Follow TV Tropes


Literature / Book of Isaiah

Go To

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.



  • Accomplice by Inaction: In Isaiah 1:23 God condemns the princes of Judah for not only being companions of thieves, but also by not bringing justice to the fatherless or not defending the case of widows.
  • Auto Cannibalism: God says to Israel in Isaiah 49:26, "I will make your oppressors eat their own flesh, and they shall be drunk with their own blood as with wine."
  • 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".
  • Advertisement:
  • Blood Is Squicker in Water: Isaiah 15:9, part of a prophecy concerning Moab:
    For the waters of Dibon are full of blood;
    yet I will bring upon Dibon even more,
    a lion for those of Moab who escape,
    for the remnant of the land. (Revised Standard Version)
  • 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.
  • Blue and Orange Morality: Isaiah 55:8-9 confirm that God's standards are far beyond humanity's understanding.
    "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts."
  • Burn Baby Burn: The last verse of the book (Isaiah 66:24).
    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.
  • Advertisement:
  • 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.
  • Cool Key: In Isaiah 22:22, God says He will give "the key of David" to His servant Eliakim son of Hilkiah, who with that key will "open doors that no one can shut, and shut doors that no one can open."
  • Dangerously Close Shave: God in Chapter 8 threatens to give Judah a metaphorical version of this by sending for "a hired razor" from the kingdom of Assyria that would cut off "the hair of the head" as well as "the hair of the feet" and will also cut off "the beard".
  • 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.
  • Don't Look at Me!: From Isaiah 22:4:
    Therefore I said:
    “Look away from me,
    let me weep bitter tears;
    do not labor to comfort me
    for the destruction of the daughter of my people.” (Revised Standard Version)
  • 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.
  • Endless Daytime: Isaiah 30:26 predicts that "the light of the moon will be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun will be sevenfold, as the light of seven days, in the day when the Lord binds up the hurt of His people, and heals the wounds inflicted by His blow."
    • Also in Isaiah 60:19-20:
    The sun shall be no more
    your light by day,
    nor for brightness shall the moon
    give light to you by night;
    but the Lord will be your everlasting light,
    and your God will be your glory.
    Your sun shall no more go down,
    nor your moon withdraw itself;
    for the Lord will be your everlasting light,
    and your days of mourning shall be ended. (Revised Standard Version)
  • 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.
  • Forgiveness: From Isaiah 55:6-7:
    "Seek the Lord while he may be found,
    call upon him while he is near;
    let the wicked forsake his way,
    and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
    let him return to the Lord, that he may have mercy on him,
    and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon." (Revised Standard Version)
    • God says in Isaiah 43:25: "I, I am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake, and I will not remember your sins."
    • And in Isaiah 44:22, He says, "I have swept away your transgressions like a cloud, and your sins like mist; return to Me, for I have redeemed you."
  • 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.
  • God of Evil: Isaiah 45:7 describes God as both the God of both good and evil, though "evil" is paraphrased as "calamity" as opposed to "moral evil" in this case.
    "I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things."
  • God Test: God invokes this Himself against the idols that Israel made in Isaiah 41:21-24, with verse 24 being the Foregone Conclusion:
    Present your case, says the Lord.
    Bring forth your arguments, says the King of Jacob.
    Let them bring them forth, and show us
    what shall happen;
    let them show the former things, what they were,
    that we may consider them
    and know their outcome,
    or declare to us things to come.
    Show the things that are to come hereafter,
    that we may know that you are gods;
    do good, or do evil,
    that we may be dismayed and see it together.
    Indeed you are nothing,
    and your work amounts to nothing;
    he who chooses you is an abomination.
  • Good Shepherd: From Isaiah 40:10-11:
    Behold, the Lord God comes with might,
    and his arm rules for him;
    behold, his reward is with him,
    and his recompense before him.
    He will feed his flock like a shepherd,
    he will gather the lambs in his arms,
    he will carry them in his bosom,
    and gently lead those that are with young. (Revised Standard Version)
  • The High Queen: Babylon, personified as a young woman in Chapter 47, is told by God that she will no longer be called "The Queen (or Lady) of Kingdoms."
  • 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."
  • Intoxication Ensues: Isaiah 29:9 hints at this possibly happening to Israel's "prophets" (which some Charismatics have interpreted as being "drunk in the Spirit"):
    They are drunk, but not with wine. They stagger, but not with strong drink.
  • Jumped at the Call: In Chapter 6, when Isaiah sees the glory of the Lord in the days after King Uzziah died, he heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then Isaiah said, “Here am I. Send me.” Of course, the Lord has to purge Isaiah of his sins before He does send him forth as His messenger.
  • Kill It with Fire: Two verses show that God will inflict this on sinners - Isaiah 33:14 and Isaiah 66:24. Some Christians interpret this to mean Fire and Brimstone Hell.
    • Isaiah 33:14:
    "The sinners in Zion are terrified; trembling grips the godless: 'Who of us can dwell with the consuming fire? Who of us can dwell with everlasting burning?'"
    • Isaiah 66:24:
    "And they will go out and look on the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; the worms that eat them will not die, the fire that burns them will not be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind."
  • Kraken and Leviathan: God says in Isaiah 27:1 says that "the Lord with His fierce and great and strong sword shall punish Leviathan the fleeing serpent, even Leviathan the twisted serpent; and He shall slay the dragon that is in the sea." Whether that is literal or a metaphor for demonic spirits is unknown.
  • Light Is Not Good:
    • God's glory as seen by Isaiah in Chapter 6, due to his own sinful state and living among "a people of unclean lips". Fortunately, God had one of His angelic beings purge Isaiah from his sins by taking a hot coal with a pair of tongs and pressing it against Isaiah's lips.
    • Lucifer (meaning "light bringer" or "shining one") in Isaiah 14:12, since this is the name given either to Satan or to the king of Babylon who was exalting himself above God.
  • 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."
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: From Isaiah 33:1:
    Woe to you, destroyer,
    who yourself have not been destroyed;
    you treacherous one,
    with whom none has dealt treacherously!
    When you have ceased to destroy,
    you will be destroyed;
    and when you have made an end of dealing treacherously,
    you will be dealt with treacherously. (Revised Standard Version)
  • Rape, Pillage, and Burn: God says this of Babylon in Isaiah 13:16:
    before their eyes;
    their houses will be plundered
    and their wives ravished. (Revised Standard Version)
  • Rivers of Blood: God in Isaiah 34:1-3 pronounces His furious judgment upon the nations, with verse 3 saying "Their slain shall be cast out, and the stench of their corpses shall rise; the mountains shall flow with their blood."
  • Sacrificial Lamb: The "Suffering Servant" in chapters 49-55.
  • Shattered World: Isaiah 13:13 The Guy Upstairs moves the earth out of it's place with the heavens shaking, but only because the world is too evil at that point. Mentioned again in other places such as the book of Revelation where every mountain and island will vanish and the stars will fall out of the sky, with Isaiah mentioning some of them at least falling to Earth like figs. Sounds a bit like asteroids right there.
  • 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.
  • Spiteful Spit: In traditional Christian interpretation, Isaiah 50:6 prophesies that God's Suffering Servant, who is Jesus Christ, would be treated to this along with having His beard plucked out and His back struck.
  • 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. This was Bowdlerized in the early edition of the New International Reader's Version, which said that Isaiah went around wearing nothing but his underwear.
  • Uncleanliness Is Next to Ungodliness: Isaiah 64:6 says that we, as humans, are all like an unclean thing before God, and that even all our righteous acts are like filthy rags before Him.
  • 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.)
  • Words Can Break My Bones: Isaiah 11:4 is part of a prophecy of a coming king who will "strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, And with the breath of His lips He will slay the wicked." While this may be interpreted metaphorically, there are Christian readers who intepret it being literal with that prophecy speaking about the coming of Jesus Christ, who in the Book of Revelation slays the nations with "the sword of His mouth".


Example of: