One of several layered holistic literary structures of the Book of Isaiah—this one based on Egyptian narrative patterns—divides the book into Trouble at Home (Isaiah 1–39), Exile Abroad (Isaiah 40–54), and Happy Homecoming (Isaiah 55–66). These three different historical settings, rather than being grounds for multiple authors of the Book of Isaiah, demonstrate its literary integrity and show it to be the work of a single author, a prophet–poet who saw to the end of time. Coinciding with this literary division, Israel appears as a national entity in Isaiah 1–39, as a universal entity in Isaiah 40–54, and as an entity comprised of repentant individuals in Isaiah 55–66.
Israel from National to Universal to Individual
It is a national Israel—Israel still in its homeland—that finds itself in trouble for breaking the terms of God’s covenant. Israel’s exile abroad occurs as a consequence of its apostasy. All is not lost, however. Dispersion among and assimilation into the nations of the world has the effect of refining God’s people and renewing their cognizance of Israel’s spiritual heritage. Additionally, it provides a chance for the nations of the world to enter into God’s covenant together with Israel’s natural lineages. In the end, those who return and reconstitute a new nation of Israel called Zion consist of righteous individuals who come out of all nations, kindreds, tongues, and peoples.