Isa·iah /aɪˈzeə, ||ˈzaɪ-/
n 1: (Old Testament) the first of the major Hebrew prophets (8th
2: an Old Testament book consisting of Isaiah's prophecies
[syn: Book of Isaiah]
(Heb. Yesh'yahu, i.e., "the salvation of Jehovah"). (1.) The son
of Amoz (Isa. 1:1; 2:1), who was apparently a man of humble
rank. His wife was called "the prophetess" (8:3), either because
she was endowed with the prophetic gift, like Deborah (Judg.
4:4) and Huldah (2 Kings 22:14-20), or simply because she was
the wife of "the prophet" (Isa. 38:1). He had two sons, who bore
He exercised the functions of his office during the reigns of
Uzziah (or Azariah), Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah (1:1). Uzziah
reigned fifty-two years (B.C. 810-759), and Isaiah must have
begun his career a few years before Uzziah's death, probably
B.C. 762. He lived till the fourteenth year of Hezekiah, and in
all likelihood outlived that monarch (who died B.C. 698), and
may have been contemporary for some years with Manasseh. Thus
Isaiah may have prophesied for the long period of at least
His first call to the prophetical office is not recorded. A
second call came to him "in the year that King Uzziah died"
(Isa. 6:1). He exercised his ministry in a spirit of
uncompromising firmness and boldness in regard to all that bore
on the interests of religion. He conceals nothing and keeps
nothing back from fear of man. He was also noted for his
spirituality and for his deep-toned reverence toward "the holy
One of Israel."
In early youth Isaiah must have been moved by the invasion of
Israel by the Assyrian monarch Pul (q.v.), 2 Kings 15:19; and
again, twenty years later, when he had already entered on his
office, by the invasion of Tiglath-pileser and his career of
conquest. Ahaz, king of Judah, at this crisis refused to
co-operate with the kings of Israel and Syria in opposition to
the Assyrians, and was on that account attacked and defeated by
Rezin of Damascus and Pekah of Samaria (2 Kings 16:5; 2 Chr.
28:5, 6). Ahaz, thus humbled, sided with Assyria, and sought the
aid of Tiglath-pileser against Israel and Syria. The consequence
was that Rezin and Pekah were conquered and many of the people
carried captive to Assyria (2 Kings 15:29; 16:9; 1 Chr. 5:26).
Soon after this Shalmaneser determined wholly to subdue the
kingdom of Israel. Samaria was taken and destroyed (B.C. 722).
So long as Ahaz reigned, the kingdom of Judah was unmolested by
the Assyrian power; but on his accession to the throne, Hezekiah
(B.C. 726), who "rebelled against the king of Assyria" (2 Kings
18:7), in which he was encouraged by Isaiah, who exhorted the
people to place all their dependence on Jehovah (Isa. 10:24;
37:6), entered into an alliance with the king of Egypt (Isa.
30:2-4). This led the king of Assyria to threaten the king of
Judah, and at length to invade the land. Sennacherib (B.C. 701)
led a powerful army into Palestine. Hezekiah was reduced to
despair, and submitted to the Assyrians (2 Kings 18:14-16). But
after a brief interval war broke out again, and again
Sennacherib (q.v.) led an army into Palestine, one detachment of
which threatened Jerusalem (Isa. 36:2-22; 37:8). Isaiah on that
occasion encouraged Hezekiah to resist the Assyrians (37:1-7),
whereupon Sennacherib sent a threatening letter to Hezekiah,
which he "spread before the Lord" (37:14). The judgement of God
now fell on the Assyrian host. "Like Xerxes in Greece,
Sennacherib never recovered from the shock of the disaster in
Judah. He made no more expeditions against either Southern
Palestine or Egypt." The remaining years of Hezekiah's reign
were peaceful (2 Chr. 32:23, 27-29). Isaiah probably lived to
its close, and possibly into the reign of Manasseh, but the time
and manner of his death are unknown. There is a tradition that
he suffered martyrdom in the heathen reaction in the time of
(2.) One of the heads of the singers in the time of David (1
Chr. 25:3,15, "Jeshaiah").
(3.) A Levite (1 Chr. 26:25).
(4.) Ezra 8:7.
(5.) Neh. 11:7.
Isaiah, the salvation of the Lord