Isaiah 44:13
The carpenter stretches out his rule; he marks it out with a line; he fits it with planes, and he marks it out with the compass, and makes it after the figure of a man, according to the beauty of a man; that it may remain in the house.
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(13) The carpenter.—The wooden idol comes next. First there is the rough measurement with the “rule;” then the artificer draws the outline of the figure in red chalk. “Plane” and “compasses” come in to make the form more definite. The human figure is complete; then there is the artist’s final touch to add the element of beauty; and so it is ready for the “house,” or temple.

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?The carpenter - The axe is made Isaiah 44:12, and the carpenter now proceeds to the construction of the god.

Stretcheth out his rule - For the purpose of laying out his work, or measuring it. The word rendered here 'rule,' however (קו qâv), means properly "a line"; and should be so rendered here. The carpenter stretches out a line, but not a rule.

He marketh it out with a line - He marks out the shape; the length, and breadth, and thickness of the body, in the rough and unhewn piece of wood. He has an idea in his mind of the proper shape of a god, and he goes to work to make one of that form. The expression 'to mark out with a line,' is, however, not congruous. The word which is used here, and which is rendered 'line' (שׂרד s'ered) occurs nowhere else in the Bible. Lowth and Kimchi render it, 'Red ochre.' According to this the reference is to the chalk, red clay, or crayon, which a carpenter uses on a line to mark out his work. But according to Gesenius, the word means an awl, or a stylus, or engraver; with which the artist sketches the outlines of the figure to be sculptured. A carpenter always uses such an instrument in laying out and marking his work.

He fitteth it with planes - Or rather with chisels, or carving-tools, with which wooden images were carved. Planes are rather adapted to a smooth surface; carving is performed with chisels. The word is derived from קצע qâtsa‛, 'to cut off.' The Chaldee renders it, אזמל 'azemēl - 'A knife.' The Septuagint renders this, 'Framed it by rule, and glued the parts together.'

Marketh it out with the compass - From חוּג chûg, "to make a circle," to revolve, as compasses do. By a compass he accurately designates the parts, and marks out the symmetry of the form.

According to the beauty of a man - Perhaps there may be a little sarcasm here in the thought that a god should be made in the shape of a man. It was true, however, that the statues of the gods among the ancients were made after the most perfect conceptions of the human form. The statuary of the Greeks was of this description, and the images of Apollo, of Venus, and of Jupiter, have been celebrated everywhere as the most perfect representations of the bureau form.

That it may remain in the house - To dwell in a temple. Such statues were usually made to decorate a temple; or rather perhaps temples were reared to be dwelling places of the gods. It may be implied here, that the idol was of no use but to remain in a house. It could not hear, or save. It was like a useless piece of furniture, and had none of the attributes of God.

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).

He here speaks, either,

1. Of the same image, which is supposed to be made of wood, and then covered with some metal; or,

2. Of another sort of images made of wood, as the former might be made of iron. It is not material which way you understand it.

He marketh it with a line; he measureth and marketh that portion of wood by his rule and line of which the idol is to be made.

According to the beauty of a man; in the same comely shape and proportions which are in a living man, whom he designs to represent as exactly as is possible.

That it may remain, or sit, or dwell; which implies either,

1. That it cannot stir out of its place; or,

2. That when the image is made, it is set up and fixed in its appointed place.

In the house; either in the temple appointed for it; or in the dwelling-house of him that made it; that he and his family might more frequently give worship to it, and might receive protection from it, as idolaters vainly imagined. 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.''

The carpenter stretcheth out his rule; he marketh it out with a line; he fitteth it with planes, and he marketh it out with the compass, and maketh it after the figure of a man, according to the beauty of a man; that it may remain in {t} the house.

(t) To place it in some Temple.

13. The carpenter] lit., “the workman in wood.”

stretcheth out a line, (R.V.)] to mark off the dimensions of the future image on the block of wood. For line in the next clause read pencil (as R.V.); the word, like that for “planes” (which may mean “chisels” or any cutting implement), occurs only here.

fitteth] R.V. “shapeth”; lit. maketh.

that it may remain in the house] to dwell in a house; either a great temple, or a private shrine.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. A new pledge of redemption is given, and a fresh exhortation to trust in Jehovah; the wretchedness of the idols and their worshippers being pointed out, in contrast with Jehovah, the only speaking and acting God. Isaiah 44:6 "Thus saith Jehovah the King of Israel, and its Redeemer, Jehovah of hosts; I am first, and I last; and beside me there is no God." The fact that His deity, which rules over not only the natural world, but history as well, is thus without equal and above all time, is now proved by Him from the fact that He alone manifests Himself as God, and that by the utterance of prophecy. Isaiah 44:7 "And who preaches as I do? Let him make it known, and show it to me; since I founded the people of ancient time! And future things, and what is approaching, let them only make known." Jehovah shows Himself as the God of prophecy since the time that He founded עם־עולם (יקרא refers to the continued preaching of prophecy). ‛Am‛ōlâm is the epithet applied in Ezekiel 26:20 to the people of the dead, who are sleeping the long sleep of the grave; and here it does not refer to Israel, which could neither be called an "eternal" nation, nor a people of the olden time, and which would have been more directly named; but according to Isaiah 40:7 and Isaiah 42:5, where ‛am signifies the human race, and Job 22:15., where ‛ōlâm is the time of the old world before the flood, it signifies humanity as existing from the very earliest times. The prophecies of Jehovah reach back even to the history of paradise. The parenthetical clause, "Let him speak it out, and tell it me," is like the apodosis of a hypothetical protasis: "if any one thinks that he can stand by my side." The challenge points to earlier prophecies; with ואתיּות it takes a turn to what is future, אתיות itself denoting what is absolutely future, according to Isaiah 41:23, and תּבאנה אשׁר what is about to be realized immediately; lâmō is an ethical dative.
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