by the prophet Isaiah
|Isaiah, the Book of [Easton's Bible Dictionary]|
Consists of prophecies delivered (Isa. 1) in the reign
Thus, counting from the fourth year before Uzziah's death (B.C. 762) to the last year of Hezekiah (B.C. 698), Isaiah's ministry extended over a period of sixty-four years. He may, however, have survived Hezekiah, and may have perished in the way indicated above.
- of Uzziah (1-5),
- (2) of Jotham (6),
- (3) Ahaz (7-14:28),
- (4) the first half of Hezekiah's reign (14:28-35),
- (5) the second half of Hezekiah's reign (36-66).
The book, as a whole, has been divided into three main parts:
- The first thirty-five chapters, almost wholly prophetic, Israel's enemy Assyria, present the Messiah as a mighty Ruler and King.
- Four chapters are historical (36-39), relating to the times of Hezekiah.
- Prophetical (40-66), Israel's enemy Babylon, describing the Messiah as a suffering victim, meek and lowly.
The genuineness of the section Isaiah 4066-66 has been keenly opposed by able critics. They assert that it must be the production of a deutero-Isaiah, who lived toward the close of the Babylonian captivity. This theory was originated by Koppe, a German writer at the close of the last century. There are other portions of the book also (e.g., ch. 13; 24-27; and certain verses in ch. 14 and 21) which they attribute to some other prophet than Isaiah. Thus they say that some five or seven, or even more, unknown prophets had a hand in the production of this book. The considerations which have led to such a result are various:
- They cannot, as some say, conceive it possible that Isaiah, living in B.C. 700, could foretell the appearance and the exploits of a prince called Cyrus, who would set the Jews free from captivity one hundred and seventy years after.
- It is alleged that the prophet takes the time of the Captivity as his standpoint, and speaks of it as then present; and (3) that there is such a difference between the style and language of the closing section (40-66) and those of the preceding chapters as to necessitate a different authorship, and lead to the conclusion that there were at least two Isaiahs. But even granting the fact of a great diversity of style and language, this will not necessitate the conclusion attempted to be drawn from it. The diversity of subjects treated of and the peculiarities of the prophet's position at the time the prophecies were uttered will sufficiently account for this.
The arguments in favour of the unity of the book are quite conclusive. When the LXX. version was made (about B.C. 250) the entire contents of the book were ascribed to Isaiah, the son of Amoz. It is not called in question, moreover, that in the time of our Lord the book existed in the form in which we now have it. Many prophecies in the disputed portions are quoted in the New Testament as the words of Isaiah (Matthew 3:3; Luke 3:4-6; 4:16-41; John 12:38; Acts 8:28; Romans 10:16-21). Universal and persistent tradition has ascribed the whole book to one author.
Besides this, the internal evidence, the similarity in the language and style, in the thoughts and images and rhetorical ornaments, all points to the same conclusion; and its local colouring and allusions show that it is obviously of Palestinian origin. The theory therefore of a double authorship of the book, much less of a manifold authorship, cannot be maintained. The book, with all the diversity of its contents, is one, and is, we believe, the production of the great prophet whose name it bears.
|Isaiah, the Book of [Smith's Bible Dictionary]|
Chapters 1-5 contain Isaiah’s prophecies in the reigns of Uzziah and Jotham, foretelling that the present prosperity of Judah should be destroyed, and that Israel should be brought to desolation.
In chs. 6, 7 he announces the birth of the child Immanuel, which in ch. 9 is more positively predicted.
Chs. 9-12 contain additional prophecies against Israel, chs. (Isaiah 10:5-12) (6) being the most highly-wrought passages in the whole book.
Chs. 13-23 contain chiefly a collection of utterances, each of which is styled a "burden," fore-telling the doom of Babylon, Philistia, Moab, Ethiopia, Egypt and Tyre. The ode of triumph in ch. (Isaiah 14:3-23) is among the most poetical passages in all literature.
Chs. 24-27 form one prophecy, essentially connected with the preceding ten "burdens," chs. 13-23, of which it is in effect a general summary.
Chs. 23-35 predict the Assyrian invasion, and
chs. 36-39 have reference to this invasion; prophecies that were so soon fulfilled. (2 Kings 19:35)
The last 27 chapters form a separate prophecy, and are supposed by many critics to have been written in the time of the Babylonian captivity, and are therefore ascribed to a "later Isaiah;" but the best reasons are in favor of but one Isaiah. This second part falls into three sections, each consisting of nine chapters: --
- 1. The first section, chs 40-48 has for its main topic the comforting assurance of the deliverance from Babylon by Koresh (Cyrus), who is even named twice. ch. (Isaiah 41:2,3,25; 44:28; 45:1-4,13; 46:11; 48:14,15)
- 2. The second section, chs. 49-56, is distinguished from the first by several features. The person of Cyrus as well as his name and the specification of Babylon, disappear altogether. Return from exile is indeed spoken of repeatedly and at length, ch. (Isaiah 49:9-26; 51:9-52; 12; 55:12,13; 57:14) but in such general terms as admit of being applied to the spiritual and Messianic as well as to the literal restoration.
- 3. This section is mainly occupied with various practical exhortations founded upon the views of the future already set forth. In favor of the authenticity of the last 27 chapters the following reasons may be advanced:-- (a) The unanimous testimony of Jewish and Christian tradition, comp. Ecclus. 48:24, and the evidence of the New Testament quotations. (Matthew 3:3; Luke 4:17; Acts 8:28; Romans 10:16,20) (b) The unity of design which connects these last 27 chapters with the preceding; the oneness of diction which pervades the whole book; the peculiar elevation and grandeur of style which characterize the second part as well as the first; the absence of any other name than Isaiah’s claiming the authorship; lastly, the Messianic predictions which mark its inspiration and remove the chief ground of objection against its having been written by Isaiah. In point of style we can find no difficulty in recognizing in the second part the presence of the same plastic genius as we discover in the first.
|ISAIAH [International Standard Bible Encyclopedia]|