The prophet Isaiah lived in the Southern Kingdom of Judah in the 3rd century B.C. He had a reputation as an uncompromising prophet who did not soften his words of condemnation and urge to make changes (Stafford 616). The nation of Judah stood in a precarious position: the wickedness of the people, the civil war which divided the Israelites into two kingdoms of Judah and Israel, the neighboring countries which stood by, threatening war and the dilemma that faced the leaders about whether or not they should take on allies all indicated the downfall of the nation of Judah if the people did not heed his words and change their ways. According to The Interpreter's Bible, Isaiah 62 was written in the later part of the prophet Isaiah's life. By this time, Judah had been attacked and invaded by the Babylonians. Many of her fortified cities lay destroyed with their walls torn down, conditions in Judah and Palestine were unstable and Jerusalem lay desolate and ravaged ("Conditions in Palestine" 397). It is here that the cry goes out, " For Zion's sake I shall not remain silent
" (NIV Isaiah 62:1).
I always interpreted the "I" in the passage to signify YHWH. The Lord God had finally had enough. He had seen Jerusalem fall, suffer and had now come to redeem it and restore it to its former glory, give it a new name. However, there is another point of view that seems to be the more accepted: "I" does not refer to the Lord but to the prophet (Watts 311). This changes the interpretation considerably! The prophet seems to be making an urgent declaration that he will not keep silent any longer. He will pray and preach till the Lord breaks his silence and once again establishes Zion's legitimacy. Not only that, but he mentions a new name that will be given by YHWH alone (Isaiah 62:2).
The noun Zion' appears 163 times in the Bible, 150 times in the Old Testament itself. Most references to Zion take place in the books of Psalms, Lamentation and Isaiah. Its first appearance is in 2 Sam 5:6 as "the stronghold of Zion". G.A. Barois points out that "it need not be interpreted restrictively as a single building, but rather as the fortified crest of the hill between the valleys " (959). The name Zion' has been suggested by many to designate the entire walled town that covered the southeast hill of Jerusalem. During the exile however, the whole of Judah came to be known as Zion. Zion' occupies synonymous parallelism with the noun Jerusalem' (not just the southeast hill) while "sons of Zion" and "daughters of Zion" implies the inhabitants of Jerusalem (Lam. 4:2, Isa. 10:32). In 1Kings 8:1,2 we read, " out of the City of David which is Zion " Hence we can correctly assume that both refer to the same place, which is Jerusalem. Since my chosen passage is about Zion', it is good to be sure what exactly is being spoken about.
Now that I've mentioned Zion the city, I'd like to cover another important aspect concerning cities that's mentioned several times in the...