Please note that most of the italicized words below are my attempt at rendering the words in Hebrew letters in the original to a form of English transliteration. If the meaning of the Hebrew word or phrase is not evident in the context, I have supplied a translation, either with a / between the transliteration and my translation or in parentheses. You will notice that some of the authors' names are capitalized, while others are not. That's because I changed some of the names that needed to be edited for other reasons. Also, Habel's way of citing biblical passages is different, i.e., he does not put a : between the chapter and verse(s). I tried to catch most of these and change them. However, I probably missed some. The bold hot-link numbers in parenthesis are links to endnotes (click on the number to jump to the endnote page) and the numbers in red brackets refer to the upcoming page number of the article. The latter will help for citation purposes.
1. The Divine Confrontation, V. 11b-12a : "Gideon was beating out wheat in the wine press . . . and the angel of Yahweh appeared to him." The agent of the divine confrontation is the malak yahweh/messenger or angel of yahweh, a mode of divine revelation appropriate in early Israelite literature (7). It is significant that the angel appears (Niphal of ra'ah - to see) to Gideon at a time of historical crisis and in the midst of his normal routine activities (cf. Am 7:15, Ex 3:1 Gen 18:1). The call, therefore, appears as a disruptive experience for which there has been no obvious preparation. The call marks the initial interruption of God in the life of the individual. Such a moment was related as a supernatural confrontation which could be comprehended with the senses and tested by rational dialogue. There are no traces of ecstasy here. That this divine confrontation ought not be divorced from the remainder of the call narrative can also be argued from the development of this feature in subsequent call episodes.
2. The Introductory Word, v.12b-13: "Yahweh is with you, mighty man of valor! And Gideon said to him, `Pray, sir, if Yahweh is with us, why. . . but now Yahweh has cast us off . . ."' The direct commission of the called individual is prefaced by an introductory word. As "word" it is a personal communication normally introduced by wey'mar/and he said. Its function is not merely to arouse the attention of Gideon  but to spell out the specific basis or grounds (Grund) for the commission. The introductory word is, therefore, an explanatory word and a preparatory word which will vary according to the corresponding historical situation. The greeting delineates the peculiar personal relationship between Yahweh and the individual. Gideon has been chosen for a critical role because he is God's "mighty man of valor" (cf. Jud 11:1, I Sam 9:1, I Reg 11:28) and because Yahweh is with him. yahweh amak (yahweh is with you) anticipates the closing oath of assurance in 16a and must be understood as an assertion rather than as a wish. The historical basis and occasion for the call is supplied by Gideon's own interjection in which a pertinent link is made with the past relationship between Yahweh and Israel. Gideon's words are confessionally oriented and reflect the current faith of his people. The introductory word, then, may be a "confessional" word incorporating a virtual profession of faith on the part of the one commissioned. The urgency of the crisis is heightened by the formal we'otah (and now) which introduces the apparent role of Yahweh in the Midianite dilemma. The rational consciousness of Gideon is evident throughout this narrative, as he asks "why?" or "where?" and reflects upon past traditions of his faith. This characteristic of the account suggests a further kinship between the charismatic judges and the classical prophets of Israel (8).
3. The Commission, v. 14: "And Yahweh turned to him and said, `Go in this might of yours and deliver Israel from the hand of Midian; do not I send you?"' The commission is formulated with a direct command in the imperative and a rhetorical question in the perfect. The verbs halak (to go) and shalak (to send) have a technical connotation in this context. The essential content of the commission is expressed by an attendant clause employing waw consecutive with the perfect. Gideon's function is that of deliverer and mediator; through his strength Yahweh's deliverance will be revealed. He is more than a charismatic messenger who announces Yahweh's advent; he mediates Yahweh's historical intervention in Israel, an experience which is partially anticipated in his own call. The transition from malak yahweh (messenger/angel of yahweh) to yahweh, as the spokesman in the commission itself underscores the messenger character of the angel and the ultimate source of the divine command (cf. Gen 16:11-13).  The allusion to Gideon's might in v.14 is meaningless without the antecedent reference from the initial greeting in v. 12b. This fact lends additional support to the contention that the introductory word is an integral part of the structure of the call narrative here.
4. The Objection, v. 15: "And he said to him, 'Pray, Lord, how can I deliver Israel? Behold, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family'." Formally the objection is regularly introduced with an appropriate ejaculatory expression which captures the mood of the speaker. Gideon's retort opens with a deprecatory bi adonai (Pray, my Lord) (cf. v. 15) (9), and proceeds with an exclamatory hinneh (behold). The attendant anoki (emphatic "I") stresses the personal element. The total insufficiency of the chosen individual seen from a human perspective stands in direct contrast to the character of the same individual from God's vantage point. Gideon, the least of the weakest clan is, by virtue of God's selection, Yahweh's mighty man of valor. In this portrait the theme of Yahweh's elective grace becomes prominent. Gideon, like Israel whom he also represents, is taken from his insignificant past and elected to a preferred status. This antithesis in the Gideon narrative (between v. 15 and 12b) is essential to the balance of the structure and offers further proof that the previous introductory word plays a significant part in the call episodes (10).
5. The Reassurance, v. 16: "And Yahweh said to him, 'I am indeed with you! And you shall smite the Midianites as one man'." The immediate response of Yahweh is related directly to the needs of the objector and is tantamount to an oath of assurance. The technical formula ki 'hyh 'mk must be translated, "I am indeed with you (11)." The ki is the archaic emphatic particle illustrated in the Ugaritic texts (12). The divine reassurance answers the initial question of Gideon as to whether Yahweh was with them in any efficacious sense (v. 13a) and the subsequent objection that Gideon was completely inadequate for the task ahead. This answer may also be  characterised as a "theological formula" inasmuch as it is a divine affirmation of Yahweh's character as enunciated in His covenant name. Precisely because Yahweh had revealed His nature as "God with us" the assurance of the second part of His response was possible. "I am indeed with you and therefore you shall smite the Midianites", is the theological sense of the passage. Gideon's mediatorial function is thereby further emphasized and the demand of God made inescapable. It is characteristic of the call narratives that this response of assurance repeats in essence the content of the commission. For Gideon it meant the total annihilation of Midian; the victory was a foregone conclusion.
6. The Sign, V. 17: "And he said to him, 'If I have found favor with Thee, then show me a sign that it is Thou who speakest with me'." As the wording of Gideon's request indicates, the accompanying sign (13) is designed to give additional assurance and confirmation that Yahweh is 'ami, "with me". The fourfold am/with (in v. 12, 13, 16, 17) provides both a literary and "theological" framework for the account as a whole. Of special relevance is the reason for the sign. Gideon does not ask for proof that Yahweh will conquer Midian, but for supporting assurance that Yahweh had "spoken" with him! If Yahweh had spoken the event would undoubtedly take place. What Gideon requested was additional confirmation that he was a mediator who could receive the divine "word", that he was virtually a "prophet". The precise nature of the sign involved is of secondary importance (Cf. v. 18-22 and 36-40).
The analysis of the form and
character of the call of Moses in Ex 3:1-12 demands a few preliminary remarks
concerning the unity of the passage. Even if one accepts M. Noth's (14) source
analysis of this text, as W. ZIMMERLI has done, (15) the E
account embraces all the major features of the literary form as enunciated in
the call of Gideon. According to NOTH the E sequence consists of 3:4b, 6, 9-14
call, then, begins abruptly with the words, "And God called out to him from the
midst of the bush and said. . ." The expression "from
the midst of the bush" must be either regarded as a gloss or have some
antecedent in the previous verses. If the former is true, then the call of God
is left without a point of origin, a feature which is not common (cf. Gen 22:11
"from heaven", 21:17) (17). If
the latter is correct, verses 2 and 3 are closely related to 4b. It is therefore
worth investigating whether there is any additional evidence to suggest that Ex
3:1-6 forms a unit.
In the opening verse Moses is associated with both Jethro and the mountain of God just as in the E account of Ex 18. In the following verses the angel of Yahweh, which we have already met in connection with the call of Gideon, cannot easily be divorced from the burning bush experience. The distinctive character of the so-called E tendenz can also be recognized in the fact that the angel of Yahweh does not appear in a bold human form typical of the Yahwist narratives, but in the disguise of a "heavenly" fire which cannot be approached. There is, moreover, a striking similarity between the various features of the appearance of the angel here and in the classic E portrait of the sacrifice of Isaac (Gen 22:9-14). In both passages the angel cries out (qarah) from a distance (Gen 22:11 Ex 3:4; cf. 19:3). The personal summons, "Abraham! Abraham!" and the immediate reply, "Here am I", is exactly parallel to "Moses! Moses!" and the corresponding, "Here am I". Thereafter both accounts proceed with a similar twofold command dependent upon a ki clause. Gen 22:12 reads, "Do not stretch forth . . . and do not do . . . for now I know you fear God. . ." The same style reappears in Ex 3:5, "Do not draw near . . . take off your sandals . . for the place where you are standing . . ." The similarity of form and character is unmistakable. It is difficult, therefore, to concede that the directives of v. 5 are to be disconnected from the context and assigned to a different source. In addition, the "seeing" (Hiphil of navat) of v. 6b demands some kind of visionary experience as its antecedent. This is absent if v. 2-3 are torn from the context. It is of interest to note that the Samaritan Pentateuch has Elohim instead of Yahweh in 3:4a. The preceding evidence is at least sufficient to demonstrate that regardless of the various oral traditions which may lie behind this narrative a much closer unity exists in the present text of Ex 3:1-6 than has been hitherto recognized. If two traditions have. been collated here, they cannot be readily isolated by strict literary critical criteria. Finally,  the structure of the call narratives also supports the substantial unity of this passage (18). To the various features of this literary form we now turn our attention.
1. The Divine Confrontation, v. 1-3, 4 a : "Moses was keeping the flock . . . and he came to Horeb . . . And the angel of Yahweh appeared to him in a flame of fire . . . And Moses said, `I will turn aside . . .'." Assuming that verses 1-3 belong to the Moses call narratives as such, we can trace additional lines of similarity to the call of Gideon. Moses the shepherd also encounters God during his routine activities amid a period of historical stress for the people of God. Both accounts introduce the confrontation with the formula, weyera' malak yawheh/and he saw the messenger (angel) of Yahweh. This divine intervention is vividly portrayed in the burning bush incident and the mysterious element heightened (as in Is:6 and Ez 1). Der Fremdheitscharakter des Erlebnisses is thereby made more intense (19). The experience becomes more disruptive and disturbing as the narrative proceeds. Like Gideon, Moses also makes rational observations and ponders the question "why?"
2. The Introductory Word, v. 4b-9: "God called to him out of the bush, 'Moses! Moses! . . . Do not come near, put off your shoes . . . I am the God of your father . . .' for he was afraid to look at God . . . `and now the cry of the people has come unto me ...'." Through the intimate personal dialogue of v. 4b-5 the proper attitude and stance is established for the reception of the first significant thrust of the introductory word. This key "word" (v.6) defines the distinctive and meaningful relationship between the hearer and the speaker. The effect is stunning. The confessional cliche concerning the God of the fathers is transformed in the mouth of God to read, "I am the God of your father (sing.)". The emphatic divine anoki ("I") of the I AM in the introductory word is repeated with the I AM of the reassuring word in v. 12. Moses reflects the same awe and fear which characterizes similar theophanies and call narratives. The Egyptian crisis parallels the Midianite crisis and the historical basis for the call is underscored by the same introductory we'otah/and now (as in Jud 6:13). God has heard and  God has seen. Therefore, Moses must be commissioned! A selection must be made.
3. The Commission, v. 10 : "And now, go, I send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people out of Egypt." A second we'otah/and now reemphasizes the urgency of the historical dilemma. The technical verbs halak (to go) and shalak (to send) appear as preliminary idioms. The specific details of the commission are enunciated in the attendant clause (cf. Jud 6:14). Moses' function is also that of mediator and savior for the elect people of God. Even if his capacity as a messenger is limited (4:10) his role as the mediator of God's historical intervention is not nullified thereby.
4. The Objection, v. 11: "And Moses said to God, 'Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the sons of Israel out of Egypt'." The ejaculatory mi anoki (who am I?) parallels the bi adonai (pray, my Lord) of Gideon. Behind Moses' exclamation of humility (cf. I Sam 18:18, II Sam 7:18) lies the history of Moses the murderer. His commission, therefore, meant reconciliation (cf. Is 6). His protest was twofold: in his position lie could not approach Pharaoh the mighty ruler and he did not have the ability to deliver Israel from Pharaoh's hands. He was neither a messenger nor a mediator.
5. The Reassurance, v. 12a: "And He said, 'I shall indeed be with you'." The formula ki 'hyh 'mk (I am indeed with you) is identical with the response in Jud 6:16 and has essentially the same function. Yahweh's efficacious presence renders all objections invalid. This word of assurance, moreover, empowers Moses to execute his unenviable role. When Moses reiterates his objection in the following scene (v. 13-15) and professes his ignorance, the I AM formula is repeated in its most forceful form, 'ahyh asher 'ahyh/I am who I am. Yahweh imparts the power and the words. This concept of the empowering word which effects hitherto unknown changes in the prophet's life and which enables him to perform momentous feats with the divine "word" must be kept in mind as we read the classical prophets and treat their calls. The theological character of Yahweh's word of reassurance is further demonstrated by the subsequent dialogue (v. 13-15), for this word is none other than the very name of God (20). Moses is to greet the Israelites with the astounding claim that, "I AM has sent me!" a truth which Moses had experienced firsthand. In the word of assurance, therefore, is also imbedded the message which the prophetic mediator must impart.
6. The Sign, v. 12: "'And this shall be the sign for you, that I have sent you: when you have brought forth the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God upon this mountain."' On this occasion the 'ot (sign)  of assurance is freely proferred by Yahweh. The unusual character of this sign is its delayed fulfillment. It is only after Moses has executed his task as the deliverer of Israel that this confirmation will be forthcoming. The sign, then, is not only a further demonstration of Yahweh's presence but also the goal of Moses' commission. When the people of God worship Yahweh at the mountain of God, Moses will have additional assurance that his commission was of divine origin. The sign is designed to give the prophet new impetus and power rather than to offer a crutch for his weak faith. This is true despite the fact that in Moses' case the sign is only experienced after the execution of the commission. Further, it is striking that this sign involves Israel as a whole; this sign is not merely a personal word of assurance but also a public demonstration of Moses' claims (20a).
The formal sequence of parallels, common literary pattern, similar themes and identical expressions found in the call narratives of Moses and Gideon establish the probability of a common pre-literary (or literary) form or Gattung with associated traditions utilized by the authors of these two call accounts. This common heritage provided for these authors a form appropriate for the delineation of the call of Yahweh's messengers and mediators. The use of such a form or Gattung to delineate the traditions concerning the call of an individual does not nullify the reality of a call experience as such, but it does color and modify the formulation of that experience as it is related to subsequent generations of Israel. It is important to note also that the call Gattung is not confined to the prophets but has a significant pre-prophetic history. Further investigations into the possible origins of this form will be resumed later in the discussion.
1. The Divine Confrontation, v.4: "And the word of the Lord came to me saying:" In Is 6, Ez 1-3, and Is 40, the respective prophets arc called into the service of Yahweh from the midst of the heavenly council. This portrait is directly related to the appearance of heavenly beings to the mediators Moses and Gideon. Is the call of Jeremiah, however, depicted without any divine confrontation or council? Jeremiah himself makes it clear in 23:16-18 that in contrast to the visions of the human imagination which the false prophets recount, he stood in the heavenly council (sod) and heard (shamah) the word (debar). This debar in Jer 23:18 is virtually a synonym for the qol/voice which summons the other prophets within the heavenly council (Ez 1:28, Is 40:3,6, 6: 4,8). If this is true, then the opening line of Jeremiah's call may be the summons of Yahweh from the heavenly council in which Yahweh Himself is present to address the prophet (1:7,9), to stretch forth his hand toward the prophet (1:9) as in Ez 2:9, and to make contact with his mouth (1:9) as in Is 6:7. Above all, however, Jeremiah is confronted by the word. This reality of the word as an overwhelming force of God's self-revelation is attested throughout the book (2:1, 15:16 etc.). Dreams are of secondary importance in, Jeremiah's life (23:28-29). This confrontation by the word is repeated (1:11, 13:2 etc.), and with each experience the call is apparently confirmed. In the light of Is 6:1 and similar passages, we might have expected a specific historical notation concerning the thirteenth year of Josiah at the beginning of the narrative. It is not unlikely that an original historical note has been absorbed into the editor's preface (1:1-3).
2. The Introductory
Word, v. 5a: "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you
were born I consecrated you." The twofold betram (before) introduces the
prior personal involvement of God whereby the peculiar personal relationship
between Yahweh and His prophet is established. Jeremiah's call was no snap
decision from heaven. This motif of preparation is typical of the call
narratives. For Jeremiah it underscored the inescapability of an ultimate basis
for his own commission. The introductory word again carries semicreedal and
"theological" overtones. Creation, redemption and sanctification are placed in
sharp juxtaposition; God formed (cf. Gen 2:7), knew (cf. Gen 18:19, Am 3:2) and
sanctified (Ex 19:14) this individual to be His prophet at large.
 3. The Commission, v. 5b: "I have appointed you a prophet to the nations." The commission is closely linked to the introductory word and presented as an accomplished fact. Gideon is similarly addressed, "Have I not sent you?" Just as God has appointed (nittaik) Abraham as the father of many nations (Gen 17:5) and Moses as eloheim to Pharaoh (Ex 7:1) Jeremiah is ordained as prophet to the nations (Cf. 6: 27). Jeremiah, it seems, uses a term for divine ordination or appointment which stems from the priestly tradition. Like many of his predecessors Jeremiah must be concerned with more than the private daily chores of Israel; his word concerns the nations (25). The usual verbs of commission, shelak and halak appear in the subsequent answer of Yahweh and define the intent of the command more precisely.
4. The Objection, v. 6: "Then I said, 'Ah, Lord Yahweh! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth'." The ejaculatory ahah adonai is heightened by the subsequent hinneh and emphatic anoki (cf. Jud 6:15). In this context the expression ahah implies both frustration (cf. Jos 7:7, Jud 6: 22, 11:35) and boldness (Jer 4:10)(26). Jeremiah, who had been called and appointed like Moses, now offers a similar excuse to Moses' (Ex 3:11, 4:10, 6:12, 7:1-2). The consciousness of a personal tension between his own will and that of God as disclosed by Jeremiah in his call increases throughout the prophet's career. The prophetic "I" becomes an important part of the prophet's role if he is to become a true mediator like Moses (cf. Ex 33:12-16, Num 14: 13-19 for Moses' retorts).
5. The Reassurance, v. 7-8: "But Yahweh said to me, `Don't say, "I am only a youth", for to all to whom I send you you shall go, and whatever I command them you shall speak. Be not afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you', says Yahweh". Before God Jeremiah's objection is totally invalid. Jeremiah is obliged to carry out Yahweh's commission and compelled to speak only His words. In so doing he bears the marks of a true prophet. God will direct him precisely where to go and tell him exactly what to say, just as He had promised Moses (Dtn 18:18). In the light of this assertion, the prophetic objection and the subsequent prophetic "I" must be considered as part of the mediator's divine word. Further, the objection is answered by another divine "word" which is tantamount to a quotation and which establishes a specific point of continuity  with the enduring "word" from the past. The ensuing assurance that the prophet need not fear his audience is grounded in a poetic formulation of the ancient oath, "I am indeed with you". The I AM persists as the determining force in the life of the prophetic mediator.
6. The Sign, v. 9-10: "Then Yahweh put forth His hand and touched my mouth, and. Yahweh said to me, 'Behold, I have put my words in your mouth. See . . . to build and to plant'." Although the technical term for sign ('ot) is absent from this context, the symbolic act of Yahweh extending his compelling hand and touching the prophet's mouth serves the same function as the attendant sign for Gideon. This action provided additional confirmation that Jeremiah was a mediator who could receive the divine "word" itself. As a "sign" Yahweh's direct intervention is clearly designed to meet the prophet's specific needs (cf. Is 6:7). It is the same divine "hand" which is stretched out in the symbolic action or sign which concludes the call experience of Ezekiel (2:9). As the attendant wording reaffirms, this symbolic act of Yahweh actualizes the promise of Dtn 18:18 in the life of the prophet. Accordingly the significant features of the prophet's message are repeated (cf. Jud 6:16). The reiteration of the verbs of purpose (in v. l0) in subsequent contexts indicates the relevance of this feature of the call (27). We are now justified, however, in considering these verbs a comprehensive summary of the prophet's total message (28). They embrace an element which persists: the prophet's word will change the course of history. Clearly, Jeremiah is "more than a messenger". The irrevocable character of the prophet's commission is further reinforced by the use of the verb pekad'(appoint) in v. 10 (cf. Num 1:50, II Reg 7:17, 25:22).
|I Reg 22:19 I saw
sitting on His throne
and all the host of heaven
on His right hand and left
20 Who will entice . . .
one said one thing and . . .
21 I will entice him . . .
I saw the Lord |
sitting on a throne high . . .
2 seraphim standing above Him . . .
8 whom shall I send . . .
3 one called to another and said . . .
8 Here am I. Send me!
1. The Divine Confrontation, v. 1-2: "In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne . . ." Despite the overwhelming glory of the sacred locale, the historical moment is just as important to the prophet's proclamation. The year was a year of transition, crisis and import; it was the year of the king's death. The details of the vision are beyond our concern here. The similarity between the fiery messengers of the heavenly court and the messenger of fire in Ex 3:2-3 may be relevant. The glory which Isaiah sees, however, is clearly greater than that of Moses.
2. The Introductory Word, v. 3-7: "And one called to another and said, `Holy, holy, holy is Yahweh of hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory' . . . and I said, `Woe is me! For I am lost . . .' And  he touched my mouth and said, `Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin is forgiven'." This word portrays an elaborate scene in which the prophet is adequately prepared to receive the divine commission. It commences with qarah ... weamar/he called ... and he said (Cf. Ex 3:6). The word of revelation from the heavenly throne evokes an immediate reaction of terror (cf. Ex 3:5). Moses and Isaiah were prepared by divine directives to receive the call; Moses by the removal of his shoes in a holy place (Ex 3:5) and Isaiah by the cleansing of his lips before the Holy One. In Jeremiah's case God had made the prophet "holy" (kedosh here also) before be had been born. Just as Moses' lot could not be divorced from that of his people in captivity, so too Isaiah is keenly aware of the fact that he dwells among a "people of unclean lips". Thus the peculiar relationship between the prophet, his God and his people is enunciated before the actual commission is described. Another common feature of this element of the call Gattung is the inclusion of formal, semi-creedal, or theological elements from the particular trad ition f the author. The cry of the seraphim incorporates a hymnic exclamation from the cult or worship life of Israel (cf. also Ps 29:9). The response of Isaiah is couched in the form of a Wehe-Ruf which is self-imposed. The divine absolution also reflects a formal character stemming from the worship life of the prophet. In these formal expressions the prophet incorporates a virtual confession of faith into the proclamation of his message. It is significant also that Isaiah's reaction to the vision of Y shweh enthroned is depicted in the tradition of the ancient theophanies in which the person concerned exclaims that he has seen the deity (cf. Jud 6:22, 13:22 Gen 32:30; cf. Ex 3:6) and is thereby radically affected in some way.
3. The Commission, v. 8-10 : "And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, `Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?' Then I said, `Here am I. Send me!' And He said, `Go and say to this people, Hear and hear . . . Make the heart of this people fat . . .'. " As noted above, certain aspects of the commission are colored by the narrative of I Reg 22:10-21. Of special relevance is the summoning qol/voice which introduces God's formal command (32). Although directed to the entire assembly, it concerns Isaiah primarily. A messenger must be commissioned (shalak) to go (halak) down to the people of Israel. The content of the heavenly commission is given in the form of an oracle of doom. But the prophet's task involves more than that of an earthly messenger. Like Jeremiah, he not only reports; his word has authority  and impact. The prophet must change hearts and eyes and ears in Israel just as Jeremiah changes the history of nations. The prophet stands as the ambassador and representative of his God, a representative from the heavenly council.
4. The Objection, v.11a:
"Then I said, `How long, O Lord?"' The reaction of Isaiah only arises after he
is aware of the dimensions of his task as God's agent of doom. It is this cry of
the prophet and not his initial response in v. s which belongs to this feature
of the Gattung. The abrupt ejaculation, ad mati adonai/How long, oh
Lord?, is just as bold as that of Jeremiah or Moses. Isaiah dares to interrupt
the king. Moreover, the expression ad mati normally implies a tone of
indignation rather than of tenderness (Ex 10:3, 7; Num 14: 27;
I Sam 16:21; II Sam 2:26 etc.). Thus, in Isaiah too the prophetic "I" is not absent (33).
5. The Reassurance, v. 11-13: "And He said, `Until cities lie waste . . . The holy seed is in its stump'." Yahweh's response is the reaffirmation of His former message of doom. The repetition of the message itself in variant terms was also characteristic of the calls of Jeremiah and Gideon. The authenticity of the final line of v. la cannot be proven conclusively on the basis of the literary form. Suffice it to say, that Isaiah's objection is answered directly without this final word of grace. Nevertheless, words of personal reassurance and comfort are a common feature of the call narratives. Isaiah would not need to preach doom forever. There was a remnant in the future. In addition, we have noted that vital strands of the prophet's total message are often incorporated into the call narrative at this point. There can be no doubt that the message of a remnant is a part of Isaiah's total proclamation (cf. 7:3). And inasmuch as the call narrative reflects a subsequent proclamation of the prophet's commission the inclusion of this theme may not have been out of place (34). No additional sign, however, is given to confirm the prophetic call (35).
In the light of the detailed analysis of the form of
the call of Ezekiel by W. Zimmerli (36), the
essential unity of Ez 1:1 - 3:15 as well as the dependency of this passage on
the call of Isaiah seems to be clearly established. It remains for us but to
underscore specific points of comparison between the call of Ezekiel and its
literary predecessors. The call structure is readily discernible: 1. divine
confrontation, 1:1-28, 2. introductory word, 1:29 - 2:2, 3. commission, 2:3-5,
4. objection (implied in 2:6 and 2:8), 5. reassurance, 2:6-7, 6. Sign 2:8 -
The historical preface underscores the significance of the historical orientation of the experience (cf. Is 6:1). In the divine confrontation the visionary portrait of Isaiah is elaborated and described in greater detail. The glory of the vision is further enhanced. The attendant heavenly beings, the coals of fire, the temple structure, the throne, the royal form, the glory and the voice of Is:6 are treated from the prophet's perspective in the new world of Babylonian captivity. Ezekiel too is summoned by the heavenly qol/voice (cf. Is 6:4, 8) and prepared to receive the dramatic commission as a prophet (1:28b). Isaiah needed a purging fire to cleanse his lips and to permit him to stand in the King's presence; Ezekiel needs the reviving spirit to restore him to normal and to enable him to stand in the presence of the King. Ezekiel's distinctive relationship with Yahweh is likewise defined. He is a ben adamson of man who is totally dependent upon the ruah yahweh/spirit of Yahweh for the performance of his duties. Ezekiel the priest is commissioned (shalak) into his new office as a prophet (2:3). The content of Ezekiel's specific task is to deliver decisive oracles of doom to the overly rebellious house of Israel (cf. Is 6:9f.). In this his character as a navi/prophet will be publicly recognized. Although no verbal objection follows at this point, the subsequent word of reassurance implies that Ezekiel reflected both fear and personal rebelliousness (2:6,8). The divine injunction not to be rebellious but to open his mouth willingly is more readily understood when we recognize that at this point the prophetic "I" intrudes in all of the previous call forms analyzed. For Ezekiel the prophetic "I" had to be suppressed. The prophet's ensuing dumbness can also be logically explained as a further symbol of this emphasis for Ezekiel (3:26-27). He could only speak what God planted on his lips. Ezekiel could not object and rebel as Isaiah and his predecessors had done. The words of assurance themselves develop the response given to Jeremiah. They embrace a threefold el terah/do not fear (cf. Jer 1:8) and an attendant affirmation that Ezekiel will speak "my  words" to the people (cf. Jer 1:7,9). The character of the sign is also related to that of Jeremiah, although much more elaborate and complete. The hand from heaven is once more stretched out (cf. Jer 1:9) and the divine word placed into the very mouth of the prophet (cf. Jer 1:9). In addition a further description of the prophet's function and immediate task as a prophet is similarly appended to the sign as an explanation (cf. Jer 1:10).
1. The Introductory Word, v. 1-2: "Comfort, Comfort my people, says your God . . . for she has received from the hand of Yahweh double for all her sins." Just as in earlier calls the immediate reason for the commission of a specific individual is first enunciated. The ki (for) is threefold. A new and exciting relationship now exists between God and His people. One striking feature of this initial divine address is the plural form of the imperative. The first voice (v. 3) continues this plural imperative, but the second voice changes to the singular (v.6). It seems plausible, therefore, that a heavenly council scene similar to that in Isaiah 6 is involved (38). In the introductory word  God summons the heavenly council to qarah the new situation. In the following verses this proclamation (qarah v. 3a) is executed in general to the council and world at large. In v. 6a, however, the commission is made specific and one individual is selected to qarah (cf. Is 6 8) to Jerusalem.
2. The Commission, v. 3-5, 6a: "A voice cries, 'In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord . . . and the glory of Yahweh shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of Yahweh has spoken.' A voice says, `Cry aloud!"' The same summoning voice was heard in the heavenly assemblies of Is 6:8 and Ez 1:28, and a similar divine qarah to that of Ex 3:4 and Is 6:3. The fourfold injunction delineates the essential features of the commission to the assembly at large. The task involves more than a simple announcement of the Lord's advent; it demands the preparation of God's people for the revelation of His kavod/glory. The same kavod which fills the earth (Is 6:3) will soon be seen by "all flesh". Once the decree has been announced in the sod/heavenly council of Yahweh it must be executed (cf. Am 3:7-8 Jer 23:18, 22)(39). The herald of Yahweh must therefore be more than a messenger. He must be the agent of his Lord. The climax of the summons is the direct address to one individual to assume the task announced abroad.
3. The Objection, v. 6-7 : "And I said, `What shall I cry?' All flesh is grass and its beauty like the flower of the field . . ." The personal reaction of the chosen individual is a sharp cry of frustration, similar to that of Isaiah and Jeremiah. The ejaculatory form mah aqarah/what shall I cry? is typical of the Gattung at this point. The objection focuses upon the "all flesh" mentioned in the commission. What can a messenger say to prepare "flesh" for the spectacular advent of Yahweh's glory. Human flesh cannot withstand the day of His coining; the prophet's task is an impossible one.
4. The Reassurance v. 8-11 : "The grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our God abides forever. Get up to a high mountain . . . Behold, Yahweh the Lord comes. . ." The response embraces both a direct answer to the prophet's objection (cf. Jer 1:7) and a further elaboration of the commission (cf. Jer 1:7-10). The reply of v. 8 is linked with the decree of v. 5, and reflects the same concept  of prophetic compulsion characteristic of the other calls. Although all flesh is transitory the word of "our God", replies the voice, must be executed regardless of the consequences. For the commissioned individual there is no escape as futile as it may appear (cf. Is 6:11). In the reiteration of the command the details of the project are made more specific (v. 9). Once again the imperative form changes. The herald is now addressed in the second person feminine. Whether Jerusalem is now designated the messenger or whether an archaic term for a herald (cf. Ps 68:11) of the heavenly host is employed is not clear. The Gattung features, however, persist. The messenger must speak God's message and "not fear" (cf. Ez 2:6; Jer 1:8). Although no specific sign follows at this point, the same hinneh/behold associated with the giving of the sign (in Jer 1:9 and Ez 3:9) introduces the final summary of the prophet's proclamation. No further sign is needed; the event is about to come to pass. The closing summary of the message is again typical of the concluding section of a call narrative. In short, it seems apparent that the literary Gattung of the call has been utilized to some extent by second Isaiah at least in Is 40:1-8 and probably in 40:1-11 (40).