Young People's Bible Dictionary
by Barbara Smith (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1965)
The Book of Isaiah. O.T. book containing prophecies of Isaiah and some history in chs. 1 to 39, which were compiled after the death of the prophet. Chapters 40-55 seem to have been based on the teachings of a prophet who lived during the exile in Babylon. He was concerned to teach the exiles that God, whom they had known in their own history, was the creator of the world and ruler over all nations and all history. Chapters 55 to 66 are believed to have originated with a third prophet, or perhaps several prophets, from a time later than that of Isaiah. The Book of Isaiah is frequently quoted in the N.T.
Harper’s Bible Dictionary
edited by Paul J. Achtemier (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1985)
Isaiah, the Book of, (Heb., ‘salvation of God’ or ‘God is salvation’). Isaiah is a common name which appears especially in the postexilic period (Ezra 8:7, 19; Neh. 11:7; 1 Chron. 3:21; 25:3, 15; 26:25) but is most widely known as the name of the longest prophetic book in the Hebrew Bible.
OUTLINE OF CONTENTS
The Book of Isaiah
I. First Isaiah (1-39)
II. Second Isaiah (40-55)
III. Third Isaiah (56-66)
Two almost complete manuscripts of the entire book of Isaiah were found in 1947 in a remote cave above the north end of the Dead Sea. This discovery is, in the American archaeologist W. F. Albright’s words, ‘one of the greatest manuscript finds of modern times.’ The text is dated to the second or first century b.c. Significantly, in spite of various corrections and interlineations, there are no important differences between the Masoretic Text of Isaiah and that of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Biographical Sketch: It appears that the prophet Isaiah was from Jerusalem (in contrast to Amos and Jeremiah who grew up on the periphery), which was the center of his activity. He was married to a woman whom he calls prophetess (8:3) and they had at least two sons: Shearjashub (Heb., ‘a remnant shall return’) and Maher-shalal-hashbaz (Heb., ‘the spoil speeds, the prey hastes’). Their names are associated with prophetic pronouncements (7:3; 8:3). He may also have had a third son, Immanuel (Heb., ‘God is with us’; cf. 7:14; 8:18), who also bears a symbolic name. Isaiah is mentioned outside of his book in 2 Kings 19:20; 2 Chron. 26:22; and 32:20, 32. He was the son of Amoz. According to a Talmudic tradition (Meg. 10b), Amoz was the brother of Amaziah, king of Judah. Isaiah was a contemporary of the prophet Micah and was preceded slightly by Amos and Hosea who were active in the Northern Kingdom of Israel. Isaiah prophesied in Judah during the reigns of kings Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, in the second half of the eighth century approximately between 740 and 701 b.c. He had access to the king (7:1 ff) and was his counselor (37:1-7). Due to his frequent references to wisdom forms and vocabulary there is a tendency to regard him as a member of the wisdom school, or as a wisdom teacher, but this is unclear. However, 30:8 may indicate that he studied in a school of scribes (cf. 2 Chron. 26:22).
The Book: The present book contains sixty-six chapters, a form that had already appeared in the beginning of the second century b.c. Ben-Sira, the author of Ecclesiasticus, refers to Isaiah (Ecclus. 48:17-25) as a single work. The Dead Sea Scrolls as well as the nt regard the entire sixty-six chapters as a single book. However, the present structure does not mirror the original book. As a rule, modern prophetic scholarship distinguishes between two major ‘books’: chaps. 1-39 and 40-66, called First Isaiah and Second Isaiah (Deutero-Isaiah), respectively. The two compositions reflect two distinct historical periods. The first relates to the second half of the eighth century b.c., the Assyrian period, while chaps. 40-66 are a product of the sixth-fifth centuries b.c., the Persian period. The distinction has been recently confirmed by a computer analysis of the language (Y. T. Radday). (Many scholars call chaps. 56-66 of the second composition a third ‘book,’ Third Isaiah; first suggested by B. Duhm in 1892.) In contrast to First Isaiah, Second Isaiah does not bear any historical superscriptions, and it is attached to First Isaiah without any external reference. The distinction between the two compositions (first suggested in modern research in 1783 by Eichhorn and in 1789 by Do¬derlein) is based therefore on historical, thematic, and philological criteria.
The prophet of Second Isaiah prophesied to the exilic community in Babylonia, witnessing the collapse of Babylon (539 b.c.) and the triumph of Cyrus, the founder of the great Persian Empire. Second Isaiah knows about the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem and assigns Cyrus to build the new Temple (44:28; 45:1; cf. 52:5, 11), which dates the work to the sixth century b.c. In contrast, First Isaiah refers to political events that took place prior to the fall of the Northern Kingdom of Israel (722/1 b.c.) and deals with Assyria’s threat to invade Judah during the second half of the eighth century. The distinct periods reflect different subjects and prophetic themes in the books. First Isaiah deals with social problems of the moral-ethical misbehavior of the elite of Judah, while Second Isaiah responds to the national-religious crisis of the exiles that followed the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple (586 b.c.). Hence, speeches of judgment distinguish First Isaiah while words of comfort and encouragement characterize Second Isaiah.
On the other hand, we find specific linguistic usages common to both parts of the book. Thus, for instance, the combination ‘Holy One of Israel,’ which is characteristic of First Isaiah, appears as well in Second Isaiah (41:14, 16, 20; 43:3, 14; 45:11; 47:4; 48:17; 49:7; 54:5; 55:5; 60:9, 14). Also, the expression ‘Thus says the Lord,’ an imperfect tense, appears in both books instead of the regular perfect, ‘said’ (1:11, 18; 33:10; 41:21; 66:9; cf. 40:1, 25). Such linguistic similarities do not question, however, the distinction between the books, which was already recognized in the twelfth century a.d. by the commentator Abraham Ibn Ezra (in his comments on Isa. 40:1).
The question remains: how did the two distinct books get tied together? We can only speculate. Perhaps it was just a technical matter, and a shorter scroll was attached to a longer one for preservation. It was then forgotten over the years that originally two separate manuscripts had been put together. Or, perhaps the combination was intentional, and this combination was the product of a specific theological school that intended to create a continuous work. Thus, the period of judgment, which had been fulfilled, paved the way for the new period of comfort and consolation. We may assume that the author of Second Isaiah considered himself Isaiah’s disciple. This may explain the similarities in idiom and phrases. Thus, in a rare passage where the author of Second Isaiah refers to himself, he describes God’s words as teaching (50:4), using words resembling Isaiah’s (8:16). Isaiah, in the difficult hour of ‘distress and darkness’ (8:22), decided to seal his testimony (8:16-17). His spiritual disciple, who feels that the times have changed, notices that God has revealed himself to everyone (40:5) and considers himself as the one who carries on the master’s testimony.
The Unity of First Isaiah: The material is divided into two major sections: prophecies (chaps. 1-35) and a historical account (chaps. 36-39). The prose material parallels the narrative of the book of Kings (2 Kings 18:3, 17-20:19). There are close similarities between Kings and Isaiah in spite of certain differences. It is assumed that Isaiah relied on Kings. Thus, for instance, Isa. 36:1 is parallel to 2 Kings 18:13. The text from Kings that follows (vv. 14-16), describing Hezekiah’s surrender to Assyria and detailing the heavy taxation Hezekiah had to pay on account of the Temple, is missing from Isaiah. This may be understood as an intentional omission and the longer detailed text is assumed to be the original (notice, however, the addition of Hezekiah’s psalm in Isa. 38:9-20). In any case, Isaiah 36-39 is a prose appendix.
The portrayal of Isaiah in the appendix is significant. Here he appears as a healer (2 Kings 20:1-7), an image that differs from his prophetic activities as depicted in his speeches. The image of the healer fits that of earlier prophets, such as Elisha’s healing actions described, for example, in 2 Kings 4-5. One should note, however, that even in chaps. 1-35 Isaiah does not confine himself to the characteristic role of the classical prophet, as God’s verbal messenger; he also acts in a symbolically significant manner. Thus, he walked barefoot and naked in Jerusalem for three years as a symbol of the fate that would overtake Egypt and its ally, Ethiopia, at the hands of Assyria (chap. 20). The book of Isaiah the prophet ends in chap. 35. The book of Isaiah appears to have a long literary history. The Talmud (B. Bat. 15a) hints at the editorial process, which indicates that it was not Isaiah himself who wrote this book, but later scribes, Hezekiah and his school.
The Literary Shape of First Isaiah: The structure is complex. Even a brief glance at the chapters reveals several superscriptions (1:1; 2:1; 13:1). Isaiah himself states that he ceased his activity and sealed his prophecies as a testimony (8:16-17; see also 30:8). Furthermore, Isaiah’s deeds sometimes are described indirectly in the third person (7:1-9; 20, for example). All this hints to the possibility that First Isaiah, even chaps. 1-35, is not a single composition.
Are there any indications of a certain development or a specific literary pattern for the arrangement of the book? A comparison with the book of Ezekiel and the Septuagint version of Jeremiah suggests a literary pattern:
The preceding arrangement may reflect a late editorial process that had the specific theological intention of concluding the prophecies of judgment with words of hope and comfort. The arrangement of the prophetic books of Amos (9:7-15) and Zephaniah (3:14-20) reveals a similar theological pattern. We should realize, however, that this literary scheme is rather forced. Prophecies of judgment are found in other than the first collection (chaps. 28-29). The oracles against the nations include prophecies against Judah’s leaders as well (22:15-25); another oracle directed against foreign nations is located in chap. 34 (cf. 30:6-7). Prophecies of hope are found in the first collection as well (2:1-5; 11:1-10). It appears that we have to find a better explanation for the arrangement of the book.
According to many scholars, the various superscriptions and the prose material indicate the existence of a number of independent scrolls. In addition, several pieces (5:25-30; 9:7-17, 18-21) are connected on the basis of a refrain, ‘For all this his anger is not turned away and his hand is stretched out still,’ and a key word ‘woe’ (Heb. hoy; see also chaps. 28-33). Are these repeated stylistic formulae revealed in other literary collections? Based on literary patterns, many scholars suggest that First Isaiah is a construction of various literary fragments. Scholars are attempting to reconstruct the literary building blocks and thus to discover the original Isaiah. Two major theories are proposed: that at the beginning there were a number of independent short collections; or that there was an original text to which certain additions have been made.
Concerning such editorial processes and the additions, the assumption is that the original Isaianic speeches are the poetic pieces that relate to the concrete issues of the political times. The original prophecies in which Isaiah appears as God’s messenger were collected as scrolls by the prophet himself. The prose texts and sermons that are not restricted to concrete historical events (as 2:1-5, or 11:1-10) were added by Isaiah’s disciples. Likewise, the oracles against foreign nations were edited by the disciples. To these collections new material was added, usually prophecies of comfort and salvation, which supplements the original prophetic utterance of judgment. The explanation is that Isaiah’s speeches were recited repeatedly in later periods when the prophetic word was a spiritual essential. The recitation of fulfilled prophecies of judgment confirmed the power of the prophetic word. Later, when under new conditions the audience needed a new message, it was added to the original prophecies. Thus, for example, 9:1-6 is an optimistic addition to a series of prophecies of judgment.
Recently a new proposal has been suggested (H. Barth) in regard to the prophecies of salvation, which are considered unauthentic and are found throughout the book. Many of these prophecies deal with the collapse of the Assyrian Empire (10:24-26; 30:27-31, for instance). The explanation is that the Assyrian pieces were added during Josiah’s reign (639-609 b.c.), a period in which the great Assyrian Empire was collapsing. This impressive political development was understood by certain religious schools in Jerusalem as God’s interference and punishment. The poems and oracles of salvation were added as fresh commentaries to Isaiah’s original speeches. There is also a socio-psychological explanation for the additions (R. P. Carroll). The issue concerns what happens to a community of believers when specific prophecies are not fulfilled. To release the believers’ frustrations new prophecies adjusted to the new reality are added, thus keeping Isaiah’s prophecy alive and meaningful.
The editorial theories are not free of criticism. The major problem lies in the literary-thematic criteria for the distinction between authentic speeches and the additions.
The Period and First Isaiah’s Speeches: Isaiah provides a series of responses to specific political and domestic situations. These developments and his speeches are related. Isaiah has a broad view of world events and offers his specific prophetic interpretations of the political situation. His prophecies and visions must be studied not just as individual speeches but in light of the prophet’s thematic way of thinking. Oracles of judgment do not have to contradict prophecies of comfort and salvation, as both may be integrated in Isaiah’s prophetic view. The book deals with the two major political events that shocked Judah: the Syro-Ephraimite war (734-733/2), and the Assyrian threats on Jerusalem (734-701).
Isaiah’s prophecy does not reflect these events merely as political-military developments; they are presented within a broader prophetic understanding. Chaps. 1-9 reflect the Syro-Ephraimite war, which threatened the house of David (see 7:6). This political and religious trauma that brought the danger of breaking the sacred promise of God to David (2 Sam. 7) motivates Isaiah’s response. The prophet tries to calm the frightened King Ahaz (Isa. 7:2) by reporting the near collapse of his enemies (7:5-9). Isaiah opposes Ahaz’s inclination to use foreign aid from Assyria or Egypt (7:18-25). Since the king rejects Isaiah’s advice, the prophet seals his words and awaits the future (8:16-18). The threat of replacing the house of David is answered by prophecies about the continuity of David’s throne (9:1-6; 11:1-10).
Isaiah does not restrict himself to the political situation, however. He deals in depth with the cause of the problem and points out the domestic issues such as the social-ethical misbehavior of the people (1:4-5, 10-17, 21-23; 3:16-26; 5:1-30). The war is God’s punishment for the people’s misbehavior. The punishment, however, is not final; Jerusalem will be purified and justice will be restored (1:26-27; 2:2-5). Concerning chap. 6, regarded by many as Isaiah’s call, his ‘inaugural vision,’ note should be taken of the message—to harden the hearts of the people (vv. 9-10). This response refers to the people’s stubbornness and denial of Isaiah’s previous criticism (chaps. 1-5). The vision is therefore in its appropriate setting and reflects the prophet’s feelings.
Chaps. 10-11 should be read in light of the implications of Assyria’s threat. Ephraim and Aram had collapsed, and Judah was powerless against the Assyrians’ military machine. This new political development invited a prophetic interpretation. Isaiah delivered a series of speeches that shed light on the meaning of the events and pointed out the causes of the catastrophe. He again indicated moral-ethical misbehavior as a cause (10:1-4). God’s response is direct: Assyria is his means of punishment (10:5-6). However, Assyria exaggerates its self-reliance, and will be punished (10:7-11). Isaiah is not pessimistic. He believes in the restoration of Judah and the house of David. He anticipates a new spiritual period of justice and peace (11:1-16).
The collection of oracles against the nations in chaps. 13-23 includes prophecies that are not Isaianic (chaps. 13-14 and perhaps also chap. 23). However, the collection includes a prophecy against Judah that concludes with a personal attack on two high officials (22:1-8). It appears that this collection is also integrated in Isaiah’s thematic understanding. The structure of this collection resembles that of Amos, who starts with a series of prophecies against foreign nations, and climaxes with a specific prophecy against Israel (1:2-2:16), which was the object of Amos’s prophecy. The common theme in Isaiah’s prophecies against other nations is the military defeats of the various nations. Hence, Isaiah repeatedly reveals his basic religious-political conception. Read against Isaiah’s prophetic understanding, this collection reveals his belief that the international political situation does not take place in a vacuum but is determined by God and does not exclude Judah. Consequently, all Judah’s military efforts to protect itself will fail (22:1-11).
The visions of chaps. 24-35 again abstractly summarize Isaiah’s general prophetic view: God’s absolute universal domination and his punishment in the form of military defeat for misbehavior (24:1-5, 21-23; 28:14-22; 29:13-14; 30:1-3; 34:1). Isaiah, a master of language, moves from a visionary to a more concrete style. We should realize that he attempts to deliver his message effectively, using various styles and modes of speech, including poetry, as his means of communication. Characteristically, Isaiah concludes with an optimistic vision of the future (35:1-10). It is not necessary, therefore, to regard chaps. 34-35 with their enthusiastic tone as part of Second Isaiah’s prophecy (C. C. Torrey, Y. Kaufmann).
First Isaiah; Conclusion: Isaiah’s speeches are not developed methodologically in a specific thematic order. His speeches are responses to specific situations. Isaiah’s major effort is to discover and present to his audience the relationship between cause and effect, sin and punishment—the connection between the people’s moral-ethical misbehavior and the wars. He provides a general overview of his vision of Jerusalem and the house of David. Thus, reality and eschatology are mixed, creating Isaiah’s profound political-religious viewpoint.
The Context of Second Isaiah; Time, Place, Political and Religious Conditions: The social and political elite of Judah were in Babylon in exile (2 Kings 24:12-16; Jer. 52:16-30). Evidence suggests that the exiles enjoyed political and religious autonomy to a limited degree. Many of the Jews in exile preserved their national and religious identity. Increased emphasis on the Sabbath as the expression of the covenant between God and his people has distinguished the Jews since this period (Isa. 56; 58:13-14). The exilic period is also noted for its national-religious literary activity. The masterpiece of biblical historiography, the Deuteronomistic work (Deuteronomy-Judges), was developed and crystallized in this period. Nevertheless, there was a feeling of dissatisfaction among the exiles. The exiled prophet Ezekiel asks desperately: ‘How are we to go on living?’ (33:10; see also 37:11). This pessimism was also expressed by the repeated phrase in Lamentations: ‘There is none to comfort me’ (1:2, 16, 17, 21). It is reflected also in Ps. 137 and is presented by Second Isaiah (40:6-7). The exiles understood their pessimistic spiritual-religious condition to be a sign of neglect by God, and even as a sign of God’s disappearance from the historical stage. This is the background of conditions faced by the author of Second Isaiah.
The unknown prophet was aroused by the momentous events occurring on the international political scene and was led to persuade the exiles that the immediate future held great promise and new hope. The sensational victories of Cyrus, king of Persia, and the threat to Babylon itself motivated Isaiah to consider Cyrus as God’s agent (44:28; 45:12-23) who would change Israel’s present hopeless national-religious condition. Against the background of the spiritual crisis and the emergence of Cyrus, the prophet struggled with two main themes: the claim that God was not hidden from his people, and the insistence that the new political events were directed by God and that, consequently, they had direct implications for the exiles’ future. These themes mainly underlie chapters 40-48.
The Historical Development of Second Isaiah: In 539 Babylon surrendered to Cyrus. In 538 Cyrus published his famous declaration allowing the exiled Jews of Babylon to return to Jerusalem and restore the Temple (Ezra 1:3-5; 2 Chron. 36:23; Ezra 6:3-5). An important issue in the interpretation of Second Isaiah’s prophecy is whether the author addressed the exiles before Babylon’s fall or following it. Do the main themes of the prophet’s work fit the period preceding the fall of Babylon? Chaps. 40-66 do not reflect Cyrus’s edict. One of the main themes of Second Isaiah is the people’s skepticism about God’s control over contemporary political events. Second Isaiah’s argument would be inappropriate if Cyrus had already publicly granted permission to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem. Furthermore, Second Isaiah’s descriptions of the fall of Babylon are not realistic. In contrast to inscriptions that report that the city fell peacefully without a battle, Second Isaiah describes Marduk, Babylon’s god, as being carried into captivity (46:1-2). It appears, therefore, that the author of Second Isaiah prophesied prior to 539. We may assume that he was active in the period following Cyrus’s conquest of Lydia in 547, which made it obvious that Babylon’s days were numbered.
The Structure of Second Isaiah: Formally, a concluding phrase, ‘There is no peace, says the Lord, for the wicked’ (48:22; 57:21), divides chaps. 40-66 into three major parts. This division is close to the divisions concluded by modern research: 40-48, 49-55, and 56-66. It is commonly argued that chap. 56 starts a new book called Third Isaiah (or Trito-Isaiah), which is dated to the fifth century b.c. (see above). Only a few scholars maintain that the entire twenty-seven chapters of Second Isaiah are a single book (C. C. Torrey, Y. Kaufmann). Another view holds that chaps. 49-66 are distinguished from 40-48 in location but not in authorship (M. Haran). This view holds that following Cyrus’s edict the prophet returned to Jerusalem and continued his prophetic activity there. Zion is the background for this material (49:14-18; 51:17-23; 54:1ff; 60:1-7; 62:1-9). In any case there is a certain thematic and stylistic difference between chaps. 40-48 and the remainder. Only in 40-48 is Cyrus mentioned, and only here are there arguments against the foreign gods, stressing Yahweh as the only God (40:12-31; 41:6-7; 43:8-13; 44:9-20; 46:5-11). The tone and mood of enthusiasm and encouragement of 40-48 are changed mainly in 56-66 to a stronger criticism of the people of Israel (56:9-57:12; 58; 59:1-18; 65:1-15; 66:1-10, 15, 17).
Second Isaiah’s Literary Units: The composition of the book is the pivotal issue of the literary study of Second Isaiah. The questions involved are the determination of the literary units and the organization of the book as a whole. In general, two approaches have been taken with regard to these questions. The first considers the book to be a product of planned writing activity and sees the book as composed of large units. The second approach argues that the prophet delivered his addresses orally; hence the book is a collection of small units that once existed independently. The point of departure for the first approach is basically the issue of the content, supported at times by stylistic or structural analysis. On the other hand, the starting point of the second approach, i.e., the small independent units, is the formal formulae of opening and concluding speeches (‘form criticism’).
Another question involving the approach of independent prophetic units concerns the arrangement of the material. It has been argued (S. Mowinckel) that the small independent units were arranged mechanically according to key words or similarities in themes. Thus, each speech was placed on the basis of its association with the preceding speech. While form criticism concentrates on the external form of each speech and regards each one separately, the approaches that look at the book as a unified composition (J. Muilenburg, E. Hessler, C. Westermann) discuss the whole in relation to the individual components. Hence, they are able to explore the work’s overall compositional techniques and are not restricted to the separate small units. The question of the structure of the individual unit and the arrangement of the book as a whole depends on the function of the prophecies.
The author of Second Isaiah sought to change his audience’s religious attitude. In order to accomplish this goal, he appealed to his audience employing numerous means of persuasion. Contrary to the earlier prophets, Second Isaiah (esp. in chaps. 40-48) did not announce judgment and punishment, nor did he threaten. Rather, he sought to appeal to his audience through the effectiveness of his arguments and the impact of the style and expression of his proclamations. Such means of persuasion are rhetorical in nature. To present his argument persuasively, the prophet paid close attention to the organization of each address. Each address emerges from and is a response to a particular situation.
An analysis of the book from this approach that focuses our attention on Second Isaiah’s major efforts to affect his audience in chaps. 40-48 reveals that the material is composed of ten units: 40:1-11; 40:12-31; 41:1-29; 42:1-13; 42:14-43:13; 43:14-44:23; 44:24-45:13; 45:14-46:13; 47:1-15; 48:1-22. Another division based on stylistic-literary assumptions (e.g., J. Muilenburg) is: 40:1-11, 12-31; 41:1-42:4; 42:5-17; 42:18-43:7; 43:8-13; 43:14-44:5; 44:6-8, 21-23; 44:9-20; 44:24-45:13; 45:14-25; 46:1-13; 47:1-15; 48:1-22. (See also E. Hessler’s and C. Westermann’s divisions.)
The Songs of the Servant of the Lord (Ebed Yahweh Songs): There are four poems spoken by the servant of the Lord: 42:1-4; 42:5-7; 49:1-6; and 50:4-9, and two poems that speak about the servant: 50:10-11; and 52:13-53:12. The poems share a common theme: the servant suffers, ignored by the people around him, but he will be recognized in the future as God’s servant and his mission to restore justice will be fulfilled. The poems occupy a special place in the history of interpretation and have significant theological meaning in the histories of Jewish and Christian interpretation (cf. Matt. 12:18-21; 1 Pet. 1:24-25). Scholars have debated whether to isolate the poems from their context or to consider them to be an integral part of Second Isaiah’s message. Mention should also be made of Second Isaiah’s other references to God’s servant (41:8-10, 13; 42:19; 44:1-2).
The major question is the identity of the servant. Scholars are divided in understanding the servant as an individual or in a collective sense. There are many attempts to identify the servant as a specific public or historical figure (such as Jeremiah, Josiah, or Zerubbabel), including the prophet himself (61:1-2). In light of the frequent references to Israel as God’s servant (see also 49:3) some scholars regard the servant as the people of Israel, sympathetically portrayed by Second Isaiah in order to arouse hope and feelings of mission. Another view holds that the servant is neither a particular figure nor a group, but a combination that represents a mythological-cultic and royal figure.
Third Isaiah: The opinion has already been stated that chaps. 56-66 comprise a separate collection of another anonymous prophet who was active during the period of Ezra and Nehemiah in the fifth century b.c. (see above). The distinction, however, is not readily obvious and the portrayal of Zion may represent a shift in location but not necessarily a change in authorship. Chaps. 56-66 emphasize ritual requirements (56:2, 7; cf. 57:3-13; 65:1-7), the Sabbath (58:13-14), and the law. On the other hand, chaps. 60-62 convey optimistic expectations similar to those of Second Isaiah and may hint at Second Isaiah’s influence. 66:1-4 rejects the building of the Temple, which reflects a view opposite of the cultic conception of Haggai and Zechariah, other prophets of the period, who enthusiastically supported the rebuilding of the Temple around the year 520 b.c.
Edited for BibleTexts.com by Robert Nguyen Cramer