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The OT Prophet Isaiah lived in the 8th-century BC. Cyrus, the Emperor 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
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    @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
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    @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
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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:

Supra:

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
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    @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
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    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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    -1. "Modern scholarship considers" is an evasion. "Considers" on what basis? On the a priori assumption that prophecy is impossible? – user438 Jul 17 '15 at 21:05
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    @user438 The hypothesis that prophecies generally don't work isn't assumed totally a priori, it's just outside that particular field of modern biblical studies. Granted, yes, this part needs a good citation (hard-science). – kubanczyk Mar 11 at 10:32
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Josephus writes (Ant. XI:1:2):

This was known to Cyrus by his reading the book which Isaiah left behind him of his prophecies; for this prophet said that God had spoken thus to him in a secret vision: "My will is, that Cyrus, whom I have appointed to be king over many and great nations, send back my people to their own land, and build my temple." This was foretold by Isaiah one hundred and forty years before the temple was demolished. Accordingly, when Cyrus read this, and admired the Divine power, an earnest desire and ambition seized upon him to fulfill what was so written...

Assuming for purposes of argument that Josephus' account is true, then plain common sense dictates that he was so impressed precisely because it was the genuine article - a prophecy from an earlier period - rather than a crude contemporary forgery.

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    Josephus was popularizing (and embellishing) the biblical accounts for his audience but as far as I know, he did not have independent sources. So I don't think his text can be used as evidence for anything. – Felix Goldberg Jul 18 '15 at 17:25
  • @FelixGoldberg That he didn't have independent sources is itself an assumption, and not a very well supported one. Indeed, on the contrary, it is likely that there were quite a few written sources he could have used for information on the Persian empire that have since been lost. – user438 Jul 19 '15 at 1:54
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    Not very likely, I think. He would have told us about them then, the way he mentioned Nicolaus of Damascus for a later period. The burden of proof is on you, I am afraid. – Felix Goldberg Jul 19 '15 at 2:42
  • @FelixGoldberg: He mentions Nicolaus only because he was a close friend of Herod (and, in one place, to criticize him for writing so uncritically about his subject); but after all it's not a modern textbook where the source of every statement has to be given. I'm not saying that it's 100% certain that Josephus had contemporary records to draw on, but I am arguing that it's at least possible and hence constitutes evidence. – user438 Jul 19 '15 at 13:55
  • Guess we'll have to differ on this one. – Felix Goldberg Jul 19 '15 at 14:27
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There are three items in Isaiah 20:1 which give clues as to when it was written:

In the year that Tartan came unto Ashdod, (when Sargon the king of Assyria sent him,) and fought against Ashdod, and took it;

1) The use of the term Tartan shows at least this section of Isaiah was written early, prior to 600 bc. Tartan was a military term in the Assyrian Army and was the highest position in the Army under the King himself. There would typically be one Tartan controlling the left side of the battlefield and another controlling the right side, and the King controlling the middle deployment. The Assyrian Army ceased to exist when the Assyrian Empire ceased in 609 bc, when it was destroyed by the Babylonians. The language fell into decay and its military terms would have fallen more quickly into oblivion, seeing as there was no longer any Assyrian Army after 609 bc.

2) As another contributor has already said, the mention of the Assyrian king "Sargon" is also witness that Isaiah 1-39 was written early, because Sargon was unknown to history, including Herodotus, until his palace was discovered in the nineteenth century. The historian Herodotus does mention one of the attacks of Sennacherib as it affected Egypt (Herodotus Book 2, Chapter 141): Sennacherib was the king after Sargon, but he nowhere mentions Sargon (- this Sargon is not to be confused with Sargon the Great, who was many centuries earlier).

3) Then also, the manner of describing the year in Isaiah 20:1 is suitable for the age in which Isaiah was written. "In the year that Tartan came unto Ashdod" is similar to the manner in which the Assyrians named their years, its in the form of an Assyrian Eponym ( - though I am not saying this was an actual name of a year in the Assyrian Eponym List). Those interested in this can search for "Eponym Dating System" in google.

Aside from Isaiah 20:1, the Assyrian title "Rabshakeh" is used several times in both Isaiah (ch 36 & 37) and 2 Kings (ch 18 & 19). "Rab" means "chief" and "shakeh" means "cup-bearer", a title whose meaning only became apparent with archaeological discovery in the modern age.

Furthermore, there is historical information in Isaiah chapters 1 to 39 which has been confirmed from other sources. Most significantly there are three prisms in which Sennacharib relates his attacks on Judaea from 704 to 681 BC (Google "Sennacharib's Annals"). Most accept this section of Isaiah was written when it claims to have been written, soon after 700 bc.

Chapters 44 (late) and 45 (early in the chapter) refer to Cyrus, who was King of Persia and conquered Babylon and ended the Neo Babylonian Empire October 12th 539 bc.

In Isaiah it is written:

Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, who formed you from the womb: “I am the Lord, who made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself, v24… who says of Cyrus, ‘He is my shepherd, and he shall fulfill all my purpose’; saying of Jerusalem, ‘She shall be built,’ and of the temple, ‘Your foundation shall be laid.’” v28

Chapter 45 continues:

Thus says the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have grasped, to subdue nations before him and to loose the belts of kings, to open doors before him that gates may not be closed: 2 “I will go before you and level the exalted places,[a] I will break in pieces the doors of bronze and cut through the bars of iron, 3 I will give you the treasures of darkness and the hoards in secret places, that you may know that it is I, the Lord, the God of Israel, who call you by your name. 4 For the sake of my servant Jacob, and Israel my chosen, I call you by your name, I name you, though you do not know me. 5 I am the Lord, and there is no other, besides me there is no God; I equip you, though you do not know me,

Cynics claim this section must have been written once Cyrus has become King of Persia or around that time or afterwards, and that the Jews have dishonestly pretended this is prophecy when in fact it wasn't. So they claim chapters 40 to the end were written later than 1-39.

One problem with this is that the sins which are so vigorously condemned in 40-66 are the sins of the pre-captivity ie the sins before going into exile in Babylon, they are the sins of Israel and Judah prior to the destruction of the Northern tribes and Judah prior to the destruction of Judah in the early 500s bc. For instance, idolatry is condemned and the burning of their own children to Molech is condemned in chapter 57. These sins did not happen after the return from captivity 536 bc… they are exclusively the sins of the pre-captivity. After the captivity the Jews were exceedingly careful not to worship the idols of the surrounding nations.

By "cynic" I simply mean those who have decided the book Isaiah is an amalgamation of different writings, by different authors, some anonymous. Those who hold this view either believe that the anonymous author(s) deliberately sought to mislead, in which case the cynic is accusing them of dishonesty, or that the compilers of the final version were dishonest in putting together with a work of the true Isaiah (chapters 1-39) a work which could not have been clearly the work of Isaiah, seeing as, according to the cynics' theory, it was anonymous. Such a belief is cynical, attributing to either the original author or the compilers of the final version a dishonest purpose - to try to produce a document which looks as if the Isaiah of 700 BC was predicting the name of a man who became king of Persia 559 BC and fulfilled some of the prophecy around 539 BC, namely Cyrus.

By saying "cynic" it does not even necessarily mean they are wrong to believe what they believe. I merely mean their belief is a cynical view of the book of Isaiah, and necessarily attributes bad motives - including an intention to mislead - to someone, somewhere in the production of the book of Isaiah as we have it today. By calling them cynics, it is not intended to be understood they are so named pejoratively just descriptively: if they were ever to be proved correct in their beliefs about the book of Isaiah they would not think they were insulting themselves to boast how very long they had been cynical about it.

But, there are serious problems with this view (that some anonymous prophets were involved in the production of the final book of Isaiah):

  1. Below is a list of all the prophetic books of the Old Testament where the author is anonymous:-

List:-

There aren't any. It only speaks of true prophets and false prophets. The Old Testament knows nothing of anonymous prophets. Every book of prophecy in the Old Testament has the name of the prophet who gave it. Particularly interesting is

The vision of Obadiah (Obadiah 1:1)

The book of Obadiah has only 21 verses yet we are told who wrote them. How could it be possible that the most sublime of all the prophesies, the book of Isaiah, should contain portions for which we have no idea who is the author? If such a comparatively ordinary prophecy such as Obadiah's has the name of the prophet how is it conceivable that the name of the prophet of the most glorious prophetic portion of the most sublime prophecy of them all, the book of Isaiah, should be unknown?

There is only one book in the whole Bible which is truly anonymous: the Letter to the Hebrews. When an anonymously written work is produced there arises speculation as the the author. This happened with the Letter to the Hebrews.

The first speculation that we still have preserved is Miniscule 1739, from the 10th century, on which is written

"To the Hebrews, written from Italy by Timothy".

The second extant manuscript containing speculation is Miniscule 81 from the 11th century which claims

"To the Hebrews, written from Rome by Paul to those in Jerusalem".

The next manuscript is Miniscule 104 from the 11th century which claims

"To the Hebrews, written in Hebrew from Italy anonymously by Timothy"(!)

Then finally the King James Authorised Version tells us Hebrews is

"The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Hebrews"

which is a clear case of going beyond what is written in the Scripture, (though I must stress that these titles are not in the inspired Scripture text itself, they merely introduce the Scripture.) These show that where the original document was written anonymously different theories begin to emerge as to who wrote it. But as for the book of Isaiah there is unanimous agreement in every ancient Old Testament version that Isaiah wrote the whole of the book of Isaiah. Unanimous suggests not anonymous.

  1. Though many readers might not value its witness, the New Testament in many places attributes the whole of the book of Isaiah to the prophet Isaiah. The people who wrote the New Testament saw Isaiah as one book. An interesting passage is John 12:38-40:-

That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed? Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again, He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.

In this passage, the first quote is from Isaiah 53:1, the second is from Isaiah 6:10 and the third is from Isaiah 6:1. For 53:1 the author of John's Gospel tells us that it was that which Isaiah spake, and for 6:10 and 6:1 the author tells us that Isaiah said again. So if we do not believe that the same author wrote both 1-39 and 40-66 then we have to doubt also this passage in the New Testament and in fact we must doubt most of the passages in the New Testament which refer to the book of Isaiah because most of them refer to that which "Isaiah spoke". (See Matthew 3:3, 4:14, 8:17, 12:17, 13:14, 17:7; Mark 7:6; Luke 3:4, 4:17; John 1:23; Acts 8:28-30, 28:25; Romans 9:27-29, 10:16, 10:20, 15:12.)

  1. It is peculiar that anyone living in our century should think the name "Cyrus" could not have been written 700 BC but must have been written after he became king of Persia. Why? Because Isaiah 40-66 contains Chapter 53, one of the most breathtaking prophecies in the whole of the Old Testament. Obviously, Chapter 53 truly predicts the future because we have it preserved in the Great Isaiah Scroll of the Dead Sea Scrolls, which we know was written at least a century and a half before the beginning of Christ's ministry.

The proof we have that Chapter 53 is a true prophecy of the future should enable us to believe the name "Cyrus" was announced before he was born.

Interestingly, the Great Isaiah Scroll has no gap in the scroll between the end of chapter 39 and the start of chapter 40. You can see the original scroll online here http://dss.collections.imj.org.il/isaiah .

The idea of multiple authors of Isaiah began with Johann Doederlein, professor of theology at Jena, a rationalist who lived in the "Age of Enlightenment", and who died over 150 years before the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls. The Great Isaiah Scroll, containing Isaiah Chapter 53, is dated to about 125 BC, over 100 years before the time of Christ:

53 Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?

2 For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.

3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.

8 He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.

9 And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.

10 Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.

11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.

12 Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

The passage predicts that when the Saviour comes 1 he would be despised and rejected; 2 he would be put on trial (verse 8); 3 he would die without children (verse 8); 4 he would take the punishment for other people's sins; 5 he would be buried in a rich man's grave (the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea); 6 he would rise again from the dead; 7 his death would be effective for many.

If Chapter 53 could be prophesied by a prophet could not the very same prophet have predicted a deliverer by name, i.e. "Cyrus"?

  1. It is claimed that no where does the name Isaiah appear in 40-66, the section with prophesies concerning Babylon. But, actually, Isaiah does attest his name to prophesies relating to Babylon: he does it in chapter 13 which begins

"The oracle concerning Babylon which Isaiah the son of Amoz saw." (Isaiah 13:1)

And it is in 1-39 that the destruction of Babylon by the Medes is prophesied (Isaiah 13:17). The question is "Why would any editor/redactor place this passage by some future anonymous prophet in this part of the book"?

  1. Before the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar in 587 BC there was idolatry and worship of Baal, even child sacrifice in Judaea. After the Jews returned from captivity in the days of Cyrus there was no such gross idolatry. The temptations they faced were different and the typical sins after the 70 years of Babylonian Captivity were different. The following passages are examples of those passages which describe the gross sins before the Babylonian Captivity: Jeremiah 7:31 & 19:5, 2 Kings 16:3, 21:6-16; 23:26, 24:3-4; 2 Chronicles 28:3, 33:1-19.

But after the Babylonian Captivity the sins of the Jews were different. I quote from Gleason Archer's book "A Survey of Old Testament Introduction" (1st edition 1964, page 330):-

The book of Malachi contains a list of sins into which his [Malachi's] countrymen had fallen. Yet none of these suggests the slightest practice of idolatry. There was intermarriage with foreign women of idolatrous background; there was oppression of the poor by the rich; there was desecration of the sabbath; there was a withholding of the tithes - but none of these authors [Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi, Ezra and Nehemiah] ever mentions the reappearance of idolatry in the land of Judah. The only possible conclusion to draw is that the worship of graven images there was unknown.

And for anyone to see this for themselves the only way is to read all of these books in their entirety. Haggai and Zechariah write about the period 525 to 515 BC, Malachi is some time after the Captivity, probably about 430 BC, Ezra is writing about the events of the whole period from 539 BC to very roughly 430 BC, Nehemiah is writing about the period 445 to 430 BC. In addition, there is no condemnation of idolatry amongst the Jews in the book of Esther either (about 480 to 475 BC), nor in the apocryphal writings between the Testaments. The Jewish world before the Babylonian Captivity was very different to their world post-Captivity. Frankly, the post-Captivity world in the Old Testament is remarkably similar to our modern world, namely, no graven images, no gross worship of the ancient vicious gods of Baal and Molech, and no miracles either (until the New Testament period).

What then are we to make of the repeated condemnations of the worship of graven images and of idolatry in 40-66? If these chapters were written at a later date, after Cyrus had come to power, then in these passages sins are being condemned (or commented on) which were no longer a snare. For example:-

I am the Lord: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images. (Isaiah 42:8)

and

But draw near hither, ye sons of the sorceress, the seed of the adulterer and the whore. Against whom do ye sport yourselves? against whom make ye a wide mouth, and draw out the tongue? are ye not children of transgression, a seed of falsehood. Enflaming yourselves with idols under every green tree, slaying the children in the valleys under the clifts of the rocks? Among the smooth stones of the stream is thy portion; they, they are thy lot: even to them hast thou poured a drink offering, thou hast offered a meat offering. Should I receive comfort in these? Upon a lofty and high mountain hast thou set thy bed: even thither wentest thou up to offer sacrifice. Behind the doors also and the posts hast thou set up thy remembrance: for thou hast discovered thyself to another than me, and art gone up; thou hast enlarged thy bed, and made thee a covenant with them; thou lovedst their bed where thou sawest it. And thou wentest to the king with ointment, and didst increase thy perfumes, and didst send thy messengers far off, and didst debase thyself even unto hell. Thou art wearied in the greatness of thy way; yet saidst thou not, There is no hope: thou hast found the life of thine hand; therefore thou wast not grieved. And of whom hast thou been afraid or feared, that thou hast lied, and hast not remembered me, nor laid it to thy heart? have not I held my peace even of old, and thou fearest me not? (Isaiah 57:3-11)

and

He burneth part thereof in the fire; with part thereof he eateth flesh; he roasteth roast, and is satisfied: yea, he warmeth himself, and saith, Aha, I am warm, I have seen the fire: And the residue thereof he maketh a god, even his graven image: he falleth down unto it, and worshippeth it, and prayeth unto it, and saith, Deliver me; for thou art my god. They have not known nor understood: for he hath shut their eyes, that they cannot see; and their hearts, that they cannot understand. And none considereth in his heart, neither is there knowledge nor understanding to say, I have burned part of it in the fire; yea, also I have baked bread upon the coals thereof; I have roasted flesh, and eaten it: and shall I make the residue thereof an abomination? shall I fall down to the stock of a tree? He feedeth on ashes: a deceived heart hath turned him aside, that he cannot deliver his soul, nor say, Is there not a lie in my right hand? (Isaiah 44:16-20)

See other such passages: Isaiah 40:19-23; 41:6-7; 41:23; 42:17; 45:16; 45:20-21; 46:6-13; 65:7; 66:17.

Do these passages not tell us that Isaiah 40-66 was written before the Babylonian Captivity?

  1. It is said the style of 1-39 and 40-66 is different. But there are similarities. The term "the Holy One of Israel" referring to God is used many times in Isaiah but rarely outside the book of Isaiah: it is used 15 times in 1-39 and 14 times in 40-66 but only 6 times throughout the rest if the Old Testament and one of those 6 times is when referring to the words of Isaiah (2 Kings 19:22). (To check this use Biblegateway.com)

  2. There are similarities of expression found in both 1-39 and 40-66. For instance, compare:
    1:20 and 40:5, 58:14; 14:27 and 43:13; 35:10 and 51:11; 11:12 and 56:8; 34:8 and 61:2; 11:6-9 and 65:25; 35:6 and 41:18; 11:2 and 61:1; 35:8 and 40:3; 1:11 and 1:14 with 43:24; 28:5 and 63:3.

The above 7 points I have summarised mostly from Gleason Archer's book "A Survey of Old Testament Introduction". The lack of flow, and poor writing, is all mine, my aim being to try to be brief; the ideas are mainly his. I recommend the book to all. Finally,

  1. There are very few foreign loan words in the Hebrew of either 1-39 or 40-66. In Daniel and Ezra there are whole passages in Aramaic because it was the lingua franca both in the time of Daniel and in the time of Ezra. In the book of Esther there are a lot of Persian loan words; in Ezra there are Persian, and some Persian in Chronicles both 1 and 2. There are foreign loan words in Nehemiah. But the only Persian loan word in the book of Isaiah is the name "Cyrus". There are a few loan words from Egyptian, and a few from Assyrian (Assyrian Akkadian), which was the lingua franca in northern Mesopotamia until it was replaced by Aramaic roughly during the period 750 to 650 BC. There are no Greek loan words and only one Persian. According to Robert Wilson, Isaiah is notable for the purity of its Hebrew. I am no expert in 40 plus languages, and confess I rely on Robert D. Wilson. If any of the book of Isaiah had been written during the Babylonian Captivity, and especially if it had been written in Babylon, then there should be plenty foreign loan words. If any of 40-66 had been edited during the Greek period (after 330 BC) in the land of Judaea then there should surely still be loan words from the Greek. But there are no loan words from the Greek. And there are no foreign loan words of Persian origin except the name "Cyrus". These facts alone should surely spell the death of the idea of multiple anonymous writers over several centuries from 550 BC to 150 BC, redacted in the Greek period.

(For more info on the progress of languages in the period then there is the work "Empires of the Word [not world!]- a language history of the world" by Nicholas Ostler, who is I think neither a "loony fundamentalist atheist" nor a "loony fundamentalist Christian", like some of the people on here, so he has no axe to grind either way.)

For more on this then see the free online article by google searching for:

“Foreign Words in the Old Testament as evidence of historicity” by Robert D. Wilson (1928).

In my view, all of the above points 1 to 8 are accumulative evidence that the whole of chapters 44-66, along with the word "Cyrus" in 44:28 and 45:1, was written at the same time as 1-39, before the Babylonian Captivity, which started about 605 BC. There is no good reason to doubt it was all written by the Prophet Isaiah whose prophetic ministry had started by 739 BC when King Uzziah died (Isaiah 6:1) and who died after the death of King Hezekiah, in the sole reign of King Manasseh which began 686 BC.

I thank all those who have read this so far, and ask you a few closing questions. Modern scholars argue that the book of Isaiah is a collection of writings by various anonymous writers whose writings have been added over the centuries following the time of Isaiah. Isaiah wrote some of the book, but the writings of others were added by redactors/editors sometime before the Great Isaiah Scroll was written about 125 BC. My question is,

"What value would such a scroll have, and why would the Jews of old have had any reverence for their holy writings, if such a cavalier attitude existed towards their prophetic writings"?

Who would care at all for these writings if that was how they were produced? Would anyone? Of course not. And yet many Jews cared a great deal about their religion and their Scriptures. For instance, Josephus relates that when the Romans came to besiege Jerusalem the Romans learned that on the Sabbath day they could build the siegeworks for the overthrow of Jerusalem without being attacked by the Jews. On the Sabbath day the Jews would only fight the Romans if the Romans were trying to kill them. So the Romans used each Sabbath day to build the siegeworks and do all sorts of things which greatly helped them to conquer Jerusalem! The Jews felt they could not try to stop the Romans doing this because it was the Sabbath day... a poor interpretation of their own scriptures, but, hey, they took those Scriptures seriously, and revered them. Why would they have revered them so much if those same scriptures were messed about with so much as modern scholars say they were? and brought to a final form by such careless production processes as modern scholars claim? Many died because they had such a reverence for their scriptures. Were they gullible fools? Is everyone a gullible fool except the modern scholar? Of whom is Isaiah writing? when he says

Woe to them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight. (Isaiah 5:21)

Or when he writes

Behold, all ye that kindle a fire, that compass yourselves about with sparks: walk in the light of your fire, and in the sparks that you have kindled. This shall you have of my hand: you shall lie down in sorrow. (Isaiah 50:11)

whom is the LORD warning?

My next question is if the book of Isaiah came about in the way that modern scholars say that it did, with redactors adding portions such as passages about Cyrus after the event it pretends to predict then "Where are all the other books of prophecy"? There is the prophesies of the book of Daniel and Isaiah, there's some in Jeremiah and one in Micah saying where the Saviour would be born, but, when it comes to detailed accurate prophesies, there are not so many. It's child's play to "predict things" after the event. Why are there so few prophesies in the Old Testament compared to what there could have been?

Finally, prophesying Cyrus by name is integral to the book of Isaiah, and though his name is given only twice (44:28, 45:1) he is referred to several more times, though not by name (41:2-4; 41:22-29; 45:2-4; 45:13; 46:11; 48:14-15). The purpose for this prediction of Cyrus is given in chapter 48. It was not done just to impress: the prediction was given so that the Jews would not return to Baal or Molech or to their idols, but they would return to the Lord their God. And so it proved, they never again returned to idols. When Cyrus issued his decree for them to return the Jews knew that the prophets of Baal and Molech had never predicted these things, but Isaiah, the prophet of the LORD God of their forefathers, had. When Cyrus issued his decree then they knew that they had been punished, by being taken into captivity to Babylon, not because they had failed to worship Baal and Molech sufficiently well, but because they had rebelled against the LORD God of their forefathers.

So the reason for speaking of Cyrus 150 years before he captured Babylon was gracious and kind on God's part. God punished the Jews for their sin, but God brought them to repentance and restoration. God sent them into captivity and God brought them back from captivity, and the prediction of Cyrus by name proved that it was the God of Isaiah, the LORD God of their forefathers who had done everything. It was, then, in God's kindness that he predicted Cyrus by name.

Despite all their rebellion He will have mercy on them still, and in order to be able to have mercy he must show them he is God and make them willing to obey him and go back to Judaea and the land that God had chosen for them.

It was to bring them to see He is the true God because He alone can predict the future.

"Cyrus" is in 44:28 and 45:1 because God is gracious and kind towards his people.

But that is not the half of it: the Jews were not very mistreated while in Babylonian "captivity". Many of them prospered quite nicely thank you very much in Babylon. When Cyrus gave the decree for as many of them as wanted to go back and rebuild Jerusalem then the Jews needed some encouragement to leave their financially secure lives and go. They were being asked to leave their comfort zones and obey God. They needed encouragement to believe in the God of the Scriptures: and to see the name "Cyrus" in the 150 year old book of Isaiah would surely have encouraged some of them to comply with the decree and go back to Judaea.

It was always in the plan of God that when the Messiah came he would be rejected by the religious leaders of the people who had the Scriptures of God, who in matters of religion were the best informed, who had the Old Testament Scriptures and had studied them: that we all might know that religious head-knowledge is not enough.

Some of the information contained in this post requires additional references. Please edit to add citations to reliable sources that support the assertions made here. Unsourced material may be disputed or deleted.

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    military terms would have fallen more quickly into oblivion, seeing as there was no longer any Assyrian Army after 609 bc Why so? Terms may live much longer than states. – Matt Nov 2 '15 at 17:50
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    Got any scholarly links for this stuff (particularly the second to the last paragraph)? From what I've been able to dig up, the standard scholarly opinion is now that the material from Isaiah was from three different groups of sources, compiled roughly at three different times. If you are going to dismiss those folks as "cynics", I'd like to see some backup for that. – T.E.D. Nov 2 '15 at 17:59
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    "The use of the term Tartan in Isaiah 20,1" shows that it is used there as a personal name/pronoun. Compare KJV or JPS translations. The Alans (people) do not exist any more, the Alans (persons) are still "in use". The whole dating and textual history of Isaiah presented here is not scholarly consensus (any more at least). Most arguments presented here are apologetic literalisms, not historical findings. Your "other sources" need to be named. – LangLangC Aug 15 '18 at 8:23
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    Fascinating. I maintain you are holding the looking glass wrong ;) KJV is sometimes better than more modern (helpful?) translations. תַרְתָּן in Hebrew is also rendered Tartan in the JPS version or here. I conclude that by the time the text was finalised your argument needs to be applied backwards: the functional title (like in 36:2) had lost its understanding the then authors/redactors (Isaiah, not KJV) had about it and transformed the word, thereby crystallising it, into a proper name. Also compare this. ‎ – LangLangC Aug 15 '18 at 15:03
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    Oh. Of course I'll try to apologise if what I wrote provoked anything other but thoughts. And you are right about two things: 1. the etymology and prior usage of the word, 2. comments are not for prolonged discussions (although this one was nice). However, our disagreements aside, an edit to name your "other sources" would certainly improve this answer, as would naming/explaining the "cynics" ('s positions), if you mean certain scholarly opinions, not just (yeah what, actually? Atheists, skeptics, …?) – LangLangC Aug 15 '18 at 17:46
4

Isaiah 20:1 is key in its reference to Sargon. Two hundred years ago, none of the major historians, Herodotus and Xenophon included, had any clue as to who Sargon was. Of course, the higher critics of the period took this and ran with it. Until the year 1843, when the excavation at Khorsabad were started. Sargon's Palace was magnificent and Isaiah mentioning him by name shows that he was a contemporary, thus making the writing of the book of Isaiah dated towards the end of the eighth cenrtury B.C. Thus the prophecy about Cyrus and the specific details of how he would capture the city are divinely inspired.

Some of the information contained in this post requires additional references. Please edit to add citations to reliable sources that support the assertions made here. Unsourced material may be disputed or deleted.

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    Welcome to History SE James. Thank you for your contribution to the community. However, One thing that I notice lacking in your answer is the references. Please add references to back up your statements. Also the bit about divine inspiration might derail the topic and start an opinion based debate. – NSNoob Apr 28 '16 at 4:31
-5

Isaiah didn't live in the 8th century BC, and neither did Cyrus. They both lived in the 6th century BC. The Bible has had various people duplicated. In the ancient Middle East it was commonplace for a ruler to have a 'local' name in each area he ruled. Thus Cyrus would have had both a Persian name(when in Persia), and a Semitic name(when in Assyria/Babylon). As a rough guide:

Cyrus the Great is the same man as the Neo-Assyrian King Tiglath-Pileser III.

Cambyses is Shalmaneser V.

Darius I is Sargon II.

Xerxes is Sennacherib.

Artaxerxes I is Esarhaddon.

Darius II is Ashurbanipal.

Artaxerxes II is Nabopolasser.

Artaxerxes III is Nebuchadnazzer. This is the man who sent the Jews into Exile in Babylon.

Darius III is Nabonidus.

I suggest anyone who finds this odd actually investigate the clear(and obvious) parallels about these "doubles" for themselves. Note how Isaiah mentions Cyrus before Cyrus was supposed to have even been born. While the Book of Daniel speaks of Artaxerxes, who by the same token, should only have lived two hundred years later!

Meanwhile, the man who REALLY liberated the Jews, and lifted the Exile, was NOT Cyrus the Great, but rather ALEXANDER the Great.

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    The Achaemenid kings are well documented historically. They are not identical with the Neo-Babylonian kings. This answer is nonsense. – fdb Oct 28 '17 at 9:52
-1

It seems to me it comes down to what you believe is true. Don't see "proof" one way or the other.

Eugene Faulstich who has worked on Bible Chronology believed it was written by one author.

http://biblechronologybooks.com/scientificmethod.html http://biblechronologybooks.com/hebrewkings.html

Isaiah's call was in year King Uzziah died--748 BC. 777 years before King Jesus died in 30 AD.

He see's God as in control of history from Day One. The "7" represents form of divine "signature".

Cyrus is alluded to in this week's haftorah http://www.chabad.org/parshah/article_cdo/aid/579794/jewish/Haftorah-in-a-Nutshell.htm

The Helper of Israel 41 “Be silent(A) before me, you islands!(B) Let the nations renew their strength!(C) Let them come forward(D) and speak; let us meet together(E) at the place of judgment. 2 “Who has stirred(F) up one from the east,(G) calling him in righteousness(H) to his service[a]?(I) He hands nations over to him and subdues kings before him. He turns them to dust(J) with his sword, to windblown chaff(K) with his bow.(L) 3 He pursues them and moves on unscathed,(M) by a path his feet have not traveled before. 4 Who has done this and carried it through, calling(N) forth the generations from the beginning?(O) I, the Lord—with the first of them and with the last(P)—I am he.(Q)”

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Isaiah+41.1-4&version=NIV

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    This could do with some editing as it's very hard to follow the logic in this answer. – Steve Bird Oct 27 '17 at 22:58
-2

Adon or Adonay (Lord, premasoretic text) ----- Kyrios or Kyros (Greek translation, confirmed by the Seventy) ----- Koresh (Cyrus, Masoretic text)

The theme of returning home is clearly present, not only in Deutero and in the Isaiah Tritus, but also and especially in Proto-Isaiah. In the chapters X and XI the subject is in fact addressed in a spiritual dimension (the remnant of Jacob will be converted to the Powerful God) with clear eschatological values ​​(in messianic times of peace and justice even the wolf and the lamb will dwell together) and with an eager anticipation of real and imminent historical developments (redemption of the distant, collection of the exiles and the return of the missing). In 722 BC, after the fall of Samaria, nearly 30,000 Israelites were deported to Assyria, Mesopotamia, and the cities of the Media (2 Kings 17: 6), while thousands of exiles from Babylon took possession of the cities of Samaria. from Cuta, from Avva, from Amat and from Sefarvaim (2 Kings 17,24). The hypothesis of a One Isaiah is reinforced by the fact that all the Proto Isaiah is pervaded by the omen (Isaiah 29 and Isaiah 40) of an imminent fall of Jerusalem and further deportations by the millennial Babylonian power, only momentarily bent by the ascent of the Assyrian empire. The drama of the Assyrian deportations is confirmed by the symbolic name of the firstborn of Isaiah: in Hebrew Seariasub (Isaiah 7,3) it means "a rest will return", with evident allusion to the next exile and the subsequent conversion of Israel.

The central theme of the Deutero Isaiah is that of the consolation of Israel and of the return home of the exiles, after the Assyrian deportations, begun at the time of Sargon II with the fall of Samaria (722 BC). After the defeat of Sennacherib under the walls of Jerusalem (chapter 37) and the miraculous healing of King Hezekiah (chapter 38), the so-called Deutero and Trito Isaia (chapters 40-66) seem to proceed without interruption, announcing a period of promises and consolations for all of Israel. The conversion from idolatry, the liberation of the people and the return of the exiles are guided by a mysterious character, sometimes identified as a humble Servant and sometimes as anointed Lord.

The fact that the Greek terms Kyrios and Kyros may have been misunderstood (Kyrios and Kyros in Greek are common names and can be translated with lord, king, boss, master, authority and guide but Kyros also corresponds to the proper name Cyrus) may have contributed to spread the conviction that the prophet Isaiah made clear reference to the Persian emperor, two centuries in advance. This conviction would have proved to be of considerable use to the Jewish people, exiled to Babylon two centuries later, helping to propitiate the favors of the new sovereign. Moreover, the practice of subjecting Jewish prophetic literature to foreign kings is in line with all Jewish tradition. In this regard, the historian Josephus remembers how, to the 332 a: C., The book of Daniel was shown to Alexander the Great, revealing to him how the prophet had already predicted, several centuries before, the destruction of the Persian empire by a Greek prince. Alexander the Great, recognizing himself as the object of the vaticination, dismissed the crowd full of joy and promised to Israel any gift he had been asked (Flavius ​​Joseph, Jewish Antiquities, XI, 37).

What seems interesting is the hypothesis that, at the time of Isaiah, the proper name Cyrus (Persian Kurush, Hebrew Kowresh and Greek Kyros) was nothing but a common name with the meaning of "king, chief, lord, master, guide, powerful man. in words and deeds, shepherd, throne, shining star ". Moreover, in ancient Greek "Kyros", in addition to indicating the proper name of a Persian emperor, meant "power, power, supremacy, absolute authority" and was the probable origin of the best known Greek term "Kyrios" (sir, master, capo), practically equivalent to "O ekon Kuros" (the one with authority). The term Kyros, used in the Greek koiné above all to make the name of the Persian emperor Cyrus, is in fact widely used in the fourth and fifth centuries before Christ in the sense of "supreme power, power, authority" and sometimes as a synonym of Kyrios in the sense of "lord, master, chief, having authority and power", as is clear from the works of Aeschylus, Herodic Doctor, Pindar, Sophocles, Thucydides and Plato.

On the other hand, the hypothesis that, at the time of Isaiah, the term Koroush, was none other than a generic royal title, widespread in the Middle East, like many others widely used in the history of mankind ("caesar") "," zar "," kyrios "," kaiser "," shah "). The name of Cyrus (Kyros in Greek and Koroush in ancient Persian) was used by some Indo-European rulers, such as Cyrus I, founder of the Acmenid dynasty, king of Ansan, and grandfather of Cyrus II the great and it is not unlikely that such name o the title was already widespread in the Medes, Persians and Elamites. The prophet, therefore, far from knowing miraculously and with two centuries in advance the exact name of a Persian king, could have simply glimpsed as "Anointed Lord" a foreign king, consecrated by God to free the people of Israel and to prepare the returning home, especially to the exiles of the Northern Kingdom, deported to Assyria by King Sargon II (2 Kings 17) after the fall of Samaria (722 BC).

In the first four centuries of the Vulgar Era -in Isaiah 45.1- an impressive number of Church Fathers, read Kyrios instead of Kyros, giving great emphasis to the translation "to Christ my Lord" instead of "to my anointed Cyrus". Among the most authoritative testimonies it is necessary, in this regard, to remember: Pseudo Barnabas, Letter of Barnabas, XII, 11; Irenaeus, Exposition of the Apostolic Preaching, 49; Novatian, The Trinity, XXVI; Tertullian, Against Prassea, XI, 7-8 and XXVIII, 11; Tertullian, Against the Jews, VII, 2; Cyprian, Testimonies against the Jews, I, 21.

On the possibility of equivocating the proper name "Kyros" with the common names "Kyros" and "Kyrios" only Jerome dwelled, who narrated how numerous Fathers and many Greek and Latin translations had mistakenly attributed to Christ the prophecies concerning Cyrus, confusing the proper name "Ciro" with the term "Lord". In Isaiah 45.1, many copies of the Septuagint translated "Τῷ χριστω μου Κυρω" (Tō christō mou Kurō) and the Christians read "to Christ my Lord" (instead of Cyrus, my anointed) by equivocating on the word Κυρω which in Greek he also means Lord, but in the Hebrew revisions of the IV century after Christ it was probably Koresh, proper name of King Cyrus. In this regard, Gerolamo wrote: "Scio ad hoc capitulo non solum Latinorum, sed Graecorum plurimos vehementer errare, existimantium scriptum esse : "Sic dicit Dominus Christo meo, Domino"; ut intelligatur, juxta illud quod alibi legimus: "Et: Dixit Dominus Domino meo" (Ps 110.1). Neque enim Kyrio, quod Dominum sonat, sed Cyro dicitur, here Hebraice appellatur Khores, regi Persarum, here Babylonem Chaldaeosque superavit. "(Jerome, Commentary on Isaiah, Chap. 45, 1).

It is necessary, however, to take into account the fact that the original Hebrew text was irretrievably lost, Aquila, Tivatzione and Simmaco used "Kuro" in open dispute with the Christians, the testimony of Gerolamo dates back to the IV century after Christ and the Masoretic text stabilized only towards the 10th century. In fact, just starting from the testimony of Jerome, some scholars, not at all convinced by the questionable thesis of the "hebraica veritas", came to think that "Kristo Kyros" may have been the Greek translation, astutely proposed to Emperor Cyrus, of some pre-and-other Hebrew form, such as "Adon Mashiyah" (Anointed Lord), or "Melek Mashiyah" (Anointed King) or even "Nagid Mashiyah" (Anointed Prince of Daniel 9.25) or "Kawtsin Mashiyah" (Anointed Conductor of Daniel 11, 18) or even "Yahveh Mashiyah" (anointed of the Lord of 1 Samuel 16,6-26,9 and 2 Samuel 1,14-1,16). The inclusion of "Koresh" by the Jewish revisions of the first centuries of the vulgar era could therefore depend on the fact that the Greek "Kyros":

a) it was also the almost providential translation of Ciro's proper name;

b) had had a special effect on the Persian emperor when he read, probably in Greek, the prophecies of Isaiah;

c) could very well be retranslated with the proper name "Koresh" without falsifying the sacred text, thus blocking the passage above all to the Christians who identified Jesus Christ with the "Christ Lord" of the Seventy.

The Persian king Cyrus, enlightened sovereign and lover of art and culture, almost certainly knew parts of the book of Isaiah in some ancient language and, according to the authoritative testimony of the historian Flavius ​​Joseph, he read the prophecies concerning him astonished, he meditated for a long time on these and matured the decision to free the Jewish people from the Babylonian captivity (Josephus, Jewish Antiquities, XI, 5-7), perhaps grateful to the God of the Jews for so much honor received (Josephus, The Jewish War, V, 389) . By deleting a highly probable eventuality, even if not strictly demonstrable, it is possible that the scribes may have read to Cyrus a Greek translation of the prophecies of Isaiah, making some Hebrew form as "Adon Mashiyah" (Anointed Lord) with "Kristo Kyros", instead of "Kristo Kyrios", just to get the favor of the Persian emperor.

0

DIFFICULTIES RELATED TO BABYLONIA (IN THE ISAIA PROTO) AND TO CIRO (IN DEUTERO ISAIA)

For historians and for non-believers reasons of perplexity come mainly from the prophecies about the fall of Babylon (Isaiah 13-14 and 21) and the announcement of the liberator Cyrus (Isaiah 44 and 45), considered too distant from the period in which Isaiah lived .

As far as Babylon is concerned, skepticism has forced many scholars to expel the chapters 13-14 and 21 from "Proto Isaia", in which the fall of the city by the Medes is predicted. Nevertheless, some believers accept the visions of Isaiah without perplexity, because they think that the prophecies contained in the "Proto Isaiah" concern the great destruction of Sennacherib of 689, after the attempt of Babylon to free itself from the yoke of the Assyrians.

Babylon was one of the most important cities of the Assyrian empire (with Kalash, Assur and Ninive), so that Tigat Pileser III, after having conquered Syria and destroyed Damascus (732), assumed the title of king of Babylon with the name of Pulu (729). Sargon II, subdued by the Hittites, defeated the Egyptians in Rafia and overthrown the reign of Urartu, managed to keep Babylon and the Medes under control during the whole period of his reign, while Sennacherib brutally destroyed it (689), after having done of Nineveh the first city of the empire and having in vain besieged Jerusalem (701). Assardhon then ordered the reconstruction of Babylon but Assurbanipal subdued it again (648), after looting Thebes (665) and before destroying Susa (639).

The mention of the media in the "Proto Isaiah" (Isaiah 13,17 and 21,2) is due to the fact that the Assyrians hired in their ranks a large number of Mediums and Elamites, warlike and rebellious but very versed in the art of war . The Persian conquest of Babylon, which took place in 538 by Cyrus (who occupied the city without fighting, declaring himself successor of Nabonidus at the behest of the god Marduk), would be treated, however, in some later chapters (Isaiah 46 and 47) belonging to the so-called " Deutero Isaiah. "That chapters 13, 14 and 21 refer to the first destruction of Babylon by the Assyrians and not to the subsequent conquest of the city by the Persians (which, however, did not destroy it) also seems to be confirmed by the fact that from chapter 14 in chapter 20 are contained various oracles against the Assyrians, now insignificant people at the time of King Cyrus.

Reasonable difficulties also meet to accept the fact that a prophet could know precisely the name of the Persian king Cyrus who, almost two centuries later, would liberate Israel from the Babylonian captivity. For many, the divine inspiration would have no limits and to Isaiah it could have been really revealed the future in a very precise and detailed way, also considering the exceptional religious experience of which he was the protagonist (that is the vision of the Eternal seated on the throne, in holy temple in the midst of the seraphim) and the experiences of Micah (prophet of the birth of the Messiah in Bethlehem), of Jeremiah (anticipating the 70 years of Babylonian captivity and the subsequent return of refugees), Daniel (able to glimpse the succession of the future world empires from the time of Nabuchodonosor until the advent of the Persians, Alexander the Great and the Diadochi) and of a prophet of the times of Jeroboam (who foretold the name and work of King Josiah with two centuries in advance; see 1 Kings 13: 2 and 2 Kings 23: 15-16). For others, believers and non-believers, from chapter 40 onwards, the prophecies would have been, instead, elaborated by a "Deutero Isaia", certainly inspired, but lived in the days of exile.

There are also those who think that the divine inspiration would have glimpsed the sacred author only a generic king of the Persians, menacing people already settled in the North and East of Mesopotamia in the time of King Hezekiah (the first historical mention of the Media and Persia dates back to 835 BC: in the annals of Salmanassar III it is said, in fact, that the Assyrian king received the tribute from the king of Persia and reached the regions of Media on Lake Urmia). On the other hand, the threat of warlike and powerful peoples from the North was also felt by Jeremiah (Jeremiah 50,3; 50,9; 50,41; 51,48) who, by prophesying about the fall of Babylon, made explicit reference to the future destructive action of an anonymous king of the Media (Jeremiah 51.11 and 51.28).

  • 2
    Sources would improve this answer. – Lars Bosteen Mar 19 '18 at 10:24
6

The passages in question are Isaiah 44 and 45, which is in the middle of the so called

40–55: Deutero-Isaiah, the work of an anonymous Exilic author;

That the book of Isaiah was written by a single author and way before the time of Cyrus might have been believed at the time the caves of Qumran were filled with scrolls. But already the Jewish commentator Ibn Esra concluded around 1138 that the book was not written in one go.
There is quite a break in language, content, themes, style, even theology at the beginning of Deutero-Isaiah.

While Isa 1-39 has the time of the downfall of Samaria in mind, that is, in the 8th century BC, the author of Isa 40-55 already expects the end of the Babylonian kingdom (Isa 43,14; 46-47) and the rise of the Persian Cyrus (Isa 44,26-27 and others). So we are already in the final phase of the Babylonian exile, a good two hundred years after the original Isaiah.

This is a basic principle for dating passages in biblical scholarship. As the saying goes: It’s Difficult to Make Predictions, Especially About the Future. More scholarly: such passages are very likely a Vaticinium ex eventu:

"prophecy from the event" is a technical theological or historiographical term referring to a prophecy written after the author already had information about the events being "foretold". The text is written so as to appear that the prophecy had taken place before the event, when in fact it was written after the events supposedly predicted. Vaticinium ex eventu is a form of hindsight bias. The concept is similar but distinct from postdiction, where prophecies that were genuinely written or spoken before the event are reinterpreted after the event to fit the facts as they occurred.

Isa 40-55 does not give any information about the person of the prophet. Place or time information is completely missing. Thus, the space and time of Deutero-Isaiah can only be guessed.
That the activity of Deutero-Isaiah falls into the final phase of exile can be substantiated: For Isa 41,2-3. 25 and Isa 45,1ff the victory of the Persian king Cyrus over the Lydian king Croesus in the year 546 BC could give the background. However, it seems that Babylon itself was not taken by Cyrus in 539 BC.
So it can be concluded that Deutero-Isaiah preached in Babylon between 550 BC and 540 BC. This was the time between the first victories of Cyrus, which gave an indication of the collapse of the Babylonian empire, and the liberation edict of 538 BC, which then allowed the Israelites to return to Palestine, that is to Yehud.

Like in the passages before Deutero-Isaiah the whole book was written – and rewritten, again and again – by a fairly large group of people for quite some time, in many layers, before it became finalised, that is canonised.

We have therefore the question "Is there any evidence that the book of Isaiah was written before Cyrus?" to turn on its feet with the answer: No, we have ample evidence that large parts of Isaiah were written after Cyrus.

R.N. Whybray: "The Second Isaiah", JSOT Press: Sheffield, 1983.

protected by Steve Bird May 1 at 21:30

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