|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
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?
Verse 13. - The carpenter, etc. When the smith has done his part in the formation of tools, the carpenter is called into action. His proceedings are traced "extragressively." (Delitzsch). First, he is regarded as in possession of his block of wood. On this he proceeds to stretch out his rule, to obtain the idol's length and breadth. Then he marks out on the block a rough outline with red chalk (sered). After this he pares away the superfluous wood with planes, or chisels, and marks out the limbs more accurately with the compass, planing and measuring until he has brought the rough block into the figure of a man, and impressed on it something of the beauty of a man, so that it may seem worthy of remaining in the place where it is set up, whether temple or private house. But there is something necessarily anterior to all this. To obtain his block, the carpenter must first cut down a tree, or have one cut down for him (ver. 14); to obtain a tree, he (or some one for him) must have planted it; for the tree to have grown to a fitting size, the rain must have watered it. So the very existence of these wooden idols depends ultimately on whether it has rained or not - i.e., whether God has given his rain or withheld it.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
The carpenter stretcheth out his rule,.... Or, the worker of trees (e); that works in wood, or makes images of wood; having cut down a tree, he stretches out his rule or line upon it, and takes the dimensions of it, and measures the length and the breadth of it, as much as is for his purpose to make a god of: and then
he maketh it out with a line; coloured with ochre, or chalk, which leaves a mark, by which he knows where to cut it, and fashion it to his mind:
and he fitteth it with planes; first with the rougher planes, which take off the knotty and more rugged parts; and then with a smoother plane, makes it even, and polishes it:
and he marketh it out with a compass; where its head and body, and legs and arms, and other parts must be:
and maketh it after the figure of a man; with all the parts and proportion of a man:
according to the beauty of a man; with the face and countenance of a man; with all the lineaments and just symmetry of a man; in the most comely and beautiful manner he is capable of, that it may be the more striking and pleasing to the worshippers of it. Jarchi's note is,
"this is a woman, who is the glory of her husband;''
and so the Targum,
"according to the praise of a woman;''
there being female deities, as Juno, Venus, Diana, and others:
that it may remain in the house (f); either in the temple built for it, whither its rotaries repair to the worship of it; or in the dwelling house, being one of the Lares or Penates, household gods: it may be, this is said by way of scorn and contempt; this god being made, is set up in the house, from whence it cannot stir nor move, to the help of any of its worshippers.
(e) "faber lignorum", Montanus; "artifex lignarius", V. L. Pagninus; "faber lignarius", Vitringa. (f) The note of Ben Melech is, "as it is the glory of a woman to abide in the house, and not go out of doors, so a graven image abides in the house.''
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
13. After the smith's work in preparing the instruments comes the carpenter's work in forming the idol.
rule—rather, "line" [Barnes].
with a line—rather, a "pencil," [Horsley]. Literally, "red ochre," which he uses to mark on the wood the outline of the figure [Lowth]. Or best, the stylus or graver, with which the incision of the outline is made [Gesenius].
planes—rather, "chisels" or "carving tools," for a plane would not answer for carving.
compass—from a Hebrew root, "to make a circle"; by it, symmetry of form is secured.
according to … beauty of a man—irony. The highest idea the heathen could form of a god was one of a form like their own. Jerome says, "The more handsome the statue the more august the god was thought." The incarnation of the Son of God condescends to this anthropomorphic feeling so natural to man, but in such a way as to raise man's thoughts up to the infinite God who "is a spirit."
that it may remain in … house—the only thing it was good for; it could not hear nor save (compare Wisdom 13:15).
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