This question came up in reading Isaiah 1:11-15, excerpted:

I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly.
Your new moons and your appointed feasts
   my soul hates;
they have become a burden to me;
   I am weary of bearing them.
Cease to do evil,
   learn to do good;
seek justice,
   correct oppression;
bring justice to the fatherless,
   plead the widow's cause.

This is thematically similar to the well-known passage in Amos 5:

I hate, I despise your feasts,
   and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies.
Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings,
   I will not accept them;
Take away from me the noise of your songs
But let justice roll down like waters,
   and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.

Of course, this is a more general prophetic theme, and the verbal parallels aren't so close that I suspect Isaiah is directly dependent on Amos, but I'm curious whether he was likely to have been familiar with the earlier prophet's writings. I don't know how widely disseminated Amos's writings would have been or to what extent prophets (or people more generally) in Judah were interested in prophecy from the Northern kingdom, either before or after 722.

Is it known, based on his writing or historical speculations, whether Isaiah was likely to have been familiar with Amos's prophecy? I'm most interested in this as context for understanding Isaiah more generally rather than as an exegetical issue specific to this passage.*

*In my opinion, this remains a reasonably focused question about the literary context in which the author found himself, but this is of course open for discussion.

Also, I should say -- I'm taking these words to have been written by Isaiah ben Amoz in the late 8th C. I'm aware that there are some who see evidence of redaction in Isaiah 1 (not sure about these verses) and certainly in other parts of the book. If this is relevant for an answer, feel free to put it together however you will.

  • 1
    I looked extensively into the history portion of this question; Amos certainly came before Isaiah, and more important, Isaiah was a chronicler(2 Chr. 26:22), which would have given him access to manuscripts. The Jewish Encyclopedia is emphatic about Amos writing his book, therefore the scribal connection seems evident. What I was looking for is a literary and especially a linguistic comparison; I'm sure they're out there but I was unable to find. So I changed my answer to a comment...:>)
    – Tau
    Feb 3, 2016 at 5:20

1 Answer 1


Since the similarity between them is, as you point out, more thematic than linguistic, it may be useful to examine if this theme exists before and outside of Amos and Isaiah.

Earlier Examples of this Theme

The Psalms and Proverbs offer several instances that seem to be the beginnings of these sentiments:

Psalm 50:23

The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!”

Psalm 51:16-8

16 For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.

17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

18 Do good to Zion in your good pleasure; build up the walls of Jerusalem;

19 then will you delight in right sacrifices, in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings; then bulls will be offered on your altar.

Proverbs 21:3

To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.

Contemporary Examples

Taking the position as stated that Isaiah 1 was written by Isaiah ben Amoz, he would have been contemporary with both Hosea and Amos. Hosea also seems to echo the Psalms and Proverbs:

Hos 6:6

For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.

But when prophesying against Israel he expands this description to the point where it matches Isaiah 1 quite closely, even more-so than Amos 5.

Hos 2:11

And I will put an end to all her mirth, her feasts, her new moons, her Sabbaths, and all her appointed feasts.

This does not quite include the explicit sentiment of weariness and disgust we see in Isaiah 1 and Amos 5, but in the larger context of Hosea we see that the punishment is not removing them as one corrects a child by taking something they love, but rather God is removing his blessings from them. The Sabbath and feasts and sacrifices are for Israel's benefit, not God's, and He is declaring them no longer worthy of such blessing: Hosea 2:9

Therefore I will take back
my grain in its time,
and my wine in its season,

Compare this to Amos 5:

21 “I hate, I despise your feasts,
and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies.

22 Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings,
I will not accept them;
and the peace offerings of your fattened animals,
I will not look upon them.

Amos and Isaiah

It is quite possible that Isaiah did have knowledge of both Amos and Hosea. Internally, all three indicating their preaching in the reign of Uzziah.

Isaiah would likely be aware of Amos and what he preached even if he was not of Hosea, because Amos was actually from Judah himself (Amos 1:1), though he was sent to the Northern Kingdom of Israel.

However, as pointed out by Tau, if we are to believe that Isaiah ben Amoz wrote Isaiah 1 then we can be sure that he would have had access to any extent writings, possibly more than we have today:

2 Chronicles 26:22

Now the rest of the acts of Uzziah, from first to last, Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz wrote.

Isaiah 1:1

The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah,...

Language Comparison

Informed by this evidence, when we compare Isaiah 1 with both Hosea 2 and Amos 5, we see a clear synthesis of the two along with earlier Psalms and Proverbs.

Isaiah 1:13-14, 17

13 Bring no more vain offerings;[Psalm 50 & Amos 5]
incense is an abomination to me.
New moon and Sabbath and the calling of convocations— [Amos 5 and Hosea 2]
I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly. [Amos 5]

14 Your new moons and your appointed feasts [Hosea 2 & Amos 5]
my soul hates; [Amos 5]
they have become a burden to me; [Amos 5]
I am weary of bearing them. [Amos 5]

17 learn to do good; [Proverbs 21]
seek justice, [Proverbs 21]
correct oppression;
bring justice to the fatherless,
plead the widow’s cause.

I admit a lack of knowledge of the Hebrew itself, but the similarities are evident in the English translation. And an untrained examination of the Hebrew reveals that the same root Hebrew words are being used where the English translates them the same:

Phrases such as "solemn assemblies" (עֲצָ֫רֶת) and "appointed feasts" in conjunction with "new moons" (חָדְשָׁ֣הּ) and the call to "do good/righteousness" (מִשְׁפָּ֖ט) in Isaiah are nearly exact matches to the other passages.


Isaiah most likely had access to all the writings available in his time, as we see in 2 Chronicles 26. In addition, Isaiah 1 shows similarities in key words and phrases, and theme contained in Psalm 50, 51, Proverbs 21 and, in particular, Amos 5 and Hosea 2.

The largest issue left to be solved is whether Amos and Hosea would even have been written down for Isaiah to read. But whether it was written, or whether it was simply hearing each other's preaching, it is difficult to believe that three major prophets operating within 30 years would not be familiar with the details and themes in each other's messages.

Some may want to claim that they wrote independently in order to bolster their belief in the common inspiration of scripture by the Holy Spirit. However, there are plenty of reasons and examples to point to the consistent messages found in scripture without forcing us to ignore the evidence in this case.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.