Original Research

Peace is not the absence of war but the presence of a relationship founded by God – שָׁלוֹם (shalom) in Isaiah and Micah

Chris van der Walt
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 55, No 2 | a2728 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v55i2.2728 | © 2021 Chris van der Walt | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 19 February 2021 | Published: 02 September 2021

About the author(s)

Chris van der Walt, Department of Ministers Training, Faculty of Theology, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa


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Abstract

In theology and in general, there are perceptions about peace as the absence of war and strife. However, if these perceptions are measured against what the prophets Isaiah and Micah teach explicitly about it, a different reality is sketched. Isaiah 2:1–5 is widely seen as a vision of peace. However, the concept שָׁלוֹם (shalom [peace]) does not appear in the pericope, but only later in Isaiah 9:5 and then further on throughout the book. The thought of Isaiah 9:5 is repeated in Micah 5:4. The question that needs to be answered is: What is the real meaning of שָׁלוֹם in the Isaiah and Micah passages? To answer the question, all the verses in Isaiah and Micah in which the concept שָׁלוֹם occurs, were first identified in the Biblia Hebraica Stutgartensia. Thereafter, it was placed in cohesive groups. With this information in mind, the way peace was lost in Isaiah and Micah is described. Then the new beginning that God has made, is discussed exegetically in the passages where שָׁלוֹם occurs to show how peace was returned. It was found that שָׁלוֹם is never described in Isaiah and Micah in terms of the absence of a modality such as war, but in terms of relationships. Peace is therefore not a condition established by people, but exists primarily within a relationship between God and people. What the prophets, Isaiah and Micah, teach us about peace should influence our thinking in such a way that our perception of it should be reviewed.

Contribution: The reality of peace, as seen from the perspective of Isaiah and Jeremiah, calls for a line of thought that is not currently at the forefront. Peace should therefore not be seen as a situation that people create. Instead, the biblical view is that it emanates from a relationship that begins with God and is then expressed in relationships with fellow human beings.


Keywords

vision of peace; peace; war; Isaiah; Micah; justice; relationship.

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