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Judaism Significant Person: Isaiah 20/20 Essay

?With reference to the significant person ‘Isaiah’, explain the contribution to the development and expression of Judaism and analyse the impact of this person on Judaism. The prophet Isaiah played an important role in the development and expression of Judaism as a dynamic, living religion through the impact of his works. The impact of Isaiah is evident in both the development and expression of Judaism both in his time and in modern society, as his teachings, for the Jewish people, prove to be relevant to the times.

Considered among Jews as one of the greatest prophets, Isaiah has contributed to and affected the life of adherents in the Jewish faith through his political and religious influence, his prophetic messages concerning Judah, and his advocacy for social justice. Isaiah, through his teachings, actions and writings, has played an important and relevant role in the development and expression of Judaism. Isaiah’s contribution to the development and expression of Judaism was heavily influenced by the political and religious context of his time.

In the midst of political and religious instability in Judah’s history, Isaiah, was a recognisable source of hope and guidance, and paved the way for the expression of modern Judaism. The evident political and religious instability, was to be vastly influenced by Isaiah’s works. Isaiah took an active role in the development and expression of Judaism in his time, through his influence in the guidance of the aristocracy, providing guidance even for the kings.

“Then the word of the LORD came to Isaiah: Go and tell Hezekiah… ‘I have heard your prayers and seen your tears… I will deliver you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria” (Isaiah 38:4-6) Isaiah, as the mediator between God and his people, forespoke guidance both politically and religiously, redirecting the Jews back to Mosaic Law. As a result, Isaiah instilled within the hearts of Jews faith in God, in a time of suffering and religious apathy.

Without the guidance of God through Isaiah, Jerusalem would have been lost, and this continues to serve as a reminder to the Jews of God’s faithfulness to his people in times of trouble. “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you… when you walk through the fire, you will not be burned. For I am the LORD, your God” (Isaiah 43:2-3). As a recognizable source of hope and guidance in times of conflict, Isaiah’s writings have significantly contributed to the development and expression of both classical and modern day Judaism, and are used within synagogue services, specifically at the Remembrance of the Shoah.

Isaiah’s further contribution to the development and expression of both Classical and modern Judaism was heavily characterized by his prophetic messages. It is these prophetic messages, Isaiah writes in his book, that has lead Jews to hold Isaiah in high regard. During Isaiah’s time, prophecies of protection against neighboring nations provided hope for the Jewish people. “I have heard your prayers and seen your tears… I will deliver you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria” (Isaiah 38:5-6). Isaiah provided reaffirmation for the Jews’ continual belief in God’s faithfulness to them.

This is further amplified with the prophecy of Immanuel: “Here is my servant… I will put my spirit on him and he will bring justice to the nations” (Isaiah 42:1). The salvation of the Jews in their history, coupled with a prophetic messianic figure, greatly further the development and expression of Judaism as a dynamic, living religion, as a great sense of hope and courage is instilled in the adherents. Due to this, not only was Isaiah significant in his time, but even now he continues to have an impact in the lives of adherents, as hope is seen through their suffering and struggles.

The development and expression of the daily life of modern day Jews can be traced back to the teachings of Isaiah 58, where he focuses on ethical righteousness and promotion of social justice. It is these teachings of Isaiah that modern Jews live according to. The Jewish custom of ‘Tikkun Olam’, meaning ‘repair of the world’, is evidently expressed through Isaiah’s teachings (Isaiah 58:6-12), and the effects of this teaching has greatly contributed to the development and expression of modern day Judaism.

The common need for marriage and of having at least two children, one boy and one girl, in order to ‘leave the world in a better state’, is a concept derived from Isaiah’s teachings in order to repair the world. More importantly, social acts such as Gemilut Chasadim (loving kindness) and Tzeddakah (almsgiving); “Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter…? ” (Isaiah 58:7), are derived from Isaiah’s expressed concerns on social justice, and are enacted in order to bring about ‘repair of the world’.

The lives of Jews express the charitable acts of righteousness and social justice, and as a result, it is evident that Isaiah’s teachings have contributed greatly to the development and expression of Judaism. Therefore Isaiah can be seen as having greatly contributed to the development and expression of Judaism as a dynamic, living religion. His impact is notably evident from his teachings of social obligations, to prophetic messages and his faithfulness and obedience to God. Isaiah was, and still is, viewed as an exemplary prophet of righteousness and social justice who adhered truly to God’s commands. Word Count: 876.


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