Isaiah 2:20
In that day a man shall cast his idols of silver, and his idols of gold, which they made each one for himself to worship, to the moles and to the bats;
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(20) A man shall cast his idols of silver . . .—The picture of the earthquake is still continued. The men who have taken refuge in the caves fling away the idols, that they have found powerless to help them, to the moles and bats which had their dwelling there. It is perhaps significant that the animals thus named were proverbial for their blindness and love of darkness. Such, the prophet seems to say, were the fit custodians of the idols whom none could worship except those that hated the light and were spiritually blind.

Which they made each one for himself.—Better, which they (the carvers of the idol) made for him (the worshipper).

Isaiah 2:20. In that day a man shall cast his idols, &c., to the moles and to the bats — Shall cast them into the meanest and darkest places, in which moles and bats have their abode; whereas before they set them up in high and honourable places, where they might be seen and worshipped. Or, as Bishop Lowth thinks the meaning may be. “They shall carry their idols with them into the dark caverns, old ruins, or desolate places, to which they shall flee for refuge; and so shall give them up, and relinquish them to the filthy animals that frequent such places, and have taken possession of them as their proper habitation.” The wasting of Judah by the Syrians and Israelites in the time of Ahaz, might be here first in the prophet’s view, when, besides a great multitude that were partly slain, and partly carried captive to Damascus by the Syrians, the king of Israel slew in Judah one hundred and twenty thousand in one day, and carried away captive, of men, women, and children, two hundred thousand, taking away also much spoil, 2 Chronicles 28:5-6; 2 Chronicles 28:8. The prophecy may refer, secondly, to the invasion of the country by Sennacherib; but, undoubtedly, the destruction of Judah and Jerusalem by the Chaldeans, and the Babylonish captivity, are chiefly intended, for then idolatry was entirely abolished among the Jews, and never practised by them afterward.2:10-22 The taking of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans seems first meant here, when idolatry among the Jews was done away; but our thoughts are led forward to the destruction of all the enemies of Christ. It is folly for those who are pursued by the wrath of God, to think to hide or shelter themselves from it. The shaking of the earth will be terrible to those who set their affections on things of the earth. Men's haughtiness will be brought down, either by the grace of God convincing them of the evil of pride, or by the providence of God depriving them of all the things they were proud of. The day of the Lord shall be upon those things in which they put their confidence. Those who will not be reasoned out of their sins, sooner or later shall be frightened out of them. Covetous men make money their god; but the time will come when they will feel it as much their burden. This whole passage may be applied to the case of an awakened sinner, ready to leave all that his soul may be saved. The Jews were prone to rely on their heathen neighbours; but they are here called upon to cease from depending on mortal man. We are all prone to the same sin. Then let not man be your fear, let not him be your hope; but let your hope be in the Lord your God. Let us make this our great concern.In that day - That is, in the time when God would come forth to inflict punishment. Probably the day to which the prophet refers here was the time of the captivity at Babylon.

A man shall cast ... - That is, "all" who have idols, or who have been trusting in them. Valuable as they may be - made of gold and silver; and much as he may "now" rely on them or worship them, yet he shall then see their vanity, and shall cast them into dark, obscure places, or holes, where are moles and bats.

To the moles - פרות לחפר lachepor pērôth. Probably this should be read as a single word, and it is usually interpreted "moles." Jerome interprets it as mice or moles, from חפר châphar, "to dig." The word is formed by doubling the radical letters to give "intensity." Similar instances of words being divided in the Hebrew, which are nevertheless to be read as one, occur in 2 Chronicles 24:6; Jeremiah 46:20; Lamentations 4:3; Ezekiel 27:6. The mole is a well-known animal, with exceedingly small eyes, that burrows under ground, lives in the dark, and subsists on roots. The bat lives in o d ruins, and behind the bark of trees, and flies only in the night. They "resemble" each other, and are used here in connection, because "both" dwell amidst ruins and in obscure places; both are regarded as animals of the lowest order; both are of the same genus, and both are almost blind. The sense is, therefore, that the idols which had before been so highly venerated, would now be despised, and cast into obscure places, and amidst ruins, as worthless; see Bochart's "Hieroz.," P. i., Lib. iii., p. 1032. Ed. 1663.

And to the bats - 'The East may be termed the country of bats; they hang by hundreds and thousands in caves, ruins, and under the roofs of large buildings. To enter such places, especially after rain, is "most" offensive. I have lived in rooms where it was sickening to remain, on account of the smell produced by those creatures, and whence it was almost impossible to expel them. What from the appearance of the creature, its sunken diminutive eye, its short legs (with which it cannot walk), its leather-like wings, its half-hairy, oily skin, its offensive ordure ever and anon dropping on the ground, its time for food and sport, darkness, makes it one of the most disgusting creatures to the people of the East. No wonder, then, that its name is used by the Hindoos (as by the prophet) for an epithet of contempt. When a house ceases to please the inhabitants, on account of being haunted, they say, Give it to the "bats." "Alas! alas! my wife and children are dead; my houses, my buildings, are all given to the bats." People ask, when passing a tenantless house, "Why is this habitation given to the bats?"' - "Roberts." The meaning is, that the man would throw his idols into such places as the bats occupy - he would so see their vanity, and so despise them, as to throw them into old ruins and dark places.

20. moles—Others translate "mice." The sense is, under ground, in darkness.

bats—unclean birds (Le 11:19), living amidst tenantless ruins (Re 11:13).

Into the meanest and darkest places, in which moles and bats have their abode; whereas before they set them up in high and honourable places, where they might be seen and worshipped. This great and sudden change proceeded either from true repentance, which filled them with shame, and grief, and indignation against themselves, and all the instruments of their wickedness; or from a conviction of the vanity of their idols, which afforded them no help in the time of their need; or from a just fear lest God’s judgment should have fallen more heavily upon them, if it had found them in the practice of idolatry; and that by this profession of repentance they might, if it were possible, either prevent or mitigate their calamity. In that day a man shall cast his idols of silver, and his idols o gold,.... Being frightened at the terrible shaking of the earth, and at the glory and majesty of Christ, which will be seen in his witnesses and people, at the time of his spiritual coming, and the destruction of antichrist; insomuch that they shall cast away their idols, and relinquish their idolatrous practices, and give glory to the God of heaven, Revelation 11:11,

which they made each one for himself to worship; everyone having their peculiar idol, the work of their own hands; which shows their gross ignorance and wretched stupidity:

to the moles, and to the bats; that is, either they shall leave them to persons as blind and ignorant as moles and bats; or rather they shall cast them into the holes which moles make, and bats have recourse unto. The Targum makes these the objects of worship, rendering the words,

"that they may worship the idols and images;''

and the Jewish writers interpret them of images worshipped in the form of moles and bats; though we never read of those creatures being worshipped, Moles were sacrificed to Neptune (w). Kimchi refers this text to the times of the Messiah; and some of their ancient writers (x) apply it to the Messiah, and to his arising and appearing in the land of Galilee.

(w) Phurnutus de Natura Deorum, p. 59. (x) Zohar in Exod. fol. 3. 3. &. in Numb. fol. 99. 3.

In that day a man shall cast his idols of silver, and his idols of gold, which they made each one for himself to worship, {x} to the moles and to the bats;

(x) They will cast them into vile and filthy places when they perceive that they are not able to help them.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
20. An expansion of the thought of Isaiah 2:18. The verse is remarkable for the absence of parallelism. which they made each one for himself] R.V. renders more faithfully, “which they made for him.” Probably, however, the verb is an archaic singular wrongly pointed (‘âsû, read ‘âsav), the translation being: which he made for himself, cf. Isaiah 2:8.

to the moles and to the bats] The sense is not doubtful, although an accidental division of the word for “moles” in the original (laḥparpârôth) has misled some of the older interpreters.Verse 20. - In that day a man shall cast, etc, When the idols disappoint their worship-pets, and prove to be unable to save them, they are treated with scorn and ignominy. The African beats his fetish on such occasions. The Israelites would fling theirs to the moles and the bats. Idols of silver... idols of gold (comp. Exodus 20:23; Psalm 115:4: 135:15; Isaiah 30:22; Isaiah 31:7; Hosea 8:4; Hosea 13:2). A passage of Habakkuk (Habakkuk 2:19) shows that sometimes the main bulk of the idol was of stone, which was overlaid with a coating of one or other of the two precious metals; but it would seem that ordinarily the entire image was either of gold or silver (comp. Exodus 32:4, 24; 1 Kings 12:28). No doubt it was thought that the god worshipped through the image was more honored, and therefore better pleased, by the more costly material. Which they made each one for himself; rather, which they (i.e. the manufacturers) have made for him. Idol-making was a trade, as we see by the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 19:24-27). To the moles; literally, to the dig-holes. The metaphor must not be pressed. They would throw the idols into holes and corners, pits and caverns, where moles and bats might be expected to be the only visitants. Some idea of the blindness implied in any regard for idols may have prompted the imagery. The prophet then proceeds to enumerate all the high things upon which that day would fall, arranging them two and two, and binding them in pairs by a double correlative Vav. The day of Jehovah comes, as the first two pairs affirm, upon everything lofty in nature. "As upon all the cedars of Lebanon, the lofty and exalted, so upon all the oaks of Bashan. As upon all mountains, the lofty ones, so upon all hills the exalted ones." But wherefore upon all this majestic beauty of nature? Is all this merely figurative? Knobel regards it as merely a figurative description of the grand buildings of the time of Uzziah and Jotham, in the erection of which wood had been used from Lebanon as well as from Bashan, on the western slopes of which the old shady oaks (sindiân and ballūt) are flourishing still.

(Note: On the meaning of the name of this region, Bashan (Basanitis), see Comm. on Job, Appendix, Eng. Tr.)

But the idea that trees can be used to signify the houses built with the good obtained from them, is one that cannot be sustained from Isaiah 9:9 (10.), where the reference is not to houses built of sycamore and cedar wood, but to trunks of trees of the king mentioned; nor even from Nahum 2:4 (3.), where habberoshim refers to the fir lances which are brandished about in haughty thirst for battle. So again mountains and hills cannot denote the castles and fortifications built upon them, more especially as these are expressly mentioned in Isaiah 2:15 in the most literal terms. In order to understand the prophet, we must bear in mind what the Scriptures invariably assume, from their first chapter to the very close, namely, that the totality of nature is bound up with man in one common history; that man and the totality of nature are inseparably connected together as centre and circumference; that this circumference is affected by the sin which proceeds from man, as well as by the anger or the mercy which proceeds from God to man; that the judgments of God, as the history of the nations proves, involve in fellow-suffering even that part of the creation which is not free; and that this participation in the "corruption" (phthora) and "glory" (doxa) of humanity will come out with peculiar distinctness and force at the close of the world's history, in a manner corresponding to the commencement; and lastly, that the world in its present condition needs a palingenesia, or regeneration, quite as much as the corporeal nature of man, before it can become an object of good pleasure on the part of God. We cannot be surprised, therefore, that, in accordance with this fundamental view of the Scriptures, when the judgment of God fell upon Israel, it should also be described as going down to the land of Israel, and as overthrowing not only the false glory of the nation itself, but everything glorious in the surrounding nature, which had been made to minister to its national pride and love of show, and to which its sin adhered in many different ways. What the prophet foretold began to be fulfilled even in the Assyrian wars. The cedar woods of Lebanon were unsparingly destroyed; the heights and valleys of the land were trodden down and laid waste; and, in the period of the great empires which commenced with Tiglath-pileser, the Holy Land was reduced to a shadow of its former promised beauty.

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