A Study in the Word – Isaiah’s Background No. 9


The death of Isaiah is not mentioned in the Old Testament. 

There may be an allusion to his death, though, in Hebrews 11:37: “they were sawn in two.” The book Martyrdom and Ascension of Isaiah was written in the inter-testament period and describes Isaiah’s torture and death at the hands of Judah’s evil king Manasseh, son of Hezekiah: “Because of these visions, therefore, Beliar was angry with Isaiah, and he dwelt in the heart of Manasseh, and he sawed Isaiah in half with a wood saw. 

And while Isaiah was being sawed in half, his accuser, Belkira, stood by, and all the false prophets stood by, laughing and (maliciously) joyful because of Isaiah” (Martyrdom 5:1-2, Charlesworth edition). 

We need to be careful about how we understand what is said outside of the Bible about biblical persons, but it is not outside the norm for a prophet to suffer persecution for his message. 

Isaiah, the “Prince of the Prophets,” was no exception. Even the Lord made note of such treatment of His spokesmen: Luke 11:47 says, “Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets, and it was your fathers who killed them.” Further mention of persecution of the prophets is in 1 Kings 18:13; 1 Kings 19; Nehemiah 9:26; Acts 7:52; Romans 11:3; and 1 Thessalonians 2:14-15. Such treatment of God-sent messengers was common, and even to be expected.

Dr. David Moore is a Baptist preacher in Pampa and an online instructor in Bible and theology for Taylor University and Nations University. Email: dm5867se@outlook.com.


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