Within a year of the death of Jeroboam II, however, the Jehu dynasty in the Northern Kingdom of Israel had come to an end and times of insecurity set in . Despite the greater sense of stability due to the Davidic dynasty in Judah, the spiritual and social problems that shook both Judah and Israel, including the deep socioeconomic divide, seemed pretty much identical .
As though to multiply the Israelite woes, Tiglath-pileser III, who had gained the throne of Assyria, turned his attention westwards soon after stabilizing his rule in the East . Consequently, the Northern Kingdom sank into an abject vassalage to the Assyrian empire , and in 722 B.C., Tiglath-pileser’s successor, Sargon II, put an end to its existence capturing the capital city Samaria.
Insofar as the Hebrew prophets, as witnesses of God’s vital concerns , had generally spoken to the people and elites in times of crisis, whether spiritual, moral or political , their guidance was badly needed by that time. Thus, the Assyrian menace, first posed by Tiglath-pileser III and then by his successors, Shalmaneser V, Sargon II and Sennacherib, was addressed, to a degree or another, by the prophets Amos, Hosea, Isaiah and Micah, while the prophecy of Isaiah particularly reflected the Assyrian invasions of Syria-Palestine . 8. The moral and religious decay, which according to the prophets constituted the circumstances that led to the end of Israel – the Northern Kingdom – and had grave implications for Judah9, necessitated a source of authority, outside the complacent monarchy and priesthood, that would steer the nation “through the narrow straits of political uncertainty and moral inexactitude”10. This purpose of this paper is to convincingly reconstruct prophet Isaiah’s life and ministry, as found in the Old Testament; as well as to highlight the historical circumstances and divine inspiration that called forth his visions and prophecies. The Prophet’s Life Prophet Isaiah is thought to have lived in Jerusalem throughout most of the second half of the eight century B.C., namely 765-69511. The biographical details about the prophet are found especially in the Book of Isaiah, chapters 6-8, 20, and 36-39, while the historical – political, social and religious – circumstances of his time are thoroughly presented within 2 Kings 15-2012. However, the opening chapter of the Book of Isaiah provides some general information, namely the prophet’s name, the name of his father as well as the historical time13. The prophet’s name, “Yesha’yahu”, means “Yahweh saves” or “helps” and thus, according to Sawyer, enshrines two elements of immense theological significance – ‘yahu’, which stands for the name of Israel’s God, Yahweh, and ‘yesha’, which appears not only in the names of Joshua, Elisha, Hosea and Jesus (Yeshua), but also in the triumphant cry ‘Hosanna’ (save)1415. As for the name of Isaiah’s father, Amoz, due to the similarity between Latin and Greek forms of this name and that of prophet Amos, the latter had been initially mistaken for the father of Isaiah16. Among those, who believed the prophet-shepherd of Tekoa17 to be the father of Isaiah, was St Clement of Alexandria; however, as early as the antiquity there had been voices against that opinion, e.g. St Augustine (354-430 A.D.)18, St Jerome (342-420 A.D.)19, etc. Virtually nothing is known about prophet Isaiah’s ancestry; nevertheless, certain passages from the Book of Isaiah hint at the possibility of notable origin2021. As Souvay points out, a Jewish tradition