Isaiah 57:11
And of whom have you been afraid or feared, that you have lied, and have not remembered me, nor laid it to your heart? have not I held my peace even of old, and you fear me not?
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(11) And of whom hast thou been afraid . . .?—The question implies that Judah had been led by the fear of man to forsake the fear of Jehovah, and this had led her to what was, in the fullest sense of the word, the false step of an alliance with Assyria, which was an acted lie.

Have I not held my peace . . .?—The words suggest, half-pityingly, the cause of the people’s little faith. From “of old,” i.e., during the period that preceded the captivity, or perhaps in the dark time of Manasseh, Jehovah had been silent, and His long- suffering had been mistaken for apathy, and therefore the people had not feared Him.

Isaiah 57:11-14. Of whom hast thou been afraid, &c. — And what, or who are they, the fear of whom drives thee to these wicked and desperate practices? Are they not weak and mortal creatures, such as wholly depend upon me, and can do nothing without me? The fear of my displeasure ought, in all reason, to outweigh all thy other fears and apprehensions, and deter thee from breaking that covenant whereby thou art engaged to me. That thou hast lied — That thou hast dealt thus perfidiously with me, and sought for such foreign assistances contrary to my command. And hast not remembered me — Hast forgotten all those great things which I have done for thee, and all those promises which I have made to thee. Nor laid it to thy heart — Or, nor set me upon thy heart: hast not seriously and affectionately considered what I am, how all-sufficient, faithful, and gracious: for then thou wouldest not have distrusted or disobeyed me. Have I not held my peace, &c. — The Bishops’ Bible, published under Queen Elizabeth, translates the clause thus: Is it not because I held my peace, and that of a long time, therefore thou fearest me not? Sinners take encouragement to continue in sin, from God’s patience and long-suffering. I will declare thy righteousness — I will no longer be silent, but “will show thee thy deserts, and give thee a view of thy deeds, which then will appear quite of another sort than what thy own self-conceit makes thee believe them to be.” For they shall not profit thee — These actions shall be of no real advantage, but quite the contrary. When those criest — Namely, unto me for deliverance; let thy companies deliver thee — Expect it, not from me, whom thou hast forsaken and despised, but from those foreign troops, to which thou hast sought and trusted for succour. But the wind shall carry them all away — They shall be so far from saving thee, that they shall not be able to deliver themselves; but shall be carried away suddenly and violently by the blast of mine anger. Vanity shall take them — Their endeavours to help thee shall be vain and fruitless. But he that putteth his trust in me — Those that still depend upon me, and make use of none of those indirect means to preserve themselves; shall possess the land

Shall be preserved in, or restored to, their own land, or shall have temporal blessings as far as will be good for them; and shall inherit my holy mountain — Shall enjoy my favour and presence in my temple: shall be blessed with the privileges of the church on earth, and brought at length to the joys of heaven. And shall say — Hebrew, and he shall say: or, and one shall say: God shall raise up one who shall say, with authority and efficacy, Cast ye up, &c. — Make causeways, where it is needful, for the safe and easy passage of my people, and remove all things which may hinder them in their return.57:3-12 The Lord here calls apostates and hypocrites to appear before him. When reproved for their sins, and threatened with judgments, they ridiculed the word of God. The Jews were guilty of idolatry before the captivity; but not after that affliction. Their zeal in the worship of false gods, may shame our indifference in the worship of the true God. The service of sin is disgraceful slavery; those who thus debase themselves to hell, will justly have their portion there. Men incline to a religion that inflames their unholy passions. They are led to do any evil, however great or vile, if they think it will atone for crimes, or purchase indulgence for some favourite lust. This explains idolatry, whether pagan, Jewish, or antichristian. But those who set up anything instead of God, for their hope and confidence, never will come to a right end. Those who forsake the only right way, wander in a thousand by-paths. The pleasures of sin soon tire, but never satisfy. Those who care not for the word of God and his providences, show they have no fear of God. Sin profits not; it ruins and destroys.And of whom hast thou been afraid - The sense of this verse is exceedingly obscure. The design is evidently to reprove the Jews for the course which they had been pursuing in practicing idolatry, and in seeking the alliance of foreign powers. The main scope of the passage seems to be, to state that all this was proof that they did not fear God. Their conduct did not originate from any reverence for him, or any respect to his commands. And the question, 'of whom hast thou been afraid?' seems to mean that they had not been afraid of God. If they had had any reverence for any being or object that had led to the course which they had pursued, it was not for God.

That thou hast lied - That thou hast been false and unfaithful to God. The image is here kept up of unfaithfulness to the marriage vow Isaiah 57:6-8.

And hast not remembered me - The proof of this was, that they had fallen into idolatry, and had sought the alliance and friendship of foreign powers.

Have not I held my peace - The idea here seems to be, that God had been silent a long time, and they had, therefore, been emboldened to sin. He had, as it were, connived at their apostasy and infidelity; and they had thus cast off the fear of him, and given themselves wholly to idolatry. Compare Ecclesiastes 8:11.

11. Israel wished not to seem altogether to have denied God. Therefore they "lied" to Him. God asks, Why dost thou do so? "Whom dost thou fear? Certainly not Me; for thou hast not remembered Me." Translate, "seeing that thou hast not remembered Me."

laid it to … heart—rather, "nor hast Me at heart"; hast no regard for Me; and that, because I have been long silent and have not punished thee. Literally, "Have I not held My peace, and that for long? and so thou fearest Me not" (Ps 50:21; Ec 8:11). It would be better openly to renounce God, than to "flatter Him" with lies of false professions (Ps 78:36) [Ludovicus De Dieu]. However, Isa 51:12, 13 favors English Version of the whole verse; God's "silent" long-suffering, which was intended to lead them to repentance, caused them "not to fear Him" (Ro 2:4, 5).

And of whom hast thou been afraid or feared? and what or who are they the fear of whom drives thee to these wicked and desperate courses? Are they not men, weak and mortal creatures, such as wholly depend upon me, and can do nothing to thee either against me or without me?

That thou hast lied; that thou hast dealt thus disloyally and perfidiously with me, and sought for such foreign assistances, contrary to my command, and thy solemn covenant,

and hast not remembered me: hast thou forgotten all those great things which I have done for thee, and all those promises which I have made to thee, and constantly performed, when thou hast not grossly violated the conditions upon which they were made?

Nor laid it to thy heart; or thus, nor set me upon thine heart, as these very words are rendered, Song of Solomon 8:6. And so this is a repetition of what is said in the foregoing clause in other words. The sense is, Thou hast not seriously and affectionately considered what I am, how all-sufficient, and faithful, and gracious, for then thou wouldst not have distrusted or disobeyed me.

Have not I held my peace even of old? have not I forborne to reprove and punish thee for this and for other sins, from time to time, ever since thou wast my people, that by this goodness I might oblige thee to love me, and to cleave unto me?

And thou fearest me not; or, therefore thou dost not fear or regard me. Thus thou abusest mine indulgence and long-suffering, taking occasion from thence to despise me. And of whom hast thou been afraid or feared, that thou hast lied,.... By assuming the name of Christian, when it did not belong to her; as it does not to the church of Rome which is antichristian: this lie is told, not out of any fear of God, or reverence of Christ; for she has no fear or reverence of either; but to serve a purpose, to blind the eyes of men under the Christian name, and, with a pretence to serve the cause of Christianity, to get all Christendom under her power:

and hast not remembered me; or, "for thou hast not remembered me, nor laid it to thy heart?" or, "put me upon thy heart" (x); had no regard to Christ, nor had true faith in him, nor love to him; but all the reverse; degraded him in his offices, corrupted his doctrines, ordinances, and worship. The Targum is,

"and hast not remembered my worship, nor put my fear upon thy heart:''

and have not held my peace even of old, and thou fearest me not or, "therefore thou fearest me not" (y); because as yet the vials of God's wrath are not poured out, or his judgment inflicted on antichrist; but, ever since he began to reign, he has enjoyed great prosperity; therefore he fears not God, nor regards man; but says, "I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow", Revelation 18:7.

(x) "nam mei non es recordata, neque posuisti me super cor tuum", Grotius. (y) "idcirco me non times", Calvin, Piscator, Gataker.

And of whom hast thou been afraid or feared, that thou hast {n} lied, and hast not remembered me, nor laid it to thy heart? have not I held my peace even of {o} old, and thou fearest me not?

(n) Broken promises with me.

(o) Meaning, that the wicked abuse God's leniency, and grow to further wickedness.

11. Most critics detect in this verse a milder tone on the part of the Divine speaker, as if He would find a partial excuse for the apostasies of the people in their undue fear of other gods, and distrust of Jehovah, who had so long time kept silence (cf. ch. Isaiah 51:12 f., Isaiah 42:14). If this impression be right, the theory that the Samaritans are the persons addressed at once falls to the ground. Another view is, however, possible. The question of whom hast thou been afraid and feared? may imply a simple negative answer,—“thou hast been absolutely fearless.” The language of the verse yields itself to either interpretation.

that thou hast lied] Or, “for thou art treacherous.”

have not I held my peace, &c.] Or “Is it not so? I have been silent” etc.: “It was because I held my peace that thou didst not fear me, but other gods.” Cf. Psalm 50:21 (“These things thou didst and I kept silence” etc).

even of old] (Isaiah 42:14). The LXX. and Vulg. evidently vocalised the word differently (מַעְלִם for מֵעֹלָם), so as to read “and covered (sc. my eyes)”; (cf. Psalm 10:1; Isaiah 1:15).Verse 11. - Of whom hast thou been afraid? Judah's abandonment of Jehovah and devotion to new deities was caused by fear - the fear of man, especially of Assyria. This induced them to seek for help in each new superstition that presented itself, and produced the enlarged syncretism which has been noticed in the comment on ver. 8. But how absurd to be driven by fear of man into offending God! That thou hast lied (see the last clause of ver. 4, with the comment). Have not I held my peace, etc.? i.e. "Is it not because I have for so long a time held my peace, that thou fearest me not?" God had for a long time suffered them to "go on still in their wickedness" - he had not interposed with any severe judgment; therefore they had ceased to fear him, and had feared men instead. The participles which follow in the next v. are in apposition to אתּ, and confirm the predicates already applied to them. They soon give place, however, to independent sentences. "Ye that inflame yourselves by the terebinths, under every green tree, ye slayers of children in the valleys under the clefts of the rocks. By the smooth ones of the brook was thy portion; they, they were thy lot: thou also pouredst out libations to them, thou laidst meat-offerings upon them. Shall I be contented with this?" The people of the captivity are addressed, and the idolatry handed down to them from their ancestors depicted. The prophet looks back from the standpoint of the captivity, and takes his colours from the time in which he himself lived, possibly from the commencement of Manasseh's reign, when the heathenism that had for a long time been suppressed burst forth again in all its force, and the measure of iniquity became full. The part. niphal הנּחמים is formed like נחן in Jeremiah 22:23, if the latter signifies miserandum esse. The primary form is נחם, which is doubled like נגּר from גּרר in Job 20:28, and from which נחם is formed by the resolution of the latent reduplication. Stier derives it from; but even if formed from this, נחם would still have to be explained from נחם, after the form נצּת. 'Elı̄m signifies either gods or terebinths. But although it might certainly mean idols, according to Exodus 15:11; Daniel 11:36 (lxx, Targ., and Jerome), it is never used directly in this sense, and Isaiah always uses the word as the name of a tree (Isaiah 1:29; Isaiah 61:3). The terebinths are introduced here, exactly as in Isaiah 1:29, as an object of idolatrous lust: "who inflame themselves with the terebinths;" ב denotes the object with which the lust is excited and inf Lamed. The terebinth ('ēlâh) held the chief place in tree-worship (hence אלנם, lit., oak-trees, together with אלם, is the name of one of the Phoenician gods),

(Note: See Levy, Phnizische Studien, i.19.)

possibly as being the tree sacred to Astarte; just as the Samura Acacia among the heathen Arabs was the tree sacred to the goddess 'Uzza.

(Note: Krehl, Religioin der vorisl. Araber, p. 74ff.)

The following expression, "under every green tree," is simply a permutative of the words "with the terebinths" in the sense of "with the terebinths, yea, under every green tree" (a standing expression from Deuteronomy 12:2 downwards) - one tree being regarded as the abode and favourite of this deity, and another of that, and all alluring you to your carnal worship.

From the tree-worship with its orgies, which was so widely spread in antiquity generally, the prophet passes to the leading Canaanitish abomination, viz., human sacrifices, which had been adopted by the Israelites (along with שׁחטי we find the false reading שׂחטי, which is interpreted as signifying self-abuse). Judging from the locality named, "under the clefts of the rocks," the reference is not to the slaying of children sacrificed to Moloch in the valley of Hinnom, but to those offered to Baal upon his bâmōth or high places (Jeremiah 19:5; Ezekiel 16:20-21; Hosea 13:2; Psalm 106:37-38). As we learn from the chronique scandaleuse many things connected with the religious history of Israel, which cannot be found in its historical books, there is nothing to surprise us in the stone-worship condemned in Isaiah 57:6. The dagesh of חלּקי is in any case dagesh dirimens. The singular is wither חלק after the form חכמי (cf., עצבי, Isaiah 58:3), or חלק after the form ילדי. But חלק, smoothness, never occurs; and the explanation, "in the smoothnesses, i.e., the smooth places of the valley, is thy portion," has this also against it, that it does not do justice to the connection בּ חלק, in which the preposition is not used in a local sense, and that it leaves the emphatic הם הם quite unexplained. The latter does not point to places, but to objects of worship for which they had exchanged Jehovah, of whom the true Israelite could say ה חלקי, Psalm 119:57, etc., or בה לי חלק, Joshua 22:25, and גּורלי תּומיך אתּה (Thou art He that maintaineth my lot), Psalm 16:5. The prophet had such expressions as these in his mind, and possibly also the primary meaning of גורל equals κλῆρος, which may be gathered from the rare Arabic word 'garal, gravel, stones worn smooth by rolling, when he said, "In the smooth ones of the valley is thy portion; they, they are thy lot." In the Arabic also, achlaq (equilvaent to châlâq, smooth, which forms here a play upon the word with חלק, châlâq) is a favourite word for stones and rocks. חלּקי־נחל, however, according to 1 Samuel 17:40 (where the intensive form חלּוּק, like שׁכּוּל, is used), are stones which the stream in the valley has washed smooth with time, and rounded into a pleasing shape. The mode of the worship, the pouring out of libations,

(Note: Compare the remarks made in the Comm. on the Pentateuch, at Genesis 29:20, on the heathen worship of anointed stones, and the Baetulian worship.)

and the laying of meat-offerings upon them, confirm this view. In Carthage such stones were called abbadires ( equals אדיר, אבן); and among the ancient Arabs, the asnâm or idols consisted for the most part of rude blocks of stone of this description. Herodotus (3:8) speaks of seven stones which the Arabs anointed, calling upon the god Orotal. Suidas (s.v. Θεῦς ἄρης) states that the idol of Ares in Petra was a black square stone; and the black stone of the Ka'aba was, according to a very inconvenient tradition for the Mohammedans, an idol of Saturn (zuhal).

(Note: See Krehl, p. 72. In the East Indies also we find stone-worship not only among the Vindya tribes (Lassen, A.K. i. 376), but also among the Vaishnavas, who worship Vishnu in the form of a stone, viz., the sâlagrâm, a kind of stone from the river Gandak (see Wilson's Sanscrit Lexicon s.h.v. and Vishnu-Purn, p. 163). The fact of the great antiquity of stone and tree worship has been used in the most ridiculous manner by Dozy in his work on the Israelites at Mecca (1864). He draws the following conclusion from Deuteronomy 32:18 : "Thus the Israelites sprang from a divine block of stone; and this is, in reality, the true old version of the origin of the nation." From Isaiah 51:1-2, he infers that Abraham and Sara were not historical persons at all, but that the former was a block of stone, and the latter a hollow; and that the two together were a block of stone in a hollow, to which divine worship was paid. "This fact," he says, "viz. that Abraham and Sarah in the second Isaiah are not historical persons, but a block of stone and a hollow, is one of great worth, as enabling us to determine the time at which the stories of Abraham in Genesis were written, and to form a correct idea of the spirit of those stories.")

Stone-worship of this kind had been practised by the Israelites before the captivity, and their heathenish practices had been transmitted to the exiles in Babylon. The meaning of the question, Shall I comfort myself concerning such things? - i.e., Shall I be contented with them (אנּחם niphal, not hithpael)? - is, that it was impossible that descendants who so resembled their fathers should remain unpunished.

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