RESOURCES FOR THIS STUDY OF THE BOOK OF ISAIAH:
Blenkinsopp, Joseph. Isaiah 1-39: A new translation with introduction and commentary. Volume 19 of the Anchor bible Commentary series edited by W. F Albright and David Noel Freedman. (Doubleday, New York, 2000). *Blenkinsopp A
______________ Isaiah 40-55: A new translation with introduction and commentary. Volume 19A of the Anchor Bible Commentary series edited by W.F. Albright and David Noel Freedman. (Doubleday, New York, 2002). *Blenkinsopp B
______________ Isaiah 56-66: A new translation with introduction and commentary. Volume 19B of the Anchor Bible Commentary series edited by W.F. Albright and David Noel Freedman. (Doubleday, New York, 2003). * Blenkinsopp C
Childs, Brevard S. Isaiah. Part of the Old Testament Library series edited by James Mays, Carol Newsom, and David Petersen. (Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville, 2001).
Cook, Stephen L. Conversations with Scripture: 2 Isaiah. Part of the Anglican Association of Biblical Scholars Study Series edited by Frederick Schmidt. (Morehouse Press, Harrisburg, 2008).
Elliott, Mark W. Old Testament XI: Isaiah 40-66. Part of the Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, Thomas C. Oden General Editor. (Intervarsity Press, Downers Grove IL, 2007).
Goldingay, John and David Payne. Isaiah 40-55: A Critical and Exegetical Commentary, Volume I. Part of the International Critical Commentary series edited by G. I. Davies and C. M. Tuckett. (Bloomsbury, London, 2014). * Goldingay A
—————————————–. Isaiah 40-55: A Critical and Exegetical Commentary, Volume II. Part of the International Critical Commentary series edited by G. I. Davies and C. M. Tuckett. (Bloomsbury, London, 2014). *Goldingay B
Hanson, Paul D. Isaiah 40-66. Part of the Interpretation series edited by James L Mays and Patrick Miller. (John Knox Press, Louisville, 1995).
Hoppe, Leslie J. Isaiah. Volume 13 of the Old Testament Series within the New Collegeville Bible Commentary series edited by Daniel Durken O.S.B. (Liturgical Press, Collegeville, 2012).
McKinion, Steven A. Old Testament X: Isaiah 1-39. Part of the Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, Thomas C. Oden General Editor. (Intervarsity Press, Downers Grove IL, 2004).
Niskanen, Paul V.. Isaiah 56-66. Part of Berit Olam: Studies in Hebrew Narrative & Poetry edited by Chris Franke. (Liturgical Press, Collegeville, 2014).
Seitz, Christopher. Isaiah 1-39. Part of the Interpretation series edited by James L Mays and Patrick Miller. (John Knox Press, Louisville, 1993). *Seitz A
_______________ Book of Isaiah 40-66. Volume VI of the New Interpreter’s Bible: A Commentary in Twelve Volumes whose Editorial Board was convened by Leander Keck. (Abingdon Press, Nashville, 2001). * Seitz B
TANACH. Artscroll series, Mesorah publications, The Stone Edition. The Torah / Prophets / Writings: The Twenty-Four Books of the Bible Newly Translated and Annotated. Contributing Editors: Rabbi Yaakov Bliner, Rabbi Avie Gold, and Rabbi Meir Zlotowitz. (Mesorah Publications, New York, 1996).
Tucker, Gene M. Book of Isaiah 1-39. Volume VI of the New Interpreter’s Bible: A Commentary in Twelve Volumes whose Editorial Board was convened by Leander Keck. (Abingdon Press, Nashville, 2001).
Wildberger, Hans. Isaiah 1-12. Part of the Continental Commentary series. Translated by Thomas H. Trapp. (Fortress Press, Minneapolis, 1991). *Wildberger A
______________. Isaiah 13-27. Part of the Continental Commentary series. Translated by Thomas H. Trapp. (Fortress Press, Minneapolis, 1997). *Wildberger B
_______________. Isaiah 28-39. Part of the Continental Commentary series. Translated by Thomas H. Trapp. (Fortress Press, Minneapolis, 2002). *Wildberger C
Williamson, H. G. M. Isaiah 1-5: A Critical and Exegetical Commentary. Part of the International Critical Commentary series edited by G. I. Davies & C. M. Tuckett. (Bloomsbury, London, 2014).
- Welcome Jesus into our midst.
- What are we grateful for today?
- Where do I need help?
- Where do others need help?
Read the text aloud. Each person takes a ‘unit’, those who want to pass say “Pass”.
What strong images, symbols, and beautiful verses did you read / hear?
What insights have you come to in preparation, in hearing and reading?
We watch the video together.
We review additional notes if there is time
VIDEO NOTES FOR LESSON ONE: ISAIAH CHAPTERS 1 THROUGH 4
The vision of Isaiah concerning Judah and Jerusalem.
Isaiah’s vision: a comprehensive vision for what Judah and Jerusalem are called to be by God.
Not just goals or objectives, a higher purpose / destiny. Israel’s role in God’s plan.
742 BC Isaiah’s call (Death of Uzziah) (6:1)
Repeating theme: Punishment (with the survival of a remnant of the people) followed by forgiveness and then glorious restoration
Isaiah of Jerusalem
- Foresaw invasion of Judah by Assyria as God’s punishment (faithlessness toward God and injustice toward the poor)
- Had a significant following of disciples
Students of Isaiah saw the same problem, same message and same themes play out again a 100 years later when Babylon threatened Jerusalem and Judah in 587 BC
And the same with the restoration after Cyrus. The students / members of the same tradition rekindled the vision of the original Isaiah, adapted it to the successive new situations.
Isaiah of Jerusalem’s vision became a living, penetrating vision of Judah’s relationship with God and were “re-presented” by his school of disciples as relevant to their own time and ultimately for all time.
Note the ominous tenor of opening chapter and verses.
Israel is being brought into court with heavens and the earth as the necessary two witnesses and the LORD as the prosecutor / claimant
Israel = God’s people, not just the North. Jacob re-named, his adult children now.
God is referred to as “the Holy One of Israel” 25 times in Isaiah, only 8 times so in the rest of the OT. In the vision of Isaiah that takes place in the Temple and is recounted in chapter 6 – in Isaiah 6:3 – the angels sing “Holy, Holy, Holy is the LORD of Hosts”.
Lev. 20:26: “To me, therefore, you shall be holy; for I, the LORD, am holy, and I have set you apart from other peoples to be my own.”
What historical event is being referred to in Isaiah 1:7? 3 possibilities. Or perhaps deliberately ambiguous?
- Earthquake during the reign of King Uzziah (ca 783-742BC)
- Sennacherib’s invasion of Judah, destruction of its towns and villages (701BC) (Assyrian)
- Nebuchadnezzar’s invasion (597BC) (Babylonian)
An enduring vision, not limited to just one time.
The problem is not with the correctness or volume of the people’s worship. The problem is that the people have forgotten justice.
ADDITIONAL NOTES FOR LESSON ONE
Tucker p. 42 divides these four chapters into these sections:
- 1:1-31 AN INTRODUCTION TO THE BOOK OF ISAIAH
- 1:1 Superscription
- 1:2 – 20 A Lawsuit against Israel
- 1:21-26 Corrupt Jerusalem redeemed
- 1:27-31 Redemption for Zion and Judgment for Sinners
- 2:1- 4:6 PROPHECIES OF SALVATION AND JUDGMENT
- 2:1-5 Swords into plowshares
- 2:6-22 The Day of the Lord
- 3:1-15 Judgment against Judah’s leaders
- 3:16-4:1 Judgment Against Jerusalem’s Women
- 4:2-6 Jerusalem Purified and protected
Hoppe p. 11: Isaiah clearly sees the coming destruction and judgement but also sees further into the future – God’s forgiveness and restoration.
Hoppe p. 11: “The name “Isaiah” means “the LORD saves”.
Wildberger (A): p. 5 – as son of Amos Isaiah may have been a part of the royal family. Through the text it becomes clear that he had easy access to the palace. He does not give his hometown (Jerusalem) in the superscription since it was likely well known.
Distinction between being a “seer” and a “Prophet”? Wildberger (A) p. 6: “ It is contradictory for the later tradition to call him a prophet, since, as his own words reveal, he plainly sought to distance himself from the prophetic movement.”
Wildberger (A): p. 16: with regard to the opening accusation “Even in this accusation speech, which does not allow any room for discussion, the LORD still calls Israel ‘my people’, highlighting both his sovereign authority and his fatherly affection.”
Tucker p. 57:
“That rebellion itself produces estrangement (1:4) is obvious to the prophet. The disasters spelled out as the consequences of iniquity, evil, corruption, and rebellion (1:5-9) are not future punishments or judgments, but the present effects of such actions. Likewise, at the end of this chapter, those who participate in fertility cults are not punished by the divine judge but set themselves on fire with their own deeds and are consumed (1:31). This perspective parallels the common proverb, “Those who play with fire get burned.” Consequently, the interpretation of modern disasters as God’s punishment of sin is not the only alternative available to those who take the prophets seriously. Acts have consequences, and foolish or sinful acts can lead to disaster.”
Hoppe p. 13: “Without justice, Israel’s worship of the LORD is an empty shell. The book of Isaiah ends with another stinging critique of ritual activity (66:1-4). The book, then, is framed by bitter and comprehensive criticisms of ritual because the prophet believed Israel’s communal worship facilitated its selective obedience.”
Sacrifices and ritual per se are NOT being rejected. But until there is a foundation of faithfulness and justice they have no value.
Wildberger (A) p. 51: “They saw their task in heading off a fatal danger for the faith of their people: the danger that the people would sink into a purely formalized cultic religion, in which the person thought, because of having completed some magically potent rites, that the deity could be forced to act in a beneficial way and also that an individual could manipulate the deity so as to ward off threatening forces.”
A future Jerusalem will be a fount of justice and Torah.
It may seem odd that in an overall text that calls Israel to repentance that there would be an early section that is universalist in nature (all nations). It has 2 functions for Wildberger (A) p. 95 and ff. – to assert the universal dominion of the LORD and to raise the awareness that Israel and its destiny are to be seen in an even more broad context of the destiny of all peoples. It is NOT, in Isaiah’s view, Davidic domination of other kingdoms.
Tucker p. 69: “This is not some mythical vision of peace but one that invites all who hear it to see God’s reign breaking forth in the concrete realities of human life. Any particular movement in the direction of peace with justice can be recognized as a sign of that reign.”
Wildberger (A) p. 105: “The ‘judgment’ does not mean that the LORD himself has to intrude directly so as to punish them; it is enough just for the LORD to take away his guidance and protection from his people.”
The silver and gold etc. are not those of the wealthy but of the king as he prepares for war and reliance on his own strength to wage the war. This is folly, according to Isaiah.
Psalm 29 is consistent with this theme.
Give to the LORD, you sons of God,
give to the LORD glory and might;
Give to the LORD the glory due his name.
Bow down before the LORD’s holy splendor!
The voice of the LORD is over the waters;
the God of glory thunders,
the LORD, over the mighty waters.
The voice of the LORD is power;
the voice of the LORD is splendor.
The voice of the LORD cracks the cedars;
the LORD splinters the cedars of Lebanon,
Makes Lebanon leap like a calf,
and Sirion like a young bull.
The voice of the LORD strikes with fiery flame;
the voice of the LORD shakes the desert;
the LORD shakes the desert of Kadesh.
The voice of the LORD makes the deer dance
and strips the forests bare.
All in his Temple say, “Glory!”
The LORD sits enthroned above the flood!
The LORD reigns as king forever!
May the LORD give might to his people;
may the LORD bless his people with peace!
Judgment is coming on the wealthy – those who have gained their wealth at the expense of the poor.
Wildberger (A) p. 128 suggests that it is anarchy being denounced, that a revolution against the current leaders is being plotted. During the reign of the weak king Ahaz.
Wildberger (A) p. 129: “For Isaiah, it is certain that God legitimatized the king and that kingship had a definite role to play in the LORD’s plan for history, even if some of those filling that position failed to live up to expectations.”
Tucker p. 79: “Certainly some systems of power are better than others. Some provide more order, and others provide more justice. But how can one determine which is better? This text suggests two criteria, one moral and the other theological. The moral test is the protection of the politically weak and the economically poor (3:15). Theologically, this text – with the overwhelming weight of the biblical tradition on its side – affirms that all structures of power and all political and religious leaders must be evaluated in the light of God’s justice.”
Wildberger (A) p. 135: “The people stumble when they place trust in a human system of offices and authorities, when all the time they should have been relying on God alone. Therefore, the LORD has to set aside all of these alleged ‘supports for society’ so that the people will then once again be forced to rely on him alone.”
Wildberger (A) p. 143: “During the era when kings were ruling, an upper-level power structure gradually developed in the capital city, formed by officials who were capable of concentrating more and more economic control in their own group; at the same time the number of free and independent farmers continued to dwindle, which caused the growth of a lower-level of society made up of people who had no land holdings or who were indebted to and dependent upon these ‘lords’.”
Many scholars, though not all, believe the specific threats at the end of the chapter were added later. Wildberger (A) p. 151: “The interpolation in vv.18-23 speaks about setting aside (jewelry, glory), about which those in Jerusalem are so proud. In the following enumeration, jewelry, in the narrow sense, is mentioned first, followed by a description of luxurious articles of clothing. … this would not suggest that each woman owned all of these trinkets.”
‘Outstretched neck’ refers to turning one’s head to the side to see if those being passed by have noticed their beauty.
Hoppe p. 21: “While Isaiah condemns the Jerusalem of his day because of its exploitive social and economic system, he sees a new Jerusalem cleansed of the sins of its past.”
Wildberger (A) p. 159: “Having no husband and no sons any longer means being completely unprotected, which was precisely what made existence so precarious for a wife in time of war.” … no purchase price discussed, the wives would even pay for themselves.
This acute desperation is meant to contrast with the pride of the women in the earlier verses in chapter 3
The vision of chapter 4 of the renewal and transformed remnant is held out for the remnant returning from Babylon.
FOR NEXT WEEK
- Read Isaiah chapters 5 through 11.
- Read the commentary pages 21 to 43.
- Read and ponder the questions on pages 12-14 of the workbook.
- Think of as many uses of the vineyard image as you can in the OT and NT. What do you think of today when you think about a vineyard?
- In your life – what events, like the birth of a child, have been signs of hope?