The Divine Lamp

The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple…Make thy face shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy statutes

ISAIAH 1:10-17

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 25, 2007

ISAIAH 1:10-17.

Vs. 10. Hear the word of Yahweh, you who rule Sodom. Listen to the instruction of our God you Gomorrah-people.

Having begun the oracle by calling heaven and earth to attention as witnesses, the prophet now calls on the sinful rulers and people to attend to God’s teaching. Notice the link between vss 9 and 10 (Sodom, Gomorrah). This shows that vss 10-17 are to be taken as relating to vss 2-9. Having seperated themselves from God (2-9) they still seek him in worship (10-17). In the crrent passage God shows he is having none of that.

“Hear…” (Heb shama; shaw-mah) This may be intended not only as a call to attention but also as a reminder of the shema, the traditional morning prayer of devout Jews which opens with the word “hear”.It is a prayer that insists on complete fidelity and reliance on God. “HEAR, OR ISRAEL, THE LORD IS OUR GOD, THE LORD ALONE! FOR THIS REASON, YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD, YOUR GOD, WITH YOUR ENTIRE HEART, WITH YOUR ENTIRE SOUL, AND WITH ALL OF YOUR STRENGTH. (Dt 6:5) In order to worship God properly one must be right with him. See the story of righteous Abraham and his role in the Sodom and Gomorrah event (Gen 18:16-19:29)

Vs 11. What care do I have concerning the number of your sacrifices? says the Lord. I have had quite enough of your whole burnt offerings of rams, and of the fat of your fatted beasts; no delight do I take in the blood of your bulls, your lambs, or your goats.

This verse notes several common sacrifices mandated by the law. God is not here condemning sacrifices as useless, a claim once made by some liberal scholars. The point of the verses being examined is the proper disposition needed for such sacrifices (see Amos 5:21-24; Hosea 6:6; Jer 7:21-23; Matt 5:21-26)

Vs 12 When you come before my face, who required these things from you, that you should trample my courts?

To be “before” someones “face” is Heb idiom for being present in someones company. God never required that people come before him in the temple (trample my courts) with useless sacrifices.

Vs 13 Bring to me no more of your vain offerings; your incense is an abomination before me. Your new moon and sabbath assemblies are solemnities of wickedness which I cannot endure.

Just as God cannot bear sacrifices done with impure motives, neither can he tolerate the celebration of holy days when the same motives are present.

Vs 14. Your new moons and feast days my soul hates; they have become a burden upon me, and I am tired of bearing them.

The word used for hate in the verse is “shane” (saw-nay). It refers to the hatred of a personal enemy. This enemy God is tired (la’ah, law-ah. that is, disgusted) with bearing (enduring).

Vs 15 When you spread out your hands (ie. in prayer) i will conceal my eyes from you; if you make a multitude of prayers, I will refuse to listen; for your hands are filled with blood.

God will refuse to look upon hands outstreched in prayer because they are covered with blood. Some scholars think the blood refers to the blood of the worthless sacrifices mentioned in previous verses. I think it’s a preparation for vs 21. Since this is my blog the scholars gets overuled (it feels good to be king). The reference to God concealing his eyes may be a link to vs 12 which speaks of the people coming before the face (into the presence) of God.

Vs 16-17. Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; take away your evil deeds from before my eyes; stop doing evil, learn how to do good,strive after justice, remove oppression, protect the fatherless, plead the widows cause.

Notice the reference to God’s eyes, it links with the reference in vs 15. This is one reason why, in vs 15, I think “your hands are full of blood” does not refer to sacrifice. God has changed his focus from sins against himself, to sins against others. What the people are told to correct here was a special concern of God’s. Recall the words of our Blessed Lord about the greatest commandment: You shall love the Lord, your God, with your entire heart, your entire soul, and your entire mind. This is the first and the greatest of the commandments. The second is like it, you shall love your neighbor as if he were your very self. All of the law, and all of the prophets depend on these two commands. (Mt 22:34-40; quoting Dt 6:5 and Lev 19:18)

For more about widows, orphans, and the oppressed see Ex 22:21-24; Mal 3:4-5; Amos 4:1-5. Note the close connection to sacrifice and justice in the last two passages.

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