Isaiah survived four kings: Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah. Four prophets prophesied during the same period: Hosea, Isaiah, Amoz, and Micah. The Jewish Pesikta Rabbasi 33:19 says: The Holy One, Blessed is He, as it were, was asking Himself, “Whom shall I send” (Isaiah 6:8). Who will henceforth undertake My mission? I sent Micah and they struck Him, [I sent] Zechariah and they slew him, [I sent] Jeremiah and they cast him into the pit.” Isaiah replied, “Here I am; send me.”
What does Matthew say in the New Testament? When the harvest time drew near, he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his share of the fruit. But the tenants seized his servants. They beat one, killed another, and stoned a third. Again, he sent other servants, more than the first group. But the tenants did the same to them. Finally, he sent his son to them. ‘They will respect my son,’ he said. But when the tenants saw the son, they said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and take his inheritance.’ So they seized him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him (Matthew 21:34-39). According to tradition, Isaiah was killed by King Manasseh, the son of Hezekiah by being sawed in two. The tradition was verified in Hebrews 11:37 “They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword.”
Zohar 2:179b says: Jeremiah’s name [which[ means “God will ascend” caused the heavenly light to depart upward and the Temple to be destroyed, but Isaiah’s name [which means “God will redeem”] caused the redemption, the restoration of the heavenly light to its place, and the rebuilding of the Temple. Therefore, these two prophets stand opposite each other, for their names have an effect, one for the good and one for the bad.
If we go again to the book of Matthew, we see that Jesus fulfilled the Law and the Prophets (Matthew 5:17-20), and that His name is above all other names (Philippians 2:8-11).
Isaiah 40—66 and the Scholars
Some scholars have concluded that Isaiah Ch.40—55, are composed by a different prophet, one that they refer to as “second Isaiah.” The hypothesis suggests he lived during the days of the return to Zion, following the declaration by Cyrus, and the call to leave Babylon and to return to Zion. It is the apparent change in style from Isaiah 40 which gives rise to this hypothesis. Also, it is not particularly clear that the prophecies are all from the same person, and that the so-called Second Isaiah is then followed by a Third Isaiah in what is now the last eleven chapters of the book. The situation in these particular chapters is the problem of the community in the Persian province of Yehud, or Judah, after the rebuilding of the Temple, making the historical setting to be the fifth century BC.
Other scholars suggest that Isaiah has been editorially mingled with a welter of prophecies by other hands, and from later periods. The thought here is that since all the books of the Bible are open-ended affairs, other writings, from other sources could be inserted into the scrolls, whether for editorial preference, or for ideological purposes. There is a similar suggestion concerning the end of Mark, in the New Testament, as well as other books in the Old Testament. While agreeing that Chapters 1—39 of Isaiah that have come down to us do incorporate the prophecies of Isaiah, they suggest that there is much disparate that is clearly from later. Some of the later material is that reflecting the imminent or actual fall of the Babylonian empire to the Persians in 539 BC. These scholars say that nothing from Chapter 40 to the end of the book is the work of Isaiah son of Amoz.
The way, the truth, and the life
However, we should take into account that, during the Babylonian exile, the Hebrew language was heavily influenced by both Akkadian and Aramaic. Therefore, the Hebrew of the early Second Temple period is far different from that of the whole Book of Isaiah. Isaiah and his students were the upholders of the “prophetic school” (beit midrash) that Isaiah founded in Manasseh’s time. There they uttered lyrical prophecies as Psalms (Isaiah12:24-27; 30:29; 38:9-20). Isaiah son of Amoz was not just a prophet. He was a teacher and mentor with students (Isaiah 8:16-17; 50:4). The true prophets were persecuted by Manasseh and his son Amon and were forced to go into hiding. The later chapters of Isaiah are from the end of the First Temple period, and they all contain the words of Isaiah son of Amoz. We have a similar situation in the New Testament Gospels where the words and sayings of Jesus were recorded by his followers. Isaiah’s disciple-followers struggled against idol worship and empire worship throughout the desperate days of Manasseh and afterwards, until the end of the First Temple era. Among the prophets that continued Isaiah’s legacy were Micah, Zephaniah, Nahum, and Habakkuk. They echoed his verses and his ideas. The anonymous prophets from the beit midrash, present the natural continuation of the visions of Isaiah son of Amoz, and it is they that repeated his words. One of them describes his prophetic election from the womb, as a continuation of his mentor’s prophecy: “The Lord has called me from birth; from my mother’s insides He made mention of my name; He has made my mouth like a sharp sword. In the shadow of His hand he has hidden me… He said to me, ‘You are My servant, Israel, in whom I will be glorified” (Isaiah 49:1-3).
The early Second Temple period in Judah is completely consistent with the comprehensive process of consolation that unfolds in Isaiah from Ch.11 to Ch’s 60—62. There was no ingathering of exiles during the Second Temple period, and there wasn’t any known struggle against idol worshipping Jews of that time.
Where Religion and Politics Meet
Isaiah 3:1-3 – Seeing ourselves
When we look at Judah in God’s word, do we see and recognise ourselves and society today? Isaiah continues trying to get his voice heard in a society that is deaf toward him, refusing to heed God’s word. He speaks of the crisis that will follow the indulgent, decadent era that existed: “For behold, the Lord, the Lord Almighty, is removing supply and support from Jerusalem and Judah… Hero and warrior, judge and prophet, diviner and elder; the captain of fifty and the man of honour, counsellor and artisan and the eloquent orator.” The chain of command in Isaiah’s day were useless no-hopers, with no-one in leadership taking responsibility, and the direction taken would only lead to anarchy, and violence would be the law of the land (Isaiah3:4-6). There is violence and anarchy on our streets today, and those in authority bow the knee along with the anarchists. Western civilization is on shaky ground, as though being shaken by an earthquake weakening the foundations, and the gasses of lawlessness seep through the cracks and fissures created. The ground is being prepared for the man of lawlessness to be revealed (2 Thessalonians 2:1-12).
Justice becomes Injustice
Uzziah’s mighty conquests and intense fortifications of the city, which restored Judah’s political glory, did not improve society’s morality or justice. Isaiah’s wordplay in Isaiah 5:7 – mishpat – mispah, and tzedakah – tze’aka – express the corruption of the Kingdom of Judah. Instead of being a source of justice, the judicial system became a system of corruption and contamination. Do we recognise this in our own judicial and political systems where the word of God has been ignored and ostracized? Injustice, lawlessness, corruption, violence; all are becoming increasingly vocal and visible. Jews that are still living among the nations are becoming unsettled and fearful. More and more they are considering moving to the land of Israel. There are appalling injustices in the Family Court system that desperately need righteous, discerning judges, rather than the Magistrates Court systemin existence now. Lie upon lie is told to the Court, which Magistrates swallow while ignoring evidence, to the detriment of the children. The decisions made by Magistrates can be catastrophic for children. In one case, the appointed CAFCASS[i] Officer failed to make checks contained in the Court Order. The same Court lost both documents and evidence submitted by a father, and responded by accusing the father, saying it was “not good enough!” Later, the father provided proof of posting and delivery, the Clerk to the Court responded and still blamed the father, by saying he had posted the documents to the wrong Court – Codswallop! The fool says in his heart, “there is no God” (Psalm 14:1) – therefore, we are judged and ruled by fools! What does the verse go on to say? “They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good.”
Society, having divorced itself from the Word of God, is to introduce easy, “no fault” divorce laws. The Claim is it will end the blame game. People will walk in and out of marriage like they walk in and out of a supermarket. The children are collateral damage, and will suffer the fall-out in the battles for custody. Western society is heading for collapse. The end of all things is near (1 Peter 4:7). The world will turn on the Jews and the Christians in their plan to take over God’s inheritance…But the Lord says: “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it” (Psalm 24:1).
Then there is the situation concerning a young Afghani boy that was adopted by an English couple. The boy was perfectly happy, when, after a number of years in the country, a social worker insisted that he should go out at night, and mix with other Afghanis. The youth did so, and found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. A serious crime was committed, and because he was in the vicinity, he was hauled in and jailed with the guilty parties. Although the judge has said concerning the youth, there is no case to answer to, he is still detained in prison. Where is the justice in that? Injustice isn’t noticed until one comes face-to-face with it, so continues largely unnoticed. Lives are broken and made to suffer, and no-one cares. Tzedaka, a concept that expresses both righteousness and charity, and signifies the spreading of kindness and mercy beyond the letter of the law, is no more. Instead, it is replaced by tze’aka – screams, shouts and cries of distress, expressing the perversion of values by the Judahites, and those around us today.
God’ Word – “For the vineyard of the Lord of Hosts is the House of Israel, and the people of Judah He planted for His delight, and he hoped for justice (mishpat), and behold, there is injustice (mispaḥ), for righteousness (tzedaka), and behold, cries of distress (tze’aka)” (Isaiah 5:7).
Blessings and shalom