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Bible Commentaries
Isaiah 66

Peake's Commentary on the BiblePeake's Commentary


Isaiah 65-66. These chapters contain, loosely strung together, a number of promises of reward to the righteous and threats of doom to the faithless.

Verses 1-24

Isaiah 66. Here divisions are hard to define. The theme— the coming punishment of the apostates and the coming glory of the pious— is pursued now on one side, now on the other.

Isaiah 66:1-4 . An Attack on the Projectors of a Rival Temple.— Those Jews who refused to accept the reformed religion apparently proposed to set up a rival temple. Yahweh scornfully demands of them in what manner of building they would house Him, whose habitation is the universe. These things— a temple and a resting-place— He has already made for Himself, on Zion; for despite His loftiness He ever considers the humble and obedient worshipper. As for these rebels who combine forbidden with legitimate rites, such as human sacrifice, the sacrifice of a dog without effusion of blood, the sacrificial use of swine’ s blood, and honouring of images, just as they choose their own perverse ways so will He choose to make them the sport of fate and bring upon them the things they dread. For, refusing to hearken to His commandments, they deliberately defied Him.

Isaiah 66:2 . but: Heb. simply “ and.”

Isaiah 66:3 . is as he that: Heb. literally, “ He that killeth an ox, he that killeth a man” and similarly. The same man practises both the recognised and the illicit rite.

Isaiah 66:4 . delusions: a rare word, meaning possibly “ wanton blows of fortune.”

Isaiah 66:5-11 . The Imminent Satisfaction of the Hopes of the Pious.— On the other hand, those for whom Yahweh’ s word is law, to whom the opponents of reform have mockingly said, “ Let Yahweh glorify Himself (so LXX) in accordance with your confident hopes, that we may see you happy!” are comforted by the assurance that He will bring these mockers to shame. He will roar from His Temple ( cf. Amos 1:2) as He comes forth to punish His enemies. Zion, to the amazement of the nations, shall become so suddenly populous with throngs of returning exiles that she is likened to a woman who ere the birthpains have begun brings forth a son. Having brought His purposes near to accomplishment, Yahweh will certainly complete them. He bids Jerusalem rejoice, and those who have been “ constant in her ills be joyous in her joy,” deriving from her joy to the full.

Isaiah 66:8 . land: probably “ the people of a” has fallen out before this word.

Isaiah 66:10 . Rejoice ye with: read with LXX “ rejoice thou.”

Isaiah 66:12-18 a. The Future Felicity of the Pious Contrasted with the Impending Doom of their Opponents.— Yahweh promises that He will divert to Zion prosperity (“ peace” ) like an overflowing stream; and the wealth of the nations shall pour into her like a torrent. Her children shall be so comforted by Him that they are compared to an infant carried on the side ( cf. Isaiah 60:4) and fondly consoled by a mother. In their experience of Yahweh’ s grace they shall rejoice, and their bodies shall be full of life like the new grass after the early rains. But while Yahweh’ s grace (so emend “ hand,” Isaiah 66:14) shall be manifested to His servants, His enemies shall feel His wrath. He will come like (so some MSS and LXX) fire, the storm-cloud His chariot ( cf. Psalms 18:10) scorching His foes with His hot indignation. With fire and sword He will enter into judgement with all men. As for those who cling to the old superstitious cultus, purifying themselves for the worship not of the Temple but of the groves, where they follow the actions of “ one in the midst”— probably a leader of the ceremonies, cf. Ezekiel 8:11— and eat in mystic meaJs food regarded by the Law as unclean, their works and thoughts shall perish together.

Isaiah 66:12 . and ye shall suck; ye: read, “ and your children” (LXX).

Isaiah 66:17 . abomination: read, “ swarming creatures.”

Isaiah 66:18 . Transfer the first clause to Isaiah 66:17, rendering “ their works and their thoughts shall come,” etc.

Isaiah 66:18 b – Isaiah 66:22 . Yahweh will Gather to Zion her Dispersed Sons, and She shall Abide for Ever.— Yahweh will assemble all nations before Jerusalem, and manifest His majesty in punishment; the survivors He will send into the furthest regions to testify of what they have seen. These furthest nations— evidently the “ all” of Isaiah 66:18 is not to be taken literally— shall bring all the dispersed Jews back to Jerusalem, tenderly and reverently as a Jew would bring an offering to Yahweh. Yahweh will take some from the returned exiles to be Levite-priests. The nation shall be eternal, like the new earth and heavens which Yahweh will make.

Isaiah 66:18 . If all are gathered, who are the nations of Isaiah 66:19? Many would delete “ all.” But possibly the writer was not strictly logical.

Isaiah 66:19 . unto the nations . . . Javan: a gloss explaining the far lands. In any case for Pul read “ Put” (LXX); cf. Jeremiah 46:9, Ezekiel 27:10 f., and for that draw the bow, read ( cf. LXX) “ Meshech and Rosh,” cf. Ezekiel 38:2.— Javan = the Ionians.

Isaiah 66:21 . priests and for Levites: the “ and” is inserted by the translators, the “ for” probably due to accidental repetition of a consonant in Heb.; read “ Levitical priests.” The point is important, as it would date the passage before the sharp distinction made in the Priestly Legislation between priests and Levites.

Isaiah 66:23 f. A Late Appendix.— The triumphant note upon which the book ends is sadly marred by this late addition, which pictures the Jews—“ all flesh” can hardly here be of wider application— coming each new moon and Sabbath to worship in the Temple, and regarding with abhorrence the dead bodies of the apostates in the Valley of Hinnom (Gehenna Mark 9:43 *). But the picture is not to be taken too literally, for the fantastic elements of the ever-gnawing worm and the undying fire cannot be reduced within the limits of experience. The addition is not much older than the second century B.C.

Bibliographical Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Isaiah 66". "Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/pfc/isaiah-66.html. 1919.
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