Hebrew Prophets I
Azusa Pacific University
Dr. Gerald Wilson
October 29, 2002
"Introduction to Isaiah"
I. Background story of Isaiah
A. Written to Judah in the 8th century
B. Historical Background
1. King Uzziah (783 - 742 BC)
a. Judah was very prosperous
i. Summit of Judah's power
ii. Widest border of kingdoms
b. Distorted Religious Worship
i. Continuation of high places
ii. Canaanite fertility practices
c. Uzziah's presumption
i. 2Chronicles 26:16-19
ii. It was up to the priest to offer the sacrifices in the temple; not the
iii. God divinely punished Uzziah for thinking he could do this by giving him leprosy - lepers were unable to go into the temple
2. Jotham (742 - 735 BC)
a. Against the advice of Isaiah - sought Assyrian aid
b. Became a voluntary vassal to Assyria
c. Destruction of coalition
i. Assyrian destroyed Israel and Judah's surrounding neighbors
ii. This forced Israel to become a vassal with Assyria
iii. Judah had already become a voluntary (paying) vassal to Assyria
d. Judah had to pay a lot of money to Assyria and experience Assyrian influence - especially cult items
II. Unity Issue with Isaiah's Authorship
A. J. D"derlin (1775) & J. Eichhorn (1778) theory
to advance a theory of dual authorship
a. Isaiah 1-39 - written by the 8th century Isaiah
b. Isaiah 40-66 - written by 6th century anonymous prophet
arguments for this theory
a. Historical argument - the setting of chapters 40-66 reflect the exile as an experience
i. Prophecy is not about future exile, but describing exile currently
ii. Jerusalem is depicted as fallen
iii. Captives are in exile, as apposed
to be going into exile
iv. Isaiah 43:25-28
b. Literary argument - chapters 40-66 use a different style, language, and concepts
c. Theoretical argument - Hebrew prophecy speaks to the present or contemporary situation
i. Prophecies' primary focus is to speak to the present and correct a current situation
ii. Traditional prophecy is not about speaking to the future
B. Critique of this theory
argument: Tradition, both Christian and Jewish, have normally attributed the
whole book to Isaiah
2. Literary argument: this is really slippery - same authors write differently from time to time
are no explicit claims of different authorship
argument: you are presupposing that God is unable to deliver the setting of the
6th century to Isaiah in the 8th century
C. Consensus about the Book of Isaiah
1. The book contains a "core" of material that is "Isaianic"
a. It is largely pessimistic, and correction prophecy
material has been reworked by disciples or followers of Isaiah
a. This is done in light of the circumstances of the exile
b. The reworking reflects hope
3. Some things that are not Isaiah - either from Oracles or other Prophets - are contained in the book
D. Problems with this View
creates a sharp break between sections (usually consists of 6 different Isaiah
book written as a whole is the canonized form (ignores the value of canonized
book as a whole)
3. Splitting the book up would say that the message can only be understood by its "supposed" historical setting
it into two or more sections separates judgment from hope
a. Isaiah wrote about judgment confronting the evils of his day; therefore
there would be no hope
b. The Biblical story is always one of judgment but with hope
the Prophetic Call
A. Base is intense understanding of God/Israel(human) relationship
1. Isaiah's call narrative (Isaiah 6)
a. God is present in the human sphere of experience (hem of his robe fills
b. kabod - glory - to see God's glory is to know his very essence
c. Trembling, shaking, smoke all indicate the theophonic presence of God
d. These are all evidence of God being involved with this prophecy
e. Isaiah's response, "Woe to me, I am a dead man"
have an definite understanding about
a. God is Holy
i. Incompatible with evil
ii. Relentlessly good
b. Israel (humanity) is evil, sinful and unclean
c. God is not removed and transcendent but indeed coming into the realm of humanity - God is coming and has come!
d. Only possible consequence: judgment - "Woe is me"
B. The calling is not of the prophets own choosing
1. Divine selection - God is the one to choose (i.e. Hosea)
2. Divine compulsion - the prophet cannot deny this (i.e. Jonah)
IV. Prophetic Message - What are Prophets called to do?
A. Focuses on the present moral condition
B. Expounds necessary link between the present moral situation and the
C. Basic Understanding of OT Prophecy: What is about to happen is the
necessary consequence of the present moral situation
D. Prophecy is always conditional - even if not stated
E. The only limits to God's freedom is/are His nature/s
nature of holiness
cannot act in opposition to His nature
F. The prophetic word is made to be broken - it is the whole point of it
G. The point of prophecy is to encourage repentance so that the "decreed future" can be avoided - NT tells us that, "God desires that no one shall perish"
H. Prophets are in a sense holding a mirror to show Israel (humanity) their current "ugliness" - but they do this not just to "laugh," but rather to encourage the nation to become "beautiful"
I. Judgment and hope are woven together
V. Isaiah's offer to be the one that God sends to preach comes right after his own "spiritual cleansing" - he expected God to give him the same message in which God had enlightened his own life with
VI. Isaiah (and Deuteronomy) makes the point that there is a point at which those who resist God's call to repentance one beyond recovery
VII. How does a prophetic book come together
A. The Spoken Word - most prophets (except maybe Ezekiel) didn't think their words would be a written book of prophecy
to a particular historical circumstance
to encourage change
c. Reliance on Yhwh
a. Most often poetic
b. With stereotypical language
c. High use of imagery
d. So if there were a prophet in LA today he would probably be a wrapper
B. Preservation of the word
a witness of fulfillment
memory or perhaps written down with bare indications of date/occasion
C. Writing of prophetic books
considerable time after prophecy delivered
fulfillment had occurred?? Validity confirmed
to the setting contemporary to the writing
a. Different than the time of oral prophecy
b. Fulfillment already experienced (not the main point)
c. Offer explanation of the events of judgment
d. Offer new hope for the future
original oral materials as core
incorporating historical elements (dates/narratives) to clarify context of
reflects needs of the reading community
awareness of other prophetic ministries/messages
VIII. Holy One of Israel shift
A. 1-39 - Holy One of Israel' is perceived as the judge, or at least the one that has been wronged by Israel
B. 40-66 - Holy One of Israel' is perceived and labeled as the personal Redeemer of Israel
C. This is done to show the redemptive aspect of God, that the purpose of
this prophecy was not necessarily to pronounce judgment but one of hope
Is. 1:4 Ah, sinful
nation, a people loaded with guilt, a brood of evildoers, children given to
corruption! They have forsaken the LORD; they have spurned the Holy One of Israel and turned their backs on
Is. 5:19 to those who say, "Let God hurry, let him hasten his work so we may see it. Let it approach, let the plan of the Holy One of Israel come, so we may know it."
Is. 5:24 Therefore,
as tongues of fire lick up straw and as dry grass sinks down in the flames,
so their roots will decay and their flowers blow away like dust; for they
have rejected the law of the LORD Almighty and spurned the word of the Holy One of Israel.
Is. 10:20 In that
day the remnant of Israel, the survivors of the house of Jacob, will no
longer rely on him who struck them down but will truly rely on the LORD, the Holy One of Israel.
Is. 12:6 Shout aloud
and sing for joy, people of Zion, for great is the Holy One of Israel among you."
Is. 17:7 In that day
men will look to their Maker and turn their eyes to the Holy One of Israel.
Is. 29:19 Once more
the humble will rejoice in the LORD; the needy will rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.
Is. 30:11 Leave this
way, get off this path, and stop confronting us with the Holy One of Israel!"
Is. 30:12 Therefore,
this is what the Holy One of Israel says: "Because you have rejected this message, relied on oppression and depended on deceit,
Is. 30:15 This is
what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: "In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.
Is. 31:1 Woe to
those who go down to Egypt for help, who rely on horses, who trust in the
multitude of their chariots and in the great strength of their horsemen, but
do not look to the Holy One of Israel, or seek help from the LORD.
Is. 37:23 Who is it
you have insulted and blasphemed? Against whom have you raised your voice and
lifted your eyes in pride? Against the Holy One of Israel!
Is. 41:14 Do not be afraid, O worm Jacob, O little Israel, for I myself will help you," declares the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.
Is. 41:16 You will
winnow them, the wind will pick them up, and a gale will blow them away. But
you will rejoice in the LORD and glory in the Holy One of Israel.
Is. 41:20 so that
people may see and know, may consider and understand, that the hand of the
LORD has done this, that the Holy One of Israel has created it.
Is. 43:3 For I am
the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I give Egypt for your ransom, Cush and Seba in
Is. 43:14 This is
what the LORD says your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: "For your sake I will send to Babylon and bring down as fugitives all the Babylonians, in the ships in which they took pride.
Is. 45:11 "This is what the LORD says Ñ the Holy One of Israel, and its Maker: Concerning things to come, do you question me
about my children, or give me orders about the work of my hands?
Is. 47:4 Our
Redeemer the LORD Almighty is his name is the Holy One of Israel.
Is. 48:17 This is
what the LORD says your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: "I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.
Is. 49:7 This is
what the LORD says the Redeemer and Holy One of Israel Ñ to him who was despised and abhorred by the nation, to the servant of rulers: "Kings will see you and rise up, princes will see and bow down, because of the LORD, who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you."
Is. 54:5 For your
Maker is your husband the LORD Almighty is his name the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is
called the God of all the earth.
Is. 55:5 Surely you
will summon nations you know not, and nations that do not know you will
hasten to you, because of the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has endowed you with splendor."
Is. 60:9 Surely the
islands look to me; in the lead are the ships of Tarshish, bringing your sons
from afar, with their silver and gold, to the honor of the LORD your God, the
for he has endowed you with splendor.
The sons of your oppressors will come bowing before you; all who despise you
will bow down at your feet and will call you the City of the LORD, Zion of
One of Israel.
D. Transition in Isaiah 41:14 - "Do not be afraid, O worm Jacob, O little Israel, for I myself will help you," declares the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel." - surrounding passage illustrates the shock one would have when taking this transition
E. There is definitely a separation between chapters 39 and 40