|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
65:1-7 The Gentiles came to seek God, and find him, because they were first sought and found of him. Often he meets some thoughtless trifler or profligate opposer, and says to him, Behold me; and a speedy change takes place. All the gospel day, Christ waited to be gracious. The Jews were bidden, but would not come. It is not without cause they are rejected of God. They would do what most pleased them. They grieved, they vexed the Holy Spirit. They forsook God's temple, and sacrificed in groves. They cared not for the distinction between clean and unclean meats, before it was taken away by the gospel. Perhaps this is put for all forbidden pleasures, and all that is thought to be gotten by sin, that abominable thing which the Lord hates. Christ denounced many woes against the pride and hypocrisy of the Jews. The proof against them is plain. And let us watch against pride and self-preference, remembering that every sin, and the most secret thoughts of man's heart, are known and will be judged by God.
Verse 3. - That sacrificeth in gardens (comp. Isaiah 1:29; Isaiah 57:5; Isaiah 66:17). The groves and "gardens" of Daphne, near Antioch. became famous in later times as the scene of idolatrous practices intimately bound up with the grossest and most shameless sensualism. We have few details of the ancient Syrian rites; but there is reason to believe that, wherever Astarte, the Dea Syra, was worshipped, whether at Daphne, or at Hierapolis, or at Balbek, or at Aphek, or at Damascus, or in Palestine, one and the same character of cult prevailed. The nature-goddess was viewed as best worshipped by rites into which sensualism entered as an essential element. Profligacy that cannot be described polluted the consecrated precincts, which were rendered attractive by all that was beautiful and delightful, whether in art or nature-by groves, gardens, statues, fountains, shrines, temples, music, processions, shows - and which were in consequence frequented both day and night by a multitude of votaries. And burneth incense upon altars of brick; literally, upon the bricks. It is not clear that "altars" are intended. More probably the incense was burnt upon the tiled or bricked roofs of houses, where the Jews of Jeremiah's time "burned incense unto all the host of heaven" (Jeremiah 19:13; Jeremiah 32:29; Zephaniah 1:5). Brick altars are nowhere mentioned. The Assyrians and Babylonians made their altars of either stone or metal ('Ancient Monarchies,' vol. 2. pp. 36, 37; Herod., 1. 183). The Hebrews in early times had altars of earth (Exodus 20:24). The "altar of incense" in the tabernacle (Exodus 30:1-3) was of wood plated with gold; that of burnt offering, of wood plated with bronze (Exodus 27:1, 2). Solomon's altars were similar. Elijah on one occasion made an altar of twelve rough stones (1 Kings 18:31). The Assyrians used polished stone, as did the Greeks and Romans.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
A people that provoketh me to anger continually to my face,.... They committed their sins openly, without any fear of the divine Being, and in defiance of him, not at all awed by his omniscience and omnipresence; they committed them in the open streets, and even in the temple, the place of the divine residence; and these they did constantly, which provoked him to anger and wrath against them; particularly the following sins:
that sacrificeth in gardens; to idols, as the Targum, placed there, as they were under every green tree; or in groves, where idols were worshipped. Fortunatus Scacchus (h) thinks this refers to their having their sepulchres in their gardens, where they consulted the dead; which is favoured by a clause in the next verse:
and burneth incense on altars of brick: or, "upon bricks" (i). Kimchi says, when they made bricks, they put upon them incense for idols; or, "upon tiles"; upon the roofs of their houses, which were covered with tiles; see Jeremiah 19:13 when incense should only have been burnt upon the golden altar erected for that purpose, Exodus 30:1, not that these idolatrous actions were committed by the Jews in the times of Christ and his apostles, the times preceding their last destruction; for, after their return front the Babylonish captivity, they were not guilty of idolatry; but these were the sins of their fathers, which God would recompense into their bosoms, according to Isaiah 65:7 they now filling up the measure of their iniquities, Matthew 23:32.
(h) Sacr. Eleaochr. Myrothec. I. 2. c. 55. col. 580. (i) "super lateres", V. L. Pagninus, Montanus, Vitringa.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
3. continually—answering to "all the day" (Isa 65:2). God was continually inviting them, and they continually offending Him (De 32:21).
to my face—They made no attempt to hide their sin (Isa 3:9). Compare "before Me" (Ex 20:3).
in gardens—(See on Isa 1:29; Isa 66:17; Le 17:5).
altars of brick—Hebrew, "bricks." God had commanded His altars to be of unhewn stone (Ex 20:25). This was in order to separate them, even in external respects, from idolaters; also, as all chiselling was forbidden, they could not inscribe superstitious symbols on them as the heathen did. Bricks were more easily so inscribed than stone; hence their use for the cuneiform inscriptions at Babylon, and also for idolatrous altars. Some, not so well, have supposed that the "bricks" here mean the flat brick-paved roofs of houses on which they sacrificed to the sun, &c. (2Ki 23:12; Jer 19:13).
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