A. Outline and Structural Analysis
54:1-10—The Fecundity of the Barren Wife.
1-3: Call for Jerusalem to rejoice and promise of renewed fertility.
4-8: Reunion of Yahweh with His bride.
9-10: Comparison to the covenant with Noah.
54: 11-17—The Security of the Afflicted City.
11-14: The rebuilding of Jerusalem.
15-17: Yahweh’s protection of the city.
The structure of Isaiah 54 would seem to suggest two major sections, vv. 1-10 and vv.11-17. Blenkinsopp divides the chapter into three main sections: vv. 1-8, vv. 9-10, and vv. 11-17a, with v. 17b as a concluding statement summarizing the whole (360-361). His basis for doing so, is that “the only clear markers in the text itself…are the references to who is speaking” in verses 6, 8, 10, and 17. There are, however, a few problems with the ratio for this division. First, if the basis of the division is based on who is speaking, why not add another division after verse 6, which Blenkinsopp skips over? Second, in his translation, he skips over the יהוה אמר at the end of verse 1, which would further complicate his division based on references to the speaker. Finally, the references to the speaker do not seem to be the only basis for dividing the text. One could make a plausible argument for dividing the text based on the addressee marked out in verses 1 and 11. Blenkinsopp points out that BHS and 1QIsaa also divide the text in the way I have suggested and it seems to be the preferred one based on the context of the chapter (360). Whybray, Westermann, North, and Sawyer also make the same division (though not necessarily for the same reason as myself). Thus, the assessment of Watts that “form-critical analysis has agreed on dividing the chapter into four sections: vv 1-3, 4-6, 7-10, and 11-17” is a striking one (236).