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Bible Commentaries

Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures
Isaiah 12



Verses 1-6

Epilogue - Isaiah 12:1-6 serves as the epilogue to the first major section in the book of Isaiah (1-12), with its literary genre being poetry. We find another song of praise in Isaiah 26:1 to Isaiah 27:13, which closes the next major section of Isaiah ( Isaiah 13:1 to Isaiah 27:13). A third Song of Solomon , or poem, of praise is found in Isaiah 35:1-10, which serves as an epilogue for the next major section of Isaiah ( Isaiah 28:1 to Isaiah 35:10). The narrative story of Hezekiah's illness and prophetic recovery ( Isaiah 36:1 to Isaiah 39:8) records the king's song of praise near the closing of this section ( Isaiah 38:9-20).

Such a structure with passages of Scripture ending in a song or poem is not unique to the book of Isaiah. The Pentateuch consists of a combination of four literary types, the author having used narrative material, poetry, law and genealogical lists woven together to produce the story of Israel's establishment as a nation. We can clearly see that the book of Genesis is divided into ten major genealogies that take us from the creation of Adam to the birth of the nation of Israel. John Sailhamer makes an interesting comment on a pattern that can be seen in how these literary types are placed together throughout the Pentateuch. 32] He says that the author of the Pentateuch often ended his narrative material with poetry followed by an epilogue. For example, we find a brief poetic statement made by Adam ( Genesis 2:23) followed by a short epilogue ( Genesis 2:24) closing the story of the creation of Adam and Eve ( Genesis 2:4-22). He suggests that the story of the Fall ( Genesis 3:1-24) closes with a poetic discourse ( Genesis 3:14-19) followed by an epilogue ( Genesis 3:20-24). The story of Cain killing Abel ( Genesis 4:1-6) also ends with poetry ( Genesis 4:23-24) and closes with an epilogue ( Genesis 4:25-26). The genealogy of Noah ( Genesis 6:9 to Genesis 9:29) ends with the poetic material which curses Canaan ( Genesis 9:25-27) followed by an epilogue ( Genesis 9:28-29). The genealogies of Adam ( Genesis 5:1 to Genesis 6:8) and of the sons of Noah ( Genesis 10:1 to Genesis 11:9) both end with God's prophetic judgment and a closing remedy to judge mankind. The genealogy of Abraham (and Terah) ( Genesis 11:27 to Genesis 25:11) ends with the story of Isaac taking Rebekah as his wife. At the closing of this story, she receives a prophetic blessing from her people ( Genesis 24:60) and this genealogy ends with an epilogue ( Genesis 25:7-11). The story of Joseph (chpts 37-48) ends with a lengthy poetic prophecy by Jacob (chpt 49) followed by a closing epilogue (chpt 50).

32] John H. Sailhamer, Genesis , in The Expositor's Bible Commentary, vol 2, eds. Frank E. Gaebelien, J. D. Douglas, Dick Polcyn (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Pub. House, 1976-1992), in Zondervan Reference Software, v 28 [CD-ROM] (Grand Rapids, Michigan: The Zondervan Corp, 1989-2001), comments in "Introduction: 4. Purpose: a. Compositional Analysis of the Pentateuch."

Sailhamer goes on to say that the story of the Exodus ( Exodus 1-14) is followed by poetry ( Exodus 15). At the end of Israel's forty-year wilderness journey, the author places the poetic prophecies of Balaam ( Numbers 23-24). Finally, the five books of the Pentateuch end with the song of Moses ( Deuteronomy 32-33) followed by a closing epilogue ( Deuteronomy 34).

Sailhamer also notes a common pattern in the lengthy poetic prophecies of Jacob ( Genesis 49), Balaam ( Numbers 23-24) and Moses ( Deuteronomy 32-33). All three of these men call together an audience and proclaim what will take place in the future of the history of the nation of Israel. All three prophecies use a common Hebrew phrase "in the days to come" which is found in only one other place in the Pentateuch, giving us a clue as to the fact that this material is structured in a common pattern. The fact that all three of these poetic passages give us a prophecy of the coming Messiah reveals that they all have a common eschatological theme. As we look back as the other brief poetic material, we find another Messianic prophecy ( Genesis 3:15). It appears as if the narrative material sets the course for the eschatological message found within the poetic material. In other words, the actions of mankind found in the narratives have divine consequences in the future history of mankind and particularly in the nation of Israel. This pattern could be explained as a customary way of writing narrative material during the time of the author, with the understanding that this was also the way that God inspired Moses to record this material for us.

This pattern is found outside of the Pentateuch. We see how the book of Joshua closes with a non-poetic, but prophetic speech, by Joshua followed by an epilogue. We also see how the life of David closes with a poetic farewell speech in 2 Samuel 22:1 to 2 Samuel 23:7.


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These files are copyrighted by the author, Gary Everett. Used by Permission.
No distribution beyond personal use without permission.

Bibliography Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Isaiah 12:4". Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. 2013.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, October 20th, 2020
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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