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Bible Commentaries

Peake's Commentary on the Bible

Isaiah 57

Verses 1-2

Isaiah 56:9 to Isaiah 57:2 . A Denunciation of the Rulers of the Community.— This oracle seems not to be connected with the preceding, though, it arises out of the same circumstances.

Yahweh bids the beasts of prey ( cf. Jeremiah 12:9), hostile nations, ravage the flock, since the watchdogs are not alert, but crouched in the slumber of gluttons. Vividly then one of the rulers is introduced, inviting his fellows to a drunken orgy ( cf. Amos 6:6), and gloating over a like prospect for the morrow. But, while the rulers gorge and swill, the man who keeps the law and is godly ( mg.) perishes through these evils ( mg.) , unnoticed: his only rest is that of the funeral bier (“ beds” ).

Isaiah 56:10 . his: read, “ my.”

Verses 3-13

Isaiah 57:3-13 . An Invective against the Pro-Samaritans.— Yahweh turns now bitterly to upbraid the “ pro-Samaritan” party in the community, among whom flourished many of the primitive Palestinian religious practices. To defame his mother was to an Eastern the most offensive of insults; but the terms used are figurative (idolatry being often in OT described as adultery). How can this false brood deride the pious! ( Isaiah 57:5 is probably an illustrative quotation). The adulteress has chosen for her portion the smooth” (perhaps “ slippery ones,” i.e. false gods) in place of Yahweh. On the high places she has set her bed, i.e. practised heathen rites, which were in fact notoriously sensual. The “ memorial” is probably a phallic symbol; “ incited by it” (so read for “ to another than me” ) she strips and prepares her bed and hires for herself such as she loves intercourse with (slightly emending “ made thee a covenant” ). For where thou sawest it” translate probably, “ thou sawest the phallus.” If so, some clause has fallen out. She anoints herself for the King,” i.e. Melek (= Moloch) the Palestinian god, and perfumes herself. Not content with Palestinian deities she sends representatives to the shrines of distant gods, even to the deities of Sheol. She refuses, despite her weariness, to acknowledge failure. Whom has she feared? For she has entirely ignored her duty to Yahweh. She has misinterpreted His inaction. But he will expose her “ righteousness (!)” and her works. When she cries, her abominations the idols (cf. mg.) will not rescue her. They shall fly like chaff in the wind. But he who adheres to Yahweh shall possess the land.

Verses 14-21

Isaiah 57:14-21 . A Gracious Promise to the Party of the Pious.— This oracle is modelled on Isaiah 40, though the “ way” is figurative. Yahweh commands that the Way of His adherents be raised and freed from obstacles. He, the High and Lofty ( cf. Isaiah 6:1), who, unlike the perishing idols, sits upon a throne of eternity, dwells also with the (politically) crushed and lowly, whose fortunes He will revive. He will not be angry for ever, lest all creation should perish. Because of Israel’ s iniquity He smote him, and hid Himself from him, so that he turned aside to his own ways, which ways Yahweh, Himself unseen, has watched. (“ I have seen his ways” should be joined to Isaiah 57:17.) He will heal and give rest to and console him. For his mourners He creates the fruit of the lips, i.e. thanksgiving, and for the Jew at home or m exile, far off or near, He will create peace, i.e. prosperity. But the wicked, like the uptossed sea, shall have no peace.

Isaiah 57:15 . in the high and lofty place: render, “ on high as the lofty one.”

Isaiah 57:16 . Spirit, soul: mean no more than “ living creature.”

Isaiah 57:19 . Peace: object to “ create.” The sentence is not an exclamation.

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Bibliographical Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Isaiah 57". "Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". 1919.