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Bible Commentaries

Peake's Commentary on the Bible

Isaiah 64

Verses 1-9

Isaiah 63:15 to Isaiah 64:9 . A Fervent Prayer to Yahweh to Intervene again for His Children.— The appeal rings like a litany, reminding Yahweh, who has withdrawn into His glorious heavenly palace, of His former compassion. To Abraham and Israel appeal has been made in vain (some approach to ancestor-worship seems to have been prevalent), but Yahweh is their father and redeemer. His severity has sent them wandering even further away, and hardened their heart so that they cannot “ fear Him,” i.e. carry out the duties of religion. If only He would come back from His seclusion! Isaiah 63:18 is corrupt; regrouping of consonants and very slight changes give the excellent sense, “ Why do the wicked despise thy Holy House, our enemies desecrate thy Sanctuary? “ The allusion is not to a destruction, but a profanation, of the Temple by the pro-Samaritans, who refused to accept the new standard of religious practice, adhering tenaciously to old usages now regarded as heathenish. The strict party is left, through Yahweh’ s seclusion, as a shepherdless flock. If Yahweh would but manifest Himself in a glorious theophany ( cf. Judges 5:4 f.), rending the heavens and causing the mountains to shake, even as fire makes brushwood crackle and blaze or water boil over, that He might “ put the fear of God” into His adversaries, and make the peoples tremble while He does “ terrible things”— the term used of the marvels of the Exodus— beyond the hopes of His people or the experience of men! (Delete Isaiah 64:3 b, “ thou camest . . . presence” an accidental repetition from Isaiah 63:1, and connect “ For from of old men have not heard” with what precedes, changing “ For” to “ and.” On the basis of LXX the rest of Isaiah 63:4 may possibly be reconstructed, “ Ear hath not heard and eye hath not seen the deeds and exploits which thou wilt work for those who wait on thee.” ) Oh! that He would meet, i.e. be gracious to, those who work righteousness and remember His ways ( cf. LXX). The remainder of this corrupt verse ( cf. mg.) may read, “ Behold, thou wast wroth and we sinned, wroth at our doings, so that we became guilty.” ) For we have become like the unclean, our righteous deeds like a polluted garment: we are withered like leaves, and our iniquity (read sing.) has whirled us away like the wind. So that hardly one among us calls on Thy name ( cf. Genesis 4:26), or is zealous to lay hold on Thee, because Thou hast withdrawn Thy countenance from us and delivered us up to the power of our sins ( mg.) . We are the clay which Thou hast fashioned; destroy not Thy work by unrelenting anger ( cf. Job 10:8-12). Look at us, we entreat Thee, we are Thy people!

Verses 10-12

Isaiah 64:10-12 . These verses, which describe the Temple as not merely desecrated but actually burned, seem to be a late addition from a period of which we have no exact information.

The cities of the holy land are become a desert, Jerusalem a curse (LXX and Latin). The Temple, which has existed long enough to have exchanged its simplicity for adornment, and to be hallowed by memory, is burned. All that the people took delight in is ruined. Can Yahweh refrain from action on behalf of his people?

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Bibliographical Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Isaiah 64". "Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". 1919.