Beware lest you lose the substance by grasping at the shadow. -Aesop
To read any book in the Bible serially, it is hard to get the full impact of its idiosyncrasies. This collection gives us a sense of how superstitious Isaiah and his contemporaries perceived the world. Because of the limitations of travel it was a small world bordered by Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Mediteranean Sea, Red Sea, Persian Gulf and the Caspian Sea. Who could imagine then that the sky was infinitely big? From appearances alone, heaven looks in my estimation to be no more than fifty miles high surrounding earth.
The protagonist in the first chapter of Genesis is a conscious being whose words create order from the primeval waters. On command, Yahweh divided the primeval waters into two halves, with the upper waters held up by a firmament, and earth floating on the lower waters. On command he made the sun, moon and stars attached to the firmament like ceiling lights. On command he made life. In Isaiah's world, nothing moves unless Yahweh commands it. The heaven in Isaiah's world was not a supernatural heaven; it is the same heaven we see every day.
In Isaiah's world we see the roots of ancient astrology, the belief that God controls the movement of heavenly bodies. It is first mentioned in verse 14 where it says to let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens and let them be for signs and for seasons. More about signs later.
Our brains are constructed to recognze patterns. Not knowing the modern principle of casuality, ancients tried to make sense out of the world by associating patterns they did not know with patterns they knew. On this page we see how Isaiah associated natural phenomenon with the human form. This is the root of every theistic religion I am aware of. The writing style can be characterized as personification, metaphor and anthropomorphism.
This page addresses one issue as to why the Bible is not credible as the source of a presumed kind of a God. Just because Isaiah believed he was God's mouthpiece, that doesn't prove it to be so. The Bible reflects the ignorance and superstition of the age when it was written. Two thousand years of accumulated knowledge can't be turned back.
To get a sense of Isaiah's world, try to forget what your education has taught you and just observe with your eyes.
He sees dead bodies disappear into the ground. He sees heavenly bodies disappear nightly below the horizon to return the next day. What is there to think, except that the dead go under the world as in underworld. This gives us the definition for "Sheol" and "Pit."
Let a sign of Yahweh be as deep as Sheol or as high as heaven.
Sheol beneath is stirred up. Your pomp is brought down to Sheol.
911 (Isa. 14:9, 11)
You are brought down to Sheol to the depths of the Pit.
16 (Isa. 14:15-16)
Down to the stones of the Pit
The dead shall live; their bodies shall rise.
We have made a covenant with death and with Sheol
15 (Isa. 28:14-15)
I am consigned to the gates of Sheol for the rest of my years
For Sheol cannot thank thee
18 (Isa. 38:17-18)
He shall not die and go down to the Pit
Down to Sheol
Flat earth on foundations
An earth that is spread out implies it is flat.
Earth has four corners.
Earth has foundations -they are probably at the four corners.
Earth will be shaken out of its place
Earth is violently shaken; it staggers like a drunken man
20 (Isa. 24:19-20)
Earth has ends.
From the ends of the earth
Did Isaiah personify Earth or did he mean the people of the earth? Verses 24:4 and 34:1 below suggest he personified earth just as he personified the heavens as illustrated below.
Earth mourns and withers; the heavens languish together with the earth
Let the earth listen and all that fills it. -"all that fills it" would include people, leaving earth to listen
Give ear O earth
He rises to terrify the earth
The earth is full of his glory
Exult O earth
Earth shall be full of knowledge
Apocalypticism appears in Isaiah.
Yahweh has control over natural disasters.
Yahweh will bring thunder, earthquake, great noise,
The mountains quake
Heaven has ends
The heavens are stretched out like a curtain and cover earth like a tent. The "circle of the earth" defines the Zodiac.
The heavens are spread out
Heaven has windows
As a side note, we see the play of windows in the Noah's Ark fable.
1112 (Gen. 7:11-12)
Yahweh clothes the heavens with blackness
Heaven is Yahweh's throne
Host of heaven
"Host of Heaven" refers to the personified stars of heaven.
The heavens sing
The heavens tremble
The heavens languish
Yahweh will punish the host of heaven
The host of heaven shall rot away
45 (Isa. 34:4-5)
The host have names
Sun, moon and stars
Yahweh has controlling power over personified celestial bodies.
The stars and their constellations, the sun and moon will be dark.
The king of Babylon has his own star, the Day Star, son of Dawn. This probably describes Venus which appears brighter than the stars in the early morning at certain times of the year. In verse 13, the ascension to heaven is reminiscent of Jesus' ascent to heaven.
13 (Isa. 14:4, 12-13)
As an aside, the King James calls him Lucifer.
12(Isa. 14:12 KJV)
The moon will be confounded and the sun ashamed.
The light of the moon will be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun will be sevenfold. -It's an impossibility.
He made the sun turn back.
The stars will fall out of the sky.
The sun shall be no more and the moon will be dark.
The sun shall go down no more, nor will the moon withdraw itself.
In Deuteronomy, worshipping the sun or the moon or the host of heaven was punishable by stoning to death.
23 4 5 6 7 (Deut. 17:2-7)
"Cloud" symbolizes the Milky Way.
Yahweh rides on a swift cloud. This is reminiscent of the New Testament prophecies of Jesus returning on a cloud.
The Milky Way can be thought of as the highway to heaven, the "Holy Way" because it cuts a wide swath straight up from the ground.
They weren't on the ground; they were in heaven.
A seraphim is a serpent with wings.
23 (Isa. 6:2)
Yahweh will slay Leviathan, the twisting dragon in the sea.
A satyr is a mythical creature with the ears and tail of a horse, the trunk of a man and the hind legs of a goat. In Greek mythology: Pan.
Yahweh had cut Rahab in pieces that pierced the dragon.
Light verses darkness
Light was personified as good and darkness as evil. This is where the term "enlighten" came from.
Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness.
Behold darkness and distress.
The people walked in darkness and have seen a great light.
Who walks in darkness and has no light, yet trust in the name of the Lord?
Your light shall break forth like dawn and your healing shall spring up speedily.
The light has come and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For behold, darkness shall cover the earth.
2 (Isa. 60:1-2)
Your sun shall no more go down and the moon shall withdraw; for the Lord shall be your everlasting light.
I've used this occasion to scan the Old Testament for evidence of astrology. The Hebrews weren't mathematical like the Babylonians, but they still believed in signs from heaven.
This verse can be interpreted as meaning words came to Isaiah from watching the stars-hosts.
Let the lights in the firmament be for signs and for seasons .
1415 16 17 18 (Gen. 1:14-17)
The sign of the covenant is a bow in the cloud.
1213 14 15 16 17 (Gen. 9:12-17)
The heavens are telling the glory of God, and the firmament proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours forth speech and night declares knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard. Yet their voice goes out through all the earth and their worlds to the end of the world.
6 (Ps. 19:1-6)
Yahweh covers himself with light.
6 (Ps. 104:1-6)
Those who dwell at earth's farthest bounds are afraid at thy signs. Thou make the outgoings of the morning and the evening shout for joy.
We do not see our signs; there is no longer any prophet.
The Lord has given me signs and portents in Israel from the Lord of hosts who dwells in Mount Zion. He disparages mediums and wizards for not consulting their God.
1819 (Isa. 8:18-19)
Yahweh hates the wise. -"wise" implied alien astrologers.
12 (Isa. 19:11-12)
The wisdom of the wise men shall perish.
This is the sign to you from the Lord. Behold I will make the shadow caste by the sun turn back ten steps.
78 (Isa. 38:7-8)
The Lord frustrates the omens of liars, makes fools of diviners and turns wise men back and makes their knowledge foolish.
25 (Isa. 44:24-25)
Let those who divide the heavens, who gaze at the stars, who at the new moons predict what shall befall you.
14 (Isa. 47:5, 12-15)
Do not be dismayed at the signs of the heavens because the nations are dismayed at them.
He works signs and wonders in heaven and on earth.
Now that we've seen how much of nature Isaiah personified, is it no wonder that the Hebrews personified the invisible as an almighty being who was in charge of their welfare.