The Apocryphal Old Testament

By H. F. D. Sparks | Go to book overview

THE ASCENSION OF ISAIAH

INTRODUCTION

A tradition that Isaiah was 'sawn in two' by Manasseh was known by both Jews and Christians. Most early Christian writers give no details,1 although some specify that the saw used was made of wood.2 The Talmud, however, is more explicit. In one version Isaiah is brought to trial before Manasseh: at the conclusion of the hearing Isaiah pronounces the Name and is immediately swallowed up by a cedar-tree: the cedar is sawn in two, and 'when the saw reached his mouth he died'.3 In another Talmudic version Manasseh resolves to kill Isaiah: Isaiah hears of it and flees and hides himself inside a cedar-tree: unfortunately a piece of his garment sticks out and betrays him: so Manasseh orders the cedar to be cut through; and it is this crime which is alluded to particularly at 2 Kings xxi. 16 (' Manasseh shed so much innocent blood, that he filled Jerusalem with it up to the brim').4 Yet another variant of the same story is to be found in a fragment preserved as a gloss attached to Isa. lxvi (the last chapter in the book) in two MSS of the Targum of Jonathan on the Prophets - Codex Reuchlinianus and Cod. Vat. Ebr. Urbin. 1: according to this account, Isaiah, outraged by Manasseh's profanation of the Temple, prophesied its destruction by Nebuchadrezzar: when Manasseh heard of it he was filled with fury,

'He said to his servants, Run after him, seize him! They ran after him. He fled from before them, and a carob tree opened its mouth and swallowed him. They brought saws [+ of iron Cod. Reuch.] and cut through the tree until Isaiah's blood flowed like water.'5

The first indication of the existence of a separate apocryphal

____________________
1
e.g. Tert. ( pat. 14; scorp. 8).
2
e.g. Justin ( Tryph. cxx. 14-15).
3
T. B. Yebamoth, 49 b.
4
T. J. Sanhedrin, x. 2.
5
See P. de Lagarde, Prophetae Chaldaice ( Leipzig, 1872), p. xxxiii; P. Grelot, Deux tosephtas targoumiques inédités sur Isaïe LXVI in R Bibl lxxix ( 1972), pp. 515-518.

-775-

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The Apocryphal Old Testament
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface ix
  • Abbreviations and Symbols xix
  • Jubilees 1
  • Prologue 10
  • The Life of Adam and Eve 141
  • Appendix - Eve's Account of the Fall from the Apocalypse of Moses XV-Xxx 161
  • 1 - Enoch 169
  • 2 - Enoch 321
  • The Apocalypse of Abraham 363
  • The Testament of Abraham 393
  • The Testament of Isaac 423
  • The Testament of Jacob 441
  • The Ladder of Jacob 453
  • Joseph and Aseneth 465
  • The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs 505
  • The Assumption of Moses 601
  • The Testament of Job 617
  • The Psalms of Solomon 649
  • The Odes of Solomon 683
  • The Testament of Solomon 733
  • The Apocalypse of Elijah 753
  • The Ascension of Isaiah 775
  • The Paraleipomena of Jeremiah 813
  • The Syriac Apocalypse of Baruch 835
  • The Greek Apocalypse of Baruch 897
  • The Apocalypse of Zephaniah and an Anonymous Apocalypse 915
  • The Apocalypse of Esdras 927
  • The Vision of Esdras 943
  • Bibliography 946
  • The Apocalypse of Sedrach 953
  • Bibliography 956
  • Index of Scriptural References 967
  • Index of Ancient Authors and Works 973
  • Index of Modern Authors 975
  • Index of Subjects 981
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