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Isaiah 57

Chapter Fifty-seven:

v. 1:  The righteous Jews are dying, and nobody understands the significance of it.  The significance is that God is allowing them to die so that they will be spared the calamity that will soon overtake the wicked Jews who remain alive.  The death of the righteous is a sign that horrible doom is drawing near the land.  Since the wicked do not understand this, however, they believe the righteous are fools to trust in God; they mock them and the God who claims to be their provider and protector (v.4).

v. 2:  The righteous die, enter into peace, and rest on beds.  The Hebrew word translated as “beds” here is Mishkab (Strong’s Concordance entry 4904).  The same word is used in v. 8 to reference the beds upon which the wicked Jews were committing adultery with foreign gods.  I suspect that Isaiah intends for us to see his two uses of the term as a thesis/antithesis.  In reference to the fate of the righteous, the bed is primarily a metaphor for their peace and security, but it may also suggest the beauty of a wholesome sexual relationship with God.  In reference to the fate of the wicked, the bed is primarily a metaphor of their adulterous lust for foreign gods.

v. 8:  The word that the OKJ translates as “where” in “…thou lovedst their bed where thou sawest it” is the Hebrew word yad, which  means literally “hand” (Strong’s Concordance entry 3027).  The same word is translated as “hand” in v. 10: “…thou hast found the life of thine hand….”  The NRSV translates this part of v. 8 thus: “You have loved their bed, you have gazed on their nakedness,” but it footnotes the word “nakedness” with an alternate translation that reads “gazed on their phallus.”  I suspect that the word they are translating as nakedness and phallus is yad and that this word must have sexual connotations in certain circumstances.  The OKJ translators must have felt shy about translating it literally, even to the point of substituting an adverb of place (where) for it.  According to Barnes, “the phrase ‘life of thy hand’ occurs nowhere else” (320-322).

v. 10:  This is an excellent example of how the yoke of God (Christ) is light as opposed to the yoke of Satan.[1]  Consider what a burden Satan has placed on these idolatrous worshipers of Molech.  He has them sacrificing their own children.  And yet notice how the people do not give up this pointless and perverse religion.  Rather than realizing that it is fruitless, self-destructive, cruel, and unnatural, they draw new strength from it and continue to practice it, like an alcoholic who continues to seek happiness in drink.

v. 15:  Here is more irony.  He that dwells in the high place also dwells with the lowly, the contrite and humble of heart.

v. 20:  Here is another use of the sea to represent chaos and wickedness.  The particular effect of this metaphor is to communicate the ugly, troubled, and useless nature of a wicked soul.

Vs. 19-21:  The willful and arrogant are self-destructive, and our free-will is such that even God cannot force peace on those who will not have it.


[1] See notes on Matthew 11:28-30.

2 Responses to “Isaiah 57”

  1. […] have updated my Bible commentary notes to include chapters 55, 56, and 57 of Isaiah.  As always, feel free to leave comments! Like this:LikeBe the first to like this […]

  2. […] have updated my Bible commentary notes to include chapters 55, 56, and 57 of Isaiah.  As always, feel free to leave comments! Like this:LikeBe the first to like this […]

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