Isaiah 1
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Isaiah 1
Isaiah 1
Great Isaiah Scroll.jpg
The Great Isaiah Scroll, the best preserved of the biblical scrolls found at Qumran from the second century BC, contains all the verses in this chapter.
BookBook of Isaiah
Hebrew Bible partNevi'im
Order in the Hebrew part5
CategoryLatter Prophets
Christian Bible partOld Testament
Order in the Christian part23

Isaiah 1 is the first chapter of the Book of Isaiah in the Hebrew Bible or the Old Testament of the Christian Bible. This book contains the prophecies attributed to the prophet Isaiah, and is one of the Book of the Prophets.[1][2] This chapter provides an introduction to the issues of sin, judgement, and hoped-for restoration which form the overarching structure of the whole book.[3] It concludes (verse 31) with 'a reference to the burning of those who trust in their own strength', in a fire which cannot be 'quenched' (Heb. root: k-b-h), a relatively rare word which is also used in the last verse of the book (verse 66:24: 'their fire shall not be quenched'), thereby linking together beginning and ending of this whole book.[3]


The original text was written in Hebrew language. This chapter is divided into 31 verses.

Textual witnesses

Some early manuscripts containing the text of this chapter in Hebrew are of the Masoretic Text tradition, which includes the Codex Cairensis (895), the Petersburg Codex of the Prophets (916), Aleppo Codex (10th century), Codex Leningradensis (1008).[4]

Fragments containing parts of this chapter were found among the Dead Sea Scrolls (3rd century BC or later):[5]

  • 1QIsaa: complete
  • 4QIsaa (4Q55): extant: verses 1-3
  • 4QIsab (4Q56): extant: verses 1-6
  • 4QIsaf (4Q60): extant: verses 10-16, 18-31
  • 4QIsaj (4Q63): extant: verses 1-6

There is also a translation into Koine Greek known as the Septuagint, made in the last few centuries BCE. Extant ancient manuscripts of the Septuagint version include Codex Vaticanus (B; B; 4th century), Codex Sinaiticus (S; BHK: S; 4th century), Codex Alexandrinus (A; A; 5th century) and Codex Marchalianus (Q; Q; 6th century).[6]


The parashah sections listed here are based on the Aleppo Codex.[7] Isaiah 1 is a part of the Prophecies about Judah and Israel (Isaiah 1-12). {P}: open parashah; {S}: closed parashah.

1:1-9 {P} 1:10-17 {S} 1:18-20 {P} 1:21-23 {S} 1:24-31 {P}


The New King James Version organises this chapter as follows:

Superscription (1:1)

The introductory verse of the Book of Isaiah is closely comparable to the opening of the books of Jeremiah, Hosea, Amos, Micah, and Zephaniah.[3]

Verse 1

The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.[8]
  • "Vision" (Hebrew ch?zôn, from the verb, châzâh, "to see, to behold"): Introducing the whole book as a vision in the title (see Obadiah 1, Nahum 1:1, Amos 1:1, Micah 1:1, Habakkuk 1:1), as well as in : Now the rest of the acts of Hezekiah, and his goodness, behold they are written in the vision of Isaiah.[9]
  • "The son of Amoz": not of Amos the prophet. Jewish tradition has a note that Amoz, the father of Isaiah, was the brother of Amaziah, king of Judah, so that Isaiah was of the royal family.[10]

According to the Pulpit Commentary, the prophecies of Isaiah "concern primarily the kingdom of Judah, not that of Israel".[11] This verse "is probably best understood as the heading of the first great collection of prophecies" in chapters 1-12. Chapter 13 initiates a proclamation against Babylon.[12]

The great accusation (1:2-4)

Isaiah calls the people of Judah "a thoughtless people".[13]

Verse 2

Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth;
for the Lord has spoken:
"Children have I reared and brought up,
but they have rebelled against me."[14]

Isaiah's opening words recall those of Moses in Deuteronomy 32:1:

"Give ear, O heavens, and I will speak;
And hear, O earth, the words of my mouth.[15]

The New Century Version combines these two exhortations into one:

Heaven and earth, listen, because the Lord is speaking.[16]

Verse 3

"The ox knows its owner,
and the donkey its master's crib,
but Israel does not know,
my people do not understand."[17]

This verse has played an important part in Christian Christmas tradition, along with a number of other verses in Isaiah which are treated as pointing forward to the time of Christ, and, although not mentioned in the gospels,[18] "the ox and the donkey/ass" are often connected with accounts of the birth of Jesus.[19] The animals in the Christmas crib are first mentioned in the apocryphal Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew (dated to the eighth or ninth century CE), where it is said that Mary 'put her child in a manger, and an ox and an ass worshipped him. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: "The ox knows his owner and the ass his master's crib"'.[20]

The devastation of Judah (1:5-9)

Isaiah uses images of the sick individual (verses 5-6) and the desolate nation (verses 7-8) to portray the sinfulness of his nation. The "daughter of Zion" (i.e. the city of Jerusalem) remained an isolated stronghold when Sennacherib, king of Assyria attacked the fortified cities of Judah in 701 BCE.[21]

Pious corruption and its cleansing (1:10-20)

Considered 'the most powerful and sustained' prophetic outburst at religious unreality[clarification needed] (cf. 1 Samuel 15:22; Jeremiah 7:21-23; Hosea 6:6; Amos 5:21-24; Micah 6:6-8), the vehemence of this prophecy is built up together in its form and content.[22] First, God rejected the offerings, then the offerers (verses 11-12), the specific accusation in the lurid conclusion of verse 15: Your hands are full of blood, followed by the command to 'have done with evil' in 'eight thunderous calls', ending in the reminder of the life-and-death alternatives similar to Deuteronomy 30:15-20.[22]

Verse 11

I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams
And the fat of fed cattle.
I do not delight in the blood of bulls,
Or of lambs or goats.[23]

Anglican bishop Robert Lowth translates as I am cloyed with the burnt offerings of rams ...[24]

According to the Torah, burnt offerings formed a part of the required sacrifice on all great occasions, as at the Passover (Numbers 28:19), at the Feast of Weeks (Numbers 28:27), at the Feast of Tabernacles (Numbers 29:13, 17, 20, 23, 26, 29, 32, 36), at the Feast of Trumpets (Numbers 29:2), and on the great Day of Atonement (Numbers 29:8), as well as being commanded as the sole sacrifice for a trespass offering (Leviticus 5:16, 18).[11]

Verse 18

Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord:
though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow;
though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.[25]

The phrase "reason together" has a tone of "legal argument";[9] similar wording appears in Isaiah 43:26.

God's lament and resolve (1:21-31)

The theme of this part is the vanished glory as in a funeral dirge, lamenting the moral loss or justice, but not concerning the wealth.[26]

Verse 26

"And I will restore your judges as at the first,
and your counselors as at the beginning.
Afterward you shall be called the city of righteousness,
the faithful city."[27]

The King James Version and American Standard Version speak of "judges" but the New International Version translates Hebrew: ‎ (shaphat) as "leaders".

Verses 29-31

The Jerusalem Bible separates out verses 29-31 as an oracle "against tree worship", suggesting that the prophet "possibly has Samaria in mind".[28]

Verse 29

For they shall be ashamed of the oaks which ye have desired, and ye shall be confounded for the gardens that ye have chosen.[29]

Verse 30

For ye shall be as an oak whose leaf fadeth, and as a garden that hath no water.[31]

Verse 31

And the strong shall be as tow, and the maker of it as a spark, and they shall both burn together, and none shall quench them.[32]
  • "Quench": Illusion of a fire ("spark") which cannot be 'quenched', from the Hebrew root: k-b-h (, kabah, "to be quenched or extinguished, to go out"[33]), links this verse (the beginning chapter) to the last verse (of the ending chapter) of the whole book (Isaiah 66:24: 'their fire shall not be quenched').[3] Moreover, it is also used in three other places: (1) of the servant in 42:3, that 'a dimly burning wick ("smoking flax") he will not quench'; (2) that 'the fire devouring Edom "will not be quenched"' (34:10), and (3) those who oppose the LORD'S path are 'quenched like a wick' (43:17).[3]

See also


  1. ^ J. D. Davis. 1960. A Dictionary of the Bible. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House.
  2. ^ Theodore Hiebert, et al. 1996. The New Interpreter's Bible: Volume VI. Nashville: Abingdon.
  3. ^ a b c d e Coggins 2007, p. 436.
  4. ^ Würthwein 1995, pp. 35-37.
  5. ^ Ulrich 2010, p. 330-333.
  6. ^ Würthwein 1995, pp. 73-74.
  7. ^ As implemented in the Jewish Publication Society's 1917 edition of the Hebrew Bible in English.
  8. ^ Isaiah 1:1 KJV
  9. ^ a b Coogan 2007, pp. 978-980 Hebrew Bible.
  10. ^ T. Bab. Megilla, fol. 10. 2. & Sota, fol. 10. 2. & Seder Olam Zuta, p. 104. Juchasin, fol. 12. 1. Shalshalet Hakabala, fol. 11. 2.
  11. ^ a b Pulpit Commentary on Isaiah 1, accessed 19 February 2018
  12. ^ Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges on Isaiah 1, accessed 19 February 2018
  13. ^ Jerusalem Bible: sub-title to Isaiah 1:2-3
  14. ^ ESV
  15. ^ Deuteronomy 32:1 NKJV
  16. ^ Isaiah 1:2 NCV
  17. ^ ESV
  18. ^ DiPippo, G., The Ancient Origins of the Nativity Scene (Part 1), New Liturgical Movement, published 5 January 2012, accessed 23 November 2019
  19. ^ Coggins 2007, p. 437.
  20. ^ Hennecke, E. (1963), New Testament Apocrypha (London: SCM), i. p. 410, apud Coggins 2007, p. 437
  21. ^ 2 Kings 18:13
  22. ^ a b Kidner 1994, p. 634.
  23. ^ NKJV
  24. ^ Lowth, R., Isaiah: a new translation: with a preliminary dissertation, and notes, critical, philological and explanatory, Boston, W. Hilliard; Cambridge, J. Munroe and Company, 1834
  25. ^ Isaiah 1:18 KJV
  26. ^ Kidner 1994, pp. 634-635.
  27. ^ ESV
  28. ^ a b c Jerusalem Bible, footnote at Isaiah 1:29
  29. ^ Isaiah 1:29 KJV
  30. ^ a b Coggins 2007, p. 439.
  31. ^ Isaiah 1:30 KJV
  32. ^ Isaiah 1:31 KJV
  33. ^ Strong's Concordance 3518. kabah


  • Coggins, R (2007). "22. Isaiah". In Barton, John; Muddiman, John (eds.). The Oxford Bible Commentary (first (paperback) ed.). Oxford University Press. pp. 433-486. ISBN 978-0199277186. Retrieved 2019.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Coogan, Michael David (2007). Coogan, Michael David; Brettler, Marc Zvi; Newsom, Carol Ann; Perkins, Pheme (eds.). The New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical Books: New Revised Standard Version, Issue 48 (Augmented 3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780195288810.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Kidner, Derek (1994). "Isaiah". In Carson, D. A.; France, R. T.; Motyer, J. A.; Wenham, G. J. (eds.). New Bible Commentary: 21st Century Edition (4, illustrated, reprint, revised ed.). Inter-Varsity Press. pp. 629-670. ISBN 9780851106489.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Ulrich, Eugene, ed. (2010). The Biblical Qumran Scrolls: Transcriptions and Textual Variants. Brill.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Würthwein, Ernst (1995). The Text of the Old Testament. Translated by Rhodes, Erroll F. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans. ISBN 0-8028-0788-7. Retrieved 2019.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)

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