Isaiah 65:4
Which remain among the graves, and lodge in the monuments, which eat swine's flesh, and broth of abominable things is in their vessels;
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(4) Which remain among the graves.—Probably the rock graves of Palestine, which, although they were ceremonially unclean, were not unfrequently used as dwellings (Matthew 8:28; Mark 5:3). The charge may be one merely of neglecting the precepts of the Law, but possibly also may imply that the graves were frequented, as in Isaiah 8:19; Isaiah 29:4, for necromantic purposes.

Lodge in the monuments . . .—Here, again, the words probably point to practices more or less idolatrous, and common among the heathen of the time. Jerome (in loc.) notes the fact that men went to sleep in the crypts of the Temple of Æsculapius, in the hope of gaining visions of the future, and translates in delubris idolorum.

Which eat swine’s flesh.—The flesh of swine was apparently forbidden, not on sanitary grounds only or chiefly, but because that animal was sacrificed in the festivals of Thammuz (Ezekiel 8:14), or Adonis. (Comp. Isaiah 66:17.) It may be noted, as against the view that the verse points to the practices of the Babylonian exiles, that no reference to swine has been found in any cuneiform inscriptions. In Egypt, as in Palestine, it was looked upon as unclean (Herod. ii. 47, 48). On the worship of Thammuz, see an article by the Rev. A. H. Sayce, in the Contemporary Review for September, 1883.

Broth of abominable things.—The words indicate, as before, a sacrificial feast of unclean meats, and therefore connected with a violation of the Mosaic law, possibly with some form of heathen mysteries or divination from the viscera of slaughtered animals. The word occurs here and in Isaiah 66:3, once in Deuteronomy (Isaiah 29:17), and frequently in Leviticus (Leviticus 11:11; Leviticus 11:13; Leviticus 18:26; Leviticus 18:30).

65:1-7 The Gentiles came to seek God, and find him, because they were first sought and found of him. Often he meets some thoughtless trifler or profligate opposer, and says to him, Behold me; and a speedy change takes place. All the gospel day, Christ waited to be gracious. The Jews were bidden, but would not come. It is not without cause they are rejected of God. They would do what most pleased them. They grieved, they vexed the Holy Spirit. They forsook God's temple, and sacrificed in groves. They cared not for the distinction between clean and unclean meats, before it was taken away by the gospel. Perhaps this is put for all forbidden pleasures, and all that is thought to be gotten by sin, that abominable thing which the Lord hates. Christ denounced many woes against the pride and hypocrisy of the Jews. The proof against them is plain. And let us watch against pride and self-preference, remembering that every sin, and the most secret thoughts of man's heart, are known and will be judged by God.Which remain among the graves - That is, evidently for purposes of necromancy and divination. They do it to appear to hold converse with the dead, and to receive communications from them. The idea in necromancy was, that departed spirits must be acquainted with future events, or at least with the secret things of the invisible world where they dwelt, and that certain persons, by various arts, could become intimate with them, or 'familiar' with them, and, by obtaining their secrets, be able to communicate important truths to the living. It seems to have been supposed that this acquaintance might be increased by lodging in the tombs and among the monuments, that they might thus be near to the dead, and have more intimate communion with them (compare the notes at Isaiah 8:19-20). It is to be recollected, that tombs among the ancients, and especially in Oriental countries, were commonly excavations from the sides of hills, or frequently were large caves. Such places would furnish spacious lodgings for those who chose to reside there, and were, in fact, often resorted to by those who had no houses, and by robbers (see Matthew 8:28; Mark 5:3).

And lodge in the monuments - Evidently for some purpose of superstition and idolatry. There is, however, some considerable variety in the exposition of the word rendered here 'monuments,' as well as in regard to the whole passage. The word rendered 'lodge' (ילינוּ yâliynû), means properly to pass the night, and refers not to a permanent dwelling in any place, but to remaining over night; and the probability is, that they went to the places referred to, to sleep - in order that they might receive communications in their dreams from idols, by being near them, or in order that they might have communication with departed spirits. The word rendered 'monuments' (נצוּרים netsûrı̂ym) is derived from נצר nâtsar, to watch, to guard, to keep; then to keep from view, to hide - and means properly hidden recesses; and dark and obscure retreats. It may be applied either to the adyta or secret places of pagan temples where their oracles were consulted and many of their rites were performed; or it may be applied to sepulchral caverns, the dark and hidden places where the dead were buried. The Septuagint renders it, 'They sleep in tombs and in caves (ἐν τοῖς σπηλαίοις en tois spēlaiois) for the purpose of dreaming' (διὰ ἐνύπνια dia enupnia); in allusion to the custom of sleeping in the temples, or near the oracles of their gods, for the purpose of obtaining from them communications by dreams. This custom is not unfrequently alluded to by the ancient writers. An instance of this kind occurs in Virgil:

- huc dona sacerdos

Cum tulit, et caesarum ovium sub nocte silenti

Pellibus incubuit stratis, somnosque petivit:

Multa modis simulacra videt volitantia miris,

Et varias audit voces, fruiturque Deorum,

Colloquio, atque imis Acheronta affatur Avernis.

AEaeid, vii. 86-91.

'Here in distress the Italian nations come,

Anxious to clear their doubts and earn their doom;

First on the fleeces of the slaughter'd sheep,

By night the sacred priest dissolves in sleep;

When in a train before his slumbering eye,


4. remain among … graves—namely, for purposes of necromancy, as if to hold converse with the dead (Isa 8:19, 20; compare Mr 5:3); or, for the sake of purifications, usually performed at night among sepulchres, to appease the manes [Maurer].

monuments—Hebrew, "pass the night in hidden recesses," either the idol's inmost shrines ("consecrated precincts") [Horsley], where they used to sleep, in order to have divine communications in dreams [Jerome]; or better, on account of the parallel "graves," sepulchral caves [Maurer].

eat swine's flesh—To eat it at all was contrary to God's law (Le 11:7), but it much increased their guilt that they ate it in idolatrous sacrifices (compare Isa 66:17). Varro (On Agriculture, 2.4) says that swine were first used in sacrifices; the Latins sacrificed a pig to Ceres; it was also offered on occasion of treaties and marriages.

broth—so called from the "pieces" (Margin) or fragments of bread over which the broth was poured [Gesenius]; such broth, made of swine's flesh, offered in sacrifice, was thought to be especially acceptable to the idol and was used in magic rites. Or, "fragments (pieces) of abominable foods," &c. This fourth clause explains more fully the third, as the second does the first [Maurer].

is in—rather, literally, "is their vessels," that is, constitute their vessels' contents. The Jews, in our Lord's days, and ever since the return from Babylon, have been free from idolatry; still the imagery from idolatrous abominations, as being the sin most loathsome in God's eyes and that most prevalent in Isaiah's time, is employed to describe the foul sin of Israel in all ages, culminating in their killing Messiah, and still rejecting Him.

They remained among the graves, either there expecting revelations by dreams, or there consulting with devils, who were thought to delight in such places; or to practise necromancy, all which were forbidden, Deu 18:11 Isaiah 8:19. And they

lodged in the monuments; the Hebrew word here used gives advantage to interpreters to vary in their senses. The word signifies only places kept or observed; some interpret it of idol temples; some of caves and dens, in which the heathens used to worship their idols; some of tombs or monuments for dead persons: besides the idolatry of the thing, there was in it a sinful imitation of the heathens, and a swerving from the rule which God had given them. They also ate

swine’s flesh, contrary to the Divine law, Leviticus 11:7 Deu 14:8; and they endured in their vessels

broth of abominable things; so the word is used, Judges 6 19,23: others read it, parts or pieces of abominable things; that is, broth, or pieces of such flesh as was to the Jews unclean by the law, Le 11. Every creature of God is good, but God’s prohibition had made the flesh of divers creatures an abominable thing to the Jews, they might not touch their flesh, Leviticus 11:28; but they, taking the measures of their duty from their appetite, or from their reason, concluding from natural principles, made no conscience of the positive law of God. This was their iniquity, which is further aggravated in the next verse.

Which remain among the graves,.... In order to practise necromancy, to consult the dead, where they imagined demons and departed spirits haunted, and of whom they fancied they might get knowledge of future things:

and lodge in the monuments: whole nights for the same purposes. The Vulgate Latin version is, "that sleep in the temples of idols"; after the manner of the Heathens, who used to sleep there in order to obtain dreams, whereby they might be able to foretell things to come, as they did in the temple of Aesculapius; or, "in desolate places" (k), as Kimchi and Ben Melech interpret it; where they expected to meet with demons and noxious spirits, to give them knowledge of things to come. The Targum paraphrases both clauses thus,

"who dwell in houses built of the dust of graves, and lodge with the corpse of the children of men;''

so corpse, according to Jarchi, are expressed by this word, which signifies "kept", or "preserved" (l), as in Isaiah 49:6, because they are put in a strait place, from whence they cannot get out; though some think idols are meant, called so by way of derision, because kept for fear of being stolen, or because they cannot keep themselves, nor their votaries:

which eat swine's flesh; forbidden by the law, Leviticus 11:7,

and broth of abominable things is in their vessels; or "pots": broth made of swine's flesh, and of other sorts of flesh which were unclean by the law. Our version follows the marginal (m) reading; as do the Targum, Aben Ezra, Jarchi, and Kimchi; but the written text is, "a fragment" (n), or piece, or pieces, of abominable things; both may be retained in the sense of the passage; slices of flesh unclean, and so abominable by the law, were put into their pots and stewed, and made broth of, which they drank. Spencer (o) thinks the milk in which kids were boiled is meant, which the Zabians kept in vessels, and sprinkled on the trees in their gardens, to make them more fruitful; hence mention is made of idolatrous practices in gardens, in the preceding verse.

(k) "In desertis locis", Munster, Pagninus. (l) "apud custodita", Junius & Tremellius; "custoditos", Piscator. (m) "jusculum". (n) "fragmentum". (o) De Legibus Hebr. I. 2. c. 8. sect. 2. p. 275.

Which remain among the {f} graves, and lodge in the monuments, which eat {g} swine's flesh, and broth of abominable things is in their vessels;

(f) To consult with spirits, and to conjure devils, which was forbidden.

(g) Which was contrary to God's commandment, Le 11:7, De 14:8.

4. The first two lines read:

Who sit in the graves,

and pass the night in secret (lit. guarded) places.

The practice of “sitting in graves” is undoubtedly rooted in the worship of ancestors (Schwally, Das Leben nach dem Tode, pp. 68, 71), and the object probably was to obtain oracles from the dead. The phrase “pass the night” seems to point to the custom known to the ancients as incubation: “ubi stratis pellibus hostiarum incubare soliti erant, ut somniis futura cognoscerent” (Jerome). This idea is expressed by the LXX. (which runs the two clauses into one): κοιμῶνται διὰ ἐνύπνια; i.e. for the purpose of obtaining dream-oracles. But whether the “secret places” are connected with the “graves” is uncertain.

which eat swine’s flesh] in sacrificial meals; in any case a violation of the Law (Deuteronomy 14:8; Leviticus 11:7). From the fact that wild pigs are mentioned in the cuneiform inscriptions (Jensen, Zeitschrift für Assyriologie, Vol. i. pp. 306 ff.) it has been inferred that the Jews were tempted into this during the Exile. But the swine was “forbidden food to all the Semites,” being sacred to more than one deity, and used in sacrifice only in some exceptional rites (W. R. Smith, Religion of the Semites2, pp. 218, 290 f., 351). It is probably such mystic sacrifices that are here referred to; and there was no place where lax Jews were more likely to be enticed into them than in their own land.

broth of abominable things] Such creatures as are enumerated in Isaiah 66:17. The “sacrifices are boiled and yield a magical hell-broth” (W. R. Smith, Marriage and Kinship, p. 310). “Broth” is the rendering of the Qěrê (mârâq, Jdg 6:19 f.); the Kěthîb has a word (pârâq) which might mean “piece” (sing.), although it does not occur elsewhere.

Verse 4. - Which remain among the graves. The rock tombs of Palestine seem to be meant. Persons "remained among" these, in spite of the ceremonial defilement thereby incurred, either with the object of raising the dead, and obtaining prophecies from them, or of getting prophetic intimations made to them in dreams (see Jerome's 'Comment.,' ad loc.). And lodge in the monuments; or, in the crypts. "N'tsurim may refer to the mysteries celebrated in natural caves and artificial crypts" (Delitzsch). An account of such mysteries is given by Chwolsohn in his' Die Ssabier und der Ssabismus,' vol. it. pp. 332, et seq. Which eat swine's flesh. Not in mere defiance of the Law, but in sacrificial meals (Isaiah 66:17) of which swine's flesh formed a part. Swine were sacrificial animals in Egypt (Herod., 2:47, 48), in Phoenicia (Lucian, 'De Dea Syra,' § 54), and with the Greeks and Romans. They do not appear to have been employed for the purpose either by the Assyrians or the Babylonians. It was probably in Palestine that the Jews had eaten "swine's flesh," at sacrifices to Baal or Astarte (Ashtoreth). In later times to do so was regarded as one of the worst abominations (1 Macc. 1:41-64; 2 Macc, 6. and 7.). Broth of abominable things. Either broth made from swine's flesh, or from the flesh of other unclean animals, as the hare and rabbit (Leviticus 11:5, 6), or perhaps simply broth made from the flesh of any animals that had been offered to idols (Acts 15:29). Isaiah 65:4But through this obstinate and unyielding rejection of His love they have excited wrath, which, though long and patiently suppressed, now bursts forth with irresistible violence. "The people that continually provoketh me by defying me to my face, sacrificing in the gardens, and burning incense upon the tiles; who sit in the graves, and spend the night in closed places; to eat the flesh of swine, and broken pieces of abominations is in their dishes; who say, Stop! come not too near me; for I am holy to thee: they are a smoke in my nose, a fire blazing continually." אלּה (these) in Isaiah 65:5 is retrospective, summing up the subject as described in Isaiah 65:3-5, and what follows in Isaiah 65:5 contains the predicate. The heathenish practices of the exiles are here depicted, and in Isaiah 65:7 they are expressly distinguished from those of their fathers. Hence there is something so peculiar in the description, that we look in vain for parallels among those connected with the idolatry of the Israelites before the time of the captivity. There is only one point of resemblance, viz., the allusion to gardens as places of worship, which only occurs in the book of Isaiah, and in which our passage, together with Isaiah 57:5 and Isaiah 66:17, strikingly coincides with Isaiah 1:29. "Upon my face" (‛al-pânai) is equivalent to "freely and openly, without being ashamed of me, or fearing me;" cf., Job 1:11; Job 6:28; Job 21:31. "Burning incense upon the bricks" carries us to Babylonia, the true home of the cocti lateres (laterculi). The thorah only mentions lebhēnı̄m in connection with Babylonian and Egyptian buildings. The only altars that it allows are altars of earth thrown up, or of unhewn stones and wooden beams with a brazen covering. "They who sit in the graves," according to Vitringa, are they who sacrifice to the dead. He refers to the Greek and Roman inferiae and februationes, or expiations for the dead, as probably originating in the East. Sacrifices for the dead were offered, in fact, not only in India and Persia, but also in Hither Asia among the Ssabians, and therefore probably in ancient Mesopotamia and Babylonia. But were they offered in the graves themselves, as we must assume from בּקּברים (not על־קברים)? Nothing at all is known of this, and Bttcher (de inferis, 234) is correct in rendering it "among (inter) the graves," and supposing the object to be to hold intercourse there with the dead and with demons. The next point, viz., passing the night in closed places (i.e., places not accessible to every one: netsūrı̄m, custodita equals clausa, like ne‛ı̄mı̄m, amaena), may refer to the mysteries celebrated in natural caves and artificial crypts (on the mysteries of the Ssabians, see Chwolsohn, Die Ssabier u. der Ssabismus, ii. 332ff.). But the lxx and Syriac render it ἐν τοῖς σπηλαίοις κοιμῶνται δι ̓ἐνύπνια, evidently understanding it to refer to the so-called incubare, ἐγκοιμᾶσθαι; and so Jerome explains it. "In the temples of idols," he says, "where they were accustomed to lie upon the skins of the victims stretched upon the ground, to gather future events from their dreams." The expression ubhannetsūrı̄m points not so much to open temples, as to inaccessible caves or subterraneous places. G. Rawlinson (Monarchies, ii. 269) mentions the discovery of "clay idols in holes below the pavement of palaces." From the next charge, "who eat there the flesh of the swine," we may infer that the Babylonians offered swine in sacrifice, if not as a common thing, yet like the Egyptians and other heathen, and ate their flesh ("the flesh taken from the sacrifice," 2 Macc. 6:21); whereas among the later Ssabians (Harranians) the swine was not regarded as either edible or fit for sacrifice.

On the synecdochical character of the sentence כּליהם פּגּלים וּפרק, see at Isaiah 5:12, cf., Jeremiah 24:2. Knobel's explanation, "pieces" (but it is not וּפרקי) "of abominations are their vessels, i.e., those of their ἱεροσκοπία," is a needless innovation. פּגּוּל signifies a stench, putrefaction (Ezekiel 4:14, besar piggūl), then in a concrete sense anything corrupt or inedible, a thing to be abhorred according to the laws of food or the law generally (syn. פּסּוּל, פּצוּל); and when connected with פרק (chethib), which bears the same relation to מרק as crumbs or pieces (from פּרק, to crumble) to broth (from מתק, to rub off or scald off), it means a decoction, or broth made either of such kinds of flesh or such parts of the body as were forbidden by the law. The context also points to such heathen sacrifices and sacrificial meals as were altogether at variance with the Mosaic law. For the five following words proceed from the mouths of persons who fancy that they have derived a high degree of sanctity either from the mysteries, or from their participation in rites of peculiar sacredness, so that to every one who abstains from such rites, or does not enter so deeply into them as they do themselves, they call out their "odi profanum vulgus et arceo." אליך קרב, keep near to thyself, i.e., stay where you are, like the Arabic idhab ileika, go away to thyself, for take thyself off. על־תּגּשׁ־בּי (according to some MSS with mercha tifchah), do not push against me (equivalent to גּשׁ־הלאה or גּשׁה־לך, get away, make room; Genesis 19:9; Isaiah 49:20), for qedashtikhâ, I am holy to thee, i.e., unapproachable. The verbal suffix is used for the dative, as in Isaiah 44:21 (Ges. 121, 4), for it never occurred to any of the Jewish expositors (all of whom give sanctus prae te as a gloss) that the kal qâdash was used in a transitive sense, like châzaq in Jeremiah 20:7, as Luther, Calvin, and even Hitzig suppose. Nor is the exclamation the well-meant warning against the communication of a burdensome qedusshâh, which had to be removed by washing before a man could proceed to the duties of every-day life (such, for example, as the qedusshâh of the man who had touched the flesh of a sin-offering, or bee sprinkled with the blood of a sin-offering; Leviticus 6:20, cf., Ezekiel 44:19; Ezekiel 46:20). It is rather a proud demand to respect the sacro-sanctus, and not to draw down the chastisement of the gods by the want of reverential awe. After this elaborate picture, the men who are so degenerate receive their fitting predicate. They are fuel for the wrath of God, which manifests itself, as it were, in smoking breath. This does not now need for the first time to seize upon them; but they are already in the midst of the fire of wrath, and are burning there in inextinguishable flame.

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