Verse 20. An appeal is now made to the omniscience of God; he is himself called in to bear witness that Israel had not set up another God. If we have forgotten the name of our God. This would be the first step in apostasy; men first forget the true, and then adore the false. Or stretched out our hands to a strange god. Stretching out the hands was the symbol of adoration or of entreaty in prayer; this they had not offered to any of the idols of the heathens.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 20. Stretched out our hands to a strange god. The stretching out the hand towards an object of devotion, or an holy place, was an ancient usage among the Jews and heathens both, and it continues in the East at this time, which continuance I do not remember to have seen remarked. That this attitude in prayer has continued among the Eastern people, appears by the following passage from Pitts, in his account of the religion and manners of the Mohammedans. Speaking of the Algerians throwing wax candles and pots of oil overboard, as a present to some marabbot (or Mohammedan saint), Pitt goes on, and says, "When this is done, they all together hold up their hands, begging the marabbot's blessing, and a prosperous voyage." In the same page he tells us, "the marabbots have generally a little neat room built over their graves, resembling in figure their mosques or churches, which is very nicely cleaned, and well looked after." And in the succeeding page he tells us, "Many people there are who will scarce pass by any of them without lifting up their hand, and saying some short prayer." In like manner, he tells us, that at quitting the Beat, or holy house at Mecca, to which they make devout pilgrimages, "they hold up their hands towards the Beat, making earnest petitions." Harmer's "Observations."
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS