Isaiah 30
Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
Ch. 30 A series of Oracles dealing with the Egyptian Alliance and its consequences; the present state and future prospects of israel, and the destruction of the Assyrians

i. Isaiah 30:1-7. A “Woe” against the treaty with Egypt, which is here for the first time referred to in express terms. The Judæan embassy is already on its way across the terrible desert (6); and the prophet reiterates his warning against it as an enterprise contrary to Jehovah’s will (1, 2) and based on an absurdly exaggerated estimate of the resources of Egypt (3–5, 7).

ii. Isaiah 30:8-17. Isaiah receives a command to record in writing his unavailing protest against this fatal step, now irrevocably taken (8). It is the crowning evidence of the rebellious disposition of the nation, its contempt for the organs of revelation, and antipathy to the holy rule of Jehovah (9–11). The disastrous consequences are then set forth by the help of an effective comparison (12–14); and finally the true and false policy for Israel are tersely summed up and contrasted and the issue of the choice that has been made is clearly indicated (15–17).

iii. Isaiah 30:18-26. A picture of the blessings reserved for the faithful remnant in the Messianic dispensation. The principal features are, a teachable disposition in the people (20, 21), the cessation of idolatry (22), and a miraculous transformation of the external aspect of nature (23–26). The passage is remarkably similar in character to ch. Isaiah 19:15-24.

iv. Isaiah 30:27-33. The destruction of Assyria accomplished by a terrible display of Jehovah’s might. Jehovah in person suddenly appears on the scene, not, as in Isaiah 3:14, to judge His own people, but to execute vengeance on their enemies (27, 28); the Israelites are but spectators of the great catastrophe and accompany its progress with songs of thanks-giving for their deliverance (29–32); while the remains of the Assyrian host are consumed on the vast funereal pyre which the prophet’s imagination sees already prepared for their cremation (33).

Woe to the rebellious children, saith the LORD, that take counsel, but not of me; and that cover with a covering, but not of my spirit, that they may add sin to sin:
1. Woe to the rebellious children] See on Isaiah 1:2; Isaiah 1:4 and Isaiah 1:23; cf. Isaiah 30:9. The “sons” are “rebellious” inasmuch as they have taken this step without consulting Jehovah, their Father.

that take counsel] Rather, that carry out a plan.

that cover with a covering] R.V. gives in the margin two translations, between which it is difficult to choose: either that weave a web or that pour out a drink-offering. The latter is perhaps preferable, although the noun does not occur elsewhere with the sense of “libation” (see Isaiah 25:7, Isaiah 28:20, “covering”). The allusion would be to drink-offerings accompanying the conclusion of a treaty (comp. σπονδή = libation with (σπονδαί = covenant).

not of (with) my spirit] i.e. not in accordance with the spirit of prophecy speaking through Isaiah.

that they may add sin to sin] the sin of concealment to the original sin of dallying with secular alliances.

1–5. The futile alliance with Egypt denounced. Comp. Isaiah 29:15, Isaiah 31:1.

That walk to go down into Egypt, and have not asked at my mouth; to strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharaoh, and to trust in the shadow of Egypt!
2. and have not asked at my mouth] “have not consulted my prophet” (for the expression cf. Joshua 9:14; Genesis 24:57).

to strengthen themselves … Egypt] Rather: to take refuge in the refuge of Pharaoh, and to hide in the shadow of Egypt.

Therefore shall the strength of Pharaoh be your shame, and the trust in the shadow of Egypt your confusion.
3. strength … trust] refuge … hiding; as Isaiah 30:2.

For his princes were at Zoan, and his ambassadors came to Hanes.
4, 5. On Zoan, see on ch. Isaiah 19:11. Hanes is identified with Heracleopolis magna (Egyptian Hnes, still called Ahnâs), situated to the south of Memphis on an island in the Nile. Zoan and Hanes thus mark the extreme limits of Lower Egypt, which was at this time ruled by a number of petty potentates, amongst whom the prince of Sais held a kind of primacy and assumed the title of Pharaoh (Isaiah 30:2 f.). If the “princes” and “ambassadors” are those of Judah, the meaning would be that the embassy would visit all the little courts of the Delta from North to South and meet with a discouraging reception. There are two objections to this interpretation, (1) Judah has not been mentioned in the preceding context and (2) Isaiah’s contention appears to be, not that the Judæan overtures would be coldly received, but that the Egyptians would be ready enough to promise but slack in performance. It is more natural to suppose that the “his” refers to Pharaoh, in which case Isaiah 30:4 must be read as the protasis to Isaiah 30:5, the sense being “Great as the extent of the Pharaoh’s sphere of influence may be, yet nothing but shame will come to those who trust in his help.” Render thus: (4) For though his (Pharaoh’s) princes are in Zoan and his messengers reach to Hanes, (5) Yet all come to shame through a people of no profit to them, that brings no help and no profit but shame and also reproach.

The reading “come to shame” is that of the Massoretic punctuation (Qĕrê). The consonantal text (Kĕthîb) has a much harsher word—“become stinking.” The perfect is that of experience.

They were all ashamed of a people that could not profit them, nor be an help nor profit, but a shame, and also a reproach.
The burden of the beasts of the south: into the land of trouble and anguish, from whence come the young and old lion, the viper and fiery flying serpent, they will carry their riches upon the shoulders of young asses, and their treasures upon the bunches of camels, to a people that shall not profit them.
6. trouble and anguish] Better perhaps distress and hardship, cf. Deuteronomy 8:15; Jeremiah 2:6.

the young and old lion] R.V. the lioness and the lion. Hebrew (like Arabic) possesses a superfluity of synonyms for the lion.

fiery flying serpent] winged Saraph. See on Isaiah 6:2, Isaiah 14:29; cf. Numbers 21:6. These are some of the terrors braved by the Jewish envoys in the prosecution of their foolhardy enterprise.

they will carry (R.V. they carry) their riches, &c.] The ambassadors take with them a whole caravan of presents to the Egyptian courts.

6, 7. These verses are marked as an independent oracle by a heading in the enigmatic style of those in ch. 21, 22. Some commentators regard the title as an editorial note which has crept into the text from the margin; but the substance of the oracle, which is a parallel to, rather than a continuation of, Isaiah 30:1-5, favours the supposition that it was originally distinct. From the analogy of Isaiah 21:1; Isaiah 21:13, Isaiah 22:1, we should expect the superscription to be suggested by some striking phrase in the body of the prophecy. There is, however, nothing in the text as it stands to suggest “beasts of the south.” “The south” means the Negeb, the desert region to the south of Judah, traversed by the Jewish ambassadors on their way to Egypt. The “beasts” might be either the beasts of burden painfully making their way through it (Isaiah 30:6) or the wild animals by which it is haunted (Isaiah 30:6). That the expression refers to the hippopotamus (Job 40:15) as a symbol of Egypt is a hazardous speculation. The text is probably corrupt, and Duhm’s suggestion that the title reproduces some lost words at the beginning of the oracle is probably on the right track, although his proposed reconstruction may not command assent.

For the Egyptians shall help in vain, and to no purpose: therefore have I cried concerning this, Their strength is to sit still.
7. For the Egyptians … purpose] Render And as for Egypt—their help is vain and empty. Cf. Isaiah 30:3; Isaiah 30:5.

have I cried concerning this] Better, have I called her (R.V.).

Their strength is to sit still] R.V. Rahab that sitteth still, lit. “Rahab, they are a sitting still,” or “Rahab are they, a sitting still.” The sentence is almost hopelessly obscure. “Rahab” is the name of a mythological monster, a sea-dragon (ch. Isaiah 51:9; Job 9:13; Job 26:12), which became a symbol of Egypt (Psalm 87:4; Psalm 89:10), although that use may be based on this verse. Etymologically it signifies “insolent arrogance” (the root occurs in ch. Isaiah 3:5); and probably all three senses are combined in this instance. The general sense may be, “This proud boastful monster—its proper name is ‘Inaction’.”

Now go, write it before them in a table, and note it in a book, that it may be for the time to come for ever and ever:
8. What is it that Isaiah is here directed to commit to writing? According to Delitzsch, the contents of the short oracle, Isaiah 30:6-7; according to others, merely the pithy sentence with which it closes. That is not impossible; the mention of a “tablet” indicates some short and striking inscription. But since a “book” is mentioned along with the tablet, it is probable that Isaiah at this time wrote down a summary of all his deliverances on the subject of the Egyptian alliance. Not improbably the “book” so prepared was the basis of the present collection of prophecies, ch. 28–32. The incident is closely parallel to that referred to in ch. Isaiah 8:16, where Isaiah prepares documentary evidence of his prophetic actions after his advice had been rejected by the court and people.

For go read go in—“retire to thy house.”

note it should be inscribe it as R.V.

for the time to come for ever and ever] Render for a future day for a witness (R.V. marg.) for ever. The pointing has to be altered in accordance with most ancient versions.

That this is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the LORD:
9. lying children] or faithless sons; see on ch. Isaiah 1:2, cf. Malachi 1:6 the law] the instruction, as ch. Isaiah 1:10.

9–11. The documents (as in Isaiah 8:16) are a protest against the persistent disobedience of the people. Render with R.V. For it is, &c.

Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits:
10. the seers] (1 Samuel 9:9.)

the prophets] The word rightly rendered “seer” in Amos 7:12 and elsewhere. See on Isaiah 1:1. The prophets referred to can hardly (in view of Isaiah 30:11) be merely the false prophets, who were at the beck and call of the people, but all representatives of the prophetic office. Cf. Amos 2:12; Amos 7:12; Hosea 9:7-8; Micah 2:6; Micah 2:11; Micah 3:5; Micah 3:11; Jeremiah 6:14; Jeremiah 14:13 ff.; Ezekiel 13:10 ff.

deceits] illusions; the word is used only here. It is Isaiah’s own estimate that is put into the mouth of the people.

Get you out of the way, turn aside out of the path, cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us.
11. Get ye out of the way, turn aside …] i.e. “Discontinue your hackneyed methods: adopt a more conciliatory tone, and do not seek to influence us by reiterated prophecies of evil.”

cause the Holy One of Israel to cease] The meaning is not, of course, that the people disown Jehovah as the national deity, but that they repudiate Isaiah’s conception of Him as the Holy One of Israel, and the teaching based on that conception.

Wherefore thus saith the Holy One of Israel, Because ye despise this word, and trust in oppression and perverseness, and stay thereon:
12. this word] the warnings against the Egyptian alliance.

oppression and perverseness (lit. “crookedness”)] The first word is explained of the oppressive war taxation necessitated by the policy now finally decided on; this is not altogether obvious, and some prefer, by transposing two consonants, to read “perverseness and crookedness.” The same words are conjoined in Proverbs 2:15.

12–14. The answer of “Israel’s Holy One,” whose revelation is thus challenged.

Therefore this iniquity shall be to you as a breach ready to fall, swelling out in a high wall, whose breaking cometh suddenly at an instant.
13. Disaster will follow their policy with the necessity of a natural law. The best translation seems to be: Therefore this guilt shall be to you as a rent descending (lit. “falling”) (and) bulging out in a high wall, whose crash comes, &c. The slight beginnings of transgression, its inevitable tendency to gravitate more and more from the moral perpendicular, till a critical point is reached, then the suddenness of the final catastrophe,—are vividly expressed by this magnificent simile. Comp. Psalm 62:3.

suddenly at an instant] Cf. ch. Isaiah 29:5.

And he shall break it as the breaking of the potters' vessel that is broken in pieces; he shall not spare: so that there shall not be found in the bursting of it a sherd to take fire from the hearth, or to take water withal out of the pit.
14. he shall break it] or: it shall be broken.

that is broken … spare] R.V. “breaking it in pieces without sparing”; better: shivering it unsparingly (Cheyne).

in the bursting of it] among its fragments. So completely will the Jewish state be shattered by the crooked policy of its leaders.

For pit read cistern (as R.V.).

For thus saith the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength: and ye would not.
15–17. The true policy contrasted with the false.

15 re-echoes the great ruling principle of Isaiah’s statesmanship: comp. ch. Isaiah 7:4; Isaiah 7:9, Isaiah 28:16. For saith read with R.V. said.

returning and rest … quietness and in confidence] The first expression describes the external policy, the second the attitude of mind, demanded by the occasion. On the one hand, averseness to war (Micah 2:8), renunciation of earthly help and a wise passivity in international affairs; on the other, calm reliance on Jehovah: in this last, the prophet says, they would have manifested the truest “strength” or courage.

But ye said, No; for we will flee upon horses; therefore shall ye flee: and, We will ride upon the swift; therefore shall they that pursue you be swift.
16. we will flee] Translate: we will fly (against the enemy). The word, which in the next clause (as in every other instance) means “flee,” is chosen because in Hebr. it resembles in sound the word for “horses.”

upon the swift] (coursers). In ch. Isaiah 36:8 the Rabshakeh seems to taunt the Judæans with their childish fondness for horsemanship.

One thousand shall flee at the rebuke of one; at the rebuke of five shall ye flee: till ye be left as a beacon upon the top of a mountain, and as an ensign on an hill.
17. Their flight will be disgraceful. The words at the rebuke of five seem to weaken the force of the preceding hyperbole; hence some critics would insert “a myriad” in the second clause, after Leviticus 26:8; Deuteronomy 32:30.

beacon means “flag-staff” (elsewhere “mast”), cf. ch. Isaiah 33:23.

18 is frequently explained as a concluding threat—“Therefore will the Lord wait before having mercy on you”; will postpone your deliverance. But this interpretation does violence to the terms of the verse, which is really the introduction of a new section, full of glorious promises. The “waiting” of Jehovah is that of anxious expectancy for the opportune moment of intervention; His “exaltation” denotes His readiness to act. The emendation “he will be silent” for “he will be exalted” is unnecessary. It is difficult, however, to explain the conjunction “therefore,” after Isaiah 30:17; unless we can hold that it has adversative force (= “even under these circumstances,” “nevertheless”). The new passage seems to belong to a different time, and to continue another train of thought: see Isaiah 29:15-24.

a God of judgment] or “justice.”

that wait for him] Cf. ch. Isaiah 8:17; Psalm 33:20, &c.

And therefore will the LORD wait, that he may be gracious unto you, and therefore will he be exalted, that he may have mercy upon you: for the LORD is a God of judgment: blessed are all they that wait for him.
For the people shall dwell in Zion at Jerusalem: thou shalt weep no more: he will be very gracious unto thee at the voice of thy cry; when he shall hear it, he will answer thee.
19. The answer to prayer.

For the people shall dwell …] Rather For, O people in Zion that dwellest in Jerusalem.

thou shalt weep no more … gracious] weep thou shalt not, he will surely be gracious.

And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity, and the water of affliction, yet shall not thy teachers be removed into a corner any more, but thine eyes shall see thy teachers:
20. the bread of adversity, and the water of affliction] (cf. 1 Kings 22:27) the most meagre necessities of existence. The reference is to the period of distress (perhaps the siege) which precedes the great deliverance.

shall not thy teachers be removed into a corner] Rather: shall not thy Teacher (God) hide Himself; (nearly as R.V. marg.). The alternative rendering “teachers” is no doubt possible, but the verb is in the singular, and the conception of Jehovah as the personal teacher of His people, although surprising, gives the fullest meaning to the expressions of this verse and the next, and is not too exalted for a description of the Messianic age. If the other view be adopted, the reference must be to the prophets, who are now driven into concealment, but shall then freely appear in public. But such an anticipation has no parallel in Messianic prophecy, and certainly receives no light from the circumstances of Isaiah’s time.

20, 21. The restoration of religious privileges and instruction.

And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.
21. thine ears shall hear a word behind thee] that of Jehovah, walking like a Father behind His children. Cf. Isaiah 29:18.

Ye shall defile also the covering of thy graven images of silver, and the ornament of thy molten images of gold: thou shalt cast them away as a menstruous cloth; thou shalt say unto it, Get thee hence.
22. The renunciation of idolatry.

Ye shall defile] i.e. “desecrate” (2 Kings 23:8 ff.).

covering … ornament] Overlaying … plating, as R.V. An idol consisted of a core of wood or inferior metal, overlaid with a costly layer of silver or gold. The latter part was of course the most valuable, and perhaps also the most sacred (see Deuteronomy 7:25 f.).

cast them away, &c.] scatter them as an unclean thing; Exodus 32:20.

Then shall he give the rain of thy seed, that thou shalt sow the ground withal; and bread of the increase of the earth, and it shall be fat and plenteous: in that day shall thy cattle feed in large pastures.
23. the rain of thy seed] the “early rain” falling in the month of October.

bread of the increase of the earth] Perhaps: “bread-corn (Isaiah 28:28) the produce of the ground.” Cf. ch. Isaiah 37:30.

23–26. The temporal blessings of the new dispensation.

The oxen likewise and the young asses that ear the ground shall eat clean provender, which hath been winnowed with the shovel and with the fan.
24. Comp. Paul’s “Doth God take care for oxen?” (1 Corinthians 9:9).

that ear] (the obsolete English word for “plough”), strictly till, R.V.

clean provender] salted fodder, i.e. the best fodder (Job 6:5) mixed with grains of salt. The devotion of cattle to salt in any form is well known. Gesenius quotes an Arabic proverb which says that “sweet fodder is the camel’s bread, salted fodder is his comfit.” The word for “fodder” (bělîl) is usually explained as “mixture” (farrago) of corn with beans, vetches, &c. According to Wetzstein (in Delitzsch’s Comm. on this verse) it means “ripe barley.” In Syriac it denotes “fresh corn.”

winnowed with the shovel and with the fan] i.e. prepared with the utmost care. The modern Arabic equivalent of the word rendered “fan” denotes a six-pronged fork (Wetzstein, in Delitzsch’s Isaiah , 2 nd ed.). As to the process see on ch. Isaiah 17:13.

And there shall be upon every high mountain, and upon every high hill, rivers and streams of waters in the day of the great slaughter, when the towers fall.
25. Even the arid slopes of the hills of Palestine shall then flow with water.

slaughter, when the towers fall] cf. ch. Isaiah 2:12 ff. It is a vague poetic allusion to the day of the Lord, when all His enemies are destroyed.

Moreover the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold, as the light of seven days, in the day that the LORD bindeth up the breach of his people, and healeth the stroke of their wound.
26. moon and sun are, in the original, poetic epithets (see on Isaiah 24:23).

as the light of seven days] the light of a whole week concentrated in one day. But the clause is wanting in the LXX., and being redundant is probably a late gloss.

bindeth up the breach … wound] Cf. ch. Isaiah 1:6.

Behold, the name of the LORD cometh from far, burning with his anger, and the burden thereof is heavy: his lips are full of indignation, and his tongue as a devouring fire:
27. the name of the Lord] appears here to be synonymous with what is elsewhere called the “glory of Jehovah” (cf. the parallelism, ch. Isaiah 59:19; Psalm 102:15) i.e. the visible manifestation of His presence. It may have the same sense in ch. Isaiah 18:7, the Temple of the future being conceived as the scene of a perpetual Theophany (Ezekiel 43:2 ff.). Amongst the later Jews the expression “the Name” was commonly used, out of reverence, to avoid the use of Jehovah (cf. Leviticus 24:11).

cometh from far] In Jdg 5:4; Deuteronomy 33:2, the Theophany comes from Seir or Sinai; here its origin is left indefinite. Jehovah’s coming is like that of the thundercloud which appears on the distant horizon, no eye having observed the mysterious process by which it was formed. In what follows the figure of the storm is inseparably blended with an anthropomorphic representation of Jehovah.

and the burden thereof is heavy] Render: and with thick uplifting (of smoke) (Cheyne). R.V. “in thick rising smoke.” Cf. Jdg 20:38.

full of indignation] Perhaps “full of angry foam.”

27, 28. These verses describe the Theophany, in which Jehovah appears to destroy the Assyrians, cf. Jdg 5:4-5; Psalm 18:7 ff. Psalm 50:3-5.

And his breath, as an overflowing stream, shall reach to the midst of the neck, to sift the nations with the sieve of vanity: and there shall be a bridle in the jaws of the people, causing them to err.
28. Render with R.V. and his breath is as an overflowing stream that reacheth (lit. “divideth”) even unto the neck, &c. (cf. ch. Isaiah 8:8).

to sift (lit. “swing”) [the] nations with the sieve of vanity (or “ruin”)] i.e. to sift them until they are annihilated.

and there shall be a bridle … err] Better: and (he shall be) a bridle that causeth to err, in the jaws of peoples; i.e. Jehovah by His providence, turns the Assyrians aside from their purpose, and frustrates their enterprise.

Ye shall have a song, as in the night when a holy solemnity is kept; and gladness of heart, as when one goeth with a pipe to come into the mountain of the LORD, to the mighty One of Israel.
29. Ye shall have a song] lit. “the song shall be to you.” Undoubtedly, the song is sung by the Israelites, not by an angelic choir, as is strangely suggested by Duhm. The song will be like that in the night when a feast is hallowed (R.V. marg.). The feast is probably the Passover, the only festival which, so far as we know, included a nocturnal ceremony, in the O.T. times. That singing then formed a part of the ritual (as in the time of Christ: Matthew 26:30), cannot be proved, but it is not unlikely that this was the case. The reason why this particular festival is selected for comparison may be that it commemorated the deliverance of Israel from Egypt. It is thought by many that the “Song of Moses,” Exodus 15, was used as a Paschal hymn.

as when one goeth with a pipe] Or: like his who marches with a flute, &c. (cf. 1 Kings 1:40); in other words, “who takes part in a festal procession to the Temple.”

the mighty One of Israel] the Rock of Israel (R.V.), 2 Samuel 23:3.

29–32. Songs of rejoicing arise within the city, while the Assyrians are slaughtered under its walls.

And the LORD shall cause his glorious voice to be heard, and shall shew the lighting down of his arm, with the indignation of his anger, and with the flame of a devouring fire, with scattering, and tempest, and hailstones.
30. his glorious voice] Perhaps: the majesty of His thunder (Psalm 29:3 ff.).

the lighting down] The word probably comes from the (Aramaic) verb used in Psalm 38:2. It may, however, be derived from the verb “to rest,” the causative of which is rendered “lay upon” in Isaiah 30:32.

with the indignation of his anger] with furious anger.

scattering] R.V. a blast. The word does not occur elsewhere; it is probably a poetic name for a storm.

For tempest read rain storm.

For through the voice of the LORD shall the Assyrian be beaten down, which smote with a rod.
31. Assyria is here named for the first time as the object of the judgment. The voice of Jehovah is the thunder, as in Isaiah 30:30. For beaten down render panic-stricken.

which smote with a rod] (cf. ch. Isaiah 10:24) Or “when He (Jehovah) smites with the rod.”

And in every place where the grounded staff shall pass, which the LORD shall lay upon him, it shall be with tabrets and harps: and in battles of shaking will he fight with it.
32. The verse may be translated as in R.V. And every stroke of the appointed staff which the Lord shall lay upon him shall be with tabrets and harps; and in battles of shaking will he fight with them. The expression “grounded staff” is, however, barely intelligible; the emendation “staff of correction” (Proverbs 22:15) only replaces one singular expression by another, and is besides too easy to be worth much. The phrase “battles of shaking” is also difficult. “Battles of the swinging (of Jehovah’s rod)” is the construction usually put upon it, but the sense is rhetorically weak. The word for “shaking” is the technical term for the “wave offering” in the Law (e.g. Leviticus 7:30); hence Ewald renders “battles of wave-offering,” i.e. battles in which Assyria is devoted to destruction.

For Tophet is ordained of old; yea, for the king it is prepared; he hath made it deep and large: the pile thereof is fire and much wood; the breath of the LORD, like a stream of brimstone, doth kindle it.
33. For Tophet is ordained of old] Render: For a burning-place is already laid out. Tophet is the name of a spot in the valley of the son of Hinnom, south of Jerusalem, where human sacrifices were offered to the god Melek or Molek (2 Kings 23:10; Jeremiah 7:31 f., Isaiah 19:6; Isaiah 19:13). According to Prof. Robertson Smith (Religion of the Semites, p. 377) the word was originally pronounced Těphath, and, like its equivalents in Aramaic and Arabic, meant simply “fireplace.” This view seems preferable to the common derivation, which explains it as a term of contempt (“spitting” Job 17:6); and it accounts for the generic sense which the word undoubtedly has in this passage (where, however, a bye-form tophteh is used). “The Tophet” was so-called because the most distinctive feature of the revolting rites there practised was the burning of the victims in a great pit dug in the ground, which constituted the “fireplace.”

yea, for the king it is prepared] lit. “even it is prepared for the king” (not “even for the king it is prepared”). The “king” might be either the king of Assyria, or the god “Melek” (Molech), or a play of words alluding to both. But a “witty allusion” in such a passage leads us to suspect the hand of a glossator. The objection to understanding it of the king of Assyria is that the emphasis rests on “it” and not on “the king.”

the pile thereof] Cf. Ezekiel 24:9. For “fire” some other word must have been used; perhaps “coals of fire” (נחלי omitted before אשׁ).

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