Isaiah 58 – “Conditional Rewards”

Hebrew-English Text
I. Summary
Despite their fasting, the Israelites are censured for mistreating the poor. Nevertheless, God promises them great rewards if they live altruistically.

II. Photo
The people are promised great rewards: “Men from your midst shall rebuild ancient ruins, you shall restore foundations laid long ago. And you shall be called ‘“Repairer of fallen walls,’ ‘Restorer of lanes for habitation.’” (v. 12)

III. Important Verses
2: To be sure, they seek Me daily, Eager to learn My ways. Like a nation that does what is right, That has not abandoned the laws of its God, They ask Me for the right way, They are eager for the nearness of God.
3-5:  “Why, when we fasted, did You not see? When we starved our bodies, did You pay no heed?” Because on your fast day You see to your business And oppress all your laborers! Because you fast in strife and contention, And you strike with a wicked fist! Your fasting today is not such As to make your voice heard on high. Is such the fast I desire, A day for men to starve their bodies? Is it bowing the head like a bulrush And lying in sackcloth and ashes? Do you call that a fast, A day when the LORD is favorable?
9b-10: If you banish the yoke from your midst, The menacing hand, and evil speech, And you offer your compassion to the hungry And satisfy the famished creature — Then shall your light shine in darkness, And your gloom shall be like noonday.
12: Men from your midst shall rebuild ancient ruins, You shall restore foundations laid long ago. And you shall be called “Repairer of fallen walls, Restorer of lanes for habitation.”
13-14:  If you refrain from trampling the sabbath, From pursuing your affairs on My holy day; If you call the sabbath “delight,” The LORD’s holy day “honored”; And if you honor it and go not your ways Nor look to your affairs, nor strike bargains — Then you can seek the favor of the LORD. I will set you astride the heights of the earth, And let you enjoy the heritage of your father Jacob — For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.

IV. Outline

1-5. Israel’s sins
    1. Exhortation to condemn Israel
    2. Israel’s attempt to come close to God
    3-5. Israel’s sin: mistreating the downtrodden
6-14. Conditional Rewards
    6-7. The remedy: being benevolent to the downtrodden
    8-9a. Anticipated blessing
    9b-10a. Condition: being benevolent to the downtrodden
    10b-12. Anticipated blessing
    13. Condition: keeping the Sabbath
    14. Anticipated blessing

V. Comment
No comment today. Stay tuned.

VI. Works Used
(see “Commentaries” page)
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