Worksheet on Isaiah 6:1-13
This passage contains the call narrative of Isaiah. Thus,
it serves at least two purposes: 1) It serves to legitimate Isaiah's
prophecies by stating that they are true visions from Yahweh.
Isaiah has seen Yahweh enthroned in the divine assembly, so the
words that he reports are the decrees of the divine assembly for
human affairs. 2) It serves as a type of explanation of all of
Isaiah's prophecies. Isaiah is commanded during his call to speak
the words of Yahweh, but he is also told that the people will
not listen to him. We have to ask why he is told
that the people will not listen, and we must ask the question
if this is important for understanding all of his prophecies.
Your professor argues that the fact that Yahweh tells him that
the people will not listen, especially when read in light of the
parallel text from 1 Kings 22, is very important for understanding
all of Isaiah's prophecies (see the comments below under "applications
Limits and setting of the Passage:
Comparison of the Isaiah 6 to 1 Kings 22:
- Notice that the two passages both describe Yahweh as enthroned
in the divine council. Yahweh is holding judgment on what will
happen with the human realm, and the prophet overhears the discussion
that takes place. The table below presents a summary of some
of the comparisons. Not that you should read each passage and
not rely solely on this summary as some of the points of comparison
are more thematic and not "word-for-word."
1 Kings 22
| v. 19: I saw the LORD
|| v. 1: I saw the LORD
| v. 19: sitting on his throne
|| v. 1: sitting on a throne.
| v. 19: with all the host of heaven
|| v. 2: Seraphs
| v. 19: standing beside Him
to the right and to the left
|| v. 2: were in attendance (Heb=
were standing) above him
| v. 20: And the LORD said:
|| v. 8: Then I heard the voice
of the LORD saying:
| v. 20: Who will entice Ahab
. . .
|| v. 8: Whom shall I send, and
who will go for us?
| v. 21: I will entice Ahab
|| v. 8: And I said, Here I am,
The spirit then tells Yahweh: "I will go out and
be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets."
Micaiah then summarizes: "See the LORD has decreed disaster
| Isaiah is then told to prophecy
to the people so they will "keep listening, but do not comprehend;
keep looking but do not understand. Make the mind of this people
dull and stop their ears, and shut their eyes, so that they may
not look with their eyes, and listen with their ears, and comprehend
with their minds, and turn and be healed." (v. 9-10)
The use of the divine council in the Hebrew Bible
- As mentioned above several times, our passage is an example
of Yahweh being portrayed as the head of the divine council.
The "divine council" is a designation of the tradition
in the ancient Near East for assembly of the gods. This assembly
of the gods was where decisions were made by the gods concerning
the human realm. Although Israelite religion held that Yahweh
was so superior that the other gods were as nothing in comparison
(a precursor to monotheism), the motif of the divine council
is used in several places in the Hebrew Scriptures to describe
the way in which Yahweh rules the earth. The salient difference
between the use of the divine council in the Hebrew Scriptures
and other sacred texts from the ancient Near East is that the
other beings surrounding Yahweh are merely "spirits"
and not gods of equal status. The following passages are helpful
in understanding how this motif of the divine council is used
in the Hebrew Scriptures:
Applications for today: