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El vs. Yahweh in Isaiah 1?


David Bokovoy

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Wanted to make sure that posters were aware that I've started a new thread in the Pundits forum on a topic that I know is of interest to many here. I'm happy to have a discussion in this section on the matter as well, but would like to keep the pundit thread somewhat organized and easy to read.

Would love to take and questions, criticisms, and or ideas from you guys.

Best,

--DB

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Don't have much to say yet, but your theory reminds me of the typical layout in Jewish midrashim and similar works for heaven. God says somethings, the angels (or someone else such as a prophet or the earth) are touched and reply in verse.

I do wonder though in what format was Isaiah 1 originally delivered. It seems like there are some spontaneous excalamations in it, so I'm guessing this was a public discourse at the city gates.

This is also Jehovah as patriarch, but I have to go help set up lights for the stake Christmas party.

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David,

I always love your insights. A few thoughts/questions:

1. I agree with background. Aside from Psalm 82, Isa 6, Amos 3, etc., I think it's also similar to Zech 3 and Hab 2 with the divine council setting.

2. Those on trial appear to be sons that God has begotten and exalted (v. 2). Link to Gen 6 and the priestly/angelic exalted sons of God who are fallen? This episode seems to undergird a lot of Isaiah and much of the literature from Qumran whether it's being interpreted in a "modern" context about the Jerusalem priesthood or not. The whole of chapter 1 seems to be about priests, by the way. (All the imagery is about blood in the hands, incense, the feasts not being acceptible, etc.)

3. Is the intro at 2:1 (compared to 1:1) a good indicator that chap 1 is asynchronous to the rest of the text? I would suspect the episdode in 6 to be the calling to the divine council because this is where he introduces it and is purged of his sins (a prerequisite). If so, wouldn't that make the episode here in 1 later in the chronology as a record of a trial at the council he has joined previously in 6?

4. What is your method for determining the voice? The dialogue would makes sense as you present it, but are you using textual markers as some kind of screening criteria?

Regards

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Don't have much to say yet, but your theory reminds me of the typical layout in Jewish midrashim and similar works for heaven. God says somethings, the angels (or someone else such as a prophet or the earth) are touched and reply in verse.

I do wonder though in what format was Isaiah 1 originally delivered. It seems like there are some spontaneous excalamations in it, so I'm guessing this was a public discourse at the city gates.

This is also Jehovah as patriarch, but I have to go help set up lights for the stake Christmas party.

Excellent link with the midrashim. Let me know if some specifics come to mind. I'm not sure about the original delivery. Like much of Isaiah, it carries a royal feel from my perspective, so I have imagined the Sitz im Leben to be the royal court, but that's pure speculation on my part. Still, I would love to read your views on the spontaneous exclamations and possible link with public discourse if you get a chance.

Best

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David,

I always love your insights. A few thoughts/questions:

1. I agree with background. Aside from Psalm 82, Isa 6, Amos 3, etc., I think it's also similar to Zech 3 and Hab 2 with the divine council setting.

2. Those on trial appear to be sons that God has begotten and exalted (v. 2). Link to Gen 6 and the priestly/angelic exalted sons of God who are fallen? This episode seems to undergird a lot of Isaiah and much of the literature from Qumran whether it's being interpreted in a "modern" context about the Jerusalem priesthood or not. The whole of chapter 1 seems to be about priests, by the way. (All the imagery is about blood in the hands, incense, the feasts not being acceptible, etc.)

3. Is the intro at 2:1 (compared to 1:1) a good indicator that chap 1 is asynchronous to the rest of the text? I would suspect the episdode in 6 to be the calling to the divine council because this is where he introduces it and is purged of his sins (a prerequisite). If so, wouldn't that make the episode here in 1 later in the chronology as a record of a trial at the council he has joined previously in 6?

4. What is your method for determining the voice? The dialogue would makes sense as you present it, but are you using textual markers as some kind of screening criteria?

Regards

This is great! Thanks for the thoughtful comments and questions! This was precisely the type of exchange I hoped to have in order to figure this text out. I'm going to repost your comments with some ideas in the Pundit thread, but alas, it will have to be tomorrow. Long day today and I'm afraid despite my excitement, I'm a bit spent.

Warm wishes,

--DB

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This is great! Thanks for the thoughtful comments and questions! This was precisely the type of exchange I hoped to have in order to figure this text out. I'm going to repost your comments with some ideas in the Pundit thread, but alas, it will have to be tomorrow. Long day today and I'm afraid despite my excitement, I'm a bit spent.

Warm wishes,

--DB

I hope you are pitching this idea to others outside the board. I find this absolutely fascinating and possibly very important. Keep the good work up!

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It seems to me that the Lord is addressing the kingdom of Judah in its entirety, whether ruling, priestly or common.

After all, the priests offered sacrifices and offerings on behalf of the people. There are roughly three elements here, fields, temple worship and judgement. The terms people, my people and nation are used.

Chronology wise, it seems to me from verses 7 through 9 that this is spoken after the war with Rezin and Pekah, in which Jerusalem was not taken. In this regards, verse 9 is telling. Such a dating would place chapter 1 some time after the vision in chapter 6.

I think in verses 9 and 10 Isaiah is the one speaking. Left us. And then Sodom and Gomorah carries over to the next verse.

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Excellent link with the midrashim. Let me know if some specifics come to mind. I'm not sure about the original delivery. Like much of Isaiah, it carries a royal feel from my perspective, so I have imagined the Sitz im Leben to be the royal court, but that's pure speculation on my part. Still, I would love to read your views on the spontaneous exclamations and possible link with public discourse if you get a chance.

Best

I will have to find some specifics.

Why I think this was a public discourse is Isaiah calls out to both the rulers and the people. Verse 10, for instance. Ktzinei sdom am amorah. Not only that, but the ktzinim are told to listen to dvar-YHWH, which I take as commands, whilst the am is directed towards torat eloheinu.

It was customary for the king to sit at the gates, judging cases, receiving tribute, etc., so that would account for both the royal and populist feel. Naturally, all this is speculation, but the setting often provides something to think about.

Verse 9 strikes a different tenor, and the speaker obviously is associating himself with the survivors, so I would be very surprised if this wasn't Isaiah's aside. He then has to use a further verse in order to resume the word of the Lord.

I'm sure that verse 2 is the Lord convening his divine council, calling witnesses (heaven and earth) to hear his case against his people, to attest to it being a just complaint. Ki YHWH diber would be the sign for thm to gather and hear him out. The rest of verse 2 through 4 is the complaint, expressing the Lord's disappointment in his people, that even the dumb beasts know better, so what is Israel's excuse.

Verse four starts out impersonally enough, but we come right back to them being posterity and sons. Posterity which does evil, sons which corrupt (or destroy?)

In 5 through 8, he is speaking directly to his people, and it seems to me, like a father or patriarch would, who beats his sons when they act wrongly.

I think he is like the patriarch who appoints his sons to carry on in his way, being a source of justice and equity to the rest of the tribe, but like the sons of Eli, they pervert his ways, oppressing the poor and helpless and bringing shame upon their father's name.

The daughter of Zion bit seems to me to be refering, as I said, to the failure of Rezin and Pekah to take Jerusalem. Bat-Zion always seems to refer to the city of Jerusalem itself, city is feminine, and it is situated on mt Zion.

Verses 11 through 20 are a continuation of 5-8, and no metaphor is used for the people. The Lord wants there to be no mistake as to who and what, so hence he is plain-spoken and direct, with the exception of two symbolic colours. Sins are red, the colour of blood, and their hands, he said, are bloody. White is the cpposite, it symbolises purity.

I find the wordplay in 19 and 20 fascinating. Two choices and two consequences are placed before the people. If they hearken and obey, they will eat of the bounty of the land. If they refuse, they will be eaten by the sword!

In 21-23 the Lord speaks as the wronged husband, whose wife, the faithful (IE marital fidelity) city, has turned into a harlot. That is the justification for his course of action outlined in 24-31. I have a feeling that in these verses he is addressing the righteous, or perhaps the repnetant, portion f his people.

I think in 31 the tree is the royalty, and the worker the priests.

Anyway, these are just some thoughts.

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Looking at the begotten sons of God on trial, I can't help but think of the coronation in Ps 2, where the king becomes the anointed, the begotten son of God. But this in the context of the kings/rulers/angels of the nations banding together in conspiracy against YHWH (vv 1-5). We see allusions to these verses throughout Isaiah, and Isa 24 has the broken everlasting covenant and the rulers on high being punished through God opening the windows of heaven, just as in the flood narrative. So again we're back to Gen 6 and the flood that wiped out this same sort of conspiracy among the sons of God. Not even mentioning the Enoch corpus, which I sometimes think has been entirely constructed around this one episode.

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Regarding the idea of Prophetic prosecution in the divine council, how does Lehi's experience follow the pattern? He speaks to Jerusalem, delivering the accusation (1 Ne 1:13) then speaks to the Lord who is presiding (1 Ne 1:14) to tell him he that he has the authority to judge ("thy throne is high in the heavens") and reminds him that he is both just and merciful. Too bad Nephi doesn't give us the whole experience.

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