Isaiah 57:6
Among the smooth stones of the stream is your portion; they, they are your lot: even to them have you poured a drink offering, you have offered a meat offering. Should I receive comfort in these?
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(6) Among the smooth stones . . .—The worship of stones was almost as widely diffused as that of trees and serpents. In Genesis 28:18 we have, at least, an analogous practice, which might easily become identical. Among the Phœnicians such stones were known as Bœtulia (probably a Grecised form of Bethel), and were connected with the worship of the reproductive powers of nature. As the true portion of Israel was emphatically Jehovah (Jeremiah 10:16; Psalm 16:5) there is an indignant irony in the word thus used. The idolaters had chosen a fetish instead of the Eternal One. In thy portion, we have the feminine singular, designating Israel as the faithless wife.

Should I receive comfort in these?i.e., better, Should I be quiet in spite of all this? (Comp. Jeremiah 5:7.)

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.Among the smooth stones of the streams - In the original here, there is a paronomasia, which cannot be fully retained in our English version. There has been also considerable diversity of opinion in regard to the sense of the passage, from the ambiguity of the words in the original. Jerome (the Vulgate) renders it, In partibus torrentis pars tua - 'Thy portion is in the parts of the torrent.' The Septuagint translates it 'This is thy portion; this is thy lot. The word rendered in our version, 'smooth stones' (חלק chēleq), means properly smoothness, hence, barrenness or bare place; and supposes that the idea is, their lot was in the bare places of the valley, that is, in the open (not wooded) places where they worshipped idols - an interpretation not very consistent with the fact that groves were commonly selected as the place where they worshipped idols. It seems to me, therefore, that the idea of smoothness here, whether of the valley or of the stones, is not the idea intended. Indeed, in no place, it is believed, does the word mean 'smooth stones;' and it is difficult to conceive what was the exact idea which our translators intended to convey, or why they supposed that such worship was celebrated among the smooth or much-worn stones of the running stream. The true idea can probably be obtained by reverting to the primitive sense of the word as derived from the verb. The verb חלק châlaq means:

1. To smooth.

2. To divide, to distribute, to appropriate - as the dividing of spoil, etc.

Hence, the noun also means dividing, or portion, as that which is divided - whether an inheritance, or whether the dividings of spoil after battle. Retaining this idea, the literal sense, as I conceive, would be this in which also something of the paronomasia will be retained: 'Among the dividings of the valley is thy dividing,' that is, thy portion In the places where the valley divides, is thy lot. Thy lot is there instead of the place which God appointed. There you worship; there you pour out your libations to the false gods; and there you must partake of the protection and favor which the gods whom you worship can give. You have chosen that as your inheritance, and by the results of that you must abide.

Of the stream - The word rendered here 'stream' (נחל nachal), means either a stream, or a rivulet of water Numbers 34:5; Joshua 15:4-47; or it means a valley with a brook or torrent; a low place with water. Here it means evidently the latter - as it cannot be supposed they would worship in a stream, though they undoubtedly worshipped in a vale or low place where there was occasionally a rivulet of water. This entire description is strikingly applicable to the valley of Jehoshaphat - a low vale, broken by chasms and by projecting and overhanging rocks, and along the center of which flowed a small brook, much swelled occasionally by the waters that fell from the adjacent hills. At some seasons of the year, however, the valley was entirely dry. The idea here is, that they had chosen their portion in the dividings of that valley instead of the adjacent hills on which the worship of God was celebrated. That valley became afterward the emblem of punishment: and may it not be implied in this passage that they were to inherit whatever would descend on that valley; that is, that they were to participate in the punishment which would be the just expression of the divine displeasure?

Even to them hast thou poured out - That is, to these idols erected in the valleys.

A drink-offering - A libation, or drink-offering was usually poured out in the worship of pagan gods Jeremiah 7:18. It was common also in the worship of the true God (see Genesis 35:14). Among the Hebrews it consisted of wine and oil Exodus 29:40; Numbers 15:5-7; Leviticus 23:13.

Thou hast offered a meat-offering - On the word used here (מנחה minchāh) see the notes at Isaiah 1:13; Isaiah 43:23. The word 'meat' formerly denoted in the English language food in general, and was not confined as it is now to animal food. Hence, the word 'meat-offering' is so often used in the Scriptures when a sacrifice is intended which was not a bloody sacrifice. The mincha was in fact an offering of meal, fine flour, etc., mingled with oil Leviticus 14:10; Numbers 7:13, and was distinguished expressly from the bloody sacrifice. The word 'meal-offering' would much more appropriately express the sense of the original than 'meat-offering.' This was a common offering made to idols as well as to the true God, and was designed as an expression of thankfulness.

Should I receive comfort in these? - It is implied that God could not behold them but with displeasure, and that for them he would punish them. The Vulgate and the Septuagint express it well as: 'On account of these things shall I not be enraged?'

6. The smooth stones, shaped as idols, are the gods chosen by thee as thy portion (Ps 16:5).

meat offering—not a bloody sacrifice, but one of meal and flour mingled with oil. "Meat" in Old English meant food, not flesh, as it means now (Le 14:10).

Should I receive comfort—rather, "Shall I bear these things with patience?" [Horsley].

Among the smooth stones of the stream is thy portion; thou hast chosen for thy portion those idols which were either made of those smooth stones which were cast up by rivers, or which were worshipped upon altars made of such stones, or which were worshipped by the sides of brooks or rivers, where such smooth stones commonly lie.

They are thy lot; thou hast forsaken me, and chosen idols for the great object of thy worship and trust.

To them hast thou poured a drink-offering, thou hast offered a meat-offering; for the devil is God’s ape, and idolaters used the same rites and offerings in the worship of idols which God had prescribed in his own, Numbers 15:4, &c.

Should I receive comfort in these? should I be pleased with such a people and such actions? must I not needs be highly provoked, and show my displeasure by an exemplary punishment of such wicked and foolish actions? This is a usual figure, called meiosis, or litotes, when less is said, and more is understood. Among the smooth stones of the stream is thy portion,.... Or thy god; but the portion of Jacob is not like them, stocks and stones, Jeremiah 10:16. Whenever they could pick up smooth stones, and such as were fit for their purpose, whether in the stream of a brook, or in a valley, as the word also signifies, they polished and formed them into an image, and made gods of them; and these were their portion and inheritance, and which they left to their children. There is an elegant play on words (k) in the Hebrew tongue, between the word for "smooth stones", and that for a "portion (l)", which cannot be expressed in our language: or, "in the smooth or slippery places of the valley shall be thy portions"; see Psalm 35:6.

They, they are thy lot; even those stones. Jarchi's note is, to stone thee with, the punishment of idolaters with the Jews; suggesting that those idols would be their ruin; as they will be the ruin of the idolatrous members of the church of Rome, who repent not of worshipping their idols of stone among others, Revelation 9:20,

even to them hast thou poured a drink offering, thou hast offered a meat offering; or a "bread offering", as well as a libation of wine, respecting the sacrifice of the mass, which consists of bread and wine, which is offered up in honour of their idols, angels and saints; hence "Michael mass" and "Martin mass", &c.

Should I receive comfort in these? be pleased with such idolatrous sacrifices? no. The Septuagint, Vulgate Latin, and Arabic versions render it, "should I not be angry for these?" I will; I have just reason for it. Or it may be rendered, "shall I repent of these (m)?" of the evil I have threatened to bring, and am about to bring upon these idolaters? I will not.

(k) . (l) "In laevitatibus vallis erit portio tua", Gataker, Vitringa. (m) "a me super his poenitebit?" Musculus; "poenitebit me", some in Vatablus.

Among the smooth stones {e} of the stream is thy portion; they, they are thy lot: even to them hast thou poured a drink offering, thou hast offered a meat offering. Should I receive comfort in {f} these?

(e) Meaning every place was polluted with their idolatry: or every fair stone they found they made into an idol.

(f) In the sacrifices which you offering before these idols thought you served God.

6. As commonly explained, the verse refers to the worship of stone fetishes; but this is very doubtful. It is obvious, indeed, that by the smooth (ones) of the wadi some objects of worship are denoted, but is it necessary to suppose that they were smooth stones? The expression “smooth ones” (ḥalqê) is chosen for the sake of a play of words between it and “portion” (ḥçleq). If we take it literally it is of course natural to think of stones worn smooth by the winter torrents (cf. 1 Samuel 17:40), although even then there is force in Duhm’s observation that such featureless objects were least of all likely to be chosen as fetishes. (See Tylor, Primitive Culture3, Vol. ii. p. 144 f.) But the word occurs in the metaphorical sense of “slippery,” flattering, deceitful (Ezekiel 12:24; cf. Proverbs 7:5; Proverbs 7:21; Proverbs 29:5; Psalm 5:9, &c.); and such a term might readily be applied to false gods of any kind (cf. e.g. “lies” in Amos 2:4). We may therefore render (following Duhm), “In the deceivers of the wadi is thy portion”; although the special connexion of the deities with the wadi remains obscure.

thy portion] As Jehovah is said to be the portion of His people (Deuteronomy 4:19; Jeremiah 10:16; Psalm 16:5; Psalm 142:6) so these deceitful beings are the portion of those who do homage to them in the manner described in the second half of the verse.

thou hast offered a meat-offering] or, more generally, an oblation, as R.V. (see on ch. Isaiah 1:13).

should I receive comfort in these?] Better, as R.V., shall I be appeased for these things? i.e. “leave them unpunished.” Cf. Jeremiah 5:9.

Note that from this verse onwards the female personification is employed, indicating that a definite community is addressed.Verse 6. - Among the smooth stones of the stream is thy portion. Smooth stones, rounded by water-action, were among the objects worshipped by many Semitic peoples. Such stones were called βαίτυλοι or βαιτύλια - Bethels, or "houses of God " - and received libations of oil and wine from their worshippers (see Genesis 28:18; and comp. Herod., 3:8; Arnob., 'Adv. Gentes,' 1:39; Lucian, 'Pseudomant.,' p. 30; Apul., p. 349; etc.). Stones of this kind, the prophet says, had now become "the portion" of Israel, instead of Jehovah (Psalm 119:57; comp. Psalm 16:5). To such objects they offered their "meat offerings" and "drink offerings." Should I receive comfort in these? Can I, Jehovah, be comforted, when my people indulge in such practices? An office-bearer of the kind described is now introduced per mimesin as speaking. "Come here, I will fetch wine, and let us drink meth; and tomorrow shall be like today, great, excessively abundant." He gives a banquet, and promises the guests that the revelry shall be as great tomorrow as today, or rather much more glorious. מחר יום is the day of tomorrow, τὸ ἐπαύριον, for mâchâr is always without an article; hence et fiet uti hic (dies) dies crastinus, viz., magnus supra modum valde. יתר, or יתר (as it is to be pointed here according to Kimchi, Michlol 167b, and Wrterbuch), signifies superabundance; it is used here adverbially in the sense of extra-ordinarily, beyond all bounds (differing therefore from יותר, "more," or "singularly," in the book of Ecclesiastes).
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