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The OT Prophet Isaiah lived in the 8th-century BC. Cyrus, the Emporer of Persia, lived well over one hundred years later: Cyrus (580-529 BC) was the first Achaemenid Emperor. Yet The Book of Isaiah in Chapters 44 and 45 speaks of Cyrus in no uncertain terms:

Isaiah 44-28

Who is saying of Cyrus, My shepherd, And all my delight He doth perfect, So as to say of Jerusalem, Thou art built, And of the temple, Thou art founded.

Isaiah 45-1

Thus said Jehovah, To His anointed, to Cyrus, Whose right hand I have laid hold on, To subdue nations before him, Yea, loins of kings I loose, To open before him two-leaved doors, Yea, gates are not shut:

If this is so, it's a miracle.

However, it is possible that the book of Isaiah is simply written after the event and written in a way that make it look as if it could predict prophecy. How do we know which one is right?

Note: I used Young Literal Translation because it transliterate YHWH into Yehovah where all other translation seems to take more "liberty". To me, it's much less confusing.

If there are significant differences that may change the meaning, I'll consider all translations.

Note2: In Christian world, this sort of "I told you so" fulfillment lead to disputes of when a text is actually written. For example, Christian gospel "may" have predicted fall of Jerusalem before 70 AD. This causes a dispute over when the Gospel was actually written. See: Who says Jesus couldnt predict the fall of Jerusalem

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"If this were true, then it's a miracle." No. It is a prophecy, and if we are working within the biblical context, the Bible is replete with prophecies that were fulfilled. –  user2590 Sep 25 '13 at 4:26
It is not a prophesy as it was written in the past tense. Cross posted at judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/31318/… and skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/17871/… –  Henry Sep 25 '13 at 18:31
@Henry - tense has nothing to do with it. Prophetic visions transcend boundaries of time, space and tense. A prophet when enveloped by the spirit of prophecy ascends to a different plane of reality where past merges with future, and heaven merges with earth. Also note that I specified "within the biblical context," meaning the traditional view that the entire book was written by Isaiah. –  user2590 Oct 7 '13 at 3:54
@Coelacanth: The traditional view is that sections were added to the book of Isaiah later. That is why Isaiah's name does not appear after chapter 39. Some later readers may have decided otherwise, but such interpretations are not more in the biblical context than the 19th century revival of the Flat Earth theory. –  Henry Oct 7 '13 at 8:54

1 Answer 1

up vote 5 down vote accepted

The earliest manuscript we have of the Book of Isaiah is The Great Isaiah Scroll:

The Great Isaiah Scroll (1QIsaa) is one of the original seven Dead Sea Scrolls discovered in Qumran in 1947. It is the largest (734 cm) and best preserved of all the biblical scrolls, and the only one that is almost complete. The 54 columns contain all 66 chapters of the Hebrew version of the biblical Book of Isaiah. Dating from ca. 125 BCE, it is also one of the oldest of the Dead Sea Scrolls, some one thousand years older than the oldest manuscripts of the Hebrew Bible known to us before the scrolls' discovery.

So our oldest extant copy of Isaiah dates to a much later period than that of Cyrus.

More directly regarding the question at hand:


Modern scholarship considers the Book of Isaiah to be an anthology, the two principal compositions of which are the Book of Isaiah proper (chapters 1-39, with some exceptions), containing the words of the prophet Isaiah himself, dating from the time of the First Temple, around 700 BCE, and Second Isaiah (Deutero-Isaiah, chapters 40-66), comprising the words of an anonymous prophet, who lived some one hundred and fifty years later, around the time of the Babylonian exile and the restoration of the Temple in the Persian Period. By the time our Isaiah Scroll was copied (the last third of the second century BCE), the book was already regarded as a single composition.

If so, no miracles or prophecies are required to explain the mention of Cyrus in the Book of Isaiah: Chapter 45, where his name is mentioned, was originally written during the time of Cyrus's rule.

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Your anthology point is key here. Indeed many think there were three parts, chapters 1-39, 40-55, and 56-65, written at different times and probably by different people. –  Henry Sep 25 '13 at 18:35
@Henry - Indeed. Most of the Hebrew Bible (OT) is comprised of anthologies and compilations that represent collections culled from diverse sources, oral and written, that were edited and composed into the "books" which we have today. This point is actually touched upon in Talmudic sources, and is readily apparent to the careful reader of our contemporary "books" in many places, particularly when read in the original Hebrew. –  user2590 Sep 25 '13 at 22:03
Good answer as it goes. I'd upvote it if you presented the evidence scholars use to support this belief, as that was what the question asked for. As it stands, you might as well have just answered "Yes". :-) –  T.E.D. Oct 7 '13 at 13:22

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