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Israel’s Futile Idolatry


The righteous perish,

and no one takes it to heart;

the devout are taken away,

while no one understands.

For the righteous are taken away from calamity,


and they enter into peace;

those who walk uprightly

will rest on their couches.


But as for you, come here,

you children of a sorceress,

you offspring of an adulterer and a whore.


Whom are you mocking?

Against whom do you open your mouth wide

and stick out your tongue?

Are you not children of transgression,

the offspring of deceit—


you that burn with lust among the oaks,

under every green tree;

you that slaughter your children in the valleys,

under the clefts of the rocks?


Among the smooth stones of the valley is your portion;

they, they, are your lot;

to them you have poured out a drink offering,

you have brought a grain offering.

Shall I be appeased for these things?


Upon a high and lofty mountain

you have set your bed,

and there you went up to offer sacrifice.


Behind the door and the doorpost

you have set up your symbol;

for, in deserting me, you have uncovered your bed,

you have gone up to it,

you have made it wide;

and you have made a bargain for yourself with them,

you have loved their bed,

you have gazed on their nakedness.


You journeyed to Molech with oil,

and multiplied your perfumes;

you sent your envoys far away,

and sent down even to Sheol.


You grew weary from your many wanderings,

but you did not say, “It is useless.”

You found your desire rekindled,

and so you did not weaken.



Whom did you dread and fear

so that you lied,

and did not remember me

or give me a thought?

Have I not kept silent and closed my eyes,

and so you do not fear me?


I will concede your righteousness and your works,

but they will not help you.


When you cry out, let your collection of idols deliver you!

The wind will carry them off,

a breath will take them away.

But whoever takes refuge in me shall possess the land

and inherit my holy mountain.


A Promise of Help and Healing


It shall be said,

“Build up, build up, prepare the way,

remove every obstruction from my people’s way.”


For thus says the high and lofty one

who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy:

I dwell in the high and holy place,

and also with those who are contrite and humble in spirit,

to revive the spirit of the humble,

and to revive the heart of the contrite.


For I will not continually accuse,

nor will I always be angry;

for then the spirits would grow faint before me,

even the souls that I have made.


Because of their wicked covetousness I was angry;

I struck them, I hid and was angry;

but they kept turning back to their own ways.


I have seen their ways, but I will heal them;

I will lead them and repay them with comfort,

creating for their mourners the fruit of the lips.


Peace, peace, to the far and the near, says the L ord;

and I will heal them.


But the wicked are like the tossing sea

that cannot keep still;

its waters toss up mire and mud.


There is no peace, says my God, for the wicked.


14. And he shall say, Prepare, prepare. Because this promise, that they who hoped in the Lord should possess the land, might be thought ridiculous, (for soon afterwards they were to be driven out of it,) for the sake of believers that still remained, there is added this second promise, by which he pledges himself that, although they have been driven out of the land of Canaan, and banished to a distant country, yet they shall be brought back to it. He therefore meets a doubt which might arise, that good men might not despair during that painful and long­continued banishment, or imagine that the promise of God had failed of accomplishment. Some explain it to mean, that the Lord will send true and faithful prophets, to cleanse from its scandals the Church which had been corrupted by false prophets and wicked rulers; as he formerly showed that from them arose the cause of her ruin; and so they think that this is a promise of a better and happier condition. But such an interpretation is excessively forced, and therefore I choose rather to adopt the former interpretation, that, although for a time the Jews shall be deprived of that land, yet they shall be restored to it by the Lord, who will order the roads to be levelled, in order to bring them back.

This passage agrees with that which we formerly examined, (Isaiah 40:1-4) in which the Lord commanded to bring comfort to his people, to proclaim and publish the return to Judea, and to clear the roads; for, in consequence of their having been shut up in Babylon as in a grave, and of the length and difficulty of the journey, and of the vast wilderness that lay between, they could scarcely have any hope of returning to their native country. It was therefore proper that Isaiah should not pass by this matter lightly, that they might not dread the mountains or the sea that lay between, or any other obstructions.

Level the road. He addresses Cyrus and Darius, whose minds the Lord inspired to open up the path, and grant protection to the Jews; as if he had said, that the Lord will send ministers, who are now unknown to them, by whose agency he will “prepare the way” and bring out the people. The apostrophe, also, by which he directly addresses them, carries greater force than if he had spoken in the third person. By ordering them to remove the stumbling blocks, he shows that there is no reason why they should be terrified by the difficulties and obstructions of the roads, which the Lord will easily “take away,” whenever he thinks fit.

Out of the way of my people. The hope of return is contained in this, that the Lord determines to bring back his people, and place them again in the land of Canaan. Wherefore, though there were no other road, yet there must be one, and every bar and obstacle must be removed; because the Lord hath promised their return, and consequently is their leader in the journey.

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