Literature / Book of Isaiah

The Book of Isaiah is the first book of the Major Prophets (Isaiah being the first of the prophets). The story is about God appointing Isaiah to deliver a message to His people who have grown corrupted and sinful. The message of the book is split into two - the first half (1-39) being God's judgment upon His people for their sins while the second half (40-66) being God redeeming them and bringing hope in their lives.


  • Bad Is Good and Good Is Bad: The passage of Isaiah 5:20 condemns the practice of making good and evil equals, making this Older Than Feudalism:
    "Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter."
  • Blah Blah Blah: Actually occurs, of all places, in Isaiah 28:10 and 13. As translated by the New International Version: "Do and do, do and do, rule on rule, rule on rule; a little here, a little there." (Hebrew: "Sav lasav, sav lasav, Kav lakav, kav lakav, Ze'er sham, ze'er sham.") This represents people mocking the prophet's words as meaningless blabber. The Message translation of the Bible actually says, "blah, blah, blah, blah".
  • Blood-Splattered Warrior: Verses 2 and 3 of chapter 63 has the Lord appearing as a warrior saying that He has stained all His clothes with the blood of His enemies.
  • Burn Baby Burn: The last verse of the book.
    And they shall go forth and look on the corpses of the men who have transgressed against Me. For their worm shall not die, nor shall their fire be quenched. And they shall be an abhorrence to all flesh.
  • A Child Shall Lead Them: Isaiah 11:6 provides the Trope Namer. ("...and a little child shall lead them.")
  • The Chosen One: A prophecy makes mention of the Messiah, a descendent of King David who will defeat the enemies of Israel, rebuild the temple, and and rule Israel as appointed by God himself.
  • Deal with the Devil: The Living Bible translation of Isaiah 28:15 has God through Isaiah telling Israel "You have struck a bargain with death, you say, and sold yourselves to the devil in exchange for his protection against the Assyrians." But God tells them a few verses later "I will cancel your agreement of compromise with death and the devil, so when the terrible enemy floods in, you will be trampled into the ground."
  • Dishonored Dead: For the king of Babylon in Isaiah 14:19-20:
    All the kings of the nations, even all of them, lie in glory,
    each one in his own tomb;
    but you are cast out of your grave
    like an abominable branch
    and clothed with those who are slain,
    thrust through with a sword,
    who go down to the stones of the pit
    as a corpse trodden underfoot.
    You shall not be joined with them in burial
    because you have destroyed your land
    and slain your people.
  • Doomed Hometown: For those living in Damascus, Isaiah 17:1 has God declaring that it will become a heap of ruins.
  • Dreaming of Things to Come:
    • Isaiah saw 2 centuries into Israel's future. Some scholars believe these were written by other prophets and attributed them to Isaiah to increase its authority.
    • And possibly even centuries beyond that into the future, when God reveals that He is creating "a new heavens and new earth", which is only seen near the end of the Book of Revelation.
  • Fire/Water Juxtaposition: Invoked in 43:2.
    "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you."
  • Foreshadowing: In traditional Christian interpretation, Isaiah 53 prophesies the coming of Jesus and his crucifixion.
  • A God Am I: For the king of Babylon (or The Man Behind the Man, according to Christian interpretation) in Isaiah 14:13-15:
    For you have said in your heart,
    I will ascend into heaven,
    I will exalt my throne
    above the stars of God;
    I will sit also on the mount of the congregation,
    in the recesses of the north;
    I will ascend above the heights of the clouds,
    I will be like the Most High.
    Yet you shall be brought down to Hell,
    to the sides of the pit.
  • Holier Than Thou: God laments that despite going out of his way to reach out to an obstinate people and offer them everything, many of them still act as if they are too sacred for God himself. The King James translation of Isaiah 65:5 is the Trope Namer.
    "Such people are smoke in my nostrils,
    a fire that keeps burning all day."
  • The Man Behind the Man: Isaiah 14:12 (the King James Version in particular) was believed by some Bible students that God is talking to The Man Behind The Kings.
  • Marriage of Convenience: Isaiah prophesies of a day when seven women would join themselves to one man in marriage, saying, "We will eat our own food, and wear our own clothes, but let us be called by your name to take away our disgrace," resulting in a polygamous version of this for the sake of having children. Christians interpret this as a prophecy of those who claim the name of Jesus Christ without fully becoming believers.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Immanuel (God Is With Us) would be given to the prophesied child born to a virgin (or young woman, depending on the translation) to indicate that God would be with His people through the hard times that they would suffer.
    • Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz (Swift Is The Booty, Speedy Is The Prey) would be given to Isaiah's child as a sign that the riches of Damascus and the spoil of Samaria will be taken away before the king of Assyria before the child even learns how to speak.
  • Messianic Archetype: The Trope Namer, since Isaiah prophesies that a Messiah will come to restore the kingdom of Israel. However, since Messianic Archetypes are specifically modeled after the Christian Messiah, Isaiah's Messiah doesn't fit the description at all, because either Isaiah is actually talked about Christ and thus obviously not copying him or he's describing someone completely unrelated to Christ, because Isaiah could only have known about the yet-to-be-born carpenter through revelation.
  • Mercy Killing: It's implied in Isaiah 57:1-2 that part of the reason the good and righteous die is because God wishes to spare them from the sufferings of the future.
    "The righteous pass away: the godly often die before their time. And no one seems to care or wonder why. No one seems to understand that God is protecting them from the evils to come. For the Godly who die will rest in peace."
  • Sacrificial Lamb: The "Suffering Servant" in chapters 49-55.
  • Shameful Strip: God in His judgment parable against Babylon in Chapter 47 tells the city's personification to strip herself naked and "pass through the waters" where He will meet her in judgment.
  • Stop Worshipping Me: In Isaiah 1:11, God goes on a long rant about how he cares nothing for people's sacrifices, assemblies or prayers, because their behavior in their everyday lives didn't reflect their supposed piety.
  • Streaking: God had Isaiah go about his business three years without clothes as a sign against Egypt and Ethiopia, that the king of Assyria will lead them away into captivity bare-naked.
  • Watering Down: Watered-down wine is used as a metaphor as God's way of telling His people Israel that their spiritual life isn't as pure or as potent as it used to be.
  • Where Is Your X Now?: King Sennacherib of Assyria does this to King Hezekiah when he threatens to destroy Judah, saying "where are the gods" of the nations that he had conquered and suggesting that Hezekiah's God will not save him. It doesn't work well for the Assyrian king when, after King Hezekiah prays to God, Sennacherib finds that all 185,000 of his troops are dead. (This also appears in 2nd Kings.)