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Isaiah

i-za'-ya (salvation of the Lord, Yahweh saves)
RELATED:
Ahaz, Hoshea, Immanuel, Prophet(s)
WORKS: Isaiah, The Book of
 
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Easton's Bible Dictionary

(Hebrew Yesh'yahu, i.e., "the salvation of Jehovah").

(1) The son of Amoz ( Isaiah 1:1 ; 2:1 ), who was apparently a man of humble rank. His 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" ( Isaiah 38:1 ). He had two sons, who bore symbolical names.

He exercised the functions of his office during the reigns of Uzziah (or Azariah), Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah ( Isaiah 1:1 ). Uzziah reigned fifty-two years (B.C. 810-759), and Isaiah must have begun his career a few years before Uzziah's death, probably B.C. 762. He lived till the fourteenth year of Hezekiah, and in all likelihood outlived that monarch (who died B.C. 698), and may have been contemporary for some years with Manasseh. Thus Isaiah may have prophesied for the long period of at least sixty-four years.

His first call to the prophetical office is not recorded. A second call came to him "in the year that King Uzziah died" ( Isaiah 6:1 ). He exercised his ministry in a spirit of uncompromising firmness and boldness in regard to all that bore on the interests of religion. He conceals nothing and keeps nothing back from fear of man. He was also noted for his spirituality and for his deep-toned reverence toward "the holy One of Israel."

In early youth Isaiah must have been moved by the invasion of Israel by the Assyrian monarch Pul (q.v.), 2 Kings 15:19 ; and again, twenty years later, when he had already entered on his office, by the invasion of Tiglath-pileser and his career of conquest. Ahaz, king of Judah, at this crisis refused to co-operate with the kings of Israel and Syria in opposition to the Assyrians, and was on that account attacked and defeated by Rezin of Damascus and Pekah of Samaria ( 2 Kings 16:5 ; 2 Chronicles 28:5 - 6 ). Ahaz, thus humbled, sided with Assyria, and sought the aid of Tiglath-pileser against Israel and Syria. The consequence was that Rezin and Pekah were conquered and many of the people carried captive to Assyria ( 2 Kings 15:29 ; 16:9 ; 1 Chronicles 5:26 ). Soon after this Shalmaneser determined wholly to subdue the kingdom of Israel. Samaria was taken and destroyed (B.C. 722). So long as Ahaz reigned, the kingdom of Judah was unmolested by the Assyrian power; but on his accession to the throne, Hezekiah (B.C. 726), who "rebelled against the king of Assyria" ( 2 Kings 18:7 ), in which he was encouraged by Isaiah, who exhorted the people to place all their dependence on Jehovah ( Isaiah 10:24 ; 37:6 ), entered into an alliance with the king of Egypt ( Isaiah 30:2 - 4 ). This led the king of Assyria to threaten the king of Judah, and at length to invade the land. Sennacherib (B.C. 701) led a powerful army into Palestine. Hezekiah was reduced to despair, and submitted to the Assyrians ( 2 Kings 18:14 - 16 ). But after a brief interval war broke out again, and again Sennacherib (q.v.) led an army into Palestine, one detachment of which threatened Jerusalem ( Isaiah 36:2 - 22 ; Isaiah 37:8 ). Isaiah on that occasion encouraged Hezekiah to resist the Assyrians ( Isaiah 37:1 - 7 ), whereupon Sennacherib sent a threatening letter to Hezekiah, which he "spread before the Lord" ( Isaiah 37:14 ). The judgement of God now fell on the Assyrian host. "Like Xerxes in Greece, Sennacherib never recovered from the shock of the disaster in Judah. He made no more expeditions against either Southern Palestine or Egypt." The remaining years of Hezekiah's reign were peaceful ( 2 Chronicles 32:23 , 32:27 - 29 ). Isaiah probably lived to its close, and possibly into the reign of Manasseh, but the time and manner of his death are unknown. There is a tradition that he suffered martyrdom in the heathen reaction in the time of Manasseh (q.v.).

(2) One of the heads of the singers in the time of David ( 1 Chronicles 25:3 , 25:15 , "Jeshaiah").


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Hitchcock's Dictionary of Bible Names

the salvation of the Lord

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Smith's Bible Dictionary

The prophet, son of Amoz. The Hebrew name signifies Salvation of Jahu (a shortened form of Jehovah), He prophesied concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, ( Isaiah 1:1 ) covering probably 758 to 698 B.C. He was married and had two sons. Rabbinical tradition says that Isaiah, when 90 years old, was sawn asunder in the trunk of a carob tree by order of Manasseh, to which it is supposed that reference is made in ( Hebrews 11:37 )

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International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

i-za'-ya, i-zi'-a:

Of all Israel's celebrated prophets, Isaiah is the king. The writings which bear his name are among the profoundest in all literature. One great theme--salvation by faith--stamps them all. Isaiah is the Paul of the Old Testament.


1. Name:

In Hebrew yesha'yahu, and yesha'yah; Greek Esaias; Latin Esaias and Isaias. His name was symbolic of his message. Like "Joshua," it means "Yahweh saves," or "Yahweh is salvation," or "salvation of Yahweh."

2. Personal History:

Isaiah was the son of Amoz (not Amos). He seems to have belonged to a family of some rank, as may be inferred from his easy access to the king (Isaiah 7:3), and his close intimacy with the priest (Isaiah 8:2). Tradition says he was the cousin of King Uzziah. He lived in Jerusalem and became court preacher. He was married and had two sons: Shear-jashub, his name signifying "a remnant shall return" (Isaiah 7:3), and Maher-shalal-hash-baz, "hasting to the spoil, hurrying to the prey," symbolic of Assyria's mad lust of conquest (Isaiah 8:3). Jewish tradition, based upon a false interpretation of Isaiah 7:14, declares he was twice married.

3. Call:

In the year that King Uzziah died, Isaiah, apparently while worshipping in the temple, received a call to the prophetic office (Isaiah 6). He responded with noteworthy alacrity, and accepted his commission, though he knew from the outset that his task was to be one of fruitless warning and exhortation (Isaiah 6:9 - 13). Having been reared in Jerusalem, he was well fitted to become the political and religious counselor of the nation, but the experience which prepared him most for his important work was the vision of the majestic and thrice-holy God which he saw in the temple in the death-year of King Uzziah. There is no good reason for doubting that this was his inaugural vision, though some regard it as a vision which came to him after years of experience in preaching and as intended to deepen his spirituality. While this is the only explicit "vision" Isaiah saw, yet his entire book, from first to last, is, as the title (Isaiah 6) suggests, a "vision." His horizon, both political and spiritual, was practically unbounded. In a very true sense, as Delitzsch says, he was "the universal prophet of Israel."

4. Literary Genius and Style:

For versatility of expression and brilliancy of imagery Isaiah had no superior, not even a rival. His style marks the climax of Hebrew literary article Both his periods and Genius and descriptions are most finished and sublime. He is a perfect artist in words. Beauty and strength are characteristic of his entire book. Epigrams and metaphors, particularly of flood, storm and sound (Isaiah 1:13 ; 5:18 , 22 ; 8:8 ; 10:22 ; 28:17 , 20 ; 30:28 , 30), interrogation and dialogue (Isaiah 6:8 ; 10:8 , 9), antithesis and alliteration (Isaiah 1:18 ; 3:24 ; 17:10 , 12), hyperbole and parable (Isaiah 2:7 ; 5:1 - 7 ; 28:23 - 29), even paranomasia, or play upon words (Isaiah 5:7 ; 7:9), characterize Isaiah's book as the great masterpiece of Hebrew literature. He is also famous for his richness of vocabulary and synonyms. For example, Ezekiel uses 1,535 words; Jeremiah, 1,653; the Psalmists 2, 170; while Isaiah uses 2, 186. Isaiah was also an orator: Jerome likened him to Demosthenes; and a poet: he frequently elaborates his messages in rhythmic or poetic style (Isaiah 12:1 - 6 ; 25:1 - 5 ; 26:1 - 12 ; 38:10 - 20 ; 42:1 - 4 ; 49:1 - 9 ; 50:4 - 9 ; 52:13 - 53:12 ; 60 - 62 ; 66:5 - 24); and in several instances slips into elegiac rhythm, e.g. in Isaiah 37:22 - 29 there is a fine taunting poem on Sennacherib, and in Isaiah 14:4 - 23 another on the king of Babylon. As Driver observes, "Isaiah's poetical genius is superb."

5. Traditions concerning His Martyrdom:

Nothing definite or historical is known concerning the prophet's end. Toward the close of the 2nd century AD, however, there was a tradition to the effect that he suffered martyrdom in the heathen reaction which occurred under King Manasseh, because of certain speeches concerning God and the Holy City which his contemporaries alleged were contrary to the law. Indeed the Jewish Mishna explicitly states that Manasseh slew him. Justin Martyr also (150 AD), in his controversial dialogue with the Jew Trypho, reproaches the Jews with this accusation, "whom ye sawed asunder with a wooden saw"; this tradition is further confirmed by a Jewish Apocalypse of the 2nd century AD, entitled, The Ascension of Isaiah, and by Epiphanius in his so-called Lives of the Prophets. It is barely possible that there is an allusion to his martyrdom in Hebrews 11:37, which reads, "They were stoned, they were sawn asunder," but this is by no means certain. In any case Isaiah probably survived the great catastrophe of the siege of Jerusalem by Sennacherib in 701 BC, and possibly also the death of Hezekiah in 699 BC; for in 2 Chronicles 32:32 it is stated that Isaiah wrote a biography of King Hezekiah. If so, his prophetic activity extended over a period of more than 40 years. Dr. G. A. Smith extends it to "more than 50" (Jerusalem, II, 180; compare Whitehouse, "Isaiah," New Century Bible, I, 72).

6. Period:

According to the title of his book (Isaiah 11), Isaiah prophesied during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah. He dates his inaugural vision (Isaiah 6:1) in Uzziah's death-year, which was approximately 740 BC. This marks, therefore, the beginning of his prophetic ministry. And we know that he was still active as late as the siege of Jerusalem by Sennacherib in 701 BC. Hence, the minimum period of his activity as a prophet was from 740 to 701 BC. As a young man Isaiah witnessed the rapid development of Judah into a strong commercial and military state; for under Uzziah Judah attained a degree of prosperity and strength never before enjoyed since the days of Solomon. Walls, towers, fortifications, a large standing army, a port for commerce on the Red Sea, increased inland trade, tribute from the Ammonites, success in war with the Philistines and the Arabians--all these became Judah's during Uzziah's long and prosperous reign of 52 years. But along with power and wealth came also avarice, oppression, religious formality and corruption. The temple revenues indeed were greatly increased, but religion and life were too frequently dissociated; the nation's progress was altogether material. During the reign of Jotham (740-736 BC), who for several years was probably associated with his father as co-regent, a new power began to appear over the eastern horizon. The Assyrians, with whom Ahab had come in contact at the battle of Karkar in 854 BC, and to whom Jehu had paid tribute in 842 BC, began to manifest anew their characteristic lust of conquest. Tiglathpileser III, who is called "Pul" in 2 Kings 15:19 and reigned over Assyria from 745 to 727 BC, turned his attention westward, and in 738 BC reduced Arpad, Calno, Carchemish, Hamath and Damascus, causing them to pay tribute. His presence in the West led Pekah, king of North Israel, and Rezin, king of Damascus, to form an alliance in order to resist further encroachment on the part of Assyria. When Ahaz refused to join their confederacy they resolved to dethrone him and set in his stead the son of Tabeel upon the throne of David (2 Kings 16:5 ; Isaiah 7:6). The struggle which ensued is commonly known as the Syro-Ephraimitic war (734 BC)--one of the great events in Isaiah's period. Ahaz in panic sent to Tiglath-pileser for help (2 Kings 16:7), who of course responded with alacrity. The result was that the great Assyrian warrior sacked Gaza and carried all of Galilee and Gilead into captivity (734) and finally took Damascus (732 BC). Ahaz was forced to pay dearly for his protection and Judah was brought very low (2 Kings 15:29 ; 16:7 - 9 ; 2 Chronicles 28:19 ; Isaiah 7:1). The religious as well as the political effect of Ahaz' policy was decidedly baneful. To please Tiglath-pileser, Ahaz went to Damascus to join in the celebration of his victories, and while there saw a Syrian altar, a pattern of which he sent to Jerusalem and had a copy set up in the temple in place of the brazen altar of Solomon. Thus Ahaz, with all the influence of a king, introduced idolatry into Jerusalem, even causing his sons to pass through the fire (2 Kings 16:10 - 16 ; 2 Chronicles 28:3).

Hezekiah succeeded Ahaz, beginning to rule at the age of 25 and reigning 29 years (727-699 BC). Isaiah was at least 15 years his senior. The young king inherited from his father a heavy burden. The splendor of Uzziah's and Jotham's reigns was rapidly fading before the ever-menacing and avaricious Assyrians. Hezekiah began his reign with reformation. "He removed the high places, and brake the pillars, and cut down the Asherah" (2 Kings 18:4 , 22). He even invited the surviving remnant of North Israel to join in celebrating the Passover (2 Chronicles 30:1). But Israel's end was drawing near. Hoshea, the vacillating puppet-king of North Israel (730-722 BC), encouraged by Egypt, refused longer to pay Assyria his annual tribute (2 Kings 17:4); whereupon Shalmaneser IV, who had succeeded Tiglath-pileser, promptly appeared before the gates of Samaria in 724 BC, and for 3 weary years besieged the city (2 Kings 17:5). Finally, the city was captured by Sargon II, who succeeded Shalmaneser IV in 722 BC, and 27,292 of Israel's choicest people (according to Sargon's own description) were deported to Assyria, and colonists were brought from Babylon and other adjacent districts and placed in the cities of Samaria (2 Kings 17:6 , 24). Thus the kingdom of North Israel passed into oblivion, and Judah was left ever after quite exposed to the direct ravages, political and religious, of her Assyrio-Babylonian neighbors. In fact Judah herself barely escaped destruction by promising heavy tribute. This was the second great political crisis during Isaiah's ministry. Other crises were soon to follow. One was the desperate illness of King Hezekiah, who faced assured death in 714 BC. Being childless, he was seriously concerned for the future of the Davidic dynasty. He resorted to prayer, however, and God graciously extended his life 15 years (2 Kings 20 ; Isaiah 38). His illness occurred during the period of Babylon's independence under Merodach-baladan, the ever-ambitious, irresistible and uncompromising enemy of Assyria, who for 12 years (721-709 BC) maintained independent supremacy over Babylon. Taking advantage of Hezekiah's wonderful cure, Merodach seized the opportunity of sending an embassy to Jerusalem to congratulate him on his recovery (712 BC), and at the same time probably sought to form an alliance with Judah to resist Assyrian supremacy (2 Kings 20:12 ; Isaiah 39). Nothing, however, came of the alliance, for the following year Sargon's army reappeared in Philistia in order to discipline Ashdod for conspiracy with the king of Egypt (711 BC). The greatest crisis was yet to come. Its story is as follows: Judah and her neighbors groaned more and more under the heavy exactions of Assyria. Accordingly, when Sargon was assassinated and Sennacherib came to the throne in 705 BC, rebellion broke out on all sides. Merodach-baladan, who had been expelled by Sargon in 709 BC, again took Babylon and held it for at least six months in 703 BC. Hezekiah, who was encouraged by Egypt and all Philistia, except Padi of Ekron, the puppet-king of Sargon, refused longer to pay Assyria tribute (2 Kings 18:7). Meanwhile a strong pro-Egyptian party had sprung up in Jerusalem. In view of all these circumstances, Sennacherib in 701 BC marched westward with a vast army, sweeping everything before him. Tyre was invested though not taken; on the other hand, Joppa, Eltekeh, Ekron, Ashkelon, Ammon, Moab, and Edom all promptly yielded to his demands. Hezekiah was panic stricken and hastened to bring rich tribute, stripping even the temple and the palace of their treasures to do so (2 Kings 18:13 - 16). But Sennacherib was not satisfied. He overran Judah, capturing, as he tells us in his inscription, 46 walled towns and smaller villages without number, carrying 200, 150 of Judah's population into captivity to Assyria, and demanding as tribute 800 talents of silver and 30 talents of gold, in all, over, 500,000; he took also, he claims, Hezekiah's daughters and palace women, seized his male and female singers, and carried away enormous spoil. But the end was not yet. Sennacherib himself, with the bulk of the army, halted in Philistia to reduce Lachish; thence he sent a strong detachment under his commander-in-chief, the Rabshakeh, to besiege Jerusalem (2 Kings 18:17 - 19:8 ; Isaiah 36:2 - 37:8). As he describes this blockade in his own inscription: "I shut up Hezekiah in Jerusalem like a bird in a cage." The Rabshakeh, however, failed to capture the city and returned to Sennacherib, who meanwhile had completely conquered Lachish, and was now warring against Libnab. A second expedition against Jerusalem was planned, but hearing that Tirhakah (at that time the commander-in-chief of Egypt's forces and only afterward "king of Ethiopia") was approaching, Sennacherib was forced to content himself with sending messengers with a letter to Hezekiah, demanding immediate surrender of the city (2 Kings 19:9 ; Isaiah 37:9). Hezekiah, however, through Isaiah's influence held out; and in due time, though Sennacherib disposed of Tirhakah's army without difficulty, his immense host in some mysterious way--by plague or otherwise--was suddenly smitten, and the great Assyrian conqueror was forced to return to Nineveh; possibly because Merodach-baladan had again appeared in Babylonia. Sennacherib never again returned to Palestine, so far as we know, during the subsequent 20 years of his reign, though he did make an independent expedition into North Arabia (691-689 BC). This invasion of Judah by Sennacherib in 701 BC was the great political event in Isaiah's ministry. Had it not been for the prophet's statesmanship, Jerusalem might have capitulated. As it was, only a small, insignificantly small, remnant of Judah's population escaped. Isaiah had at this time been preaching 40 years. How much longer he labored is not known.

7 -9. (SEE ISAIAH, THE BOOK OF)




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Tags:

bible commentary, bible history, bible reference, bible study, define, esaias, immanuel, isaiah, prophet, salvation by faith, yesha'yahu

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