This article is about the Prophet. You may be looking for the book named for him.
Isaiah (Heb: Yeshayahu), son of Amoz, was a prophet in Judah during the reigns of kings Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah. His history is found in the Old Testament, and he was the author of the eponymous book containing prophecies revealed to him by God.
His primary message was the coming judgment coming to a nation that had neglected the worship of God as taught in the Law. Within these warnings was the promise of the coming Messiah, who would one day save the people from the inevitable disaster they faced. He was the advisor to four kings over a period of over fifty years in the eighth century BC.
Though his death is not mentioned in Scripture, tradition teaches that he died at the hands of the evil king Manasseh, son to Hezekiah.
The name Isaiah means "Yah is Salvation" (from Shua + Yah), or "Salvation is of the LORD."
Isaiah was born during the reign of Uzziah (Azariah) circa 770 BC, about 30 years before the king's death. He was born to his father, Amoz, who named him "Yah is Salvation". This name would later reflected the message Isaiah gave. Having come of age in Azariah's later years, the young man never would have seen the king in public, for the king had been stricken with leprosy and resided in a royal house outside of Jerusalem. Times were good, for the king had made changes based on the Law of God. In those days, Jotham, son of Uzziah, was co-regent with his father.
To the north, the nation of Israel was in serious trouble as the dynasty founded by Jehu met one setback after another. That dynasty would end in the same year that Isaiah was called to be a prophet in Judah. Sometime prior to 732 BC, Isaiah had one son and had a wife.
Call to Ministry
In 740 BC, the year of Uzziah's death, Isaiah received a vision (probably his first). He saw Yahweh sitting on his throne. God's robe train filled his palace and he sat below Angel seraphim, each with six wings. As they praised God, the whole room shook.
In the presence of God, Isaiah realized that he was unworthy to come near, he had "unclean" lips and lived amongst unclean people. He had not spoken for a holy God, because the decadence of the northern kingdom was ubiquitous. Instead of punishing Isaiah for uncleanliness, one of the seraphs plucked a burning coal from the altar with a tong and touched it to his mouth. The seraph declared that coal had touched Isaiah's mouth, so his sin had been atoned. This is an allusion to the burning coals used in a censer on the Day of Atonement. This may have been Isaiah's salvation experience, call to prophetic ministry or an re-dedication of Isaiah to be a prophet.
After this, Isaiah heard Yahweh asking who would he send to speak on his behalf to Israel. Isaiah exclaimed that he was right there, he wanted to be sent. So God gave him a message to tell the people: Keep listening, but do not understand; keep seeing, but not discern. Essentially, God told Isaiah to ironical mock the people to harden their hearts and ignore what God had been instructing them. Isaiah asked how long he should spread this message and God told him, "until my judgement comes".
Messenger to Ahaz
Sometime between 737 and 732, during the time where Ahaz, Rezin and Pekah all reigned Isaiah received a vision. At this time, the armies of Syria and Israel lead by Rezin and Pekah attempted to attack Jerusalem, but were unable to mount their attack. God instructed Isaiah to take Shear-jashub with him to meet Ahaz at the end of a water pipe in the Valley of Hinnom. Isaiah prophesied to Ahaz that the plots of Syria and Israel would not succeed against Judah, rather the two nations would be in ruin within sixty-five years.
Sometime after this encounter with Ahaz, Yahweh instructed Isaiah to write "Maher Shalal hash baz" or "the spoil speeds and the prey hastens" on a large tablet in common print. He conceived a child with his wife and gave it the name on the tablet.