Introduction

All the prophets who spoke in Israel and Judah were deeply concerned with political situation of
each nation. However, there is difference between the ideas of the prophets before the destruction of
Jerusalem by the Babylonians in 587/6 BCE and those after this date. Isaiah of Jerusalem saw foreign
powers as a tool of God’s wrath, but later it changed. The reason for this change is the change in the
historical situations1. Isaiah’s message was one of faith in God and social justice. In Micah We see his
challenges in relation to true spirituality. In this paper we will be dealing with Prophet Isaiah of Jerusalem
and Micah, their identity, discourses and responses during the 8thC Pre-exilic Israel and Judah.
Prophet Isaiah of Jerusalem
Identity: Very little is known about Isaiah’s personal background, apart from the name of his father, Amoz,
and the fact that he was married with at least two sons (1:1; 7:3; 8:3) 2 Shear- Jashub and Mahar-ShalalHash-Baz. Nothing is known of his wife except that she is termed as a prophetess 3. His whole life seems to
have been spent in Jerusalem. He is generally thought to have been of good family. Suggestion that he had
held an official post in the temple is also questioned.4 In his writings he shows familiarity with the city and
its vicinity rather than with the country. He is well acquainted with the surroundings. He was not only a
prophet but also a statesman of the kingdom5.
Isaiah is a well known among Hebrew prophets. His fame chiefly rests upon his deep religious
faith, nobility of his thought, the beauty of his language, and his fervent patriotic, statesmanship, courage
and tenacity of purpose. He was in many ways noblest among the prophets 6. In Isaiah 1-39 twe can see two

1 Jack Partain and Richard Deutsch, A Guide to Isaiah 1-39 (Delhi: ISPCK, 1993),2-3.
2 Partain Op.Cit,1.
3T. Henshaw, The Latter Prophets (London: George Allen and Unwin Ltd, 1958),112.
4 Partain Op.Cit,1.
5 Henshaw Op.Cit,112.
6. Ibid.,112.
1

The kings of that time had long reigns. He was a man who had courage of his conviction and the determination to proclaim them no matter at what cost to himself9. 10 Soon after the invasion of Sennacherib he disappears from history11. Unlike Amos. This creed had not been difficult to believe during Uzziah’s long reign.Cit. 12 Gerhaed VonRad. then presumably he was born at least twenty years before.28. But together with its sister kingdom Israel it occupied a strategic place. Opening the Sealed Book (Cambridge: William B. 11Henshaw Op. The Message of the Prophets (London: SCM Press Ltd. 8 Partain Op. he laboured for some forty years as the devoted servant of Yahweh.1. His ready response was in striking contrast of hesitation and fear of Jeremiah and the passivity of Ezekiel. whose relentless campaign put down all rebellions 7 Joseph Blenkinsopp.120. Eerdmans Publishing Company.112.Pileser III came in power to Assyria.Cit.Cit. whose prophetic activity was apparently confined to a brief visit to Bethel. Judah was tiny in comparison to Egypt to its south and Assyria to its north-east. the Lord.Cit. If we take it that God’s call came to Isaiah about the year 740. Henshaw dates the birth of Isaiah between 770-760 BCE.1. five years before death of Uzziah. an uncompromising critic of the political and religious establishment and there is the “man of God” (is elohim) narrative sections7. It lay at the centre of the known world and made astounding claim that its God. the year that king Uzziah died (Isa 6:1). 2 . Call of Isaiah hence could be located to be in the year 740 BCE.2006). There is the Isaiah of sayings.112-113. which spanned the whole first half of eighth centrury. 1965). 9Henshaw Op. The international situation of the Near East was fairly peaceful too during the first half of the 8 th C.). But the dates which the scholars suggest for the death of Uzziah vary from 742 to 735 BCE. The exact dates or order of events that occurred is difficult to workout. Historical events are very exactly reflected in Isaiah’s prophecy 12. Socio Historic Horizon: At the time when Isaiah received the call to be a prophet the two Israelite kingdoms were prosperous and at peace. Tiglath. was the creator and effective ruler of everything. at the time when the prophet Amos was preaching in the Northern Kingdom8.distinct and contrasting profiles of the Prophet. 10 Partain Op.

who he believed controlled all the nations of the world. 14 Ibid. The northern kingdom of Israel was dismantled and in the years followed Judah and its southern neighbourhood struggled on. For him.128-130.120.Cit. He demanded moral purity.112. 16 VonRad Op. In the reign of Hezekia he advocated a policy of non-resistance towards Assyria). preferring to trust in the power of Yahweh to defend His people (When Israel allied with Syria and wished to force Judah to join their league against Assyria. He sorted help from Tigleth – Pileser and subjected Judah to Assyrian domination. 1997)21-22. He opposed to all entangling political alliances. Yahweh was holy and therefore his people also must be holy.the drunkenness of the men. Deep fissures were opening up in Judean society as justice were disregarded and replaced by violent exploitation and repression. and restive under the Assyrian Yoke14. At home too things were far from well. The Message of Isaiah ( England: Inter-Varsity Press. 17Henshaw Op.. It was concentrated in the hands of economic elite who cared little for have-nots. His political views were all based on the character of Yahweh. In 734 BCE when Ahaz refused to join the alliance of Pekah and Rezin they invaded Judah. economically crippled. the wanton (meaningless) vanity (pride) of women.Cit. Hence need to separate themselves completely from the foreign nations17. the administration of justice displays most clearly man’s attitude to God. the oppression of poor. he tried to reassure Ahaz. The new-found wealth was not evenly distributed. and the prevalence of open violence. And never forsake his people if they are faithful to him. In the year Uzziah died the international scene was full of threat.and reorganised the country. His Message: Even before his call to prophetic ministry he was concerned about the alarming conditions in the nation and felt the need of patriots to work for its reformation 15. Ahaz.Cit. He saw in Judah the evils of his time and the destruction that faced the country. Under Jotham. 13 Barry Webb. the pervasion of justice. The creed that Lord was king became hollow and its ethical implication was disregarded13. justice and humanity and denounced the national sins. and Hezekiah Judah was to lurch from crisis to crisis and Assyrian pressure built relentlessly.22-25. 15Henshaw Op. Religious observance continued but could no longer conceal the rot that had set in underneath. the greed of the land owners. 3 . In his eyes divine law is the greatest saving blessing16.

21 Bruce K. in contrast to Isaiah son of Amoz. associate of persons of high rank. 19Ibid. Waltke. Isaiah was pre-eminently the prophet of faith. 3. but he was conscious that Yahweh had laid upon him 18Ibid. His fundamental concept of God was that of His holiness and majesty. Throughout his long ministry he taught that the strength and stability of the nation depended upon trust in Yahweh.104. This quiet confidence in Yahweh’s power to protect and to save has been source of inspiration to both Jews and Christians throughout the centuries19. there are certain elements peculiar to Isaiah. Isaiah taught that Yahweh was the God of history.14) implies that he was an outsider to the capitals 21. Though Yahweh was a righteous God who punished sin He was ever ready to show mercy. being a native of Jerusalem. Micah was identified by his place of origin rather than by his family. Micah was a poor peasant of Moresheth-gath. A Commentary on Micah (Cambridge: William B. 4 . Micah’s identification as Moreshtite (Mic 1:1. he was firmly convinced that Yahweh would ultimately redeem his people. sacrifices could not substitute for justice and mercy. Though he predicted the doom of both Israel and Judah. a range of low hills between the central highlands of Judah and the coastal plains. Since Yahweh is holy His people too must be morally pure. frequenter of court.. Compared to Isaiah’s noble birth. just and merciful. The name by which he frequently spoke of Yahweh was ‘the Holy One of Israel’. We know nothing of his call to the prophetic ministry. 2007).131-132.There are many commonalities among Isaiah and other pre-exilic prophets. Prophet Micah Identity: Micah was a younger contemporary o f Isaiah. Eerdmans Publishing Company. a village situated in Shephelah.132. As he grew up he learned to sympathise with peasants who were exploited and oppressed by the wealthy landowners and those in authority20.Cit. using nations in the fulfilment of His purpose18. 20Henshaw Op.. Yahweh would forgive His erring people if only they would repent.

23 Waltke. Socio Historic Horizon: Precise date of Micah’s prophetic activity cannot be determined. the successor of Uzziah.104. and social concern was at bottom of the list of priorities of national and local 22Henshaw Op. and Amos. and Hezekiah. 1. Jeroboam Ii of northern kingdom. Obadiah. The Books of Joel.239. The reign of Jotham. which was proving a mixed blessing. Ezekiel. and the disintegration of personal and social values. As a messenger from the heavenly court. Unfortunately the influx of material prosperity had spawned selfish materialism. had surged forward and won territorial and commercial gains. During the reign of Uzziah. Wealth was invested in land as a result saw the collapse of system of agriculture. coincided with that of Tigleth. Micah does not recount his initial call to ministry as do Isaiah. a complacent approach to religion as a means of achieving human desires. imperialistic thrust of Assyria westward and southward had been temporarily halted.Pileser III. His denunciation of Samaria shows that he had begun to prophesy before the fall of the city in 722 BCE 24. From the religious histories of Kings and Chronicles and in the Assyrian records. Kings of Judah (but possibilities for this statement to been a later addition can’t be ignored). and deportation which had begun ten years before had rigorously resumed. a good deal of social and political history of the period can be reconstructed. Eerdmans Publishing Company. Micah’s oracles. This reference speaks volumes. may be considered in the light of their environmental context25. 1976). Jonah and Micah (Michigan: William B.104. According to the title of the book he prophesied ‘in the days of Jotham. Jeremiah. he was invested with all its authority in is addresses to Israel’s royal capital of Samaria and Jerusalem23.Cit.Cit. and to Israel his sin 22. Op. Allen. Age old sanctions associated with the divine covenant were shrugged off. The claim that “the word of I AM’ came to him and that he “prophesied” his “vision” (Mic 1:1) gives him the status of I AM’s plenipotentiary. Benefitting from the lull and the economic opportunities it presented.Cit. Micah lived in a period of economic revolution. therefore. Samaria fell to Assyrians in 722 BCE. Ahaz. First Damascus and then Israel was removed from the political scene. 5 .the duty of declaring ‘unto Jacob his transgression. 25 Leslie C. and in alliance with him his contemporary Uzziah of Judah. 24Henshaw Op.

Hosea. that to Samaria apparently being merely introductory. being primarily an ethical and religious reformer. He also like Amos.Cit. Even religious leaders.Assyrian Empire. but his exalted conception of diety. materialism) of the judges. 27 Waltke Op. Micah and Isaiah. his anger blazing forth at the injustice and suffering which he saw on every side. whom he likened to cannibals. a passion for right conduct. Micah delivered his message of doom and hope to Samaria and Jerusalem during the reign of Jotham (742-735BCE). the corruption of the rulers. did little more than echo the spirit of the period. Ahaz (735-715 BCE). and the avarice (greed. In his lifetime two volatile forces were at work in Israel’s history: moral corruption within and the rising Neo. He seems to have taken no great interest in politics. who deprived the peasants of their land and home. a burning hatred of injustice and deep sympathy with poor28.government officials. we learn that the contagious social injustice that prevailed in Samaria now prevailed in her prostitute sister Jerusalem as well27. 26 Allen Op. Jerusalem would be destroyed because its rulers had founded its prosperity upon violence and injustice. who bridged between Amos and Micah.Cit. buttressing the society that gave them their livelihood26. Hosea and Isaiah exalts religious and ethical conception.3. his passion for righteousness and his championship of the poor and the oppressed entitle him to a place among the godly fellowship of the prophets29. 29 Henshaw Op.Cit.109. Amos gives us eyewitness testimony to the moral rot at work inside Samaria a generation before Micah. priests and prophets.239-240. but if they devised iniquity and worked evil they would be surely punished. 6 . With a bitterness which is unsurpassed in the history of prophesy he denounced the greed of the wealthy landowners. He taught the inseparability of religion and morality. Micah stands out as the champion of the poor peasants of Judah. So long as men acted righteously they would enjoy the divine favour.104. with an intense faith in the righteousness of Yahweh. Yahweh was a God of absolute righteousness who made moral demands upon all nations. testifies that the same sorry situation continued to obtain in Samaria. including Israel. and Hezekiah (715-686 BCE). The prophesy of Micah are few in number. His Message: His message was in the main addressed to Judah.Cit. 28Henshaw Op. priests and prophets. From Hosea’s successors.

As a prophet Micah spoke as a representative of the divine will. apt smiles and metaphors. Bibliography 30 Ibid. his anger blazing forth at the injustice and suffering which he saw on every side. He delivered Yahweh’s stern warnings. He makes frequent rhetoric questions.Cit. Prophet attacked the establishment for abandoning divinely ordained standards in favour of self interest. We have seen that Isaiah was pre-eminently the prophet of faith. Addressing the normal theocracy of Judah.. discourse and response of Isaiah of Jerusalem and that of Micah.240. He also employ joke (pun) upon the names of towns and villages doomed to destruction30.Micah is characterised by vigour. In this paper an attempt was made to a have a brief analysis of identity. 31 Allen Op.110. to the point of neglecting or actively ill treating the under privileged31. intensity of feeling and vivid imagery. We have tried to analyse their messages on the basis of their particular socio-cultural contexts in which they were in. 7 . Throughout his long ministry he taught that the strength and stability of the nation depended upon trust in Yahweh. imperatives. Micah stands out as the champion of the poor peasants of Judah. Conclusion Isaiah of Jerusalem and Micah both are pre-exilic prophets.

The Latter Prophets. Jack and Richard Deutsch. A Commentary on Micah. Webb. 1997.Michigan: William B. 8 . Blenkinsopp. London: SCM Press Ltd. Delhi: ISPCK. The Message of Isaiah. 1958. Eerdmans Publishing Company. Partain. Eerdmans Publishing Company. Joseph. Eerdmans Publishing Company. Cambridge: William B.2006. Leslie C.Gerhaed. Bruce K. Waltke. Jonah and Micah. Opening the Sealed Book. 2007. 1976. A Guide to Isaiah 1-39. 1965. T. VonRad. Henshaw.Allen. London: George Allen and Unwin Ltd. England: Inter-Varsity Press. Barry. 1993. The Message of the Prophets. Cambridge: William B. Obadiah. The Books of Joel.