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Bible Studies/Isaiah 1: Judah or Israel?


Is God's indictment in Isaiah Ch 1 primarily an indictment of the northern kingdom of Israel or the southern kingdom of Judah?

1:1 says the vision is "concerning Judah and Jerusalem." 1:8 refers to the "daughter of Zion," which is commonly interpreted as Jerusalem. However, 1:3 refers to Israel.

I can think of two explanations, but cannot determine if either of them is correct. I have consulted numerous commentaries without finding any help. I would be grateful for any illumination.

(1) Possible Answer 1: Ch 1 is primarily about the northern Kingdom.

(a) Isaiah began his ministry before the fall of Israel. The fall is imminent, so referring to that here would be timely and relevant. Isaiah predicts the fall of the northern kingdom in 8:4.

(b) The lessons to be learned from the northern Kingdom are certainly pertinent to the southern kingdom, and therefore this indictment of Israel "concerns Judah" too.

Problems: (a) Why does he switch the focus to Jerusalem in v 8?
(b) Why do most commentators seem to think this chapter is indicting Judah?

(2) Possible Answer 2: God is using the word "Israel" in v 3 in reference to "all Israel" -- both North and South.

(a) God refers to Himself in v 4 as "the Holy One of Israel."

(b) Maybe God does not acknowledge the division of the kingdom. It was one nation to God before the division, become one nation again after the captivity, and will be one nation in end-times prophecy. To God (God is speaking in v 3), "Israel" is always "all Israel."

Problems: Then why does the book begin by specifically identifying Judah as the focus?

Thank you very much for your help.

Isaiah 1 is directed to Judah, during the reigns of various kings of Judah.  Perhaps the reference to Israel in vs. 3 refers to the Jewish people as a whole.  Vs. 2 says, "I reared children (i.e. Israel) and brought them up, but they have rebelled against me."  Their rebellion caused the division, yet the word is still to the Jewish people as a whole, whether they are of the northern of southern kingdom.  Reference to the "daughter of Zion" (vs 8) may convey the same message.  "Zion" refers to the Jewish homeland.  The kingdoms may be divided, but they are still, collectively, God's people.  Joel

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Joel Bjorling


I can answer general questions about the Bible and offer guidance in Bible study resources.


I have education in Bible from Oral Roberts University, as well as an MA from McCormick Theological Seminary. I have written several articles on Bible study topics. I am an ordained, nondenominational minister.

Articles in journals of the Foundation for Biblical Research, Personal Freedom Outreach, and Restoration Research

BA, Oral Roberts University, Behavioral Science (included courses in the Bible and theology) MA, McCormick Theological Seminary Further study, Garrett-Evangelical Theological School Further study, Moody Bible Institute, Christian education

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