Isaiah 44:10
Who has formed a god, or molten a graven image that is profitable for nothing?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
44:9-20 Image-making is described, to expose the folly of idolaters. Though a man had used part of a log for fuel, he fell down before an image made of the remainder, praying it to deliver him. Man greatly dishonours God, when he represents him after the image of man. Satan blinds the eyes of unbelievers, causing absurd reasonings in matters of religion. Whether men seek happiness in worldly things, or run into unbelief, superstition, or any false system, they feed on ashes. A heart deceived by pride, love of sin, and departure from God, turns men aside from his holy truth and worship. While the affections are depraved, a man holds fast the lie as his best treasure. Are our hearts set upon the wealth of the world and its pleasures? They will certainly prove a lie. If we trust to outward professions and doings, as if those would save us, we deceive ourselves. Self-suspicion is the first step towards self-deliverance. He that would deliver his soul, must question his conscience, Is there not a lie in my right hand?Who hath formed a god - The Septuagint reads this verse in connection with the close of the previous verse, 'But they shall be ashamed who make a god, and all who sculpture unprofitable things.' This interpretation also, Lowth, by a change in the Hebrew text on the authority of a manuscript in the Bodleian library, has adopted. This change is made by reading כי kı̂y instead of מי mı̂y in the beginning of the verse. But the authority of the change, being that of a single MS. and the Septuagint, is not sufficient. Nor is it necessary. The question is designed to be ironical and sarcastic: 'Who is there,' says the prophet, 'that has done this? Who are they that are engaged in this stupid work? Do they give marks of a sound mind? What is, and must be the character of a man that bas formed a god, and that has made an unprofitable graven image? 10. Who … ?—Sarcastic question: "How debased the man must be who forms a god!" It is a contradiction in terms. A made god, worshipped by its maker (1Co 8:4)! What man in his wits can esteem that a god which his own hands have formed, or melt a graven image (understand out of the former clause, to be his god) which is profitable for nothing? He speaks of melting a graven image, because the image was first molten and cast in a mould, and then polished and graven with a tool, as was observed before. Or thus, Who art thou, O man, that formest a god, or meltest a graven image to worship it, which is profitable for nothing? Come hither, and let me reason the case with thee; which he doth in the following verses. So this verse is a kind of summons to idolaters to come and plead their own cause. Who hath formed a god,.... Who ever made one? was such a thing ever known? or can that be a god which is made or formed? who so mad, foolish and sottish, as to imagine he has made a god? or is it possible for a creature to be the maker of a god? or any so stupid as to fancy he had made one? yet such there were, so void of understanding and reason, and even common sense: "or molten a graven image": first melted it, and cast it into a mould, and then graved and polished it, and called it a god?

that is profitable for nothing? or seeing it "is profitable for nothing", as a god; cannot see the persons, nor hear the prayers, nor relieve the distresses of those that worship it; and therefore it must be great folly indeed to make an image for such a purpose, which answers no end.

Who hath formed a {o} god, or cast a graven image that is {p} profitable for nothing?

(o) Meaning that whatever is made by the hand of man, if it is valued as a god, is most detestable.

(p) By which appears their blasphemy, who call images the books of the laity, seeing that they are not only here called unprofitable, but in Isa 41:24 abominable. Jeremiah calls them the work of errors, Jer 10:15, Habakkuk, a lying teacher Hab 2:18.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
10. Who hath formed, &c.] A rhetorical question: who has been such a fool? On molten a graven image see ch. Isaiah 40:19.Verse 10. - Who hath... molten a graven image? Metal idols were mostly cast in the first instance, and then finished off with a graving-tool. "Who hath molten" means "who has been so foolish as to do so - to take so much trouble about a thing which cannot possibly profit any one?" The prophet cannot bear to dwell any longer upon this dark picture of their state of punishment; and light of the promise breaks through again, and in this third field of the fourth prophecy in all the more intensive form. "And now hear, O Jacob my servant, and Israel whom I have chosen. Thus saith Jehovah, thy Creator, and thy Former from the womb, who cometh to thy help; Fear not, my servant Jacob; and Jeshurun, whom I have chosen! For I will pour out water upon thirsty ones, and brooks upon the dry ground; will pour out my Spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine after-growth; and they shoot up among the grass, as willows by flowing waters." In contrast with the cheerem, i.e., the setting apart for destruction, there is here presented the promise of the pouring out of the Spirit and of blessing; and in contrast with the giddūphı̄m, the promise of general eagerness to come and honour Israel and its God (Isaiah 44:5). The epithets by which Jehovah designates Himself, and those applied to Israel in Isaiah 44:1, Isaiah 44:2, make the claim to love all the more urgent and emphatic. The accent which connects מבּטן ויצרך, so as to make יעזרך by itself an attributive clause like בו בּחרתּי, is confirmed by Isaiah 44:24 and Isaiah 49:5 : Israel as a nation and all the individuals within it are, as the chosen servant of Jehovah (Isaiah 49:1), the direct formation of Jehovah Himself from the remotest point of their history. In Isaiah 44:26, Jeshurun is used interchangeably with Jacob. This word occurs in three other passages (viz., Deuteronomy 32:15; Deuteronomy 33:5, Deuteronomy 33:26), and is always written with kibbutz, just as it is here. The rendering ̓Ισραελίσκος in Gr. Ven. is founded upon the supposition that the word is equivalent to ישׂרלוּן - a strange contraction, which is inadmissible, if only on account of the substitution of שׁ for שׂ. The שׁ points back to ישׁר, to be straight or even; hence A. S. Th. εὐθύσς (elsewhere εὐθύτατος), Jerome rectissimus (though in Deuteronomy 32:15 he renders it, after the lxx, dilectus). It is an offshoot of ישׁר equals ישׁר (Psalm 25:21), like זבלוּן, ידתוּן from זבל, ידת; and ūn ( equals ōn) does not stamp it as a diminutive (for אישׁון, which Kamphausen adduces in opposition to Hengstenberg and Volck, does not stand in the same relation to אישׁ as mannikin to man, but rather as the image of a man to a man himself; compare the Arabic insân). We must not render it therefore as an affectionate diminutive, as Gesenius does, the more especially as Jehovah, though speaking in loving terms, does not adopt the language of a lover. The relation of Jeshurun to ישׁר is rather the same as that of שׁלמה to שׁלום, so that the real meaning is "gentleman," or one of gentlemanly or honourable mind, though this need not appear in the translation, since the very nature of a proper name would obliterate it. In Isaiah 44:3, the blessings to be expected are assigned as the reason for the exhortation to be of good cheer. In Isaiah 44:3 water is promised in the midst of drought, and in Isaiah 44:3 the Spirit and blessing of God, just as in Joel the promise of rain is first of all placed in contrast with drought; and this is followed by the promise of the far surpassing antitype, namely, the outpouring of the Spirit. There is nothing at variance with this in the fact that we have not the form צמאה in the place of צמא fo e (according to the analogy of עיפה ארץ, ציּה, נלאה, Psalm 68:10). By צמא) we understand the inhabitants of the land who are thirsting for rain, and by yabbâshâh the parched land itself. Further on, however, an express distinction is made between the abundance of water in the land and the prosperous growth of the nation planted by the side of water-brooks (Psalm 1:3). We must not regard Isaiah 44:3, therefore, as a figure, and Isaiah 44:3 as the explanation, or turn Isaiah 44:3 into a simile introduced in the form of a protasis, although unquestionably water and mountain streams are made the symbol, or rather the anagogical type, of spiritual blessings coming down from above in the form of heavenly gifts, by a gradual ascent from מים and נוזלים (from נזל, to trickle downwards, Sol 4:15, Jeremiah 18:14) to ה רוּח and ה בּרכת (בּרכּת). When these natural and spiritual waters flow down upon the people, once more restored to their home, they spring up among (בּבין only met with here, lxx and Targum כּבין) the grass, like willows by water-brooks.

The willows

(Note: "The garab," says Wetzstein, "was only met with by me in one locality, or, at any rate, I only noticed it once, namely in the Wady So'b, near to a ford of the river which is called the Hd ford, from the chirbet el-Hd, a miserable ruin not far off. It is half an hour to the west of Nimrin (Nimrim, Isaiah 15:6), or, speaking more exactly, half an hour above (i.e., to the east of) Zaft Nimriin, an antique road on the northern bank of the river, hewn in a precipitous wall of rock, like the ladder of Tyre. I travelled through the valley in June 1860, and find the following entry in my diary: 'At length the ravine opened up into a broader valley, so that we could get down to the clear, copious, and rapid stream, and were able to cross it. Being exhausted by the heat, we lay down near the ford among the oleanders, which the mass of flowers covered with a rosy glow. The reed grows here to an unusual height, as in the Wady Yarmk, and willows (zafzaf) and garab are mingled together, and form many-branched trees of three or four fathoms in height. The vegetation, which is fresh and luxuriant by the water-side, is scorched up with the heat in the valley within as little as ten paces from the banks of the stream. The farthest off is the 'osar plant, with its thick, juicy, dark green stalks and leaves, and its apple-like fruit, which is of the same colour, and therefore not yet ripe. The garab tree has already done flowering. The leaves of this tree stand quite close around the stem, as in the case of the Sindiana (the Syrian oak), and, like the leaves of the latter, are fringed with little thorns; but, like the willow, it is a water plant, and our companions Abdallah and Nasrallah assured us that it was only met with near flowing water and in hot lowlands. Its bunches of flowers are at the points of the slender branches, and assume an umbelliferous form. This is the ערב of the Bible.' Consequently the garab (or (as nom. unitatis) the garaba cannot be regarded as a species of willow; and Winer's assumption (Real-Wrterbuch, s.v. Weiden), that the weeping willow is intended at any rate in Psalm 137:2, is an error. In Arabic the weeping willow is always called shafshaf mustachi (the drooping tree). At the same time, we may render ערבים 'willows,' since the garab loves running water as well as the willow, and apparently they seek one another's society; it is quite enough that the difference should be clearly pointed out in the commentary. The reason why the garab did not find its way into my herbarium was the following. On my arrival in Salt, I received the first intelligence of the commencement of the slaughter of the Christians on Antilibanus, and heard the report, which was then commonly believed, that a command had been sent from Constantinople to exterminate Christianity from Syria. This alarming report compelled me to inquire into the actual state of affairs; therefore, leaving my luggage and some of my companions behind, I set off with all speed to Jerusalem, where I hoped to obtain reliable information, accompanied by Herr Drgen, my kavas, and two natives, viz., Abdallah the smith, from Salt, and Nasrallah the smith, from Ain Genna. For a ride like this, which did not form part of the original plan of my journey, everything but weapons, even a herbarium, would have been in the way. Still there are small caravans going every week between Salt and Jerusalem, and they must always cross the Hd ford, so that it would be easy to get a twig of the garab. So far as I remember, the remains of the blossom were of a dirty white colour." (Compare p. 213, where we have taken nachal hâ‛ărâbhı̄m, according to the meaning of the words, as a synonym of Wady Sufsaf, or, more correctly, Safsf. From the description given above, the garab is a kind of viburnum with indented leaves. This tree, which is of moderate height, is found by the side of streams along with the willow. According to Sprengel (Gesch. der Botanik. i. 25), the safsâf is the salix subserrata of Wildenow).)

are the nation, which has hitherto resembled withered plants in a barren soil, but is now restored to all the bloom of youth through the Spirit and blessing of God. The grass stands for the land, which resembles a green luxuriant plain; and the water-brooks represent the abundant supply of living waters, which promote the prosperity of the land and its inhabitants.

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