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

My Notes on Isaiah 1:10, 16-20

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 3, 2012

To view my notes on all of Isaiah chapter 1 go here.

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 (vs 2), 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 separated themselves from God (2-9) they still seek him in worship (10-17), but God does not desire their sacrifices (vss 11-15) when offered devoid of moral uprightness (vss 16-20).

“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)

(16) Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; take away your evil deeds from before my eyes; stop doing evil,
(17) 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 Deut 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.

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 previous posts on 1:1-10 we saw that God was engaging in a covenant lawsuit  with his people (called a rib, pronounced, reeb). 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.

(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)

One Response to “My Notes on Isaiah 1:10, 16-20”

  1. […] My Notes on Today’s First Reading (Isaiah 1:10, 16-20). […]

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