Isaiah 57:8 Commentaries: "Behind the door and the doorpost You have set up your sign; Indeed, far removed from Me, you have uncovered yourself, And have gone up and made your bed wide. And you have made an agreement for yourself with them, You have loved their bed, You have looked on their manhood.
Isaiah 57:8
Behind the doors also and the posts have you set up your remembrance: for you have discovered yourself to another than me, and are gone up; you have enlarged your bed, and made you a covenant with them; you loved their bed where you saw it.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(8) Hast thou set up thy remembrance . . .—The noun has been commonly referred to the Mesusah, or memorial text, “Jehovah is our God; Jehovah is one,” which was to be written on the door-posts of each house (Deuteronomy 6:9; Deuteronomy 11:20); and the prophet is supposed to point to the fact that this had been written behind the door, as showing that Israel had been ashamed to confess her creed. The explanation seems tenable, but it is possible that “remembrance” may stand for some idolatrous symbol or inscription which had been substituted for the true confession.

Thou hast discovered thyself.—The figure of the unfaithful wife is carried into its details almost with Ezekiel’s boldness.

Made thee a covenant with them . . .—The noun, as the italics show, is implied in the verb. The faithless wife forsook the covenant of her youth with her husband, and made a fresh compact with the adulterers.

Where thou sawest it.And thou sawest the place, the words being used euphemistically for the obscene image of a Chemosh-liko idol.

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.Behind the doors - In every part of their habitations - behind the doors and posts and beams of their houses, they had erected the memorials of idolatrous worship.

Hast thou set up thy remembrance - That is, they had filled their houses with the images of tutelary gods, or with something dedicated to them. The Greeks and Romans had their Lares and Penates - their household or domestic gods - the images of which were in every family. The same was true of the apostate Hebrews. They had filled their houses with the memorials of idol-worship, and there was no part of their dwellings in which such memorials were not to be found. When a people forget God, the memorials of their apostasy will be found in every part of their habitations. The shrines of idol-gods may not be there; the beautiful images of the Greek and Roman mythology, or the clumsy devices of less refined pagans, may not be there; but the furniture, the style of living, will reveal from 'behind every door and the posts' of the house that God is forgotten, and that they are influenced by other principles than a regard to his name. The sofa, the carpet, the chandelier, the center-table, the instruments of music, the splendid mirror, may be of such workmanship as to show, as clearly as the image of a pagan god, that Yahweh is not honored in the dwelling, and that his law does not control the domestic arrangements. It may be added here that this custom of the Hebrews of placing the images of idols in their dwellings, was in direct violation of the law of Moses. They were expressly directed to write the laws of God on the posts of the house and on the gates Deuteronomy 6:9; Deuteronomy 11:20; and a curse was denounced against the man who made a graven or molten image and put it in a secret place Deuteronomy 27:15.

For thou hast discovered thyself - This language is taken from adulterous intercourse, and is designed to show the love which they had for idolatrous worship, and the extent of their unfaithfulness to God.

And made thee a covenant with them - Margin, 'Hewed it for thyself larger than theirs. The true sense is, that they had made an agreement with idolaters, or had entered into a covenant with them.

Thou lovedst their bed - Margin, 'Thou providest room.' Literally, 'Thou lovest their bed; thou hast provided a place for it.' The word יד yâd, rendered here 'where,' means literally a hand; then a side, a place (see the notes at Isaiah 56:5). The passage means, that they had delighted in the temples, altars, groves, and sacrifices of idolatry, and had provided a place for them in their own land.

8. "Remembrance," that is, memorials of thy idolatry: the objects which thou holdest in remembrance. They hung up household tutelary gods "behind the doors"; the very place where God has directed them to write His laws "on the posts and gates" (De 6:9; 11:20); a curse, too, was pronounced on putting up an image "in a secret place" (De 27:15).

discovered thyself—image from an adulteress.

enlarged … bed—so as to receive the more paramours.

made … covenant—with idols: in open violation of thy "covenant" with God (Ex 19:5; 23:32). Or, "hast made assignations with them for thyself" [Horsley].

thy bed … their bed—The Jews' sin was twofold; they resorted to places of idolatry ("their bed"), and they received idols into the temple of God ("thy bed").

where—rather, "ever since that" [Horsley]. The Hebrew for "where" means "room" (Margin), a place; therefore, translate, "thou hast provided a place for it" (for "their bed"), namely, by admitting idolatrous altars in thy land [Barnes]; or "thou choosest a (convenient) place for thyself" in their bed [Maurer] (Isa 56:5).

Behind the doors also and the posts; which by a figure called hendiaduo may be put for the door-posts, as it is expressed, Deu 11:20. Behind the posts of the doors of thine house; where the heathens are said to have placed their tutelar gods, to whose protection they committed themselves and their houses, that so they might have their eyes and minds upon them, whensoever they went out or came in. Here also the Israelites might put them in some close corner, that they might keep them secret, it being opprobrious, and ofttimes dangerous, for them to worship idols.

Thy remembrance; those images or monuments and tokens which thou didst make and set up there as remembrances of those idol-gods whom they represented, or to whom they belonged. He saith,

thy remembrance, in opposition to God’s remembrances, or to that writing of God’s law upon their door-posts, which God prescribed to keep him and his law in their remembrance, Deu 6:9 11:20.

Thou hast discovered thyself to another than me; thou hast uncovered thy nakedness, i.e. prostituted thy body, (as the phrase commonly signifies,) to others besides me, thine Husband. Heb. from with me (departing from me, or as it were rising out of my bed) thou hast uncovered or prostituted thyself to others, like an impudent and insatiable strumpet. Art gone up into the adulterous bed, as this very word is used, Genesis 49:4.

Thou hast enlarged thy bed, that it might receive many adulterers together. Thou hast multiplied thine idols and altars. Made a covenant with them; thou hast covenanted to serve them, and to expect help from them. But because the verb here used being thus put by itself never signifies to make a covenant, it seems to be better rendered in the margin of our Bible, and by others, hast hewed it (to wit, thy bed, which is expressed both in the next foregoing and in the next following words) for thyself (for thine idolatrous uses) larger than theirs; than their bed, as it follows: or thus, didst hew down (to wit, trees, which is easily understood, both from the verb, and from the nature of the thing) to or for thyself (to make images or other things relating to thy false gods) more than they; more than the heathens, of whom thou hast learned these practices, as God complains, 2 Kings 21:9 Ezekiel 16:46,47,52. Thou lovedst their bed where thou sawest it; no sooner didst thou see their idols but thou wast enamoured with them, and didst fall down and worship them, like an unchaste and lewd woman, who upon all occasions, and at the very first view of any man, is inflamed with lust towards them. Heb. thou lovedst their bed (i.e. their filthy conversation) in the place (for so this Hebrew word frequently signifies, as Deu 23:12 Isaiah 22:18, and elsewhere) where thou sawest it. Or thus, thou lovedst their bed, thou didst provide (as this word signifies, Exodus 18:21, and so doth a word of the very same signification, Genesis 22:8) a place for it, to receive their bed, to set up their idols in thine own house. Behind the doors also and the posts hast thou set up thy remembrance,.... The memorial of thine idols, as the Targum. As the Heathens had their "lares" and "penates", their household gods, so the Papists have their tutelar images, which they place in their houses, and in their bedchambers; their images of saints, their crucifixes and superstitious pictures, which they call "memories", and "laymen's books":

for thou hast discovered thyself to another than me; or, "from me" (n); departing from me, and leaving my bed; rejecting Christ as King of saints, deserting his worship and ordinances; thou hast uncovered thyself to another, prostituted thyself to another, been guilty of spiritual adultery or idolatry; receiving and acknowledging another for head of the church, according to whose will all things in worship are directed:

and art gone up; to the bed set up in the high place; to idolatrous temples and altars, there to offer sacrifice:

thou hast enlarged thy bed; to take in many adulterers, and idolatrous worshippers; and so, as Musculus observes, many small chapels, at first erected for this and the other saint, through the vast concourse of people to them, and the gifts they have brought, have, in process of time, become large and magnificent temples:

and made a covenant with them; with idols, and idol worshippers; agreeing to receive the mark and name of the beast, and to worship his image, Revelation 13:15, or, "thou hast cut for thyself more than they" (o); more trees to make idols of, or to make more room for the placing of idols in groves than the Heathens: or, "thou hast hewed it for thyself",

a bed larger (p) than theirs; that is, thy bed thou hast made larger than theirs: or, "thou hast cut for thyself from them" (q); taken away from emperors and kings part of, their dominions, and joined them to thy patrimony, and appropriated them to thine own use:

thou lovedst their bed where thou sawest it; took delight and pleasure in places of idolatrous worship, and in their idolatry, wherever they were: or, "thou lovedst their bed, a hand thou hast seen" (r); stretched out to help thee, or give thee power, or to invite, encourage, and receive thee into the idolatrous bed; or rather any pillar, monument (s), or statue, erected for idolatry, which seen, they fell down to and worshipped.

(n) "a me", Pagninus, Montanus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Vitringa. (o) "et caedis tibi arbores plusquam illi", Piscator. (p) "Caedens tibi amplius Cubile quam illorum sit", Junius & Tremellius. (q) "Et excidisti tibi ex eis", Montanus. (r) "manum vidisti", Montanus, Cocceius. (s) "Ubi monumentum vidisti", Vitringa.

Behind the {h} doors also and the door posts hast thou set up thy remembrance: for thou hast uncovered thyself to another than me, and hast gone up; thou hast {i} enlarged thy bed, and made thee a covenant with them; thou didst love their bed where thou sawest it.

(h) Instead of setting up the word of God in the open places on the posts and doors to have it in remembrance, De 6:9,27:1 you have set up signs and marks of your idolatry in every place.

(i) That is, increased your idolatry more and more.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
8. The first part of the verse seems to allude to some form of household idolatry. Many commentators explain the expression as a violation of the command in Deuteronomy 6:9; Deuteronomy 11:20. In these passages the Israelites are directed to write certain sentences of Scripture on the doorposts of their houses, and it is supposed that the practice here denounced is placing the texts at the back of the door so as to be out of sight! This is an utterly improbable interpretation. The thing called “remembrance” (zikkarôn, better memorial, as R.V.) must be some heathen emblem, whose exact nature cannot be determined; and from the fact that it stood at the entrance of the house, it may be presumed to have represented the patron deity of the family.

for thou hast discovered … bed] The last word appears to be the object to each of the three verbs: for away from me thou hast uncovered and ascended and enlarged thy bed. The connexion (“for”) may lie in the thought that they sought every possible opportunity of being unfaithful to Jehovah, their household cults being an expression of their irresistible inclination to idolatry.

and made thee a covenant with them &c.] The sense is uncertain: either, “and thou hast made a contract with them” &c. (?); or, substituting a verb meaning “purchase” (in Deuteronomy 2:6; Hosea 3:2), “and thou didst procure for thee (some) of those whose bed thou lovest.” For the idea, cf. Ezekiel 16:16 ff., Ezekiel 16:32 ff.

where thou sawest it] Lit. “thou hast seen a hand.” The rendering of E.V. cannot be maintained, but the real meaning of the expression is altogether obscure.Verse 8. - Behind the doors also and the posts hast thou set up thy remembrance. It has been usual to explain this of a removal from its proper place into an obscure position of the formulae which the Israelites were commanded in the Law to write on their doorposts and on their gates (Deuteronomy 6:9; Deuteronomy 11:20). But, in the first place, there is no evidence that anciently these passages were understood literally, or that such inscriptions were ever set up; and secondly, as Mr. Cheyne remarks, they would have been more, rather than less, conspicuous in a new place. Probably, therefore, the "memorial" (zikkaron) of this place is some idolatrous symbol or emblem newly adopted by the Jews, and made use of as a sort of talisman. Many commentators think that it was of a phallic character (see Ezekiel 16:17). Discovered thyself; rather, uncovered thyself. Thou hast enlarged thy bed; i.e. multiplied thy idolatries (comp. 2 Kings 16:3, 4, 10; 2 Kings 21:3-7). It is a feature of the idolatry of the time, that it was a mixture adopted from many quarters. It included Baal and Ashtoreth-worship from Phoenicia, Moloch-worship from Moab and Ammos, worship of the Queen of Heaven from Syria, high-place worship from the Canaanites, and stone-worship from their own remote Mesopotamian ancestors. And made thee a covenant with them; i.e. "a bargain for wages," that aid and protection should be rendered in return for worship and sacrifice. Where thou sawest it. The original is very obscure, but can scarcely have this meaning. It is certainly a distinct clause, and may perhaps be best translated, "thou sawest indecency." Whilst watchmen and shepherds, prophets and rulers, without troubling themselves about the flock which they have to watch and feed, are thus indulging their own selfish desires, and living in debauchery, the righteous man is saved by early death from the judgment, which cannot fail to come with such corruption as this. "The righteous perisheth, and no man taketh it to heart; and pious men are swept away, without any one considering that the righteous is swept away from misfortune. He entereth into peace: they rest upon their beds, whoever has walked straight before him." With "the righteous" the prophet introduces, in glaring contrast to this luxurious living on the part of the leading men of the nation, the standing figure used to denote the fate of its best men. With this prevailing demoralization and worldliness, the righteous succumbs to the violence of both external and internal sufferings. אבד, he dies before his time (Ecclesiastes 7:15); from the midst of the men of his generation he is carried away from this world (Psalm 12:2; Micah 7:2), and no one lays it to heart, viz., the divine accusation and threat involved in this early death. Men of piety (chesed, the love of God and man) are swept away, without there being any one to understand or consider that (kı̄ unfolds the object to be considered and laid to heart, viz., what is involved in this carrying away when regarded as a providential event) the righteous is swept away "from the evil," i.e., that he may be saved from the approaching punishment (compare 2 Kings 22:20). For the prevailing corruption calls for punishment from God; and what is first of all to be expected is severe judgment, through which the coming salvation will force its way. In Isaiah 57:2 it is intimated that the righteous man and the pious do not lose the blessings of this salvation because they lose this life: for whereas, according to the prophet's watchword, there is no peace to the wicked, it is true, on the other hand, of the departing righteous man, that "he enters into peace" (shâlōm, acc. loci s. status; Ges. 118, 1); "they rest upon their beds," viz., the bottom of the grave, which has become their mishkâb (Job 17:13; Job 21:26), "however has walked in that which lay straight before him," i.e., the one straight plain path which he had set before him (נכחו acc. obj. as in Isaiah 33:15; Isaiah 50:10, Ewald, 172, b, from נכח, that which lies straight before a person; whereas נכח with נכח נכחו, signifying probably fixedness, steadiness of look, related to Arab. nkḥ, to pierce, נכה, percutere, is used as a preposition: compare Proverbs 4:25, לנכח, straight or exactly before him). The grave, when compared with the restlessness of this life, is therefore "peace." He who has died in faith rests in God, to whom he has committed himself and entrusted his future. We have here the glimmering light of the New Testament consolation, that the death of the righteous is better than life in this world, because it is the entrance into peace.
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