|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
58:3-12 A fast is a day to afflict the soul; if it does not express true sorrow for sin, and does not promote the putting away of sin, it is not a fast. These professors had shown sorrow on stated or occasioned fasts. But they indulged pride, covetousness, and malignant passions. To be liberal and merciful is more acceptable to God than mere fasting, which, without them, is vain and hypocritical. Many who seem humble in God's house, are hard at home, and harass their families. But no man's faith justifies, which does not work by love. Yet persons, families, neighbourhoods, churches, or nations, show repentance and sorrow for sin, by keeping a fast sincerely, and, from right motives, repenting, and doing good works. The heavy yoke of sin and oppression must be removed. As sin and sorrow dry the bones and weaken the strongest human constitution; so the duties of kindness and charity strengthen and refresh both body and mind. Those who do justly and love mercy, shall have the comfort, even in this world. Good works will bring the blessing of God, provided they are done from love to God and man, and wrought in the soul by the Holy Spirit.
Verse 6. - Is not this the fast that I have chosen? This passage, as Dr. Kay observes, "stands like a homily for the Day of Atonement." Such homilies are found in the uninspired Jewish writings ('Taanith,' 2:1; 'Nedarim babli,' p. 10, a, etc.), and are conceived very much in the same spirit. The Jews call the true fast "the fasting of the heart." To loose the bands of wickedness. To set free those whom wicked persons have wrongfully imprisoned or entangled. To undo the heavy burdens; literally, to untie the thongs of the yoke. The liberation of a man's slaves, or of Jews captive among the heathen (Nehemiah 5:8), is probably intended. To let the oppressed (literally, the bruised) go free. Remission of debts and restoration of pledges (Nehemiah 10:31; Ezekiel 18:7) are, perhaps, the acts pointed at.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Is not this the fast that I have chosen?.... Which God has appointed, he approves of, and is well pleasing in his sight; these are works and services more agreeable to him, which follow, without which the rest will be rejected:
to loose the bands of wickedness; which some understand of combinations in courts of judicature to oppress and distress the poor; others of bonds and contracts unjustly made, or rigorously demanded and insisted on, when they cannot be answered; rather of those things with which the consciences of men are bound in religious matters; impositions upon conscience; binding to the use of stinted forms, and to habits in divine worship, which the word of God has not made necessary:
to undo the heavy burdens. The Septuagint render it, "dissolve the obligations of violent contracts"; such as are obtained by violence; so the Arabic version; or by fraud, as the Syriac version, which translates it, bonds of fraud. The Targum is,
"loose the bonds of writings of a depraved judgment;''
all referring it to unjust bonds and contracts in a civil sense: but rather it regards the loosing or freeing men from all obligation to all human prescriptions and precepts; whatever is after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ; so the traditions of the Scribes and Pharisees are called "heavy burdens, grievous to be borne", Matthew 23:4 these should not be laid and bound on men's shoulders, but should be done and taken off of them, as well as all penal laws with which they have been enforced:
and to let the oppressed go free; such as have been broken by oppression, not only in their spirits, but in their purses, by mulcts and fines, and confiscation of goods; and who have been cast into prisons, and detained a long time in filthy dungeons; and where many have perished for the sake of religion, even in Protestant countries:
and that ye break every yoke; of church power and tyranny; everything that is not enjoined and authorized by the word of God; every yoke but the yoke of Christ; all human precepts, and obedience to them; all but the commands of Christ, and obedience to them; no other yoke should be put upon the neck of his disciples but his own.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
6. loose … bands of wickedness—that is, to dissolve every tie wherewith one has unjustly bound his fellow men (Le 25:49, &c.). Servitude, a fraudulent contract, &c.
undo … heavy burdens—Hebrew, "loose the bands of the yoke."
oppressed—literally, "the broken." The expression, "to let go free," implies that those "broken" with the yoke of slavery, are meant (Ne 5:10-12; Jer 34:9-11, 14, 16). Jerome interprets it, broken with poverty; bankrupt.
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