ISAIAH, 1-zi'ya or 1-zieya, one of the great Hebrew prophets. The name Isaiah, more exactly Ye shci(ya and Ye shif(yElhfi, is derived from two Hebrew words and means °Jehovah saves.>> It refers to the general burden of the prophet's message. The prophet, who was the son of Amoz (q.v.), a man otherwise unknown to us, was born probably at Jerusalem, and this place, the scene of his life work, and in his thought synonymous with his country, engrosses his attention. The year of his birth must have been about 760 Lc., his known activity begins in 739 and continues to 701 B.C., at least. He was married not far from the time of his call in 739, for in 735 a son of his, with a name sym bolic of his prophetic message to Judah, Shear yashubh, ea remnant shall turn° (i.e., to Je hovah), was of an age suitable to accompany his father in his walks. Another son, Maher shalal-hash-bas, was born in 734, and his name also is symbolic of predicted events in the national history, namely, the fall of Damascus and Samaria, and means °hastening to booty, speeding to prey.° It is to be remembered that Amos (750 Lc.), and Hosea (q.v.) (735 a.c.), are the only ca nonical prophets that preceded Isaiah and these had their work in the northern kingdom, though Micah (q.v.) prophesied in a country distnct of Judah during the middle and later periods of Isaiah's ministry. It is next to cer tain that Isaiah was of high rank, if not of the nobility in Judah, and at times might be as bold as he chose in his utterances to the court. We cannot be certain whether the Jewish tra ditions that he was the nephew of King Amaz jab (Megilla, 10b), that he was slain by Manas seh (Jebamoth, 49b), and that he was sawn asunder Ascension of Isaiah,' Ethiopic version; cf Justin Martyr, 'Dial. c. Trypho,> chap. cxx), have a basis in fact or not.
The principal crises of the country in Isaiah's time occurred in 735, 734 (during the reign of Ahaz), and in 701 (during Hezekiah's reign). The occasion of the first was the union of Da mascus and north Israel against the Assyrian over-lord, Tiglath-pileser III (745-727) and their attempt to overcome Judah. The occasion of the second crisis was the attempt of Judah and her neighbors to avoid tribute to Assyria and their alliance with Egypt against her. At this time Sennacherib was on the throne of As syria (705-681). Besides these, there were moderate political disturbances in Judah during the reigns of Shalmanassar IV (727-722), and Sargon (722-705), for both of these warlike kings in these times were in the west country for conquest and subjugated north Israel, as well as the Philistine territory.
In meeting these crises, Isaiah showed him self the most consummate statesman and the most brilliant theological teacher in Israel in the times before Christ. His hold of truth was strong, his presentation of it was uncompromis ing, his oratory was superb, and the variety and finish of his discourses and the aptness of his illustrations, as well as the measured flow of his thought, were inimitable. It is of course true that in his teaching he built upon his prede• cessors, Amos and Hosea, but he put such a stamp of genius upon the ideas he cherished, that his influence has been the greatest of all the Hebrew prophets.
In general it may be said that Isaiah's mes sages had to do with the safety of the capital in the warlike times in which he lived, with the character of God in his sublime holiness and righteousness, and with the duty of his fellow citizens to cultivate the righteous life, and, for saldng human political wisdom and alliances with the nations, to depend absolutely upon the Lord God. With him, religion and politics go hand in hand, and theological thinking is the kernel of his most practical and stirring ad dresses. Incidentally he has given us a view of the circumstances of his time, its social relations and habits, the fashions, the commotions and rumors, in times of peace and war, in seasons of prosperity and distress; in all showing him self the most vivid and powerful preacher of the olden time.
The convictions of Isaiah are due to his faith in God and arise out of the circumstances of the time. Jehovah is the Holy One of Israel, hence he must punish Jerusalem for her injus tice to men and her falseness to God, and this he will do through the instrumentality of the most potent political powers of the age; but since Jerusalem is the throne of His glory, and the seat of true religion, however formal the people have made their worship, therefore, a portion of the Judeans will be spared, and the city will prove invincible. Indeed, his own be loved capital is destined to become the centre of religious truth for the nations, and is to have anew and perfect ruler, who will reign in wis dom and might, and will bring righteousness and peace to the people. See Ismail, BooL OF.