by Larry Fyffe
And what I assume, you shall assume (Walt Whitman).
Another ghost of a biblical prophet that floats around in the back of Bob Dylan’s Jungian mind is Isaiah.
Isaiah’s a prophet, a prophet with a feminine side, who puts a different slant on the Almighty.
Isaiah condemns King Manasseh of southern Judea because he appeases the worshippers of Baal, the Golden Calf, in order to create trading partners (As the earlier prophet Elijah condemns King Ahab of Northern Israel for doing).
According to Isaiah, however, God’s in need of shelter and love:
Thus saith the Lord, "The heaven is my throne And the earth is my footstool Where is the house ye built unto me And where is the place of my rest?" (Isaiah 66:I)
In the song lyrics beneath, the narrator therein is likewise in need of love and shelter:
Oh well, I love you pretty baby You're the only love I've ever known Just as long as you stay with me The whole world is my throne (Bob Dylan: Beyond Here Lies Nothing)
It’s tough all over.
We all roar like bears And mourn sore like doves We look for judgment but there is none For salvation, but it is far from us (Isaiah 59: 11)
And down on earth:
I've heard newborn babies Wailing like a mourning dove And old men with broken teeth Stranded without love Do I understand your question, man "Is it hopeless and forlorn?" (Bob Dylan: Shelter From the Storm)
In order to work, says the prophet, it has to work both ways;
For thou has been a strength to the poor A strength to the needy in his distress A refuge from the storm, a shadow from the heat When the blast of the terrible ones Is as a storm against the wall (Isaiah 25: 4)
Come in, she said, I’ll give you shelter from the storm.
I Contain Multitudes (Part II)
by Larry Fyffe
Later Christian speakers go along with an Isaiah, but assert that he’s talking about the coming of Jesus Christ; that is, when a babe to be called Immanuel gets mentioned.
It’s not just a nonspecific sign that a worldly assistant is on the way to lend a hand to the Heavenly Father Who has to deal with trouble, trouble that’s springing up here, there, and everywhere.
In an effort to show King (Jeho)Azah of Judah that Yahweh has lots of powers at His disposal, Isaiah prophesies that a son called Immanuel will be born among the Hebrews to free the southern kingdom from the likes of the Assyrians, and all others who worship idols such as the Golden Cafe.
The Assyrians, after the reign of Azah, attack Judah; we are told it’s God using tough love in order to punish its wayward inhabitants .
Whether or not the prophet Isaiah means the son to come will be his own or one sired by the King of Judah is not made clear.
Rather like the ambiguous poet he be:
Therefore the Lord Himself shall give you a sign
Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son
And call his name Immanuel
In any event, in the following song lyrics, the narrator thereof ponders if Azah has been given bad press from both Judists and Christians for trying to deal with matters that seem hopeless and forlorn.
To make matters worse, Christ gets crucified; His Father stands aloof; His male
followers can’t be trusted; most of the females who attended Jesus desert Him.
After all, the latter be descendants of Eve who made a deal with the Devil:
In a little hilltop village, they gambled for my clothes
I bargained for salvation, and she gave me a legal dose
I offered up my innocence, I got repaid with scorn
(Bob Dylan: Shelter From the Storm)
Or so it might be interpreted.