was the statesman-prophet of Judah whose ministry extended from 742 bce
at least until 701 bce, the year of Sennacherib's seige of Jerusalem. During
this long period of time the prophet incessantly preached a message of
moral purity. Isaiah's teachings followed the great tradition which Amos
and Hosea had established in the Northern Kingdom (overthrown in 721, during
Isaiah's period of activity). "Wash yourselves clean; put your evil doings
away from My sight," he urged. "Cease to do evil; learn to do good. Devote
yourselves to justice; aid the wronged. Uphold the rights of the orphan;
defend the cause of the widow." [Isaiah 1:16-17] The Assyrian conquest
of Israel and the constant warfare among Judah's powerful neighbors dramatised
Isaiah's warnings to his audience. If God had permitted Israel to be defeated,
He would not refrain from subjecting Judah to the same fate.
Commitment to the values of righteousness and holiness is the only way to assure a nation's survival: "A people that keeps faith has no cause for panic." [28:16] The goal of religion, Isaiah taught, is neither national security nor prosperity, but the achievement of that "knowledge of the Lord" which will lead to universal peace. The flags of the nations gathered together at the base of the window, and the figures of the wolf, the lion and the lamb brought close to each other, are symbols of this universal ideal which Isaiah was probably the first human being to articulate. The vision of peace reaches a climax when "the mountain of the Lord's house (Mount Zion) shall be established as the top of the mountains . . . and all nations shall flow unto it" in order to learn the Torah that comes out of Zion. [2: 2-4]
The shoot that grows out of the rootstock of Jesse first produces King David, whose head is beneath that of the wolf. [ 11:1 ] It then becomes both a tree and the body of the prophet whose circulatory system flows upward (through the large heart beneath the heads), with the peoples of the world, toward the Holy Mountain which shelters the Holy Ark. On the curtains of the Ark are the Hebrew letters for "Lord." The assertion that "the wolf shall dwell with the lamb" [11: 6] is a shepherd people's way of describing an idyllic time of peace and serenity: in such a time (Hebrew: ) even "a little child shall lead them" (the sheep), without any need for parents' apprehension about the child's safety, for "they shall neither hurt nor destroy in all My Holy Mountain." [11:9]
Four heads of the prophet are seen in the panel above the animals: one in full face, one in left profile and one in right, and the fourth in the blue depth, spouting flame out of his mouth. These represent the various facets of the prophet's message, the other prophets whose writings are included in the Book of Isaiah, and the varying interpretations which readers have given to the prophetic words. The head which spews out fire is reminiscent of Isaiah's consecration vision [Chapter 6] in which a glowing stone has been touched to his lips in order to purify his message, and to symbolize his denunciation of the people.
The child at the crest of the window growing out of the vine-portrayed running-is the son whom Isaiah named Sh'ar-Yashuv, "A remnant shall return." [7 : 3; 10:21 ] The prophet was confident that even if the multitudes were enticed by arrogance and illusions of power into the maelstrom of a war in which they would be destroyed, nevertheless his message of righteousness and holiness would not be altogether lost. The "saved remnant" will continue to proclaim that "the Lord of Hosts is exalted through justice, and the Holy God is sanctified through righteousness." [5:16]