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Isaiah 44:9-20

Context

44:9 All who form idols are nothing;

the things in which they delight are worthless.

Their witnesses cannot see;

they recognize nothing, so they are put to shame.

44:10 Who forms a god and casts an idol

that will prove worthless? 1 

44:11 Look, all his associates 2  will be put to shame;

the craftsmen are mere humans. 3 

Let them all assemble and take their stand!

They will panic and be put to shame.

44:12 A blacksmith works with his tool 4 

and forges metal over the coals.

He forms it 5  with hammers;

he makes it with his strong arm.

He gets hungry and loses his energy; 6 

he drinks no water and gets tired.

44:13 A carpenter takes measurements; 7 

he marks out an outline of its form; 8 

he scrapes 9  it with chisels,

and marks it with a compass.

He patterns it after the human form, 10 

like a well-built human being,

and puts it in a shrine. 11 

44:14 He cuts down cedars

and acquires a cypress 12  or an oak.

He gets 13  trees from the forest;

he plants a cedar 14  and the rain makes it grow.

44:15 A man uses it to make a fire; 15 

he takes some of it and warms himself.

Yes, he kindles a fire and bakes bread.

Then he makes a god and worships it;

he makes an idol and bows down to it. 16 

44:16 Half of it he burns in the fire –

over that half he cooks 17  meat;

he roasts a meal and fills himself.

Yes, he warms himself and says,

‘Ah! I am warm as I look at the fire.’

44:17 With the rest of it he makes a god, his idol;

he bows down to it and worships it.

He prays to it, saying,

‘Rescue me, for you are my god!’

44:18 They do not comprehend or understand,

for their eyes are blind and cannot see;

their minds do not discern. 18 

44:19 No one thinks to himself,

nor do they comprehend or understand and say to themselves:

‘I burned half of it in the fire –

yes, I baked bread over the coals;

I roasted meat and ate it.

With the rest of it should I make a disgusting idol?

Should I bow down to dry wood?’ 19 

44:20 He feeds on ashes; 20 

his deceived mind misleads him.

He cannot rescue himself,

nor does he say, ‘Is this not a false god I hold in my right hand?’ 21 

1 tn The rhetorical question is sarcastic. The sense is, “Who is foolish enough…?”

2 tn The pronoun “his” probably refers to the one who forms/casts an idol (v. 10), in which case it refers to the craftsman’s associates in the idol-manufacturing guild.

3 sn The point seems to be this: If the idols are the mere products of human hands, then those who trust in them will be disappointed, for man-made gods are incapable of helping their “creators.”

4 tn The noun מַעֲצָד (maatsad), which refers to some type of tool used for cutting, occurs only here and in Jer 10:3. See HALOT 615 s.v. מַעֲצָד.

5 tn Some English versions take the pronoun “it” to refer to an idol being fashioned by the blacksmith (cf. NIV, NCV, CEV). NLT understands the referent to be “a sharp tool,” which is then used by the carpenter in the following verse to carve an idol from wood.

6 tn Heb “and there is no strength”; NASB “his strength fails.”

7 tn Heb “stretches out a line” (ASV similar); NIV “measures with a line.”

8 tn Heb “he makes an outline with the [?].” The noun שֶׂרֶד (shered) occurs only here; it apparently refers to some type of tool or marker. Cf. KJV “with a line”; ASV “with a pencil”; NAB, NRSV “with a stylus”; NASB “with red chalk”; NIV “with a marker.”

9 tn Heb “works” (so NASB) or “fashions” (so NRSV); NIV “he roughs it out.”

10 tn Heb “he makes it like the pattern of a man”; NAB “like a man in appearance.”

11 tn Heb “like the glory of man to sit [in] a house”; NIV “that it may dwell in a shrine.”

12 tn It is not certain what type of tree this otherwise unattested noun refers to. Cf. ASV “a holm-tree” (NRSV similar).

13 tn Heb “strengthens for himself,” i.e., “secures for himself” (see BDB 55 s.v. אָמֵץ Pi.2).

14 tn Some prefer to emend אֹרֶן (’oren) to אֶרֶז (’erez, “cedar”), but the otherwise unattested noun appears to have an Akkadian cognate, meaning “cedar.” See H. R. Cohen, Biblical Hapax Legomena (SBLDS), 44-45. HALOT 90 s.v. I אֹרֶן offers the meaning “laurel.”

15 tn Heb “and it becomes burning [i.e., firewood] for a man”; NAB “to serve man for fuel.”

16 tn Or perhaps, “them.”

17 tn Heb “eats” (so NASB); NAB, NRSV “roasts.”

18 tn Heb “for their eyes are smeared over so they cannot see, so their heart cannot be wise.”

19 tn There is no formal interrogative sign here, but the context seems to indicate these are rhetorical questions. See GKC 473 §150.a.

20 tn Or perhaps, “he eats on an ash heap.”

21 tn Heb “Is it not a lie in my right hand?”



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