Isaiah’s Son/Child Theme

Higher critics often point to differences within the book of Isaiah to prove their theory of multiple authors and time periods. However, many common themes run throughout the book and argue against such a conclusion. One such theme is that of son/child. Other Old Testament prophets who lived when critics say later sections of Isaiah were produced scarcely used the terms.

However, in Isaiah, the word son occurs 54 times. Around 20 of those simply describe a man as the son of his father (1:1; 2:1; 13:1). The most famous uses of son are in the prophecies traditionally understood as referring to the Messiah: “The virgin shall conceive and bear a Son” (7:14) and “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given” (9:6). Another Messianic passage describes the sin-bearing Messiah by saying, “So His visage was marred more than any man, and His form more than the sons of men” (52:14).

A passage referring to Lucifer, or Satan, calls him the “son of the morning” (14:12). Isaiah 19:11 refers to judgment on Egypt with this question for Pharaoh’s counselors: “How do you say to Pharaoh, ‘I am the son of the wise, the son of ancient kings’?”

Several passages speak of the sons of Israel (45:11; 49:15, 17, 22; 60:4, 9) or the sons of Jerusalem (51:18, 20). Sometimes such passages speak of future deliverance for the nation, while others speak of future judgment. The sons of foreigners are also mentioned (56:3, 6; 60:10; 61:5; 62:8). All in all, the term son recurs frequently in all sections of Isaiah.

In some of the same passages, the word child is coupled with the word son (9:6; 49:15). The use of the terms child, children, and offspring is even more telling in showing Isaiah’s unity. Early in the book, Israel is described in national and spiritual restoration, when the Messiah will rule and the Jewish people will be in the land (chap. 11). At that time, the earth will enjoy many changes, highlighted by the prediction, “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb” (11:6). In that Kingdom era, “a little child shall lead them [the animals]” (v. 6) and the “nursing child shall play by the cobra’s hole” (v. 8).

Near the end of Isaiah, a similar prophecy says Israel will one day enjoy its land: “They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit….They shall not labor in vain, nor bring forth children for trouble” (65:21, 23).

Then it is restated that “the wolf and the lamb shall feed together” (v. 25). This theme stands almost as bookends for the entire book of Isaiah, revealing a common thread from the earliest to the latest sections. Such wording cannot be written off as the mere use of common cultural terms across time. The prophet Zechariah, for example, who lived during the time that critics say later sections of Isaiah were produced, scarcely used the terms son and child.

Another common scriptural image in Isaiah is that of a pregnant woman or one nursing a child (26:17‒18; 49:15; 54:1). This image runs throughout sections that higher critics often claim were written by different authors. The abundance of such similar threads unifies the book and strongly supports the belief that it was written by a single author whose name was Isaiah.

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