Essay: Jacob and Isaiah

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  • Subject area(s): Religious studies and theology essays
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  • Published: 19 September 2015*
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  • Words: 729 (approx)
  • Number of pages: 3 (approx)

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Jacob, from the Book of J, and Isaiah, from his text, both have a special relationship with Yahweh. The actions of Jacob and Isaiah are greatly appreciated by Yahweh, which allowed them to have these relationships. Jacob wrestles an angle for the Lords blessing while Isaiah is called by the Lord and is given a prophetic commission. Both characters were praised for being faithful, loyal and serving their Lord. Each text centers on a scene where his direct relationship with Yahweh is clearly depicted.

Nietzsche notes that in other languages the word for ‘good’ derives from the same root as the word for ‘noble,’ ‘aristocratic’ and ‘spiritually high-minded.’ Nietzsche’s association of the word ‘good’ with ‘warlike’ suggests that strength and power are ‘good’ under the ideals of master morality. Master morality is the morality of the masters, warriors, nobles who justified their actions as good; they interpret strength, power, health and happiness as ‘good.’ These masters distanced themselves from the poor and the weak. Their undesirable qualities classified these people as ‘bad.’ The episode of Jacob wrestling with the angel vividly portrays Nietzsche’s ideology of master mortality. Jacob possesses all the characteristics that define ‘good’ under the ideals of master mortality. He encounters an angel on his return to the land of his father, Isaac, wealthy with wives, sons, servants and livestock. He sends his family along with his possessions over to the land while he wrestles with the angel until the breaking of day. Jacob, even after the angel broke his thigh, refused to let go until he was blessed; and there the angel blessed him and changed his name to Israel, meaning God because he has overcome men and unnamed gods. Jacob’s assertiveness and warlike manner clearly supports the ideals of master morality. He strives and struggles for Yahweh’s blessing and the Lord very much appreciated this.

Resentment towards one’s master and/or the noble men is the central creative force behind Nietzsche’s concept of slave morality. Slave morality originates from hatred and denial and those who possess these characteristics experience a loss of self-ambition and desire to improve. These people are poor and weak and they learn to resent the power and strength of the masters. Resentment draws their attention away from themselves, causing them to become less creative and less motivated. A man of resentment will interpret the noble man’s ‘good’ as evil and will act against it. Isaiah represents the people of resentment; the Israelites portray all the characteristics of slave morality. The country as a whole is disobedient because its people are morally corrupt and do not seek justice. They betrayed Yahweh, fought against him and worshiped idol rather than their Lord. The Israelites rebelliously fought against the Lord rather than serve him. They let corruption take over their kings, children, and common people. Isaiah prophesied and warns the people of Israel that the Lord will punish all who does not serve him. The Lord expected morality, justice and good deed to take over his people; however, they showed him the exact opposite. In chapter 6, Yahweh chooses Isaiah and sends him to close the people’s ears and eyes until the land is destroyed. The rebellious nature of the Israelites and their resentment towards the Lord defines slave morality. They had no intentions to improve themselves or wash away their sins. Isaiah represents the people who are rebellious but too weak to fight Yahweh and the countries that he sent to defeat them. All of Israel has betrayed the Lord except Isaiah, which is why he experiences his special relationship with Yahweh.

Regardless of Nietzsche’s conceptions, Yahweh appreciates the actions of both men in their texts. Jacob struggles for God’s blessing and does not let go of the angel until he receives it; therefore, his name is changed from Jacob, meaning ankle to Israel, which means God. Isaiah is turned into a prophet because remained faithful to Yahweh and warned the people of Judah that they will be punished. Although they do not listen, he advises the people of Judah to cleanse themselves because their Lord is angry and seeks to punish them. For this, Yahweh will punish the people of Judah but he will not punish Isaiah. Both texts center on these scenes where Jacob and Isaiah portray a special relationship with Yahweh.

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