Book of Isaiah

Book of Isaiah

Overview
The Book of Isaiah is the first of the Latter Prophets in the Hebrew Bible
Hebrew Bible
The Hebrew Bible is a term used by biblical scholars outside of Judaism to refer to the Tanakh , a canonical collection of Jewish texts, and the common textual antecedent of the several canonical editions of the Christian Old Testament...

, preceding the books of Ezekiel
Book of Ezekiel
The Book of Ezekiel is the third of the Latter Prophets in the Hebrew Bible, following the books of Isaiah and Jeremiah and preceding the Book of the Twelve....

, Jeremiah
Book of Jeremiah
The Book of Jeremiah is the second of the Latter Prophets in the Hebrew Bible, following the book of Isaiah and preceding Ezekiel and the Book of the Twelve....

 and the Book of the Twelve. (The order is somewhat different in the Christian Old Testament
Old Testament
The Old Testament, of which Christians hold different views, is a Christian term for the religious writings of ancient Israel held sacred and inspired by Christians which overlaps with the 24-book canon of the Masoretic Text of Judaism...

).

The book has 66 chapters: the first 39 chapters prophesy doom for a sinful Judah
Kingdom of Judah
The Kingdom of Judah was a Jewish state established in the Southern Levant during the Iron Age. It is often referred to as the "Southern Kingdom" to distinguish it from the northern Kingdom of Israel....

 and for all the nations of the world that oppose God, while the last 27 prophesy the restoration of the nation of Israel and a new creation in God's glorious future kingdom; this section includes the Songs of the Suffering Servant, four separate passages referring to the nation of Israel, interpreted by Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

s as prefiguring
Typology (theology)
Typology in Christian theology and Biblical exegesis is a doctrine or theory concerning the relationship between the Old and New Testaments...

 the coming of Jesus Christ.

Tradition ascribes the book to Isaiah himself (for example Josephus
Josephus
Titus Flavius Josephus , also called Joseph ben Matityahu , was a 1st-century Romano-Jewish historian and hagiographer of priestly and royal ancestry who recorded Jewish history, with special emphasis on the 1st century AD and the First Jewish–Roman War, which resulted in the Destruction of...

 said that Isaiah's prophecies about Cyrus the Great
Cyrus the Great
Cyrus II of Persia , commonly known as Cyrus the Great, also known as Cyrus the Elder, was the founder of the Achaemenid Empire. Under his rule, the empire embraced all the previous civilized states of the ancient Near East, expanded vastly and eventually conquered most of Southwest Asia and much...

 were written 210 years earlier and Cyrus “seized by a strong desire and ambition to do what had been written”—see self-fulfilling prophecy
Self-fulfilling prophecy
A self-fulfilling prophecy is a prediction that directly or indirectly causes itself to become true, by the very terms of the prophecy itself, due to positive feedback between belief and behavior. Although examples of such prophecies can be found in literature as far back as ancient Greece and...

), but modern scholars have for over a hundred years divided Isaiah into three parts: Proto-Isaiah (chapters 1–39), containing the words of the 8th century BCE prophet and 7th century BCE expansions; Deutero-Isaiah (chapters 40–55), a 6th century BCE work by an author who wrote towards the end of the Babylonian captivity
Babylonian captivity
The Babylonian captivity was the period in Jewish history during which the Jews of the ancient Kingdom of Judah were captives in Babylon—conventionally 587–538 BCE....

; and Trito-Isaiah (chapters 56–66), composed probably by multiple authors in Jerusalem shortly after the exile.

The oldest surviving manuscripts of Isaiah are two scrolls found among the Dead Sea Scrolls
Dead Sea scrolls
The Dead Sea Scrolls are a collection of 972 texts from the Hebrew Bible and extra-biblical documents found between 1947 and 1956 on the northwest shore of the Dead Sea, from which they derive their name...

: dating from about a century before the time of Jesus, they are substantially identical with the Masoretic version which forms the basis of most modern English-language versions of the book.
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Encyclopedia
The Book of Isaiah is the first of the Latter Prophets in the Hebrew Bible
Hebrew Bible
The Hebrew Bible is a term used by biblical scholars outside of Judaism to refer to the Tanakh , a canonical collection of Jewish texts, and the common textual antecedent of the several canonical editions of the Christian Old Testament...

, preceding the books of Ezekiel
Book of Ezekiel
The Book of Ezekiel is the third of the Latter Prophets in the Hebrew Bible, following the books of Isaiah and Jeremiah and preceding the Book of the Twelve....

, Jeremiah
Book of Jeremiah
The Book of Jeremiah is the second of the Latter Prophets in the Hebrew Bible, following the book of Isaiah and preceding Ezekiel and the Book of the Twelve....

 and the Book of the Twelve. (The order is somewhat different in the Christian Old Testament
Old Testament
The Old Testament, of which Christians hold different views, is a Christian term for the religious writings of ancient Israel held sacred and inspired by Christians which overlaps with the 24-book canon of the Masoretic Text of Judaism...

).

The book has 66 chapters: the first 39 chapters prophesy doom for a sinful Judah
Kingdom of Judah
The Kingdom of Judah was a Jewish state established in the Southern Levant during the Iron Age. It is often referred to as the "Southern Kingdom" to distinguish it from the northern Kingdom of Israel....

 and for all the nations of the world that oppose God, while the last 27 prophesy the restoration of the nation of Israel and a new creation in God's glorious future kingdom; this section includes the Songs of the Suffering Servant, four separate passages referring to the nation of Israel, interpreted by Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

s as prefiguring
Typology (theology)
Typology in Christian theology and Biblical exegesis is a doctrine or theory concerning the relationship between the Old and New Testaments...

 the coming of Jesus Christ.

Tradition ascribes the book to Isaiah himself (for example Josephus
Josephus
Titus Flavius Josephus , also called Joseph ben Matityahu , was a 1st-century Romano-Jewish historian and hagiographer of priestly and royal ancestry who recorded Jewish history, with special emphasis on the 1st century AD and the First Jewish–Roman War, which resulted in the Destruction of...

 said that Isaiah's prophecies about Cyrus the Great
Cyrus the Great
Cyrus II of Persia , commonly known as Cyrus the Great, also known as Cyrus the Elder, was the founder of the Achaemenid Empire. Under his rule, the empire embraced all the previous civilized states of the ancient Near East, expanded vastly and eventually conquered most of Southwest Asia and much...

 were written 210 years earlier and Cyrus “seized by a strong desire and ambition to do what had been written”—see self-fulfilling prophecy
Self-fulfilling prophecy
A self-fulfilling prophecy is a prediction that directly or indirectly causes itself to become true, by the very terms of the prophecy itself, due to positive feedback between belief and behavior. Although examples of such prophecies can be found in literature as far back as ancient Greece and...

), but modern scholars have for over a hundred years divided Isaiah into three parts: Proto-Isaiah (chapters 1–39), containing the words of the 8th century BCE prophet and 7th century BCE expansions; Deutero-Isaiah (chapters 40–55), a 6th century BCE work by an author who wrote towards the end of the Babylonian captivity
Babylonian captivity
The Babylonian captivity was the period in Jewish history during which the Jews of the ancient Kingdom of Judah were captives in Babylon—conventionally 587–538 BCE....

; and Trito-Isaiah (chapters 56–66), composed probably by multiple authors in Jerusalem shortly after the exile.

Texts and manuscripts


The oldest surviving manuscripts of Isaiah are two scrolls found among the Dead Sea Scrolls
Dead Sea scrolls
The Dead Sea Scrolls are a collection of 972 texts from the Hebrew Bible and extra-biblical documents found between 1947 and 1956 on the northwest shore of the Dead Sea, from which they derive their name...

: dating from about a century before the time of Jesus, they are substantially identical with the Masoretic version which forms the basis of most modern English-language versions of the book. (Isaiah was the most popular prophet among the Dead Sea collection: 21 copies of the scroll were found in Qumran.)

Composition


Jewish and Christian tradition held that the entire book is by the 8th century BCE prophet Isaiah, but scholars have concluded since the late 19th century that it cannot be by a single author. The observations which have led to this are as follows:
  • Prophecies → Passages of Isaiah 40–66 refer to events that did not occur in Isaiah's own lifetime, such as the rise of Babylon as the world power, the destruction of Jerusalem, and the rise of Cyrus the Great
    Cyrus the Great
    Cyrus II of Persia , commonly known as Cyrus the Great, also known as Cyrus the Elder, was the founder of the Achaemenid Empire. Under his rule, the empire embraced all the previous civilized states of the ancient Near East, expanded vastly and eventually conquered most of Southwest Asia and much...

    , which modern scholars assume cannot possibly have been predicted in advance. (R. N. Whybray
    R. N. Whybray
    Roger Norman Whybray was a Biblical scholar and specialist in Hebrew studies.Whybray read French and Theology at Oxford and was ordained as priest in the Church of England. After a number of minor teaching posts he held the position of Professor of Old Testament and Hebrew at Central Theological...

     uses these passages to pinpoint the period of Deutero-Isaiah's activity to 550–539 BCE)
  • Anonymity → Isaiah’s name suddenly stops being used after chapter 39.
  • Style → There is a sudden change in style and theology after chapter 40; numerous key words and phrases found in one section are not found in the other.
  • Historical Situation → The historical situation goes through three stages: in chapters 1–39 the prophet speaks of a judgment which will befall the wicked Israelites; in chapters 40–55 the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple (587 BCE) is treated as an accomplished fact and the fall of Babylon as an imminent threat; and in chapters 56–66 the fall of Babylon is already in the past.


Scholars therefore divide the book into three parts:
  • Chapters 1 to 39 (First Isaiah, Proto-Isaiah or Original Isaiah): the work of the original prophet Isaiah, who worked in Jerusalem between 740 and 687 BCE.
  • Chapters 40 to 55 (Second Isaiah or Deutero-Isaiah): by an anonymous author who lived in Babylon near the end of the Babylonian captivity
    Babylonian captivity
    The Babylonian captivity was the period in Jewish history during which the Jews of the ancient Kingdom of Judah were captives in Babylon—conventionally 587–538 BCE....

    .
  • Chapters 56 to 66 (Third Isaiah or Trito-Isaiah): the work of anonymous disciples committed to continuing Isaiah's work in the years immediately after the return from Babylon. This section includes visions of new heavens and new earth. (Other scholars suggest that chapters 55–66 were written by Deutero-Isaiah after the fall of Babylon.)


This implied sequence of pre-exilic
Babylonian captivity
The Babylonian captivity was the period in Jewish history during which the Jews of the ancient Kingdom of Judah were captives in Babylon—conventionally 587–538 BCE....

, exilic and post-exilic material is somewhat misleading, as significant editing has clearly taken place in all three parts.

There is some uncertainty as to how Deutero-Isaiah and Trito-Isaiah came to be attached to the original Isaiah: the two competing theories are either that Deutero-Isaiah was written as a continuation of Proto-Isaiah, or that it was written separately and became attached to the famous Isaiah later.

Proto-Isaiah (Isaiah 1–39)



Isaiah 1 at Bible Gateway

Structure


The following is from Margaret Barker's commentary on Isaiah in Eerdman's Commentary on the Bible
  • Ch.1: various poems, possibly compiled as an introduction to the final form of the book
  • Ch. 2–12: oracles about Judah and Jerusalem reflecting the late 8th century expansion of Assyria into Syria-Palestine
  • Ch. 13–23: oracles against the nations
  • Ch. 24–27: the "Isaiah apocalypse"
  • Ch. 28–31: more oracles about the 8th century crisis
  • Ch. 32–33: oracles about kingship
  • Ch. 34: oracles against Edom
    Edom
    Edom or Idumea was a historical region of the Southern Levant located south of Judea and the Dead Sea. It is mentioned in biblical records as a 1st millennium BC Iron Age kingdom of Edom, and in classical antiquity the cognate name Idumea was used to refer to a smaller area in the same region...

     (a kingdom bordering Judah to the south)
  • Ch. 35: oracle of salvation for Israel
  • Ch. 36–39: stories about Isaiah during the Assyrian crisis

Authorship and historical background


According to a Christian source, Isaiah's first significant acts as a prophet occurred when Judah, under king Ahaz
Ahaz
Ahaz was king of Judah, and the son and successor of Jotham. He is one of the kings mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew....

, faced invasion from Israel and Aram Damascus
Aram Damascus
Aram Damascus was an Aramaean state around Damascus in Syria, from the late 12th century BCE to 734 BCE.Sources for this state come from texts that can be divided into three categories: Assyrian annals, Aramaean texts, and the Hebrew Bible....

 (Syria) after refusing to join them in a revolt against Assyria
Assyria
Assyria was a Semitic Akkadian kingdom, extant as a nation state from the mid–23rd century BC to 608 BC centred on the Upper Tigris river, in northern Mesopotamia , that came to rule regional empires a number of times through history. It was named for its original capital, the ancient city of Assur...

, the dominant imperial power of the age. Ahaz, against Isaiah's advice to seek the protection of God, invited the Assyrians to protect him, turning Judah into an Assyrian vassal. Israel (the northern kingdom) was consequently destroyed by the Assyrians. On the death of Ahaz, c.715 BCE, his son Hezekiah
Hezekiah
Hezekiah was the son of Ahaz and the 14th king of Judah. Edwin Thiele has concluded that his reign was between c. 715 and 686 BC. He is also one of the most prominent kings of Judah mentioned in the Hebrew Bible....

 followed a policy which Isaiah saw as dangerous, waging war on the Philistine cities and on Edom even though territory under direct Assyrian control (i.e., the former kingdom of Israel) now came to within a few miles of Jerusalem. Isaiah's warning that Judah would meet the same fate as Israel was ignored. Eventually Hezekiah revolted against Assyria, and as Isaiah had predicted the country was ravaged by Assyrian armies. Hezekiah then took Isaiah's advice and threw himself on the protection of God, and Jerusalem was saved.

Content and structure



Proto-Isaiah is divided between verse and prose passages: a currently popular theory is that the verse passages represent the prophecies of the original Isaiah, while the prose sections are "sermons" on his texts composed at the court of Josiah
Josiah
Josiah or Yoshiyahu or Joshua was a king of Judah who instituted major reforms. Josiah is credited by most historians with having established or compiled important Jewish scriptures during the Deuteronomic reform that occurred during his rule.Josiah became king of Judah at the age of eight, after...

, at the end of the 7th century BCE. Chapters 7, 21, and 36–39 appear also in 2nd Kings
Books of Kings
The Book of Kings presents a narrative history of ancient Israel and Judah from the death of David to the release of his successor Jehoiachin from imprisonment in Babylon, a period of some 400 years...

: it is not known whether the author of Isaiah borrowed them from Kings, or vice-versa. Chapters 24–27, known as the "Isaiah Apocalypse
Apocalyptic literature
Apocalyptic literature is a genre of prophetical writing that developed in post-Exilic Jewish culture and was popular among millennialist early Christians....

", are usually thought to be the work of an author who lived long after Isaiah.

Chapters 1–5 and 28–29 prophesy judgment against Judah. Judah thinks itself safe because of its covenant relationship with God. However, God tells Judah (through Isaiah) that the covenant cannot protect them when they have broken it by the worship of other gods and by acts of injustice and cruelty, which oppose God's law. Chapter 6 describes Isaiah's call to be a prophet of God, and chapters 7–23 contain prophecies against Judah's enemies. Chapters 24–34, while too complex to characterize easily, are primarily concerned with prophecies of a "Messiah
Messiah
A messiah is a redeemer figure expected or foretold in one form or another by a religion. Slightly more widely, a messiah is any redeemer figure. Messianic beliefs or theories generally relate to eschatological improvement of the state of humanity or the world, in other words the World to...

", a person anointed or given power by God, and of the Messiah's kingdom, where justice and righteousness will reign. Chapters 36–39 concern Hezekiah
Hezekiah
Hezekiah was the son of Ahaz and the 14th king of Judah. Edwin Thiele has concluded that his reign was between c. 715 and 686 BC. He is also one of the most prominent kings of Judah mentioned in the Hebrew Bible....

's triumph over the Assyrians and his faith in God. It ends with a visit to Hezekiah by envoys from a rebel prince of Babylon, and Isaiah's words prophesying the Babylonian exile.

Authorship and historical background


Two crises occurred between Proto-Isaiah and Deutero-Isaiah. The first was the late 7th century Deuteronomist
Deuteronomist
The Deuteronomist, or simply D, is one of the sources underlying the Hebrew bible . It is found in the book of Deuteronomy, in the books of Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings and also in the book of Jeremiah...

ic reform of official Judean religion under king Josiah
Josiah
Josiah or Yoshiyahu or Joshua was a king of Judah who instituted major reforms. Josiah is credited by most historians with having established or compiled important Jewish scriptures during the Deuteronomic reform that occurred during his rule.Josiah became king of Judah at the age of eight, after...

, who banned many elements of the old polytheistic cult from the Temple, and the sudden collapse of Assyria and the rise of Babylon to take its place; the second was exile of the royal court, the priests and other members of the ruling elite following the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem c.586 BCE. Deutero-Isaiah delivered his prophesies to this group, which was actually quite small – the majority of the population stayed in Judah.

By the middle of the 6th century the king of Babylon was Nabonidus
Nabonidus
Nabonidus was the last king of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, reigning from 556-539 BCE.-Historiography on Nabonidus:...

. He alienated the powerful priests of Marduk
Marduk
Marduk was the Babylonian name of a late-generation god from ancient Mesopotamia and patron deity of the city of Babylon, who, when Babylon became the political center of the Euphrates valley in the time of Hammurabi , started to...

, the official god of Babylon, by taking up the worship of Sin
Sin (mythology)
Sin or Nanna was the god of the moon in Mesopotamian mythology. Nanna is a Sumerian deity, the son of Enlil and Ninlil, and became identified with Semitic Sin. The two chief seats of Nanna's/Sin's worship were Ur in the south of Mesopotamia and Harran in the north.- Name :The original meaning of...

, the god of Harran (a city in northern Mesopotamia), absenting himself for long periods from the city and neglecting crucial ceremonies. He also neglected the rise of powerful new enemies, first the Medes
Medes
The MedesThe Medes...

, then the Persians under Cyrus the Great
Cyrus the Great
Cyrus II of Persia , commonly known as Cyrus the Great, also known as Cyrus the Elder, was the founder of the Achaemenid Empire. Under his rule, the empire embraced all the previous civilized states of the ancient Near East, expanded vastly and eventually conquered most of Southwest Asia and much...

. In 550 BCE Cyrus defeated the Medes, and had allied himself with the priests of Marduk, and the fall of Babylon to the Persians became a real possibility. These events date Deutero-Isaiah's earlier prophecies. Chapters 49–55 probably come from a slightly later period, after Babylon had fallen to Cyrus and the return to Jerusalem became a real possibility.

Content and structure



Deutero-Isaiah prophesies the deliverance of Israel from the hands of the Babylonians and their restoration in the land promised to them by God. It affirms that the Jews are indeed the chosen people of God and Yahweh is both their national god
National god
The concept of a national god is most closely associated with the God of Israel who in the Torah is described as the sole God to be worshipped by the nation of Israel...

 and the God of the universe (46:9). Cyrus
Cyrus the Great
Cyrus II of Persia , commonly known as Cyrus the Great, also known as Cyrus the Elder, was the founder of the Achaemenid Empire. Under his rule, the empire embraced all the previous civilized states of the ancient Near East, expanded vastly and eventually conquered most of Southwest Asia and much...

 is named as the messiah who will overthrow Babylon and allow the return of Israel (chapter 45:1). The remaining chapters are a vision of the future glory of Zion
Zion
Zion is a place name often used as a synonym for Jerusalem. The word is first found in Samuel II, 5:7 dating to c.630-540 BCE...

. A "suffering servant" is referred to (esp. ch. 53) – probably a metaphor for Israel, Christians have traditionally interpreted it as a prophecy of Jesus as the Christ
Christ
Christ is the English term for the Greek meaning "the anointed one". It is a translation of the Hebrew , usually transliterated into English as Messiah or Mashiach...

 (i.e., Messiah).

Chapters 40–55 fall into two parts, with 40–48 dealing with the rise of Cyrus, while 49–55 are focused on Zion as the wife whom God has renounced and then taken back. The Cyrus chapters are similar in style and theme to the Cyrus cylinder
Cyrus cylinder
The Cyrus Cylinder is an ancient clay cylinder, now broken into several fragments, on which is written a declaration in Akkadian cuneiform script in the name of the Achaemenid king Cyrus the Great. It dates from the 6th century BC and was discovered in the ruins of Babylon in Mesopotamia in 1879...

, and it is possible that Deutero-Isaiah was influenced by the propaganda of Cyrus and his supporters, who claimed that the god Marduk
Marduk
Marduk was the Babylonian name of a late-generation god from ancient Mesopotamia and patron deity of the city of Babylon, who, when Babylon became the political center of the Euphrates valley in the time of Hammurabi , started to...

 had chosen Cyrus to liberate Babylon.

The Servant of Yahweh



Second Isaiah contains four passages of “songs of the servant of Yahweh.”

1) 1st / Isa 42:1–4 The servant is the chosen one, given the Spirit to establish justice through the world

2) 2nd / Isa 49:1–6 The servant speaks to the entire world and identifies himself as one called by God before birth

3) 3rd / Isa 50:4–11 The servant declares his confidence in divine help even in the face of physical persecution

4) 4th / Isa 52:13–53:12 The suffering of the servant; how despite his innocence the servant was oppressed “like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,” but his suffering is surrogate like a scapegoat.

The "servant of Yahweh" can be interpreted as any of three plausible characters: the first is an individual chosen by God, like Moses
Moses
Moses was, according to the Hebrew Bible and Qur'an, a religious leader, lawgiver and prophet, to whom the authorship of the Torah is traditionally attributed...

, Hezekiah
Hezekiah
Hezekiah was the son of Ahaz and the 14th king of Judah. Edwin Thiele has concluded that his reign was between c. 715 and 686 BC. He is also one of the most prominent kings of Judah mentioned in the Hebrew Bible....

, Josiah
Josiah
Josiah or Yoshiyahu or Joshua was a king of Judah who instituted major reforms. Josiah is credited by most historians with having established or compiled important Jewish scriptures during the Deuteronomic reform that occurred during his rule.Josiah became king of Judah at the age of eight, after...

, Cyrus
Cyrus the Great
Cyrus II of Persia , commonly known as Cyrus the Great, also known as Cyrus the Elder, was the founder of the Achaemenid Empire. Under his rule, the empire embraced all the previous civilized states of the ancient Near East, expanded vastly and eventually conquered most of Southwest Asia and much...

, etc., who is identified as a messianic figure of the future. The second is Israel itself as a personified nation, as shown in Isaiah 49:3 and the third is the remnant of the First Isaiah, the restored Israel from the exile (Isa 46:3).

Monotheism


Isaiah 44:6 contains the first clear statement of monotheism
Monotheism
Monotheism is the belief in the existence of one and only one god. Monotheism is characteristic of the Baha'i Faith, Christianity, Druzism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Samaritanism, Sikhism and Zoroastrianism.While they profess the existence of only one deity, monotheistic religions may still...

 in the Hebrew scriptures: "I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god". In Isaiah 44:09–20 this is developed into a satire on the making and worship of idols, mocking the foolishness of the carpenter who worships the idol that he himself has carved. While Yahweh had shown his superiority to other gods before, in Second Isaiah he becomes the sole God of the world. This model of monotheism became the defining characteristic of post-Exilic Judaism
Judaism
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

, and became the basis for Christianity and Islam.

A new Exodus


A central theme in Second Isaiah is that of a new Exodus – the return of the exiled people Israel from Babylon to Jerusalem. The author imagines a ritualistic return to Zion (Judah) led by Yahweh. The importance of this theme is indicated by its placement at the beginning and end of Second Isaiah (40:3–5, 55:12–13). This new Exodus is repeatedly linked with Israel's Exodus
The Exodus
The Exodus is the story of the departure of the Israelites from ancient Egypt described in the Hebrew Bible.Narrowly defined, the term refers only to the departure from Egypt described in the Book of Exodus; more widely, it takes in the subsequent law-givings and wanderings in the wilderness...

 from Egypt to Canaan under divine guidance, but with new elements. These links include the following:
  • The original Exodus participants left "in great haste" (Ex 12:11, Deut 16:3), whereas the participants in this new Exodus will "not go out in great haste" (Isa 52:12).
  • The land between Egypt and Canaan of the first Exodus was a "great and terrible wilderness, an arid wasteland" (Deut 8:15), but in this new Exodus, the land between Babylon (Mesopotamia) and the Promised Land will be transformed into a paradise, where the mountains will be lowered and the valleys raised to create level road (Isa 40:4).
  • In the first Exodus, water was provided by God, but scarcely. In the new Exodus, God will "make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water" (Isa 41:18).

Trito-Isaiah (Isaiah 56–66)


Isaiah 56 at Bible Gateway

Authorship and historical background


Cyrus the Great
Cyrus the Great
Cyrus II of Persia , commonly known as Cyrus the Great, also known as Cyrus the Elder, was the founder of the Achaemenid Empire. Under his rule, the empire embraced all the previous civilized states of the ancient Near East, expanded vastly and eventually conquered most of Southwest Asia and much...

, the Persian king, conquered Babylon in 539 BCE. One of his first acts was to allow those peoples exiled by the Babylonians (the Jews, among other captive peoples) to return to their respective homes. The Jews, or at least some of them, returned to Jerusalem, and by 515 BCE had rebuilt the Temple. The return, however, was not without problems of its own: the returnees found themselves in conflict with those Jews who had remained in the country and who now owned the land, and there was further conflicts over the form of government that should be set up. This was the background to Trito-Isaiah, who was probably not a single author but a group under the influence of Deutero-Isaiah and his followers.

Content and structure


Trito-Isaiah is not a unity: the majority of scholars regard it as an anthology of about twelve passages, differing in date and/or purpose, and it may include material from the First Temple period. The contents are correspondingly varied: a confession of sin and a plea to God not to maintain his anger forever (ch.63:7–64:11); a poem on the theme that God has no need of a temple because Heaven is his throne and Earth his footstool (Isaiah 66:1–2); verses setting out conditions for admission to the community; complaints of sin, incompetence and paganism; and distinctions between the "righteous" and the "sinners", foreshadowing the categories used in much later Judaism and early Christianity.

Influence on Christianity


Isaiah is the most quoted of all the books of the Hebrew Bible outside of the Torah. Of notable importance is Isaiah 7:14
Isaiah 7:14
Isaiah 7:14 is a verse of the Book of Isaiah in which the prophet Isaiah, addressing king Ahaz of Judah , promises the king a sign that his oracle is a true one...

, where the prophet is assuring king Ahaz
Ahaz
Ahaz was king of Judah, and the son and successor of Jotham. He is one of the kings mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew....

 that God will save Judah from the invading armies of Israel and Syria; the sign that will prove this is the forthcoming birth of a child called Emmanuel, "God With Us". While it is suggested by the grammar of the Hebrew that the "young woman" is already pregnant and hence not a virgin, the Greek-speaking 1st century CE author of Matthew 1:23 interpreted it as a prophecy that the messiah
Messiah
A messiah is a redeemer figure expected or foretold in one form or another by a religion. Slightly more widely, a messiah is any redeemer figure. Messianic beliefs or theories generally relate to eschatological improvement of the state of humanity or the world, in other words the World to...

 would be born of a virgin.

Another important passage was Isaiah 40:3–5, which imagines the exiled Israel proceeding home to Jerusalem on a newly-constructed road, led by the victorious Yahweh
Yahweh
Yahweh is the name of God in the Bible, the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Jews and Christians.The word Yahweh is a modern scholarly convention for the Hebrew , transcribed into Roman letters as YHWH and known as the Tetragrammaton, for which the original pronunciation is unknown...

 who has conquered the gods of Babylon. The vision was taken up by all four Gospels and applied to John the Baptist
John the Baptist
John the Baptist was an itinerant preacher and a major religious figure mentioned in the Canonical gospels. He is described in the Gospel of Luke as a relative of Jesus, who led a movement of baptism at the Jordan River...

 and Jesus, leading God's people out of exile.

Isaiah 52:13–53:12, the fourth of the "Suffering Servant" songs, was interpreted by the earliest Christians as a prophecy of the death and exaltation of Jesus, a role which Jesus himself seems to have accepted (Luke 4:17–21).

Jehovah's Witnesses adoption of Isaiah 43:10–12


The Bible-based name Jehovah's Witnesses
Jehovah's Witnesses
Jehovah's Witnesses is a millenarian restorationist Christian denomination with nontrinitarian beliefs distinct from mainstream Christianity. The religion reports worldwide membership of over 7 million adherents involved in evangelism, convention attendance of over 12 million, and annual...

 identifies these Christians as a 'people for God's name.' The name Jehovah's witnesses, based on Isaiah 43:10–12, was adopted in 1931. At Isaiah 43:10, as per New World Translation reads: "'You are my witnesses,' is the utterance of Jehovah
Jehovah
Jehovah is an anglicized representation of Hebrew , a vocalization of the Tetragrammaton , the proper name of the God of Israel in the Hebrew Bible....

, 'even my servant whom I have chosen.'"

Translations

  • Book of Isaiah (Hebrew
    Hebrew language
    Hebrew is a Semitic language of the Afroasiatic language family. Culturally, is it considered by Jews and other religious groups as the language of the Jewish people, though other Jewish languages had originated among diaspora Jews, and the Hebrew language is also used by non-Jewish groups, such...

    ) side-by-side with English
    English language
    English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

    )
  • Book of Isaiah (English translation [with Rashi
    Rashi
    Shlomo Yitzhaki , or in Latin Salomon Isaacides, and today generally known by the acronym Rashi , was a medieval French rabbi famed as the author of a comprehensive commentary on the Talmud, as well as a comprehensive commentary on the Tanakh...

    's commentary] at Chabad.org
    Chabad.org
    Chabad.org is the flagship website of the Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidic movement. It serves not just its own members but Jews worldwide in general. It was one of the first Jewish internet sites and the first and largest virtual congregation.-History:...

    )
  • Bible Gateway

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