Isaiah 40:20

20 The one who sets up an image chooses wood that won't rot and then seeks a skilled artisan to set up an idol that won't move.

Isaiah 40:20 Meaning and Commentary

Isaiah 40:20

He that is so impoverished that he hath no oblation
Who is so poor that he cannot bring an offering to his God, yet he will have one; and though he cannot purchase a golden or silver one, or one that is gilt, and adorned with either; yet he will have a wooden one, as follows. Some render it, "he that is set over the oblation", which Aben Ezra mentions; that was over the treasury, where the oblations were; the Heathen priest, whose business it was from thence to procure idols to worship. Jerom takes the word (Nkom) to be the name of a tree that will not rot; and so the Targum renders it,

``he cuts down an ash:''
but the word is descriptive of an idol worshipper; and, according to Gussetius F24, signifies one that by custom and repeated acts has got skill in such things; and so Jarchi: hence he chooseth a tree that will not rot:
he goes to the forest, and chooses the best tree for his purpose he can find, even one that will not rot, as the cypress; and though he cannot get an idol made of metal, but is forced to have one of wood, yet he will get the best he can, that will last longest, an incorruptible deity, as he fancies: he seeketh unto him a cunning workman, to prepare a graven image that
shall not be moved:
having decided upon his tree, and what sort of wood to make his god of, he looks out for an ingenious carpenter and carver, a good workman, to make it in the form of an image, and grave, or rather carve it, in the best manner he can, and then fasten it in a proper place, that it may not fall; a poor helpless deity, that cannot secure itself, and much less be of any service to its worshippers.

F24 Ebr Comment. p. 558.

Isaiah 40:20 In-Context

18 So to whom will you equate God; to what likeness will you compare him?
19 An idol? A craftsman pours it, a metalworker covers it with gold, and fashions silver chains.
20 The one who sets up an image chooses wood that won't rot and then seeks a skilled artisan to set up an idol that won't move.
21 Don't you know? Haven't you heard? Wasn't it announced to you from the beginning? Haven't you understood since the earth was founded?
22 God inhabits the earth's horizon— its inhabitants are like locusts— stretches out the skies like a curtain and spreads it out like a tent for dwelling.

Footnotes 1

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