Isaiah - Introduction

INTRODUCTION

The CHALDÆISMS alleged against the genuineness of the second portion of Isaiah, are found more in the first and undoubted portion. They occur in all the Old Testament, especially in the poetical parts, which prefer unusual expressions, and are due to the fact that the patriarchs were surrounded by Chaldee-speaking people; and in Isaiah's time a few Chaldee words had crept in from abroad.

His SYMBOLS are few and simple, and his poetical images correct; in the prophets, during and after the exile, the reverse holds good; Haggai and Malachi are not exceptions; for, though void of bold images, their style, unlike Isaiah's, rises little above prose: a clear proof that our Isaiah was long before the exile.

Of VISIONS, strictly so called, he has but one, that in the sixth chapter; even it is more simple than those in later prophets. But he often gives SIGNS, that is, a present fact as pledge of the more distant future; God condescending to the feebleness of man ( Isaiah 7:14 ; Isaiah 37:30 ; 38:7

The VARIETIES IN HIS STYLE do not prove spuriousness, but that he varied his style with his subject. The second portion is not so much addressed to his contemporaries, as to the future people of the Lord, the elect remnant, purified by the previous judgments. Hence its tenderness of style, and frequent repetitions ( Isaiah 40:1 comforting exhortation uses many words; so also the many epithets added to the name of God, intended as stays whereon faith may rest for comfort, so as not to despair. In both portions alike there are peculiarities characteristic of Isaiah; for example, "to be called" equivalent to to be: the repetition of the same words, instead of synonyms, in the parallel members of verses; the interspersing of his prophecies with hymns: "the remnant of olive trees," &c., for the remnant of people who have escaped God's judgments. Also compare Isaiah 65:25

The CHRONOLOGICAL ARRANGEMENT favors the opinion that Isaiah himself collected his prophecies into the volume; not Hezekiah's men, as the Talmud guesses from Proverbs 25:1 can be ascertained, stand in the right place, except a few instances, where prophecies of similar contents are placed together: with the termination of the Assyrian invasion (the thirty-sixth through thirty-ninth chapters) terminated the public life of Isaiah. The second part is his prophetic legacy to the small band of the faithful, analogous to the last speeches of Moses and of Jesus Christ to His chosen disciples.

The EXPECTATION OF MESSIAH is so strong in Isaiah, that JEROME To Paulinus calls his book not a prophecy, but the gospel: "He is not so much a prophet as an evangelist." Messiah was already shadowed forth in Genesis 49:10 Psalms 2, 45, 72, 110. Isaiah brings it out more definitely; and, whereas they dwelt on His kingly office, Isaiah develops most His priestly and prophetic office; the hundred tenth Psalm also had set forth His priesthood, but His kingly rather than, as Isaiah, His suffering, priesthood. The latter is especially dwelt on in the second part, addressed to the faithful elect; whereas the first part, addressed to the whole people, dwells on Messiah's glory, the antidote to the fears which then filled the people, and the assurance that the kingdom of God, then represented by Judah, would not be overwhelmed by the surrounding nations.

His STYLE (HENGSTENBERG, Christology of the Old Testament,) is simple and sublime; in imagery, intermediate between the poverty of Jeremiah and the exuberance of Ezekiel. He shows his command of it in varying it to suit his subject.

The FORM is mostly that of Hebrew poetical parallelism, with, however, a freedom unshackled by undue restrictions.

JUDAH, the less apostate people, rather than Israel, was the subject of his prophecies: his residence was mostly at Jerusalem. On his praises, see Ecclesiasticus 48:22-25. Christ and the apostles quote no prophet so frequently.

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