By Mary Jane Chaignot

Categories: Prophets

  • The name Isaiah means, "Yahweh is salvation."
  • Isaiah prophesied from roughly 740-700BCE.
  • Stories of Isaiah are also found in 2 Kings 19-20 and 2 Chronicles 26-32.
  • He lived in Jerusalem throughout most of the second half of the eighth century.
  • The year king Uzziah died (736BCE) was probably a turning point in his life.
  • The death of Uzziah marked the beginning of the Assyrian threat - an event that would forever change the life of Israel. His reign was characterized by a long period of decadence, and Isaiah knew that God's judgment was at hand.
  • Isaiah might have been in the temple at the time of his call experience, which came in the form of a vision.
  • Isaiah claims to have seen a vision of the heavenly court - he saw God administering the affairs of men attended by seraphim flying above him.
  • Isaiah's response to this was to feel the inadequacy and sinfulness of humanity. He uses a word meaning "I am doomed."
  • After one of the seraphim placed a burning coal against his mouth, Isaiah was forgiven.
  • Just then he heard God ask, "Whom shall I send?" and Isaiah replied, "Here am I. Send me!"
  • Right off the bat, Isaiah was told that the people would not listen to him.
  • Ironically, he was told to make the people's hearts calloused, their ears dull, and their eyes shut. These are words of judgment that describe what happened.
  • When Isaiah asked "How long?," the answer was until all had been destroyed.
  • The life of a prophet was filled with painful knowledge.
  • Isaiah probably had two sons. One was named, Shearjashub, which means "a remnant shall return." His very name was a prophetic sign of hope. The other was Maher-shalal-hash-baz, which means something like "quick to plunder, swift to the spoil." (Some scholars think he had a third son, named Immanuel. Immanuel means "God with us" or "God is with us.")
  • In 733, Isaiah and his son confronted King Ahaz by the water conduits - a clear sign that the king was anxious about a siege when he should have been turning to God for help.
  • The word of the Lord through Isaiah to the king was simple: "If you do not stand by me (Yahweh), you will not stand at all." (The king, of course, did not alter his plans.)
  • The Lord oftentimes spoke to Isaiah to encourage him in his work.
  • For one three-year period, Isaiah walked around with only a loincloth to make his point that the land would be stripped and naked and the people would be humiliated by going into captivity.
  • Isaiah is, perhaps, best remembered for his activity during the time of King Hezekiah.
  • When faced with a threat from Sennacherib, King of Assyria, Hezekiah prayed, then asked Isaiah for God's word.
  • Isaiah correctly foretold that nothing would come of it and that Sennacherib would be cut down with the sword. (Although scholars point out that this event didn't occur until 20 years later, in the Bible it happens immediately.)
  • Isaiah also told Hezekiah he would see a sign: The suffering of the people would last for two years. But they would survive, and in the third year, things would return to normal. This pointed to the future glory of Judah.
  • When Hezekiah fell ill, Isaiah carried a message of doom, but that was immediately changed by Hezekiah's petition to Yahweh to one of restoration. Isaiah hadn't even returned home yet, before he was instructed to return with a different message.
  • He instructed Hezekiah's assistants on how to treat him, which led to his healing.
  • Hezekiah was given fifteen more years to live, sanctioned by the sign of the shadow on the sundial that moved back ten steps.
  • Even though Hezekiah would have peace and security in his days, Isaiah foretold the Babylonian captivity.
  • There is no information about the demise of Isaiah. The century and a half between chapters 39 and 40 are silent years.


Goldingay, John. "Isaiah." New International Biblical Commentary. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2001.

Herbert, A.S. "Isaiah 40-66." The Cambridge Bible Commentary. Great Britain: Cambridge University Press, 1975.

Knight, George. "Servant Theology, A Commentary on the Book of Isaiah 40-55." International Theological Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm B Eerdmans, 1984.

Sawyer, John. "Isaiah." Daily Study Bible Series. Philadelphia, PA: Westminster Press, 1984.

Whybray, R.N. "Isaiah 40-66." The New Century Bible Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm B Eerdmans, 1990.

Widyapranawa, S.H. "Isaiah, 1-39, The Lord is Savior, Faith in National Crisis." International Theological Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm B Eerdmans, 1990.

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