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The Sabbath in Third Isaiah: An Exegetical Study of Isa 56:1-8 and 58:13-14

  • Korean Journal of Old Testament Studies
  • Abbr : KJOTS
  • 2018, 24(2), pp.12-36
  • DOI : 10.24333/jkots.2018.24.2.12
  • Publisher : Korean Society of Old Testament Studies
  • Research Area : Humanities > Christian Theology
  • Received : April 8, 2018
  • Accepted : April 28, 2018

DONG-HYUK KIM 1

1연세대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

The Sabbath theology in Third Isaiah (Isaiah 56-66), to which we must pay attention for our understanding of the development of the Sabbath institution during the biblical period, has not received much attention from scholars. After surveying some important pieces that treat the Sabbath in the Old Testament, this paper attempts to do an exegetical examination of the two passages in Third Isaiah that address the Sabbath, that is, 56:1-8 and 58:13-14, and deals with some theological problems arising from the exegesis. The passage of 56:1-8 mentions foreigners and eunuchs, and it speaks how to be a member of the true Israel. The passage takes an inclusive stance, and thus it is contrasted with the stances that we may see from Deuteronomy 23:2-9, Ezekiel 44:6-9, Ezra 9, and Nehemiah 13:1-3, 23-31. While implicitly debating with the teachings and rulings of the Torah, it also inherits and develops the Torah’s spirit in emphasizing the Sabbath observance as the qualification for belonging to the true Israel. The sayings in Isaiah 58:13-14, if compared with the preceding pericope (58:1-12), may appear to underscore rituals rather than love and mercy, but in fact they are not so. The Sabbath is a day of delight, and thus the spirit is more important than the appearance. Like Isaiah 56:1-8, this passage highlights the Sabbath observance and speaks about the membership of the true Israel. In conclusion, the Sabbath theology of Third Isaiah is rooted in the previous biblical traditions, and it inherits them and debates with them. Over against other biblical traditions, Third Isaiah’s understanding of the Sabbath is innovative, and thus it should be understood to have been an important signpost in the development of the concept. I hope this paper paves the way to a deeper understanding of the Sabbath theology of Third Isaiah, the book of Isaiah as a whole, and the prophetic literature in general.

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