See Bezalel Porten, “Did the Ark Stop at Elephantine?” BAR 21:03.



My translation of the Hebrew is not certain in every respect, but on the whole the oracle is quite clear.


For a collection of such works, see James H. Charlesworth, ed., The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1985).


More formal scholars use “Deutero-Isaiah” and “Trito-Isaiah.” This terminology avoids perplexing students who are familiar with Second Samuel and Second Kings and search their Bibles in vain for Second Isaiah.


Because of similarities in style and content, many scholars also attribute Isaiah 34–35 to Second Isaiah. These chapters supposedly were connected to chapter 40 before the insertion of historical material in chapters 36–39.


Nehemiah Rabban, Yesha‘yahu hasheni: nevu’ato, ’ishiyuto ushemo (Jerusalem: Kirath Sepher, 1971). Rabban also published a work on Jeremiah.


See Risa Levitt Kohn and William H.C. Propp, “The Name of ‘;Second Isaiah’: The Forgotten Theory of Nehemiah Rabban,” in Fortunate the Eyes that See (Festschrift for D.N. Freedman: Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1995), pp. 223–235.


Rabban, Yesha‘;yahu hasheni, p. 31.


It is my impression that some interpreters have distinguished between the two sections on the grounds that chapters 40–55 sound more “Christian,” stressing God’s universalism and the redemptive power of suffering, while chapters 56–66 sound more “Jewish,” focused on ritual and vengeance. This is a notorious false dichotomy with deep roots in the field. But since other arguments against the unity of chapters 40–66 retain their force, the matter is best left open.


Isaiah 41:8–16, 42:1–4, 18–21, 43:10, 44:1–5, 21–22, 26, 45:4, 48:20, 49:1–6, 50:4–11, 52:13–53:12.


A seemingly insuperable obstacle to this theory is the fact that the first-person Isaiah 49:1–3 explicitly calls the servant “Israel.” Rabban regards the prophet as a megalomaniac who claimed to embody the entire nation, at least regarding their relationship to God. But this remains a clear weakness in Rabban’s argument and in all efforts to identify the servant as an individual.


Rabban argues that Meshullam in fact signed his work not once but twice. Isaiah 49:7 contains God’s address to a figure called by the obscure phrase ‘eved moshelim, literally “servant of rulers.” Since Hebrew was originally written consonantally, without vowels, Rabban infers that ‘vd mshlym is a corruption of an original ‘avbdo meshullam (‘vdw mshlm), “his servant Meshullam.”


Previously, J.L. Palache had identified Meshullam in Isaiah 42:19 with this prince, although not as Second Isaiah; see Christopher R. North, The Suffering Servant in Deutero-Isaiah (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 1948), pp. 89–90.


A more subtle but still disingenuous theory holds that Second Isaiah or his scribe simply used the back of a scroll of Isaiah, since the corpora are of comparable length, with 33 chapters for First Isaiah (minus the historical material in chapters 36–39) and 29 for Second Isaiah, maximally defined. A later reader naturally assumed the two sides constituted one literary work.


This line of conjecture raises another tantalizing possibility. What if Meshullam son of Zerubbabel is not the author but only the subject of Second Isaiah? In fact, “Isaiah” is a fairly rare name in the Bible, borne by approximately seven individuals. One of these is a member of the post-Exilic house of David and the nephew of our Meshullam (1 Chronicles 3:21). Is it conceivable that the misattribution of chapters 40–66 to Isaiah of Jerusalem was just an innocent mistake—for both were written by men named “Isaiah?”