The Book of Isaiah

The book of Isaiah has received more attention and praise from other writers of scripture than any other book. Nephi used Isaiah’s writings to “more fully persuade [his brethren] to believe in the Lord their Redeemer” (1 Nephi 19:23), and said “my soul delighteth in his words” (2 Nephi 11:2). Furthermore, Nephi said that the words of Isaiah would cause people to “lift up their hearts and rejoice for all men” (2 Nephi 11:8). Nephi’s brother Jacob taught that those who are of the house of Israel should liken the words of Isaiah to themselves (see 2 Nephi 6:5; 11:8). The Savior Himself offered the greatest praise of Isaiah’s writings.

“Great Are the Words of Isaiah”

Isaiah is quoted more often in the New Testament than any other prophet. The writers of the Book of Mormon quoted or paraphrased 35 percent of the book of Isaiah. The Doctrine and Covenants makes approximately one hundred references to Isaiah by either quoting, paraphrasing, or interpreting its teachings. At the time Christ visited the Nephites after His Resurrection, He told the people they should “search these things diligently; for great are the words of Isaiah” (3 Nephi 23:1).

Important Background to Isaiah

Isaiah lived and prophesied from approximately 740–700 B.C. During that time, the Assyrians conquered the Northern Kingdom of Israel. The Southern Kingdom of Judah, where Isaiah lived, was under tribute to Assyria and also faced destruction. They were spared, however, because Judah’s King Hezekiah obeyed Isaiah’s counsel. Isaiah warned Judah that they must continue to repent or they would also be destroyed—but by Babylon instead of Assyria.

Isaiah spoke about the first and second comings of Jesus Christ more than any other prophet in the Old Testament. He had a unique, inspired way of teaching; many of his prophecies apply not only to his time, but to the time of Jesus Christ, to our day, and to the future. Sometimes even the same verse or group of verses can apply to more than one time period.

Isaiah writing about Christ

How to Read Isaiah

Isaiah was a prophet of God, a gifted writer, and a poet to the tribes of Israel. For this reason, some of his writings can be difficult to understand when translated from Hebrew into other languages. Remember what you learned about Hebrew poetry in the introduction to Psalms (see pp. 131–32). The ideas noted there, along with the Spirit of the Holy Ghost, will help you understand the book of Isaiah. Through the use of images and symbols, Isaiah powerfully taught his message. You will read about the moon being ashamed, a land that is so joyful that the trees clap their hands, and a book that speaks from the dust. If you read beyond these and other images to understand the feelings and principles Isaiah wrote about, his words will take on much greater meaning. As you seek the help of the Holy Ghost, you will find that Isaiah will become one of the most inspiring and powerful books in all scripture.

For more information on the prophet Isaiah and his writings, see the Bible Dictionary, “Isaiah” (p. 707).

Overview of Isaiah General Themes Reference Topics Judgments 1:1 Judah The nations 24:1 Day of the Lord 28:1 Judgment and blessings 36:1 Historical Portion Jerusalem preserved from destruction; Hezekiah’s life lengthened 40:1 Promise of a Messiah 49:1 Israel’s deliverance 58:1 Israel’s deliverer 66:24 Israel’s glorious future