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Part I: Ruin & Rebirth
The Literary Message of Isaiah
(Summary From The Literary Message of Isaiah, pp. 29–30)
The juxtaposed themes of ruin and rebirth in Part I of the Bifid Structure (Isaiah 1,2,3,4,5 and 34,35) account for virtually the entire material. The dominance of these themes in parallel units of material establishes the idea of a reversal of circumstances between Zion and the nations of the Gentiles. Central to this reversal are the rebirth of Zion—involving the “ransoming” (pdh) of a remnant of Jehovah’s people that “repents/returns” (swb)—and the concurrent ruin of Jehovah’s alienated people and the nations of the world, all who do not repent/return.
To show that the ruin of Jehovah’s reprobate people equates with that of the nations, Part I presents their ruin in parallel units of material, at the same time maintaining parallel and antithetical motifs as mutual features binding the two. The theme of universal ruin, together with that of Zion’s rebirth common to both units of material, suggests a purposeful structural unity in Part I. Nations that are not a part of Israel, as represented by Edom in the second unit (Isaiah 34,35), suffer a full measure of covenantal malediction, including the loss of political power—just as Jehovah’s alienated people do in the first unit (Isaiah 1,2,3,4,5 ). Zion, on the other hand, experiences a reversal of malediction that includes its regaining full political power.
Part I establishes the setting for these events structurally and rhetorically as Jehovah’s “day of vengeance” upon the wicked and his ransoming of the righteous. Within that eschatological timeframe, Jehovah’s appearance forms the pivotal and climactic event. Although this structural message subordinates the material’s historical content, that doesn’t imply a negation of history. Rather, aspects of Israel’s history, as selectively represented, repeat themselves in a second, transcendent context. Israel’s ancient history, in other words, additionally serves a typological purpose and may therefore be viewed as foreshadowing the future.
Part I of the Bifid Structure is unique in that the concepts it establishes nowhere recur in the form of parallel and antithetical motifs or as the thrust of the entire material. On the other hand, all concepts the Bifid Structure develops are cumulative in nature—once they are established, they are maintained through the remainder of the book. Thus, the structure’s subsequent categories continue the juxtaposed themes of ruin and rebirth and the idea of a reversal between Zion and non-Zion but without the special emphasis of Part I.
Dr. Avraham Gileadi, Ph.D.