Isaiah 65:11
But you are they that forsake the LORD, that forget my holy mountain, that prepare a table for that troop, and that furnish the drink offering to that number.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(11) That forget my holy mountain . . .—The words imply, like Isaiah 65:3-5, the abandonment of the worship of the Temple for a heathen ritual, but those that follow point, it will be seen, to Canaanite rather than Babylonian idolatry, and, so far, are in favour of the earlier date of the chapter. The same phrase occurs, however, as connected with the exiles in Psalm 137:5.

That prepare a table for that troop.—Hebrew, “for the Gad,” probably the planet Jupiter, worshipped as the “greater fortune,” the giver of good luck. The LXX. renders “for the demon” or “Genius.” The name of Baal-Gad (Joshua 11:17; Joshua 12:17) indicates the early prevalence of the worship in Syria. Phœnician inscriptions have been found with the names Gad-Ashtoreth and Gad-Moloch. The “table” points to the lectisternium (or “feast”), which was a prominent feature in Assyrian and other forms of polytheism.

Unto that number.- Here, again, we have in the proper name of a Syrian deity, probably of the planet Venus as the “lesser fortune.” Some scholars have found a name Manu in Babylonian inscriptions; and Manât, one of the three deities invoked by the Arabs in the time of Mahomet, is probably connected with Mëni the it (Cheyne). See Sayce, as in Note on Isaiah 65:4.

Isaiah 65:11. But, &c. — The prophet now returns to address his discourse to the sinners and apostates, whom he had reproved and threatened, (Isaiah 65:2-3,) and renews his charge against them for forsaking the Lord, separating themselves from his worship, and polluting themselves with idolatry, the most shameful and abominable in his sight. Ye are they that forsake the Lord — Let not any of you that are idolaters and covenant- breakers think that these promises belong to you: you are apostates from God’s fear and love, his worship and service, and have neither part nor lot in this matter; that forget my holy mountain — My temple and worship, a figure of the Christian Church. That prepare a table, &c. — As God had altars, which are sometimes called tables, (see Ezekiel 41:22,) so they prepared altars for their idols. By preparing a table here, however, seems rather to be meant the feasts they made upon their sacrifices, in imitation of what the true God had commanded his people, Deuteronomy 16:14-15; for that troop — A troop of idols, worshipped by the heathen; and furnish the drink-offerings unto their number — God had appointed drink- offerings, as a sort of homage to be paid to him; and these people paid this homage to their idols. The words gad and meni, the former of which is rendered troop here, and the latter number, are thought by many commentators to be the names of certain idols. The LXX. render the former word τω δαιμονιω, the demon, or devil, and the latter τη τυχη, fortune. Or, according to the copy St. Jerome seems to have used, they have translated gad, fortune, and meni, demon. Not to mention the opinion of other learned men, Dr. Waterland and Bishop Lowth suppose that gad means the sun, and meni, the moon. And it seems very probable that the moon, at least, is meant by one of these names, being generally worshipped throughout all the East, and termed the queen of heaven, and afterward by the Greeks under the name of Hecate. The idolatrous Jews erected altars to this fancied goddess on the tops of their houses, or near their doors, and in the corners of their streets, or in groves, and offered to her incense, cakes baked with oil and honey, and drink-offerings of wine, and other liquors. And it appears to have been usual among the Greeks from the most ancient times, to spread in the evening a table covered with dainties, in the highways, in honour to her. But it is of no consequence to us what these objects of idolatrous worship were; nor have we any cause to regret, that the inspired penmen have not deigned to inform us, but have “chosen rather that the memory of the knowledge of them should be utterly abolished. And God be praised, that they are so totally abolished that we are quite at a loss to know what, and what sort of things they were.” — Schmidius, quoted by Bishop Lowth.65:11-16 Here the different states of the godly and wicked, of the Jews who believed, and of those who persisted in unbelief, are set against one another. They prepared a table for that troop of deities which the heathen worship, and poured out drink-offerings to that countless number. Their worshippers spared no cost to honour them, which should shame the worshippers of the true God. See the malignity of sin; it is doing by choice what we know will displease God. In every age and nation, the Lord leaves those who persist in doing evil, and despise the call of the gospel. God's servants shall have the bread of life, and shall want nothing good for them. But those who forsake the Lord, shall be ashamed of vain confidence in their own righteousness, and the hopes they built thereon. Wordly people bless themselves in the abundance of this world's goods; but God's servants bless themselves in him. He is their strength and portion. They shall honour him as the God of truth. And it was promised that in him should all the families of the earth be blessed. They shall think themselves happy in having him for their God, who made them forget their troubles.But ye are they that forsake the Lord - Or rather, 'Ye who forsake Yahweh, and who forget my holy mountain, I will number to the sword.' The design of this verse is to remind them of their idolatries, and to assure them that they should not escape unpunished.

That forget my holy mountain - Mount Moriah, the sacred mountain on which the temple was built.

That prepare a table - It was usual to set food and drink before idols - with the belief that the gods consumed what was thus placed before them (see the notes at Isaiah 65:4). The meaning here is, that the Jews had united with the pagan in thus 'preparing a table;' that is, setting it before the idols referred to, and placing food on it for them.

For that troop - Margin, 'Gad.' Perhaps there is nowhere a more unhappy translation than this. It has been made evidently because our translators were not aware of the true meaning of the word, and did not seem to understand that it referred to idolatry. The translation seems to have been adopted with some reference to the paronomasia occurring in Genesis 49:19; 'Gad, a troop shall overcome him' - יגוּדנוּ גדוּד גד gâd gedûd yegûdenû - where the word Gad has some resemblance to the word rendered troop. The word Gad itself, however, never means troop, and evidently should not be so rendered here. Much has been written on this place, and the views of the learned concerning Gad and Meni are very various and uncertain. Those who are disposed to examine the subject at length, may consult Rosenmuller, Vitringa, and Gesenius on the passage; and also the following works.

On this passage the reader may consult the Dissertation el David Mills, De Gad et Meni, and also the Dissertation of Jo. Goth. Lakemacher, De Gad et Meni, both of which are to be found in Ugolin's Thesaurus, xxiii. pp. 671-718, where the subject is examined at length. Mills supposes that the names Gad and Meni are two names for the moon - sidus bonum, and μηνη mēnē. He remarks that 'on account of the power which the moon is supposed to exert over sublunary things, it was often called the goddess Fortune. It is certain that the Egyptians by Τύχη Tuchē (Fortune), which they numbered among the gods who were present at the birth of man, understood the moon.' Among the Arabians and Persians the moon is said to have been denominated Sidus felix et faustum - 'The happy and propitious star.' See Rosenmuller in loc. Lakemather supposes that two idols are meant - Hecate and Mann Vitringa and Rosenmuller suppose that the sun and moon are intended. Grotius supposes that the name Gad means the same as the goddess Fortune, which was worshipped by the Hebrews, Chaldeans, and Arabians; and that Meni means a divinity of that name, which Strabo says was worshipped in Armenia and Phrygia. Other opinions may be seen in Vitringa. That two idols are intended here, there can be no doubt. For,

1. The circumstance mentioned of their preparing a table for them, and pouring out a drink-offering, is expressive of idolatry.

2. The connection implies this, as the reproof in this chapter is to a considerable extent for their idolatry.

3. The universal opinion of expositors, though they have varied in regard to the idols intended, proves this.

Aben Ezra, Kimchi, and the rabbis generally suppose that by Gad the planet Jupiter was intended, which they say was worshipped throughout the East as the god of fortune, and this is now the prevalent opinion. The word גד gad, says Gesenius, means fortune, especially the god Fortune, which was worshipped in Babylon. He supposes that it was the same idol which was also called Baal or Bel (compare the notes at Isaiah 46:1), and that by this name the planet Jupiter - Stella Jovis - was intended, which was regarded throughout the East as the genius and giver of good fortune, hence called by the Arabians bona fortuna major - 'the greater good fortune.' The word 'Meni,' on the other hand, Gesenius supposes to denote the planet Venus, called in the East bolla fortuna minor - 'the lesser good fortune.' The Vulgate renders this, Fortunae - 'To Fortune.' The Septuagint, Τῷ δαιμονίῳ tō daimoniō - 'To a demon;' though, in the corresponding member, Meni is rendered by τῇ τύχῃ tē tuchē - 'To Fortune,' and it is possible that the order of the words has been inverted, and that they meant to render the word Gad by Fortune. The Chaldee renders it simply, לטעון leṭa‛evân - 'To idols.' It is agreed on all hands that some idol is here referred to that was extensively worshipped in the East; and the general impression is, that it was an idol representing Fortune. But whether it was the Sun, or the planet Jupiter, is not easy to determine.

That it was customary to place a table before the idol has been already remarked, and is expressly affirmed by Jerome. 'In all cities,' says he, 'and especially in Egypt, and in Alexandria, it was an ancient custom of idolatry, that on the last day of the year, and of the last month, they placed a table filled with food of various kinds, and a cup containing wine and honey mixed together - poculum mulso mistum - either as an expression of thankfulness for the fertility of the past year, or invoking fertility for the coming year.' Thus Herodotus (iii. 18) also describes the celebrated table of the sun in Ethiopia. 'What they call the table of the sun was this: A plain in the vicinity of the city was filled, to the height of four feet, with roasted flesh of all kinds of animals, which was carried there in the night under the inspection of magistrates; during the day, whoever pleased was at liberty to go and satisfy his hunger. The natives of the place affirm that the earth spontaneously produces all these viands; this, however, is what they call the table of the sun.'

And that furnish the drink-offering - In all ancient worship, it was customary to pour out a libation, or a drink-offering. This was done among idolaters, to complete the idea of a repast. As they placed food before the idols, so they also poured out wine before them, with the idea of propitiating them (see the notes at Isaiah 57:6).

To that number - Margin, 'Meni.' The phrase, 'to that number' evidently conveys no idea, and it would have been much better to have retained the name Meni, without any attempt to translate it. The rendering, 'to that number' was adopted because the word מני menı̂y is derived from מנה mânâh, to allot, to appoint, to number. Various opinions also have been entertained in regard to this. Rosenmuller and many others suppose that the moon is intended, and it has been supposed that the name Meni was given to that luminary because it numbered the months, or divided the time. Bynaeus and David Mills have endeavored to demonstrate that this was the moon, and that this was extensively worshipped in Eastern nations. Vitringa supposes that it was the same deity which was worshipped by the Syrians and Philistines by the name of Astarte, or Ashtaroth, as it is called in the Scripture; or as οὐρανίης ouraniēs, the queen of heaven; and if the name Gad be supposed to represent the sun, the name Meni will doubtless represent the moon.

The goddess Ashtaroth or Astarte, was a goddess of the Sidonians, and was much worshipped in Syria and Phenicia. Solomon introduced her worship in Jerusalem 1 Kings 11:33. Three hundred priests were constantly employed in her service at Hierapolis in Syria. She was called 'the queen of heaven;' and is usually mentioned in connection with Baal. Gesenius supposes that the planet Venus is intended, regarded as the source of good fortune, and worshipped extensively in connection with the planet Jupiter, especially in the regions of Babylonia. It seems to be agreed that the word refers to the worship of either the moon or the planet Venus, regarded as the goddess of good fortune. It is not very material which is intended, nor is it easy to determine. The works referred to above may be consulted for a more full examination of the subject than is consistent with the design of these notes. The leading idea of the prophet is, that they were deeply sunken and debased in thus forsaking Yahweh, and endeavoring to propitiate the favor of idol-gods.

11. holy mountain—Moriah, on which the temple was.

troop—rather "Gad," the Babylonian god of fortune, the planet Jupiter, answering to Baal or Bel; the Arabs called it "the Greater Good Fortune"; and the planet Venus answering to Meni, "the Lesser Good Fortune" [Gesenius, Kimchi, &c.]. Tables were laid out for their idols with all kinds of viands, and a cup containing a mixture of wine and honey, in Egypt especially, on the last day of the year [Jerome].

drink offering—rather, "mixed drink."

number—rather, "Meni"; as goddess of fortune she was thought to number the fates of men. Vitringa understands Gad to be the sun; Meni the moon, or Ashtaroth or Astarte (1Ki 11:33).

Do not you that are idolaters think that these promises belong to you,

ye are they that forsake the Lord, that is, the way of the Lord; it is a phrase opposed to a walking with God. Our walking with God is in the way of his statutes, forsaking of him signifieth a declining or turning aside from that way.

To forget God’s holy mountain, signifies not to regard the true worship of God, or not to mind it. God calleth Zion his holy mountain, Joel 3:17, and Jerusalem is called God’s holy mountain. The hill of Zion is called the mountain of God’s holiness, Psalm 48:1; as the temple is called the beauty of holiness, Psalm 29:2 96:9: their not regarding the worship of God there, but worshipping God or idols in gardens, amongst the graves and monuments, is what is here called a forgetting his holy mountain. Isaiah prophesied in the time of Ahaz, Isaiah 1:1; of whom it is said, 2 Chronicles 28:23-25, that he sacrificed to the gods of Damascus, that he cut in pieces the vessels of the Lord’s house, shut the doors of the house of the Lord, and made him altars in every corner of Jerusalem; and in every several city of Judah he made high places to burn incense to other gods. See also more of his practices 2 Chronicles 28:2-4, and 2 Kings 16:3,10-12. And there were certainly many of his people that joined with him in his worship, who are all here said to forget God’s holy mountain, and to prepare a table for that troop; the idols of the ten tribes, 2 Kings 16:3, and of the Assyrians, 2 Chronicles 28:23, which were a troop, whereas the God of Israel was one God. And as God had altars, which are sometimes called a table, as in Ezekiel 41:22; so they prepared altars for the idols, as may be read in the aforementioned story of Ahaz; though by preparing a table here seems rather to be meant the feasts they made upon their sacrifices in their festival days, which was in imitation of what the true God had commanded his people, Deu 16:14,15. Idolaters also made feasts in honour to their idols, as appears from Judges 9:27 Ezekiel 18:6,11 Am 2:8 1 Corinthians 8:10. Nor did they only feast in honour to the idols, but they

furnished drink-offerings unto their number. God had appointed drink-offerings for his honour, and as a piece of homage to him, Exodus 29:40,41 Le 23:18,37; these people had paid this homage to idols. See Jeremiah 7:18 19:13 32:29. What we translate number in the Hebrew is la Meni, to Meni. Avenarius translates it Mercury, an idol whom merchants worshipped for good success in trading; others understand it of the host of heaven; others of the multitude of their idols; our translation reads it their number. The word coming from a Hebrew root, which signifieth to number, is no where else found in Scripture, which makes it hard too positively to assert the true meaning of it. But ye are they that forsake the Lord,.... Here the Lord returns to the body of the people again, the unbelievers and rejecters of the Messiah, who turned away from him, would not hear his doctrine, nor submit to his ordinances; they forsook the worship of the Lord, as the Targum; yea, some that professed to be his disciples, and followed him for a while, left him, and walked no more with him, John 6:60,

that forget my holy mountain; Mount Zion, the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, the Gospel church, to which the seed or heirs, the chosen of God, and the servants of the Lord among the Jews, came, and enjoyed the immunities of it, and worshipped the Lord there; but these men forgot it, and either never came, or, if any of them did, they soon forsook the assembling of themselves together, as the manner of some was, Hebrews 12:22,

that prepare a table for that troop; or, "for a troop"; a troop of idols worshipped; or, "for Gad", which some take to be the name of a star; and R. Moses the priest says it is the name of the star Jupiter, in the Arabic language, a lucky star. The Vulgate Latin version renders it, "for fortune": and the word is used by the Jewish writers (y) for the goddess Fortune, or good luck, and who make mention of "the bed of fortune" (z); a bed, which, they say, is prepared for a star, and no man may sleep on it; and a table also, which they might not use but for that star, the same with the table here; for they used beds or couches at their tables, or at eating. And Jerom on the place says, it was an old custom in Egypt, particularly in Alexandria and other cities, on the last day of the year, to prepares table, with all kind of provisions for eating and drinking, by way of thankfulness for the fertility of the last year, and in order to obtain it in the year following; and this the Israelites did. "Table" seems to be put for an altar, on which sacrifice was offered to idols. Mention is made by Herodotus (a) of the table of the sun among the Ethiopians.

And that furnish the drink offering unto that number: or, "to a number"; to a number of deities, which were as numerous as their cities, Jeremiah 2:28 and according to the number of them they provided drink offerings, or a mixture of wine and water; and also according to the number of the priests that sacrificed they filled cups of wine, as Jarchi observes; or according to the number of letters in a person's name they wished well to, as many cups they drank, to which Sanctius thinks the allusion is; or to "Meni", which R. Moses takes to be the name of a star; some interpret it of a number of stars or planets, the seven planets particularly; and others of the planet Mercury. Some think it is the name of an idol, either, of an idol of the Arabians, as Pocock (b); or of the Armenians, as others, Armenia being called Minni, Jeremiah 51:27. The Targum interprets both clauses of idol deities; and so, in the gloss on the Talmud (c), they are both said to be the names of idols. Bynaeus (d) seems to me to have advanced the best notion of Gad and Meni, translated "that troop", and "that number", which is, that the one signifies the sun, and the other the moon, which he supports with many reasons; so Vitringa; and yet there is a difficulty in the words, how they are to be applied to the Jews in the times of Christ and the apostles, when they were not guilty of such idolatrous practices; unless this is to be understood of the sins of their forefathers visited on them, as in Isaiah 65:3, though this is said of the same persons that forsook the Lord, and forgot his mountain; wherefore I am inclined to think that some thing like this is the sense of the words; that the evil charged upon this people, and of which they were guilty, was, that they regarded the stars, and attributed their case and circumstances to the influences of them, or to fate and fortune, rather than to the providence of God; or trusted in their troops and numbers, and so defied and despised the Roman army that besieged them, which was their ruin.

(y) Bereshit Rabba, sect. 65. fol. 58. 2. T. Bab. Cholin, fol. 40. 1.((z) T. Bab. Nedarim, fol. 56. 1. & Gloss. in ib, & Sanhedrin, fol. 20, 1. Gloss. in ib. (a) Thalia, sive I. 3. c. 18. (b) Specimen Hist. Arab, p. 92, 93. (c) T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 92. 1. & Gloss. in ib. T. Bab. Sabbat, fol. 67. 2.((d) De Caleeis Hebraeor. I. 1. c. 9. sect. 7, &c.

But ye are they that forsake the LORD, that forget my holy mountain, that prepare a table for that {o} troop, and that furnish the drink offering to that number.

(o) By the multitude and number he means their innumerable idols of whom they thought they could never have enough.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
11, 12. A renewed threat against the apostates, with a further allusion to their idolatry.

But ye are they that forsake &c.] Render: But as for you that forsake Jehovah (ch. Isaiah 1:4) &c. The whole verse is a descriptive anticipation of the object of the verb “destine” in Isaiah 65:12 (see R.V.).

that forget my holy mountain] The phrase may denote either simple indifference to the welfare of Zion (cf. Psalm 137:5), or deliberate abstention from the Temple ritual. The second view implies residence in Palestine at a time when the Temple services were in full operation; hence the other is necessarily adopted by all who hold the prophecy to have been written in Babylon. It is perhaps impossible to decide which is right, although those who recognise a Palestinian colouring throughout the chapter will naturally prefer the second as the more forcible interpretation, and find in it some confirmation of their theory.

that prepare a table &c.] Better: that spread a table for Gad, and fill up mixed wine (see ch. Isaiah 5:22) to Meni. The rites described are the lectisternia, well known throughout the ancient world, in which a table was spread, furnished with meats and drinks as a meal for the gods (Liv. Isaiah 5:13; Herodot. 1:183; Ep. of Jeremiah , vv. 27 f.; Bel and the Dragon, v. 11; cf. Jeremiah 7:18; Jeremiah 19:13; Jeremiah 44:17, 1 Corinthians 10:21). A parallel in the O.T. religion is the Shewbread in the Temple (or Tabernacle), Exodus 25:30 &c. Gesenius remarks that the description of the complete lectisternium extends over both members of the parallelism, and infers that the two deities were worshipped together. This is probable, being in accordance with ancient custom (Liv. Isaiah 5:13), but the laws of Hebrew parallelism hardly permit us to say that this must be the meaning.

That Gad and Meni are divine proper names is universally acknowledged, although neither has quite lost its appellative signification and both are here pointed with the article. Gad means “good fortune”; he is personified luck. [The rendering “troop” in A.V. is a mistake. Cf. Genesis 30:11, where “A troop cometh” should be “With fortune!” as R.V. marg. In Genesis 49:19, where a different etymology is supposed, the word for “troop” is not gad but gĕdûd.] The existence of a Syrian god of this name (or the Greek equivalent Τύχη) is well established, and his worship is proved to have extended over a very wide area (see Baethgen, Beiträge zur Sem. Rel.-Gesch. pp. 76–80). It appears that the evidence is most copious amongst the Greek inscriptions of the Hauran (note the proximity to the Hebrew tribe of Gad) where there must have been numerous temples in his honour. But the name occurs also in Phœnician and Palmyrene inscriptions, and on coins of several cities, including Ashkelon, while a temple to the “Fortune” of Gaza is known to have existed in that city (Baethgen, p. 66). The place-names Baal-Gad (at the foot of Hermon, Joshua 11:17; Joshua 12:7; Joshua 13:5) and Migdal-Gad (in Judah, Joshua 15:37) seem to shew that his worship was practised in Palestine proper. There are besides frequent references in Syriac and later Jewish literature; a Syriac writer of the 5th century mentions that lectisternia were still prepared for Gad in his time. The Jewish interpreters identified Gad with the planet Jupiter, called by the Arabs “the greater Luck,” but this association may be more recent than our passage (Baethgen). Meni (Měnî) has left fewer traces. He is possibly identical with the goddess Manât, one of the three chief divinities of the pre-Mohammedan Arabs (Koran, Sura 53:19–23). A personal name ‘Abdmenî (= Servant of Meni?) has been found on coins of the Achæmenidæ, but the accuracy of this is doubted by some (Delitzsch, Schrader in Riehm’s Handwörterbuch). The meaning of the word is “Destiny,” and the god has been identified with the planet Venus, “the lesser Luck” of the Arabs. It is quite as likely, however, that Meni is the antithesis of Gad,—the god of evil destiny. [Observe that in the LXX. Gad is Δαιμόνιον and Meni Τύχη.] Nothing has yet been discovered to connect these deities with the Babylonian pantheon. Some think they may be Hebrew equivalents of Babylonian names (Dillmann), others that their worship was transported from Syria to Babylon (Baethgen). These are speculations, but the actual evidence points to Western Asia as the natural environment of this cult.Verses 11-16. - A MIXTURE OF THREATS WITH PROMISES. The prophet returns, in the main, to his former attitude, and resumes his denunciations (vers. 11, 12); but, with ver. 13, he begins to intermingle promises of favour to God's servants with threats against the rebellious, and finally (in ver. 16) turns wholly towards the side of grace and favour, announcing the coming of a time when "the former troubles" will be altogether "forgotten," and the kingdom of truth and right will be established. Verse 11. - But ye are they that forsake the Lord; rather, but as for you who forsake the Lord. And forget my holy mountain; i.e. either, literally, forget Zion. being absent from it so long (Psalm 137:5), or, possibly, neglect Zion, though you might worship there if you pleased. That prepare a table for that troop; rather, that prepare a table for Gad. There is ground for believing that "Gad" was a Phoenician deity, perhaps "the god of good fortune" (Cheyne), though this is not clearly ascertained; sometimes worshipped as an aspect of Baal, whence the name, Baal-Gad (Joshua 11:17; Joshua 12:7); sometimes connected with other deities, as Moloch and Ashtoreth. The practice of "preparing tables" for the heathen gods was a common one, and appears in Herod., 1:181; in Baruch 6:30; in Bel and the Dragon, ver. 11; and in the Roman lectisternia. The tables prepared for the dead in Egyptian tombs were not very different, and implied a qualified worship of ancestors (Rawlinson, 'History of Ancient Egypt,' vol. 1. pp. 423, 424; vol. 2 p. 39). And that furnish the drink offering unto that number; rather, and that fill up mixed drink for M'ni. M'ni appears, like Gad, to have been a Syrian deity, the name Ebed-M'ni, "servant of M'ni," occurring on Aramaeo-Persian coins of the Achaemenian period (Rodiger, in 'Addenda to Gesenius' Thesaurus,' p. 97). The word may be suspected to be cognate to the Arabic "Manat," a god recognized in the Koran as a mediator with Allah; but can scarcely have any connection with the Aryan names for the moon deity, Μήν Μήνη, Mena, and the like. Its root is probably the Semitic manah, "to number" or" apportion," the word designating a deity who" apportions" men's fortunes to them (τύχη, LXX.). But through this obstinate and unyielding rejection of His love they have excited wrath, which, though long and patiently suppressed, now bursts forth with irresistible violence. "The people that continually provoketh me by defying me to my face, sacrificing in the gardens, and burning incense upon the tiles; who sit in the graves, and spend the night in closed places; to eat the flesh of swine, and broken pieces of abominations is in their dishes; who say, Stop! come not too near me; for I am holy to thee: they are a smoke in my nose, a fire blazing continually." אלּה (these) in Isaiah 65:5 is retrospective, summing up the subject as described in Isaiah 65:3-5, and what follows in Isaiah 65:5 contains the predicate. The heathenish practices of the exiles are here depicted, and in Isaiah 65:7 they are expressly distinguished from those of their fathers. Hence there is something so peculiar in the description, that we look in vain for parallels among those connected with the idolatry of the Israelites before the time of the captivity. There is only one point of resemblance, viz., the allusion to gardens as places of worship, which only occurs in the book of Isaiah, and in which our passage, together with Isaiah 57:5 and Isaiah 66:17, strikingly coincides with Isaiah 1:29. "Upon my face" (‛al-pânai) is equivalent to "freely and openly, without being ashamed of me, or fearing me;" cf., Job 1:11; Job 6:28; Job 21:31. "Burning incense upon the bricks" carries us to Babylonia, the true home of the cocti lateres (laterculi). The thorah only mentions lebhēnı̄m in connection with Babylonian and Egyptian buildings. The only altars that it allows are altars of earth thrown up, or of unhewn stones and wooden beams with a brazen covering. "They who sit in the graves," according to Vitringa, are they who sacrifice to the dead. He refers to the Greek and Roman inferiae and februationes, or expiations for the dead, as probably originating in the East. Sacrifices for the dead were offered, in fact, not only in India and Persia, but also in Hither Asia among the Ssabians, and therefore probably in ancient Mesopotamia and Babylonia. But were they offered in the graves themselves, as we must assume from בּקּברים (not על־קברים)? Nothing at all is known of this, and Bttcher (de inferis, 234) is correct in rendering it "among (inter) the graves," and supposing the object to be to hold intercourse there with the dead and with demons. The next point, viz., passing the night in closed places (i.e., places not accessible to every one: netsūrı̄m, custodita equals clausa, like ne‛ı̄mı̄m, amaena), may refer to the mysteries celebrated in natural caves and artificial crypts (on the mysteries of the Ssabians, see Chwolsohn, Die Ssabier u. der Ssabismus, ii. 332ff.). But the lxx and Syriac render it ἐν τοῖς σπηλαίοις κοιμῶνται δι ̓ἐνύπνια, evidently understanding it to refer to the so-called incubare, ἐγκοιμᾶσθαι; and so Jerome explains it. "In the temples of idols," he says, "where they were accustomed to lie upon the skins of the victims stretched upon the ground, to gather future events from their dreams." The expression ubhannetsūrı̄m points not so much to open temples, as to inaccessible caves or subterraneous places. G. Rawlinson (Monarchies, ii. 269) mentions the discovery of "clay idols in holes below the pavement of palaces." From the next charge, "who eat there the flesh of the swine," we may infer that the Babylonians offered swine in sacrifice, if not as a common thing, yet like the Egyptians and other heathen, and ate their flesh ("the flesh taken from the sacrifice," 2 Macc. 6:21); whereas among the later Ssabians (Harranians) the swine was not regarded as either edible or fit for sacrifice.

On the synecdochical character of the sentence כּליהם פּגּלים וּפרק, see at Isaiah 5:12, cf., Jeremiah 24:2. Knobel's explanation, "pieces" (but it is not וּפרקי) "of abominations are their vessels, i.e., those of their ἱεροσκοπία," is a needless innovation. פּגּוּל signifies a stench, putrefaction (Ezekiel 4:14, besar piggūl), then in a concrete sense anything corrupt or inedible, a thing to be abhorred according to the laws of food or the law generally (syn. פּסּוּל, פּצוּל); and when connected with פרק (chethib), which bears the same relation to מרק as crumbs or pieces (from פּרק, to crumble) to broth (from מתק, to rub off or scald off), it means a decoction, or broth made either of such kinds of flesh or such parts of the body as were forbidden by the law. The context also points to such heathen sacrifices and sacrificial meals as were altogether at variance with the Mosaic law. For the five following words proceed from the mouths of persons who fancy that they have derived a high degree of sanctity either from the mysteries, or from their participation in rites of peculiar sacredness, so that to every one who abstains from such rites, or does not enter so deeply into them as they do themselves, they call out their "odi profanum vulgus et arceo." אליך קרב, keep near to thyself, i.e., stay where you are, like the Arabic idhab ileika, go away to thyself, for take thyself off. על־תּגּשׁ־בּי (according to some MSS with mercha tifchah), do not push against me (equivalent to גּשׁ־הלאה or גּשׁה־לך, get away, make room; Genesis 19:9; Isaiah 49:20), for qedashtikhâ, I am holy to thee, i.e., unapproachable. The verbal suffix is used for the dative, as in Isaiah 44:21 (Ges. 121, 4), for it never occurred to any of the Jewish expositors (all of whom give sanctus prae te as a gloss) that the kal qâdash was used in a transitive sense, like châzaq in Jeremiah 20:7, as Luther, Calvin, and even Hitzig suppose. Nor is the exclamation the well-meant warning against the communication of a burdensome qedusshâh, which had to be removed by washing before a man could proceed to the duties of every-day life (such, for example, as the qedusshâh of the man who had touched the flesh of a sin-offering, or bee sprinkled with the blood of a sin-offering; Leviticus 6:20, cf., Ezekiel 44:19; Ezekiel 46:20). It is rather a proud demand to respect the sacro-sanctus, and not to draw down the chastisement of the gods by the want of reverential awe. After this elaborate picture, the men who are so degenerate receive their fitting predicate. They are fuel for the wrath of God, which manifests itself, as it were, in smoking breath. This does not now need for the first time to seize upon them; but they are already in the midst of the fire of wrath, and are burning there in inextinguishable flame.

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