So the carpenter encouraged the goldsmith, and he that smoothes with the hammer him that smote the anvil, saying, It is ready for the soldering: and he fastened it with nails, that it should not be moved.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)So the carpenter.—The process is described even more vividly than in Isaiah 40:19. For “the carpenter,” read the caster, the idol being a metal one. The image of lead or copper is then covered with gold plates, which are laid on the anvil, and are smoothed with the hammer; the soldering is approved by the artist, and then (supreme touch of irony) the guardian deity is fixed with nails, that it may not totter and fall.Isaiah 40:19).
Encouraged the goldsmith - Margin, 'The founder' (see the note at Isaiah 40:19). The word properly means one who melts or smelts metals of any kind; and may be applied either to one who works in gold, silver, or brass. The image here is that of haste, anxiety, solicitude. One workman in the manufacture of idols encouraged another, in order that the idols might be finished as soon as possible, and that thus the favor of the gods might be propitiated, and the impending danger averted.
He that smootheth with the hammer - That is, he encourages or strengthens him that smites on the anvil. The idol was commonly cast or founded, and of course was in a rough state. This required to be smoothed, or polished, and this was in part done doubtless by a small hammer.
Him that smote the anvil - The workman whose office it was to work on the anvil - forming parts of the idol, or perhaps chain.
It is ready for the sodering - The parts are ready to be welded, or soldered together. All this is descriptive of haste and anxiety to have the work done; and the object of the prophet is evidently to ridicule their vain solicitude to defend themselves against the plans and purposes of God by efforts of this kind.
And he fastened it with nails - He fixed it to its place in the temple, or in the dwelling; and thus showed a purpose that the worship of the idol should be permanent, and fixed. Hooks, or nails, were necessary to keep it in its place, and secure it from falling down. When the idol was thus fixed, they supposed that their kingdoms were safe. They judged that the gods would interpose to protect and defend them from their foes. This is a beautiful descrip tion of the anxiety, and pains, and consternation of sinners when calamity is coming upon them, and of the nature of their reliances. What could these dumb idols - these masses of brass, or silver, or stone, do to protect them? And in like manner what can all the refuges of sinners do when God comes to judge them, and when the calamities connected with death and the judgment shall overtake them? They are just as full of consternation as were the pagan who are here described; and all their refuges will be just as little to be relied on as were the senseless images which the pagan had made for their defense.
nails—to keep it steady in its place. Wisdom 13:15, 16, gives a similar picture of the folly of idolatry.The carpenter, who brought wood to compose the body of the idol.
The goldsmith, who was to prepare golden plates for covering and adorning of the image, which some of them beat out upon the anvil, and others smoothed or polished, as it follows.
It is ready for the sodering; that we may put the several parts together, and set it up to be worshipped.
He fastened it to the wall or pillar, lest it should fall down, or go, or be carried away from them. See Isaiah 40:19,20.
and he that smootheth with the hammer him that smote the anvil; he that beat out thin plates of gold and silver with the hammer, in order to decorate the wooden god, encouraged the smith at the forge, that smote on the anvil, there making nails for the fastening it to a pillar or wall, to hasten his work:
saying, it is ready for the sodering; for the several joints to be put together, by sodering them:
and he fastened it with nails, that it should not be moved; either the goldsmith and finer fastened the plates of gold and silver with nails, that they might be kept fast and close to it; or the smith that smote on the anvil, and made the nails, he fastened the image with them at some proper place, that so it might not fall, or be taken away. All which, as it represents the hurry and solicitude idolaters were in to keep up their craft and religion, so it exposes them to ridicule and contempt.So the carpenter encouraged the goldsmith, and he that smootheth with the hammer him that smote the anvil, saying, It is ready for the sodering: and he fastened it with nails, that it should not be moved.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)7. the carpenter] stands here for the same word as workman in Isaiah 40:19 : it denotes an “artificer” either in metal or wood or stone.
he that smootheth with the hammer] probably the man who fits on the golden covering (Isaiah 40:19). The translation anvil is doubtful, the Targ. has “him that striketh with the mallet.”
saying … sodering] Render as R.V.: saying of the soldering, It is good. that it should not be moved] See ch. Isaiah 40:20.
8–20, coming between Isaiah 41:1-4; Isaiah 41:21 ff., reads like a digression or an “aside.” But beneath the apparent disconnectedness there is a real continuity of thought running through the chapter. It opens with a discussion between Jehovah and the nations, and closes with another between Jehovah and the heathen gods. But these ideal representations have no reality except in so far as they take concrete form in history; and the historical process of which they are the expression is suggested by Isaiah 41:8-20. Jehovah’s controversy with heathenism is carried on in His Providence, and especially in His vindication of the “right” of Israel against the world. The opposition which Israel encounters from the heathen (Isaiah 41:11 f.) is a reflection of the antagonism between the true religion and idolatry; and the essential identity of interest between Jehovah and Israel in this conflict of principles is the basis of the message of consolation which these verses convey. Thus we have the true God and His people over against the false gods and their peoples, and there is a fitness in the introduction at this point of Israel in its ideal functions as the organ of Jehovah’s historical purpose. His victory must issue in the redemption of His people, and therefore Israel has no reason to fear the advance of Cyrus, who is God’s chosen instrument for the overthrow of idolatry.Verse 7. - The carpenter, etc. (comp. Isaiah 40:19, 20 for the variety of workmen employed in the production of idols). Each encourages the others to manufacture a right good god. When all is done, there is, however, need of soldering, and of nails, that the wretched object may be kept erect, and not show its weakness by falling, like Dagon, upon its own threshold (1 Samuel 5:4). Job 13:13 it is used with min, in the sense of forsaking a person in silence. That they may have no excuse if they are defeated, they are to put on fresh strength; just as in Isaiah 40:31 believers are spoken of as drawing fresh strength out of Jehovah's fulness. They are to draw near, then speak, i.e., to reply after hearing the evidence, for Jehovah desires to go through all the forms of a legal process with them in pro et contra. The mishpât is thought of here in a local sense, as a forum or tribunal. But if Jehovah is one party to the cause, who is the judge to pronounce the decision? The answer to this question is the same as at Isaiah 5:3. "The nations," says Rosenmller, "are called to judgment, not to the tribunal of God, but to that of reason." The deciding authority is reason, which cannot fail to recognise the facts, and the consequences to be deduced from them.
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