People have been debating how to pronounce Hurricane “Isaias,” an hispanic name based on Isaiah. Pennsylvania, which has few distinguishing features, is generally well enough inland not to have too much hurricane damage. Isaias, however you pronounce it, dumped over five inches of rain in the small town in which we live. Multiple roof leaks sprang up in our house and a small part of the ceiling in one room came down. Not exactly wrath of God level treatment, but unwelcome nevertheless. The real problem was the short amount of time in which the rain fell. Averaging about an inch per hour, the water simply overwhelmed the devices put in place to keep it outside. Being of my particular disposition I can’t help but think of the prophet Isaiah.
Not a classical prophet of doom per se, Isaiah is the most quoted prophet in the New Testament. He is remembered for “predictions” and soaring rhetoric that promises deliverance. He’s also a prophet known for his woe declarations, as reflected in the Hebrew Bible. This storm, I suspect, has delivered more of the woe than of the hope. Streets were flooded as the local creek burst its banks. Our own street was closed as I called our roofer who, I’m sure, had more than wanted popularity in one day. Being a homeowner, I quickly discovered, is largely a matter of trying to keep the water out. Our sump pump was working overtime and still the rain came.
My book Weathering the Psalms was intended to be the first in a series of volumes exploring meteorotheology in several books of the Bible. The weather, you see, is a popular topic of discussion since in ancient times their meteorology was theology. After the Psalms my exploration was intended to move toward the prophets. There are dramatic events where these saintly folk were able to bring down rain, or withhold it. Israel never experienced hurricanes because they don’t form in the Mediterranean. Meteorological terms, however, shift over time just as by the time Isaias reached us it was a tropical storm. The wind buffeted us a bit, but it was mainly a rain event. I thought at first that I would look at weather terminology in Isaiah and see what I could find there. I don’t know what my conclusions would have been since I was cut off before I could get that far. Like those who cast their bread upon the waters, after many days it came back, ironically in the form of Isaias.