So, let us begin!

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.

Manuscript illumination from a Greek manuscript psalter dated c. 940–960 AD, now in the National Library of France: the Paris Psalter (Parisianus graecus 139, folio 435 verso). The prophet Isiah (labelled: ΗϹΑΙΑϹ) flanked by Nyx (“Night”; Greek: Νύξ, Núx; Latin: Nox) and the Dawn (labelled “Όρθρος”, “Orthros”, “daybreak”). Daybreak is labelled and depicted as a boy carrying a flaming torch; Nyx is labelled and shown nimbate with a dark complexion, with dark clothes and a starry mantle, and holding an inverted flaming torch. The manus Dei appears to the top. The scene illustrates the Book of Isaiah 26:9: “ἐκ νυκτὸς ὀρθρίζει τὸ πνεῦμά μου πρὸς σέ, ὁ θεός, διότι φῶς τὰ προστάγματά σου ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς.” “In the night my spirit rises early toward you (possibly eagerly seeks you), O God, because your ordinances are a light upon the earth” (NETS) NB: modern English translations do not use word the φῶς, “light”, which is not in the Hebrew text. e.g.: “With my soul have I desired thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early: for when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness” (KJV) “My soul yearns for you in the night; in the morning my spirit longs for you. When your judgments come upon the earth, the people of the world learn righteousness.” (NIV)

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