2 Nephi 18:3
Background: 8th century BC
Isaiah's ministry was during the time when the kingdoms of Israel and Judah were divided. He began his ministry during the reign of King Uzziah of Judah and continued through three more, Jothan, Ahaz and Hezekiah. At the time that these scriptures were given Judah was under threat of attack from Rezin, king of Syria, and Pekah, King of Israel. Isaiah obviously did not have a high opinion of Pekah because he often refused to refer to him by name, simply calling him "Remaliah's son." Not long after these prophecies were given the children of Israel fell into captivity and the ten tribes were scattered.
Facts about her:
- She was the wife of the prophet Isaiah;
- She bore a son to Isaiah named Maher-shalal-hash-baz, which means "destruction is imminent";
- Isiah refers to her as "the prophetess";
- After Isaiah received the prophesy on Christ (chapter 7) he was commanded to write on a great roll with a "man's pen" (perhaps meaning that it was easy to be read) the prophecy the Lord had given him about "Maher-shalal-hash-baz" (referring to the destruction which is to come to the children of Israel from Assyria). After Isaiah wrote the prophesy he "went unto the prophetess; and she conceived, and bare a son. Then said the Lord to me, Call his name Maher-shalal-hash-baz" (Isaiah 8:3);
- In Isaiah 8: 18 Isaiah stated that "... I and the children whom the Lord hath given me are for signs and wonders in Israel..." His sons were living testaments to the coming of Jesus Christ and the future of Israel.
- The scriptures don't specify but it is very likely that she was also the mother of Isaiah's other son Sherajashub, whose name means "a remnant shall return" ;
- Since Isaiah was from upper class society it is likely that she was as well;
- There is much controversy about the correct translation of the Hebrew word "almah" in Isaiah 7:14 which says, "Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel." Traditionally Christians have translated the word as "virgin" and have seen this scripture as a reference to Mary, the mother of Christ and his divine birth. Jews on the other hand claim that the word should not be translated as "virgin" but as "young woman" and doesn't denote a woman's sexual status. They claim that Isaiah's prophesy in 7:14 was either a referring to a random woman in the crowd that Isiah was preaching to or that he was referring to his own wife (perhaps indicating that Isaiah's first wife, the mother of Sherajashub, had died and that Isiah had remarried a young woman). This is a highly contested issue between Christan and Jewish scholars and there is a lot of literature on it. I think that this article gave a good concise explanation of both sides, even though it is a little skewed to the Jewish side.
- Who would you consider to be a prophetess? How does one develop the characteristics of a prophetess?
- How do you think she felt being married to a prophet like Isaiah who received much criticism and skepticism as he warned and chastised his people?
- In what ways do you bear testimony of Christ in your daily life?
- This is one of only a few instances where we learn anything about the wife of prophet. Still we know that most of the prophets must have wives. I challenge you, the next time you come across a prophet in your reading of the scriptures, to try to imagine what their wife must have been doing, feeling or experiencing at the time they were writing. How does that change your perspective?