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

Archive for February, 2007

Notes on Amos 8:1-14

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 22, 2007

Verses 1-3 of chapter 8 recount Amos’ vision of the fruit basket while the remainder of the chapter (vss 4-14) contain an oracle against greed. This oracle ends with a statement that those who swear by the false altar (which the prophet has already condemned in 3:14-15; 7:9) will fall. This leads into the final vision which opens chapter 9, for there we see the Lord standing by the altar about to be destroyed.

8:1-3

1) Here is what the Lord showed to me: a basket of ripe summer fruit.

2) “What is it you are seeing, Amos,” he asked. “I see a basket of ripe summer fruit,” was my response. Then said the Lord to me:

“The end is upon my people Israel; no more will I turn back my punishment.

3) The songs of the temple shall be turned into wailings on that day, says the Lord God. “Many shall be the bodies of the dead, strewn about everywhere. Silence!” (My translation)

In the vision the prophet is shown a basket containing kelub qayis: literally, “summer fruit.” The Hebrew is a reference to the fruit (kelub) that is harvested as the rainy season at the end of summer (qayis) begins. The meaning of the vision becomes apparent when a word play in the Hebrew text is seen. Amos sees qayis fruit and the Lord responds that the qes (the end) has come for Israel. Though the two words are from different roots they do sound alike and, furthermore, something that is ripe has reached the end of a process. This is why many modern translations read something like this: “The time is ripe for my people Israel; I will spare them no longer.” (NIV) Many scholars speculate that Amos went to the northern sanctuary at the time of the Sukkoth (Tabernacles) festival which celebrated the end of the summer harvest.

The Lords command for silence at the end of verse three is, in context, highly ironic. The call to silence was often done in a theophanic context; that is to say, in contexts where God manifests his presence in the Jerusalem temple at the time of sacrifice (see Hab 2:20; Zech 2:17). Having had a funeral dirge sung over her because of her false worship at false temples (see 5:1-6 and my notes) the Lord now declares that their songs of worship will become wails of mourning due to the dead strewn about the land. Such a number of bodies would make the land ritually unclean, an unfit place to worship God. God will reveal his presence in Israel not by manifesting his presence on a false altar in a false temple, but rather, by destroying them.

8:4-6

4) Hear this, you who walk all over the needy and bring to destruction the poor of the land!

5) You say, “when will the new moon be past, so that we may sell our crops? When will the sabbath be done, so that we may market the wheat and make the ephah small while making great the shekel; and so that we might weigh with false scales.

6) So that we might by the lowly for silver, and the poor for the price of a pair of sandals. And so that we may sell even the
refuse of the wheat. (My translation)

The oracle opens with a typical prophetic “call to attention” formula: Hear this. The oracle is directed against those who abuse those of lowly means and recalls the prophet’s original indictment of Israel (see 2:6-16). It also recalls the sarcastic remarks God made concerning their hypocritical worship in 4:4-5. Here the two elements of greed and hypocritical worship are combined. Whether or not the subjects of the oracle were actually thinking the thoughts attributed to them is irrelevant. By their practices they were showing contempt for God and right worship regardless of what their intentions were.

The new moon marked the first day of the month on the Hebrew calendar and a special temple sacrifice was to be done for it (Numbers 28:11-15). The text suggests that the people of the Northern Kingdom did no work or commerce on this day though the law of Moses nowhere legislated such a thing. All forms of work and commerce were forbidden on the sabbath except, apparently, in the case of dire necessity. The subjects of the oracle are shown adhering to the devotions only grudgingly, anxiously waiting for the special days to be over so that they can begin their cheating business as usual. The purpose of Sabbath and the worship of God is lost upon them. The ephah was a very ancient standard of measurement for dry good, particularly grain. It is equal to slightly more than twenty and three-quarter quarts. How exactly the ephah was to be made small is unknown. Presumably the grain was mixed with the refuse of the wheat to attain the ephah measure. The shekel was a standard for weighing out silver and gold. Making great the shekel is something of an ironic term. A shekel was a standard of weight by which gold and silver were measured out. One made the shekel great by diminishing its weight. A business man could then weigh out what appeared to be the agreed upon price for a poor man’s wholesale goods. Since the shekel was made “greater” by becoming lighter, the poor man’s profit was less since it took less gold on the balance scale to equal a shekel that had been tampered with. Thus from the cheating businessman’s perspective, a lighter shekel is a greater shekel. False scales and the cheating of people in the area of commerce was strongly condemned in the Bible, suggesting that it was a common abuse . Deuteronomy calls those who engage in such practice “an abomination in the sight of the Lord” (see Dt 25:13-16). Priests and kings were responsible for ensuring that these practices not take place.

8 :7
By the pride of Jacob has the Lord sworn: “Surely, none of their deeds will I forget.” (My translation)

The Lord is usually shown swearing an oath in reference to himself or his holiness since there is nothing greater than him. Here, ironically, he swears by the pride of Jacob. Men swear oaths by things that are greater than themselves (such as God’s name); here the implication is that Jacob (the northern kingdom) thinks itself greater than God because by its deeds it flaunts his commands. By swearing an oath in their name to punish them for their deeds God is sarcastically criticizing their presumed greatness (pride).

8:8

Shall not the land tremble because of this, while all who dwell upon it mourn as it rises up and is turbulent before sinking back again like the river of Egypt?

Because of the peoples deeds (vs 7) the land will be hit with an earthquake (see 1:1). In an earthquake the land rises up and is turbulent, like a river in flood.

8:9-10

9) And it shall come to pass on that day, says the Lord God, that I will cause the sun to go down at noon, and I will darken the earth in the clear of day.
10) And I will turn your feasts into mourning, and all your songs into lamentations; and I will bring sackcloth onto all loins, and baldness upon every head; and I will make it as the mourning for an only son, and bring them to the end of a bitter day. (ASV. This book is in the public domain. I’ve modified the text slightly)

The comparison of the earthquake to the river Nile in Egypt was no mistake. God had promised Israel that if it did not obey him he would afflict them with the plagues of Egypt (see Dt 28:60). One of those plagues (the ninth) was darkness (Exodus 10:21-29). The tenth was the death of the firstborn and the mourning that accompanied it (Ex 11). The wearing of sackcloth was a traditional sign of mourning (1 Kings 20:31), as was the shaving of the head (Micah 1:16). As has already become clear, the worship of the northern kingdom is tainted. False feasts and songs of worship, if not repented of, can only lead to mourning and lamentation. It should also be remembered that the vision of the fruit basket with which chapter 8 began was explained as signifying that the temple songs would be turned to mourning as the land became littered with bodies (8:2-3).
8:11-12

11) Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord God, when I will send a famine upon the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the word of the Lord.
12) And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east; they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord and not find it. (ASV. I’ve changed the translation somewhat)

Behold, days are coming is a formulaic prophetic expression announcing a coming event. The event announced here is calamitous, an absence of the word of God, here meaning prophecy. This absence is compared to famine and drought, two major punishments God had promised the people they could avoid by heeding his word (see Dt 28). The drought and famine which the people were apparently already experiencing as a warning (Amos 1:1; 4:6-7) did not lead to the heeding of the prophetic call to repentance (Amos 2:11-12). God’s patience is nearing its end and too late the people will realize their folly. The Chroniclers judgement concerning Judah in 587 BC could just as easily been directed against Israel in Amos’ day (see 2 Chron 36:15-16).

8:13-14

13) In that day shall the fair virgins and the young men faint for thirst.
14) They that swear by the sin of Samaria, and say, ‘As thy god, O Dan, liveth;’ and, ‘As the way of Beer-Sheba liveth;’ they shall fall, and never rise up again.

This passage builds upon the theme of drought and famine and upon the theme of mourning and death as well.

In verse 7 the lord swore an oath not to forget the deeds of pride done by the northern kingdom, here the oracle ends with the demise of those in the northern kingdom who swear falsely by the sin of Samaria, a reference to the false shrine and bull shaped altar at Bethel on Mount Samaria. As thy god, O Dan, liveth is an oath formula. Dan was the tribe which dwelt in the extreme north of Israel and a settlement of the same name was located on the northern frontier. At this settlement their was a false shrine (see 1 Kings 12:29). Beer-Sheba is in the southern kingdom of Judah. What the oath formula related to it intends is unknown. The phrase “from Dan to Beer-Sheba” was a proverbial statement designating the entire promised land. Perhaps the reference to Beer-Sheba here is meant to reflect the apparent attitude of the northern kingdom that sacrifice to God can be offered anywhere, rather than in Jerusalem alone.

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ISAIAH 2:6-11

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 19, 2007

In chapter 1 God issued an indictment against his people for various sins. His primary concern was for right worship, (1:9-17) which cannot be seperated from morality (1:18-27). The indictment ended with threats against idolatry (1:28-31). this was followed by chapter 2:1-5 wherein we saw that God’s Temple would be raised up or exalted. In the broader context (chs 1:2-2:22) it appears that this exaltation will be brought about by God’s judgement against shoddy worship, immorality, and idolatry, which were the three indictments of chapter 1. In what follows (2:6-22) the focus will be exclusively on idolatry. The reader should take note of how often the theme of God’s exaltation and man’s (or the idols) abasement is mentioned. It shows that 2:1-5 are not a prophetic anomaly placed clumsily into the text by some editor as some scholars claim. God’s judgement is coming upon his people and it will manifest his greatness over the arrogance of man and the emptiness of idols; and only the repentent will withstand it(1:18-20).

READ 2:6-11

Verses 6-8 describe the false religious practices of the people, (vss 6 and 8) while verse 7 describes their materialism and militarism. Verses 9-11 detail the impending results (punishment) because of these things.

Verse 6. Because the people have disowned their Father God (1:2), apostatized and spurned “the Holy One of Israel” (1:4), thus making themselves his enemies (1:24) God has abandoned “the House of Jacob”. Jacob was also named Israel and it was he who was the fahter of the twelve tribes that constituted the people of Israel.

The initiative for the abandonment comes from the people and not God. This is brought out in the second part of verse 6, which reads literally: “BECAUSE they are filled from the east, and are spirit-knowers like the Philistines. And they clap hands with the children of foreigners.” (LITV) The word BECAUSE clearly identifies God’s abandonment as being the result of the peoples infidelity. God, who is faithful would never take the initiative in breaking the covenant he bound himslef to.

“spirit-knowers” is translated in the NAB as fortunetellers and soothsayers. Fortunetellers were proverbially “from the east.” These were occultic practices strictly forbidden by the Law of Moses (Deut 18:9-14) since God would give the people prophets (Deut 18:15-22).

“clap hands with children of foreigners.” Clapping or striking hands was a gesture made between peoples upon making some kind of an alliance or covenant. These agreements were usually commercial, political, or military. The soothsaying practices among the people of Israel were probably instigated by these alliances. it is known that such agreements often involved invoking the gods of those you were covenanting with. Military alliance with other nations (Egypt is especially mentioned) was strictly forbidden (Deut 17:16; Isa 31:1-3).

Verse 7. The commercial alliances brought economic prosperity to the people but at the expense of the right worship of Yahweh, as verse 8 makes clear.

Verse 9. Man is abased, or cast down. The statement stands in marked distinction from the exalted status of God’s house mentioned in 2:2. Instead of climbing the temple mount the people will grovel in the dust “From the terror of the Lord and the splendor of his majesty” (vs 10)

Verse 10. The word for “man” in vs 9 is adam. Adam, the first man was formed in the image and likeness of God from the dust of the earth and God made him “a little less than a god” (Gen 2:7; psalm 8:6) but man has created an image and called it god in direct violation of his command (Ex 20:4-5). How fitting then that rebellious man would be brought down to the dust from which he came.

Verse 11. Connects with verse 9 and contrasts with verse 2 in this chapter

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NOTES ON ISAIAH 2:1-5

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 13, 2007

THE DIVINE LAMP: ISAIAH 2:1-5


2:1 this is the word which Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.

This verse is similar to the superscription which opens the book (1:1). As noted in the comments there the Hebrew word for vision can refer to both optical and auditory experiences, therefore, the statement that the prophet “saw” the “word” should not cause us to wonder. God speaks both by what he says and by what he does. Visions, like pictures, can speak a thousand words. Do you “see” what I’m “saying”?

The supercsirtion introduced the entire book; this statement in 2:1 is an introduction to chapters 2-5. this suggests that the book was developed, at least in part, from existing written oracles. Wether these were written by Isaiah himself or one of his disciples we shall probably never know.

2:2-5 And it shall come to pass in the last days that the mountain of Yahweh’s house shall be established as the highest of mountains, raised up above all the hills. All nations shall flow towards it; many people will come, saying, “Come, let us ascend the mountain of Yahweh, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us concerning his ways, so that we might walk in his paths. For out of Zion instruction will go forth, the word of Yahweh from Jerusalem. He will judge among the nations and set terms on many people.
they will beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks. No nation shall lift the sword against another, nor will they train for war again. O house of Jacob, come and let us walk in the light of the Lord.

These words are nearly identical to what is found in Micah 4:1-3. Micah was a contemporary of isaiah and it is difficult to say which of the two prophets was the first to receive it. The claim made by some that the two passages are both later interpolations from the post-exilic period has not been well received by scholars. Here we will focus on the literary context of the passage.

The last days. the underlying Hebrew words are variously translated in English. The words need not imply the end of all time but rather the end of an age or era.

the mountain of Yahweh’s house shall be established as the highest of mountains, and raised up above all hills. In chapter 1 the nation was suffering military invasion and Jerusalem was under seige becuase of its sins (1:7-8). Its primary sin was idolatry, the worship of false gods. Such worship often took place under terebinth trees and in groves or gardens (1:29). Often these were located on elevated places like hills (often called in the bible “the high places”). In this current oracle we have a promise that the mountain of the Lord’s house will be established and raised above such places. All the nations will worship God in true fashion and therefore he will not have to punish them with war (see Deuteronomy 28:49-57).

the Lords house established. The Hebrew word for established is often associated in the OT with the place where God’s presence was manifested (Ex 15:17; 1 kings 8:13;) Here the word house obviously refers to his temple. With the coming of the Holy Spirit God’s temple is now the Church, built of “living stones,” (1 Pet 2:4-8) “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the capstone” (Eph 2:19-22) See here, and here.

all nations shall flow towards it. Like streams or rivers. Of course, water does not run uphill. (see what follows)

come, let us ascend the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob. “Who may abide in your tabernacle? who may dwell on your holy mountain? Whoever walks without blame, whoever does what is right, whoever speaks the truth from the heart.” (Psalm 15:1-2) But no more than water can flow uphill can man ascend to God by his own power, let alone dwell with God. God must draw him up and invite him in, therefore:

he must teach us concerning his ways, so that we might walk in his paths. it is for this reason that out of zion instruction will go forth, from Jerusalem the word of Yahweh. This happened as a result of Pentecost (see Acts 1:6-8). As a result, those who were far off (gentiles=people of the nations) have become near to the community of the true Israel (the Church, Gal 6:16) by the blood of Christ. they are now no longer strangers, they have become fellow citizens with the saints and members of God’s household, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the capstone. through him the whole structure is held together and grows into a temple sacred to the Lord…into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit (see Eph 2:11-22)

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Thanks to Mister Lee Anderson

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 10, 2007

Just a (belated) note of thanks to Mister Lee Anderson for kindly fixing the link to my site on the StBlogs home page.  Talk about prompt service!

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Introductory Readings

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 7, 2007

Below you sill fine some important introductory readings designed to give you some necessary Biblical and historical background to the Prophet Amos.

NOTE: Placing your browser on the blue links (without clicking) will cause a pop-up box to appear with the cited text in it.  Orange/red links (if any) must be clicked on.

1) Read Deuteronomy 17:14-20.

* a) What are the people forbidden here?
* b) The king is forbidden 6 things, what are they?
* C) What must the king do regarding the book of the law?

2) Read Deuteronomy 18:9-20.

* a) What is required of the people in regard to legitimate prophets?

3) Read Deuteronomy 28:1-69.

* a) Name two or three of the blessing which are most meaningful or appealing to you. Explain why?
* b) Name two or three of the curses that would most terrify you. Explain why?
* c) Do your actions correspond to the blessings you find most meaningful/appealing? (Personal reflections need not be shared)

4) Read 1 Kings 11:1-43.

* a) Compare verses 1-10 of this chapter with Deuteronomy 17:14-20. What things forbidden the king did King Solomon do?
* b) What is the reason given for the rebellion of Jeroboam, son of Nebat (see 1 Kings 11:26-34). [Note: Jeroboam, son of Nebat is often called Jeroboam I by modern scholars; this is to distinguish him from a second Jeroboam who reigned as king during the time of Amos.]

PLEASE NOTE THAT AFTER THE DIVISION OF THE KINGDOM OF DAVID THE NEW NORTHERN KINGDOM RETAINED THE NAME ISRAEL, WHILE THE SOUTHERN KINGDOM BECAME KNOWN AS JUDAH.

5) Read Deuteronomy 12:1-14.

* a) Where did Solomon end up building this sanctuary/temple?

6) Read 1 Kings 12:1-13:3.

* a) What was the sin of Jeroboam I?
* b) What is propehcied against him and his sin?

Lesson 1
PART B. CHAPTERS 1 & 2

My notes on Amos are now complete.  You can click on the “Notes on Amos” link found under this blogs header to access them.

1) Read 1: 1.

* a) What do you think the purpose of the superscription is?
* b) What (NOT WHO) is the focus of the superscription?

2) Read Amos 1:2.

* a) Scholars call this verse the keynote to the book of Amos. What does this keynote suggest about the content of the book?
* b) What is being prophecied in this particular verse?
* c) Which of the introductory readings given above does this verse remind you of?
* d) What image does the word “roaring” conjure up for you?

3) Read Amos 1:3-2:5.

* a) Does the stereotypical formula employed by the prophet in these oracles have any effect on you? If yes, what is the effect? (Note: remember these oracles were originally spoken).
* b) Imagine you are one of the Jews of the Northern Kingdom of Israel who heard Amos preach; what do you think your reaction to the condemnation of your fellow Jews in the Kingdom of Juday would have been? (Note: the two kingdoms sometimes worked closely together and at other times warred with one another. In Amos’ day they were at peace but Judah was in vassalage to Israel)

4) Read Amos 2:6-16.

* a) What sets the condemnation of Israel apart from all the other oracles?
* b) Does it surprise you that Israel receives such a strong condemnation in comparison to the Pagans? Explain why or why not?
* c) Which introductory readings given in PART A relate to this passage?
* d) What do the verses 13-16 suggest concerning the punishment to come upon Israel?

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I JUST CANNOT WIN

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 5, 2007

I was pleased to see that St Blogs has listed me on their home page blogroll; unfortunately, they linked to a secondary blog of mine which I will probably not be doing any work on anytime in the near future. Oh well, it’s probably a good thing my main blog doesn’t attract readers, if it did they’d start expecting me to blog every day and that would take (gasp) commitment on my part.

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ISAIAH 1:18-31

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 5, 2007

THE DIVINE LAMP: ISAIAH 1:18-31 (PART 1)
Vs 18. Come, let us see who is right, says the Lord: Though your sins are scarlet, they shall become as white as snow; Though they be crimson red, they shall become as wool.

The reference to the color of the peoples sins (red, crimson, scarlet) provides a link with vs 15 (hands full of blood).

In the post on 1:1-10 we saw that god was engaging in a covenant lawsuit (a rib) with his people. Here he sets down why he is right in the matter of the covenant. In spite of the peoples sins against it he is willing to remain faithful and offers them the possibility of coming back covenant relations with him. The question is, will the people remain scarlet, or become clean.

Vs 19-20. (19) If you are willing and hear me, (i.e. obey) then once again you shall eat the good things of the land. (20) If, however, you refuse and rebel, you shall be eaten up by the sword. It is the mouth of the Lord that has spoken.

Notice the word play: “you shall EAT the good things of the land,” or, “you shall be EATEN up by the sword.” Like several other verses in this first chapter, these words allude to the covenant theology of Deuteronomy.

Therefore, keep the commands of the Lord, your God, keeping to his ways and fearing him. For the Lord, your God, is leading you into a fine country, into a land filled with streams, and springs, and fountains of water…a land rich in wheat and barley, vines and figs, with pomegranates, olive trees and honey, a land where you will EAT bread to you are full…But when you have EATEN and been filled, you must bless the Lord, your God, who gave you this good land…lest, having EATEN your fill, you become proud of heart and forget the Lord, your God…(for) if you forget the Lord, your God,…I warn you, on that day you shall perish, for not listening to the voice of the Lord, your God. (see Dt 6:6-20)

But Jacob ATE his fill and grew fat and frisky; he grew fat, thick, and engorged. They turned from the God who made them…they provoked him with strange gods…”Since they have provoked me with a strange god, I will provoke them with a strange (foreign)people. For my wrath is a kindled fire that shall burn to the depth of the nether world…I will give them woe upon woe…I will send them HUNGER by famine, great fever, and pestilence…the SWORD shall bring them sorrow…To the heavens I raise my hand and take my oath: as certainly as I live, I will sharpen my gleaming SWORD and lay my hands upon my quiver. On my foes I will deliver my vengence, I will pay back those who hate me. My arrows will be drunk with blood, and my SWORD SHALL EAT up flesh. (see Dt 32)

Vs 21. Oh how the once faithful city has become a harlot! She used to be filled with justice. Righteousness used to dwell in her, but now, murderers!

“murderers” provides a link with vs 15 (hands full of blood).
“Righteousness (justice)” provides a link with vs 16.

“the once faithful city” provides another connection to Deuteronomy. Throughout that book, the people are exhorted to maintain faithfullness to God or suffer the consequences. The past faithfullness of the people is sometimes recalled by the prophets as they attempt to get the people to return to the covenant. see Hosea 2:16-25; and Jer 2:2; Hebrews 11; and Hebrew 13:7. These passages relate to the doctrine of the communion of saints.

Referring to a city in feminine terms is typical of the bible (see “daughter Zion” in vs 8).

“Has become a harlot.” The covenant between God and his people was often compared to a marriage. The infidelity of the bride (the people) was often compared to harlotry and adultery (see Hosea 4:12; 5:4; 9:1; and Jer 3:1; 6:8). This harlotry usually took the form of idolatry.

Vs 22. Your silver is turned to dross; your wine is diluted with water (Litv)

This verse continues the theme of vs 21.

“dross” Heb: cuwg (soog) The word means literally “to flinch.” By implication it can mean to turn back or retreat. It was often used to refer to apostasy. (see vs 4, though different terms are used there). See also Ezk 22:18.

“wine is diluted” Like silver tarnished wine mixed with water is here a symbol of corruption. But see 2 Macc 15:39.

Vs 23. Rebellious are your princes as they keep company with thieves. Each of them loves a bribe, and seeks after gifts. They do not do justice to the orphan, the pleading widows cause they ignore.

This verse links with vs 16.

Thru the use of their wealth th rich often took advantage of the poor and lowly in their society. The rulers of the people often had a hand in this by accepting bribes. This sort of thing was greatly condemned by the prophets and the law of Moses. For the law see Ex 22:22 and Dt 24:17. For the prophets see Amos 2:6-8; 4:1; 5:7-11; Jer 7:6; 22:3.

Vs 24 Therefore, declares the Lord, Yahweh, the God of hosts, the mighty one of Israel: “woe! I will be unburdened of my foes and I will have vengence on my enemies.

In vs 14 God spoke about being burdened by the peoples sins, here he declares he will be unburdened (literally ‘eased’) of his enemies. These are people who continue to worship while ignoring justice (see vss 14-16 and 16-23. Note the parallels.)

Note also the connective “therefore” at the start of vs 24. God’s punishment is closely connected to his care for the lowly and results from human injustice against them.

Vs 25 Against you, my hand will turn, and refine your dross to purity, taking away all your alloy.

“Dross” see vs 22. The image seems to be the purifying power of fire, as when metal is refined.

Vs 26 I will establish your judges as at the first, and your advisors as at the beginning. Once again you will be called city of justice, a faithful city.

The faithfullness exhibited by earlier judges and councilors will be found again among the leaders of the people. This is part of the purification mentioned in vs 25 and is necessitated by the current sinful leaders (see vss 10, 23). Note also the reversal of what was stated in vs 21.

Vs 27 Zion shall be redeemed by justice, and her repentant ones with righteousness.

Earlier in this chapter we saw that the people, by their actions, were opposing aspects of their founding traditions (see notes on vss 2-4) Those founding traditions were closely bound up with their having been redeemed from slavery in Egypt (see Dt 7:8; 13:5). Though they gave up being part of God’s family, (vss 2-4) thereby becoming slaves, (vss 5-6) God will redeem them from this slavery as well. Because he is just and right, he demands justice and righteousness on the part of man (vs 16). If man rejects the call and grace to act rightly, then punishment comes. But this punishment is meant to be medicinal (see vss 7-9). God’s just punishment upon his people is really a manifestation of his love and mercy. It is itself and act of redemption, and an appeal to the people to repent. (On the relation between God’s mercy and justice see here, and here, note 52.

“redeemed” A concept closely associated with family in the OT. See the Catholic Encyclopedia THE REDEMPTION OF LAND, HOUSES, AND TITHES. For NT developments see here.

“Justice” and “Righteousness” See here.

Vs 28 And crushed shall be the rebels and the sinners alike, those who have forsaken the Lord shall be destroyed.

The sinners were described in verse 4 as weighted down and bent back due to their iniquity in forsaking God (see notes on vs 4). In vs 14 it was stated that God was tired of bearing the peoples hypocritical sacrifices. Here, in vs 28, God will crush them. The ones being spoken of here are those who refused to heed the punishments already inflicted (vss 5-8) and the call to repent (vs 19).

Vs 29 For they shall be ashamed of the trees which you lusted after; and you shall be ashamed of the gardens you have chosen. (LITV)

“Trees” and “gardens” A reference to the fertility cults practiced by the canaanites, the original inhabitants of the land. It was a violation of the covenant
for thee people of God to engage in such worship. they had been commanded to destroy these places: Do not faill to destroy every place on the high mountains, on the hills, and under every leafy TREE where the nations worship their gods. (Dt 12:2; see also 1 Kings 14:23; Hos 4:13; Jer 2:20 Is 65:3)

Notice the reference to lust, taking up the harlot theme of vs 21.

Vs 30 For you shall be like a tree whose leaf fades, and like a garden that has no water in it. (LITV)

God will show the futility of worshiping the fertility gods by destroying the people who have embraced them. this verse is obviously related to the previous one. Ther may also be an allusion to Psalm 1 where the just man who meditates on God’s law is described as a well-rooted tree whose leaves never fade.

Vs 31 The strong man shall be turned to tinder, and his work shall be a spark; both will burn with none to quench them.

Continues to play on the thought of verses 29-30. Having become like withered trees(having no life, grace, law?) because of their worship of false gods under trees, they will become like tinder, and their works (false worship) will ignite them, so that both they, and their, works turn to unquenchable fire.

Posted in Bible, NOTES ON ISAIAH | 1 Comment »

 
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