Isaiah 44 – “God’s Polemic Against Idol Making; Reassuring Words for Israel”

Hebrew-English Text
I. Summary
God mocks those who make idols, asks the people to return to him, and proclaims that Cyrus will usher in the rebuilding of the temple.

II. Photo
God mocks those who make idols: “He makes a god out of the rest [of the wood] — his own carving! He bows down to it, worships it; He prays to it and cries, ‘Save me, for you are my god!’” (v. 17)

III. Important Verses
3-5: Even as I pour water on thirsty soil, And rain upon dry ground, So will I pour My spirit on your offspring, My blessing upon your posterity. And they shall sprout like grass, Like willows by watercourses. One shall say, “I am the LORD’s,” Another shall use the name of “Jacob,” Another shall mark his arm “of the LORD” And adopt the name of “Israel.”
13-17: The craftsman in wood measures with a line And marks out a shape with a stylus; He forms it with scraping tools, Marking it out with a compass. He gives it a human form, The beauty of a man, to dwell in a shrine. For his use he cuts down cedars; He chooses plane trees and oaks. He sets aside trees of the forest; Or plants firs, and the rain makes them grow. All this serves man for fuel: He takes some to warm himself, And he builds a fire and bakes bread. He also makes a god of it and worships it, Fashions an idol and bows down to it! Part of it he burns in a fire: On that part he roasts meat, He eats the roast and is sated; He also warms himself and cries, “Ah, I am warm! I can feel the heat!” Of the rest he makes a god — his own carving! He bows down to it, worships it; He prays to it and cries, “Save me, for you are my god!”
27-28: I, who said to the deep, “Be dry; I will dry up your floods,” Am the same who says of Cyrus, “He is My shepherd; He shall fulfill all My purposes! He shall say of Jerusalem, ‘She shall be rebuilt,’ And to the Temple: ‘You shall be founded again.’”

IV. Outline

1. God addresses the people
2-5. The people’s offspring will serve God
6-22. Polemic against idol making
    6-9. God is the only God and beyond time
    10-11. Idol makers are fools
    12-17. Description of making and worshipping an idol
    18-20. Idol makers are fools
    21-22. God asks Israel to return
23. Words of assurance
    23. Hymnic call to praise
    24-26. God can be believed to rebuild Jerusalem
    27-28. God can be believed regarding Cyrus and the rebuilding of the temple

V. Comment
No comment today. Stay tuned.

VI. Works Used
(see “Commentaries” page)
Blenkinsopp, Joseph. “Isaiah 1-39” The Anchor Bible vol. 19 (New York: Doubleday, 2000).
Collins, John J. “Introduction to the Hebrew Bible,” (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2004).
Sweeney, Marvin A. “Isaiah 1-39 with an Introduction to Prophetic Literature” The Forms of Old Testament Literature vol. 16 (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans, 1996).
Photo taken from