Second Isaiah and the Gods of Babylon

He is a proponent of the incomparability of God and the nothingness of alternative deities. He is a fierce advocate, a committed dreamer who brooks no rivals for the dream of Adonai bringing water in the desert. New things are coming, greater than the former things. Adonai will give power to the faint, revive the hopeless, rising upon Zion like the dawn.

Shalom Paul (Isaiah 40-66: Eerdmans Critical Commentary) notes some arguments directed specifically against the gods of Babylon in Second Isaiah.

“Before me no god was formed,” (43:10).

“Who created these [stars]? He who brings out their host by number…” (40:26).

“Whom did he consult, and who made him understand?” (40:14).

“I made the earth and created man on it,” (45:12).

“… who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns,'” (52:7).

“There is none besides me; I am Adonai, and there is no other,” (45:6).

These kinds of statements take on a number of beliefs the people in Babylon hold to, including many Jews in exile who feel their former faith in Adonai is defeated. Jerusalem is destroyed. Babylon has conquered Judah. Seemingly Marduk has conquered Adonai.

Shalom Paul notes that in the Enuma Elish (a Mesopotamian tale, in I:83ff) Marduk is born. Yet Second Isaiah speaks for Adonai, “Before me no god was formed,” (43:10).

Marduk supposedly created the heavenly host (stars, Enuma Elish V:1ff). Thus Second Isaiah’s words: “Who created these [stars]? He who brings out their host by number…” (40:26).

In Babylon the gods had personal advisers just as human kings do (Enuma Elish I:47ff). But of Adonai we read: “Whom did he consult, and who made him understand?” (40:14).

Enuma Elish says Marduk made the heavens and earth (IV:136ff). Yet says Adonai in Second Isaiah, “I made the earth and created man on it,” (45:12).

Marduk is Babylon’s king. Repeatedly Second Isaiah refers to Adonai as Jerusalem’s king and “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news . . . who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns,'” (52:7).

Marduk is thought to be incomparable, the victor among the gods (VI:95ff). Second Isaiah won’t allow that idea to go uncontested: “There is none besides me; I am Adonai, and there is no other,” (45:6).

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