“Isaiah is by every standard the messianic prophet of the Old Testament and as such is the most penetrating prophetic voice in that record.”1—Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
Most of the world would ask, “Who is Isaiah,” and while many Jews and Christians regard him as one of the greatest prophets, Latter-day Saints see him as preeminent among Old Testament prophets. His preeminence could be shown in a host of historical things we’ve posted, but here are 12 facts we have selected from the LDS Bible Dictionary and other church resources such as the Old Testament Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students to help you get to know him better fast:
- The prophet was born around 750 years BC in Jerusalem. His father was Amoz, who named him Isaiah which means “the Lord is salvation,” making his name prophetic itself.
- He prophesied in Jerusalem during the reigns of four kings: Uzziah (or Azariah), Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, but it was during King Hezekiah’s reign that he was a chosen advisor, which gave him the greatest religious influence. Jewish tradition says he was of royal descent, and he may have been a cousin to King Uzziah, which gave him special access to these kings.
- His book was written sometime during his ministry between 740–701 B.C., during the reigns of the above-listed kings and Manasseh, all of the Southern Kingdom of Judah.
- He and his wife, the prophetess, had two sons (see Isaiah 7:3; 8:1–3). In Isaiah 8:3 he refers to his wife as “the prophetess, ” but the term “prophetess” is used by him only to designate that she is his wife, hers is not a prophetic office (see Young, Book of Isaiah, 1:303).
- His sons were both given prophetic names to dramatize his revelatory message. His first son, Shear-jashub (Isaiah 7:3), name means “the remnant shall return” (Isaiah 7:3a) and the second, Maher-shalal-hash-baz, name means “to speed to the spoil, he hasteneth the prey.” (Isaiah 8:1). Both names predict what is ahead for the Jews.
- His prophecies included both events relevant to his own time and people and about future events that will affect the entire human family.
- He most famously foretold the Savior’s birth: “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”(Isaiah 7:14)
- He heralded the anointing of Jehovah “to preach good tidings unto the meek; … to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound.”(Isaiah 61:1 and 3)
- He foretold that after His Second Coming, “the Lord of hosts shall reign in mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, and before his ancients gloriously.”(Isaiah 24:23.)
- His use of Jewish symbolism and poetry veils his teachings from those who do not understand “the manner of prophesying among the Jews” (2 Nephi 25:1). However, those who diligently study his words with the aid of the Holy Ghost can understand and follow his prophecies.
He was the last of the major prophets to teach all of the twelve Israelite tribes before they were scattered to the north and east.
- Tradition states that he was “sawn asunder” during the reign of Manasseh; for that reason, he is often represented in art holding a saw.