The 2016 J. J. M. Roberts Lecture in Old Testament Studies:
F.W. Dobbs-Allsopp, Princeton Theological Seminary: “Isaiah’s Love Song: A Reading of Isa 5:1-7”
In Ezek 33:30-33 Yahweh likens the prophet to a literal “singer of love songs,” a skilled musician (lit. “one who plays pleasantly”) with a “beautiful voice” performing before a live audience, whose (good, pretty, cf. Ps 45:2) words are heard but not acted on. The Song of Songs, of course, offers the Bible's most obvious examples of what such love poetry was like. But Isa 5:1-7 remains of interest for a variety of reasons. If genuine to Isaiah of Jerusalem, it provides relatively early evidence (ca. eighth century) for the knowledge of love poetry in Judah (e.g., roughly contemporary with the Akkadian “Love Lyrics of Nabu and Tasmetu,” IM 3233 = TIM 9 54 = SAA 3 14). It also evidences in scope, the same relatively brief scale that typifies most love poems from the ancient East. And this Isaianic lampoon seems to trade on the very same awareness of the allure of the lyrical that informs the Ezekiel passage. In the close reading of Isa 5:1-7 that follows I track the lyricism of Isaiah’s lampoon, situating it against the backdrop of ancient love poetry generally and following its logic of love through to its prophetic end—justice and righteousness.