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Excerpt 2 - Isaiah

In some critical circles today, most of Isaiah chapters 1-39 is thought to be the work of the historical Isaiah, written around 700 B.C., while Isaiah chapters 40-66 is commonly understood to have been written by one or two different men more than 150 years later. Dating the Old Testament takes the position that all of Isaiah was written by Isaiah rather than multiple authors, and this excerpt is a portion of the argument for the unity of Isaiah. This excerpt draws heavily from The Indivisible Isaiah by Rachel Margalioth.


4 Thesis and Antithesis

Several prophets express praise and blessing by converting their own previous derogatory phrases, or vice versa. For example, Hosea first says: “I will no longer have mercy,” and “you are not my people” (Hos 1:6 and 1:9), then converts his terminology, saying: “say to your brothers: ‘my people’ and to your sisters ‘mercy is shown’” (Hos 2:1). Jeremiah converts his terminology several times, as in saying, “Behold, what I have built I am about to tear down, and what I have planted I am about to uproot” (Jer 45:4), and conversely saying “then I will build you up and not tear you down, and I will plant you and not uproot you” (Jer 42:10). Jeremiah also warns three times that “the voice of joy and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride” would be removed (Jer 7:34, 16:9 and 25:10), then using identical wording says they will be restored in Jer 33:11. Mrs. Margalioth likens this to a mother promising her son a trumpet if he is good, then threatening not to buy the trumpet if he misbehaves.[Rachel Margalioth, The Indivisible Isaiah, p.39] Isaiah does this also, as in “Sons I have reared and brought up” (Isa 1:2), then “I have neither brought up young men nor reared virgins” (Isa 23:4). This is one of a number of examples in which both the thesis and antithesis are present in the first part of Isaiah. The table below shows examples where the thesis and antithesis are in different portions of the book.


First Part of Isaiah (1-39)

Second Part of Isaiah (40-66)

…instead of sweet perfume there will be putrefaction; instead of a belt, a rope; instead of well-set hair, a plucked-out scalp; instead of fine clothes, a donning of sackcloth; and branding instead of beauty. (3:24)

Instead of bronze I will bring gold, and instead of iron I will bring silver, and instead of wood, bronze, and instead of stones, iron. (60:17)

For you will be like … a garden that has no water. (1:30)

And you will be like a watered garden (58:11)

And the land is utterly desolate…and the forsaken places are many in the midst of the land. (6:11-12)

It will no longer be said to you, "Forsaken," nor to your land will it any longer be said, "Desolate"; (62:4)

Sharon is like a desert plain (33:9)

Sharon will be a pasture land for flocks (65:10)

Therefore their Maker will not have compassion on them. (27:11)

He will have compassion on him (55:7)

Therefore the Lord does not take pleasure in their young men, nor does He have pity on their orphans or their widows; (9:17)

For the LORD has comforted His people and will have compassion on His afflicted. (49:13)

Who say, "…let Him hasten His work, that we may see it; and let the purpose of the Holy One of Israel draw near and come to pass, that we may know it!" (5:19)

That they may see and recognize…that the hand of the LORD has done this, and the Holy One of Israel has created it. (41:20)

Shall the potter be considered as equal with the clay, that what is made would say to its maker, "He did not make me"; (29:16)

We are the clay, and You our potter; and all of us are the work of Your hand. (64:8)

The people who walk in darkness will see a great light; those who live in a dark land, the light will shine on them. (9:2)

We hope for light, but behold, darkness, for brightness, but we walk in gloom. (59:9)

And have put your trust in oppression and guile, and have relied on them (30:12)

Let him trust in the name of the LORD and rely on his God (50:10)

Then justice will dwell in the wilderness and righteousness will abide in the fertile field. (32:16)

Justice is turned back, and righteousness stands far away; (59:14)

Also righteousness will be the belt about His loins, and faithfulness the belt about His waist. (11:5)

No one sues righteously and no one pleads honestly (59:4)

For you have forgotten the God of your salvation and have not remembered the rock of your refuge. (17:10)

But you will forget the shame of your youth, and the reproach of your widowhood you will remember no more. (54:4)

And the ears of the deaf will be unstopped. (35:5)

Even from long ago your ear has not been open (48:8)

As the pregnant woman approaches the time to give birth, she writhes and cries out in her labor pains, thus were we before You, O LORD. We were pregnant, we writhed in labor, we gave birth, as it seems, only to wind. (26:17-18)

Before she travailed, she brought forth; before her pain came, she gave birth to a boy. Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Can a land be born in one day? Can a nation be brought forth all at once? As soon as Zion travailed, she also brought forth her sons. (66:7-8)

Children have come to birth, and there is no strength to deliver. (37:3)

Shall I bring to the point of birth and not give delivery?" (66:9)

'Keep on listening, but do not perceive; Keep on looking, but do not understand.' (6:9)

Do you not know? Have you not heard? Has it not been declared to you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth? (40:21)


The following tables of thesis and antithesis involve in the first column prophecies concerning Tyre, Sidon, Babylon and Assyria. They are converted in the second column to prophecies concerning Israel.


First Part of Isaiah (1-39)

Second Part of Isaiah (40-66)

 I have neither travailed nor given birth (23:4)

 As soon as Zion travailed, she also brought forth her sons. (66:8)

But pelican and hedgehog will possess it, and owl and raven will dwell in it; (34:11)

Even My chosen ones shall inherit it, and My servants will dwell there. (65:9)

Its smoke will go up forever, from generation to generation it will be desolate; none will pass through it forever and ever. (34:10)

Whereas you have been forsaken and hated with no one passing through, I will make you an everlasting pride, a joy from generation to generation. (60:15)

 Lift up a standard on the bare hill, raise your voice to them (13:2)

 Get yourself up on a high mountain, O Zion, bearer of good news, lift up your voice mightily, (40:9)

and will cut off from Babylon name and survivors (14:22)

I will give them an everlasting name which will not be cut off. (56:5)

The sun will be dark when it rises and the moon will not shed its light. (13:10)

No longer will you have the sun for light by day, nor for brightness will the moon give you light (60:19)

No one in it is weary or stumbles (5:27)

Though youths grow weary and tired, and vigorous young men stumble badly, (40:30)

Nor is the belt at its waist undone, nor its sandal strap broken.(5:27)

To loosen the bonds of wickedness, to undo the bands of the yoke, (58:6)

His breath is like an overflowing torrent…to shake the nations (30:28)

I extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the nations like an overflowing stream; (66:12)

And the light of Israel will become a fire and his Holy One a flame, and it will burn and devour (10:17)

When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you. (43:2)

They will be gathered together like prisoners in the dungeon and will be confined in prison; (24:22)

To bring out prisoners from the dungeon And those who dwell in darkness from the prison. (42:7)