Damien F. Mackey
As I have a tendency to do, to multi-identify, I have by now variously identified the great prophet Isaiah as:
- the Isaiah of the entire Book of Isaiah;
- the prophet Hosea;
- the Simeonite “Uzziah” of the Book of Judith; and
- the martyred prophet Uriah (Urijah) of the Book of Jeremiah.
- As Isaiah
If the Book of Isaiah’s “Suffering Servant” is directly a description of the prophet Jeremiah, as argued in my:
Prophet Jeremiah pre-figures the perfect ‘Suffering Servant’
which article is chronologically supported in my six-part series, beginning with:
then the traditional view that the one prophet Isaiah was the author of the entire Book of Isaiah is further strengthened, whilst the fragmentary notion of a Deutero-Isaiah, as well as a Trito-Isaiah, begins to be exposed as – what I believe it to be – an artificial Procrustean-ised chopping up into pieces of an original one prophet.
Now, drawing from (iv) above, Isaiah as the martyred Uriah, we can finally name a home town for the prophet Isaiah, who is generally considered to have been of the kingdom of Judah.
According to Jeremiah 26:20, “… Uriah [was from] Kiriath Jearim”.
With Kiriath Jearim facing Jeremiah’s home town of Anathoth, only a few miles away,
then we can the better appreciate Isaiah’s ‘neighbourly’ words about the “Suffering Servant” (53:2): “For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him”.
Isaiah and his relatives were apparently well familiar with the young prophet and his appearance.
Presumably from his base of Kiriath Jearim near Jerusalem Isaiah was able to go forth to meet, now king Ahaz, now Ahaz’s son, Hezekiah.
In the case of Ahaz, Isaiah was commanded (7:3): “Then the LORD said to Isaiah, ‘Go out now to meet Ahaz, you and your son Shear-jashub, at the end of the conduit of the upper pool, on the highway to the fuller’s field …’.”
For this specific location, which is also to where the Rabshakeh of the Assyrian army will come to harangue the Jews at a later time, see my:
The Conduit of the Upper Pool on the Highway to the Fuller’s Field
In the case of Hezekiah, during the king’s serious illness, a miracle will also be worked to accompany the king’s release form his sickness (Isaiah 38:4-8):
“Then the word of the Lord came to Isaiah: “Go and tell Hezekiah, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of your father David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will add fifteen years to your life. And I will deliver you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria. I will defend this city.
‘This is the Lord’s sign to you that the Lord will do what he has promised: I will make the shadow cast by the sun go back the ten steps it has gone down on the stairway of Ahaz.’” So the sunlight went back the ten steps it had gone down”.
- As Hosea
I wrote about this likely (as I think) connection in my university thesis:
A Revised History of the Era of King Hezekiah of Judah
And its Background
(EXCURSUS: LIFE AND TIMES OF HEZEKIAH’S CONTEMPORARY, ISAIAH) as follows (here modified, and with some comments added):
Isaiah and his Father Amos
Amos began his prophetic ministry in the latter days of the Jehu-ide king, Jeroboam II of Israel (c. 785-743 BC, conventional dates …). …. Amos was called to leave Judah and testify in the north against the injustices of Samaria. (Cf. Micah 1:2-7). … Amos was to be found preaching in the northern Bethel …. Not unexpectedly, Amos’ presence there at the time of Jeroboam II was not appreciated by the Bethelite priesthood, who regarded him as a conspirator from the southern kingdom (Amos 7:10). Being the man that he was, though, Amos would unlikely have been frightened away by Jeroboam’s priest, Amaziah, when he had urged Amos (vv.12-13):
‘O seer, go, flee away to the land of Judah, earn your bread there, and prophesy there; but never again prophesy at Bethel, for it is the king’s sanctuary, and it is the temple of the kingdom’.
Comment: I then speculated that Isaiah, young at the time, had accompanied his father Amos to the northern kingdom, to Bethel.
… Isaiah must … have accompanied his father to the north and he, too, must have been prophesying, as Hosea, in the days of Jeroboam II (Hosea 1:1). His prophesying apparently began in the north: …. “When the Lord first spoke through Hosea …” (1:2). He would continue prophesying right down to the time of king Hezekiah (cf. Hosea 1:1; Isaiah 1:1). The names Isaiah and Hosea are indeed of very similar meaning, being basically derived from the same Hebrew root for ‘salvation’, יֵ֫שַׁע
– “Isaiah” (Hebrew יְשַׁעְיָהוּ , Yeshâ‘yâhû) signifies: “Yahweh (the Lord) is salvation”.
– “Hosea” (Hebrew הוֹשֵׁעַ) means practically the same: “Yahweh (the Lord) is saviour”.
Though no doubt young, the prophet was given the strange command by God to marry an ‘unfaithful’ woman: “‘Go, take yourself a wife of harlotry and have children of harlotry, for the land commits great harlotry by forsaking the Lord’. So he went and took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim …” (Hosea 1:2-3). Biblical scholars have agonised over the type of woman this Gomer might have been: adulteress? harlot? temple-prostitute? But essentially the clue is to be found in the statement above that she was a citizen of the ‘land of great harlotry’: namely, the northern kingdom of Israel.
Comment: Still requiring work is yet to sort out the wife (or wives) of Isaiah and of Hosea.
A further likeness between Isaiah and Hosea was the fact that ‘their names’ and those of ‘their’ children were meant to be, in their meanings, prophetic signs.
– The prophet Isaiah tells us: “Behold, I and the children whom the Lord has given me are for signs and portents …” (Isaiah 8:18).
– Similarly, the names of the children of the prophet Hosea were meant to be prophetic (Hosea 1:4, 6, 9).
Boutflower, who has written perceptively on Isaiah’s children, has rightly noted the prophetic significance of their names and those of Hosea’s children, without however connecting Isaiah and Hosea as one: …. “Isaiah like Hosea had three known children, all of whose names were prophetic”. It is most unlikely, one would have to think, to have two great prophets contemporaneously operating over such a substantial period of time, and each having three children whose names were prophetic. The fact is I believe that it was just the one prophet, who may possibly have had six children in all. And Irvine has, in the course of his detailed study of the so-called Isaianic Denkschrift [‘personal memoir’] (Isaiah 6:1-9:6) of the Syro-Ephraimitic crisis, written extensively on the chronological significance of Isaiah’s children and their names in connection with this crisis for Judah….. I also appreciate Irvine’s concern for scholars to study the prophets (thus Isaiah) according to the “historical events and politics” of their time…..
Comment: Again, the children of Isaiah and of Hosea yet need to be properly co-ordinated.
We now encounter a difficult regarding patronymics.
Isaiah’s father was, as we have read, Amos.
Hosea’s father was Beeri (Hosea 1:1): “The word of the LORD that came to Hosea son of Beeri during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and during the reign of Jeroboam son of Jehoash king of Israel”.
Judith – with whom I shall associate Isaiah-Hosea as fellow-townspeople, and fellow-Simeonites, in Part Three – called herself “the daughter of Merari” (Judith 16:7).
Now, as I wrote in my thesis (loc. cit.):
We saw that Jewish legend names Judith’s father as Beeri. Now the names Beeri and Merari are very similar if Conder’s principle, “supposing the substitution of M for B, of which there are occasional instances in Syrian nomenclature” (as quoted back on p. 70), be allowable here. This vital piece of information, that Judith’s father was Beeri, now enables for the prophet Hosea, an exact contemporary of Isaiah in the north, whose father was also Beeri (Hosea 1:1), to be identified with Isaiah….
Comment: Despite my optimism here, it still properly needs to be determined who was this (presumably Simeonite) ancestor, Merari, and whether or not he were the same as Beeri, and whether or not there is a family relationship between Isaiah (Hosea) and Judith.
- As Uzziah
We are first introduced to Uzziah in Judith 6:14-16:
“Later, when the Israelites came down from Bethulia, they untied Achior, brought him into the town, and took him before the town officials, who at that time were Uzziah son of Micah, of the tribe of Simeon, Chabris son of Gothoniel, and Charmis son of Melchiel. The officials called together the town elders, and all the women and the young men also ran to the assembly. Achior was brought before the people, and Uzziah began questioning him …”.
The fact that this Uzziah is the chief town official in Bethulia, and that he is a son of Micah, turns out to be most convenient for my developing thesis.
And, the fact that he is a Simeonite provides us with some bonus information.
Isaiah was, as we know, the son of Amoz (Amos).
But Uzziah was, according to the Judith text above, the “son of Micah”.
What might immediately look like a further complication, having both Amos and Micah, actually works perfectly into my scheme wherein I have identified the:
Prophet Micah as Amos
The prophet Micah is so like the prophet Amos, as we read in this article, that he has been called “Amos redivivus”.
From the above quote from the Book of Judith (chapter 6) we can now determine new things about the prophet Isaiah:
(i) He, the son of Amos, was, as Uzziah, the son of Amos’s alter ego, Micah the prophet.
(ii) He was of the tribe of Simeon, not of Judah as is often thought.
(iii) He resided in Bethulia, which must now be identified as the Bethel to where his father Amos had been sent.
Having struggled with the identification of the Judith’s city of “Bethulia”, I have lately accepted Charles C. Torrey’s view that it must be the highly strategic Shechem, which others identify with the northern Bethel:
In my thesis I wrote about Uzziah of Bethulia (Volume Two, beginning p. 60):
The magistrates of the town of Bethulia before whom Achior appeared are named: “…Uzziah son of Micah, of the tribe of Simeon, and Chabris son of Gothoniel, and Charmis son of Melchiel” (v.15). I intend to argue in the next chapter that this Uzziah (var. Ozias) was none other than Isaiah himself. In [the Book of Judith] chapter 8 we shall be told that Judith too was – like Uzziah – of the tribe of Simeon. Now, with Simeon being one of the southernmost tribes of Judah, with enclaves even in the Negev (1 Chronicles 4:28), is it a peculiarity having a bastion of Simeonites situated in Ephraïm? It certainly would have been in the earliest periods of Israel’s settlement in Canaan, but it would be quite allowable from the time of king Asa of Judah (c. C9th BC) onwards; for it is recorded in 2 Chronicles 15:9 that, at the time of Asa, Simeonites were residing in the north “as aliens” amongst the Ephraïmites and Manasseh-ites. Bruns has elaborated on this in his context of trying to locate [the Book of Judith] to the Persian era: ….
Nor … is the most important geographical detail in the book [of Judith], namely the reference to a Jewish (Simeonite) settlement on the border of the valley of Dothan, a fabrication. For a combination of various sources (Meg. Ta’an, for 25 Marheshvan (chap. 8); Jos., Ant. 13:275f., 379f; Wars 1:93f.; and also apparently I Macc. 5:23) shows that at the time of the return in the region of Samaria, in the neighbourhood of what was known as “the cities of Nebhrakta,” there was a Jewish-Simeonite settlement (which may in effect have existed as early as in the days of the First Temple and being of Semite origin: cf. II Chron. 34:6, 15:9; and also I Chron. 4:31) ….
Thus there were Simeonites dwelling in this northern part of the land during, and beyond, the era of the Divided Kingdom.
On pp. 63-64 I wrote of a crisis even for the great prince, Uzziah:
For “thirty-four days” (v. 20) this terrible situation of [Assyrian] blockade prevailed, until the Bethulians’ water containers were all empty. Charles, who has provided the differing figures for this period according to various versions of [the Book of Judith] … has concluded that: “The long siege by this large army is meant to emphasize the importance of Bethulia”. Certainly Bethulia will be found in the next chapter to have been a city of ‘importance’. The citizens of the town now turned angrily on their leaders (vv. 23-25). They demanded surrender, with its attendant slavery, as being preferable to a certain death by thirst. And they added: ‘We call to witness against you heaven and earth and our God …’ (vv. 26, 27, 28). Thus Uzziah found himself faced with a Moses-like situation, with the people rebelling on account of water and thirst (Numbers 20:2-13). And Uzziah’s response – at least as Judith will later interpret it (8:9-27) – was likewise flawed as was that of Moses (vv. 30-31; cf. Numbers 20:1-2). Uzziah had responded: ‘Courage my brothers and sisters! Let us hold out for five days more; by that time the Lord our God will turn his mercy to us again …. But if these days pass by, and no help comes for us, I will do as you say’. The people returned to their posts, but “in great misery” (v. 32). However, a recent prayer of theirs (v. 19) was about to be heard, for despite their despairing, ‘we have no one to help us’, effective help was now at hand. ….
How did a Simeonite, Isaiah-Hosea-Uzziah, acquire such princely attributes?
Possibly due to his father Amos, who, according to legend was related to the great Amaziah king of Judah. “The rabbis of the Talmud declared, based upon a rabbinic tradition, that Amoz was the brother of Amaziah (אמציה) …”: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amoz
It would be more likely, though, chronologically, that Amos was related to the king of Judah through marriage, rather than being his actual brother.
The fact that Uzziah of Bethulia was a “prince”, not only of Judah, but also of Israel, is supported by his activities amongst both the kings of Judah (e.g. Ahaz and Hezekiah) and his governorship over the northern Bethel.
(iv) As Uriah (Urijah)
As I wrote in:
Identifying Isaiah 53’s ‘Suffering Servant’ may involve a major chronological review. Part Five: Towards a fusion of eras of Isaiah and Jeremiah
There appears to be no biblical evidence for the strong tradition of Isaiah’s martyrdom during the reign of king Manasseh.
My tentative suggestion would be – given the proposed overlap of the reign of Manasseh with the descendants of king Josiah – that Isaiah was the otherwise unknown martyred prophet Uriah (Urijah) (Jeremiah 26:20-23):
There was also a man named Uriah, Shemaiah’s son from Kiriath-jearim, who prophesied in the LORD’s name. He prophesied about this city and this land in words similar to those of Jeremiah. King Jehoiakim, all his troops, and all the officials heard his words, and the king sought to kill him. Uriah heard about this and was afraid, so he fled and went to Egypt. King Jehoiakim sent men to Egypt. He sent Achbor’s son Elnathan, along with a contingent of men into Egypt. They brought Uriah out of Egypt and brought him to King Jehoiakim, who killed him with a sword. Then they threw his body into a common grave.
The name “Uriah”, was, as I have noted in:
Sobna (Shebna) the High Priest. Part Two: “Azriyahu of Yaudi”
compatible with “Azariah” – the latter, in turn, being interchangeable with Uzziah: “In Hebrew, the name Uzziah or Azariah means “Yahweh is my strength”. This man was noted as one of the Kingdom of Judah’s finest kings”.
Now Uzziah was, as we have learned, another name by which the prophet Isaiah was known whilst he was living in the north.
[The prophet Hosea (var. Osee) identifies with both the prophet Isaiah
and Uzziah (var. Ozias) of Judith’s Bethulia]
But how to explain the other terms of Jeremiah 26:20: “There was also a man named Uriah, Shemaiah’s son from Kiriath-jearim …”?
For Isaiah was, as we read above, the son of Amoz (Amos).
According to the above article, “Family of Prophet Isaiah”, Isaiah was of Simeonite stock, tracing its ancestry back to contemporaries of Moses, Shelumiel and Sarasadai (Judith 8:1). Now, the name Shelumiel is compatible with Shelemiah, according to Abarim:
And this may perhaps be the background for “Shemaiah” of Jeremiah 26:20.
As for Kiriath-jearim, which “served as a boundary marker between the tribe of Judah and the tribe of Benjamin” (http://www.biblearchaeology.org/post/2009/02/e2809cWe-are-Standing-on-e28098Holy-Grounde28099e2809d-at-Kiriath-Jearim.aspx), this would finally provide us with a city for the great prophet Isaiah, who – despite his sojourn in the northern kingdom – is considered to have been of the southern kingdom of Judah. ….