Isaiah 43:22-28

Ben Crick ben.crick at
Thu Dec 27 18:25:47 EST 2001

On Thu 27 Dec 2001 (13:34:05), lizfried at wrote:
> According to my interpretation of Is. 43:22-28,
> the prophet has YHWH castigate the people for not
> bringing him sacrifices, but bringing him their sins instead.
> It was for this reason that he sent them to destruction and exile.
> This interpretation agrees with many translations and commentaries.
> Yet, others interpret it and translate it differently. They say that
> YHWH is blaming the Jews for sacrificing to other gods, not to him.
> Their interpretation rests on the fact that lo' 'oti is fronted in vs.
> 22. How much weight should that fronting have in the interpretation of
> the passage.

 Dear Liz

 Forgiveness of sins is what we all need, and God provided the sacrificial
 cultus to effect this for his faithful people. He formed them for Himself;
 they were to show forth his praise (verse 21). But instead, they had made a
 sort of "sin now, pay later" tariff out of the sacrificial system. It was
 not intended to be misused in this fashion. Isaiah castigates the people back
 in chapter 1:10-15 for this very thing. Their worship is just a "trampling of
 My courts".

 During the Exile the cultus was suspended by YHWH; he could not now chide them
 for doing what was no longer possible. God wanted *obedience*, not sacrifices
 for disobedience (Jeremiah 7:21-28; compare 1 Samuel 15:22; Amos 4:4-5,
 5:21-27; Micah 6:6-8).

 The fronting of W:Lo' `oTiY does seem significant. "It was not Me you were
 calling, Jacob: for you have grown weary of Me, Israel". Their religious
 observances have been "on auto pilot"; compare Isaiah 66:3. They had grown
 weary of God (YaGa`, verse 22); yet not because God was being wearisome to
 them by demanding overmuch incense (W:Lo' HoWGa`TiYKa, verse 23). But they are
 now wearying Him with their iniquities (HoWGa`TaNiY Ba`a:WoNoTeYKa, verse 24).

 Verses 25, 26 are reminiscent of 1:18-20. IMHO they were not sacrificing to
 pagan gods: they were just making perfunctory sacrifices to fulfil the letter
 of the Law, whilst finding it too "wearisome" to serve the LORD with all
 their heart and mind and soul and strength. It took the Exile to cure them of
 this attitude.

 JA Motyer sees a Chiasm of five couplets in verse 22-24:
 A1   A disinclination for the LORD (22)
      B1   Cultic failure, sacrifices not honouring the LORD (23ab)
           C   Divine intent: not to enslave (23cd)
      B2   Cultic failure, sacrifices not satisfying the LORD (24ab)
 A2   A burden upon the LORD (24cd)

 (JA Motyer, /The Prophecy of Isaiah/, Inter Varsity Press, 1993, p 339.) My
 indebtedness to him must be obvious. But then he was my tutor back in the 60s!

 Revd Ben Crick BA CF, and Mrs Joanna (Goodwin) Crick
 <ben.crick at>
 232 Canterbury Road, Birchington, Kent, CT7 9TD (UK)

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