|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
40:18-26 Whatever we esteem or love, fear or hope in, more than God, that creature we make equal with God, though we do not make images or worship them. He that is so poor, that he has scarcely a sacrifice to offer, yet will not be without a god of his own. They spared no cost upon their idols; we grudge what is spent in the service of our God. To prove the greatness of God, the prophet appeals to all ages and nations. Those who are ignorant of this, are willingly ignorant. God has the command of all creatures, and of all created things. The prophet directs us to use our reason as well as our senses; to consider who created the hosts of heaven, and to pay our homage to Him. Not one fails to fulfil his will. And let us not forget, that He spake all the promises, and engaged to perform them.
Verse 20. - He that is so impoverished, etc.; rather, he that can only make a poor offering, i.e. that cannot spend much on religion. Chooseth a tree; rather, chooseth wood - goes to the carpenter, and selects a good sound block of wood, out of which his idol shall be made. After this he has to find a skilful workman, who will carve his image for him and set it up, so that it shall not shake. As Delitzsch observes, "The thing carries its own satire" in the mere plain description of it. Is such a thing comparable to God?
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
He that is so impoverished that he hath no oblation,.... Who is so poor that he cannot bring an offering to his God, yet he will have one; and though he cannot purchase a golden or silver one, or one that is gilt, and adorned with either; yet he will have a wooden one, as follows. Some render it, "he that is set over the oblation", which Aben Ezra mentions; that was over the treasury, where the oblations were; the Heathen priest, whose business it was from thence to procure idols to worship. Jerom takes the word to be the name of a tree that will not rot; and so the Targum renders it,
"he cuts down an ash:''
but the word is descriptive of an idol worshipper; and, according to Gussetius (x), signifies one that by custom and repeated acts has got skill in such things; and so Jarchi: hence
he chooseth a tree that will not rot: he goes to the forest, and chooses the best tree for his purpose he can find, even one that will not rot, as the cypress; and though he cannot get an idol made of metal, but is forced to have one of wood, yet he will get the best he can, that will last longest, an incorruptible deity, as he fancies:
he seeketh unto him a cunning workman, to prepare a graven image that shall not be moved: having decided upon his tree, and what sort of wood to make his god of, he looks out for an ingenious carpenter and carver, a good workman, to make it in the form of an image, and grave, or rather carve it, in the best manner he can, and then fasten it in a proper place, that it may not fall; a poor helpless deity, that cannot secure itself, and much less be of any service to its worshippers.
(x) Ebr Comment. p. 558.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
20. impoverished—literally, "sunk" in circumstances.
no oblation—he who cannot afford to overlay his idol with gold and silver (Isa 40:19).
tree … not rot—the cedar, cypress, oak, or ash (Isa 44:14).
graven—of wood; not a molten one of metal.
not be moved—that shall be durable.
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