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Bible Commentaries

Peake's Commentary on the Bible

Isaiah 58

Verses 1-14

Isaiah 58:1-14 . Fasting, False and True.— Yahweh bids the prophet explain to His people wherein their sin lies. Daily they attend the Temple, seeking to know His will for all the world as though their one aim were to do it! They question the priests as to correct ritual—“ righteous ordinances”— and delight in daily worship. “ Why,” they ask, “ when we fast does Yahweh take no notice of our pleas?” Because on their fast-days they pursue their business— so render rather than “ pleasure”— and exact their debts (so emend ( cf. LXX) the dubious word rendered “ labours” ). Thus their fast-days are marked by strife and oppression. Such fasting will not speed their prayers on high! Yahweh desires as a fast not self-mortification, gestures of woe, symbols of humiliation: but the loosing of unjust bonds, and the freeing of the crushed; the feeding of the hungry ( cf. Nehemiah 5:17) and the housing of the homeless; the clothing of the naked, and brotherly association with their poor fellow-countrymen—“ their own flesh.” Thus would come prosperity and healing. Their right-doing would be as their vanguard and Yahweh Himself their rearguard. He would answer their petitions without delay. Let them put away oppression, contemptuous action, and wicked speech; let them give their bread (so some MSS and VSS for “ soul” ) to the hungry: and their deep gloom shall be exchanged for noonday light. Yahweh will be their guide, giving them water in arid regions, renewing their strength (so emend the dubious Heb. “ make strong thy bones” ). They shall flourish like an irrigated garden, or an oasis whose springs do not disappear in the hot season. Zion’ s sons will rebuild her ancient ruins, restoring the time-honoured foundations. Isaiah 58:13 f . bears the marks of a later corollary to this discourse on fasting. It consists largely of quotation, and differs considerably in LXX. “ If thou regard the Sabbath as holy ground, from which thou turnest a profane foot, refraining from business; if thou callest the Sabbath thy delight and the new moon of Yahweh (for the combination cf. Isaiah 1:13) thy joy (emending the strange and tautologous expression “ the holy of the Lord honourable” ), refraining from business and idle talk: then thou shalt have thy delight in Yahweh, and I will cause thee to surmount all difficulties ( cf. Deuteronomy 32:13) and assuredly cause thee to enjoy the inheritance of thine ancestors.”

Isaiah 58:8 . healing: the new flesh which forms in the healing of a wound.

Isaiah 58:11 . spring of water: rather, “ a place of springs.”

Isaiah 58:12 . Read, “ And thy sons shall build.”— paths: perhaps read, “ ruins.”

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Bibliographical Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Isaiah 58". "Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". 1919.