Isaiah

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This page would ideally always be under construction. You are invited to contribute.


Summary[edit]

This section should be very brief. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Relationship to Old Testament. The relationship of Isaiah to the Old Testament as a whole is discussed at Old Testament: Organization.

Story. Isaiah is not organized like most other books of scripture. Rather than describing here the manner in which Isaiah is organized, it is instead necessary to describe the many different and overlapping ways in which Isaiah is likely organized.

  • Rebellion, scattering, and gathering. In this framework, Israel rebels (ch. 1-39), is exiled or scattered abroad among the nations (ch. 40-54), and is finally gathered back home (ch. 55-66).
  • Apostasy, judgment, restoration, and salvation. In this framework, Israel violates its covenant relationship with God (ch. 1-9), for which God afflicts Israel by empowering its enemy (ch. 10-34), God's servant restores Israel when it repents (ch. 35-59), and God's repentant elect then inherit the Millennium (ch. 60-66).
  • and others.

Because two sequential chapters may be grouped together under one organizational structure, and separated under another, it is usually (though not always) impossible to group two chapters together for all purposes. The wiki pages that address Isaiah therefore contain very few subpages above the level of the chapter.

Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Isaiah include:

  • Scattering and gathering of the House of Israel.

Historical setting[edit]

This section should be brief and explain facts about the historical setting that will help a reader to understand the book. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

A broader treatment of the history of ancient Israel, including Isaiah, is found at Old Testament: Historical Overview.

Discussion[edit]

This section is for detailed discussion such as the meaning of a symbol, how a doctrinal point is developed throughout a passage, or insights that can be further developed in the future. Contributions may range from polished paragraphs down to a single bullet point. The focus, however, should always be on understanding the scriptural text consistent with LDS doctrine. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Scattering and gathering of the House of Israel[edit]

The Abrahamic Covenant is the origin of Israel's claim both to possession of Canaan and to be the Lord's covenant people. Israel's covenant possession of Canaan during Old Testament times, as part of the Abrahamic covenant (discussed at Abr. 2:8-11), can be thought of in several distinct stages.

  • Covenant of Future Possession. Abraham was promised only that his descendants would possess the land of Canaan at a future time. (Gen 13:14-15; 15:7, 18-21; 17:8; Abr 2:6). His descendants would not possess Canaan until after spending four centuries (or four generations) as strangers in a strange land (Egypt). (Gen 15:13-16). This is not really a different covenant than what followed under Joshua, but it is clearly a different stage of implementing that covenant.
  • Covenant of Complete Possession. Moses, in Deuteronomy, lays out the conditions under which Israel would enjoy exclusive possession of the promised land of Canaan. The books of Joshua through Kings are often called the Deuteronomistic History because they describe and evaluate Israel’s time in Canaan according to the covenant terms laid out in Deuteronomy. Israel was promised that it would conquer the entire land of Canaan as the Israelites multiplied and became sufficiently numerous to possess it. (Ex 23:27-31; Josh 1:1-6). This covenant of complete conquest and possession was only in effect for about two generations beginning with Joshua's ministry.
  • Covenant of Partial Possession. The book of Judges begins with two rebukes of Israel for violating three key conditions of the covenant of complete possession: no reliance upon foreign alliances, no intermarriage with foreigners, and no tolerance of idolatry. As a consequence of these violations, the covenant of complete possession was revoked and replaced with a lesser covenant of partial partial under which foreign nations were left in place to stir up Israel to remember God (Judg 2:1-3, 20-23; 3:5-7), much like the Lamanites did to the Nephites. (1 Ne 2:19-24 discussion). This lasted for about three centuries during the books of Judges and 1 Samuel, or through the death of king Saul in 1009 BC.[1]
  • Covenant of Complete Possession (again). Israel did finally conquer and possess the entire land of Canaan under king David. Following the reign of Solomon, the kingdom was permanently split in 931 BC[2] into the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the Southern Kingdom of Judah. (1 Kgs 12). But for nearly three centuries the Israelites remained in complete possession of Canaan. Judah remained in possession of southern Canaan for about eleven centuries altogether.
  • Covenant of Scattering and Gathering. Moses warned the children of Israel that, if their descendants were wicked, they would not continue to possess the Promised Land of Canaan but would be scattered, and they would only be gathered back to the Promised Land again after repenting. (Deut 4:25-31; 28:64-68; 30:1-10).
Amos, in about 768-753 BC,[3] warned that the Northern Kingdom of Israel had arrived at that day of judgment and scattering. (Amos 5:6; 9:7-15). The Northern Kingdom did not heed Amos's warning and, less than fifty years later in 723 BC,[4] the Assyrian empire scattered the Lost Ten Tribes by invading, conquering, and wiping the Northern Kingdom of Israel off the map.
In 701 BC[5] Assyria also invaded the Southern Kingdom of Judah right up to the gates of Jerusalem. Isaiah was at this time both a prophet and an adviser to Judah's king Hezekiah. Isaiah prophesied that Assyria's invasion of Judah would fail, which it did. (2 Kgs 19:20-36; Isa 37:6-7, 36-37). But Isaiah did not prophesy a prompt restoration of the Northern Kingdom, nor even long term security for the Southern Kingdom. Isaiah repeatedly prophesied instead about the covenant of scattering and gathering, including the scattering of the Southern Kingdom of Judah, and the process of purging that would precede the restoration of the House of Israel to the Promised Land of Canaan. Isaiah's prophecy provided context for the recent scattering of the Lost Ten Tribes from northern Canaan by the Assyrians in 723 BC, as well as the subsequent departure from Jerusalem of the two small groups led by Lehi and Mulek about the time of the Babylonian Captivity that began in 605 BC.[6] For about 70 yars the Babylonian Captivity interrupted Judah's possession of southern Canaan, but Judah was again in possession of southern Canaan from shortly after 538 BC[7] under the Persians, Greeks, and Romans until Rome's dispersion of the Jews from Jerusalem in 135 AD.[8]
Scattered Israel did not then begin gathering back to the promised land of Canaan for eighteen centuries until modern times.

Outline and page map[edit]

This section contains an outline for the entire book. Items in blue or purple text indicate hyperlinked pages that address specific portions of the book. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Unanswered questions[edit]

This section is for questions along the lines of "I still don't understand ..." Please do not be shy. The point of these questions is to identify things that still need to be addressed on this page. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Prompts for life application[edit]

This section is for prompts that suggest ways in which a passage can influence a person's life. Prompts may be appropriate either for private self reflection or for a class discussion. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Prompts for further study[edit]

This section is for prompts that invite us to think about a passage more deeply or in a new way. These are not necessarily questions that beg for answers, but rather prompts along the lines of "Have you ever thought about ..." Prompts are most helpful when they are developed individually, thoughtfully, and with enough background information to clearly indicate a particular direction for further study or thought. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Resources[edit]

This section is for listing links and print resources, including those that are also cited elsewhere on this page. A short comment about the particular strengths of a resource can be helpful. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Translations and Lexicons.

Related passages that interpret or shed light on Isaiah.

  • The Joseph Smith Translation made changes to 166 of the 1,292 verses in Isaiah. With so many changes, readers just have to constantly consult the Joseph Smith Translation. Most significant changes are incorporated into the LDS edition of the Bible. All changes are noted in Wayment's Complete Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible.[9]
  • The Book of Mormon ...

References cited on this page.

  • Coogan, Michael D. The Oxford History of the Biblical World. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998. (ISBN 0195087070). BS635.2 .094 1998. A standard narrative reference explaining events.
  • Finegan, Jack. Handbook of Biblical Chronology: Principles of Time Reckoning in the Ancient World and and Problems of Chronology in the Bible, revised ed. Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Pub., 1998. (ISBN 1565631439). BS637.2 .F5 1998. One of the two standard references for assigning specific dates to Old Testament events.
  • Pasachoff, Naomi and Robert J. Littleman. A Concise History of the Jewish People. New York and Oxford: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 1995, 2005 ed. (ISBN 074254365X). DS109.9 .P33 2005.
  • Steinmann. Andrew E. From Abraham to Paul: A Biblical Chronology. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2011. (ISBN 0758627998). BS637.3 .S74 2011. Builds on the earlier work of Finegan and Thiele and may become a third standard reference; likewise addresses the difficult issues but also presents a comprehensive timeline including the easy issues.
  • Thiele, Edwin. The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings, new revised ed. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan; Grand Rapids, Michigan: Kregel Publications, 1994. (ISBN 082543825X). BS 1335.5 .T48 1994. One of the two standard references for assigning specific dates to Old Testament events.

Other resources.

  • Gileadi, Avraham. The Book of Isaiah: A New Translation with Interpretive Keys from the Book of Mormon. Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company, 1988. (ISBN 0875790763) BS1513.G55 1988. Perhaps the most consistent and readable translation of Isaiah. Is aimed more a teaching us how to read so we can learn to understand Isaiah for ourselves rather than telling us what Isaiah means in a particular chapter or verse. In particular has a thoughtful discussion of how 2 Ne 25:1-8 and 3 Ne 23:1-3 should affect how we read Isaiah.
  • Gileadi, Avraham. Isaiah Explained. Website maintained by Avraham Gileadi, leading LDS Isaiah scholar, with his translation and extensive materials to help users understand Isaiah.
  • Ludlow, Victor. Isaiah: Prophet, Seer, and Poet. Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company, 1982. (ISBN 0877478848) BS1515.2 .L78 1982. Thirty years later still one of the best works of LDS scholarship on the scriptures. Goes through Isaiah chapter by chapter with some synthesis of the book as a whole.
  • Minert, David R. Simplified Isaiah for Latter-day Saints: An Interpretive Guide for Those Who Diligently Search the Book of Isaiah. Orem, Utah: Granite Publishing & Distribution, LLC, 2006. (ISBN 156684634X). A useful companion to understand what Isaiah is saying verse by verse rather than attempting any synthesis of chapters or even the entire book.
  • Parry, Donald W. and Stephen D. Ricks. "Worthy of Another Look: The Great Isaiah Scroll and the Book of Mormon." In Journal of the Book of Mormon and Other Restoration Scripture, 20/2 (2011): p. 78-80. Provo, Utah: BYU University: Neil A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship. This article explores examples where the text of Isaiah as quoted in the Book of Mormon agrees with the Great Isaiah scroll found at Qumran.
  • Wildberger, Hans. "Isaiah 28-39: A Continental Commentary" translated by Thomas H. Trapp (published 1982 in the original language, translation in 2002. (ISBN 0800695100).

Notes[edit]

Footnotes are not required but are encouraged for factual assertions that average readers cannot easily evaluate for themselves (such as the date of King Solomon’s death or the nuanced definition of a Greek word). In contrast, insights rarely benefit from footnoting, and the focus of this page should always remain on the scriptures themselves rather than what someone has said about them. Links are actively encouraged on all sections of this page, and links to authoritative sources (such as Strong's Bible Concordance or the Joseph Smith Papers) are preferable to footnotes.

  1. Steinmann, From Abraham to Paul, 106 & n.165, 114-15 (date of Saul's death).
  2. Steinmann, From Abraham to Paul, 37-44, noting that these dates for Solomon's reign are widely accepted as one of the principal known anchor points from which the rest of the Old Testament chronology can be calculated; Finegan, Handbook of Biblical Chronology, 249-50; Thiele, Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings, 67-78.
  3. Steinmann, From Abraham to Paul, 151.
  4. The date of the Assyrian conquest of the Northern Kingdom is often stated to be 721 BC or 722 BC, but the date of 723 BC appears to be more accurate. Steinmann, From Abraham to Paul, 136, 141, 156.
  5. Finegan, Handbook of Biblical Chronology, 251; Steinmann, From Abraham to Paul, 156-57.
  6. Finegan, Handbook of Biblical Chronology, 252-53; Steinmann, From Abraham to Paul, 158-59, 172.
  7. Pasachoff & Littleman, A Concise History of the Jewish People, 44; Steinmann, From Abraham to Paul, 179-80.
  8. Coogan, The Oxford History of the Biblical World, 503-07, 563-64; Pasachoff & Littleman, A Concise History of the Jewish People, 51, 67-69, 85-88, 96-97.
  9. Wayment, The Complete Joseph Smith Translation of the Old Testament, p. 176-203.

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