John Van Seters, «Dating the Yahwist’s History: Principles and Perspectives.», Vol. 96 (2015) 1-25
In order to date the Yahwist, understood as the history of Israelite origins in Genesis to Numbers, comparison is made between J and the treatment of the patriarchs and the exodus-wilderness traditions in the pre-exilic prophets and Ezekiel, all of which prove to be earlier than J. By contrast, Second Isaiah reveals a close verbal association with J’s treatments of creation, the Abraham story and the exodus from Egypt. This suggests that they were contemporaries in Babylon in the late exilic period, which is confirmed by clear allusions in both authors to Babylonian sources dealing with the time of Nabonidus.
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8 JOHN VAN SETERS
Listen to me you who pursue vindication, you who appeal to YHWH.
Look to the rock from which you were hewn, and the quarry from which
you were dug.
Look to Abraham your father, and the Sarah who gave you birth.
He was just one when I called him, and I blessed him and made him many.
Here with the mention of Sarah the focus is on the birth story
and on the fact that Abraham was without offspring when he was
first called and received the promise of land and descendants, and
yet Sarah did finally produce an heir that became a numerous pro-
geny (Gen 18,1-15; 21,1-3.6-7).
b. The Exodus and the Wilderness Traditions
Alongside of the Abraham story, Second Isaiah also makes use
of the exodus and wilderness motifs of J. This can be seen most
clearly in a reference to the defeat of the Egyptians at the crossing
of the Red Sea in Exod 14,5-31 14 and its parallel in Isa 43,16-17:
Thus says YHWH, who provides a way through the sea, a path through
the mighty waters, who brings out horse and chariot, army and warrior
together; they lie down and cannot rise, they are extinguished as a
wick, snuffed out.
This should be combined with Second Isaiah’s remarks about
the anticipated exodus from Babylonia (Isa 52,12), which is mod-
eled on J’s account of the exodus from Egypt: “For you shall not
go out in haste, and you shall not depart in flight, for YHWH will go
ahead of you and the God of Israel will be your rearguard”. The
remark about not leaving in haste is meant to be in contrast to J’s
version of their departure from Egypt, which was in haste (Exod
12,33-34.37-39) at the urging of the Egyptians. In this new exodus
from Babylon there will be no such need for haste. Instead, they
will receive divine protection, just as the pillar of cloud in J’s
exodus account served both as guidance and as protection 13,21-
22; 14,19-20. Furthermore, Second Isaiah draws another deliberate
contrast with J’s exodus portrayal. Whereas J has the Israelites de-
See VAN SETERS, Yahwist, 75-77, for the specific J text as distinct from
the P additions.