Old Testament Life and Literature (1968)

Gerald A. Larue

 

Chapter 18 - Isaiah and Micah

OF the two Judaean prophets who were active in the eighth century, there can be little doubt that Isaiah was the more powerful. He lived in the capital city of Jerusalem and was brought into immediate association with the Temple, with the royal family and with national and international policies. Nevertheless, Micah, who dwelt in the Shephelah was not out of touch with the political activities of the era, for Judah was a small country and, despite the limited means of communication, information was rapidly disseminated. Because of the bulk of Isaiah's work (amplified by later additions) it is listed among that of the Major Prophets, but the smaller book of Micah's words is classified with the Minor Prophets.

 

ISAIAH OF JERUSALEM

The book of Isaiah, which at first glance appears to be the work of one individual, the eighth century prophet, Isaiah of Jerusalem, is considered by most scholars to be composite. The book can be divided into three parts:

  1. Chapters 1-39 contain, with numerous additions, oracles of Isaiah of Jerusalem, called First (1) or Proto-Isaiah.
  2. Chapters 40-55 record the words of a sixth century prophet living in exile in Babylon, called Deutero-Isaiah or Second (II) Isaiah.
  3. Chapters 56-66 from the post-Exilic period are a continuation of the work of Deutero-Isaiah, probably by his disciples, and perhaps containing some of the Babylonian prophet's sayings. This section is called Trito-Isaiah or Third (III) Isaiah.

Questions about the integrity of the book of Isaiah can be said to have begun when Abraham Ibn Ezra, a Jewish scholar of Spain (d. 1197), remarked in a commentary that Isaiah's name at the head of the book was no more guarantee of authorship than Samuel's name at the head of the two books bearing his name. In the eighteenth century, analytical study by J. C. Doederlein (1775) and J. G. Eichhorn (1782) drew clear distinctions between I and II Isaiah. Subsequent research strengthened their arguments. The basis for the division is as follows:

  1. There is no indication within the book of Isaiah that the contents are to be taken as the work of a single author, and there are reasons to doubt the integrity of the book.
  2. There are striking stylistic variations and differences in vocabulary. Not only does Isaiah 40-55 form a unity of thought and emphasis centered in the restoration from Babylonian captivity, but the style of writing differs from II Isaiah. Isaiah of Jerusalem used brief, emphatic diction so familiar in eighth century prophetic oracles. His vocabulary is limited and his utterances are designed for delivery to specific audiences. Deutero-Isaiah's work is more uniform and lyrical in style, more hymnic in quality, and more extensive in vocabulary.
  3. There are differences in historical interest: I Isaiah is concerned with Assyria as the dominant power. The kings with whom he associated are those of the last half of the eighth century, and the setting of his work is this period. In II Isaiah the Babylonian Exile is the background for the proclamation of deliverance, and the prophet is concerned with interpreting the Exilic experience. The dominant nation is Babylon. Interest is focused on a new rising power, Persia, and the monarch Cyrus is named and recognized as a deliverer of the people (Isa. 45:1). Such detailed information could not have been known to Isaiah of Jerusalem, for the Persian nation did not come into existence until after the eighth century.
  4. There is a difference in theological content. Isaiah of Jerusalem preached doom, the proximity of punishment, and the remnant concept. Isaiah of Babylon announced that the punishment was past, suffering was over, and deliverance was at hand.
  5. Differences between II and III Isaiah will be discussed later, but there is reasonable evidence to demonstrate that Trito-Isaiah, despite similarity of style, is later than Deutero-Isaiah.

From the start the results of analytical study were challenged by competent scholars, including the nineteenth century German exegete Franz Delitzsch, and the controversy has continued in diminishing intensity to the present time.1 Different historical situations reflected in the writings are explained by the argument that the literature is revealed and that the prophet spoke not his own words but God's; and if Isaiah, 200 years before the time of Cyrus, was able to predict the deliverer's coming and he does come, then the verification of the words proves that they are God's and that God is a God of history. Differences in style are dismissed by the suggestion that in dealing with future events the prophet, freed of the present, employed a different mode of expression. Appeals are also made to tradition. Ben Sira's writings were much closer to Isaiah's time (second century B.C.) than those of present-day scholars and no mention of a division is made in his work (Ecclesiasticus 48:20 ff.). Nor did the first century A.D. Jewish historian Josephus (Antiquities: XI: 1:1 f.), who suggests that Cyrus freed the Jews because he read the prophecy of Isaiah, recognize more than one Isaiah. The Isaiah scroll from the Qumran community on the Dead Sea, the earliest Hebrew text of Isaiah, makes no division between Chapters 1-39 and 40-66, and this document is dated first century B.C. These and other arguments cannot be persuasive if the methodology for literary analysis set forth in the chapter "How Do We Read?" is accepted.

How and why materials from authors separated by centuries should have been combined is not known, and the history of the text is both confused and complex. II Chron. 32:32 implies that Isaiah's work, in part at least, may have been included in the lost "Book of the Kings of Judah and Israel." If II Chron. 36:22 and Ezra 1:1-2 refer to II Isaiah's prophecy of the return from Exile (cf. Isa. 44:28; 45:1-3) rather than Jeremiah's more general comment (Jer. 29:10), then, perhaps, Deutero-Isaiah was at one time attached to the book of Jeremiah. By the second century B.C., as Ben Sira's references demonstrate, the book of Isaiah had taken its present form.

Isaiah of Jerusalem spoke of disciples (8:16) and the biographical sections of the book undoubtedly came from these followers. It has been proposed that there was an Isaianic school or guild responsible for the additions to the original work. This attractive proposition presents difficulties, for it suggests a line of disciples extending over two centuries, not mentioned in biblical sources, and coming into prominence only at the close of the Babylonian captivity. On the other hand, there can be little doubt that Isaiah's words and those of other eighth century prophets were studied and restudied, particularly during the Exile. In the Exilic period, when words of doom must have assumed new and deeper significance because they were fulfilled, those students or disciples who pored over these oracles perhaps were led to new insight, understanding and hope. Out of their insight could have come Deutero-Isaiah with its message of redemption, utilizing some Isaianic terms ("Holy one of Israel") and developing ideas drawn from Isaiah of Jerusalem. The message, appended to the great prophet's work, completed the pattern of doom and hope of a remnant with the joyous announcement that what was promised was about to be fulfilled. Beyond such speculation we cannot go at present.2

 

LITERARY ANALYSIS OF THE TEXT

The complexity of Isaiah 1-39 makes possible a variety of literary analyses. There is general agreement that Isaiah 1-39 is composed of smaller collections of prophetic oracles, autobiographical and biographical materials representing Isaiah's work or reports on his work by disciples, and non-Isaianic writings. Some sections may be dated by content or superscriptions (cf. 6:1; 7:1; 14:28; 20:1). Some non-Isaianic materials are readily recognized because they contradict sayings of Isaiah to which they have been appended or because they portray idealistic, eschatological pictures of the restoration of Judah, indicating that they come from the Exilic or post-Exilic period. Some material is also separated on the basis of style, a method that is far from reliable. Following the detailed literary analysis below, the text will be discussed in terms of historical periods (so far as they can be determined) out of which various portions have come.

Broadly speaking, six major divisions may be identified in Isaiah 1-39:

  1. Chapters 1-12, oracles dealing primarily with Judah and Jerusalem.
  2. Chapters 13-23, oracles directed against foreign nations.
  3. Chapters 24-27, the so-called "Little Apocalypse of Isaiah."
  4. Chapters 28-33, a miscellaneous collection of sayings.
  5. Chapters 34-35, oracles of judgment and restoration.
  6. Chapters 36-39, material on Hezekiah's revolt against Sennacherib paralleling II Kings 18-20.

Within this broad outline, smaller collections can be recognized. Non-Isaianic materials are in italics.

I. Chapters 1-12 Oracles concerning Judah and Jerusalem.

  1. 1:1-2:4-a collection of oracles on Judah's sin terminating with an eschatological restoration oracle.3

  1. 1:1 An editorial superscription designed to introduce Isaiah's collected works.
  2. 1:2-4 Israel's estrangement from Yahweh.
  3. 1:5-9 Desolation during war.
  4. 1:10-17 Prophetic torah (instruction) in the laws of Yahweh.
  5. 1:18-20 An appeal and warning.
  6. 1:21-25 A diatribe in the form of a funeral dirge over Jerusalem.
  7. 1:26, 27 Fragmentary restoration oracles.
  8. 1:28-31 An oracle of judgment.
  9. 2:1-4 An eschatological restoration oracle also found in Micah 4:1-3, suggesting that it may be part of a cultic hymn on the Day of Yahweh used in New Year rites and inserted by editors of Isaiah's and Micah's work. Read Isaiah 2:12 for a contrasting concept of the "day." On the other hand, the oracle may come from the Exile when hopes for restoration were strong. The text is better preserved in Micah.

  2. 2:5-4:6 Oracles of condemnation and threat.

  1. 2:5 An exhortation.
  2. 2:6-21 A diatribe against divination and idolatry with the threat of judgment on Yahweh's day. Something of a refrain appears in 2:10, 19, and 21.
  3. 2:22 An interpolation, not found in the LXX.
  4. 3:1-15 The threat of loss of leaders with anarchy to follow. Verse 15 contains one of the few "signatures" to Isaiah's oracles.
  5. 3:16-4:1 Condemnation of the women of Jerusalem. The prose expansion in verses 18-23 containing a catalogue of female accessories is probably the work of a later writer.
  6. 4:2-6 An eschatological restoration oracle from the late Exilic or early post-Exilic period.

  3. 5 and 9:8-11:9 A collection of oracles, linked by the refrain "For all this his anger is not turned away and his hand is stretched out still" (5:25; 9:12, 17, 21; 10:4), and interrupted by biographical materials (Chapters 6 and following).

  1. 5:1-7 The song of the vineyard.
  2. 5:8-24; 10:1-2 A pattern of seven "woes" against individual sins.
  3. 5:25; 9:8-21; 10:3-4 Oracles against Israel.
  4. 5:26-30; 10:5-9 Assyria, rod of Yahweh's anger against Israel.
  5. 10:10-11 Warning oracle directed against Jerusalem-probably a late addition.
  6. 10:12-19 Oracle warning Assyria of the danger of arrogance.
  7. 10:20-23 Oracles on the remnant of Israel.
  8. 10:24-27 Oracle of hope for Judah.
  9. 10:28-32 Descriptive oracle of the approach of Assyrian soldiers.
  10. 10:33-34 Oracle on Yahweh's devastation.
  11. 11:1-9 An eschatological ode with messianic overtones terminating the collection.
  12. 11:10-16 A post-Exilic addition, also eschatological.

  4. 6:1-9:7 Autobiographical and biographical materials, comprising the earliest materials in the book.

  1. 6 The prophet's vision and commission to prophesy. The text of the final verse is corrupt.
  2. 7:1-9 Material from the Syro-Ephraimitic crisis.
  3. 7:10-17 The Immanuel oracle.
  4. 7:18-23 Four pictures of devastation: 18-19, 20, 21-22, 23-25.
  5. 8:1-4 Oracle on the fall of Damascus and Samaria.
  6. 8:5-8, 9-10 Oracles of threat and protection. Verses 9 and 10 may be non-Isaianic additions.
  7. 8:11-15, 16-22 Autobiographical notes.
  8. 9:1 Oracle of hope for the restoration of Israel.
  9. 9:2-7 Messianic oracle. If this is by Isaiah, as some scholars now suggest, it appears to celebrate the birth of a royal prince of the Davidic line. The chronology of the kings of this period is difficult, but it could hardly be Ahaz' son, Hezekiah, despite the fact that his name-meaning "Yahweh is my strength"-fits nicely. If it is an enthronement song,4 Verse 6 would have to be interpreted symbolically, signifying the beginning of the king's role as representative or "son" Yahweh.5 If this is an enthronement song it may have been written on the occasion of Hezekiah's accession.

  5. 12 Two psalms, 1-2 and 3-6, reflecting hope and joy in restoration appended to close this section, are from the Exilic and post-Exilic periods.

II. Chapters 13-23 Oracles against foreign nations.

  1. 13:1-14:23 Oracles against Babylon from the late Exilic period.

  2. 14:24-27, 28-32 Oracles against Assyria and Philistia.

  3. 15-16 Oracles against Moab. These were used in part by Jeremiah (48:28-38) oracles are by Isaiah, there is no clue concerning the time or occasion when they were given.

  4. 17 Oracles reflecting the Syro-Ephraimitic war.

  1. 1-3 Against Damascus.
  2. 4-6 An eschatological oracle concerning Israel.
  3. 7-8, 9 Two eschatological oracles.
  4. 10-11 Oracle of condemnation.
  5. 12-14 Oracle of judgment with no specific group mentioned.

  5. 18 Oracle on Ethiopia-Egypt at the time of the fall of Ashdod. Verse 7 is not part of the original oracle.

  6. 19 Oracles on Egypt.

  1. 1-4 Threat of anarchy.
  2. 5-10 The failure of the Nile.
  3. 11-15 Lack of leadership.
  4. 16-17 Eschatological oracle.
  5. 18, 19-22 Late eschatological oracle. It is unlikely that it refers to the establishment of a temple at Heliopolis in the second century B.C.6 More probably the Elephantine temple of the sixth century is meant.7
  6. 23-25 A late eschatological oracle.

  7. 20 A biographical section on the failure of the conspiracy against Assyria and the Ashdod.

  8. 21 Sixth century oracles on Babylon, Dumah and Arabia.

  9. 22 Oracles on Sennacherib's attack on Jerusalem.

  1. 1-4 The valley of vision.
  2. 5-11 The day of tumult (8b-11 in prose).
  3. 12-13 The reaction of the people.
  4. 15-25 A domestic issue.

  10. 23 Oracles against Tyre (13, 15, 17-18 are late additions).

III. Chapters 24-27 The little apocalypse-from the post-Exilic period.

IV. Chapters 28-33 Miscellaneous oracles.

1. 28-31 The Assyrian Cycle.

  1. 28:1-4 The fall of Israel.
  2. 28:5-6 Eschatological oracle.
  3. 28:7-13 Oracle on the word of Yahweh.
  4. 28:14-19 Oracle against necromancy.
  5. 28:20-22 An oracle of destruction.
  6. 28:23-29 An oracle on farming.
  7. 29:1-5c, 6 An oracle on the destruction of Jerusalem. (Verses 5ab, 7-8 are a later addition reversing Isaiah's words.)
  8. 29:9-19 An oracle on the blindness of the people. (Verses 11-12 are a prose expansion.)
  9. 29:13-14 An oracle on emptiness of worship.
  10. 29:15-16 An oracle on politics (Verse 16 seems to stand apart).
  11. 29:17-24 Two late oracles of restoration 1-21, 22-24.
  12. 30:1-7 Two oracles against Egyptian alliances: 1-5, 6-7.
  13. 30:8-11 An oracle to record for future testimony.
  14. 30:12-14 An oracle on lack of trust.
  15. 30:15-17 An oracle against Egyptian alliances.
  16. 30:18-26 Restoration oracle-late.
  17. 30:27-28 Theophanic oracle.
  18. 30:29-33 A salvation oracle.
  19. 31:1-5 An oracle against Assyrian alliances. Vs. 5 is a late addition reversing the thought of the preceding verses.
  20. 31:6-7 A late eschatological oracle.
  21. 31:8-9 An anti-Assyrian salvation oracle.
  22. 32:1-8 A messianic oracle-late.
  23. 32:9-14 An oracle against the women.
  24. 32:15-20 A late restoration oracle.
  25. 33 A wisdom psalm.

V. Chapters 34-35 Post-Exilic restoration oracles.

VI. Chapters 36-39 Biographical material on Hezekiah's revolt. The material in this se is the same as that found in II Kings 18:13 to 19:37 with one exception: II Kings 18:14-16 which describes Hezekiah's heavy payments to Assyria and his willing capitulation to Sennacherib.

It is possible to conjecture how these collections may have developed. The earliest collection of materials, the biographical and autobiographical materials in Chapters 6 to 9, may have been gathered by Isaiah and his disciples. Another early section, Chapters 28 to 31, is composed of oracles that the prophet may have gathered. With Chapters 6 to 9 as a nucleus, other oracular materials from small collections were added to form the larger unit, Chapters 1-12. These basic materials were expanded over a long period of time by the addition of new Materials, in some instances in fairly large units and in other cases in single oracles or statements. The final composition appears to have taken from some time before the second century B.C.

 

ISAIAH, THE MAN

Despite many oracles and the biographical material, it is surprising to realize how little we actually know about Isaiah. It is clear that he is a Jerusalemite, one who loves the city (cf. 8:18; 28:16), yet one who looks with unclouded vision recognizing evils that infest it. There is no indication that the prophet traveled to other places, and it has been surmised that perhaps he lived all his life in the environs of Jerusalem.

Like Hosea, his contemporary in Israel, he was married, but unlike the Israelite prophet, he gives no hint of marital discord. Like Hosea, Isaiah gives his children symbolic names. Unlike Amos, Isaiah encounters no difficulty when he goes to the temple, and the experience that was to affect his whole life took place within the temple precincts. Nor did Isaiah encounter hostility from those in authority, for the prophet appears to be on intimate terms with both Ahaz and Hezekiah. Because of his participation in national affairs, he has been called "the statesman prophet," but such a label restricts rather than explains the prophet's interests. The role of the prophet as a charismatic speaker for Yahweh included many responsibilities and embraced many issues, including politics.

The social evils of the day were to Isaiah, as to Amos, an offense against Yahweh, and the empty forms of religion that led men to ignore the plight of others were treated as a mockery. Those appointed to lead continually proved their ineptness, and Isaiah's condemnations of princes, priests, prophets and judges echo the feelings of Amos about these same persons, and his scorn for the women of Jerusalem is as virulent as was Amos'. Possibly the best way to understand and know the prophet is to read his oracles in historical context.

 

ISAIAH AND THE HISTORY OF THE PERIOD

Read II Kings 15-20; II Chron. 26-32
Isaiah's oracles are so intricately related to happenings of his era, that the history of the period must be understood. The following outline is drawn from accounts in II Kings, supplemented by information from Chronicles and Assyrian king records.8

Because there was no outside power strong enough or interested enough to provide any real threat, Israel and Judah prospered in the eighth century. King Adad-nirari III of Assyria in 805 took tribute from Damascus, but Israel, a few miles to the south of the Aramaean capital, was unaffected. A succession of weak rulers reduced the Assyrian threat. Jeroboam II (786-746) expanded his kingdom into the Transjordan area and worked in economic harmony with Phoenician cities. Prosperity and social inequalities graphically pictured by Amos brought hardship and suffering for the underprivileged. Parallel economic growth took place in Judah in Uzziah's time (783-742). Edom was recaptured; trade with Arabia developed through the Red Sea; two cities of Philistia, Gath and Ashdod, became vassals (II Chron. 26:6 f.), and despite the absence of a prophetic record comparable to the book of Amos, conditions condemned by Isaiah when he begins his prophetic work at the King's death suggest that the situation in Judah and Israel was the same.

746. Jeroboam II died and a period of decline in Israel began. Lack of stability in Israelite leadership, resulting in the assassination of four kings within twenty years, produced a national policy that fluctuated between pro-Egyptian and pro-Assyrian alliances. A sense of aimlessness or lack of direction, clearly reflected in Hosea, made Israel an easy target when Assyrian forces began to move westward and southward.

745. Tiglath Pileser III (called "Pul" in II Kings 15:19 after "Pulu," the name under which he controlled Babylon) became ruler of Assyria and began an expansionist program. Up to this time, Assyria had periodically raided northern Syria for bounty and to maintain open channels for exploitation of minerals, timber and trade. Assyria's new program included conquest and rule. In addition to subduing Mesopotamian neighbors in the immediate vicinity of Assyria, Tiglath Pileser began subjugation of the west, starting in 743. A coalition of small nations, led by Azriau of Iuda, undoubtedly Uzziah (Azariah) of Judah, opposed him. The Assyrian account, taken from slabs found at Calah, has many lacunae, but it is clear that Tiglath Pileser subdued his opposition. The records list tribute received from frightened rulers of smaller kingdoms, including Rezin of Damascus and Menahem of Samaria.9

742. Uzziah died and Jotham became king. Because of his father's long illness, Jotham had administrative experience as regent of Judah and was able to give Judah governmental stability that is in complete contrast with the situation in Israel. Uzziah's military program was continued and the Chronicler reports a Judaean victory over Ammonites who paid tribute for three years.

 

ISAIAH'S VISION AND COMMISSIONING

Read Isa. 6; II Kings 15; II Chron. 26
Isaiah's commissioning as a prophet which came in a vision in the year of Uzziah's death is recorded in autobiographical form. The elements of the prophet's report of this event are complex but leave no doubt about the overwhelming quality of the experience that was to determine the course of his life and condition his awareness of the majestic splendor of Yahweh's exalted sanctity or "otherness." It is possible to interpret Isaiah's vision in terms of an inward experience coming out of meditation.10 On the other hand, it seems more probable that the experience is related to a very concrete cultic observance, possibly the New Year festival.

Dr. Julian Morgenstern has theorized that Solomon's temple, oriented with portals facing east enabled the first rays of the rising sun to penetrate the holy of holies at the time of the autumnal equinox.11 Seraphim, the six-winged creatures that chanted an antiphonal hymn of Yahweh's holiness, are often described as "mythical" figures but no mythology concerning them is known. The term "seraphim" is derived from a Hebrew verb meaning "burn," so that seraphim have been called "burning ones." The word seraph is also associated with serpents in the story of the seraph serpents of the wilderness wanderings (Num. 21:6 ff.; Dent. 8:15) and the seraph snakes mentioned in two of Isaiah's oracles (Isaiah 14:29; 30:6). It is possible that in Isaiah's vision the bronze seraph serpent, a Canaanite symbol later destroyed by Hezekiah (II Kings 18:3 ff.) despite the sanctuary tale that legitimatized its presence (Num. 21:6 ff.), entered Isaiah's experience as the early morning sunlight played upon it. It has been suggested that the sun's rays entering the inner cella of the temple may have struck the gold-plated olivewood cherubim, making it seem as though they burned with fire, providing the source of Isaiah's imagery.12 It is possible also that the seraphim were temple ministrants or altar attendants in winged costumes with specific choral and purification responsibilities in the New Year rites.

ImageA NINTH CENTURY ASSYRIAN PANEL in low relief from the royal palace at Calah showing an attendant in a costume with four wings and a bird headdress participating in a ritual (fertility?) involving a tree (of life?). It is possible that the Hebrew New Year ritual employed costumed altar attendants.

Isaiah's cry of woe is a cry of awakening as he discovered that ritual purification alone did not make a people holy or acceptable to Yahweh. The gulf between sacred and profane was not one of ritual impurity but of moral or inner uncleanliness. Isaiah's term "the Holy One of Israel" (1:4; 5:19, 24) implies that Yahweh, as the God of a particular people, demanded ethical and ritual purity of those who were close to him, for ethical and moral impurity made it impossible for the Holy Yahweh to draw near to his people.

When the purification rite was completed, the prophet responded to Yahweh's call for a messenger. The scene is a (heavenly) court where a messenger is dispatched by a monarch. The message was not reassuring, for the prophet was to aid in bringing destructive judgment on the people-he was to preach a message that men would not heed; indeed, they would turn away and because of failure to heed would be destroyed.13 Some find this interpretation too harsh and suggest that the commission reflected Isaiah's intention to preach whether or not the people heard.14 It has also been argued that the passage was written after the prophet had been at work and represents his evaluation of his work.15 Isaiah's response contains a note of incredulity: "how long?" The response is as harsh as the commission: until all is desolate. The final verse (13) is problematic, for although Isaiah did believe that a remnant would return (cf. 7:3) the 10 per cent figure appears a much too precise qualification. The verse is generally taken to be an expansion of Isaiah's work by a later hand.16 The final phrase, absent in the LXX, is meaningless.

Read Isa. 1-5; 10-12
What Isaiah's next moves were cannot be known, but there is something of a tacit agreement among scholars that the bulk of Chapters 1 through 5 and 10 through 12 contains the earliest oracles, possibly spoken during the ten years following the temple experience. One small section (1:4-9) seems to fit best into the setting of Sennacherib's invasion in 701. The remaining oracles consist of scathing denunciations of contemporary Judaean society, demonstrating that Isaiah, like Amos and Hosea in Israel, looked with a jaundiced eye upon the attitudes and living patterns of his countrymen. Some themes and thought patterns expressed by the prophet will be developed below, but as Professor Napier has pointed out, no analysis can substitute for personal reading of Isaiah's powerful words.17 The reproach oracle that introduces the book of Isaiah utilizes a courtroom setting in which Yahweh, as plaintiff, complains that his people do not know him. How do they not know him? Sacrifices, rituals, festivals honoring Yahweh abounded, but these rites were tangible evidence of lack of knowledge, for they expressed the popular belief that Yahweh could be pleased and pacified by cultic ceremonies (1:10-15). Yahweh's demands, set forth in prophetic torah (instruction), called for justice and fidelity-moral concerns and loyalty to Yahweh. The people were so ignorant of their deity that they did not know that his requirements were primarily moral and ethical. Leaders were evil (1:21-23) and idolatry was everywhere (2:6-8), while Yahweh's judgment hovered, dark and threatening but ignored, above the nation (2:9 ff.). When judgment came, anarchy would triumph, princes and leaders would fall, arrogant women would be humbled (3:16 f.) and the finest soldiers would be destroyed (3:25 f.). Like a series of hammer blows, Isaiah's words struck at greed, pride and indifference, pounding out a promise of chaos, confusion and destruction. But his words of appeal went unheeded (1:18 ff.) as his initial vision had promised they would.

In Chapter 5 the prophet assumes a minstrel's role and sings a song that has often been called "daring" because it employed a fertility or agricultural motif, a theme prominent in the cult of Ba'al. It is important that the real point of the song be recognized, for this is a song of social and religious concern. Israel, the vineyard of God, failed to produce anything but wild grapes (a symbol of the social evils of the day). Like a wise landowner, Yahweh prepared to uproot and destroy the vineyard. The seven-fold woe oracles that follow (interrupted by Chapters 6-9) are confessions of evils, for Isaiah documented his challenges to popular mores and popular religion. These were uneasy, troubled days with threats to national security on all sides. Isaiah argued that the greatest threat was within, in the prosperity that fostered greed and ruthlessness and injustice, in religion that was outward rather than inward.

738. Tiglath Pileser III was now receiving tribute from subject states, including Syria and Israel. A deportation policy quickly quenched potential revolutions, for leaders were promptly moved to distant parts of the Assyrian empire. In a new environment without the supporting sentiment of their own people, the leaders' rebellious inclinations were rendered ineffective.

ImageBRONZE BRACELETS. Isaiah's denunciation of the haughty women of Jerusalem pictured them "mincing along . . . tinkling with their feet" (Isa. 3:16). The tinkling sound was produced by metal anklets and a mincing walk could only increase the clinking. Either Isaiah or a follower added an expanded list of contemporary feminine finery and included bracelets in the collection (Isa. 3:19). The bronze bracelets pictured above are typical of those found on the wrists of skeletons coming from Isaiah's time. Larger and heavier bronze bands of similar design are often found on the legs and are the anklets which became symbols of vanity to Isaiah. Bracelets, gold bracelets in particular, were prized gifts and apparently played a rather important role in wooing a young woman (Gen.24:22, 30, 47; Ezek.16:11).

735. Pekah of Israel and Rezin of Damascus, believing that the time was ripe to break free of Assyria, urged Jotham of Judah to join in revolt. Jotham refused and, as the two northern kings prepared to compel him to cooperate, Jotham died, passing the problem to his son and successor, Ahaz. Ahaz continued his father's non-participation policy and Rezin and Pekah attacked Judah, thus beginning the Syro-Ephraimitic war. (Cf. II Chron. 28:1-15 for an extensive, though probably exaggerated, account.) Edomite and Philistine attacks upon Judah added to the confusion. In desperation Ahaz, despite Isaiah's counsel, sought aid from Tiglath Pileser, offering a handsome bribe. The Assyrians needed little persuasion and the northern coalition was destroyed. By 734 the northern and eastern sections of Israel, including Galilee and the Transjordan area of Gilead, had become Assyrian provinces (II Kings 15:29). The pressure on Judah's Mediterranean flank was eased as Philistia too became an Assyrian province.

ImageASSYRIAN ARCHERS.The carving is from the limestone wall panels of King Sennacherib's palace at Nineveh (early seventh century) .

Read Isa. 7-8; 10
Isaiah opposed Ahaz' plan to seek aid from Assyria, but to no avail. Chapter 7, which is usually divided into three parts (vss. 1-9, 10-17, and 18-25), records in biographical prose the prophet's advice. The first section comes out of the early period of the war when Syrians and Ephraimites moved on Jerusalem. Isaiah attempted to assure Ahaz that the efforts of Pekah and Rezin would fail, that they would be overcome, and that Judah's wisest policy was quiet trust in Yahweh. The presence of Isaiah's son, Shear-jashub, whose name meant "a remnant shall return," symbolized Isaiah's words of warning and threats of doom prior to the encounter with the king. The name should not be taken as a sign of hope, for a remnant may be only the tattered evidence of what once was, as Amos preached (Amos 3:12; cf. Isa. 17:6).

The second section introduces the sign "Immanuel," meaning "God is with us," by which Isaiah hoped to persuade the vacillating king that the best security was found in trust in Yahweh, not in alliances with Assyria. The prophet referred to an unidentified18 young woman (Hebrew: 'almah) who was about to bear a child that would be named "Immanuel," signifying Yahweh's support of his people. By the time the child would be weaned, the prophet promised, the military threat from Syria and Israel would be past, the two nations destroyed, and Judah would enjoy great prosperity. This interpretation, which seems to fit the historical situation best, has been challenged.

The word 'almah refers to a young woman old enough to bear a child and does not in itself indicate whether a girl is a virgin or married. The LXX translators employed the Greek word parthenos, which means "virgin," although the term neanis, which corresponds better to 'almah, was available. When the Christian Church began its mission in the Greek-speaking world and the Gospel of Matthew was written, predictions of Jesus' birth were sought in the LXX version of Jewish scripture; thus, in Matt. 1:18-23, the citation from Isaiah 7:14 is from the LXX, not the Hebrew text. It is argued by some Christian scholars that the sign was far more wondrous than the birth of any child and pointed ahead to the birth of a Messiah, a deliverers promise fulfilled in Jesus. Still others, recognizing that the announcement of a deliverer who would come 700 years later would be of little comfort to Ahaz in his crisis, find a double meaning in the sign Immanuel: an immediate significance relating to the young woman of Ahaz' day and a futuristic one foretelling the coming of Jesus.19 However, it should be pointed out that within the Hebrew text there is no indication that the child would perform messianic functions; the baby is a sign or signal of Yahweh's intention to save the nation if they would rely on their deity.

The chapter closes with four oracles promising invasion and destruction without any indication of the victim (7:18-25).

Chapter 8 opens with the promise of the birth of a child who would bear the unwieldly name Maher-shalal-hashbaz, meaning "the spoil speeds, the prey hastens," to signify the speedy demise of Rezin and Pekah. The mother is called "prophetess" and is usually assumed to be the prophet's wife. The oracle reiterates what Isaiah had said in 7:10-17 that Ahaz had nothing to fear for his enemies would perish. 8:5-8 appears to have been spoken after Ahaz had rejected Isaiah's advice and had turned to Tiglath Pileser for help. Isaiah predicted that Assyrian influence would sweep into Judah like an overwhelming flood. The autobiographical oracles that follow reveal that Yahweh reassured his prophet in his ministry and that Isaiah, perhaps in disappointment, perhaps to demonstrate that his words would come to pass, entrusted his teachings to his disciples for preservation. It is possible that oracles warning Assyria of pride in accomplishment come from this period (ch. 10).

Read Isa. 17
732. Damascus fell and Rezin was killed by the Assyrians. A certain Hoshea ben Elah may have saved Israel from destruction by murdering Pekah, seizing the throne, then immediately surrendering and paying huge tribute to Tiglath Pileser. Isaiah's oracles against Damascus fit well into this period (ch. 17). Note the utter destruction in the eschatological oracles (17:4-6).

In purchasing Assyrian aid Judah became a subject nation, paying regular stipends to Tiglath Pileser. Subservience had religious overtones. It was clear to the Assyrians that Yahweh was not powerful enough to protect his people. As Judah had become a vassal nation and Ahaz a puppet king, so Yahweh was a subject deity. A great bronze Assyrian altar was placed in the Temple of Yahweh, a symbol of the dominance of Ashur, chief god of Assyria, over Yahweh. The extent to which enthusiasm for the introduction and cultivation of new facets of religion was carried is indicated in Isaiah 2:6-8, 20; 8:19 f., and by Ahaz' sacrifice of a son to the god Moloch (II Kings 16:3 f.).

727. Tiglath Pileser died and Shalmaneser V became ruler of Assyria.

724. Hoshea of Israel stopped paying taxes to Assyria. What prompted this action is not clear, but perhaps it was an effort to break free taken in cooperation with several other Palestinian communities. Shalmaneser wasted no time. Israel was invaded and Hoshea was seized. The powerful capital city of Samaria refused to capitulate and a three-year siege began.

722. Samaria fell to Shalmaneser between spring and autumn, 722, or just before the king died (December, 722) according to one account, or, according to another, to Shalmaneser's successor, Sargon II, in late December, 722 or early spring of 721.20 The Assyrian policy of deportation was followed: 20 per cent of the population was removed,21 and people from other conquered territories imported. The remnant Israelites became the Samaritans with whom the Judaeans were to enter into controversy in the post-Exilic period.22

Read 28:1-4, 7-29
It is possible that Hoshea's brash refusal to pay taxes led Isaiah to prophesy the downfall of Samaria. The remaining verses in which the prophet turns on Jerusalem, warning that their priests and prophets who should be spokesmen for Yahweh were bringing a similar fate to Judah, come from the same period. The mocking laughter of his listeners, who say they have a covenant with death (Hebrew: maweth) or perhaps with the Canaanite god of death (Mot) so that when disaster comes death will pass them by, leads the prophet to promise doom.

Read Isa. 14:28-31
715. Ahaz died and was succeeded by Hezekiah who at first followed the policy of paying tribute regularly to Sargon II, despite many enticements to revolt. During this same year, an Ethiopian king, Pi-ankh, unified Egypt and established the 25th dynasty, bringing new strength and vigor to Egypt and placing the nation once again in a position of power in the international scene. The oracle appearing in Isa. 14:28-31 appears to have been given at this time.23

Read Isa. 9:2-7; 11:1-9
If Chapters 9:2-7 and 11:1-9 are the work of Isaiah, as some scholars maintain, they may have been written on the occasion of Hezekiah's coronation. The darkness and uncertainty of the times is reflected in the opening verse of Chapter 9 and a deep longing for better days marks both poems. The significance of the Davidic line (so important to Isaiah) and the need for charismatic leadership is clearly expressed (11:2). Chapter 11 draws a picture of ideal peace: a harmony and balance of relationships among people and in nature, and living conditions that were both safe and secure. The king as the messiah ("anointed one"), chosen and appointed by Yahweh, was the hope of the nation. Unfortunately for the Judaeans, the dream was not realized: Hezekiah was something less than the ideal king (9:6) and the pressure of external powers could not be ignored.

714. The throne of Ashdod was seized by an adventurer named Iatna or Imani and invitations were dispatched to kings in Philistia, Edom, Judah and Moab (all Assyrian vassals) to cooperate in a rebellion against Sargon. Hezekiah was eager to join, but Isaiah walked about Jerusalem naked, dramatizing the disastrous fate participation would bring (Isa. 20). Whether through Isaiah's influence or other factors, Hezekiah did not join the rebels, and when, in 712, the rebels were defeated by Sargon, Judah was spared.24 But Hezekiah did not cease planning for independence. The defenses of Jerusalem were strengthened and the Siloam tunnel was dug to bring water from the spring Gihon into the city so that fresh water would be available in time of siege. Religious reforms were introduced. The Assyrian altar was removed from Yahweh's temple, and Canaanite cult objects were destroyed, including the serpent symbol (Nehushtan) which a sanctuary legend explained as having come from the time of Moses (II Kings 18:3 ff., cf. Num. 21:6).

ImageA HEBREW IRON PLOW POINT. Isa. 28:23 ff. provides considerable information about Hebrew agriculture. For plowing, the Hebrew farmer used an iron plow point with a collar into which a wooden shaft was thrust. Such a plow harnessed to an ox would cut a furrow rather than turn the earth as modern plows do. The term "plowshare" commonly used in English translations (I Sam. 13:20 f.; Isa. 2:14) is a misnomer for it denotes a plow with a blade. It is not difficult to imagine a sword being beaten into a plow point (Isa. 2:14; Mic. 4:3) or vice versa (Joel 3:10) .

Read Isa. 30:1-17; 31:1-4; 18:1-6
705. Sargon was murdered by his son and successor Sennacherib. In that same year, Marduk-apal-iddin, who earlier had attempted to claim the throne of Babylon (Merodoch-baladan in the Bible, cf. Isa. 39:1-8; II Kings 20:12-19), once again claimed kingship and encouraged Hezekiah to join in the anti-Assyrian movement. Sennacherib marched on Babylon, was welcomed by the populace, and Marduk-apal-iddin was banished to Chaldea. Meanwhile, Egypt had become involved with Judah in an anti-Assyrian plot. When Isaiah learned of this secret agreement (Isa. 29:15), he denounced the plan (30:1-5, 6-7, 8-14, 15-17; 31:1-3, 4, and 18:1-6?) for he realized that Egypt, despite its new strength, could not muster military power to defeat Sennacherib. Deaf to Isaiah's pleas, Judah entered alliances with Ammon, Moab, Edom and Philistia (all Assyrian vassals) and began attacks on cities in Philistia that refused to participate (II Kings 18:8).

Read Isa. 1:7-9; 36-37
701. Sennacherib invaded Palestine. Phoenician cities capitulated and paid tribute. The Egyptians were routed and Judah alone remained to face the Assyrians. Sennacherib dispatched three officials to demand surrender (II Kings 18-19; Isa. 36-37).25 When Hezekiah refused, Judah was invaded. Sennacherib's annals report that 46 walled cities fell and 200,150 inhabitants were taken captive.26 Hezekiah was shut up in his royal city like a caged bird. Isaiah described the isolated city as a lonely watchtower in a cucumber patch (1:8). The stricken city was so badly bruised and battered (1:5-6) that Hezekiah had no alternative but to capitulate and pay tribute (II Kings 18:14 ff.). According to Sennacherib's record, 30 talents of gold, 800 talents of silver and much more in other precious items were included in the ransom.27 The city of Jerusalem was spared. The account of deliverance preserved in II Kings 19 and Isaiah 37 attributing the saving of the city to divine intervention by the angel of Yahweh with no report of surrender or payment of tribute, may reflect a later situation.28

Read Isa. 22; 29:1-6; 30:27-28
Other Isaianic material may come from this period. Chapter 22 may reflect rejoicing at the withdrawal of Sennacherib's army. Isaiah was appalled at the devil-may-care, live-today attitude of the people, who celebrated rather than mourned for what had happened to the rest of the land (22:13). The oracles on the downfall of Jerusalem may also come from this period (Isa. 29:1-5c, 6; 30:27-28).

So terrible was the effect of the Assyrian invasion that Judah never again mustered strength or courage to challenge Assyrian authority. Hezekiah remained upon the throne but his territorial powers were limited to Jerusalem and its environs. Sennacherib divided the remainder of Judah among loyal Philistine rulers who began to rebuild devastated areas. How and when the Davidic kings regained control over lost Judaean territory is not known. Nor is there information about the fate of Isaiah and his disciples during these dark years. It can be assumed that they lived long enough beyond the end of the eighth century to assemble collections of Isaiah's oracles. A legend, preserved in the Apocrypha, tells of the martyrdom of Isaiah by King Manasseh in the seventh century, but there is no way to determine whether there is any factual basis for the account.

ImageTHE ASSYRIANS BESEIGE A JUDAEAN CITY. Because artists had not mastered perspective all aspects of the battle appear on one plane. A wheeled battering ram assaults the walls on one side as refugees pour out the opposite side. Something of Assyrian terror tactics are portrayed in the lower right hand panel which pictures captured Judaeans impaled on stakes and displayed where they would have a demoralizing effect on the people within the beseiged city.

 

MAJOR EMPHASES IN ISAIAH

The study of Isaiah's writings makes it possible to suggest that there were certain major underlying beliefs that gave order and pattern to all that the prophet said and did. Foremost among these would be his concept of God. If one single label were to be used to characterize Isaiah, it would have to be "prophet of faith" for at the heart of his interpretation of international relationships was constant and unwavering faith in Yahweh's ability and desire to protect Judah. In his confrontation with Ahaz, there appears a note of irritation and impatience with the monarch's uncertainty and unwillingness to trust the national deity (7:13). For the prophet there could be no doubt or hesitation. He was equally sure in his proclamation of Yahweh's distaste of religion that lost itself in ritual and ceremony but disregarded the plight of the underprivileged and condoned exploitation by the rich and powerful. His epithet for Yahweh, "the Holy One of Israel," which may have come from some cultic source, but may just as well have been coined by the prophet,29 conveys not only transcendence and otherness but, in its setting in Isaiah's vision, moral and ethical purity. Yahweh was not just "the Holy One" as Hosea had said, but "the Holy One of Israel," belonging to Israel in a unique and peculiar way. To be one with their deity, the people had to possess the kind of purity that Yahweh demanded-ritual and ethical cleanliness. No other people stood in this kind of relationship to Yahweh; through Isaiah, the election concept is portrayed in new terms. The fact that Yahweh could call Assyria the "rod" of his anger would imply that Yahweh's power extended beyond Palestine and controlled other peoples. Like Amos, Isaiah's concepts approach monotheism and universalism but never achieve them, for the existence of other gods is not challenged and Isaiah's concerns were local and nationalistic in religion and politics. World affairs were important insofar as they affected his beloved homeland.

Isaiah's words reveal his deep love and hope for Jerusalem. Here was the capital of the kingdom, the seat of the Davidic dynasty, and here was the very dwelling place of Yahweh. Repeatedly the prophet's deep concern for the city is revealed as it is singled out time and again for attack. Isaiah's realistic assessment of the people's conduct compels him to foresee doom for the city, with Yahweh himself as the enemy:

So Yahweh of hosts will come down to fight against (not "upon")
Mount Zion, and on its hill.

Isa. 31:4. Vs. 5 is a non-Isaianic addition.

The remnant has often been isolated as an important theme in Isaiah's teaching, but the meaning of the term is not clear. Sheldon Blank has argued that a "mere" remnant is meant, not one that will represent the essence of the nation or signify the choice of a select few, but simply a remnant that manages to escape30 (cf. Isaiah 17:6; 30:14). An opposite point of view is held by those who find in the remnant Isaiah's disciples and others faithful to Yahweh's commands.31 The position taken throughout our discussion has favored the first point of view simply because there does not seem to be any evidence to substantiate the second. Whatever hopes Isaiah may have had for the future are not made explicit, unless it be that his word, bound up in his disciples, would prove true. The so-called messianic oracles may come from the time of Isaiah, but there is no reason to assert that they must be Isaiah's work, while, in view of the rest of the prophets teachings, there is reason for doubt: the door must be left open.32

 

MICAH

The last collection of prophetic oracles from the eighth century are from Micah, the prophet of the Shephelah. According to the editorial superscription, he was active during the reigns of Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah (742-687 B.C.), and although it must be admitted that a prophetic ministry of this length is not impossible, most of the datable material comes from the time of Ahaz and Hezekiah. One hundred years later, the prophet Jeremiah quoted Micah 3:12 noting that the oracle was given in Hezekiah's time (Jer. 26:18). Micah was, therefore, a contemporary of Amos, Hosea and Isaiah, but echoes of themes found in Amos and Isaiah are not indications that Micah knew or was influenced by either of these men.

Micah's home town of Moresheth (1:1) or Moresheth-gath (1: 14) has not been located and it is possible that it was one of the "daughter" villages of the city of Gath, the old Philistine site located in the Shephelah which had come under Judaean control.33 The area was rich in grain, olives, figs and grapes. Micah has been called "rustic," "rural," and his words have been labeled "course," but there is no reason to think that Gath and its environs were any more "backward" or "rural" than Jerusalem which was also surrounded by agricultural communities. Micah's writing reveals skill in imagery and sharpness in delineation of evils and disasters, and his statement of Yahweh's demands in religion is one of the best-known sections of prophetic literature (6:8). The importance of Micah's work is demonstrated by Jeremiah's reference to it and by the serious study it received during the Exile.

The Book of Micah may be divided into four parts (non-Micah materials are italicized).

I. Chapters 1-3 containing Micah's oracles against the evils of Samaria and Jerusalem.

  1. Chapter 1 contains a theophany and ends with a lament for the fallen nation. 1:2-9 may belong to 722 B.C., the period just prior to the fall of Samaria when Assyrian armies threatened to overrun both nations. 1:10-16, the dirge over the desolation befalling Judaean cities may reflect Sennacherib's ravaging of the country in 701.
  2. Chapter 2 opens with a woe oracle reminiscent of Isaiah 5:2 ff. condemning greedy, powerful land owners so covetous that they were unable to sleep, and scolding listeners for refusal to acknowledge the validity of the prophet's words. 2:12-13 is a restoration oracle from the Exilic period.
  3. Chapter 3 may be part of an autobiographical collection (cf. 3: 1a) of scathing pronouncements against prominent citizens who betray justice and prophets who give oracles of "peace" when they are paid and pronounce curses when they are not.

II. Chapters 4-5 contain eschatological and late material.

  1. Chapter 4 is composed of non-Micah material.
    4:1-4 parallels Isaiah 2:2-4.
    4:5-13 contains oracles from the Exilic period (note the mention of Babylon in 4:10).
  2. Chapter 5 contains both genuine and intrusive material.
    5:1 portrays a siege, possibly in 701.
    5:2-4 is a messianic oracle of the Exilic period.
    5:5-6 conveys no meaning or guidance for a time setting.
    5:7-9 is a late oracle dealing with the remnant.
    5:10-15 is a threat oracle, probably by Micah.

III. Chapters 6:1-7:7 consist of oracles by Micah.

  1. 6:1-8 is an oracle portraying Yahweh's wishes for his people.
  2. 6:9-16 contains oracles of condemnation, possibly from 701.
  3. 7:1-7 is a lament on social immorality.

IV. Chapter 7:8-20 is made up of words of hope and comfort from the Exilic period.

Read Micah
There are few teachings in Micah that haven't appeared in the works of the other eighth century prophets. The most significant new statement by the prophet deals with true religion (6:1-8). Here, a courtroom setting is pictured with Yahweh and the people stating their cases as hills and mountains sit in judgment. Yahweh makes his complaint (6:3), asking why his people have turned from him and recalling election history and warm associations of the past (6:4-5). The people retort, "What does Yahweh want?" "How do we come to him?" and efforts to appease the deity are cited: animal and oil offerings, even human sacrifice. The judgment is given:

He has shown you, O man, what is good!
And what does Yahweh require of you
But to do justice ( mishpat), to love kindness ( hesed)
and to walk in humility with your God (6:8).

Although some scholars have argued that these verses come from the post-Exilic period, most accept them as the work of Micah.34

Endnotes

  1. For a defense of the unity of Isaiah cf. Oswald Allis, The Unity of Isaiah (London: Tyndale Press, 1950); E. J. Young, Studies in Isaiah (Grand Rapids: Ferdmans, 1954) and Who Wrote Isaiah? (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1958).
  2. For specific comment on the "Isaianic School," cf. A. Bentzen, Introduction to the Old Testament (Copenhagen: G. E. C. Gads Forlag, 1949), II, 114; R. H. Kennett, The Composition of the Book of Isaiah in the Light of History and Archaeology, The Schweich Lectures, 1909 (London: Henry Frowde, 1910), p. 40; Sidney Smith, Isaiah, Chapters XL-LV (London: Oxford University Press, 1944), p. 75.
  3. Eschatological oracles deal with the end of an age or the end of time and appear to be closely linked to the Day of Yahweh concept. They are often introduced by the phrase "in that day" and may be constructive-pointing to restoration of devastated areas or the realization of paradisaical hopes through an act of God-or destructive, looking to a day of violence, judgment, wrath and punishment. The Greek word eschaton means "the last thing," and "eschatology" is a doctrine of last things.
  4. Cf. Margaret B. Crook, "A Suggested Occasion for Isaiah 9:2-7 and 11:1-9," Journal of Biblical Literature, LXVIII (1949), 213-224, who argues that this is a coronation song from the enthronement of Jehoash, the boy king (II Kings. 11:21).
  5. For brief comment, cf. R. B. Y. Scott, "Isaiah," The Interpreter's Bible, V, 231 f. In the enthronement ritual the king may have been given a new name and thus, in a sense, have been "reborn." Cf. Azariah ("Yahweh is my helper") changed to Uzziah ("Yahweh is my strength"). Cf. E. Leslie, Isaiah (New York: Abingdon Press, 1963), p. 22.
  6. Josephus, Wars: 7:10:3.
  7. Cf. article "Elephantine Papyrus" in The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible.
  8. Cf. ANET, pp.281-288; David D. LuckenbilI, The Annals of Sennacherib (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1924).
  9. For the text of Tiglath Pileser's annals, cf. ANET, pp. 282 ff.
  10. F. James, op. cit., p. 248.
  11. For a discussion of Dr. Morgenstern's thesis that the kings of Judah enacted a New Year death-and-resurrection ritual borrowed from Canaan, in which the king represented the deity, cf. Julian Morgenstern, The Fire Upon the Altar (Chicago: Quadrangle Books, 1963), and "The King-god Among the Western Semites and the Meaning of Epiphanes," Vetus Testamentum, X (1960), 138-197; XIII (1963), 321-323. For a discussion of the Isaiah theophany in the light of this hypothesis, cf. "Biblical Theophanies," Zeitschrift fiir Assyriologie, XXVIII (1913), 36-39, and The Fire Upon the Altar, pp. 28-30.
  12. H. Buck, People of the Lord (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1966), p. 226.
  13. Lindblom, op. cit., pp. 186 f., Leslie, op. cit. pp. 24 f.
  14. Hyatt, op. cit., p. 34.
  15. Bewer, The Prophets, p. 27.
  16. Cf. Scott, The Interpreter's Bible, V, 212.
  17. B. Davie Napier, Song of the Vineyard (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1962), p. 223.
  18. Kuhl, The Prophets of Ancient Israel (London: Oliver and Boyd, 1960), p. 78, identifies her as the prophet's wife.
  19. It is also suggested that the LXX translation of the term reflects an additional revelation. Cf. Kissane, The Book of Isaiah, 2nd ed. (Dublin: Browne and Nolin, 1960), I, 89.
  20. For a concise discussion of this problem, see J. Finegan, op. cit., pp. 208-210.
  21. This deportation forms the beginning point for numerous legends of the "ten lost tribes of Israel."
  22. For an excellent summary of Samaritan history, cf. article, "Samaritans," in The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible.
  23. For a different date for this oracle, cf. Eissfeldt, op. cit., pp. 305, 313, and Bewer, The Prophets, p. 44, who favor 726 B.C. at the death of Tiglath Pileser. Ahaz' death is often dated in 725 B.C.; cf. Oesterley and Robinson, op. cit., p. 249.
  24. Fragments of Sargon's victory stele were discovered in the excavation of Ashdod; cf. D. N. Freedman, "The Second Season at Ancient Ashdod," BA, XXVI (1963), 138.
  25. H. W. F. Saggs, The Greatness That Was Babylon (New York: Hawthorn Books, Inc., 1962), p. 109, says that the report of the discussion between Hezekiah's representatives and the officer of Assyria is like the discussion between peoples barricaded within the city of Babylon and Assyrian officials in 732-1, reported in a letter.
  26. This figure has been interpreted as the total population of the villages overrun. The number has also been reduced to 2,150. Cf. Gray, op. cit. pp. 613 f.
  27. ANET, p. 288.
  28. For discussion of the possibility of a second Assyrian assault about 688, cf. Bright, op. cit. pp. 282-287. The miraculous deliverance is often explained in terms of a plague. Herodotus (History II, 141) records an Egyptian account of the defeat of Sennacherib's army at the borders of Egypt in which mice are said to have gnawed the archer's bowstrings during the night. Some scholars arguing that mice and plague often go together suggest that pestilence might lie behind Herodotus' account and possibly also the Biblical story. However, there is no relationship between the two events. Cf. E. A. Leslie, Isaiah (New York: Abingdon Press, 1963), pp. 95 f.
  29. Cf. Helmer Ringgren, The Prophetical Conception of Holiness (Uppsala: Almqvist & Wickselis Boktryckeri, 1948), p. 27.
  30. S. H. Blank, "The Current Misinterpretations of Isaiah's She'ar Yashub," The Journal of Biblical Literature, LXVII (1948),213. See also Kennett, op. cit., p. 11.
  31. Cf. Pfeiffer, op. cit., p. 437 and J. M. P. Smith, The Prophet and His Problems (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1914), pp. 182 f.
  32. Cf. Scott, op. cit., pp. 231 f. and 247 ff. for a valuable treatment.
  33. For attempts at identification, cf. articles in the Interpreter's Dictionarv of the Bible: "Moresheth" (Tell ej-Judeideh), "Micah" (Tell en-Menshiyeh).
  34. R. E. Wolfe, "Micah: Introduction and Exegesis," The Interpreter's Bible, VI, 938.

Old Testament Life and Literature is copyright © 1968, 1997 by Gerald A. Larue. All rights reserved.
The electronic version is copyright © 1997 by Internet Infidels with the written permission of Gerald A. Larue.

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