First Isaiah (also called Proto-Isaiah)1-39, dated to the late eighth to early seventh century B.C., concerns Isaiah’s tenure in Jerusalem. The prophet’s contemporaries were Micah in Judah and Jonah in Israel. Here, the prophet warns of judgment and places hope on a godly Davidic king.
When Judah was sent into exile, scribes, priests, and Levites had smuggled with them all the scrolls that had been recovered from the northern kingdom of Israel, when it had gone into exile a century past, and the rest of the scrolls from the temple, before it was destroyed.
Now, these precious documents were all the people had left.
By God’s mighty, wonder-working power, all the sacred writings had been rescued. Now, by God’s divine Spirit, a group of scribes would begin the massive work of bringing all these ancient archives, testimonies, oracles, law, and wisdom into one breath-taking narrative about God and God’s people.
We can thank these anonymous editors of antiquity for arranging all the prophets for us, and explaining their background.
Isaiah’s book opens with just such an introduction.
The vision of Isaiah son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.
Isaiah 1:1 (NRSV)
With many thanks to a really wonderful resource on YouTube called “The Bible Project,” let us get an overview of the first half of the Book of Isaiah.