The Burden of Prophecy: Poetic Utterance in the Prophets of the Old Testament

By Albert Cook | Go to book overview

2
"The Burden of the Valley of Vision" Time and Metaphor in Isaiah

T HE ROLE OF the biblical prophet is inseparable from the utterance that at once tries him and guarantees his authenticity. That role in turn is inseparable from his formed response to the interaction between people and God. The prophet is caught in their fate, as they are in his vision of theirs, while all are urged to be aware of God's action upon them in reaction to this whole complex. The prophet is included in their fate; he is one of the people as well as a spokesman for them, as First Isaiah declares:

For, behold, the Lord, the Lord of hosts,
Doth take away from Jerusalem and from Judah
The stay and the staff,
The whole stay of bread, and the whole stay of water,
The mighty man, and the man of war,
The judge, and the prophet,
And the prudent, and the ancient,
The captain of fifty, and the honorable man,
And the counselor, and the cunning artificer, and the eloquent
orator.

(3.1-3)

The channels are open on the triangle God-prophet-people, and they are so conceived by the prophet: he is open to God's message; he utters it to the people; the people are open to the threat or the promise, the destruction or salvation, at God's hands. The message is always about this, and its signature is its own openness to possibilities and actualities, to fact and apocalyptic definition.

Correspondingly, the metaphors in this prophecy at their fullest can become free-ranging. So, in the passage above, we cannot confine

-25-

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