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O.T. Handout #36: Isaiah, Hezekiah, 7-part structure, Yeshayahu, Uzziah,Huldah, vision, Sinai covenant, September 2014
Born in Judah, Isaiah (Heb. יְשַׁעְיָהוּ) lived around 8th century. Name root=Yeshayahu= salvation of Yahweh. He was son of Amoz and a prophet documented by the biblical book of hIsa name. First verse of Isaiah states Isaiah prophesied during the reigns of Uzziah (or Azariah), Jotham, Ahaz
and Hezekiah, the kings of Judah (Isa 1:1).
Uzziah’s reign was 52 years in the middle of the 8th century BC, and Isaiah must have begun his ministry a few years before Uzziah’s death, probably in the 740s BC. Isaiah lived until the fourteenth year of Hezekiah’s reign (who died 698 BC), and may have been contemporary for some years with Manasseh. Thus Isaiah may have prophesied for as long as 64 years.
Isaiah probably lived to close of Hezekiah’s reign, and possibly into the reign of Manasseh, but the time and manner of his death are not specified in either the Bible or recorded history. There Isa a tradition in Rabbinic literature that he suffered martyrdom by Manasseh.
Isaiah’s wife was called “the prophetess” (Isaiah 8:3), either because she was endowed with the prophetic gift, like Deborah (Judges 4:4) and Huldah (2 Kings 22:14–20), or simply because she was the “wife of the prophet” (as he Isa named, for instance in Isaiah 38:1).
The prophets emphasized the concept of historical linearity, which maintains that the flawed present, with its rampant suffering and injustice, will ultimately undergo a radical metamorphosis, and that finally absolute justice, peace, harmony, and spiritual awareness will prevail. Isaiah was witness to one of the most turbulent periods in Jerusalem’s history, from both the political and the religious standpoint.
His status enabled him to take an active part in events, and in some cases to guide them. HIs relations with the senior
members of the royal house, as described in the Bible, and the fact that he had free access to the palace, together with the complex linguistic style of his prophecies, suggest that he belonged to the Jerusalem aristocracy. This, though, did not prevent him from being an outspoken mouthpiece of the common people, who were being victimized by the rampant corruption of the ruling class:
Isaiah was the most “political” of the prophets. In the face of Assyrian expansionism he counseled a passive political and military approach. He put his faith in divine salvation, which would certainly follow from a necessary change in the moral
leadership and in the people’s spiritual tenacity. Every “earthly” attempt to alter the course of events was foredoomed, since the mighty Assyria was no more than a “rod” in God’s hands with which to punish the sins of Jerusalem:
“Again the Lord spoke to me, thus: ‘Because that people has spurned the gently flowing waters of Siloam assuredly, my Lord will bring up against them the mighty, massive waters of the Euphrates, the king of Assyria and all his multitude” (8:6-7). When the comprehensive religious reforms introduced by King Hezekiah seemed, at first, to justify the hopes held out for him by Isaiah, the prophet supported him in the difficult moments of the Assyrian siege:
“Assuredly, thus said the Lord concerning the king of Assyria: He shall not enter this city; he shall not shoot an arrow at it, or advance upon it with a shield, or pile up a siege mound against us. He shall go back by the way he came, he shall not enter this city declares the Lord”(37:33-34).
However, Isaiah took an unwaveringly dim view of Hezekiah’s attempts to forge alliances with Egypt and with the envoys of the Babylonian king Merodach-baladan, as a wedge against Assyrian expansionism. Such efforts, he said, attested to insufficient faith in the Lord. Isaiah Isa also considered the most universal of the prophets. He spoke of the Temple:
“In the days to come, the Mount of the Lord’s House shall stand firm above the mountains… And the many peoples shall go and shall say: Come, let us go up to the Mount of the Lord … “(2:2-3).
“Why did the Book of Mormon prophets quote so frequently from the writings of Isaiah? Why should Nephi and Jacob take the time (and precious space on the small plates) for the words of Isaiah? What Isa there in the writings of an eight-century [742—701] b.c. prophet–one, in fact, whose oracles are often extremely difficult to comprehend and appreciate–that would be of such worth to the Nephites and Latter-day Israel?
• Isaiah was a relatively recent prophet, only 100 to 150 years removed from the days of Nephi and Jacob. Isaiah’s words would have been viewed by the Nephites much as the Latter-day Saints today view the sermons and writings of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young.
• One of Isaiah’s central themes was the destiny of the house of Israel, of which the Nephites were an important branch. (2 Ne 6:5).
• Isaiah spoke frequently of the status of the house of Israel in the last days; the Book of Mormon Isa a record prepared and preserved for the people of the latter days. (2 Ne 25:7—8.)
• “Fourth, Isaiah spoke repeatedly of the coming of Jesus Christ, the Messiah (1 Ne 19:23). One Book of Mormon scholar has observed that of the 425 verses from Isaiah quoted in the Book of Mormon, 391 of them deal with the ministry or attributes of the Savior (Monte S. Nyman, Great Are the Words of Isaiah)
Isaiah’s witness of the Lord Jesus Christ was sure and certain, even as were the testimonies of Nephi and Jacob. Thus Nephi said: ‘And now I, Nephi, write more of the words of Isaiah, for my soul delighteth in his words… for he verily saw my Redeemer, even as I have seen him… (2 Ne 11:2-4).
“In the Lord’s recorded instructions to the Nephites he twice endorsed the writings of Isaiah (3 Ne 20:11; 23:1). In the second instance, after having quoted Isaiah 54, Jesus declared: ‘Ye ought to search these things. Yea, a commandment I give unto you that ye search these things diligently; for great are the words of Isaiah.’
Chapter 11 of Isaiah was quoted to Joseph Smith in a vision in his earliest days as a prophet (JS-H 1:40) and became the subject of a section in the Doctrine and Covenants (D&C 113). In addition, Jesus Christ has given revelations about, and prophets and apostles of the latter days have frequently quoted from and commented upon Isaiah’s words when instructing the Saints.
In Germany during the late 1700s, several scholars challenged this view, claiming that chapters 40-66 were written by one or more other individuals as late as 400 B.C. because of the specific references to events that occurred after Isaiah’s death. This outlook now permeates many Bible commentaries and has led to the postulation of a second prophetic writer who are commonly called in scholarly literature “Deutero-Isaiah.”
Isaiah’s Seven-Part Structure
Ruin and Rebirth (Isaiah 1–5; 34–35)
Rebellion and Compliance (Isaiah 6–8; 36–40)
Punishment and Deliverance (Isaiah 9–12; 41–46)
Humiliation and Exaltation (Isaiah 13–23; 47)
Suffering and Salvation (Isaiah 24–27; 48–54)
Disloyalty and Loyalty (Isaiah 28–31; 55–59)
Disinheritance and Inheritance (Isaiah 32–33; 60–66)
The people of Israel are apostate, rebellious, and corrupt; only a few remain faithful—The people’s sacrifices and feasts are rejected—They are called upon to repent and work righteousness—Zion will be redeemed in the day of restoration.
Isaiah sees the latter-day temple, gathering of Israel, and millennial judgment and peace—The proud and wicked will be brought low at the Second Coming—Compare 2 Nephi 12.
Judah and Jerusalem will be punished for their disobedience—The Lord pleads for and judges His people—The daughters of Zion are cursed and tormented for their worldliness—Compare 2 Nephi 13.
Zion and her daughters will be redeemed and cleansed in the millennial day—Compare 2 Nephi 14.
The Lord’s vineyard (Israel) will become desolate, and His people will be scattered—Woes will come upon them in their apostate and scattered state—The Lord will lift an ensign and gather Israel—Compare 2 Nephi 15.
Isaiah sees the Lord—His sins are forgiven—He Isa called to prophesy—He prophesies of the Jews’ rejection of Christ’s teachings—A remnant will return—Compare 2 Nephi 16.
(Following taken from Isaiah Decoded by Avraham Gileadi, Isaiah scholar).
The juxtaposed themes of ruin and rebirth in Part I of the Bifid (double) structure (suffering/salvation) (Isa. 1-5, 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” of a remnant of Jehovah’s people that “repents/returns” —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 (Isa 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 ran¬soming of the righteous. Within that eschatological (end times) 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 Book’s 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 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.
Chapters 1-6: Highlights and Exegesis
Chapter 1, preface dates from about 701 B.C., the fourteenth year of the reign of King Hezekiah. At that time, Assyria invades the Southern Kingdom of Judah. Israel’s God Jehovah, however, thwarts Assyria’s designs because of the righteousness of the king and his people. Earlier, in 722 B.C., Assyria conquers the ten-tribed Northern Kingdom of Israel and takes its people captive into Mesopotamia. Chronologically speaking, the first chapter of the Book of Isaiah Isa Isaiah 6, which describes Isaiah’s calling as a prophet in the year of King Uzziah’s death in 742 B.C.
The vision. Although Isaiah’s prophetic ministry may span as many as fifty years, the singular term “vision” defines Isaiah’s writings as one conceptually from beginning to end. That Isa evident in his book’s multi-layered structuring, through which Isaiah integrates his early oracles and later written discourses into a single prophecy that spells out an end-time scenario. Without taking away from the historical origins of Isaiah’s writings, historical events now serve as an allegory of the end-time, in which “Judea” and “Jerusalem” are codenames that identify God’s end time people.
Isaiah begins his prophecy by calling on the heavens and the earth, which are witnesses of the Sinai Covenant (Deut. 4:26; 30:19). That is the covenant Jehovah makes with Israel as a nation, through which the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob become the people of God (Ex 6:7). However, the “heavens” and the “earth” don’t refer simply to the physical heavens and earth but to those who reside in them. Such heavenly witnesses to the covenant no doubt include Israel’s ancestors, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who would have the utmost interest in their descendants.
Chapter 2: Prophecy concerning Judea and Jerusalem which Isaiah saw in vision: He again characterizes the chapters that follow as a single “prophecy” or “word”, not simply as revelations unrelated to each other that are strung together. Verse 2 : “all nations”, verse 3 : “many peoples”. The return of God’s people in an exodus from among “all nations” (Isaiah 52:10–12), “many peoples” identifies remnants of all nations (cf. Isa 11:11–12, 15–16; 49:22).
Ch 2:3: Out of Zion shall go forth the law, and from Jerusalem the word of Jehovah. The restoration of God’s law and word, the terms of his covenant, Isa an integral part of the restoration of all things that once existed in Israel. Together with temple ordinances and blessings pertaining to God’s covenant, the way Isa thus prepared for the long-awaited Millennium of peace to commence (v 4). While the names Zion and Jerusalem identify the Zion/ Jerusalem category of God’s people, they additionally allude to two millennial centers (Isa 33:20) from which God’s law and word go forth.
Ch. 2:11: The theme of man’s abasement and God’s exaltation characterizes this and the next few verses. What is high and mighty, God lays low, and by so doing he is glorified (Isa 5:16). What is of God—including his people who keep the terms of his covenant and all that is theirs—is elevated together with him (Isa 60:1–2; 62:1–3). The words “in that day” denote God’s Day of Judgment, also called the “Day of Jehovah” or “Day of Vengeance” (Isa 13:6, 9, 11; 34:8).
Then a reversal of circumstances between the righteous and the wicked takes place.
Ch 3: Wickedness in society leads to anarchy, internal collapse, destitution, and invasion by enemies. (Isa 3:3): Wisdom and knowledge… fade as moral integrity gives way to degeneracy. Accomplished individuals diminish and principled persons are marginalized as people become selfish and hedonistic. In the end, law and order break down, commerce declines, people are left unprotected, falling prey to society’s lowest elements. When those who hold communities together, whose duty it is to guard against corruption, become corrupt themselves, a nation disintegrates from within. A common denominator in such situations – people forgetting their God.
(Isa 3:25): Besides anarchy, invasion by enemies afflicts God’s people (Isa 1:6–7). Zion’s women lose their men, their providers and protectors. God gave his people time to repent, warning them that if they didn’t they would “be eaten by the sword” (Isa 1:20); emphasis added)—the king of Assyria. But they ignored his warning: “I will destine you to the sword; all of you shall succumb to the slaughter. For when I called, you did not respond; when I spoke, you would not give heed. You did what was evil in my eyes; you chose to do what was not my will” (Isa 65:12).
Ch 4: In his Day of Judgment, Jehovah preserves alive those whose names are inscribed in the Book of Life.
( Isa 4:1) As so many men are killed in the great war, a disproportionate number of women survives “in that day”- God’s Day of Judgment. In general women are more righteous than men, perhaps even by a ratio of seven to one. These women aren’t under a covenant curse, having prepared a sufficiency of food and clothing in anticipation of the evil time(Isa 3:10). They consider it a “reproach” not to raise their own families- appeal to the men who survive to marry them.
(Isa 4:5) To those who purify and sanctify themselves, who participate in Zion’s “solemn assembly” the place Zion—called “Mount Zion”—will be a site of God’s direct protection. God’s cloud of glory resting over them makes glorious both his holy people and the place where they abide…during their wilderness travels (Ex13:20–22; 14:19–20).
(Isa 4:6) As a “shelter”, “shade” and “secret refuge” from the “heat”, “downpour, and “rain” of God’s Day of Judgment, God’s cloud of glory protects his holy people from enemies. As Pharaoh’s hosts couldn’t penetrate it when they pursued the people of Israel (Ex 14:19–20), so in that day will no enemies molest participants in Zion’s solemn assemblies. According to the terms of his covenant, God Isa obliged to protect his people when they comply with its terms.His divine intervention attests to his people’s utmost compliance.
Ch 5: Jehovah’s vineyard yields bad fruit, leading to Assyria’s invasion and covenant curses on offenders.
(Isa 5:1,2) Much of Isaiah’s prophetic imagery comes from the agricultural environment of ancient Israel. At certain seasons of the year, such as harvest time, minstrels did the rounds Jehovah plants his “vineyard” representing his people (v 7), in a choice land—“on the fertile brow of a hill” (v 1). With the aid of his servants the prophets, he “cultivates” it and “clears it of stones,” removing its former wicked occupants and preparing the ground for “planting” the new. He builds a “watchtower” so that his prophets may keep vigil, and he hews a “winepress,” a framework in which his people can bring forth the fruits of their labors. But instead of producing good fruit, they produce “wild fruit” -fruit that rots before it ripens .
(Isa 5:8) A series of seven “woes” or covenant curses follows Isaiah’s vineyard allegory, detailing a cross-section of hedonistic behaviors that underlie the unjust and unprincipled standards by which God’s people live. A spirit of speculation overcomes them, as manifested by oppressive zoning laws, for-profit property developments, corporate mergers, other speculative ventures. This forces the poor of God’s people out of rural, self-sustaining lifestyles into the cities or “centers of the land.
Ch 6: Rebellion and compliance. Jehovah appears to Isaiah in the temple and calls him as a prophet to warn of imminent judgments.
(Isa 6:1) Chronologically, chapter 6 Isa first in the Book of Isaiah, although Isaiah locates it within the first parallel unit of biographical material that comprises Part II of his Seven-Part Structure (Isa 6–8; 36–40). Chapter 6 describes Isaiah’s calling as a prophet of God “in the year of King Uzziah’s death” in 742 B.C. As the temple contained no “throne”, Jehovah’s throne wasn’t in the temple itself, although it may have appeared above the Ark of the Covenant in the Holy of Holies. In his vision, Isaiah sees Jehovah “highly exalted”, a divine attribute (Isa 57:15).
(Isa 6:5) Confronted with Jehovah’s presence, Isaiah feels a sense of unworthiness. As often occurs when a person sees God with his physical eyes, he Isa physically impaired. Believing he ia smitten with a covenant curse, Isaiah is afraid not only for himself but for his people, as we see in the common imagery of “unclean lips” or “unclean speech. This leaves him with a desire to help his people. The title of “King” reflects Jehovah’s kingship over the earth and its inhabitants (Isa 24:21–23; 33:17, 22; 43:15; 44:6; 52:7).
(Isa 6:7): Here occurs a classic Opening-of-the Mouth Rite such as also appear in Egyptian temple ordinances. The seraph’s taking an ember from the altar and declaring Isaiah clean implies that an atonement has been made, or will be made, for his transgressions. The burning ember signifies that Isaiah—by virtue of that atonement, and through his own repentance process—has attained a purified and sanctified state and is now deemed “holy. “ The Opening-of-the-Mouth Rite implies the proper functioning of all the senses, physical and spiritual, as appears evident when Isaiah’s healed.
(Isa 6:11)Taken aback by the pessimistic prospect of his prophetic commission, Isaiah reveals his human side by asking how long his ministry will last. Jehovah’s response illustrates the utter desolation God’s unrepentant people experience when a full measure of covenant curses overtakes them. Considering this scenario from an end-time perspective, we see that Isaiah’s prophetic ministry serves as a type of God’s end-time servant’s. When given a similar prophetic commission to warn God’s people, the servant meets with a similar response (Isa 49:1–7; 50:1–11; 52:13–15; 61:1–7).
(Isa 6:13) Although in God’s Day of Judgment people flee the cities en masse, they hardly find refuge in the countryside. Isaiah’s tithing imagery contrasts the many who perish with the few who survive. (Anciently, Israelites paid a tenth of the land’s yield to the Levites, while the Levites paid a tenth of that tenth to the priests (Num 18:24–28.) The “holy offspring” left standing—a tenth of the tenth—compares to a terebinth or oak tree that can renew itself when it is cut down (Isa30:17). The one who fells them Isa the king of Assyria, God’s axe and saw (Isa 10:15).
Neither a wholly literal way of interpreting Isaiah’s prophecy nor a wholly figurative one has ever worked for uncovering its message. Isaiah’s use of metaphors, allegories, codenames, etc. often requires both a literal and figurative interpretation simultaneously. His depiction of the king of Babylon’s aspiring to “make myself like the Most High [God]”, then falling “from the heavens” and ending up in “the utmost depths of the Pit” (Isaiah 14:4, 12–16), for example, begs the question of whether Isaiah is talking about a primordial fallen angel. Still, the ability of this “man” to “ascend above the altitude of the clouds” (ibid.) is feasible given today’s technology.
Also see www.isaiahprophecy.com , www.isaiahexplained.com , www.isaiahinstitute.com , www.isaiahreport.com