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Isaiah 58:5

5 Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for people to humble themselves? Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed and for lying in sackcloth and ashes? Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the LORD?

Read Isaiah 58:5 Using Other Translations

Is it such a fast that I have chosen? a day for a man to afflict his soul? is it to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the LORD?
Is such the fast that I choose, a day for a person to humble himself? Is it to bow down his head like a reed, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? Will you call this a fast, and a day acceptable to the LORD?
You humble yourselves by going through the motions of penance, bowing your heads like reeds bending in the wind. You dress in burlap and cover yourselves with ashes. Is this what you call fasting? Do you really think this will please the LORD ?

What does Isaiah 58:5 mean?

John Gill's Exposition of the Bible
Isaiah 58:5

Is it such a fast that I have chosen?
&c.] That is, can this be thought to be a fast approved of by me, and acceptable to me, before described, and is as follows: a day for a man to afflict his soul?
only to appoint a certain day, and keep that, by abstaining from bodily food, and so for a short time afflict himself; or only after this manner to afflict himself, and not humble himself for his sins, and abstain from them, and do the duties of justice and charity incumbent on him: is it to bow down his head as a bulrush;
when it is moved with the wind, or bruised, or withered; as if he was greatly depressed and humbled, and very penitent and sorrowful. The Syriac version renders it, "as a hook"; like a fish hook, which is very much bent; so Jarchi interprets the word: and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him?
which were ceremonies used in times of mourning and fasting; sometimes sackcloth was put on their loins, and ashes on their heads; and sometimes these were strewed under them, and they laid down upon their sackcloth, which, being coarse, was uneasy to them, and rolled themselves in ashes, as expressive of their meanness and vileness: wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the Lord?
does this deserve the name of a fast? or can it be imagined that such a day so spent, can be agreeable to God? that such persons and services will be accepted of by him? or that hereby sin is atoned for, and God is well pleased, and will show his favour and good will, and have respect to such worshippers of him? no, surely.

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