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El vs. Yahweh in Isaiah 1?

David Bokovoy

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Hi David...As usual it is good to read your words. They are always insightful. To the point...

1. You state that you believe the 'voice' is YHWH's and not Isaiah's. My reading seems to point out that it could be nothing but YHWH's. As point in fact, both Heaven and Earth are summoned to the Council to stand as personified witnesses against Israel. On some checking I found these scriptures to be helpful...(see Deut 4:26; 30:19; 31:28; 32:1). 2. Since you have mentioned the covenantal relationship between Israel and God as a 'Father" and 'Son' relationship it is significally more dramatic that God has made the relationship one of a parent giving birth and raising his children only to have the child rebel against him and the covenant. In fact, doesn't the term pasha refer to a convenantal rebellion?

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Have you considered, David, what I would see as the direction in which this would go - that Isaiah 1 is a drama?

Verse 1: Narrator.

Verses 2-4: El

Verses 5-9: YHWH

Verse 10: Narrator


Its possible that some of the verses are Isaiah - perhaps he is the narrator of his vision. Perhaps his voice is someplace else. It would certainly say something about his role in the process if that were so.

When you talk about the anticipation of Israel's defense, this is a clever tactic in these kinds of dramas to respond to the audience - who will be those responsible for that defense. They become part of the court proceeding in this way, and drawn into the narrative.

When we hear from the personified Israel, presumably we might also have on the stage a personified Sodom and Gomorrah - to visually show the similarities and perhaps differences.

hmmm something to think about.

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hmmm something to think about.

I love this proposal, however, taking Ron's citations into consideration and going back to identify what I perceive as the textual markers for J. Green, I'm now convinced that I was wrong and that the voice is Isaiah's. One of the interpretive rules I try to adhere to is to approach an idea critically and remain willing to disengage from a proposal when the evidence amounts against it. This can prove especially difficult when we start to feel an attachment to a particular reading, and speaking personally, I would love to provide a compelling argument for the attestation of El and Yahweh in Isaiah 1. To do so would be really fun.

I remain convinced that chapter 1 presents a legal case which took place in El's council, with Yahweh as the accuser and Israel the defendant, but the primary voice speaking in the council is Isaiah as prosecutor. The prophet interacts with the council as Yahweh's official representative.

Verse one begins with the non-specified voice calling the divine council to "hear and give ear." While it may seem odd for a Prophet to take charge in such a meeting, as Ron's citations prove, this formulation reflects the prophetic role assumed by Moses in the book of Deuteronomy:

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I love your posts, David, because they get me to think and shake off the mental cobwebs. On a little search I found the following article, R. Lapointe, Divine Monologue as a Channel of Revelation published in Catholic Biblical Quarterly. No comment yet.

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  • 1 month later...

I like it. I shall like it more when I arrive at Isaiah in my Hebrew reading. Right now I am still in the Torah, so it will be awhile. Just the first thought off the top of my head, if Isaiah is cocerned with the Council themes (and he is), why not have it begin in that setting? And even if it is Isaiah's voice, he could still be describing his participation in the Council, and then the details come later. Sort of as an introduction.

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For what it is worth, today while studying for other things I am writing for my blog, I ran across this little gem of a ditty. You are, no doubt, familiar with it, but I share it here for the rest of those who don't have access to these kinds of sources. It is interesting how he ties in Isaiah 1 with Isaiah 6 and Daniel eh?

George G. Nicol , ISAIAH'S VISION AND THE VISIONS OF DANIEL, Vetus Testamentum, Vol. XXIX, Fase. 4

The visions of Daniel (Dan. vii-xii) have generally been studied within the context of the development of apocalyptic, and the tradi-tio-critical investigation of these chapters has consequently been concerned, for the most part, with the use which has been made by their author of such themes and motifs as may be held to demonstrate a continuity with late Israelite prophetic traditions. However, the call vision as a form of prophetic discourse was by no means confined to a late post-exilic milieu, and it is the purpose of this note to set out a number of examples where the author of the visions of Daniel appears to have made use of an earlier vision tradition which goes back, at least, to the account of Isaiah's call vision (Is. vi) x).

It may be observed that the account of Daniel's visions, like that of the visions of Isaiah, begins with a date formula. In both cases the date is stated in terms of a significant regnal year of a particular monarch, for Isaiah it is the year of the death of king Uzziah (Isa. vi 1), whereas for Daniel it is the first year of the reign of Belshazzar, king of Babylon (Dan. vii 1). It would, no doubt, be going too far if one were to attempt to discover some deep significance in the transformation of the relevant regnal year from the last to the first year of the sovereign's reign, but, in view of the parallels which will be adduced below, it may be considered not unlikely that a similar tradition lies behind the use of a regnal year of this order by the two authors. Their motivation appears to have been the desire to emphasize the importance of the visions which they report by placing them in particularly significant years. The use of this kind of date formula by the later author is particularly interesting since, in direct contrast to the relatively simple and straightforward account of the vision which one finds in Isa. vi, he follows it with the baroque and rather grotesque description of his several visions, each introduced in similar manner by its own date formula (Dan. vii 1, viii 1, ix 1, ? 1).

The use of such date formulae by the two authors might be considered of little consequence if there did not also exist a number of points of contact between the two traditions. The following connections seem to be particularly clear and significant:

(1) In Isa. vi 5, the prophet confesses his own sin and the sin of his people with the words, "I am a man of unclean lips and I dwell among a people of unclean lips" 2). This statement is quite specific in its reference to "unclean lips", but the intention behind the words appears to be the confession of sin or guilt. Although there is no verbal correspondence, Daniel's activity in his long prayer (Dan. ix 4-19) is described by the visionary as "confessing my own sin and my people Israel's sin" (aDn. ix 20).

(2) In Dan. ix 23, Daniel is invited to "consider well the word, consider {whbn, or, understand) the vision". At Isa. vi 9, however, the prophet is instructed by the deity to proclaim, "You may listen and listen, but you will not understand". This commission is to be undertaken lest the people "understand with their wits." It would seem that in the Daniel material a transformation has taken place in that Daniel, unlike those to whom Isaiah's ministry was directed, is to be permitted to understand.

(3) It is significant that this permission is granted to Daniel by the man Gabriel who is represented as having approached, or touched, him at the hour when the evening sacrifice would be offered, and in swift flight. This action of Gabriel is clearly reminiscent of the flight of the seraph (Isa. vi 6), who flew to Isaiah and touched his lips with a burning coal. It may also be possible to discern in the reference to the hour of the evening sacrifice an echo of both the situation and the time of Isaiah's vision which apparently took place in the temple (Isa. vi 1) and in close proximity to one of the altars (Isa. vi 6).

(4) This leads directly to a fourth important connection between the two traditions; in Isa. vi 7 the seraph is said to have touched Isaiah's mouth with a live coal, and to have proclaimed, "See, this has touched your lips.. ." At Dan. ? 16 it is reported that one like a son of man touched the lips of Daniel who then opened his mouth. In the case of Daniel, the touching of the mouth is followed by the granting of knowledge with respect to the future rather than by the commission to proclaim judgement which was received by Isaiah.

Although the author of the visions of Daniel has obviously moved some considerable distance from both the form and the content of the call vision of Isaiah, it is possible to discern in the various examples cited above a genuine reflection by the later author on the Isaianic call tradition. This reflection, it seems, is established clearly enough to permit one to suggest a number of other correspondences which might now be taken into consideration in any discussion of the sources upon which the author of the visions of Dan vii-xii might have been meditating.

First, it may be suggested that in Dan. vii 9 the thrones upon which the one ancient of days is said to have taken his seat correspond to the throne of the one high and exalted (Isa. vi 1). Second, if the point made above about the thrones is acceptable, it seems that the place of the worshipping seraphim of Isa. vi is taken over in Dan. vii by the "Thousands upon thousands (who) served him and myriads upon myriads (who) attended his presence."

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