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Isaiah the Prophet; unknown artist for a 19th century Protestant Christian Sunday School Bible Card publisher

Isaiah, the son of Amoz, was the Jewish prophet who wrote the Book of Isaiah during the 8th century BCE; his text concerns the restoration of the nation of Israel from the era of Babylonian captivity. Three generations of Assyrian kings determined to conquer Israel; by 722 BCE, the northern kingdom of Samaria was under Assyrian rule. When Hezekiah became King of Judah, he repudiated the existing treaty with Assyria and formed an alliance with Egypt; King Sennacherib sent an army into Judah and laid siege to Jerusalem -- twice. The second time, Isaiah encouraged Hezekiah to resist the Assyrian army: "Thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel: Whereas thou hast prayed to Me against Sennacherib king of Assyria, this is the word which the Lord hath spoken concerning him: The virgin daughter of Zion hath despised thee and laughed thee to scorn; the daughter of Jerusalem hath shaken her head at thee. ... Whom hast thou taunted and blasphemed? And against whom hast thou exalted thy voice? Yea, thou hast lifted up thine eyes on high, even against the Holy One of Israel!" (Isaiah 37:21-23) With this passage, the prophet warned against the disaster that fell on the enemy: one angel of the Lord slew 185,000 Assyrian warriors as they slept (2 Kings 19:35). This was the last attempt by Assyria on Judah's liberty.

The Book of Isaiah, as we now have it, promises both judgement and restoration for Judah, Jerusalem and all the world's nations; that Jerusalem will be the center of God's righteous rule on earth, through the actions of the royal messiah. Isaiah denounces corrupt leaders and decrees God's righteous vengeance upon the oppressor (identified as Babylon); and lifts up the disadvantaged and the oppressed. Isaiah's wife was called "the prophetess", which is all that the Bible says about her, except that she bore two children, whom Isaiah gave prophetic names: Shear-jashub ("A remnant shall return") and Maher-shalal-hash-baz ("Spoil quickly, plunder speedily"), pointing forward to the conquest of Samaria and Damascus by the king of Assyria, Tiglath-Pileser III. The Bible itself has nothing to say about the end of Isaiah's life, but there are extra-biblical stories about his martyrdom in the early 7th century BCE.

Isaiah's writing became so influential over the centuries that quotations from it appear throughout Jewish rabbinical literature. Additionally, many Christians of ancient times regarded it as a fifth gospel, believing that it foretold the coming of Jesus Christ. Isiaiah is generally depicted as a white-bearded elder, often shown looking upward and outward as he sees his visions. Hoodoo psychic readers, spirit workers, and root doctors who petition spiritual figures within the Jewish tradition on behalf of clients may work with Isaiah when there are pending spiritual and magical issues regarding just government, liberation from captivity, reform and regeneration, and spiritual guidance.


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