Isaiah 57:12
I will declare your righteousness, and your works; for they shall not profit you.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(12) I will declare thy righteousness . . .—Accepting the Hebrew text, we must look on the word as used ironically, the righteousness which is no righteousness. Comp. Isaiah 64:6. A slight alteration, adopted by many critics, gives “my righteousness.”

57:3-12 The Lord here calls apostates and hypocrites to appear before him. When reproved for their sins, and threatened with judgments, they ridiculed the word of God. The Jews were guilty of idolatry before the captivity; but not after that affliction. Their zeal in the worship of false gods, may shame our indifference in the worship of the true God. The service of sin is disgraceful slavery; those who thus debase themselves to hell, will justly have their portion there. Men incline to a religion that inflames their unholy passions. They are led to do any evil, however great or vile, if they think it will atone for crimes, or purchase indulgence for some favourite lust. This explains idolatry, whether pagan, Jewish, or antichristian. But those who set up anything instead of God, for their hope and confidence, never will come to a right end. Those who forsake the only right way, wander in a thousand by-paths. The pleasures of sin soon tire, but never satisfy. Those who care not for the word of God and his providences, show they have no fear of God. Sin profits not; it ruins and destroys.I will declare thy righteousness - This is evidently spoken ironically. The sense is, 'you have devoted yourselves to idols, and you have sought the aid of foreigners. I will now announce to you the true nature of the deliverance which they can bring to you.' This is done in the following verse. 12. declare—I will expose publicly thy (hypocritical) righteousness. I will show openly how vain thy works, in having recourse to idols, or foreign alliances, shall prove (Isa 57:3). I will declare; I will no longer be silent and patient towards thee.

Thy righteousness and thy works; which may be put for the righteousness of thy works, by that known figure, of which See Poole "Isaiah 57:8", whereby he means their wickedness, which he calleth their

righteousness, either ironically, or because it was covered with a pretence of righteousness, and they alleged that this was a just and lawful thing, when they were distressed to seek for help from their neighbours or allies. The sense is, I will discover whether thy works be righteous, as thou pretendest they are; my punishments shall manifest the wickedness of thy actions.

They shall not profit thee; these actions shall do thee no good, but much hurt. I will declare thy righteousness, and thy works,.... For, notwithstanding all the idolatry, superstition, irreligion, and cruelty of the church of Rome, she makes large pretences to righteousness, by which she expects to be justified, and to merit eternal life, and even pretends to works of supererogation; but God will in due time make it clearly appear, both by the ministry of his faithful servants, which he has done in part already; and by his judgments that he will execute, that she has no righteousness; that what she calls so is no righteousness, but wickedness; and that her works she calls good works are bad ones, superstitious, idolatrous, and tyrannical:

for they shall not profit thee; secure from judgment here, or from wrath to come; nor justify before God, nor procure salvation and eternal life; but, on the contrary, shall bring deserved ruin and destruction, here and hereafter.

I will declare thy righteousness, {p} and thy works; for they shall not profit thee.

(p) That is, your naughtiness, idolatry and impiety which the wicked call God's service: thus he derides their obstinacy.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
12, 13. But Jehovah will no longer be silent; He will proceed to judgement (cf. again Psalm 50:21).

I will declare thy righteousness] must be spoken ironically: “I will expose thy (pretended) righteousness.” This might be said of the Samaritans, who claimed to be true worshippers of Jehovah just as ancient Israel had always done (Ezra 4:2).

and thy works, &c.] Render with R.V. and as for thy works, they shall not profit thee.Verse 12. - I will declare thy righteousness, etc. The Syriac Version has "my righteousness," which gives a much better sense, and is adopted by Bishop Lowth, Dr. Weir, and Mr. Cheyne. God will be silent no longer. He will" declare," or show forth, "his righteousness," by visiting Judah with some righteous punishment. Then it will be seen of what value are those things in which Judah has hitherto trusted. Her works - whether her "idols" are meant (Cheyne, Delitzsch), or her "deeds of iniquity" (Kay) - what will they profit? She will "cry" out under the rod of chastisement - cry to her false gods to save her. The participles which follow in the next v. are in apposition to אתּ, and confirm the predicates already applied to them. They soon give place, however, to independent sentences. "Ye that inflame yourselves by the terebinths, under every green tree, ye slayers of children in the valleys under the clefts of the rocks. By the smooth ones of the brook was thy portion; they, they were thy lot: thou also pouredst out libations to them, thou laidst meat-offerings upon them. Shall I be contented with this?" The people of the captivity are addressed, and the idolatry handed down to them from their ancestors depicted. The prophet looks back from the standpoint of the captivity, and takes his colours from the time in which he himself lived, possibly from the commencement of Manasseh's reign, when the heathenism that had for a long time been suppressed burst forth again in all its force, and the measure of iniquity became full. The part. niphal הנּחמים is formed like נחן in Jeremiah 22:23, if the latter signifies miserandum esse. The primary form is נחם, which is doubled like נגּר from גּרר in Job 20:28, and from which נחם is formed by the resolution of the latent reduplication. Stier derives it from; but even if formed from this, נחם would still have to be explained from נחם, after the form נצּת. 'Elı̄m signifies either gods or terebinths. But although it might certainly mean idols, according to Exodus 15:11; Daniel 11:36 (lxx, Targ., and Jerome), it is never used directly in this sense, and Isaiah always uses the word as the name of a tree (Isaiah 1:29; Isaiah 61:3). The terebinths are introduced here, exactly as in Isaiah 1:29, as an object of idolatrous lust: "who inflame themselves with the terebinths;" ב denotes the object with which the lust is excited and inf Lamed. The terebinth ('ēlâh) held the chief place in tree-worship (hence אלנם, lit., oak-trees, together with אלם, is the name of one of the Phoenician gods),

(Note: See Levy, Phnizische Studien, i.19.)

possibly as being the tree sacred to Astarte; just as the Samura Acacia among the heathen Arabs was the tree sacred to the goddess 'Uzza.

(Note: Krehl, Religioin der vorisl. Araber, p. 74ff.)

The following expression, "under every green tree," is simply a permutative of the words "with the terebinths" in the sense of "with the terebinths, yea, under every green tree" (a standing expression from Deuteronomy 12:2 downwards) - one tree being regarded as the abode and favourite of this deity, and another of that, and all alluring you to your carnal worship.

From the tree-worship with its orgies, which was so widely spread in antiquity generally, the prophet passes to the leading Canaanitish abomination, viz., human sacrifices, which had been adopted by the Israelites (along with שׁחטי we find the false reading שׂחטי, which is interpreted as signifying self-abuse). Judging from the locality named, "under the clefts of the rocks," the reference is not to the slaying of children sacrificed to Moloch in the valley of Hinnom, but to those offered to Baal upon his bâmōth or high places (Jeremiah 19:5; Ezekiel 16:20-21; Hosea 13:2; Psalm 106:37-38). As we learn from the chronique scandaleuse many things connected with the religious history of Israel, which cannot be found in its historical books, there is nothing to surprise us in the stone-worship condemned in Isaiah 57:6. The dagesh of חלּקי is in any case dagesh dirimens. The singular is wither חלק after the form חכמי (cf., עצבי, Isaiah 58:3), or חלק after the form ילדי. But חלק, smoothness, never occurs; and the explanation, "in the smoothnesses, i.e., the smooth places of the valley, is thy portion," has this also against it, that it does not do justice to the connection בּ חלק, in which the preposition is not used in a local sense, and that it leaves the emphatic הם הם quite unexplained. The latter does not point to places, but to objects of worship for which they had exchanged Jehovah, of whom the true Israelite could say ה חלקי, Psalm 119:57, etc., or בה לי חלק, Joshua 22:25, and גּורלי תּומיך אתּה (Thou art He that maintaineth my lot), Psalm 16:5. The prophet had such expressions as these in his mind, and possibly also the primary meaning of גורל equals κλῆρος, which may be gathered from the rare Arabic word 'garal, gravel, stones worn smooth by rolling, when he said, "In the smooth ones of the valley is thy portion; they, they are thy lot." In the Arabic also, achlaq (equilvaent to châlâq, smooth, which forms here a play upon the word with חלק, châlâq) is a favourite word for stones and rocks. חלּקי־נחל, however, according to 1 Samuel 17:40 (where the intensive form חלּוּק, like שׁכּוּל, is used), are stones which the stream in the valley has washed smooth with time, and rounded into a pleasing shape. The mode of the worship, the pouring out of libations,

(Note: Compare the remarks made in the Comm. on the Pentateuch, at Genesis 29:20, on the heathen worship of anointed stones, and the Baetulian worship.)

and the laying of meat-offerings upon them, confirm this view. In Carthage such stones were called abbadires ( equals אדיר, אבן); and among the ancient Arabs, the asnâm or idols consisted for the most part of rude blocks of stone of this description. Herodotus (3:8) speaks of seven stones which the Arabs anointed, calling upon the god Orotal. Suidas (s.v. Θεῦς ἄρης) states that the idol of Ares in Petra was a black square stone; and the black stone of the Ka'aba was, according to a very inconvenient tradition for the Mohammedans, an idol of Saturn (zuhal).

(Note: See Krehl, p. 72. In the East Indies also we find stone-worship not only among the Vindya tribes (Lassen, A.K. i. 376), but also among the Vaishnavas, who worship Vishnu in the form of a stone, viz., the sâlagrâm, a kind of stone from the river Gandak (see Wilson's Sanscrit Lexicon s.h.v. and Vishnu-Purn, p. 163). The fact of the great antiquity of stone and tree worship has been used in the most ridiculous manner by Dozy in his work on the Israelites at Mecca (1864). He draws the following conclusion from Deuteronomy 32:18 : "Thus the Israelites sprang from a divine block of stone; and this is, in reality, the true old version of the origin of the nation." From Isaiah 51:1-2, he infers that Abraham and Sara were not historical persons at all, but that the former was a block of stone, and the latter a hollow; and that the two together were a block of stone in a hollow, to which divine worship was paid. "This fact," he says, "viz. that Abraham and Sarah in the second Isaiah are not historical persons, but a block of stone and a hollow, is one of great worth, as enabling us to determine the time at which the stories of Abraham in Genesis were written, and to form a correct idea of the spirit of those stories.")

Stone-worship of this kind had been practised by the Israelites before the captivity, and their heathenish practices had been transmitted to the exiles in Babylon. The meaning of the question, Shall I comfort myself concerning such things? - i.e., Shall I be contented with them (אנּחם niphal, not hithpael)? - is, that it was impossible that descendants who so resembled their fathers should remain unpunished.

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