a prophet, 8:3) and his children (8:11 ff., 18) – the last word in 8:16 is probably also to be emended to ba-yeladim, "in the children" – are something set apart from "the masses" (rabbim, 8:15)!

Panel 3, Field A, chapters 7–9

The Arameo-Ephraimite Attempt to Depose the House of David, 734–732. The Arameo-Ephraimite attack is the occasion for 9:7 [8]ff., whereas it is only the starting point of 7:1 – 9:6 [7], which in 8:23 [9:1] alludes to the Assyrian annexation of Sharon (in 734) and of Gilead and Galilee (732) as having already taken place (cf. ii Kings 15:29). But 7:1–9:6 [7] was attracted to the vicinity of chapter 6 by the similarity of the openings 6:1 and 7:1. To the attempt to de-throne the Davidic dynasty, Isaiah reacted with the fury of a devout "legitimist." For to him the divine election of the House of David was as axiomatic as the divine election of Zion (see above). Recalling Amos 4:6–12, in which his predecessor had traced a series of disasters which had failed to induce repentance in the Northern Kingdom, because of which he had threatened it with ominous vagueness (Amos 4:12), with something much worse than anything that had preceded, Isaiah first repeated the last two of the disasters to which Amos had already looked back and then paraphrased Amos' threat for the future with appalling explicitness. For in Isaiah 9:7 [8] the Septuagint is unquestionably right in interpreting the consonants of the first two Hebrew words as dever shillaḥ ("let[past tense] loose pestilence"), and Ehrlich in changing we-nafal to we-negef ("plague"). Isaiah 9:7[8] alludes to the same pestilence, and Isaiah 9:10–11[11–12] to the same military disaster(s), as Amos 4:10. For the military disasters, this identity is confirmed by Haran's observation that Amos 1:6 speaks of Gaza (i.e., Philistia generally) handing over Israelite captives to Aram (so read for "Edom"). Then in 9:12[13], Isaiah paraphrases the final clause of Amos 4:10. Accordingly, Isaiah 9:13, 16a[14,17a] spells out the vague threat of Amos 4:12, and the beginning of it must be translated, "The Lord will exterminate from Israel head and tail, palm branch and reed, in one day." After that, Isaiah 9:17–20[18–21] traces the stages in the fulfillment of this threat that have been realized between the time that Amos uttered it (see Amos 1:1) and Israel's attack on Judah. Unlike Isaiah 5:25 ff., therefore, Isaiah 9:7[8] ff. resembles Amos 4:6ff. in looking back on not one but a whole series of past blows, and so this passage (emphatically not Isa. 5:25ff.) does, like Amos, employ a refrain. The roughly parallel block 7:1–9:6[7] has preserved the reason for this implacable attitude of Isaiah toward the sister kingdom: the purpose of the attack on Judah was to put an end to the reign of the Davidic dynasty in Judah, 7:6. Isaiah is convinced that Aram and Ephraim have thereby dug their own graves. That Judah will be ravaged by a cruel foe is the gist of 5:26ff., which has already been dealt with, and presently Isaiah will substitute for this legendary people the Assyrians (8:7–8a); but the Davidic dynasty is inviolable. That its subjects are greatly outnumbered by those of either one of the two attacking kings makes no difference. The entire world outside the Davidic polity is a world without God, whereas yhwh is an integral part of the Davidic polity; and what could even all the nations in the world do against God? (8:8b–10 belongs between 7:9a and 7:9b; see *Immanuel.) But Judah – through its king Ahaz – must exhibit the same faith as Isaiah. If it solicits the aid of heathen Assyria, it thereby implies that it does not credit the Lord with the ability to dispose of Aram and Ephraim unaided. ("You treat my God as helpless," 7:13.) One obvious advantage of taking Isaiah's own word for it, instead of imputing to him the astute diplomatic motive so dear to rationalists who like to believe that the prophets were rationalists like them, is that the same irrational reason explains why Isaiah later opposed enlisting the aid of Egypt in disposing of Assyria, whereas for this the rationalizers have to discover still another secret rational motive. The fact is that only in the latter case can the course advocated by Isaiah also be justified by practical considerations (though they were foreign to Isaiah's thinking). Of the three premises of those who justify on practical grounds the policy advocated by Isaiah in the face of the Arameo-Ephraimite attack, two are at least doubtful: the premise that Tiglath-Pileser had not already imposed his suzerainty on Judah either when he defeated the *Uzziahled coalition in 738 or when he swept into Philistia in 734; and the premise that although he had not moved betimes against the same *Pekah – who had perhaps been aided by the same *Rezin – when he rebelled against *Pekahiah, the presumably loyal son and successor of Assyrophile *Menahem, he would certainly, and without being solicited, attack Pekah and Rezin in time to save the House of David. The third premise is nonsense: that stronger powers do not subjugate weaker ones which do not either attack them first or solicit their protection! By procuring the aid of Assyria, Ahaz probably saved his dynasty and possibly his nation. Isaiah, however, bitterly confirmed his prediction of chapter 6, of an appalling devastation and added that the very power – Assyria – that Judah had hired to save her would be the instrument of her devastation (7:20). The best farmland (7:23, corresponding to the most hairy parts of the body, verse 20) would be reduced to thornbrakes infested by dangerous beasts. Just the marginal farmland, which could only be tilled with the hoe because too rocky for the plow (corresponding to areas of the body with scant hair), would escape infestation by dangerous beasts and would serve as pasture, the shrunken population being dependent on cows, sheep, and goats for its subsistence. (See also *Immanuel.) Chapter 8 begins, like chapter 7, with a piece of narrative; but unlike chapter 7 and like chapter 6, it is first person narrative. Isaiah's wife bears him a son whom the Lord instructs him to name Maher-(to be vocalized rather Mihar?) Shalal-Hash-Baz, "Pillage hastens, looting speeds," in token of the early plundering of two cities: "(4) For before the boy has learned to call 'Father!' and 'Mother!' the wealth of Damascus and the spoils of Samaria (6b) and the delights of Rezin and the son of Remaliah (the respective kings) (4b) shall be carried off before the king of Assyria." Isaiah is also instructed to symbolize this fact by writing an "undertaking (ʾnwš, which in 33:8 is parallel to ʿedim [so manuscript 1qisaa] and berit; perhaps in both passages read ʾmwn [i.e., emun], since confusion of sh and m, which resemble each other in the Paleohebraic script [see *Alphabet] is frequent in First Isaiah) to Maher Shalal Hash Baz," and having it formally witnessed. But as in chapter 7, Judah's want of faith must also be punished and through the same agent, Assyria. Unlike Aram and Israel, however, Judah would only be imperiled, not destroyed (8:5–8a). In this connection the opprobrious epithet "that people" is again applied to Judah (8:6), and twice more in 8:11, where Isaiah tells how, when the Lord singled him out (be-ḥezqat (be-ḥezkat) ha-yad, "when He grasped me by the hand"; cf. Isa. 45:1; Jer. 31:31[32]; Job 8:20), He warned him and his household not to walk in the path of "that people" (and here, as verse 14 makes clear, he means "both Houses of Israel," both Ephraim and Judah) so as not to stumble like the masses (verse 15; rabbim, as e.g., in Mal. 2:8, means "the many, hoi polloi "). On 8:16ff., see Ginsberg 1956, except that verses 20b–22 are to be arranged as follows: "(20b) For him who speaks thus there shall be no dawn. (21b c) Whether he turns upward, (22b) or looks downward (el ereẓ = Aram. laʾaraʿ<leraʿ), behold, distress and darkness with no day-break (reading meʿif with 1qisaa), straitness and gloom with no dawning (read mi-negoah). (21a–b b) He shall walk in it wretched and hungry, and when he is hungry he shall rage and revolt against his king (better "kings"; vocalize bi-mlakhaw) and his divine beings." The sense of 8:23[9:1] is "For if (read lu with 1qisaa) there were to be drawn for her that is in straits, only the former [king, i.e., Pekah] would have brought disgrace on the land of the Zebulunites and the land of the Naphtalites (read ereẓ ha-zevuloni we-ereẓ ha-naftali) but the latter [king, i.e., Hoshea] would have brought honor to the other side of the Jordan and Galilee of the nations." In other words, the failure of Hoshea to regain the provinces lost by Pekah shows that the decree of the sack of Samaria (8:4) has not been revoked; its execution has merely been postponed, which dates at least 8:19–23 in the reign of Hoshea (732–725). Verse 5:30 (But on that day there will resound over him (i.e., over the subject of 8:20b–22, once he has learned to spurn his kings and his divine spirits) a roaring like that of the sea; and when he then looks down, behold, distressing darkness with light, darkness with dawn [beʿefah]) belongs here and (in a manner analogous to 29:5b b–6) it creates a transition from 8:20bff. to 9:1ff. The latter's message is: Following the final liquidation of the Northern Kingdom, its people shall enjoy freedom and happiness again – in a Davidic kingdom which shall again embrace them and be headed by a model king whose reign shall be blessed. Improved restoration and rendering of verses 5–6[6–7] are: "For a child has been born to us, a son has been given to us, and prosperity (?) has become the import of his name (read shemo). He has been named 'The Mighty God is planning grace, the Puissant One of Jacob intends well being' (avir yaʿaqov ʿoseh shalom), (6) in token of abundant prosperity and measureless well being, etc." (Explanations: Meaning of hmṣrh unknown. 1QIsaa reads המשורה, perhaps cf. מְשׂוּרָה "liquid measure." Avir Yaʿaqov is synonymous with and commoner than Avir Yisraʾel [Isa. 1:24], which, however, is to be restored in 43:15. For the synonymous parallelism of yʿ and ʿsy, cf. 5:19; 29:10. The root ʿsy also has this meaning in 5:12; 22:11; 32:6; 37:26. For peleʾ ("grace" see 25:1, and Psalms 88:11, 13; 89:6 and Qumran Hebrew.)

Panel 3, Field B, chapters 10–12

Isaiah 10:1–4a is a social protest in the style of 5:3–10. 4b is not a conclusion of what precedes – since 1–4a is not a recollection of a past blow but a threat of a future one. It is rather a repetition of the last clause of chapter 9 intended to serve as a link between the latter and the former (since its key words af, "anger," and yad, "arm, hand," occur again in 10:5). Since 10:16–19 is a threat against Israel (note, among other things, the resemblance of 10:16 to 17:4) and it originally followed directly on 9:16a [17a] (note, among other things, "in one day," 9:13 [14] and 10:17), what originally stood in its present position may very well have been 14:24–27; note among other things the antithesis between the Lord's purpose (dimmiti, 14:24) and Assyria's purpose (yedammeh, 10:7). Isaiah 10:5–15; 14:24–27 is a remarkable display of concern for the right of nations – not just Israel – to exist that is worthy of the man who authored 2:2–4; see above, panel 1, field B. The terminus post quem is given by the reference in 10:9 to the Assyrian annexation of Carchemish, which took place in 717 b.c.e. At the same time, verses 27bff. can best be understood against the background of Sargon's Arabian campaign of 715. The date of 10:5–15; 14:24–27 is therefore probably 716. Since the time when Isaiah assigned to Assyria the missions of liquidating the states of Aram and Ephraim and severely chastising Judah (see above), between ten and 15 years have elapsed, and he has been sickened by the ruthlessness (born, like every vice, of pride) of the Assyrian, who is not content to attack the nation he is commissioned to attack but conquers insatiably, and is not content to plunder (in accordance with 8:4; 10:6) but needs must annihilate (10:7), namely by expatriation (10:13bc; the Karatepe inscriptions confirm that horid means "to exile [populations]"). Assyria has still to carry out its mission of chastising Judah (8:5–8a), but after that the "Lord… will punish the majestic pride, and overbearing arrogance of the king of Assyria" (10:12). And 14:24–27 tells us in what manner: (24) The Lord of Hosts has sworn this oath: "As I have designed, so shall it happen;/What I have planned, that shall come to pass://(25a) To smash Assyria in my land,/To trample him on my mountain (i.e., in my country; vocalize hari in view of Isa. 11:9; 25:6, 7, 10; 65:25; Ex. 15:17; Ps. 78:54)."//(26) That is the plan that is planned/For all the earth;//That is what an arm is poised for/Over all the nation.//(25b) And off them his yoke shall drop,/And his burden shall drop from their backs.//(27) For the Lord of Hosts has planned,/ And who can foil it?//It is His arm that is poised,/And who can stay it?//In 10:27bff. the prophet anticipates that the predicted imperilment of Judah by Assyria will take place by Sargon marching up the road from the Jordan Valley to Ai but turning southwestward before reaching Ai in order to advance on Jerusalem by way of Michmas and Geba. The only time when Sargon could be expected to march on Jerusalem by way of the Jordan Valley was when he was campaigning in, or returning from, North Arabia, in 716 or 715. The ravaged forest of verses 33–34 is, of course, no less than that in verses 17–18a a, 19 and in 9:17[18], the local population, not the invading army. In this passage, however, the ravaging is done with the ax, not with fire, and stumps – including notably the stump of Jesse, 11:1ff. – can produce new crowns of foliage, and so they shall, 11:1ff. The stump of the tallest tree of all, "the stump of Jesse shall, in regenerating, produce a marvelous shoot; a prince with a charismatic gift of justice. For he shall be endowed with the charismas of wisdom, resourcefulness and valor, and piety (da ʿ at being, as in Hos. 4:6; Prov 1:29, short for daʿat elohim/yhwh, "devotion to, or mindfulness of, God/yhwh"). He shall know the rights and wrongs of a case by instinct, and destroy the wicked by his mere utterance. (For ruaḥ (lit. "spirit"), "charisma," cf. e.g., ii Kings 2:8–9, 14–15; Hos. 9:7; Micah 3:8). Down to this point, the doctrine of the election of the House of David had merely asserted that his family would reign forever; here the attention is transferred from the perpetuity of the dynasty to the marvelous qualities of the individual ruler. One might therefore say that Isaiah's concern, which has already been noted, about the social ills of his time, particularly the judicial oppression of the poor, has led him (most strikingly here but also in 9:5–6 (1–6) and 16:4b–5) to combine the peculiarly Judahite – really peculiarly Jerusalemite – doctrine of the perpetuity of the Davidic line with the common West Asiatic ideal of kingship as expressed in Israel's wisdom literature (Prov. 16:21b; 20:28; 25:5b; 29:14). By taking this step Isaiah made possible the evolution of the post-biblical idea of "the *Messiah." There followed visions of peace in the animal kingdom (at least within the borders of the Land of Israel, 11:9), the reconciliation of Judah and Ephraim under the Davidic dynasty (11:10, 13), and the reconquest of the dependencies of David (14); finally, the redemption of the Israelites exiled by the kings of Assyria.

the archive, chapters 13–33

This falls into three parts: I. The Book of Pronouncements (Massa ʾ ot), 13–23, minus the two misplaced " ah's" 17:12–14; 18:1–7 (place these after chapter 33); ii. "The Isaiah Apocalypse," chapters 24–27; iii. The Book of Ah's: 17:12–18:7, chapters 28–33. (30:6–7 is not a misplaced "pronouncement"; the first three words are corrupt for bmšwʾt (Job. 30:3; 38:27) hngb, "in the wasteland of the Negev").

The Book of Pronouncements

That there is no chronological arrangement here is easily demonstrated: 14:28ff. is dated "in the year that King Ahaz died," for which the earliest possible identification is 727 b.c.e.; yet 17:1ff., which predicts a total and definitive destruction of Damascus, which was taken but not destroyed in 732, cannot date from later than 732 b.c.e. (note that the depopulation of Israel is also still in the future, 17:4–6). The arrangement is actually geographical, namely, in two arcs beginning at Babylon and ending in the West: (a) chapters 13–21 (Babylon, 13:1, 19; 14:4; Assyria, 14:24–27; Philistia, 14:28ff.; Moab, chapters 15–16; Damascus and Israel, 17:1ff. [on the two " ah's," 17:12ff.; 18:1–7, see above]; Egypt, chapter 19; Egypt and Nubia, chapter 20); (b) chapters 21–23 (Babylon, 21:1–10; Dumah, 21:11–12; Northwest Arabia, 21:13–17; Jerusalem, chapter 22; Tyre-Sidon, chapter 23). The material may be classified in four categories:

1. Definitely or probably Isaian. (i) 14:4b–21, a magnificent ode composed in the summer of 705, when the Assyrian defeat and the ignominious death of King Sargon seemed, even though they took place hundreds of miles northeast of "my land//my mountain" (14:24–25, see above) to be the fulfillment of Isaiah's prediction of the crushing of Assyria and the liberation of "all the nations" (14:26, see above). (ii) 14:24–27 (dealt with above, under The Diary, Panel 3, Field b). (iii) 14:28–29, 30b–31 (32, 30a [read be-kharo, "in His – yhwh's, referring to 32b – pasture"] belong after 16:5). It would seem that Ahaz died in the same year as Tiglath-Pileser; in any case, not Ahaz but the latter, who invaded Philistia both in 734 and in 733, is the rod of him [i.e., Assyria] that beat Philistia. (iv) 17:1–11 clearly 733–732. (v) 19:1–15. In Isaiah's time the nomes (districts) of Lower Egypt were governed by hereditary princes, which is why his contemporary Sennacherib speaks of defeating "the kings (plural) of Egypt." In line with this is Isaiah's reference to the nomes of Egypt as kingdoms (19:2). In addition, the rhythm and diction of 19:1–15 are typically Isaian; for the presumable occasion see on chapter 22. On verses 16ff., see below. (vi) chapter 22. The background of this chapter is the situation after the fall of Azekah to the Assyrians in 712 b.c.e., and the feverish preparations in Jerusalem for the eventuality of a siege (whose non-materialization is probably to be ascribed to timely submission). The main target of the Assyrians was Ashdod which headed a revolt of vassal states against Assyria in the years 713 and 712 until it was besieged and captured. As can be seen from Isaiah 20:4ff., the rebels hoped for help from Nubia and Egypt. Isaiah opposed Judah's involvement for the same reason as he had 20 years earlier opposed soliciting the aid of Assyria against Aram and Israel: it signified that Judah relied on the might of heathen Egypt and Ashdod because it had no faith in the Lord's ability to dispose of Assyria – as he surely would, in his own good time. (vii) 23:1–14. The diction is Isaiah's, and the period is the Assyrian one. (The corrupt verse 13 is to be restored something like this: The land of Kittim itself, which [this is one of the instances of the use of zeh as a relative pronoun] Sidonians founded – whose turrets they raised, whose ramparts they erected – is a people no more; Assyria has turned it into a ruin.) On verses 14ff., see below.

2. Not by but about Isaiah, chapter 20. The year of the Assyrian capture of Ashdod is 712 (see above on chapter 22). The account is in the third person, but it obviously contains a historical core. As already mentioned, Isaiah disapproved of his own people's attempting to throw off the Assyrian domination with the help of Egypt and Nubia, and he was convinced that both Egypt and those who relied on her would come to grief. That he took off his clothes and sandals to dramatize – and thus quasi-magically effectuated – the ignominious end of Egypt that he predicted is entirely conceivable (cf. the Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz sign, 8:3–4). That Isaiah's regular attire was a loincloth, and that he went entirely naked and barefoot for three years are not impossible data; but they may be a distorted recollection that so long as the rebellion lasted he went about in sack-cloth and sandals, and when Ashdod fell he took these off and went naked and barefoot for a while.

3. Definitely neither by nor about Isaiah. (i) 13:1–14:4a, 22–23. Both Isaiah 13 and Zephaniah 1:7, 14ff. announce a day of divine wrath and stress that it is close at hand, but only the latter likens it explicitly to a day of a private sacrificial slaughter, and feast of which one notifies one's guests in advance and "has them cleanse themselves (ritually)" (hikdish, hiqdish, Zeph. 1:7; cf. kiddesh, qiddesh, Job 1:5, of having persons on whose behalf burnt offerings are made cleanse themselves ritually). Consequently it is only Zephaniah 1 that enables us to understand why the armies summoned by the Lord to execute the carnage of the day of His wrath are styled by him in Isaiah 13:3 "My ritually cleansed ones." Moreover, the age of prophecies that Media would overthrow Babylon was the Babylonian age; Jeremiah 51 is an indication for Isaiah 13 and Isaiah 21:1–9; naturally, for it was the Median empire whose power balanced that of the neo-Babylonian until the year 550, when King Astyages of Media was defeated and captured by his vassal Cyrus of Anshan, the founder of the Persian empire. For 14:1–2, a comparison with Zechariah 1:12–16 is suggestive, and 14:3–4a, 22–23 are clearly an editorial framework from the Babylonian period to verses 14b–21, representing it as an Isaian prediction of what the Jews will say on the death of the Babylonian tyrant rather than as the expression of Isaiah's own satisfaction – on the ignominious death of the Assyrian king, Sargon ii, and the apparent collapse of Assyria, in 705 b.c.e – that it is (see above). (ii) chapter 21.21:1–10 is to be judged in light of what has just been said about predictions about the fall of Babylon to the Medes, and a presumption is thereby created against the enigmatic "pronouncements" 21:11–12 and 21:13 ff. as well.

4. Tantalizing in-betweens. (i) The Moab Pronouncement, chapters 15–16 (with 14:32, 30a restored to its original position after 16:5, as indicated under 1). It seems equally clear that on the one hand the bulk of this composition must be old, and on the other, that it cannot be an Isaian composition pure and simple. As regards the basic text, its dating must take account of the fact that the Moabites are represented as fleeing southward from as far north as Heshbon and Elealeh. However, it is known (from the Mesha inscription) that Moab recovered (from the Israelites, who had dispossessed the Amorites) much of the anciently Moabite territory north of the Arnon; and when Israel was forced out of Transjordan, Moab may very well have emulated Ammon (Amos 1:13), so that the old suggestion, most recently defended by Rudolph, that the basic lament was composed on the occasion of Jeroboam son of Joash's reconquest of Transjordan "from Lebo of Hamath to the Sea of the Arabah (i.e., the Dead Sea)" (ii Kings 14:25) still has to be considered. For one has the impression that the old lament already had at 16:1 counsel to the Moabite refugees who have reached the southernmost point in Moab, Zoar (15:5), to cross over to Edom (Moab's southern neighbor) and send messengers from Sela in Edom to Jerusalem requesting asylum; only 16:4b–5; 14:32, 30a; 16:6 seem to have been added by Isaiah. In 4b–5 the speaker explains to Moab why asylum in Judah would be particularly desirable; "For violence (read ḥamaẓ, equivalent to ḥamas) has vanished, rapine is ended, /and marauders have perished from this land: //and a throne shall be established in goodness/in the tent of David//and on it shall sit in faithfulness/a ruler devoted to justice/and zealous (read we-shoḥer, Ginsberg 1950; mahir would require a different construction, see Prov. 22:29; 7:6) for equity." But then in 14:32, 30a; 16:6 he reveals how this ruler will react to the Moabite's petitions (14:32). "And what will he reply to a nation's messenger?// That Zion has been established by yhwh; in it the needy of His people shall find shelter (14:30). In His pasture (read be-kharo, see 30:23b) such as are poor may graze/and such as are destitute may lie down secure."// The immediately preceding sentence seems to imply that non-Israelites who seek asylum will be welcomed, but only if they are poor and humble. Verse 5 then explains – and it makes no difference whether the speaker is still the Davidic king or the poet who reports the former's answer – why Moab is not welcome: "We have heard of Moab's pride-/most haughty is he-//of his pride and haughtiness and fury,/and of the iniquity in him" (16:6). There is no such word as bad "falsehood," or "prating." Baddaw is the suffixed form of the preposition bede (Jer. 51:58; Nah. 2:13; Hab. 2:13; Job 11:3, and what bdnm is in the Eshmunazor inscription (Phoenician), line 6). Now if one takes the above translations bit by bit, it is not difficult to find striking parallels to every bit. 16:4b–5 is insistently reminiscent, in content and partly in diction, of 9:3–6 [4–7] and 14:32, 30a, reminiscent of 3:15, of 5:17 (especially if we emend וְרָעוּ כְבָשִׂים כַּר בְּרִיִּים, "and the lambs shall graze the pasture of the fat (rams), etc." – but even also as it stands), and of 11:4a, 9a; while to 16:6 the closest single parallel is 10:7a, 12–15 (cf. 37:23–25), but see also 2:10–17; 3:16–17; 5:15–16; 28:1ff. Indeed, anyone who has not been struck by the importance in Isaiah's thought of the doctrine that pride is the root and essence of wickedness has never done more than skim his book; cf. further 16:5b (reading we-shoḥer as above) with 1:17a (reading shaḥaru ẓedeq for the insipid "guide the robbed").

(ii) and (iii) the prose, or mainly prose, appendices to the Egypt and Tyre Pronouncements, i.e., 19:16–25 and 23:15ff. The latter does not sound like Isaiah either in diction or in sentiments, but the former is occasionally reminiscent of Isaiah in its diction and is tantalizingly suggestive of events in Isaiah's time by which they could have been suggested to Isaiah: 19:19–20 of the stele Tiglath-Pileser erected on the border of Egypt in token of his sovereignty over it, and verse 23 of Sargon's forcible opening of Egypt to trade with Assyria. And certainly the universalism of 19:24–25 ("my [yhwh's] people Egypt," "Israel… third to Egypt and Assyria") is worthy of Isaiah.

"The Isaiah Apocalypse."

(Isa. 24–27). It may be admitted that though the language and the ideas are often Isaian, frequent divergences from Isaiah's style, spirit, and outlook argue that the resemblances are due to imitation of Isaiah rather than Isaian authorship. On the other hand it is unwise to descend below the Babylonian exile, and at least the key passage 25:6–12 sounds like nothing so much as an assurance by an early seventh-century writer that Isaiah's prediction 14:24–27 (translated above in connection with The Diary, Panel 3, Field b) of the liberation of the nations as a result of the Lord's destroying Assyria by trampling it on "his mountains," i.e., in the Holy Land, will yet come true. For consider what 25:1–6 says: It says that the Lord's trampling of a certain entity "on this mountain" is going to result in a feast for "all the peoples" (verse 6) because of the destruction of "the shroud that is drawn over the faces of all the peoples and the covering that is spread over all the nations" (verse 7) and the "destruction of 'death' [i.e., the Assyrian killing of whole peoples, 10:7 (and 14:20, where "countries" and "peoples" should be read for 'your country' and 'your people' of mt)] forever and the wiping away of tears from all faces and the end of the reproach of peoples [so for mt's "his people"] over all the earth" (25:8). – Let who will try to escape the conclusion that first, "this mountain" here is identical with "my mountain" in 14:25 (which stands in parallel with "my country," – and means the Holy Land), and that, secondly, the entity that is to be trampled to death by the Lord on the said mountain must be, here as in 14:25, Assyria. Moab was never of such international importance. The received reading "Moab" might be taken as a cryptogram for "Assyria," though atbash, the system by which ššk represents bbl in Jeremiah 25:26; 51:41 and lbqmy represents kšdym in Jeremiah 51:1, is of no use here. However, the better explanation of מואב is simply that it was a misreading for אשור (confusion of ב and ר was possible and occurred in all periods, and confusion of ש and מ was possible in the Paleohebraic script in which it has occurred a number of times throughout chapters 1–33. A well-known instance is אִמְרוּ for אַשְׁרֵי ("Happy is"; 3:10), Kaufmann has very plausibly emended עַמֶּךָ to עֹשֶׂךָ ("your Maker"; in 2:6); Another possibility is to read אֵמוּן (with the surmised meaning "undertaking" [cf. amanah ]) for אֱנוֹשׁ in 8:1; 33:8. Further תָּשּׂא is to be emended to אִתָּם (read וֶאֱלִלֵיהֶם אִתָּם ("and their idols along with them")) in 2:9, מַיִם to שִׂמְלָה ("clothing,) in 3:1, and the inapposite שִׂיד of 33:12 to שָׁמִיר ("brambles"; the מ omitted by haplography after the ש which it resembled in the Paleohebraic script) so as to parallel קוֹצִים, cf. 32:13. (The resemblance between m and š in the Protohebraic script also played a part in the loss of a m in mšlwḥ), 11:14, and in the double writing of the m in wmmšltk, 22:21, for wmšʿntk.) As has been shown, we must now add mwʾb, 25:10, for ʾšwr; but we must also add, in the same verse, khdwš tbn for khdwš mtbn (the m is a dittogram of the preceding š and md (w) šh for mdmnh). For the sense required is not the remarkable "as a pile of straw chips [the meaning of matben in the Mishnah] is threshed to bits in a dunghill" (?; as a common noun madmenah is not otherwise attested) but "as straw chips are threshed to bits in threshing (21:10)." This confusing of m and š does not extend to Deutero-Isaiah. Consequently the incorporation of "the Isaiah Apocalypse" in the Book of Isaiah antedates that of Deutero-Isaiah. Consequently, though "Assyria" in our verse may conceivably refer, as e.g., in 52:4, to the neo-Babylonian empire and date from after 605, it cannot refer to the Persian Empire and date from after 539. Finally, the meaning of 25:11 is, "Then he will spread out his hands in their (i.e., the Assyrians') homeland as a swimmer spreads out his hands to swim, and he will humble their pride along with their citadels (read armenotaw). Yea, the secure fortification of their walls (read ḥomotaw) he will lay low and humble, will raze to the ground, to the very dust." Of course the same – Assyrian or Babylonian – cities are meant in 26:5–6; 27:10.

The Book of "Ah's,"

chapters 28–33, 17:12–18:7. The background of 30:1ff. and 31:1ff. is obviously Judah's negotiations with Egypt for aid in a contemplated or ongoing revolt against Assyria's suzerainty, and the only doubt is whether the revolt in question is that of 713–712 against Sargon or that of 705–701 against Sennacherib. Skinner still favored the former because of 30:4 (which could be read immediately after verse 2) "For his [Pharaoh's] officers are present [read yihyu?] in Tanis [in the eastern Delta], and his monarchs [read melakhaw] reach as far as Heracleopolis magna [in Middle Egypt]." That would be a fair description of the eastern and southern limits of the realm of Tefnakhte and Bocchoris, the Pharaohs of the 24th Dynasty, whose residence was Sais in the western Delta and whose rule was terminated in the year 710. If correct, this would mean (so Skinner) that there is no evidence that Isaiah again condemned the policy of attempting to win independence from Assyria with the help of heathen allies during the revolt of 705–701, at the end of which he definitely encouraged Hezekiah, 37:5, 38:6. If chapters 30–31 are nevertheless dated, as with the majority of critics, to the revolt of 705–701, 30:4 must be regarded as formulaic. The Masoretic Text's malʾakhaw, "his messengers," cannot be made to refer, along with "his officers," to Hezekiah's delegation (where is Hezekiah mentioned?). That the displaced block of "Ah's" 17:12–18:7 belongs after chapter 33 is suggested by the similarity between 33:21–23 (we shall be as inaccessible to enemies as if surrounded by an impassable sea) and 17:12–14 (the multitudes of our enemies may create a tumult like that of the seas, but they shall be terrified into flight by the roar of yhwh (like the primeval waters, Ps. 104:5–9)). Chapter 33, for its part, seems to date from after the final subjugation of Judah in 701 (Judah's past and future situations (3–6 and 10ff. respectively) are enviable, but the present (7–9) deplorable). There is thus no obstacle in the way of regarding the arrangement of the entire Book of "Ah's" as basically chronological.

the historical appendix, chapters 36–39

It is of course nothing but a parallel version of ii Kings 18:13–20:19, mostly shorter (the most important omission is Hezekiah's abject surrender, ii Kings 18:14–16) but with Hezekiah's Psalm, Isaiah 38:9–20, added. It relates three incidents in which Isaiah played a part: (1) the deliverance of Jerusalem, chapters 36–37; (2) Hezekiah's illness and recovery, chapter 38; and (3) the visit of the ambassadors from Babylon, chapter 39.

(1) Within the first, two versions of the manner of Jerusalem's deliverance have been combined: (a) 36:2–37:9a (plus wa-yishmaʿ2), 37–38; (b) 37:9b (minus wa-yishmaʿ2)–36. The former is full of circumstantial details and virtually dispenses with miracles: Sennacherib, at Lachish, sends the *Rabshakeh (it is a title, not a proper name) with a force to Jerusalem to demand that its people surrender so that they can at least eat decent food and drink decent drink while awaiting Sennacherib's inevitable return to carry them off into an exile which is also tolerable, instead of continuing to put up with the terrible conditions of siege that they are enduring. The Rabshakeh deliberately shouts this, in the Judean language, to the men on the walls of Jerusalem and over the heads of the Judahite officials – their names and offices are given – who were sent out to parley with him in Aramaic. Hezekiah then sends a delegation to Isaiah, who sends back an assurance that a disquieting report will compel Sennacherib to withdraw to his own country, where he will fall by the sword. Returning to Sennacherib, the Rabshakeh finds that he has already moved northward to Libnah, which is to the north of Lachish, because of a report that King Tirhakah of Nubia is advancing upon him. Sennacherib, as a matter of fact, withdraws all the way to his capital Nineveh, and there (some 20 years later but telescoped in the narrative; see *Adrammelech) two of his sons assassinate him; another son, Esarhaddon, succeeds him on the throne. The other version (37:9b–36), on the other hand, is short on details and long on the miraculous: Sennacherib sends anonymous messengers with a written demand of surrender, addressed not to the people but to Hezekiah and supported by the argument not that yhwh Himself has sent the Assyrians because Hezekiah has offended Him but that the Lord is helpless to save him. Isaiah spontaneously sends Hezekiah a reassurance that Sennacherib will never even lay siege to the city but will return to his homeland, and that night an angel of the Lord kills 185,000 men in the Assyrian camp. Although this second account is manifestly farther removed from actual history than the first, it contains in 37:22b–29 what sounds, in thought and in diction, like a genuine Isaian composition. As for the first account, either it refers to an (unlikely) second invasion of Judah by Sennacherib which, occurring after the year 697, the last one that is covered by his annals, is un-attested by any Assyrian source, or else its divergences from the course of events in 701 (Tirhakah was then not yet king of Nubia but only a boy who had never left Nubia; Sennacherib did not retreat from Lachish to avoid the advancing Nubian army but met and defeated the Nubian and Egyptian forces at Eltekeh-which is north of Lachish and even of Libnah-apparently before advancing further south and dispatching a force to Jerusalem. See *Hezekiah, *Sennacherib.

(2) Hezekiah's illness and recovery. The legendary sun miracle had an antecedent in the reign of Ahaz, as the rabbis guessed from 38:8; see *Immanuel.

(3) The visit of the ambassadors from Babylon, chapter 39. Since Merodach-Baladan, who had been driven out of Babylon by Sargon in 710, returned on the latter's death in 705 from the Chaldean country by the Persian Gulf to reign in Babylon again until expelled in 703 by Sennacherib, and then successfully eluded him in the southern marshes, the visit by a delegation from the leading anti-Assyrian of the east to the leading anti-Assyrian of the west is presumably historical, but hardly the conversation between Isaiah and Hezekiah reported in 39:3–8.

[Harold Louis Ginsberg]

chapters 34–35

Chapters 34–35 of Isaiah constitute an independent unit. Chapter 34 contains a prophecy of wrath and destruction of the nations in general and Edom in particular, and chapter 35 deals with the Redemption of Israel and the Return to Zion. Since the beginning of modern biblical criticism scholars have held that chapters 34–35 do not relate to Isaiah son of Amoz, either in terms of content or style, and even certain conservative critics do not attribute them to Isaiah son of Amoz. There is no consensus, however, regarding their inclusion within prophetic units, or their exact time. Some scholars suggested joining these chapters to Isaiah 13–14 and regarding them as the product of a single author (Gesenius); some suggested joining them to Jeremiah 50–51 and regarding them as the product of a single author (Ewald); but the majority tend to relate them to Isaiah 40–66 (but esp. Torrey, who not only related them to Isaiah 40–66 but maintained that originally 34–35 were joined to, and served as, an introduction for 40–66; Steck regards 34–35 as a redactional bridge between First and Second Isaiah when the book was almost complete; the later account of Sennacherib's campaign against Judah, chapters 36–39, was added to them). Most critics tended to attribute them to the time of Deutero-Isaiah, i.e., the second half of the sixth century b.c.e., but some date them later, to after the time of Malachi, i.e., the middle of the fifth century b.c.e. (M.H. Segal), while still others dated them even later, to the fourth century (Pfeiffer). The injunction to "search in the book of Yahweh, read! Not one of these failed" (Isa. 34:16) points to the existence of a collection of written prophecies of destruction that have now materialized (Cf. Blenkinsopp a.l. 454).

Together with the question of the placing and dating of these chapters, scholars also began to doubt that these two chapters are a single unit, and some of them distinguished between them. Graetz was the first (1891) who separated them, attributing chapter 35 to Deutero-Isaiah. He regarded it as an integral part of Deutero-Isaiah and even inserted it into chapter 51 between verses 3 and 4. As for chapter 34, he attributed it to Jeremiah. When a distinction began to be made between Deutero- and Trito-Isaiah (see below), some scholars joined chapter 35 to 40–55, which are seen as part of Deutero-Isaiah (see Olmstead), while some joined it to 56–66, which are seen as part of Trito-Isaiah (Scott). Actually only the dating of these chapters, but not their relation to any particular prophet, can be determined. These two chapters are only part of a multifaceted literature which grew and flourished after the destruction of the First Temple and before the Return of the Exiles, of which Isaiah 40–66 are but the most important part. It was concerned, on the one hand, with announcing the downfall of Babylon the destroyer of Judah and the downfall of Edom the ally of Babylon, and, on the other, with announcing the Redemption of Israel and the Return to Zion. The contents of Isaiah 34–35 bears witness to their time of origin, i.e., after the destruction of Judah and on the eve of the Return to Zion (between c. 580 and 540 b.c.e.). The acts perpetrated by Edom against Judah during the period of the destruction, which were denounced by the prophets (Ezek. 35; Obad.) and poets (Ps. 137; Lam. 4:21–22), are still very much in the mind of the prophet and his audience and are expressed here with extreme wrath (cf. Isa. 63:1–6). Edom is the people whom God has doomed (34:5). The time is a "day of vengeance for the Lord, a year of recompense for the cause of Zion" (34:8), and perhaps there is also an allusion to the destruction of Edom (which also took place in the sixth century). The anticipated and desired destruction of Edom is total, in accordance with the literary tradition of maledictions against breakers of alliances (see esp. Hillers' work, but his attribution of the chapter to the time of Isaiah son of Amoz has been criticized in terms of historical background). Chapter 35 completes the picture and expresses the yearning for the Redemption of Israel and the Return to Zion which will follow the downfall of Israel's enemies. In light of its subject and content it is related in terms of content and style to Isaiah 40–66.


differentiation between chapters 1–39 and 40–66

Hints of a dichotomy between chapters 1–39 and chapters 40–66 of Isaiah are to be found even in medieval Jewish Bible exegesis (see e.g., *Ibn Ezra, Ibn *Gikatilla, and others). The question of the dichotomy between these chapters was revived at the beginning of modern biblical research, in 1775, by the German scholar J.Ch. Doederlin, and since then the dichotomy has been generally maintained as an incontrovertible fact. This differentiation between the two groups is based on a conclusive combination of historical, conceptual, stylistic, and linguistic evidence. One of the characteristics of chapters 40–66 is the scarcity of historical data and the vagueness of the historical background. However, some distinctly historical information (such as the two explicit references to Cyrus, 44:28; 45:1), and the mention of Babylon and the Chaldeans (43:14; 47:1; 48:20), and reflections of the historical background (the Exile and Redemption, the return to Zion and Jerusalem, the exiles and their "joiners"), attest another background which is more than 150 years later than the time of Isaiah son of Amoz. Similarly, there are conceptual differences between the two groups. For example, in the first part the idea of rebuke is predominant, while in the second consolation is the major idea; in the first part there are central motifs such as the idea of the remnant, of the end of days, and of the future king, while in the second these are not mentioned; and, in contrast, the central idea which dominates the second part, the "Servant of God," is neither mentioned nor hinted at in the first. Furthermore, despite important similarities of diction, there are clear and distinct differences between the two parts, which prove that not only were these two parts not written by the same person, but they are not even products of the same period. It appears that there were a number of reasons for joining chapters 40ff. to the group attributed to Isaiah son of Amoz. The first and decisive reason was apparently the intention of the editors of the Prophets to conclude them with chapters of comfort. An additional reason is that despite the differences between the two parts in language and style, there is some relationship between them. Another contributive factor was the paucity of historical data in chapters 40–66. Although they did sense that the two groups were from different periods, the editors' faith in the prophet's ability to envision the distant future allowed them to overcome this difficulty. This view is still held in certain circles, especially fundamentalists. Although the distinction between the two parts has been accepted in biblical research as a fact, several writers in the 20th century have maintained the unity of the book and have attempted to disprove most of the arguments of those who distinguish between the two parts (Zlotnick, Kaminka, et al.).

Structure of 40–66 and its Composition.

Critics of the Book of Isaiah have raised the question of whether chapters 40–66 all stem from a single prophet or are the products of two, three, or more prophets. B. Duhm was the first to divide these chapters into two blocs (40–55 and 56–66). According to him, the two blocs are distinct in historical background, conceptual content (attitude to ritual, polemic against the Samaritans), language and style, and place and time of authorship. The first bloc belongs to "the Second (Deutero-) Isaiah," who lived during the time of Cyrus, while the second bloc, 56–66, belongs to another prophet whom he called "the Third (Trito-) Isaiah," who lived in Jerusalem close to the time of Ezra and Nehemiah. This differentiation into two blocs and two prophets was accepted, with various modifications, by many scholars – E.S. Sellin and Elliger held that the "Third Isaiah" was a disciple of the "Second" and edited his prophecies, that he lived at the end of the sixth century, the time of Haggai and Zechariah, and that the prophecies were written in Jerusalem. Some scholars follow Duhm in maintaining that the group is divided into two blocs, but they hold that it is impossible that chapters 56–66 were the work of one author and were produced during the lifetime of one prophet. Rather, they maintain that there are in this bloc prophecies from different periods, differing, however, in the times they assign to the prophecies. Some limit the period of time reflected in these prophecies to that between Ezekiel and Ezra-Nehemiah (Cheyne, Smith, Kittel). Some expand it to the period from the seventh to the third centuries b.c.e. (Budde, Volz, Eissfeldt). Other scholars, such as Glahn, Klausner, Segal, Kaufmann, and Haran, defend the unity of chapters 40–66. Kaufmann made the greatest attempts to disprove the arguments of those who maintained division into blocs and into separate prophets or prophecies, by determining that the historical background of chapters 40–66 is explicitly before the building of the Second Temple. He also emphasized that these prophecies contain no reflection of what befell those who returned from the Babylonian Exile to Palestine. Kaufmann concluded that these prophecies date from before the building of the Second Temple and their location is in Babylon. Segal also supported the unity of the book and its author, but unlike Kaufmann he held that the background reflected is that of Palestine. M. Haran has argued for the unity of the book and the author, but not of the place, as did Segal and Kaufmann. It is Haran's opinion that chapters 40–48 originated in Babylon. In the return to Palestine, which the prophet had foretold, he too returned to Jerusalem with the exiles, and chapter 49 on reflects the Palestinian background. This is expressed especially in these chapters in which there is a direct address to Jerusalem (49:14–26; 51:17–23; 54:1ff.; 60:1ff.; 62:1–9). More recent study has moved in the direction that chapters 56–66 do not come from one hand or one time period (Blenkinsopp (2003), 59).

songs of the servant of the lord

In dividing chapters 40–66 into two blocs and two authors, Duhm also maintained that there are additions and editing of other authors in both blocs. The word ʿeved, "slave," "servant," occurs 20 times in chapters 40–55 (once in the plural in 54:17). In 13 of these instances the servant is Israel the people. From the first bloc, 40–55, Duhm first separated four poems which he called "Songs of the Servant of the Lord," maintaining that they are by a different prophetic personality, not by Deutero-Isaiah. The four songs according to Duhm, are (1) 42:1–4; (2) 49:1–6; (3) 50:4–9; and (4) 52:13–53:12. According to Duhm and his followers, the servant is not Israel, but an idealized figure who is predestined by God for a function on account of which he suffers greatly. (Although "Israel" is found in most versions of Isa. 49:3, it is inconsistent with the mission to Israel in 5–6, and is probably a gloss; see Blenkinsopp, a.l. 297–98.) Some scholars who agree with the isolation of the "Songs of the Servant of the Lord" and their unity of content did not accept Duhm's method of dividing them and rightly added to what is called the first song, 42:1–4, verses 5–7 of the chapter, whose subject matter is similar to that of the preceding verses. Some scholars consider verses 1–9 as a unit, despite the differences in person and approach. Similarly, verse 7 is added to what is called the second song, 49:1–6, and there are some scholars who attribute to it even some of the following verses. There is also doubt about the inclusion of what is called the third song, 50:4–9, among the other songs. It seems that there are verses outside these four songs which may be identified with verses of the four songs, both in terms of content and in terms of style (e.g., 41:8; 42:1–25; 44:1–2, 21–22, 26; 50:10; 51:16; 61:1–3). Furthermore, a detailed analysis of the language and style of what are called the "Songs of the Servant of the Lord" within the other chapters shows no differences among them (see Ch. North, The Suffering Servant in Deutero-Isaiah, 19562). In consequence, it has been argued that any distinction between these units and their contexts is somewhat arbitrary (cf. also Haran). The "servant" of Duhm's fourth song (52:13–53:12) received special attention because of the New Testament's identification of him with Jesus (directly in Acts 8 8:26–40 and implied elsewhere, e.g., Mark 10:45).

literary units in 40–66

The analysis of the boundaries and scope of the literary and prophetic units that comprise chapters 40–66 has gone through several stages. The stage that preceded Gunkel and Gressmann recognized a prophetic unit of the length of a chapter or more. Skinner, for example, divided the first section, chapters 40–48, into six units, each of which was delivered at a different time, and whose order reflects the prophet's reactions to the events of his time. Budde regarded chapters 40–66 as a planned book which included four prophecies with a prologue and epilogue. This was followed by the approach associated with Gunkel, who originated the method of "form criticism." Gunkel maintained that the prophetic books are composed of small units of separate "oracles," which were joined together by editors. He determined the limits of the units by the formal criteria of opening and conclusion. Gressmann applied this method of Gunkel to Deutero-Isaiah, and in his literary analysis (1914) attempted to prove that chapters 40–55 are composed of 49 small independent units. Gressmann also classified the prophecies into about 12 "types," comprising nine prophetic Gattungen and three non-prophetic ones. This method played a major role in German biblical criticism. Koehler distinguished 70 units in chapters 40–55, while Volz distinguished 50 units (apart from the "Songs of the Servant of the Lord"). Mowinckel divided these chapters into 41 units (excluding the "Songs of the Servant of the Lord"), while Begrich pointed to the existence of more than 70 units. The protagonists of the small unit attempted to discover the system according to which these units were arranged. Mowinckel stated that these small prophecies, which were at first separate, were later organized according to the principle of "key words" (Stichwörter). Similar words or expressions appeared at the beginnings and ends of prophecies and served the editors as guides. Sometimes this principle of verbal associations was combined with, or varied by, conceptual associations. In the third stage there appeared a reaction to the method of Gattungen and small units, and several scholars attempted to show that the prophetic units are longer. Kaufmann strongly rejected the "form critical" method and maintained that "the error of this approach is the confusion of the formal or typological unit with the unit of composition." An author can fashion his creation out of many separate units formally joined together, which nevertheless combine into one composition. Kaufmann holds that Mowinckel's theory of "key words" is a mechanical approach which is unacceptable. The verbal linkings are not a matter of technical arrangement, but rather a phenomenon of composition: it is the author, not an editor, who is fond of such associations and more than once strains the meaning of a word in order to be able to repeat it. Kaufmann maintains that the prophecies in Isaiah 40–66 – both the units of the books and the separate prophecies within each unit – are arranged chronologically. According to him there are 14 prophecies in the first unit, 40–48; in the second unit, 49–57, he counts about 20 prophecies; while in the third unit, 58–66, he finds nine prophecies. According to him the traditional division into three sections is primary and reflects the stages in which these prophecies came into being. Similarly Muilenburg maintains that the literary units are large. According to him section 40–48 contains 14 prophecies (the same number as that of Kaufmann but with minor divergences). He maintains, however, that the prophecies of Deutero-Isaiah are made up of strophes which are joined in various ways by means of openings and conclusions, and, in this way, Muilenburg sought a formal structure in each and every prophecy. Haran affirmed the system of the long prophetic units, but according to him the criterion for the division of the prophecies has to be based not on formal mechanics but rather on the context of the individual cycles: formal linguistic considerations can be added subsequently by way of confirmation. The construction of the complete prophecies is accomplished by linking a concatenation of short sections, each of which contains a new idea or a new poetic image. The combination of the separate parts results in a kind of sum total of ideas and images, subjects and motifs, which is repeated several times throughout the first division 40–48. Each consecutive set of strophes which approaches a sum total makes up a whole literary unit. Each image or motif serves as a typical component of a prophecy, while the total prophecy is made up of a set which includes most of the components. It is not necessary, according to Haran, that the internal order of the components be uniform. The prophet can combine the typical components in a different order every time. There is a certain consistency in the total content of the set but not within the arrangement of components within it. The number of prophetic units in division 40–48, according to Haran, is 10, including the satirical lamentation for Babylon in chapter 47. More recent work (see Sweeney 1993, Sawyer) has focused on redactional analysis that studies the connections between the prophetic speeches and the extant prophetic book at the literary level, with the goal of explicating independent literary layers, the original foundation, and added-on layers not only in Deutero-Isaiah but in the entire canonical book (Kratz, Steck, Vermeylen). Other approaches are those of Baltzer, who views chapters 40–55 as liturgical drama, and Lau, who understands chapter 56–66 as a composite collection of texts brought together as "scribal prophecy" by scholars working within circles of transmitters of prophetic tradition.

conceptual aspects

Exile and Redemption

The Book of Ezekiel attests the frame of mind of the exiles of Judah and Jerusalem. The depression and despair of the exiles are expressed in the words of the people in the vision of the dry bones: "Our bones are dried up and our hope is lost" (Ezek. 37:11). This same pessimistic view of the relationship between the people and its God and of the future of the people persisted among the exiles. Some time (about 20 years) later, when the prophet who is called Deutero-Isaiah appeared, he found that the people believed that God was "hiding His face" from them and that their case was hopeless: "Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak O Israel, My way is hid from the Lord, and my right is disregarded by my God" (40:27). Against the background of this depression and despair, the prophet of comfort and encouragement arose and, like Ezekiel in his later years, he began at the outset of his career to comfort and encourage the exiles of Judah and Jerusalem and breathe new life into them. He brought the people tidings of the end of the time of wrath and the beginning of God's goodwill. The sin of Jerusalem was expiated, since she had atoned doubly for all her transgressions. The prophet tirelessly wove into all his early prophecies (40–48) words of comfort and tidings of redemption, describing God as the creator and director of history who has erased the guilt of His people and is about to redeem them from the captivity and exile, by both natural and supernatural means, according to His will and power. Despite the miraculous and eschatological nature of the described redemption, it is no mere consolation for the end of days but is rather based on, and connected with, current events. In the same way that God, the guide of history, created Babylon "to punish His obedient people, to destroy Jerusalem, and burn its Temple, so He has set up Cyrus" to promote the redemption of the Israelite people, to rebuild Jerusalem, and reestablish its Temple (44:28; 45:13). The prophet proclaims that the time has come for Babylon and Chaldea to be punished (43:14; 46:1; 47:1ff.), and actual events serve as proof of the truth of his words. The defeat of Babylon by Cyrus is seen as evidence that just as God fulfilled the "first promises" (probably the fall of Babylon; see Haran, Bein Rishonot le-Ḥadashot, 1963), so he will fulfill the "new promises" – the tidings of redemption, of the revival of the people, and of their return to Zion. The description of the redemption is not limited to the redemption of the people but includes also the redemption of Judah and Jerusalem. The redemption of the forsaken Jerusalem, the forgotten and widowed, the "bereaved and barren" (49:14, 21), is described in poetic and hyperbolic terms. She will shake herself out of the dust of her mourning, she will put on her power and her glory, her justice and her salvation will be seen by the nations and the kings, she will draw exiles to her from all corners of the land until there will not be room to contain them, and all the nations will stream to her to render her honor and glory (see 49:14–26; 51:17–23; 52:11ff.; 54:1ff.; 60:1ff.; 62:1ff.). Actually, the dreams of redemption foretold by the prophet were not fulfilled and realized, and there is, in fact, a discrepancy between the redemption as envisioned by the prophet and the actual Return. Apparently the prophet was among the first returnees, fulfilling what he had foretold. From Jerusalem he called on the people still in exile to forsake their exile (52:11). Although Jerusalem, the holy city, did not become the mother city of all the lands and nations, the returnees did rebuild its ruins.

Comfort and Rebuke

Prophecies of comfort and salvation predominate among the prophet's first prophecies, especially in the first section, chapters 40–48. The sin of the people was forgiven and the transgressions erased and pardoned, but even these first prophecies contain a tone of rebuke. Together with the notion that the sin was forgiven because they had paid "double for all their sins," there is the view that God pardoned the transgressions of Israel and would not bear their sins in mind not because of Israel's merit but for the sake of God's name (43:25). The words of comfort and tidings of redemption apparently did not arouse within Israel the anticipated reaction, and for this they are rebuked by the prophet (see 42:18–20; 43:8; 46:9–13). The wrathful rebuke, which is not merely implied but elaborated, is contained in the last chapter (48:1–11) of the first group, which is replete with prophecies of comfort, and which is also intended for those of little faith. Beginning with chapter 50, the prophet appears as an instrument of rebuke, and the rebuke overshadows the element of comfort. The subjects of rebuke are many and varied: he repeats his rebuke against those of little faith (chapter 50), against the forsaking of God (51:12–13). Whether or not chapters 56–66 are the words of this prophet, rebukes continue against the wicked among the people (chapter 56), against giving priority to ritual over social morality (chapter 58), against social transgressions (chapter 59), and against idolatry (chapter 65).

The Servant of the Lord

The biblical descriptions of the Servant are not unequivocal – he is sometimes portrayed as an individual, either biographically or autobiographically, while at other times he appears as a collective figure, identified with the People of Israel. This lack of clarity gave rise to varied and ramified interpretations among both Jews and Christians in all generations. The methods of interpreting the image of the Servant of the Lord have varied. The Servant has been seen as an individual personality, as a collective, and as a figure of myth with associated ritual. The individual approach is based on the assumption that what is written about the Servant is a description of an individual figure. Those who adopt this method disagree about the identity of this figure. In attempting to identify him, they identify him variously, as a figure from the past (the historical approach); as a contemporary of the prophet, including possibly the prophet himself; as one whom the prophet envisions as destined to appear in the future (the eschatological approach). These methods are intimated in early interpretations, and explicitly stated and argued in modern studies and commentaries. Numerous varied and strange proposals have been advanced concerning the identification of the Servant of God with historical figures from the Bible. The Servant was identified with various kings of the House of David and their descendants, whose biographies include some feature or features suggestive of the Servant, such as – among the Kings – Uzziah's leprosy, Hezekiah's dangerous illness, Josiah's untimely death despite his righteousness, or Jehoiachin's captivity. Among the post-Exilic members of the House of David with whom he is identified are Zerubbabel, the object of unfulfilled messianic hopes, Elioenai (a scion of the House of David, i Chron. 3:23), and Anani (last in the list of the Davidic line, 3:24). Other individuals with whom the Servant of the Lord has been identified were selected from among the prophets: e.g., Isaiah son of Amoz, who, according to the aggadah, was killed by Manasseh; the much-suffering Jeremiah; or Ezekiel, who bore the burden of the sin of the House of Israel (Ezek. 4:4–8). Still others are historical figures such as Moses or Job. According to the biographical approach, the prophet was describing a contemporary figure, known to himself and his listeners. The figures proposed for identification were Cyrus, Zerubbabel, or an anonymous person. Some maintained that the prophet was describing himself, or that he was being described by a disciple. According to the eschatological approach, the Servant of God is the destined redeemer, the Messiah. The approach is found at first in Targum Jonathan ("my servant the Messiah," at 52:13), but it has left few traces in Jewish exegesis, in contrast to its important role in Christianity, which identified the Servant of God with Jesus (beginning with the New Testament; see above). According to the collective method of interpretation, the Servant is Israel. If there are any personal elements in the description they are merely allegorical. It is explicitly stated in a number of places that the Servant is Israel (see e.g., 41:8; 44:1, 2, 21; 45:4; 59:1). While there are some who maintain that this refers to all of Israel, the real Israel, this is difficult since the real Israel is sinful and the Servant, free of sin. Therefore the Servant is identified with an ideal Israel, not the Israel of the present but the Israel of the future. Some adherents of the collective method hold that it is not all of Israel which is being referred to, but rather an elite within Israel, and there are varied opinions regarding the nature of this elite. Some maintain that it refers to the prophets, while others maintain that it refers to the priests. Still others speak of an undefined minority, "the righteous of Israel," and there are some who see the Servant as a visionary figure, the symbol of the righteous Israel. According to the mythological method, in portraying the figure of the Servant of God the prophet utilized a mythological figure, ignoring certain mythological traits and adopting several other characteristic traits. The image is that of a god who died and is resurrected, like the god Tammuz or Adonis (Baal). The central part of the Songs of the Servant of the Lord, 52:13–53:12, basically corresponds to the hymns sung during the Mesopotamian ritual of mourning the death of the god. According to this view there existed in Israel the ceremony of mourning for Tammuz and there was also the "bewailing of Hadadrimmon in the plain of Megiddo" (Zech. 12:11) which is assumed to have originated in the tragic death of Josiah at Megiddo (ii Kings 23:29). These two wailing rites were combined into one ceremony and served as the basis for the description of the figure of the Servant of the Lord. Thus, the description of the Servant was influenced by a historical figure (Josiah) and a mythological figure (Tammuz). This method was associated with the Scandinavian school of myth and ritual. The "individual approach" and the "collective approach" are both plausible. It is, however, possible to interpret what is written about the Servant of the Lord in other ways. Some point to a lack of firm distinction in Hebraic thought between the particular or the individual – the prophet – and the general or the many – the people. Such fluidity could give rise to prophecies having both an "individual" and a "collective" style, i.e., the prophet Deutero-Isaiah, like his predecessors Hosea, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, saw himself as a symbol of, and an "examplar" and model for, the people. His personal life was interwoven with the life of the people, the private domain became commingled with the public, and events from his personal life were interpreted by him as allegories of the people. There was also an opposite process, i.e., the image of the Servant of the Lord refers both to the prophet and to the people. At times, the individual type of description predominates, while at others, the collective style is prominent, referring also to Jacob and Israel. In the same way that the preceding prophets had interpreted their private and family lives as a sign and model for the people, so biographical details of the prophet were interwoven with the description of the Servant. The above hypotheses are based on the assumption of a unified conception of the Servant on the part of a writer or editor, which is far from certain.

Israel and the Nations

The relationship between Israel and the nations had political significance as well as religio-social significance. With the political victory of Babylon, Judah lost its political and territorial framework, and there was a danger that, as in the case of other nations, Israel's loss of a state would lead to its loss of religious identity, and that the people would assimilate among the nations. In the face of this danger, the prophet called Deutero-Isaiah played a decisive role in the crystallization of a well-informed national-religious group and the later crystallization of Judaism. Earlier biblical writings stressed monolatry, the principle that Israelites must serve Yahweh alone, but left open the possibility that other gods existed and might be worshipped by gentiles (Ex. 20:3; Deut. 4:19). It is in Deutero-Isaiah, followed by Trito-Isaiah, that we find for the first time a militant full-blown monotheism that denies the existence of all other gods but Yahweh, and calls gentiles to his service (Isa. 42:8; 43:10–11; 44:6–8; 45:5–7, 18–22; 46:9; 49:6; 56:1–8; 66:21–3). The victorious, conquering gods, the advanced material culture, and the impressive idolatrous ceremonies of Babylon constituted a danger that the exiles in Babylon would be attracted to assimilation. This prophet described in harsh polemic and with mockery and loathing the practices of idolatry and its followers (e.g., 40:17, 26; 44:6–20). He placed Israel vis-à-vis the gods of the nations, emphasizing the opposition between them. Israel and its God are lined up against the nations and their gods for "battle" and judgment. Opponents who strive and contend against Him rise up against Israel (41:11–12; 45:24). Some of the nations taunt and revile Israel (49:7; 51:7) and some of them blaspheme the name of the God of Israel (52:5). This religious-national battle recurs a number of times. But this is only for the present. Chapters 40–66 are replete with the faith that the law of God will be disseminated by His Servant, Israel, among the nations which will be led from darkness to light. Israel will be "a light (or rather, 'a salvation') unto the nations" and Jerusalem will be the place of God's shining glory to which all the nations will stream with song and praise. They will emerge from spiritual darkness to the light which will shine for them in Zion. In Israel's redemption the world will also be redeemed and in the end of days all men will come to bow down before God (66:23). Traces of the envisioned end of days were already seen at this time. Israel's presence among the nations gave rise to the phenomenon of the "joiners" (chapter 66) who forsook idolatry and joined the religion of Israel. Questions were raised with regard to their status within the people of Israel and its future. The prophecies found in Isaiah 40–66 confront these problems and provide a positive response.

[Isaac Avishur]

in the aggadah

Amoz, the father of Isaiah, was also a prophet, for "when the name of the prophet's father is given, the father was likewise a prophet" (pdre 118; Lev. R. 6:6). Isaiah came from Jerusalem, for "whenever the city of a prophet is not specified, he hailed from Jerusalem" (Lam. R., proem 24, beginning). An ancient aggadah reports that Amoz and Amaziah, king of Judah, were brothers (Meg. 10b.). "Because Isaiah was the king's nephew, he used to chastise Israel" (pdrk, 117). Isaiah uttered words of censure at the very outset of his prophecy. When the call came to him (Isa. 6:8), God said to him, "Isaiah! My children are obstinate and troublesome, are you ready to be beaten and degraded by them?" (pdrk, 125). As he stood bewildered he uttered words saying, "I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips" (Isa. 6:5), whereupon the Holy One blessed be He said to him, "You are permitted to say 'I am a man of unclean lips,' since you are your own master, but are you the master of My children that you refer to them as a people of unclean lips?" He was punished on the spot; Isaiah 6:6–7 are interpreted to mean that his mouth was scorched (pr 33:150), for having transgressed "Slander not a servant to his master" (Prov. 30:10). When Sennacherib besieged Jerusalem, Shebna and his companions wished to submit and conclude peace with him: "King Hezekiah, afraid lest the Holy One blessed be He be with the majority, was told by Isaiah, 'It is a conspiracy of wicked men, and a conspiracy of wicked men is to be disregarded'" (Sanh. 26a; cf. Isa. 8:12). When Hezekiah fell ill and was told by Isaiah that he would die (ii Kings 20:1) because of his refusal to beget children, he attempted to justify himself by explaining that it had been foretold to him that he would beget a wicked son; whereupon Isaiah proposed to him that he marry his daughter in the hope that a worthy son would result from the union. In spite of this, however, only a wicked son was born to him (tj, Sanh. 10:2, 28b–c). Of that wicked son, Manasseh, it is written that he "filled Jerusalem (with blood) from one end to the other" (ii Kings 21:16). Scripture is silent as to the victims of Manasseh and the reason for his killing. According to Josephus (Ant., 10:38) "Manasseh killed all the righteous men among the Hebrews, nor did he spare even the prophets, everyday putting some to death." Many aggadists, however, see Manasseh's blood spilling as confined to Isaiah alone (tj, Sanh. 10:2, 28c). According to the aggadah Manasseh accused Isaiah of being a false prophet. Isaiah, knowing that whatever he said in his defense would not be accepted, said nothing, both to absolve Manasseh and his people from the responsibility for deliberately murdering a prophet, and to prevent his blood from bubbling like that of the prophet Zechariah. Isaiah's silence was regarded as a confession and he was sentenced to death. When the sentence was about to be carried out, however, he uttered the ineffable name and was swallowed by a cedar tree. The tree was sawn, but the saw was powerless against Isaiah's body, which had become like a pillar of marble. One organ, alone, his mouth, was vulnerable, because of its having uttered the words, "And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips." As a result, when the saw reached Isaiah's lips, he died (Yev. 49b).

[Elimelech Epstein Halevy]

Christian View

For discussion of the Christian use of Isaiah see *Immanuel, and Servant of the Lord (above).

in islam

Slightly altering the version in ii Kings 18:13–21 the authors Tabarī and Thaʿlabī, related that Shaʿyā (Isaiah) ibn Amasya (Amaziah) (!) the prophet was sent during the reign of Zedikah (Zedekiah) to lead the king along the righteous path and to warn the people of Israel to repent. Allah sent the Assyrian king Sennacherib with a force of 600,000 soldiers against them. At the command of God, Shaʿyā informed the king that his death was imminent and that he should make his will and appoint a successor. Zedikah prayed to Allah, who lengthened his life by 15 years and also delivered him from Sennacherib. Sennacherib's army was annihilated and only he and five dignitaries and scribes escaped to a cave, where they were found by the king of Judah. Sennacherib confessed that he had heard of God, even before he left his country, but weakness of his mind had prevented him from reaching the right conclusion. The king of Judah let Sennacherib and his scribes circle the Temple for 70 days, giving them two loaves of bread made of barley daily. He sent Sennacherib home, according to God's command, in order that he might serve as a sign of warning. However, Tabarī (p. 381) also knew the correct name of the king, which was Hezekiah. In their tales on Isaiah, Umāra and Thaʿlabī quote paraphrases of his prophecies (ch. i, etc.). After Hezekiah, his son Manasseh ruled for 55 years (ii Kings 20:21–21:1). Tabarī also knew of Amon and Josiah, who reigned after Manasseh. Concerning Isaiah's end, Tabarī and Thaʿlabī relate that the people of Israel persecuted him for his prophecies and rebukes and that he escaped into a tree. Satan however held the fringes of his garment, which thus could be seen from without. They then brought a saw and cut through Isaiah. This tale was handed down by Wahb ibn Munabbih; its Jewish source is evident.

[Haïm Z'ew Hirschberg]

in the arts

The prophecies of Isaiah have found stronger echoes in art and music than in literature. In the 12th-century Anglo-Norman Jeu d'Adam Isaiah is one of the Old Testament prophets consigned to Hell after submitting reluctant evidence to the truths of Christianity; and he also figures in the medieval Ordo Prophetarum. Thereafter, Isaiah played only a minor part in literature until the 19th century, when the French writer Victor Hugo produced an appreciative sketch in his apocalyptic study William Shakespeare (1864; Eng. tr. 1864). The first Jewish writer to deal with the theme was Abraham *Mapu, the creator of the modern Hebrew novel; his Ahavat Ẓiyyon (1853, In the Days of Isaiah, 1902) was remarkable less for its characterization than for its Haskalah ideas and local color. Ahavat Ẓiyyon enjoyed amazing success and was translated into several languages, including no less than three English versions. Mapu later wrote another historical novel set in the times of Isaiah, Ashmat Shomeron (1865–66). In the 20th century, various plays were devoted to the subject. A modern Jewish treatment of the theme was Der Novi (1955; The Prophet, 1955), a novel about Deutero-Isaiah by Sholem *Asch.

Isaiah was represented by artists from early Christian times onward and owed his great popularity in the Middle Ages to three biblical passages thought to foretell the Incarnation and Nativity. More than any other prophet, Isaiah benefited from the cult of the Virgin. The passage, "the young woman shall conceive and bear a son" (Isa. 7:14), was seen as a prediction of the birth of Jesus. Even in the oldest surviving representation of the prophet, a second-century mural from the catacomb of Priscilla, Rome, Isaiah is shown seated opposite the Virgin and Child. Another prophecy, that of the "twig" that "shall grow from the roots of Jesse" (Isa. 11:1), gave rise to genealogical trees purporting to trace the ancestry of Jesus to the house of David. The distinguishing symbols of Isaiah in art are these "Jesse Trees" or one of his prophecies inscribed on his phylactery. Scenes from the life of Isaiah are found in Byzantine and premedieval art. Figures of the prophet often appear among the sculptures of 12th-century French Romanesque churches such as Vézelay and Moissac. The most striking example is the tempestuous swirling image from the abbey church at Souillac. There are also 13th-century sculptures of Isaiah in the great Gothic cathedrals of Chartres, Amiens, Burgos, and Bramberg. At the same period, his image adorned the wing of a painted "life of Christ" by the Sienese artist Duccio (1282–1319). In the 15th century, Isaiah appeared chiefly in painting and sculpture. Naturalistic sculpture by Claus Sluter adorns the fountain of the Chartreuse at Dijon. Renaissance treatments of the subject include a round painting by Perugino (Nantes Museum); and figures of Isaiah from the fresco by Raphael in Sant' Agostino, Rome, and from the Sistine Chapel ceiling by Michelangelo. A painting of the subject by Fra Bartolommeo is in the Uffizi Galleries, Florence. The German Renaissance artist Matthias Gruenewald included a figure of Isaiah in his painting of the Annunciation, which forms part of his Isenheim altarpiece in the Colmar Museum. Although the subject later lost favor, the 18th-century artist Tiepolo painted a figure of Isaiah for the ceiling of the Archbishop's Palace in Udine. Artists have also illustrated a number of episodes from the Book of Isaiah. There is an amusing painting called Isaiah Rebuking the Women of Jerusalem (on Isa. 3:16ff.) by the 19th-century English artist *Salaman. Isaiah's vision of God enthroned amid the Seraphim (Isa. 6:1–4) was quite a common theme in Byzantine and medieval art (see *Cherubim and *Seraphim). The purification of the prophet's lips with a burning coal (Isa. 6:5–7) is illustrated in premedieval and medieval manuscripts, including the 15th-century breviary of the Duke of Bedford (Bibliothèque Nationale); in murals; and in the 13th-century stained glass of La Sainte Chapelle, Paris. The visits of the prophet to the dying Hezekiah and the miraculous prolongation of the monarch's life (Isa. 38:1–8) are treated in an eighth-century fresco at Santa Maria Antiqua, Rome, where Isaiah is shown standing by the bedside of the sick king. The rabbinic tradition that Isaiah met his death by being sawn asunder in the hollow of a cedar is illustrated in various murals, including a sixth-century Coptic fresco, and in medieval sculpture and manuscripts.

In music, composers have dealt either with the "Triple Sanctus" or with the inspiring figure of the prophet himself. The "Thrice Holy" acclamation of the angels in the vision of Isaiah (Isa. 6:3) is the main text of the Sanctus section of the Roman Catholic mass; it is followed by the jubilant Hosanna in excelsis, the mystically interpreted Benedictus, and by a repetition of the Hosanna, the combination having been adapted from Matthew 21:9, Mark 11:9–10, and John 12:13. It has 21 traditional ("Gregorian") chant melodies dating from the tenth to the 13th centuries. In some of these, the initial " Sanctus " is rather florid and its reiterations are expressed in progressively rising phrases. This restrained attempt at word painting was carried much further in the Sanctus of the mass compositions, which date from the 14th century onward. Although these works naturally reflect the varieties of individual expression and the style of their era, certain conventions in the setting of the Sanctus can, nevertheless, be identified. The angelic acclamation is interpreted either as an outpouring of sweet sounds, often by two or three high solo voices (as in most of the 16th-century works), or as a mighty thundering of massed praise (as in Bach's Mass in B Minor). The Sanctus in Beethoven's Missa Solemnis (1823) is an exception, since it begins with a whispered stammering of awe. All composers take advantage of the differences in mood suggested throughout the sequence of Sanctus, Hosanna, Benedictus, and Hosanna. For the Protestant liturgy Martin *Luther created the rhymed "German Sanctus" (Jesaia dem Propheten das geschah, 1526), the melody of which is also attributed to the reformer. There are two settings by Bach of simple chorale tunes, based on the "Gregorian" melodies, with the Latin or German (Heilig, Heilig, Heilig) text. The many works for concert performance based on extended passages from the Book of Isaiah include Antonio Caldara's oratorio Le profezie evangeliche d'Isaia (1729; text by A. Zeno); Granville Bantock's Seven Burdens of Isaiah for men's choir a cappella (1927); Willy Burkhard's oratoria Das Gesicht Jesaias (1933–36; première 1936); Alexandre *Tansman's oratorio Isaïe le prophète (1951); Bernard Rogers' cantata The Prophet Isaiah (1954; published 1961); Robert *Starer's Ariel, Visions of Isaiah (1959); Bohuslav Martinu's cantata The Prophecy of Isaiah (première in Jerusalem, 1963); and Ben Zion *Orgad's Isaiah's Vision. Another modern work was Jacob *Weinberg's Isaiah (1947), an oratorio for solo voices and chorus with organ accompaniment and trumpet obbligato. The first part of Handel's oratorio The Messiah (première in Dublin, 1742), for which the text was compiled by Charles Jennens, contains so many passages from Isaiah (beginning with "Comfort ye, comfort ye my people") that it may almost be considered an Isaiah oratorio. Some of the most striking parts of Brahms' Deutsches Requiem (1857–68), for which the composer himself compiled the text from the Old and New Testaments, also originate in this biblical book. Settings of single verses or brief passages for liturgical or concert use are numerous. There are also traditional tunes from the various Jewish communities, ḥasidic melodies, and modern Israel folksongs.

[Bathja Bayer]


O. Eissfeldt, The Old Testament, an Introduction (1965), 301–30, 754–56, contains copious bibliography on all aspects of Isaiah; (a) Medieval Jewish: Rashi; David Kimḥi, ed. by L. Finkelstein (1926); Ibn Ezra, ed. by M. Friedlaender, 2 vols. (1873–77, reprint 1964); (b) Modern: S.D. Luzzatto (Italian translation and Hebrew Commentary; 1855–67, reprint 1966); J. Skinner (The Cambridge Bible, rev. ed. 1915, reprint 1958–60); O. Procksch (Ger., 1930); E.J. Kissane (Eng., 1941). Other Works: M. Dyman (Haran), in: bjpes, 13 (1947), 7–13; H.L. Ginsburg, in: Tarbiz, 20 (1949), 29–32 (also publ. in J.N. Epstein Jubilee Volume, 1950); idem, in: jbl, 69 (1950), 51–60; idem, in: Mordecai M. Kaplan Jubilee Volume (1953), 245–59 (Eng. sect.); idem, in: Eretz Israel, 5 (1956), 61–65 (Eng. sect.); idem, in: Oz le-David (Ben Gurion, 1964), 335–50; idem, in: Fourth World Congress of Jewish Studies, Papers 1 (1967), 91–93; idem, in: Conservative Judaism, 22, no. 1 (1967), 1–18; idem, in: jaos, 88 (1968), 47–53, also publ. in Essays in Memory of E.A. Speiser (1968); idem, in: vts, 17 (1968), 103 n. 2; R. Knierim, in: vt, 18 (1968),47–68; E.G. Kraeling, in: jbl, 50 (1931), 277–97; J. Milgrom, in: vt, 14 (1964), 164–82; H.M. Orlinsky, in: Essays in Honor of Herbert Gordon May (1970), 206–36; W. Rudolph, in: Hebrew and Semitic Studies Presented to Godfrey Rolles Driver (1963), 130–143; H.M. Schmidt, in: vt, 21 (1971), 68–90; H. Tadmor, in: Journal of Cuneiform Studies, 12 (1958), 22–40, 77–100; M.M. Kaplan, in: jbl. 45 (1926), 251–59; Kaufmann Y., Toledot, 3 (1947), 147–256, 293–318; W. Rudolph, in: D.W. Thomas and W.D. McHardy (eds.), Hebrew and Semitic Studies Presented to G.R. Driver … (1963), 130–43; M. Haran, in: vt, 17 (1967), 266–97; idem, in: iej, 18 (1968), 201–12; B.S. Childs, Isaiah and the Assyrian Crisis (1967); See also bibliography, *Immanuel. chapters 34–35: H. Graetz, in: jqr, 4 (1891/92), 1–8; A.T. Olmstead, in: ajsll, 53 (1936/37), 251–3; C.C. Torrey, The Second Isaiah (1928), 103–4, 279–304; idem, in: jbl, 57 (1938), 109–34; M. Pope, ibid., 71 (1952), 235–43; W. Caspari, in: zaw, 49 (1931), 67–86; P. Wernberg-Moeller, ibid., 69 (1957), 71–73; D.R. Hillers, Treaty-Curses and the Old Testament Prophets (1964); deutero-isaiah: A.B. Ehrlich, Mikra ki-Feshuto (1901); S. Krauss, in: A. Kahana (ed). Sefer Yeshayahu (1904); B. Duhm, Das Buch Jesaya (19224); J. Skinner, The Book of the Prophet Isaiah, chs. xl–lxvi (1917); C. Torrey, The Second Isaiah (1922); K. Budde, Das Buch Jesaya (1922); E. Koenig, Das Buch Jesaya (1926); H. Odeberg, Trito-Isaiah (1931); P. Volz, Jesaya ii Kapital 4066 (1932); D. Yellin, Ḥikrei Mikra (1939); E.J. Kissane, The Book of Isaiah (1943); J. Muilenburg, The Book of Isaiah, chs. 40–66 (1956), 381–773; C.R. North, The Second Isaiah (1964); N.H. Tur-Sinai, Peshuto shel Mikra, 3 (1967); J.L. McKenzie, Second Isaiah (1968); C. Westermann, Isaiah, 40–66 (1969). selected studies: Y. Zlotnick, Aḥdut Yeshayahu (1928); A. Kaminka, Meḥkarim, (1938), 1–89; N. Raban, in: Tarbiz, 14 (1943), 19–26; Ch. R. North The Suffering Servant in Deutero-Isaiah (19562), incl. bibl.; A. Neubauer and S.R. Driver, The Fifty-Third Chapter of Isaiah According to the Jewish Interpretations (2 vols, 1970); P.A.H. De Boer, Second Isaiah's Message (1956); S. Mowinckel, He That Cometh (1956), 187–257; Kaufmann Y., Toledot, 4 (1960), 51–156; M. Haran, Beyn Rishonot le-Ḥadashot (1963); idem, in: vts, 9 (1963), 127–55; H.H. Rowley, The Servant of the Lord (19652); W. Zimmerly and J. Jeremias, The Servant of God (1965 rev. ed); H.M. Orlinsky and N.H. Snaith, Studies on the Second Part of the Book of Isaiah (1967). in the aggadah: Ginzberg, Legends, index. in islam: Ṭabarī, Taʾrikh, 1 (01357H), 378–82; Thaʿlabī, Qiṣaṣ (13564), 271–81; ʿUmāra ibn Wathīma, Qiṣaṣ, Vatican, Ms. Borgia 165, fols. 106v–110f. add. bibliography: P. Machinist, in: jaos, 103 (1983), 719–37; O. Steck, Bereitete Heimkehr … (1985; additional publications on Isaiah apud Blenkinsopp 2003, 117–18); J. Vermeylen (ed.), The Book of Isaiah (1989); C. Seitz, in: abd, 3:472–88 (with bibliography); idem, in: jbl 115 (1996), 219–40; M. Sweeney, in: A. Hauser and P. Selow (eds.), Currents in Research: Biblical Studies I (1993), 141–62; idem, in: Isaiah 139 (1996); R. Kratz, Kyros im Deuterojesaja-Buch …(1993); W. Lau, Schriftgelehrte Prophetie in Jes 5666 …(1994); M. Goshen-Gottstein (ed.), The Book of Isaiah (critical edition; 1995); J. Blenkinsopp, Isaiah 139 (ab; 2000; bibliography 115–67); Isaiah 4055 (ab; 2000; bibliography, 127–74); Isaiah 5666 (AB; 2003; bibliography, 93–126); K. Baltzer, Deutero-Isaiah: A Commentary on Isaiah 4055 (Hermeneia; 2001); R.G. Kratz, in: Review of Biblical Literature (; 03/2003), 1–8. in islam: B. Levine, in: Iraq 67 (2005), 411–27.


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ISAIAH (fl. 740701 bce), or, in Hebrew, Yeshaʿyahu or Yeshaʿyah, was a Hebrew prophet. Isaiah, son of Amoz, prophesied during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah (see Is. 1:1). He was a contemporary of the prophets Micah and Hosea and lived soon after Amos. (Amos and Hosea were active in Israel, or Ephraim, while Micah prophesied in Judah.) This was the period of the Syro-Ephraimite war (734/3733/2 bce), in which these kingdoms to the north of Judah surrounded Jerusalem, threatening to replace the house of David (Is. 7:16 [verse citations are according to the English version]). It was also the time of the Assyrian invasions, a chain of military campaigns that caused the fall of the northern kingdom of Israel in 722 and made Judah a vassal of the Assyrian Empire. During this stormy political period, Isaiah addressed the political elite and the people of Jerusalem, delivering God's word, which often did not correspond with the rulers' political views. He repeatedly criticized the rulers for the prevailing social injustices.

Composite Nature of the Book of Isaiah

Isaiah contains sixty-six chapters and is the largest prophetic book in the Hebrew Bible. The existing structure had appeared by the beginning of the second century bce. Ben Sira apparently knows Isaiah as a whole (Sir. 48:1725), and the Dead Sea Scrolls, as well as the New Testament, regard the entire sixty-six chapters as a single composition. There are, indeed, certain stylistic usages that are common to the entire book, such as the combination "Holy of Israel" (Is. 1:4, 5:16, 5:19, 5:24, 6:3, 10:20, 12:6, 30:11, 30:12, 30:15, 31:1, 41:14, 41:16, 41:20, 43:3, 43:14, 45:11, 47:4, 48:17, 49:7, 54:5, 55:5, 60:9, 60:14) and the expression "Thus says God," in the imperfect tense instead of the usual perfect, "said" (Is. 1:11, 1:18, 33:10, 41:21, 66:9; cf. 40:1, 40:25).

Contrary to these early sources, however, modern scholarship on Isaiah generally differentiates between chapters 139 of the book and chapters 4066, treating them as distinct major works by different authors. The first 39 chapters of Isaiah bear the title "The Vision of Isaiah the Son of Amoz" (1:1); chapters 4066 are ascribed to an anonymous prophet to whom scholars refer as "Second Isaiah," or "Deutero-Isaiah." Some scholars also recognize the existence of a "Third Isaiah," or "Trito-Isaiah," the author of chapters 5666, because the tone and approach of these chapters is more critical and condemning than that of chapters 4055.

The division of the Book of Isaiah into two sections follows from the fact that the two parts are concerned with two distinct historical periods, the Assyrian and the Persian, and different political situations during these periods, which are reflected in the different topics and particular prophetic themes of the book. The author of the first part is concerned with social problems and concentrates on the moral and ethical misconduct of the rulers of Jerusalem, while the author of the second part responds to the national religious crisis of the exiled Jewish community in Babylonia. Accordingly, speeches of judgment distinguish the first part, while words of encouragement and oracles of salvation characterize the second. The prophet of the second part anticipates the collapse of Babylon in 539 bce and the triumph of Cyrus II (558529), the founder of the great Persian Empire. He knows about the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem (587/6 bce), and assigns Cyrus the task of building the new temple (Is. 44:28, 45:1; cf. 52:5, 52:11). Historical evidence thus dates the second part of Isaiah to the second half of the sixth century bce, approximately two centuries later than the first part. The division in Isaiah was already recognized in the twelfth century ce by the Hebrew commentator Avraham ibn ʿEzra (in his commentary on Is. 40:1), and the literary-thematic distinction has recently been confirmed by a computer analysis (Y. T. Radday, The Unity of Isaiah in Light of Statistical Linguistics, Hildesheim, 1973).

But how were these distinct compositions tied together? One can only speculate. Perhaps it was just a technical matter in which a shorter scroll was attached to a longer one for preservation, and the origin of the work as two separate manuscripts was later forgotten. Or perhaps the combination was intentional, the product of a school of religious thought that sought to create a continuous ideological composition in which the period of judgment had been fulfilled, thus confirming the old Isaian prophecies and pointing out the validity of the new ones concerning the new era of salvation. Or perhaps the composer of the second book considered himself Isaiah's faithful disciple. This hypothesis may explain the lack of superscription in the second part as well as the similarity of idioms and phrases in the two parts. For example, in a rare passage in which Second Isaiah refers to himself, he describes God's word as limmudim, "teaching" (Is. 50:4), language that resembles that of Isaiah (Is. 8:16). Isaiah's spiritual disciple responds to his teacher's feeling of "distress and darkness" (Is. 8:22), which caused the master to seal his testimony (Is. 8:1617). The disciple feels that times have changed. He notices that God again reveals himself (Is. 40:5), and he considers himself the one who bears the leader's testimony.

The First Isaiah

It appears that Isaiah, the son of Amoz, was from Jerusalem (unlike his contemporary Micah, who grew up outside the city). He was familiar with city life (see, e.g., Is. 3:1623), and Jerusalem was the center of his activity. He married a woman whom he called "the prophetess" (Is. 8:3). They had at least two sons, whose names are associated with their father's prophetic message (cf. Hos. 1:39): Shearjashub (lit., Sheʾar yashuv, "a remnant shall return"; Is. 7:3) and Maher-shalal-hash-baz (lit., "pillage hastens, looting speeds"; 8:3). Isaiah may have had a third son, ʿImmanuʾel ("God is with us"; 7:14; cf. 8:18), whose name refers to trust in God even in moments of political despair. Isaiah is rarely mentioned outside of his book, but is referred to in 2 Kings 1920 and 2 Chronicles 26:22, 32:20, and 32:32, where he appears not just as a prophet but as the king's healer and the court chronicler. All the sources indicate that Isaiah was closely associated with King Hezekiah, especially during the Assyrian siege of Jerusalem. He had access to the king (Is. 7:1ff.) and was the king's political counselor (37:1ff.). He makes frequent reference to the forms and vocabulary of the wisdom literature and is clearly familiar with the scribal profession (30:8; cf. 2 Chr. 26:22).

There are a number of traditions about Isaiah's role and activities that make it difficult to reconstruct the "real" Isaiah. His close ties with Hezekiah as portrayed in the narrative (Is. 3639, 2 Kgs. 1920) may create the impression that he functioned as a court prophet, but his confrontation with King Ahaz (Is. 7) depicts him as an independent prophetic figure. The portrayal of Isaiah as a healer in Kings 20:17 is significant"And Isaiah said: bring a cake of figs. And let them take and lay it on the boil, that he may recover" (2 Kgs. 20:7)and is repeated in the appendix of the Book of Isaiah (Is. 38:18). That Isaiah inserts this deed of healing at the end of Hezekiah's poem as an excursus may reflect a tendency to minimize Isaiah's role as a healer and portray him instead in the role of God's messenger, who does not perform miracles in the tradition of the earlier prophets (such as that of Elisha, described in 2 Kgs. 25). Note, however, that even in chapters 135, which deal directly with Isaiah's prophecy, the prophet does not appear only as God's messenger but performs symbolic acts in the tradition of the earlier prophets, such as Elijah. For example, he walks barefoot and naked in Jerusalem for three years as a symbol of the fate that would overtake Egypt and its ally Ethiopia at the hands of Assyria (Is. 20:16). One must keep in mind, however, that this is but a single episode.

Speeches and additional material

The major critical issue surrounding the book of Isaiah is the determination of his original speeches. It has been noted that even chapters 139 do not constitute a single composition. The poetic, oratorical language is replaced in chapters 3639 with a historical narrative (as well as Hezekiah's prayer in 38:1020). The Book of Isaiah seems to have a long literary history. Rabbinic sources hint at an editorial process in which it was not Isaiah himself who wrote the book but later scribes (Hezekiah and his school). Modern criticism attempts to establish clear criteria for the distinction between the authentic and the added material. Some scholars distinguish between oracles of judgment and prophecies of salvation, with the latter, reflecting the days to come, considered a later theological addition. Style is another criterion for analyzing the editorial process. Isaiah is regarded as a poet. Thus some hold that only the material in verse is authentic. Accordingly, passages such as 1:1820, which breaks the poetic structure, and 4:26, a prosaic text differing from the poetic material surrounding it, are considered late. Similarly, this view does not regard texts such as 2:24/5 and 11:1ff., which are prophecies of salvation, as Isaiah's compositions. It has also been suggested that verses referring to the fall of Assyria (e.g., 8:910, 10:1619, 10:2023, 10:2427, 10:3334) are the product of an "Assyrian redaction" added in the period of Josiah's territorial expansions and Assyrian decline, toward the end of the seventh century bce. The goal of the redactor, in this view, was to update Isaiah's original prophecy and show how it was fulfilled through God's determination of political events. Thus there is a complete theological paradigm: First God appears as the accuser and punisher of Israel, and later he reveals himself as Israel's savior. Scholars of the redactional school such as Barth, Clements, and Kaiser assume that Isaiah was not a prophet with a complete political vision, but merely a deliverer of judgmental oracles.

It is the opinion of this author, on the other hand, that Isaiah had a politico-religious worldview that was not limited to contemporary conditions. As a man of vision, he had a total religious concept which looked beyond the day of judgment which was imminent. Isaiah was not just a social critic and man of protest; his proclamation of judgment led to his prophetic outlook for the future as well. There is neither stylistic nor philological evidence that the oracles designed for the days to come (included in chapters 135) are products of later hands, unless one imposes on the text specific external critical theories (for certain exceptions, see below). Rather than regarding style (verse versus prose) as the criterion for distinguishing between the original and added text, one should consider that stylistic variations and mixing of styles may be the function of the subject matter and may have been intentional in a particular prophetic message. Subject and function determine Isaiah's style; the question of how it has been said is related to the issue of what has been said. Isaiah employs a significant variety of stylistic forms: mashal ("parable"; 5:1ff.), comparison (1:23), vivid description (1:49), polemic discourse (1:1017), lament (1:21), satire (3:4ff.), vision (6:1ff.), prediction (7:79), and narrative (7:11ff., 8:1ff.), among many others.

The rich language and varied stylistic modes reveal that the prophet was not a narrator who merely reported events. Isaiah sought to appeal to his audience by the force of his language, a goal that, in light of the prophetic office, requires the use of religious language. This language uses metaphor and an imaginative style to create an array of sensory impressions. For example, the description of the foreign influence in Judah is hyperbolic: "Their land is filled with silver and gold, and there is no end to their treasures; their land is filled with horses, and there is no end to their chariots" (2:7). The prophet's stylistic technique creates a vivid and dynamic word picture. The poem of the vineyard in 5:1ff. aims to illustrate a specific aspect of the people's misconduct. The use of a parable, that is, the rhetorical description of the situation in a different context, enables Isaiah to focus his audience's attention and get their sympathy. If he had presented his criticism directly, it might have been rejected by the hostile audience. Another illustration of this technique is the vision of the future in 4:26, written in a prose style and following the description, in vivid imagery, of the corrupted daughters of Zion (3:16ff.). The present reality is described in verse in order to stir the emotions and move the audience. However, in this context if a description of the future were delivered in verse, it might have been received as an imaginative discourse having nothing to do with the present reality. Isaiah therefore employs a prosaic style, the language of historical fact, and the address, though it refers to the days to come, seems to have an air of reality.

Chronological order of the speeches

The speeches of chapters 25 (as well as those of 1:2131) differ thematically from the material of 7:1ff., and it has been suggested that each topic mirrors a different political era. The sharp social criticism is replaced by political addresses. The first cycle of speeches (chaps. 25) is assigned to the days of Uzziah (c. 787c. 736), a time of political stability, security, and economic prosperity (see 2 Kgs. 15:17, 2 Chr. 26:123). The social and political elite of Jerusalem regained their strength, creating severe social tension in Judah that affected the poor. Isaiah criticizes the rulers for oppressing their citizens. The speech of 7:1ff. refers to the days of Ahaz (who became king probably in 741 and was coregent until 725), during the Syro-Ephraimite war. Here Isaiah is responding to political developments rather than to the domestic situation. This historical reconstruction of Isaiah's activity assumes, however, that 1:49, which describes a major war that has endangered Jerusalem, is either not in order or that the whole of the chapter is an introduction to Isaiah's prophecy and does not belong to his early activity in the days of Uzziah. However, if one does not ignore 1:49 and read chapters 15 chronologically in their existing order, they reflect a period of war that had gravely threatened Jerusalem. Isaiah is concerned here with the cause of the military disaster. He indicates that corrupt domestic conditions are the reason for the political and military defeat and the people's suffering, which are God's punishment. In chapters 78 however, he focuses on King Ahaz's foreign policy. Isaiah's major thrust is directed not toward Uzziah's time but Ahaz's.

Isaiah's prophecy is thus a series of responses to specific political and domestic situations that, in his view, are mutually related. He reveals his deep involvement with and specific viewpoint regarding these political events and offers his unique prophetic interpretation of the political situation through a series of speeches that attempt to persuade. Isaiah does not speak as a political analyst or as a political philosopher; he uses rhetoric or any other means of appeal to reach his audience (see, e.g., 7:10ff.). Accordingly, the various speeches must be analyzed as a whole, and each speech or vision studied in light of Isaiah's thematic prophetic ideology and not as a separate entity. Prophecies of salvation follow from oracles of judgment, and both are integrated into Isaiah's prophetic worldview.

Political context and arrangement of the speeches

The book deals with two major political events that shocked Judah: the Syro-Ephraimite war and the Assyrian threats (734701). Isaiah's prophecy is presented in light of his overall prophetic conception, which does not see the actual events as mere politico-military developments, although they shaped the prophet's political views. In the Syro-Ephraimite war the kings of Aram (Syria) and Ephraim (Israel) sought to fight against Assyria and needed Judah's active support. Ahaz, the Judahite king, refused, and as a result the northern coalition launched a military attack meant to replace Ahaz with their favorite, who was not a descendant of the house of David (see Is. 7:16). God's sacred promise to David and his house of an eternal throne in Jerusalem (see 2 Sm. 7:117) was thus endangered. The sacred status of the house of David is the starting point of Isaiah's prophetic responses. It forces him to deal with the cause of the problem, which was, in his view, the social and ethical misconduct of the rulers (see 1:45, 1:1017, 1:2123, 3:1415, 3:16ff., 5:1ff.). The war is God's punishment (see 1:49). At the last moment (1:9) the city will be purified, and justice will be restored (1:2527, 2:24/5, 4:26; hence the above-mentioned connotation of the name of Isaiah's son Shearjashub, "a remnant shall return." This teleology, the faith that God will interfere on behalf of the people and for the sake of Jerusalem, leads Isaiah to oppose Ahaz's political attempts at saving himself by means of the foreign powers of Assyria or Egypt (7:1825), and to assure the king that the enemies of the north will collapse (7:59). Furthermore, a series of speeches delivered by Isaiah emphasize the continuity of the Davidic dynasty (9:16, 11:1ff.). Chapters 1011 should be read with the implications of the Assyrian threat in mind. Aram and Ephraim, Judah's enemies, had collapsed, and Judah itself was powerless against Assyria. The new political development invited the prophet's interpretation, and Isaiah delivers a series of speeches that interpret the meaning of the situation. Again, he points to moral and ethical misconduct as the cause of the military threat (10:14). God's response is direct: Assyria is his means of punishment (10:56), but that empire overestimates its power and will be punished (10:7ff.).

It has been suggested that the collection of oracles against the nations in chapters 1323 may include material that is not Isaian (particularly chapters 1314 and perhaps also chap. 23). The collection, which includes a prophecy against Judah concluding with a personal attack on two officers (22:1ff.), is an integral part of Isaiah's prophetic ideology. The structure of this collection resembles the work of Amos, who starts with a series of oracles against the nations and climaxes with a prophecy against Israel (1:22:16), his major point. The common theme in Isaiah's prophecies against the nations is that they will suffer military defeat. Isaiah repeatedly reveals his basic religious and political belief that the international political situation does not exist in a vacuum but is determined by God, who does not exclude Judah. Consequently, Judah's efforts to protect itself through military and political means will fail (22:1ff.).

The visions of chapters 2435 abstractly summarize once again Isaiah's prophetic ideology: God's absolute universal domination and his punishment for misbehavior in the form of military defeat (24:15, 24:2123, 28:1422, 29:1314, 30:13, 34:1ff.). Isaiah, a master of language, moves from visionary to more concrete speech and characteristically, concludes with an optimistic vision of the future (35:1ff.). It is unnecessary, therefore, to regard chapters 3435, with their enthusiastic tone, as part of Second Isaiah's prophecy, as a number of scholars suggest.

Such a thematic reading of Isaiah's speeches raises the question of the place and function of chapter 6, which is regarded by many as Isaiah's call, his "inaugural vision." Was it originally placed at the beginning of the book? If so, why would the message of the vision be to harden the hearts of the people (6:9, 6:10)? Perhaps this is, in fact, a response to the people's stubbornness and their denial of Isaiah's earlier comments on their political and military troubles. In this light the vision of chapter 6 would seem to be in its correct chronological setting, reflecting Isaiah's despair over the people's unresponsiveness.

Alternatively, those who read Isaiah as a series of discrete speeches of judgment have suggested that the book's editors intended its literary structure to reflect a specific theological view that incorporated the late prophecies of salvation. For example, the literary passage 5:2530 may be read together with a group of invective threats in 9:821, and the hoy ("woe") oracle of 10:14 may be associated with a series of hoy oracles in 5:824. It has been suggested as well that these two series of threats and hoy oracles were broken apart and rearranged in a chiastic order. The intent was to frame Isaiah's actual encounter with Ahaz in a way that would recall the fall of Israel and would also warn seventh-century Judah (the time of Josiah) by recalling the realization of Isaiah's words. Thus, in this view, the prophecies were rearranged, and the book was edited in light of the political climate of Josiah's times.

"Second Isaiah"

The Babylonians exiled the social and political elite of Judah (see 2 Kgs. 24:1226, Jer. 52:1630) to Babylonia. Evidence suggests that many of the Jews in exile preserved their national and religious identity. The Sabbath emerged as the expression of the covenant between God and the Jewish people, a view that has distinguished the Jews since the exilic period (see Is. 56, 58:1314). The exilic period is also noted for its nationalistic-religious literary activity. The masterpiece of biblical historiography, the Deuteronomist work, was developed and shaped in this period. Nevertheless, there was a feeling of despair in the exiled Jewish community. The prophet Ezekiel asked hopelessly, "How are we to go on living?" (Ez. 33:10; see also 37:11). Lamentations repeatedly conveys a feeling of pessimism: "There is no one to comfort me" (Lam. 1:2, 1:16, 1:17, 1:21). Psalm 137 also reflects a hopeless situation, and Second Isaiah himself struggles with an attitude of religious and national despair: "A voice says: 'cry'! And I said: 'What shall I cry?' All flesh is grass and all its beauty is like the flower of the field" (Is. 40:6; RSV). The people felt the fall of Jerusalem, the destruction of the Temple in 587/6 bce, and then the exile to be a hopeless situation that resulted from God's disappearance from the political stage. The exiles were indifferent to the momentous developments that were occurring on the international scene. The sensational victories of Cyrus I, king of Persia, did not affect the pessimistic religious attitude of the Jewish community in Babylonia. In 539 bce, however, Babylonia surrendered to Cyrus II, and in 538 Cyrus announced his famous declaration allowing the Jewish community in exile to return to Jerusalem and restore the Temple (Ezr. 1:35 [2 Chr. 36:23], 6:35).

An important issue in the interpretation of Second Isaiah's prophecy is thus whether he addressed the exiles before or after the fall of Babylonia. Cyrus's edict is not quoted in Second Isaiah's speeches, and in light of his struggle with his audience's skepticism about God's control of contemporary political events, the speeches would sound inappropriate if Cyrus had already publicly granted permission to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem. One should also take into account that Second Isaiah's description of the fall of Babylonia is not realistic. In contrast to inscriptions that report that the city fell peacefully, Second Isaiah describes Marduk, Babylon's god, being carried into captivity (46:12), which suggests that the prophet prophesied prior to 539 bce.

The unknown prophet, the so-called Second Isaiah, was aroused by these significant political developments and considered that his prophetic goal was to persuade the exilic community that the immediate future held great promise and new hope. He considered the great king, Cyrus II, to be an agent of God, "who says of Cyrus: 'He is my shepherd. And he shall fulfill all my purpose,' saying of Jerusalem; 'she shall be built,' and of the Temple, 'your foundation shall be laid'" (44:28; see also 45:1213). He rejected the spiritual crisis of the exiles and proclaimed two major themes: that God is not hidden from the Jewish people and that God is directing the new political events on their behalf. But first, Second Isaiah had to struggle with and reject the basis of the religious crisis. The cry "there is no one to comfort me" (Lam. 1:21) was replaced with "Comfort, comfort my people, says your God" (Is. 40:1). Furthermore, there was no reason for the people's feeling of guilt that they suffered because of their forefathers' sins; a new spiritual and religious era has begun: Jerusalem's warfare has ended and she has been pardoned (40:12). This explains the absence of threat, so characteristic of the biblical prophets, in Second Isaiah's speeches and sheds light on his style. His aim was to persuade, to appeal to his audience through words of comfort and encouragement, not by means of threat and judgment.

The major issue in research on Second Isaiah is the demarcation of the prophetic speech. There are almost no formal indications of the beginning or end of the address. In general, two opposite approaches have been taken. The first considers the book to be a product of planned literary activity and regards Second Isaiah's work as composed of large units. The second approach argues that Second Isaiah delivered his speeches orally, and that the book is a collection of a number of short, distinct oracles. This approach raises the issue of the arrangement of the material and the editorial principles behind it. It has been suggested that the short, independent oracles were arranged mechanically according to a principle of keywords or similarity of theme, with each speech placed on the basis of its association with the preceding unit. One should note, however, that the question of defining the individual speech depends on the function of Second Isaiah's prophecy, which was to change his audience's religious attitude. He thus appealed to his audience by employing numerous means of persuasion; he thus relies on argument and style. Second Isaiah paid close attention to the organization of his addresses; each emerged from and is a response to a particular situation. An analysis of the text in light of the prophet's rhetorical goal and his efforts to affect his listeners reveals that his speeches are not short thematic oracles but are relatively long, thus enabling him to develop his argument at some length.

Second Isaiah was a master of language and employed his skill to stress his point and attract the attention of his audience. He often repeats himself to emphasize a certain point. On the other hand, he often varies his style by using a colorful and rich vocabulary to create an aesthetic effect. He is very flexible in his use of language and often employs unusual words or phrases with the intention of providing variety and avoiding clichés.

The beginning of Second Isaiah's prophecy, 40:12ff., is a good illustration of his style. His first announcement, "Comfort, comfort my people" is brief and clear. The entire section, verses 12, is explicit in structure, with no coloration or figures of speech, and is designed to express clearly and straightforwardly his primary announcement. But the audience may miss a message delivered in such an unadorned style. Therefore, Second Isaiah uses the stylistic device of repetition and repeats the key word of his message, comfort. The reiteration of the word is intended to make a deep impression on the audience. The verb comfort in the form used here was coined by Second Isaiah based upon the lament "no one comforts her" (Lam. 1:2). Yet Second Isaiah uses it in a positive sense, to stress the motif of rejoicing, while in Lamentations the expression connotes religious despair. Thus at the beginning of his address, Second Isaiah employs a familiar expression in a way that changes its meaning. By using a familiar expression in an unexpected manner, he attracts attention and also cancels its earlier, negative meaning. In addition, verse 1 reverses the normal order and places the opening formula, "says your God," at the end. Because Second Isaiah wants to convey his message's immediacy, he has adjusted the formula accordingly. In addition, as is well known, rhyme is not highly developed in biblical prosody. In order to unify the various elements in a verse, the biblical poets developed the literary device of the sound effect. Sound plays an important role in this verse. Alliteration holds the verse together and focuses attention on the consonant eit ( ) in the opening words "nahamu, nahamu." The sound is then repeated at the end of verse 2 (aoʾteikhah ) thus binding the entire statement into a whole.

The songs of the "servant of the Lord [ʿeved YHVH]" have received special attention from scholars. There are four poems that speak about the servant (42:14, 42:57, 49:16, 50:49) and an additional two poems that may be related to them (50:1011, and 52:1353:12). These poems share a common theme: Their subject, the servant, suffers when he is ignored by the people who surround him. In the future, however, the servant will be recognized as God's servant, who has a mission to restore justice, which will be fulfilled. The poems occupy a distinct place in the history of sacred interpretations and have theological significance in the histories of Jewish and Christian religious interpretation. The major critical issue for Second Isaiah is whether to isolate the poems from their context or to consider them as an integral part of his prophecy. There is the further question of the identity of the servant, with scholars divided between an individual and a collective identity. Thus there have been various attempts to identify the servant as a specific public or historical figure, such as Jeremiah, Josiah, Zerrubbabel, or even the prophet himself. Second Isaiah makes other allusions to the servant of God, however (41:8ff., 41:13, 42:19, 44:12); and in light of the frequent references to Israel as God's servant (see, e.g., 49:3), it has been suggested that the servant be seen as the people of Israel, sympathetically portrayed by Second Isaiah to arouse hope and a feeling of mission and fulfillment as well as to convey the message that the current suffering has not gone unnoticed. Another view holds that the servant is neither a particular figure nor a group, but the combination of a mythological cultic and royal figure.

"Third Isaiah"

Concerning chapters 5666, it has already been mentioned that these may constitute a separate collection by another anonymous prophet, called Third Isaiah, or Trito-Isaiah, who was active after Second Isaiah, during the time of Ezra and Nehemiah, in the fifth century bce. Third Isaiah is no longer located in Babylonia but is based in Judah. His prophecies presuppose the existence of the Temple in Jerusalem (which was dedicated in 515). There is no clear thematic line in this work as is found in the speeches of Second Isaiah. The collection of Third Isaiah emphasizes ritual requirements. It starts with words of encouragement to those who observe the Sabbath, including the eunuchs, and stresses the importance of Sabbath worship (56:18). It continues with a critique of the leaders (56:912), a short lament on the death of the righteous (57:12), a stormy attack on foreign cults (57:313), a prophecy of comfort (57:1419), and a criticism of those who fast ritually without thought (58:17). Chapters 6061 contain another prophecy of salvation in the style of Second Isaiah. In 63:764:11 there is a communal lament, and 66:14 rejects both the building of the Temple and the sacrificial cult. This attitude reflects a view opposite that held by the prophets Haggai and Zechariah, who encouraged and supported the rebuilding of the Temple. It has been suggested that Third Isaiah was a disciple of Second Isaiah and his redactor as well. Another view holds that Second Isaiah returned to Jerusalem following Cyrus's edict and continued his prophetic activity there. His prophecies in Judah would then constitute chapters 4966, in which Zion is the background for the speeches (see 49:14ff., 51:1723, 54:1ff., 60:1ff., 62:19).

Texts of Isaiah Found at Qumran

The scrolls found in 1947 on the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea reveal two almost complete manuscripts of the entire Book of Isaiah, dated to the second or first century bce. As a rule, the scrolls of Isaiah reflect the Masoretic text. Of the two scrolls, one (found in Cave I) shows certain corrections and interlineations from a more popular edition, but these are mainly matters of spelling and stylistic characteristics rather than important editing. This scroll shows indications that it may actually have been composed of two manuscripts: There is evidence that the existing chapter 34 was started on a new sheet of leather, which may mean that it was a new manuscript. This may have influenced the modern critical division of the book into Isaiah of Jerusalem and Second Isaiah (and the remainder of the book).


Isaiah 139

Barth, Hermann. Die Jesaja-Worte in der Josiazeit. Neukirchen, 1977.

Clements, R. E. Isaiah 139. Grand Rapids, Mich., 1980.

Kaiser, Otto. Isaiah 1339. Translated by R. A. Wilson. Philadelphia, 1974.

Kaiser, Otto. Isaiah 112. 2d ed. Translated by R. A. Wilson. Philadelphia, 1983.

Wildberger, Hans. Jesaja. 3 vols. Neukirchen, 19721983.

Isaiah 4066

Elliger, Karl. Jesaja II. Neukirchen, 1970.

Gitay, Yehoshua. Prophecy and Persuasion: A Study of Isaiah 4048. Bonn, 1981.

Kaufmann, Yeezkel. History of the Religion of Israel, vol. 4, From the Babylonian Captivity to the End of Prophecy. Translated by Clarence W. Efroymsen. New York, 1977.

Muilenburg, James. "Isaiah 4066 (Introduction and Exegesis)." In The Interpreter's Bible, vol. 5, pp. 381419, 422773. New York, 1956.

Westermann, Claus. Isaiah 4066: A Commentary. Translated by David M. G. Stalker. Philadelphia, 1969.

New Sources

Berrigan, Daniel. Isaiah: Spirit of Courage, Gift of Tears. Minneapolis, 1996.

Clements, Ronald Ernest. Isaiah and the Deliverance of Jerusalem: A Study of the Interpretation of Prophecy in the Old Testament. Sheffield, 1984.

Davies, Andrew. Double Standards in Isaiah: Re-evaluating Prophetic Ethics and Divine Justice. Leiden and Boston, 2000.

Hayes, John Haralson, and Stuart A. Irvine. Isaiah, the Eighth Century Prophet: His Times and His Preaching. Nashville, 1987.

Irvine, Stuart A. Isaiah, Ahaz, and the Syro-Ephraimitic Crisis. Atlanta, 1990.

Leclerc, Thomas L. Yahweh Is Exalted in Justice: Solidarity and Conflict in Isaiah. Minneapolis, 2001.

Quinn-Miscall, Peter D. Reading Isaiah: Poetry and Vision. Louisville, 2001.

Schmitt, John J. Isaiah and His Interpreters. New York, 1986.

Yehoshua Gitay (1987)

Revised Bibliography


views updated May 21 2018


Isaiah (Heb. y eša'-yahu, "Yahweh is salvation" or "salvation of Yahweh") was born probably c. 760 b.c. His father's name, Amos, (Amoz, Heb. 'āmô ) was not the same name as that of the Prophet Amos (Heb. 'āmôs ). Isaiah's birthplace is unknown. Since he appears only in Jerusalem and all his authentic oracles have a Jerusalem background, presumably he spent his entire career in that city. He was called to the prophetic office in the year King Uzziah of Judah died (c. 742 b.c.; Is 6.1). His easy access to the court as adviser to kings may suggest noble birth; his majestic poetic oracles reveal a man of profound intelligence, great literary genius, and broad education. He was married (Is 8.3, where he calls his wife "the prophetess") and had at least two sons, both of whom bore prophetic names (7.3; 8.3). His career covered half a century (c. 742 to c. 688) under Kings Jotham, Ahaz, and hezekiah (1.1). He was a contemporary of the Prophets hosea, amos, and micah.

Isaiah was active in Jerusalem during a critical period of Israelite history, when Judah was in serious danger of becoming involved in the anti-Assyrian intrigues of

the Syro-Ephraimite coalition (735734; Is 7.125) that occasioned the Assyrian conquest of Damascus (732) and Samaria (722), when Sargon II captured Azotus (712711; Is 20.1), and when Sennacherib besieged Jerusalem (701 and perhaps again c. 689; Is 36.137, 38).

Isaiah, who was an energetic leader in the cause of the Holy One of Israel (a favorite Isaian title), urged total confidence in the strength of Yahweh (Is 36.1), in opposition to religiously compromising and useless alliances with pagan nations (14.2419.25). His inspired guidance in the political, religious, and social life in Jerusalem won him later acclaim (Sir 48.22). Vacillating Judah was suffering a growing moral decay, a sinful lack of faith; luxury, greed, oppression of the poor were rampant (1.48;3.1; 5.8); the court and the leaders, even the priests, were filled with bribery, injustice, and graft (10.1)sins "covered up" by a temple worship, grandiose, lavish, and scandalously insincere (1.1017). All this the Prophet courageously and vividly (20.1) denounced, often alone. He was apparently most active and influential under Hezekiah, and he was largely responsible for the religious reform, all too short-lived, initiated by this good king (2 Kings ch. 1820; 2 Chronicles ch. 2931).

Overwhelmed by the majesty of God in his inaugural vision (Is 6.1), Isaiah preached the awesome transcendence of the God of Israel. His oracles show a profound concept of the one true God, the holy, powerful, mighty divine King, which is set forth in clear, concise, and majestic language, vivid imagery, and religious grandeur. He had a deep consciousness of the national sin (6.813); divine justice is inescapable. God punishes and destroys His enemies, even beloved Israel if necessary (3.1). Assyria is the rod of God's anger (10.5). Yet, Isaiah preached also a message of hope and promise. God will forgive, protect, and love Israel, if only His people remain faithful. Isaiah's visions presented the horizon of the glorious, ideal king and kingdom (ch. 911) that the Lord God would raise up for the faithful remnant of His people (10.20). The Prophet reaffirmed the promise to David (11.6), which afforded the messianic hope a classical prophetic form. His great message was that the Lord God alone is Israel's salvation: trust in Him alone. Yet Isaiah's hope was repeatedly frustrated during his day (22.14; 6.913).

The Prophet gathered disciples (8.16), who collected his oracles and presumably continued his work, perhaps in a so-called school of Isaiah that endured for a long time. His literary genius may have given a classic form to an Isaiahan-type of prophetic oracle (much like a "Davidic" psalm or a "Mosaic" law) that continued to be preached and composed for a long time; hence the late editing of the extremely diverse book that bears his name. (The biblical concept of "author" is much broader than the modern one).

Nothing is known of his career after 701 (or 689). A highly questionable and late tradition holds that he was martyred by being sawed asunder at the time of King Manasseh of Judah (c. 687 to c. 642). He is mentioned in the Roman Martyrology on July 6.

According to 2 Chr 26.22, Isaiah wrote also a history of the reign of Uzziah, of which nothing more is known. (The writing of royal annals was traditionally attributed to prophets). Several works among the Apocrypha are referred to him: the (Jewish) Martyrium Isaiae, the (Christian) Ascensio Isaiae, and the Visio Isaiae (a Christian addition to the Martyrium ).

Christian iconography includes several scenes connected with the canonical Book of Isaiah and the apocryphal works attributed to him, such as his vision of the Seraphim (Is 6.131), the miracles he worked for King Hezekiah (the cure of the king and the receding shadow of the sun: 38.18), and the Prophet's martyrdom. The 2d-century fresco in the catacomb of Priscilla at Rome showing a man holding a scroll and standing beside a seated woman with a baby in her lap is commonly, though not with certainty, explained as Isaiah proclaiming his prophecy that "the virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel" (7.14).

Bibliography: j. bright, A History of Israel (Philadelphia 1959) 251287. b. vawter, The Conscience of Israel (New York 1961) 162207. c. stuhlmueller, The Prophets and the Word of God (Notre Dame 1964) 139202. f. l. moriarty, Introducing the Old Testament (Milwaukee 1960) 120138. n. w. porteous, Die Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart, (Tübingen 195765) 3:600601. Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Bible, tr. and adap. by l. hartman (New York 1963) 107477. For additional bibliography, see isaiah, book of. Iconography. l. rÉau, Iconographie de l'art chrétien (Paris 195559) 2.1:365369. e. lucchesi-palli, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner (Freiburg 195765) 5:782. a. schoors, "Historical Information in Isaiah 139," in Studies in the Book of Isaiah, ed. j. van ruiten and m. vervenne (BETL 132; Leuven 1997) 7393. j. jensen, "Weal and Woe in Isaiah: Consistency and Continuity," Catholic Biblical Quarterly 43 (1981) 16787.

[w. hill]


views updated May 18 2018


Isaiah (active ca. 740-701 B.C.) was a Hebrew prophet. His Hebrew name, Yeshayhu, means "God is salvation" and alludes to the prophet's major doctrines and teachings.

The son of Amoz, of noble descent, Isaiah lived in Jerusalem. He referred to his wife as the "prophetess" and gave his two sons names symbolic of his prophecies: Shear-Yashub, meaning "a remnant will return," implying a return to the God of Israel, from whom his people were estranged; and Maher-shalal-has-baz, or "quick prey," which may have been intended to serve as a warning to Pekah, the usurper king of Israel, and Rezin, the king of Aram (Syria). They had attacked and besieged Jerusalem (734 B.C.) in an attempt to depose the Judahite king Ahaz, who refused to join them in their alliance against Assyria.

The turning point in Isaiah's life was his call to prophecy in the year of King Uzziah's death (ca. 740 B.C.), which came to Isaiah in a vision in the Temple. To Isaiah the word kadosh, or "holy," meant righteousness. To obey God's will was to be just, and Zion would eventually be redeemed in justice.

Historical Context

Isaiah's prophecies can be understood only in the context of the prevailing social conditions. Uzziah's reign (ca. 780-740 B.C.) was one of great prosperity, but Isaiah denounced the ill-gained riches of his people, who oppressed the poor. The richer classes, as often happens, also tended toward assimilation with their neighbors. In the case of the Judahites this meant the adoption of the idolatrous cults, which were associated with immoral practices.

Judah was situated in a buffer area, surrounded by stronger nations that aspired to overrun its territory or at least to occupy it as a base of operations against neighboring enemies. Judah, moreover, was directly in the path of the rival imperialist giants of that day, Egypt and Assyria. Isaiah opposed alliances with either and urged dependence on the Lord. When Egypt induced Pekah of Israel and Rezin of Aram to join in an alliance against Assyria, Isaiah denounced them as "two tails of smoking firebrands" (Isaiah 7:4). He urged the Judahite king Ahaz (ca. 735-715 B.C.) to rely on God rather than on Tiglathpileser III, to whom Ahaz had given costly gifts to induce him to come to his aid.

Isaiah's prediction that the conspirators would themselves soon be destroyed was realized a few years later, when Damascus, the capital of Aram, was captured in 732 B.C. and Samaria, Israel's capital, in 722 B.C. The involvement of Ahaz with Assyria also had its sinister consequences, for as a result the Assyrian idolatrous cult of the heavenly bodies was introduced into Judea.

King Hezekiah (715-686 B.C.), who succeeded Ahaz, generally heeded the prophet's advice and kept out of political or military entanglements. However, he was swayed by his steward, Shebna, and the court party to join the coalition that revolted against Sennacherib, the Assyrian monarch (705-687 B.C.). Isaiah considered it foolhardy to trust "in the shadow of Egypt" rather than in God. Indeed, the efforts of Egypt to stop Sennacherib proved futile; he conquered the rebellious peoples and invaded Judea.

In his own inscriptions, the Assyrian ruler wrote of having destroyed 46 fortified Judahite towns, deporting their population and capturing Hezekiah. At this crucial juncture the Judean king appealed for counsel to Isaiah, who urged him to have faith in the Lord and not to surrender the city. Before long, Tirhakah, the king of Ethiopia, went to war against Sennacherib, forcing him to move his army from Jerusalem. There a pestilence broke out in his army and destroyed it.

God and the Messiah

Isaiah was fully committed to the idea that God was the author and guide in human history. All nations, moreover, were mere instruments in His hands, and they must serve Him by establishing the rule of justice, righteousness, and peace. This would be achieved only in the "end of days," when all nations would worship the God of Israel, who would teach them His ways.

Isaiah envisioned the glorious future of the world, when the Messiah, God's anointed, a perfect ruler, would bring about an everlasting peace among men. The nations would "beat their swords into plowshares" and would not "learn war any more" (2:4). The Messianic ideal thus gave a spiritual goal to human existence.

Authorship of the Prophecies

The Book of Isaiah is generally believed to include prophecies by several hands. The first part, chapters 1-39, is attributed to Isaiah. Some scholars maintain that the second section encompasses the remainder of the volume, while others claim that it embraces only chapters 40-55, which deal generally with the period of the Babylonian exile. This part of the Book of Isaiah is ascribed to an anonymous prophet, who has been referred to as the Second, or Deutero, Isaiah. Unlike the prophecies of Isaiah ben Amoz, warning of punishment and doom, those of Deutero-Isaiah speak of God's salvation as manifested by Israel's return to Zion and the attainment of universal monotheism (45:22 ff). The reason that scholars believe that the final chapters of the Book of Isaiah (56-66) form a separate division and were composed by another anonymous prophet, designated as Third, or Trito, Isaiah, is that these chapters deal with the problems of the Jewish community after its return to its homeland. This would be around the time of Haggai and Zechariah (ca. 520). The several parts of the Book of Isaiah represent a Hebrew prophecy that attained great heights in human ethics and ideals.

Further Reading

To appreciate Isaiah's message one must read at least portions of the Book of Isaiah in a good standard translation such as the Revised Standard Version (1952) or the Soncino edition (1950). Abraham J. Heschel discusses the mission and the message of the prophet in the chapter "Isaiah, Son of Amoz" in The Prophets (1962). He also discusses various aspects of prophecy as well as the Second Isaiah in other portions of this work.

Additional Sources

Hayes, John Haralson, Isaiah, the eighth century prophet: his times & his preaching, Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1987.

Ludlow, Victor L., Isaiah—prophet, seer, and poet, Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Co., 1982. □


views updated Jun 11 2018

Isaiah. Hebrew prophet of the 8th cent. BCE, and name of a prophetic book of the Hebrew Bible and Christian Old Testament. An early tradition relates his death as a martyr in the reign of Manasseh (c.690–c.640). He is called Shaʿya in Islamic tradition.

The book of Isaiah falls into three parts: chs. 1–35, 36–9, and 40–66. Chs. 40–66 take up the theme of the redemption of Israel and its mission in the world. Since the 19th cent. these chapters have been known as ‘Deutero-Isaiah’, on the recognition that they were written by a later author to encourage the Jewish exiles in Babylon shortly before their release in 537 BCE. Chs. 56–66 seem to presuppose that the Temple had been rebuilt, and are therefore often distinguished as ‘Trito-Isaiah’.

The Ascension of Isaiah is an apocryphal work, originally Jewish, but now with Christian interpolations.


views updated May 29 2018

Isaiah (Isaias) (active c.8th century bc) Old Testament prophet who was active in Jerusalem from the 740s until the end of the century, and gave his name to the Old Testament Book of Isaiah – although only part of it is attributed to Isaiah. The rest is thought to be the work of one or even two authors from a later period. The book contrasts Judah's perilous present-day state with glimpses into the future, when God shall send a king to rule over his people.


views updated Jun 11 2018

Isaiah a major Hebrew prophet of Judah in the 8th century bc, who taught the supremacy of the God of Israel and emphasized the moral demands on worshippers. Also, a book of the Bible containing his prophecies (and, it is generally thought, those of at least one later prophet).

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