Purpose:  To call the nation of Judah back to God and to tell of God's salvation through the Messiah
 Author: The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz
 Date written:  The events of chapters 1-39 occurred during Isaiah's ministry so they were probably written about  700 B.C. Chapters 40-66, however, may have been written near the end of his life, about 681 B.C. 
 Setting:  Isaiah is speaking and writing mainly in Jerusalem 
 Key verse:  "But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed." (53:5)
 Key people:  Isaiah; his two sons, Shear-jashub and Maher-shalal-hash-baz
 Special features:  The book of Isaiah contains both prose and poetry and uses personification (attributing personal qualities to divine beings or inanimate objects). Also, many of the prophecies in Isaiah contain predictions that foretell a soon-to-occur event and a distant future event at the same time.   

Position in the Hebrew Bible

    In the Hebrew Bible the book of Isaiah initiates a division called the Latter Prophets (for the Former Prophets see introduction to Joshua: The and Theological Theme), including also Jeremiah, Ezekiel and the Twelve MInor Prophets (so called because of their small size by comparison with the major prophetic books of Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel, and not at all suggesting that they are of minor importance). Thus Isaiah occupies pride of place among the Letter Prophets. This is fitting since he is sometimes referred to as the prince of the prophets. 



    Isaiah son of Amoz is often thought of as the greatest of the writing prophets. His name means "The Lord saves." He was a contemporary of Amos, Hosea and Micah, beginning his ministry in 740 B.C., the year King Uzziah died (6:1). According to an unsubstantiated Jewish tradition (The Ascension of Isaiah), he was sawed in half during the reign of Manasseh (f. Heb 11:37). Isaiah was married and had at least two sons, Shear-Jashub (7:3) and Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz (8:3). He probably spent most of his life in Jerusalem, enjoying his greatest influence under King Hezekiah (37:1-2). Isaiah is also credited with writing a history of the reign of King Uzziah (2Ch 26:22). 

    Many scholars today challenge the claim that Isaiah wrote the entire book that bears his name. Yet his is the only name attached to it (1:1; 2:1; 13:1). The strongest argument for the unity of Isaiah is the expression "the Holi One of Israel," a title for God that occurs 12 times in chs. 1-39 and 14 times in chs. 40-66. Outside Isaiah it appears in the OT only 6 times. There are other striking verbal parallels between chs. 1-39 and chs. 40-66. Compare the following verses:

 52:13;  57:15

    Altogether, there are at least 25 Hebrew words or forms found in Isaiah (i.e., in both major divisions of the book) that occur in no other prophetic writing.
    Isaiah's use of fire as a figure of punishment (see 1:31; 10:17; 26:11; 33:11-14; 34:9-10; 66:24), his references to the "holy mountain" of Jerusalem (2:2-4) and his mention of the highway to Jerusalem (11:16) are themes that recur throughout the book. 
    The structure of Isaiah also argues for its unity. Chs. 36-39 constitute a historical interlude,which concludes chs. 1-35 and introduces chs. 40-66 (36:1).
    Several NT verses refer to the prophets Isaiah in connection with various parts of the book: Mt 12:17-21 (Isa 42:1-4); Mt 3:3 and Lk 3:4 (Isa 40:3); Ro 10:16,20 (Isa 53:1; 65:1); see especially Jn 12:38-41 (Isa 53:1; 6:10).


    Most of the events referred to in chs.1-39 occurred during Isaiah's ministry (6:1; 14:28; 36:1), so these chapters may have been completed not long after 701 B.C., the year the Assyrian army was destroyed (10:16). The Prophet lived until at least 681 (37:38) and may have written chs. 40-66 during his later years. In his message to the exiles of the sixth century B.C., Isaiah was projected into the future, just as Ezekiel was in Eze 40-48.   


    Isaiah wrote during the stormy period marking the expansion of the Assyrian empire and the decline of Israel. Under King Tiglath-Pileser III (745-727 B.C.( the Assyrian swept westward into Aram (Syria) and Canaan . About 733 the kings of Aram and Israel tried to pressure Ahaz king of Judah into joining a coalition against Assyria. Ahaz chose instead to ask Tiglath-Pileser for help, a decision condemned by Isaiah (7:1). Assyria did assist Judah and conquered the northern kingdom in 722-721. This made Judah more vulnerable, and in 701 King Sennacherib of Assyria threatened Jerusalem itself (36:1). The godly King Hezekiah prayed earnestly, and Isaiah predicted that God would force the Assyrians to withdraw from the city (37:6-7).  

    Nevertheless Isaiah warned Judah that her sin would bring captivity at the hands of Babylon. The visit of the Babylonian king's envoys to Hezekiah set the stage for this prediction (39:1,6). Although the fall of Jerusalem would not take place until 586 B.C., Isaiah assumes the destruction of Judah and proceeds to predict the restoration of the people from captivity (40:2-3). God would redeem his people from Babylon just as he rescued them from Egypt (35:9; 41:14). Isaiah predicts the rise of Cyrus the Persian, who would unite the Medes and Persians and conquer Babylon in 539 (41:2). The decree of Cyrus would allow the Jews to return home in 538/537, a deliverance that prefigured the greater salvation from sin through Christ (52:7). 

Themes and Theology

    Isaiah  is a book that unveils the full dimensions of God's judgment and salvation. God is "the Holy One of Israel" (1:4;6:1) who must punish his rebellious people (1:2) but will afterward redeem them (41:14,16). Israel is a nation blind and deaf (6:9-10; 42:7), a vineyard that will be trampled (5:1-7), a people devoid of justice or righteousness (5:7; 10:1-2). The awful judgment that will be unleashed upon Israel and all the nations that defy God is called "the day of the Lord." Although Israel has a foretaste of that day (5:30; 42:25), the nations bear its full power (2:11,17,20). It is a day associated in the NT with Christ's second coming and the accompanying judgment (24:1,21; 34:1-2). Throughout the book, God's judgment is referred to as "fire" (1:31; 30:33). He is the "Sovereign Lord" (25:8), far above all nations and rulers (40:15-24).   

    Yet God will have compassion on his people (14:1-2) and will rescue them from both political and spiritual oppression. Their restoration is like a new exodus (43:2,16-19; 52:10-12) as God redeems them (35:9; 41:14), and saves them (43:3; 49:8). Israel's mighty Creator (40:21-22; 48:13) will make streams spring up in the desert (32:2) as he graciously leads them home. The theme of a highway for the return of exiles is a prominent one (11:16; 40:3) in both major parts of the book. The Lord raises a banner to summon the nations to bring Israel home (5:26). 

    Peace and safety mark this new Messianic age (11:6-9). A king descended from David will reign in righteousness (9:7; 32:1), and all nations will stream to the holy mountain of Jerusalem (2:2-4). God's people will no longer be oppressed by wicked rulers (11:14; 45:14) and Jerusalem will truly be the "City of the Lord" (60:14). 

    The Lord calls the Messianic King "my servant" in chs. 42-53, a term also applied to Israel as a nation (41:8-9; 42:1). It is through the suffering of the servant that salvation in its fullest sense is achieved. Cyrus was God's instrument to deliver Israel from Babylon (41:2), but Christ delivered humankind from the prison of sin (52:13-53:12). He became a "light for the Gentiles" (42:6), so that those nations that faced judgment (chs. 13-23) could find salvation (55:4-5). These Gentiles also became "servants of the Lord" (54:17).

    The Lord's kingdom on earth, with its righteous Ruler and his righteous subjects, it the goal toward which the book of Isaiah steadily moves. The restored earth and the restored people will then conform to the divine ideal, and all will result in the praise and glory of the Holy One of Israel for what he has accomplished. 

Literary Features

    Isaiah contains both prose and poetry; the beauty of its poetry is unsurpassed the OT. The main prose material is found in chs. 36-39, the historical interlude that unites the two parts of the book (see Author). The poetic material includes a series of oracles in chs. 13-23. A taunting song against the king of Babylon is found in 14:4-23. Chs. 24-27 comprise an apocalyptic section stressing the last days (24:1-27:13). A wisdom  poem is found in 28:23-29 (also cf. 32:5-8). The song of the vineyard (5:1-7) begins as a love song as Isaiah describes God's relationship with Israel. Hymns of praise are given in 12:1-6 and 38:10-20, and a national lament occurs in 63:7-64:12. The poetry is indeed rich and varied, as is the prophet's vocabulary (he uses a larger vocabulary of Hebrew words than any other OT writer).

    One of Isaiah's favorite techniques is personification. The sun and moon are ashamed (24:23), while the desert and parched land rejoice (35:1) and the mountains and forests burst into song (44:23). The trees "clap their hands" (55:12). A favorite figure is the vineyard, which represents Israel (5:7). Treading the winepress is a picture of judgment (63:3) , and to drink God's "cup of wrath" is to stagger under his punishment (51:17) Isaiah uses the name "Rock" to describe God (17:10), and animals such as Leviathan and Rahab represent nations (27:1; 30:7; 51:9). 

    The power of Isaiah's imagery is seen in 30:27-33, and he makes full use of sarcasm in his denunciation of idols in 44:9-20. A forceful example of wordplay appears in 5:7, and one finds inversion in 6:10 (16:7) and alliteration and assonance in 24:16-17. The "overwhelming scourge" of 28:15,18 is an illustration of mixed metaphor.       

    Isaiah often alludes to earlier events in Israel's history, especially the exodus from Egypt. The crossing of the Red Sea forms the background for 11:15 and 43:2,16-17, and other allusions occur in 4:5-6; 31:5; 37:36. The overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah is referred to in 1:9, and Gideon's victory over Midian is mentioned in 9:4; 10:26; 28;21).  Several times Isaiah draws upon the song of Moses in Dt 32 (compare 1:2 with Dt 32:1; 30:17 with Dt 32:30; and 43:11,13 with Dt 32:39). Isaiah, like Moses, called the nation to repentance and to faith in a holy, all-powerful God. (49:8). The refrain in 48:22 and 557:21 divides the last 27 chapters into three sections of nine chapters (40-48; 49-57; 58-66).  

Isaiah Interpretive Challenges

Interpretive challenges in a long and significant book such as Isaiah are numerous. The most critical of them focuses on whether Isaiah’s prophecies will receive literal fulfillment or not, and on whether the Lord, in His program, has abandoned national Israel and permanently replaced the nation with the church, so that there is no future for national Israel.

On the latter issue, numerous portions of isaiah support the position that God has not replaced ethnic Israel with an alleged “new Israel.” Isaiah has too much to say about God’s faithfulness to Israel, that He would not reject the people whom He has created and chosen (43:1). The nation is on the palms of His hands, and Jerusalem’s walls are ever before His eyes (48:16). He is bound by His own Word to fulfill the promises He has made to bring them back to Himself and bless them in that future day (55:10-12).

On the former issue, literal fulfillment of many of Isaiah’s prophecies has already occurred. To contend that those yet unfulfilled will see non-literal fulfillment is biblically groundless. This fact disqualifies the case for proposing that the church receives some of the promises made originally to Israel. The Kingdom promised to David belongs to Israel, not the church. The future exaltation of Jerusalem will be on earth, no in heaven. Christ will reign personally on this earth as we know it, as well in the new heavens and new earth (Rev 22:1, 3).


Part 1: The Book of Judgment (chs.1-39)

I. Messages of Rebuke and Promise (chs.1-6)

A. Introduction: Changes against Judah for Breaking the Covenant (ch.1)

B. The future Discipline and Glory of Judah and Jerusalem (chs.2-4)

  1. Jerusalem’s future blessings (2:1-5)

  2. The Lord’s discipline of Judah (2:6-4:1)

  3. The restoration of Zion (4:2-6)

C. The Nation’s Judgment and Exile (ch.5)

D. Isaiah’s Unique Commission (ch.6)

II. Prophecies Occasioned by the Aramean and Israelite Threat against Judah (chs.7-21)

A. Ahaz Warned Not to Fear the Aramean and Israelite Alliance (ch.7)

B. Isaiah’s Son and David’s Son (8:1-9:7)

C. Judgment against Israel (9:8-10:4)

D. the Assyrian Empire and the Davidic Kingdom (10:5-12:6)

  1. The destruction of Assyria (10:5-34)

  2. The establishment of the Davidic king and his kingdom (ch.11)

  3. Song of joy for deliverance (ch.12)

III. Judgment against the Nations (chs.13-23)

A. Against Assyria and Its Ruler (13:1-14:27)

B. Against Philistia (14:28-32)

C. Against Moab (chs.15-16)

D. Against Aram and Israel (ch.17)

E. Against Cush (ch.18)

F. Against Egypt and Cush (ch.19-20)

G. Against Babylon (21:1-10)

H. Against Dumah (Edom) (21:11-12)

I.  Against Arabia (21:13-17)

J. Against the Valley of Vision (Jerusalem) (ch.22)

K. Against Tyre (ch.23)

IV. Judgment and Promise (the Lord’s Kingdom) (chs.24-27)

A. Universal Judgments for Universal Sin (ch.24)

B. Deliverance and Blessing (ch.25)

C. Praise for the Lord’s Sovereign Care (ch.26)

D. Israel’s Enemies Punished but Israel’s Remnant Restored (ch.27)

V. Six Woes: Five on the Unfaithful in Israel and One on Assyria (chs.28-33)

A. Woe to Ephraim (Samaria)- and to Judah (ch.28)

B. Woe to David’s City, Jerusalem (29:1-14)

C. Woe to Those Who Rely on Foreign Alliances (29:15-24)

D. Woe to the Obstinate Nation (ch.30)

E. Woe to Those Who Rely on Egypt (chs.31-32)

F. Woe to Assyria - but Blessing for God’s People (ch.33)

VI. More Prophecies of Judgment and Promise (chs.34-35)

A. The Destruction of the Nations and the Avenging of God’s People (ch.34)

B. The Future Blessings of Restored Zion (ch.35)

VII. A Historical Transition from the Assyrian Threat to the Babylonian Exile (chs.36-39)

A. Jerusalem Preserved from the Assyrian Threat (chs.36-37)

  1. The siege of Jerusalem by Sennacherib and the Assyrian army (ch.36)

  2. The Lord’s deliverance of Jerusalem (ch.37)

B. The Lord’s Extension of Hezekiah’s Life (ch.38)

C. The Babylonian Exile Predicted (ch.39)

Part 2: The Book of Comfort (chs.40-66)

VIII. The Deliverance and Restoration of Israel (chs.40-48)

A. The Coming of the Victorious God (40:1-26)

B. Unfailing Strength for the Weary Exiles (40:27-31)

C. The Lord of History (41:1-42:9)

D. Praise and Exhortation (42:10-25)

E. The Regathering and Renewal of Israel (43:1-44:5)

F. The Only God (44:6-45:25)

G. The Lord’s Superiority over Babylon's Gods (ch.46)

H. The Fall of Babylon (ch.47)

I.   The Lord’s Exhortations to His People (ch.48)

IX. The Servant’s Ministry and Israel’s Restoration (chs. 49-57)

A. The Call and Mission of the Servant (49:1-13)

B. The Repopulation of Zion (49:14-26)

C. Israel’s Sin and the Servant’s Obedience (ch.50)

D. The Remnant Comforted Because of Their Glorious Prospects (51:1-52:12)

E. The Suffering and Glories of the Lord’s Righteous Servant (52:13-53:12)

F. The Future Glory of Zion (ch.54)

G. The Lord’s Call to Salvation and Covenant Blessings (55:1-56:8)

H. The Condemnation of the Wicked in Israel (56:9-57:21)

X. Everlasting Deliverance and Everlasting Judgment (chs.58-66)

A. False and True Worship (ch.58)

B. Zion’s Confession and REdemption (ch.59)

C. Zion’s Peace and Prosperity (ch.60)

D. The Lord’s Favor (ch.61)

E. Zion’s Restoration and Glory (62:1-63:6)

F. Prayer for Divine Deliverance (63:7-64:12)

G. The Lord’s Answer: Mercy and Judgment (ch.65)

H. Judgment for False Worshipers and Blessing for True Worshipers (ch.66)

Isaiah Horizontal

1:1 - Israel’s sin


5:1 - Vineyard of woes


6:1 - Calling of Isaiah


7:1 - Isaiah’s word to Ahaz


9:1 - Assyria judged

Lack of

11:1 - A Remnant


13:1 - Downfall of Babylon

14:24 - Judgment of Assyria / Philistia

15:1 - Judgment on Moab

17:1 - Judgment on Damascus / Israel

18:1 - Judgment on Ethelia



19:1 - Judgment on Egypt



21:1 - Oracle concerning wilderness of Sea, Dumah, Arabia, and Valley of Vision





23:1 - Judgment on Tyre

24:1 - Judgment on all the wicked

25:1 - Restoration and blessing for righteous / God’s wrath on wicked

28:1 - Woe to the proud drunkards Judá

Woes vs.

29:1 - Woe to spiritually blind - Jerusalem


30:1 - Don’t run to Egypt


32:1 - Righteous abide in peace


34:1 - Day of Vengeance / Restoration

36:1 - Hezekiah against Assyria


38:1 - Hezekiah’s sickness

40:1 Comfort

41:1 - The almighty God judges


42:1 - No other God besides me


44:1 - Foolishness of Idols


46:1 - Judgment of Babylon

(God vs. idols)


48:1 - No peace for wicked


49:1 - A light to those in darkness


52:13 - The suffering servant

Promised Messiah

55:1 - Salvation offered

58:1 - Inward condition not outward appearance


60:1 - City of the Lord


61:1 - New ministry

And Erath

64:1 - God dwelling with men

God's character in Isaiah

  1. God is accessible—55:3, 6 
  2. God is eternal—9:6 
  3. God is faithful—49:7 
  4. God is glorious—2:10; 6:3; 42:8; 48:11; 59:19 
  5. God is holy—5:16; 6:3; 57:15 
  6. God is just—45:21 
  7. God is kind—54:8, 10; 63:7 
  8. God is Light—60:19 
  9. God is long-suffering—30:18; 48:9 
  10. God is loving—38:17; 43:3, 4; 49:15, 16; 63:9 
  11. God is merciful—49:13; 54:7, 8, 55:3, 7 
  12. God is powerful—26:4; 33:13; 41:10; 43:13; 48:13; 52:10; 63:12 
  13. God is a promise keeper—1:18; 43:2 
  14. God is provident—10:5–17; 27:3; 31:5; 44:7; 50:2; 63:14 
  15. God is righteous—41:10 
  16. God is true—25:1; 38:19; 65:16 
  17. God is unequaled—43:10; 44:6; 46:5, 9 
  18. God is unified—44:6, 8, 24; 45:5–8, 18, 21, 22; 46:9–11 
  19. God is unsearchable—40:28 God is wise—28:29; 40:14, 28; 42:9; 44:7; 46:10; 47:10; 66:18 
  20. God is wrathful—1:4; 3:8; 9:13, 14, 19; 13:9; 26:20; 42:24, 25; 47:6; 48:9; 54:8; 57:15, 16; 64:9

Christ in Isaiah

    The book of Isaiah presents one of the most startling examples of messianic prophecy in the OT. With vivid imagery, Isaiah depicts the future Christ as the Suffering Servant, who was “led as a lamb to the slaughter” (53:7) and “shall justify many, for He shall bear their iniquities” (53:11). 
    Other messianic prophecies found in Isaiah with NT fulfillments include 7:14 (Matt. 1:22, 23); 9:1–2 (Matt. 4:12–16); 9:6 (Luke 2:11; Eph. 2:14–18); 11:1 (Luke 3:23, 32; Acts 13:22, 23); 11:2 (Luke 3:22); 28:16 (1 Pet. 2:4–6); 40:3–5 (Matt. 3:1–3); 42:1–4 (Matt. 12:15–21); 42:6 (Luke 2:29–32); 50:6 (Matt. 26:67; 27:26, 30); 52:14 (Phil. 2:7–11); 53:3 (Luke 23:18; John 1:11; 7:5); 53:4, 5 (Rom. 5:6, 8); 53:7 (Matt. 27:12–14; John 1:29; 1 Pet. 1:18, 19); 53:9 (Matt. 27:57–60); 53:12 (Mark 15:28); 61:1 (Luke 4:17–19, 21).