The Book of Isaiah is a composite of writings from three distinct periods in Israel’s history. Chapters 1-39 are called “First Isaiah” and were mostly written in the 30 years before Jerusalem was under direct siege by the Assyrians in 701 BCE. “Second Isaiah” is Chapters 40 to 55 and brings hope to the Judeans during the time of the Exile in Babylon (587 to 539 BCE) by telling them they have suffered enough and will return to Jerusalem. “Third Isaiah” is Chapters 56 to 66 and contains encouragement to the Judeans who returned to Jerusalem after the Exile.
Today’s reading is central to the message of Second Isaiah. It describes the return of Yahweh (whenever the word “LORD” is in all capital letters, the word in Hebrew is “YHWH”) to Jerusalem and Mount Zion. The “sentinels” in verse 8 are the prophets who sing for joy that the Babylonian Exile will end.
The Letter to the Hebrews is an anonymous sermon addressed to both Jewish and Gentile Jesus Followers who were suffering persecution. It urges them to maintain their Faith and Hope in the face of hardship. Although the Letter is sometimes attributed to Paul, most scholars agree that it was written after Paul’s death in 62 CE but likely before 100 CE.
In today’s reading, the author identifies the Son with Holy Wisdom that was present at creation (Prov. 8:22) by saying ”through whom he also created the worlds.” (v. 2) The author also anticipates the language of the Gospel According to John – “all things came into being through him” (John 1:3). Because the theology of the Trinity was still evolving, the author stops short of identifying the Son with the Father as God, and refers to the Son as “a reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being” (v.3) and as superior to angels (v.4).