Isaiah 57:4
Against whom do you sport yourselves? against whom make you a wide mouth, and draw out the tongue? are you not children of transgression, a seed of falsehood.
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(4) Against whom do ye sport yourselves?—The question, as in Isaiah 37:23, is one of indignant scorn, the implied answer being that the mockers were deriding the servants of Jehovah. (Comp. Wisdom 2), and, in so doing, mocking Jehovah himself. The “wide mouth,” and the “drawn-out tongue,” are the natural symbols of derision.

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.Against whom do ye sport yourselves? - The word here rendered 'sport' (ענג ‛ānag) means properly "to live delicately and tenderly"; then "to rejoice, to take pleasure or delight." Here, however, it is evidently used in the sense of to sport oneself over anyone, that is, to deride; and the idea is, probably, that they made a sport or mockery of God, and of the institutions of religion. The prophet asks, with deep indignation and emotion, against whom they did this. Were they aware of the majesty and glory of that Being whom they thus derided?

Against whom make yea wide mouth? - That is, in derision or contempt Psalm 35:21 : 'Yea, they opened their mouth wide against me.'

And draw out the tongue? - Lowth, 'Loll the tongue;' or, as we would say, 'run out the tongue.' Perhaps it was done with a rapid motion, as in mockery of the true prophets when they delivered the message of God (compare 2 Chronicles 36:16). Contempt was sometimes shown also by protruding the lips Psalm 22:7 : 'They shoot out the lip;' and also by gaping upon a person Psalm 22:13; 'They gaped upon me with their mouths.'

Are ye not children of transgression? - That is, in view of the fact that you make a sport of sacred things, and deride the laws and the prophets of God.

A seed of false-hood - A generation that is unfaithful to God and to his cause.

4. sport yourselves—make a mock (Isa 66:5). Are ye aware of the glory of Him whom you mock, by mocking His servants ("the righteous," Isa 57:1)? (2Ch 36:16).

make … wide mouth—(Ps 22:7, 13; 35:21; La 2:16).

children of transgression, &c.—not merely children of transgressors, and a seed of false parents, but of transgression and falsehood itself, utterly unfaithful to God.

Against whom do ye sport yourselves? consider whom it is that you mock and scoff when you deride God’s prophets, as they did, Isaiah 28:14,22, and know that it is not so much men that you abuse as God, whose cause they plead, and in whose name they speak.

Make a wide mouth, and draw out the tongue: these are the known and common gestures of mockers, of which see Job 16:10 Psalm 22:7 35:21.

Are ye not children of transgression, a seed of falsehood? either an adulterous brood, as was said before; or a generation of liars, whose practices grossly contradict your principles and professions, who deal deceitfully and perfidiously both with God and with men. Against whom do ye sport yourselves?.... Is it against the ministers of the Gospel, the prophets of the Lord, the true and faithful witnesses, over whose dead bodies you triumph? know that it is not so much against them, as against the Lord himself, whose ministers, prophets, and witnesses they are; see 1 Thessalonians 4:8, "against whom make ye a wide mouth, and draw out the tongue?" gestures used by way of scorn and derision; see Psalm 22:7. So the Papists open their mouths, and draw out their tongues, in gibes and jeers, reproaches and calumnies, against the true Christians, calling and despising them as heretics and schismatics; which abuse and ill usage of them will be resented another day. The Targum is,

"before whom do ye open your mouth, and multiply to speak things?''

as antichrist is said to have a mouth open, speaking great things and blasphemy against God, his name, his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven, Revelation 13:5,

are ye not children of transgression; given up to all manner of sin and wickedness; or children of the wicked one, as the Targum, either of Satan, or of the man of sin; or, as the Septuagint and Arabic versions render it, "children of perdition"; of the same character, complexion, and religion, as the son of perdition is: "a seed of falsehood"; or a lie, given to lying; to believe a lie, and to speak lies in hypocrisy; professing a false religion; embracing false doctrines; a spurious breed, and not the sons of the true church of Christ.

Against whom do ye sport yourselves? against whom make ye a wide mouth, and draw out the tongue? are ye not children of transgression, a seed of falsehood.
4. On the contemptuous attitude of the Samaritans towards the Jews, see Nehemiah 4:1-4, and comp. ch. Isaiah 66:5.

sport yourselves] Lit. “take your delight” (ch. Isaiah 55:2, Isaiah 58:14, Isaiah 66:11); only here used of malevolent satisfaction.

make a wide mouth] Psalm 35:21.

are ye not &c.] Are you not yourselves the proper objects of derision and abhorrence?

5 ff. Description of the varied idolatries to which they were devoted.

Inflaming yourselves with idols] Rather, as R.V., Ye that inflame yourselves among the oaks (or “terebinths,” the same word in ch. Isaiah 1:29, Isaiah 61:3). The A.V. follows the chief ancient Versions in taking the last word to be the plural of that for “god”; but it is never used expressly of an idol or false god (not even in Exodus 15:11 or Daniel 11:36). The reference is, if not to the actual primitive tree-worship (traces of which are still found in Palestine), at least to that modification of it in which the sacred tree became a place of sacrifice and the scene of the licentious rites indicated by the expression “inflame yourselves.” Comp. Hosea 4:13.

under every green (i.e. evergreen) tree] Cf. Deuteronomy 12:2; Jeremiah 2:20; Jeremiah 3:6; Ezekiel 6:13; 1 Kings 14:23; 2 Kings 17:10 &c.

slaying the children (Ezekiel 16:21)] i.e. sacrificing them either to Jehovah or some false deity (Baal or Molech). On the subject of human sacrifice in Israel consult the notes in Davidson’s Ezekiel (Camb. Bible for Schools, &c.), pp. 107 f., 143. Cf. Jeremiah 7:31; Jeremiah 19:5; Ezekiel 20:25; Ezekiel 23:39; 2 Kings 3:27; 2 Kings 16:3; 2 Kings 21:6; Micah 6:7; Leviticus 18:21; Deuteronomy 12:31, &c., and 2 Kings 17:31.

in the valleys (or wadis, dry watercourses) under the clifts of the rocks] Probably weird and desolate places were chosen by preference for these revolting rites, although this is the only passage where such a thing is suggested.Verse 4. - Against whom do ye sport yourselves? The idolatrous Israelites here addressed, no doubt, made a mock of the few righteous who were still living among them, and vexed their souls, as his fellow-towns-men did the soul of "just Lot" (2 Peter 2:7). They "made wide the mouth" at them, and "drew out the tongue" in derision (comp. Psalm 22:7; Psalm 35:21). The prophet asks, "Against whom do ye do this? Is it not rather against God, whose servants these men are, than against them?" Are ye not children of transgression? rather, are ye not, yourselves, children of apostasy? and therefore more truly objects of scorn than they? A seed of falsehood. Idols were viewed by Isaiah as "lies" (Isaiah 45:20; cf. Romans 1:25; Revelation 22:15). Idolaters were therefore "a seed of falsehood" - men who put their trust in a lie. The prophet now proceeds with צפו (צפיו): the suffix refers to Israel, which was also the object to לאכל. "His watchmen are blind: they (are) all ignorant, they (are) all dumb dogs that cannot bark; raving, lying down, loving to slumber. And the dogs are mightily greedy, they know no satiety; and such are shepherds! They know no understanding; they have all turned to their own ways, every one for his own gain throughout his border." The "watchmen" are the prophets here, as everywhere else (Isaiah 52:8, cf., Isaiah 21:6, Habakkuk 2:1; Jeremiah 6:17; Ezekiel 3:17). The prophet is like a watchman (tsōpheh) stationed upon his watch-tower (specula), whose duty it is, when he sees the sword come upon the land, to blow the shōphâr, and warn the people (Ezekiel 33:1-9). But just as Jeremiah speaks of bad prophets among the captives (Jeremiah 29), and the book of Ezekiel is full of reproaches at the existing neglect of the office of watchman and shepherd; so does the prophet here complain that the watchmen of the nation are blind, in direct opposition to both their title and their calling; they are all without either knowledge or the capacity for knowledge (vid., Isaiah 44:9; Isaiah 45:20). They ought to resemble watchful sheep-dogs (Job 30:1), which bark when the flock is threatened; but they are dumb, and cannot bark (nâbhach, root nab), and leave the flock to all its danger. Instead of being "seers" (chōzı̄m), they are ravers (hōzı̄m; cf., Isaiah 19:18, where we have a play upon החרס in ההרס). הזים, from הזה, to rave in sickness, n. act. hadhajan (which Kimchi compares to parlare in snno); hence the Targum נימים, lxx ἐνυπνιαζόμενοι A φανταζόμενοι, S ὁραματισταί, Jer. videntes vana. The predicates which follow are attached to the leading word hōzı̄m (raving), if not precisely as adjectives, yet as more minutely descriptive. Instead of watching, praying, wrestling, to render themselves susceptible of visions of divine revelations for the good of their people, and to keep themselves in readiness to receive them, they are idle, loving comfortable ease, talkers in their sleep. And the dogs, viz., those prophets who resemble the worst of them (see at Isaiah 40:8), are נפשׁ עזּי, of violent, unrestrained soul, insatiable. Their soul lives and moves in the lowest parts of their nature; it is nothing but selfish avarice, self-indulgent greediness, violent restlessness of passion, that revolves perpetually around itself. With the words "and these are shepherds," the range of the prophet's vision is extended to the leaders of the nation generally; for when the prophet adds as an exclamation, "And such (hi equals tales) are shepherds!" he applies the glaring contrast between calling and conduct to the holders of both offices, that of teacher and that of ruler alike. For, apart from the accents, it would be quite at variance with the general use of the personal pronoun המה, to apply it to any other persons than those just described (viz., in any such sense as this: "And those, who ought to be shepherds, do not know"). Nor is it admissible to commence an adversative minor clause with והמה, as Knobel does, "whereas they are shepherds;" for, since the principal clause has הכלבים (dogs) as the subject, this would introduce a heterogeneous mixture of the two figures, shepherds' dogs and shepherds. We therefore take רעים והמה as an independent clause: "And it is upon men of such a kind, that the duty of watching and tending the nation devolves!" These רעים (for which the Targum reads רעים) are then still further described: they know not to understand, i.e., they are without spiritual capacity to pass an intelligible judgment (compare the opposite combination of the two verbs in Isaiah 32:4); instead of caring for the general good, they have all turned to their own way (ledarkâm), i.e., to their own selfish interests, every one bent upon his own advantage (בּצע from בּצע, abscindere, as we say, seinen Schnitt zu machen, to reap an advantage, lit., to make an incision). מקּצהוּ, from his utmost extremity (i.e., from that of his own station, including all its members), in other words, "throughout the length and breadth of his own circle;" qâtseh, the end, being regarded not as the terminal point, but as the circumference (as in Genesis 19:4; Genesis 47:21, and Jeremiah 51:31).
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