Isaiah’s Prophetic Instruction and the Disciples in Isaiah 8:16

In: Vetus Testamentum


Isa 8:16 is considered a key reference regarding the formation of the book of Isaiah and the role of prophetic disciples in this process. This article argues, however, that originally this verse had a more limited significance. The instruction to which v. 16 refers is to be identified with vv. 12-15 rather than an early ‘book’ of Isaiah. The expression ‘the instructed ones’ (of YHWH rather than the prophet) is applied to the prophet’s audience. This term reflects Isaiah’s characteristic view of prophesying as an act of instruction and prophecy as a form of teaching, and it does not presuppose the existence of any prophetic school. The view that sealing the instruction would allude to preserving prophetic teaching for the posterity is discounted here in favour of understanding the symbolic act as a metaphor from the legal sphere refering to authentication, with no inherent temporal significance.

  • 2)

    See e.g. H. G. Reventlow“Das Ende der sog. ‘Denkschrift’ Jesajas”BN 38/39 (1987) pp. 62-67; S. A. Irvine “The Isaianic Denkschrift: Reconsidering an Old Hypothesis” ZAW 104 (1992) pp. 216-231.

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  • 6)

    KaiserJesaja p. 189; H. Wildberger Jesaja I (BKAT 10/1; Neukirchen-Vluyn 1972) p. 343; H. Barth Jesaja-Worte der Josiazeit (WMANT 48; Neukirchen-Vluyn 1977) pp. 152-156; R. E. Clements Isaiah 1-39 (Grand Rapids MI 1980) p. 101; Becker Jesaja p. 21; Barthel Prophetenwort pp. 59-60 229-230; W. A. M. Beuken Jesaja 1-12 (HThKAT; Freiburg 2003) pp. 215 230; Wagner Herrschaft pp. 80-81 283.

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  • 13)

    Cf. WilliamsonBook pp. 99-102; J. Dekker “Bind Up the Testimony: Isaiah 8:16 and the making of the Hebrew Bible” in R. de Hoop et al. (eds) The Impact of Unit Delimitation on Exegesis (Pericope 7; Leiden 2009) pp. 67-68.

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  • 15)

    Cf. WildbergerJesaja p. 346; Williamson Book pp. 6-8; Dekker “Bind Up” pp. 75-76.

  • 16)

    J. Boehmer“ ‘Jahwes Lehrlinge’ im Buch Jesaja”ARW 33 (1936) pp. 171-75.

  • 17)

    So Dekker“Bind Up” p. 68 on 1QIsaa Codex Leningradiensis Codex Alpensis and Ms 7a1 of the Peshitta.

  • 18)

    WildbergerJesaja pp. 342-43; Beuken Jesaja p. 214; Dekker “Bind Up” pp. 67-68. The problematic relationship between vv. 16 and 17 was also felt by the Aramaic and Greek translators who inserted extra words in order to clarify the speakers of the conversation. Interestingly their solution is again similar (cf. אמר / λέγω).

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  • 25)

    WilliamsonBook p. 103.

  • 29)

    Cf. WilliamsonBook pp. 99 101.

  • 40)

    WildbergerJesaja pp. 275 337.

  • 41)

    ClementsIsaiah p. 99; Becker Botschaft p. 201; Barthel Prophetenwort p. 224; De Jong Isaiah p. 71.

  • 42)

    L. G. Rignell“Das Orakel ‘Maher-salal Has-baz’. Jesaja 8”StTh 10 (1957) p. 45comes to a similar conclusion. The objection of Wildberger that קֶשֶׁר is not used in connection with an external enemy (Wildberger Jesaja p. 337; cf. also Barthel Prophetenwort p. 224) contradicts the evidence of 2 Kgs 17:4 in which King Hoshea’s rebellion against the Assyrian king is called קֶשֶׁר. The word קֶשֶׁר simply means a political alliance. Whether this refers to domestic or foreign connections goes beyond the semantic field of the term. See further 2 Kgs 11:14; 2 Chr 23:13; cf. also 2 Kgs 9:23 with 9:14.

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  • 52)

    Cf. discussion in Dekker“Bind Up” pp. 63-88.

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