Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


Isaiah 17:8

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

The altars, the work of his hands "The altars dedicated to the work of his hands" - The construction of the words, and the meaning of the sentence, in this place are not obvious; all the ancient Versions, and most of the modern, have mistaken it. The word מעשה maaseh, "the work," stands in regimine with מזבחות mizbechoth, "altars," not in opposition to it; it means the, altars of the work of their hand; that is of the idols, which are the work of their hands. Thus Kimchi has explained it, and Le Clerc has followed him.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

And he shall not look to the altars - That is, the altars of the gods which the Syrians worshipped, and the altars of the false gods which had been erected in the land of Israel or Samaria by its wicked kings, and particularly by Ahaz. Ahaz fancied an altar which he saw at Damascus when on a visit to Tiglath-pileser, and ordered Urijah the priest to construct one like it in Samaria, on which he subsequently offered sacrifice 2 Kings 16:10-13. It is well known, also, that the kings of Israel and Judah often reared altars to false gods in the high places and the groves of the land (see 2 Kings 21:3-5). The Ephraimites were particularly guilty in this respect Hosea 8:11: ‹Because Ephraim hath made many altars to sin, altars shall be unto him to sin.‘

Which his fingers have made - Perhaps indicating that the idols which they worshipped had been constructed with special art and skill (see Isaiah 2:8).

Either the groves - The altars of idols were usually erected in groves, and idols were worshipped there before temples were raised (see Exodus 34:13; Deuteronomy 7:5; Deuteronomy 12:3; Judges 3:7; 1 Kings 14:23; 1 Kings 18:19; 2 Chronicles 33:3; compare the notes at Isaiah 1:29).

Or the images - Margin, ‹Sun images‘ (חמנים chamānı̂ym ). This word is used to denote idols in general in Leviticus 26:30; 2 Chronicles 24:4. But it is supposed to denote properly images erected to the sun, and to be derived from חמה chamāh “the sun.” Thus the word is used in Job 30:28; Isaiah 24:23; Isaiah 30:26; Job 31:26).

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
Sin desolates cities. It is strange that great conquerors should take pride in being enemies to mankind; but it is better that flocks should lie down there, than that they should harbour any in open rebellion against God and holiness. The strong holds of Israel, the kingdom of the ten tribes, will be brought to ruin. Those who are partakers in sin, are justly made partakers in ruin. The people had, by sins, made themselves ripe for ruin; and their glory was as quickly cut down and taken away by the enemy, as the corn is out of the field by the husbandman. Mercy is reserved in the midst of judgment, for a remnant. But very few shall be marked to be saved. Only here and there one was left behind. But they shall be a remnant made holy. The few that are saved were awakened to return to God. They shall acknowledge his hand in all events; they shall give him the glory due to his name. To bring us to this, is the design of his providence, as he is our Maker; and the work of his grace, as he is the Holy One of Israel. They shall look off from their idols, the creatures of their own fancy. We have reason to account those afflictions happy, which part between us and our sins. The God of our salvation is the Rock of our strength; and our forgetfulness and unmindfulness of him are at the bottom of all sin. The pleasant plants, and shoots from a foreign soil, are expressions for strange and idolatrous worship, and the vile practices connected therewith. Diligence would be used to promote the growth of these strange slips, but all in vain. See the evil and danger of sin, and its certain consequences.
Ellen G. White
Prophets and Kings, 320

Do not listen to the enemy's suggestion to stay away from Christ until you have made yourself better, until you are good enough to come to God. If you wait until then you will never come. When Satan points to your filthy garments, repeat the promise of the Saviour, “Him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out.” John 6:37. Tell the enemy that the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses from all sin. Make the prayer of David your own: “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” Psalm 51:7. PK 320.1

The exhortations of the prophet to Judah to behold the living God, and to accept His gracious offers, were not in vain. There were some who gave earnest heed, and who turned from their idols to the worship of Jehovah. They learned to see in their Maker love and mercy and tender compassion. And in the dark days that were to come in the history of Judah, when only a remnant were to be left in the land, the prophet's words were to continue bearing fruit in decided reformation. “At that day,” declared Isaiah, “shall a man look to his Maker, and his eyes shall have respect to the Holy One of Israel. And he shall not look to the altars, the work of his hands, neither shall respect that which his fingers have made, either the groves, or the images.” Isaiah 17:7, 8. PK 320.2

Many were to behold the One altogether lovely, the chiefest among ten thousand. “Thine eyes shall see the King in His beauty,” was the gracious promise made them. Isaiah 33:17. Their sins were to be forgiven, and they were to make their boast in God alone. In that glad day of redemption from idolatry they would exclaim, “The glorious Lord will be unto us a place of broad rivers and streams.... The Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, the Lord is our king; He will save us.” Verses 21, 22. PK 321.1

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