The death of Isaiah

The following is a brief narrative loosely based on the “Ascension of Isaiah”, an early Christian text:

“You are around a campfire on a mountain after fleeing Bethlehem, which you had fled to after you’d fled Jerusalem.  You are with Isaiah and other prophets who have come under persecution by Manasseh, and you are overjoyed.  Not because of your current circumstances, but by what the Lord has spoken to you and your brethren who are sitting around the fire with you this cold night.

Isaiah has just told you and your brethren about his ascension to the seventh heaven, where he was permitted to see the Son of Man descend, undetected, through the heavens and down to earth to come to his own as a babe in a manger.  He then tells how he saw the Son of Man nailed to a tree and then descending into Sheol, only to return victoriously to the seventh heaven in unimaginable glory to sit at the right hand of the Eternal One.

Indeed, it is a terrible and wonderful time.

As you are rejoicing with your brethren over the promised Messiah and the Lord’s final victory over death, you see torches and hear shouts coming from the valley below, you and your brethren quickly extinguish the flames and run to hide wherever you can.  As you crouch behind a rock, out of the corner of your eye you watch Isaiah slip into a hollowed out tree. 

The men in torches appear and begin to search the area around the smoldering campfire.  You see that they are led by none other than Manasseh, the king of Judah.  You then recall that Isaiah had prophesied that indeed he would die by Manasseh’s hand.  As you are piecing this together in your mind, one of Manasseh’s men passes the by the rock which is your cover and strides up next to the tree in which Isaiah is hiding.  As he searches the branches above, he notices a light emanating from within the trunk of the tree.

It is Isaiah. 

You fix upon Isaiah’s face and watch as a holy calm and radiance comes over him.  A radiance that would later be recognized on the face of Stephen, the first Jew to be martyred for giving testimony to the messiah that Isaiah foresaw some 700 years earlier.

Then the unthinkable happens…

{Editor’s Note:  For those unfamiliar with the story, it is widely believed that Isaiah was sawn in two by Manasseh’s men while hiding in the tree.  This is testified to in the Jerusalem Talmud, the Babylonian Talmud, and the early Christian psuedepigrapha “The Ascension of Isaiah,”}