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About "Interpreting Isaiah"
This volume skillfully deals with a wide range of issues important to a clear understanding of the Book of Isaiah. It is sectioned into three parts: introductory questions, paragraph-by-paragraph analysis, and theological emphasis on Christology and Eschatology.
Meet the Author
Herbert Wolf(Ph.D., Universidad Brandeis) es Profesor Adjunto de Antiguo Testamento en el Wheaton College Graduate School en Wheaton, Illinois. Es autor de "Introduction to the Old Testament Pentateuch" y de numerosos articulos en periodicos, revistas y enciclopedias.
Table Of Contents
Excerpt from: Interpreting Isaiah
Chapter 1 THE WORLD OF ISAIAH The era in which Isaiah lived witnessed the rise and fall of kingdoms, as major military powers vied for control of Palestine. During his ministry, which spanned most of the second half of the eighth century B.C., Assyria emerged as the dominant world power. In 722 B.C. the mighty Assyrians captured the capital city of Samaria and brought about the full collapse of the northern kingdom of Israel. Thousands of Isaiah's countrymen were taken into exile, never to return to their beloved homeland. The southern kingdom of Judah also staggered before the Assyrian juggernaut, and in 701 B.C. Judah nearly suffered the same fate as Israel. Judah had sided first with Assyria and then with Egypt during the stormy years between 734 and 701 B.C. By the close of the century, Hezekiah joined the coalition against Assyria, and the armies of Sennacherib advanced to punish the Judean king. But God miraculously intervened and crushed the invader's forces, granting Judah and Jerusalem a century-long reprieve. Yet before disaster struck his army, Sennacherib had devastated most of the cities of Judah and deported thousands of its citizens. In those traumatic times, Isaiah alternated between condemning and encouraging, as the moral and spiritual condition of the rulers and the people of Israel dictated. But the historical scope of Isaiah's prophecies is far broader. He looked beyond the flowering of the Assyrian Empire to the rise of the Chaldean kingdom of Babylon, and he portrayed the demise of Babylon before the onslaught of Cyrus's Median and Persian armies (chs. 41--48). Assyria fell in 612 B.C., and their Babylonian conquerors were defeated by Cyrus in 539 B.C. Thus Isaiah interacted prophetically with the three major empires between 750 and 539 B.C., outlining their impact on Israel and Judah and showing how they fit into the sovereign purposes of God. A BRIEF PERIOD OF PROSPERITY IN ISRAEL About 800 B.C., King Adadnirari III of Assyria weakened the power of Damascus, relieving the pressure the Syrians had exerted on Israel. This fact, combined with the decline of Assyria shortly after that, allowed Jeroboam II of Israel and Uzziah of Judah to enjoy a period of great prosperity from 790--750 B.C. Neighboring lands, such as Moab and Edom, once more came under Israelite or Judean control, and the combined territories of the two kings approximated the area ruled by King Solomon. The economic gains of both regions were considerable (2 Chron. 26:7; 27:3), but that did not prepare them for the ghastly invasions and sieges of the last half of the century. In Israel, more than in Judah, this prosperity was accompanied by an increase in idol worship, materialism, and oppression of the poor (Amos 4:1--4; 6:1.), though Isaiah 2:6--8 reveals that Judah was rapidly becoming like her northern relatives in these respects. Additionally, the rich were 'buying out' the small farmers, creating a wider gulf between the wealthy and the poor (5:8--10). THE GROWTH OF ASSYRIA'S POWER UNDER TIGLATH-PILESER III During the reign of Tiglath-Pileser III (745--727 B.C.), Assyria began to reassert its authority over Syria and Palestine. In 740 B.C. this powerful monarch, also called Pul (1 Chron. 5:26), attacked the states of northern Syria, and by 738 B.C. he was receiving tribute payments from Damascus and Israel. A coalition against Assyria was formed by Hanun of Gaza, Rezin of Damascus, and Pekah of Israel. They hoped that Egypt would join them. But in 735 B.C. Tiglath-Pileser made a surprise attack in the west, winning the submission of these rulers. The Assyrians penetrated as far as the border of Egypt, where Hanun had fled for refuge. Later, after promising to be a dutiful vassal, this Philistine ruler was allowed to return to Gaza. A year later Damascus attempted to organize another revolt against Assyria. Rezin and Pekah wanted the support of Judah in this venture, so they pressured Jotham (and later his son Ahaz) to help them (2 Kings 15:37). Their campaign against Judah is often called the Syro-Ephraimite War, and it likely came to a head in 734 B.C. According to Isaiah 7:1 and 2 Kings 16:5, Syria and Israel besieged Jerusalem in an attempt to overthrow Ahaz and to place 'the son of Tabeel' on the throne (Isa. 7:6). 'Tabeel' may be a personal name, but there is good evidence that it refers to a region located north of Ammon and Gilead.1 The land of Tob, to the east of Gilead where Jephthah fled, may have been the same area ( Judg. 11:3). Perhaps Jotham or Ahaz had married a princess from Tabeel, and her son was being groomed as the new king. The conspiracy may also have been aimed at the complete ouster of the Davidic dynasty. When Ahaz learned about the forthcoming invasion, he was deeply alarmed. Apparently Ahaz had suffered heavy losses during a previous battle with these kings (2 Chron. 28:5), and he hoped to avoid another disaster. Isaiah was sent to calm Ahaz's fears and to assure the king that Rezin and Pekah would not prevail against him. Ahaz needed to trust the word of God and to abandon his plans to appeal to the king of Assyria for help. Otherwise Judah herself would eventually suffer at the hands of an Assyrian monarch (Isa. 7:17). This was the context in which Isaiah delivered his famous prophecy about the sign of Immanuel. God was with Judah and would protect her if Ahaz exercised faith. From 2 Kings 16:7--9 it is clear that Ahaz did request the assistance of Tiglath-Pileser, sending him silver and gold as payment, and the Assyrians eagerly returned to capture Damascus and to kill Rezin. Most of the cities of Israel were also captured and many of the people deported. Isaiah referred to this invasion in 9:1, mentioning the gloom that covered the regions of Zebulun, Naphtali, and Galilee. As a result of this campaign, the northern territory of Israel was annexed by Assyria. Galilee and Jezreel became the province of Megiddo. The coastal plain on the west was known as the province of Dor, and the region east of the Jordan was turned into the province of Gilead. Out of appreciation for his 'rescue,' Ahaz journeyed to Damascus to meet with Tiglath-Pileser. There he was fascinated by a pagan altar and had Uriah, the priest, build one like it in Jerusalem. Subsequently, Ahaz began to worship the gods of Damascus and to plunge Judah into the idolatry that was so heinous to Isaiah (Isa. 2:20; cf. 2 Chron. 28:20--23). The shattered remains of the northern kingdom came under the control of Hoshea, son of Elah, who assassinated the disgraced Pekah in 732 B.C. Tiglath-Pileser mentions Hoshea among his vassals and mentions that Ahaz of Judah paid tribute to Assyria.