Isaiah (book of the Bible)

Isaiah . It is the first and longest of the books of the Major Prophets in the Bible and is found in the Old Testament . In the Hebrew Tanach it is located in the Nevi’im (נְבִיאִים) or the Prophets.

Prophet Isaías – Pictorial representation.


[ hide ]

  • 1 Author
    • 1 Arguments against a single author
    • 2 Arguments in favor of a single author
  • 2 Date
  • 3 Historical framework
  • 4 Contribution to theology
    • 1 First section (1–39)
    • 2 Second section (40–55)
    • 3 Third section (56–66)
    • 4 Christians see Christ in Isaiah
    • 5 Pentecostals see the Holy Spirit in Isaiah
  • 5 Sketch
  • 6 Sources


Isaiah, (Hebrews Yesh’yahu, that is, “the salvation of Jehovah”). (1.) Son of Amos (Isaiah 1: 1; 2: 1), who was apparently a man of humble rank. His wife called her “the prophetess” (8: 3), either because she was endowed with the prophetic gift, such as Deborah (Judges 4: 4) and Hulda (2 Kings 22: 14-20), or simply because she was the wife from “of the prophet” (Isaiah 38: 1). He had two children, who had symbolic names. He exercised the functions of his office during the reigns of Uzziah (Azariah or), Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah (1: 1).

The first verse of this book designates Isaiah, the son of Amoz, as its author. On four occasions Isaiah claims to have had the vision and received the prophecy contained in this book. His name also appears twelve times in 2 Kings and four in 2 Chronicles.

In the New Testament the book of Isaiah is directly quoted twenty-one times and attributed in each case to the prophet Isaiah. Some scholars, who find it difficult to accept the prophetic predictions that fully anticipate future events, have denied that Isaiah was the author of chapters 40–66. They have titled this second section as the “Deutero Isaias” (Second Isaiah), and insist that as these chapters speak of things that happened after Isaiah, such as the Babylonian captivity of Judah, the return from exile, and the rise of Cyrus ( the Persian monarch who ordered the return of the Jewish people to their land, 45.1), must have been written later and attributed to the renowned prophet.

Arguments against a single author

Until 1775 the Christian church accepted the Jewish tradition according to which the book was entirely written by the prophet → Isaiah, who ministered from 740–760 BC The first who thought about the possibility of more than one author seems to have been a Spanish Jew, Moisés Ibn Chiquitilla, Cordovan 2nd century AD He suggested that Isaiah 40–66 was written by a prophet who lived at the end of captivity in Babylon (that is, ca. 550 BC). Later, beginning with the comment of Doederlein (l775) and the introduction of Eichhorn (l780-83), an increasing number of scholars postulated as author of the chaps. 40–66, and of certain portions in chs. 13–39, to a “second Isaiah” who lived in captivity ca. 550 BC

Throughout the 19th century the Deuteroisaías hypothesis was driven by the development of the literary and historical sciences, but conservative scholars generally continued to defend traditional theory. However, in l889 Franz Delitzsch, one of the most prestigious conservative scholars of the century, announced his acceptance of the new theory in the fourth and final edition of his great commentary on Isaiah (Volume I, pp. 36–41; Volume II, pp. 120–133, in English).

Bernard L. Duhm in l892 proposed a third party or Tritoisaías as the author of chs. 56–66. Today many exegetes, even some conservatives, think that the book was written not only by the great prophet of the 8th century, but also by some of his disciples (8.16) who lived during captivity (chs. 40–55, etc.) and after him (chs. 56–66, largely).

Arguments in favor of a single author

  • Beginning with the apocryphal Ecclesiastical book (written ca. l80 BC; cf. 48.22–25), the Judaic tradition has held that the eighth-century Isaiah wrote the entire book. However, the Jewish tradition cannot be considered as more authoritative for the Christian (Mk 7.8,9) than the internal evidence of the scientific study of the book itself. The value of tradition diminishes especially when it goes back to documents written centuries after the controversial book.
  • In the New Testament writings , Christ introduces his quotes from various parts of Isaiah with phrases like “Isaiah said” (Jn 12.38–41; Ro 9.27–29; 10.20s, etc.), without ever suggesting a variety of authors for Isaiah . Without a doubt this fact has influenced more than others in those who have wanted to defend the truthfulness of the Bible.

If you accept the divine inspiration of Scripture and the possibility of the supernatural, there is no difficulty in recognizing the unity of the book and the authorship of Isaiah. After all, Isaiah and other prophets of his time prophesied events in the life of Jesus that occurred seven hundred years later. Furthermore, critics overlook the fact that Isaiah had access to the book of Deuteronomy , which predicted both captivity and the return from exile ( Deuteronomy 29; 30). If the mention of Cyrus (44.28; 45.1) is an obstacle. Bethlehem, the place where Jesus was born, mentioned and predicted by Micah, a contemporary of Isaiah ( Micah 5.2)

Key words and phrases are evenly distributed throughout the book; landscapes and colors are also uniform. The greater excellence of the literary style in Hebrew poetry in the later chapters of Isaiah can be explained by the change of emphasis, from condemnation and supplication, to exhortation and consolation.

The tradition, despite the fact that it is evident that a single pen was written by Isaías, in defending this thesis, does not intend to challenge the sincerity of those who think otherwise.


Isaiah states that he has prophesied during the reigns of “Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah” (1.1). Some consider that he was called to serve as a prophet in the year King Uzziah died, which occurred approximately in 740 BC (6.1, 8). However, it seems that it began as such during the last decade of Uzziah’s reign. As mentioned by the death of the Assyrian king Sennacherib, who passed away around 680 BC (37.37, 38), he must have survived Hezekiah for some years. According to tradition, Isaiah was martyred during the reign of Manasseh, the son of Hezekiah. Many believe that the phrase “were … sawn” of Hebrews11.37 is a reference to the death of Isaiah. It may be that the first part of the book was written in the first years of Isaiah’s public activity, while the last chapters after having retired from it.

If Isaiah began prophesying around 750 BC, his ministry must have developed simultaneously, for a brief period, with Amos and Hosea in Israel, as well as Micah in Judah.

Historical setting

Isaiah prophesied for a time of great moral and political upheaval. In the first part of his ministry, around 722 BC, the northern kingdom, Israel, succumbed to the Assyrian invaders. Crucial period in the history of Judah and Israel. Both the southern and northern kingdoms had enjoyed nearly fifty years of increasing prosperity and power. Israel, ruled by Jeroboam and six other minor kings, had succumbed to the practices of pagan worship; Judah, under Uzziah, Jotham, and Hezekiah, had maintained some formal fidelity to orthodoxy, but had gradually fallen into serious moral and spiritual decline (3.8–26). The existence of secret places of pagan worship was tolerated; the rich oppressed the poor; women neglected their families seeking the pleasures of the flesh; many priests and prophets indulged in drunkenness and pleasure (5.7–12, 18–23; 22.12–14). Even though Judah experienced a brief spiritual rebirth under King Josiah (640–609 BC), Isaiah understood that the covenant recorded by Moses in Deuteronomy 30.

Isaiah began his ministry around the same time as the founding of Rome and the first Olympics of the Greeks. The future European powers were not yet in a position to launch into the conquest of distant lands, but several Asian empires were projected beyond their borders. Assyria in particular was interested in expanding to the south and west. The prophet, well acquainted with the international situation, knew that the conflict was imminent. Assyria seized Samaria in 721 BC.

Contribution to theology

The 66 chapters of this book of Isaiah (Is) can be grouped into three large sections, formed respectively by chap. (1–39), (40–55) and (56–66).

First section (1–39)

Many of Isaiah’s favorite themes are already found in his inaugural vision (6.1–13), especially in his emphasis on Jehovah as “Saint of Israel,” a title that appears about twenty-five times throughout the book, but only five times in the other books of the Old Testament.

Concern for the reality of a holy God led to an awareness of sin, both in worship (1.10–17) and in the social and political life of the nation (3; 5; 7).

The prophet developed the traditions of the election of Jerusalem (10.27–34; 14.28–32; 17.12–14; 29.1–8; 30.27–33; 31.1–8) and of David (9.1–7; 11.1–8; 32.2; 33.17 ). He prophesied the miraculous birth of the Messiah (7.14), who would be truly human (9.6; 11.1), and at the same time “strong God” (9.6), whose universal reign of perfect justice and peace (9.7; 11.2–9) would be fulfilled only in Christ.

Isaiah repeatedly insisted on the absolute need for a faith in God, both in personal life and in the public and political life of the nation (7.9; 28.16; 30.15). This is why he is called “the Old Testament evangelist .”

But along with the predictions of the judgment against Jerusalem and against all Judah, the prophet also foresees the glorious time of the coming of the Messiah. When he arrives Israel’s hopes will be fulfilled, the words of the announcement will come true: “The people who walked in darkness saw a great light; to those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, light shone upon them. You multiplied the people and increased the joy »(9.2–3).

In this first section, some messages that correspond to different historical contexts appear mixed. This is the case of the oracles against pagan nations collected in chap. 13–23, or the “ Apocalypse of Isaiah” in 24–27, or the poems of 34–35, or the stories of 36–39.

Second section (40–55)

Chapters 40-55 are like a vibrant comforting speech addressed to the Israelites exiled in the distant lands of Babylon. The hope of an upcoming return to the homeland is the announcement with which the Lord, through the word of the prophet, puts joy in the hearts of the exiles. The Persian king Cyrus was God’s chosen instrument to carry out the liberation and repatriation of the people (44.28; 45.1–4), sometimes described in words that evoke the exodus from Egypt (43.18–19).

Trust in Jehovah, Creator of all things, is a recurring theme in this section. He is Lord of the universe and nothing escapes his domain (cf. 40.28; 41.1–4; 42.5; 45.11–13; 51.1–3, 6, 13–16). And it is also the God who, having first chosen Israel, delivered him up later, because of his unfaithfulness, into the hands of his enemies (47.6). But he never forgot his chosen people, and so one day, at a precise moment, he will liberate them using the same power that he displayed in the creation of the world (40.28–31; 51.15–16).

Important passages in this section are the four well-known “Canticles of the Servant of Jehovah” (42.1–9; 49.1–6; 50.4–11; 52.13–53.12), who consider the figure of the true believer, of him who, even at the cost of hard personal sufferings, he remains faithful to the Lord and publicly proclaims his faith in him. Whoever is, “will be prospered, will be exalted and exalted, will be placed very high” (52.13). The Christian church, from its first steps, has interpreted these songs as an announcement of the sufferings, death and glorification of Jesus Christ, the Servant of the Lord par excellence.

Third section (56–66)

It consists of a varied series of messages, no doubt addressed to the repatriated Jews from Babylon. The historical conditions described here seem to indicate that this part of Isaiah’s prophecy refers to a later time to which the two previous great sections refer.

The prophet tries here to fight with the discouragement that had seized those who, lacking the means and supporting the enmity of the neighboring nations, worked to rebuild theirs and restore Jerusalem to its former splendor. The cause of evil, the prophet proclaims, is in sin. Definitive salvation does not reach Israel because it is prevented by the serious sins incurred by the people and their evil rulers (56.9–12): corruption of law and justice (59.14–15), perversion of the values ​​and practices of religion (57.4–5, 9; 58.1–14; 59.12–13; 65.3–5; 66.3) and immoral behaviors (59.3, 6–7).

The Lord will one day make Jerusalem shine, for he, who is faithful to his promises, announces this through the prophet:

“Your light has come and the glory of Jehovah has been born upon you” (60.1). Then, in the “new heavens and new earth” that God is to create (65.17; 66.22), all nations will see the city of Zion as “the crown of glory in the hand of Jehovah” (62.3).

Christians see Christ in Isaiah

After his resurrection, Jesus walked with two of his disciples and, “beginning from Moses, and following all the prophets, he declared to them in all the Scriptures what they said of him” (Lk 24.27). Isaiah contains seventeen chapters related to the prophecies of the Messiah.

In Isaiah, Christ is spoken of as “Lord”, “Branch of Jehovah”, “Immanuel”, “Wonderful Counselor”, “Mighty God”, “Eternal Father”, “Prince of Peace”, “Root of Jesse”, “Stone angular “,” King “,” Shepherd “,” Servant of Jehovah “,” Chosen “,” Lamb of God “,” Redeemer “and” Anointed “.

Chapter 53 is the greatest Old Testament prophecy about the redemptive work of the Messiah. No text in the Bible presents the purpose of Christ’s vicarious death more fully than this chapter. He is directly quoted nine or ten times by the authors of the New Testament : 52.15 (Ro 15.21); 53.1 (Jn 12.38; Ro 10.16); 53.4 (Mt 8.17); 53.5 (Ro 4.25; 1 P 2.24); 53.7, 8 (Acts 8.32, 33); 53.9 (1 P 2.22); 53.10 (1 Cor 15.3, 4); 53.12 (Lc 22.37).

Pentecostals see the Holy Spirit in Isaiah

In the book of Isaiah the Holy Spirit is specifically mentioned fifteen times, not counting references to the power, effects, or influence of the Spirit. There are three general categories under which the work of the Holy Spirit can be described:

  • The Spirit anointing the Messiah and giving him his power so that he reigns on the throne of David (11.1–12); as the suffering Servant of the Lord, who will heal, enlighten, and bring justice to the nations (42: 1-9); like the Messiah in both advents (61.1–3; Lk 4.17–21).
  • The Spirit is poured out on Israel to allow it a triumphant restoration, as it did in Exodus (44.1–5; 63.1–5), protect it from its enemies (59.19), and preserve the covenant between Israel and Jehovah (59.21). However, Israel must take care not to rebel and aggravate the

Holy Spirit (63.10; Eph 4.30).

  • The work of the Spirit in the creation and preservation of nature (40.13; see also 48.16).

The Lord Jesus, whose earthly ministry was carried out in the power and anointing of the Holy Spirit, as Isaiah had prophesied, promised to pour out his Spirit on the Church in order to endow her with the power necessary to carry out the work of the Great Commission. .


  • First section (1.1–39.8)
  • Messages about Jerusalem and Judah (1.1–5.30)
  • The “Book of Immanuel” (6.1–12.6)
  • Messages about foreign nations (13.1–23.18)
  • Revelation of Isaiah (24.1–27.13)
  • Various judgments on Judah and Israel (28.1–35.10)
  • Episodes from the history of Hezekiah (36.1–39.8)
  • Second section: message of comfort to Israel (40.1–55.13)
  • Third section: message to returnees (56.1–66.24)


Leave a Comment