Bible Commentaries

John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible

Isaiah 56

Verses 1-8

1, 2. Further conditions to be observed that men may share in the approaching deliverance.

1. Keep ye.. justice] i.e. keep the law, and practise righteousness.

2. Layeth hold on] RV ' holdeth fast by.' Polluting] RV 'profaning.'

3-7. The privileges of the people of God are open to all, even to those who think themselves excluded by race, or by physical disability (Deuteronomy 23:1). The sabbath appears to have been more strictly observed in the BabyIonian period than it had been under the monarchy (Jeremiah 17:19.; Ezekiel 20:11.; Nehemiah 13:15.).

5. Place] RV 'memorial.'

7. People] RV 'peoples.' The passage is referred to by our Lord at the cleansing of the Temple (Matthew 21:13).

8. Beside those, etc.] RV 'beside his own that are gathered.'

Verse 9

9. Israel pictured as a neglected and helpless flock, exposed to the attacks of wild beasts.

Verses 9-21

The Idolatries of Israel

It is difficult to determine the date of this section with certainty. Many scholars assign it, with the rest of Isaiah 40-66, to the period of the exile, or to a date after the return; but some give it a pre-exilic date, on the following grounds: (a) The picture that is drawn of the self-indulgent and infatuated leaders of the nation (Isaiah 56:10-12) would, it is thought, apply more accurately to the period preceding the exile, than to the exile. (b) The idolatrous rites alluded to (Isaiah 57:5-9) are those practised in the later days of the Jewish monarchy, (c) Isaiah 57:1 implies persecution of the true servants of Jehovah, such as marked the reign of Manasseh. (d) The natural features in Isaiah 57:5-6 are Palestinian, (e) The allusion in Isaiah 57:9-10 seeking foreign alliances suits the days of the monarchy better than the exile period. Those who assign the section to the exile period maintain that the above reasoning is scarcely conclusive, because the writings of Jeremiah and Ezekiel show that heathen rite, such as are here described prevailed right up to the exile, and the tendency to practise them no doubt was strong amongst the Jews generally during the exile: cp. Isaiah 65:3-5, Isaiah 65:11; Again, there were other and later persecutions than that under Manasseh; and that the Jewish exiles were subject to persecution is shown by the case of Daniel and his friends. The Palestinian setting of the idolatrous sacrifices referred to may be accounted for by supposing that these are described as they had been practised by the nation in Palestine.

Chs. Isaiah 56:9-12 - Isaiah 57:2. Rebuke of the unworthy leaders of the nation. Israel is exposed to danger because the rulers are infatuated, self-seeking, self-indulgent, and careless of justice.

C. Isaiah 57:3-10. Rebuke of those given to idolatry. A picture of the idolatrous rites in which they have indulged.

11-14. Jehovah will not endure this, but will interpose.

15-21. He points the way of restoration through penitence.

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Bibliographical Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 56". "John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". 1909.