|Isa’iah, Book of |
I. Chapters 1-5 contain Isaiah’s prophecies in the reigns of Uzziah and Jotham, foretelling that the present prosperity of Judah should be destroyed, and that Israel should be brought to desolation. In chs. 6, 7 he announces the birth of the child Immanuel, which in ch. 9 is more positively predicted. Chs. 9-12 contain additional prophecies against Israel, chs. (Isaiah 10:5-12) (6) being the most highly-wrought passages in the whole book. Chs. 13-23 contain chiefly a collection of utterances, each of which is styled a "burden," fore-telling the doom of Babylon, Philistia, Moab, Ethiopia, Egypt and Tyre. The ode of triumph in ch. (Isaiah 14:3-23) is among the most poetical passages in all literature. Chs. 24-27 form one prophecy, essentially connected with the preceding ten "burdens," chs. 13-23, of which it is in effect a general summary. Chs. 23-35 predict the Assyrian invasion, and chs. 36-39 have reference to this invasion; prophecies that were so soon fulfilled. (2 Kings 19:35) II. The last 27 chapters form a separate prophecy, and are supposed by many critics to have been written in the time of the Babylonian captivity, and are therefore ascribed to a "later Isaiah;" but the best reasons are in favor of but one Isaiah. This second part falls into three sections, each consisting of nine chapters:--
- The first section, chs 40-48 has for its main topic the comforting assurance of the deliverance from Babylon by Koresh (Cyrus), who is even named twice. ch. (Isaiah 41:2,3,25; 44:28; 45:1-4,13; 46:11; 48:14,15)
- The second section, chs. 49-56, is distinguished from the first by several features. The person of Cyrus as well as his name and the specification of Babylon, disappear altogether. Return from exile is indeed spoken of repeatedly and at length, ch. (Isaiah 49:9-26; 51:9-52; 12; 55:12,13; 57:14) but in such general terms as admit of being applied to the spiritual and Messianic as well as to the literal restoration.
- This section is mainly occupied with various practical exhortations founded upon the views of the future already set forth. In favor of the authenticity of the last 27 chapters the following reasons may be advanced:-- (a) The unanimous testimony of Jewish and Christian tradition, comp. Ecclus. 48:24, and the evidence of the New Testament quotations. (Matthew 3:3; Luke 4:17; Acts 8:28; Romans 10:16,20) (b) The unity of design which connects these last 27 chapters with the preceding; the oneness of diction which pervades the whole book; the peculiar elevation and grandeur of style which characterize the second part as well as the first; the absence of any other name than Isaiah’s claiming the authorship; lastly, the Messianic predictions which mark its inspiration and remove the chief ground of objection against its having been written by Isaiah. In point of style we can find no difficulty in recognizing in the second part the presence of the same plastic genius as we discover in the first.