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Isaiah/Yeshaayahu 2:2-4 and Micah/Micha 4:1-3 (BHS) are almost 90% identical in the Hebrew, leading scholars such as Oswalt to speculate that there may have been two original sources or one source that was intentionally corrupted resulting in two readings (cf. p. 115 of Book of Isaiah Chapters 1-39).

What are some theories that exist to explain the high degree of similarity between these two texts (and who espouses these theories)? What was likely the original form or forms?

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Would you consider the possibility that Isaiah and Micah personally had known one another? In other words, is there the possibility that one may have had direct, personal influence on the other (or vice-versa)? –  Joseph May 15 at 13:38
Very interesting! I too wonder if they had the same source or if one used the other. So long as you point out the paper/book so I can learn more (reading Oswalt now and find it fascinating). Hence why I want to know the theory and the person espousing the theory, so I can evaluate both the idea and the background of the person making the claim. Thank you, excited to learn more! –  citsonga May 15 at 13:41
The source is Isaiah 1:1 and Micah 1:1, which relate that BOTH prophets ministered during the time of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah (i.e., the southern Kingdom in Jerusalem). In other words, the time span of all three kings was no less than 20 years; it would appear therefore that Isaiah and Micah were contemporaries in the same geographical location ministering to the same kings in Jerusalem at the same time (some 20+ years). –  Joseph May 15 at 14:33
Yes @Joseph I think this is apparent that these Neviim were contemporaries, but would they have had a common source or whose words were preeminent? I would love to hear your answer! When I put the Hebrew text side by side, it seems only some words are reordered, some have synonymous words interchanged, and only a little is truly different in the texts. I'm not sure we can know for sure, but I am fascinated by any theories that attempt to explain this similarity (and its implications in each context, although implications likely too broad for here). –  citsonga May 15 at 18:27
This is possible in proto-Isaiah which is possible this early in the text, but it is unlikely that Micha wrote this parallel text (only chapters 1-3), chapter 4 was likely written in the post-Exilic period after the Temple was rebuilt. Which makes me think Isaiah may have been a source text or both were corrupted. But curious to hear others address these things and learn where to read more. –  citsonga May 15 at 18:36

1 Answer 1

Naturally expositors have various conjectures and the opinions are many. The main theories seem to be these:

  1. A quotation from Mica in the margin of Isaiah accidentally transferred into the main text
  2. Both quote another prophecy
  3. Both independently receive the same inspired prophecy
  4. Either one quotes the other

This debate goes way back and Joseph Alexander tallies up some big names who debated the issue:

These verses are found, with very little variation, in the fourth chapter of Micah (vers. 1–3), to explain which some suppose, that a motto or quotation has been accidentally transferred from the margin to the text of Isaiah (Justi, Eichhorn, Bertholdt, Credner); others, that both Prophets quote from Joel (Vogel, Hitzig, Ewald); others, that both quote from an older writer now unknown (Koppe, Rosenmüller, Maurer, De Wette, Knobel); others that Micah quotes from Isaiah (Vitringa, Lowth, Beckhaus, Umbreit); others, that Isaiah quotes from Micah (J. D. Michaelis, Gesenius, Hendewerk, Henderson). This diversity of judgment may at least suffice to shew how vain conjecture is in such a case. The close connection of the passage with the context, as it stands in Micah, somewhat favours the conclusion that Isaiah took the text or theme of his prediction from the younger though contemporary prophet. The verbal variations may be best explained, however, by supposing that they both adopted a traditional prediction current among the people in their day, or that both received the words directly from the Holy Spirit. So long as we have reason to regard both places as authentic and inspired, it matters little what is the literary history of either. (Alexander, J. A. (Trans.). (1870). The Prophecies of Isaiah Translated and Explained, Vol. 1, p. 96)

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Thank you! Do you have any more recent scholarship (i.e. post-DSS QIsa discovery)? This resource is good but a little dated. Ideally peer-reviewed articles in reputable journals. Thanks! –  citsonga May 19 at 12:42
@citsonga - can't help much as I am a classic reader and am reluctant to pay for anything published recently :). I do have good resources on the DSS though amd all I could find is they probably do not add much to any conjectures as the DDS for this section are basically exactly as the traditional Masoretic text without any surprises or new spins. –  Mike May 19 at 14:24
not a problem, books and journal subscriptions are not cheap. I did give you a vote, but please understand I would like to wait to see if there are more answers with additional resources before accepting. –  citsonga May 20 at 2:37

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