This week’s Haftora opens in the “year of the death of King Uzziah,” King of Judah, who had battled leprosy for the last decade or so of his life, dying in about 740 BCE. Isiah recounts a prophesy where G-d reveals himself sitting on an “exalted throne” with his feet in the temple.
Isaiah says the “doorposts quaked from the voice of Him.” Indeed they just may have. Geologic evidence suggests a massive 7.8-8.2 magnitude earthquake hits Israel, Jordan, Lebanon & Syria somewhere in this time period.
The message relayed to Isaiah, “go and say to these people, ‘indeed you hear but you do not understand, indeed you see, but you do not know. This people’s heart is becoming fat, and his ears are becoming heavy, and his eyes are becoming sealed, lest he see with his eyes, and hear with his ears, and his heart understand, and he repent and be healed.”
Historically, this is also a bit ironic, because while we’re hearing about eyes being sealed, Pekah, a captain in the Israeli army, is about to kill his king to become king of Israel himself. And what does “Pekah,”mean? “Open-eyed.”
Now, as prophets usually do, Isaiah tells us that G-d plans a pretty hefty punishment, and that the land will be made desolate, with only a trunk, a “holy seed,” left of the Judah. Funny he should mention that because, as political leaders usually do, a skirmish is about to break out between Pekah and the Aramaian king versus Ahaz of Judah and Menahem of Sameria, who were Assyrian supporters at the time.
I’d venture to say if we’ve learned anything, that it was a good time to be a prophet (“I predict a war”) and a bad time to be a random citizen (“crap! Another war!).
Casey (Kefira) McCarty is a published author living in Ohio. She is the Assistant Director of the Columbus Idea Foundry, a community workshop space, and is an artisan who crafts jewelry, Judaica and fine art available online and in Central Ohio galleries and boutiques. You can find her online shop at www.sinemetudesigns.etsy.com