Isaiah 40:20
Parallel Verses
New American Standard Bible
He who is too impoverished for such an offering Selects a tree that does not rot; He seeks out for himself a skillful craftsman To prepare an idol that will not totter.

King James Bible
He that is so impoverished that he hath no oblation chooseth a tree that will not rot; he seeketh unto him a cunning workman to prepare a graven image, that shall not be moved.

Darby Bible Translation
He that is impoverished, so that he hath no offering, chooseth a tree that doth not rot; he seeketh unto him a skilled workman to prepare a graven image that shall not be moved.

World English Bible
He who is too impoverished for such an offering chooses a tree that will not rot. He seeks a skillful workman to set up an engraved image for him that will not be moved.

Young's Literal Translation
He who is poor by heave-offerings, A tree not rotten doth choose, A skilful artisan he seeketh for it, To establish a graven image -- not moved.

Isaiah 40:20 Parallel
Commentary
Barnes' Notes on the Bible

He that is so impoverished - So poor. So it is generally supposed that the word used here is to be understood, though interpreters have not been entirely agreed in regard to its signification. The Septuagint renders the phrase, 'The carpenter chooseth a sound piece of wood.' The Chaldee. 'He cuts down an ash, a tree which will not rot.' Vulgate, 'Perhaps he chooses a tree which is incorruptible.' Jarchi renders it, 'He who is accustomed to examine, and to judge between the wood which is durable, and other wood.' But the signification of the word (from סכן sâkan, "to dwell, to be familiar with anyone") given to it by our translators, is probably the correct one, that of being too poor to make a costly oblation. This notion of poverty, Gesenius supposes, is derived from the notion of being seated; and thence of sinking down from languor or debility; and hence, from poverty or want.

That he hath no oblation - No offering; no sacrifice; no rich gift. He is too poor to make such an offering to his god as would be implied in an idol of brass or other metal, richly overlaid with plates of gold, and decorated with silver chains. In Isaiah 40:19, the design seems to have been to describe the more rich and costly idols that were made; in this, to describe those that were made by the poor who were unable to offer such as were made of brass and gold. The word 'oblation,' therefore, that is, offering, in this place, does not denote an offering made to the true God, but an offering made to an idol, such as an image was regarded to be. He could not afford a rich offering, and was constrained to make one of wood.

Chooseth a tree that will not rot - Wood that will be durable and permanent. Perhaps the idea is, that as he could not afford one of metal, he would choose that which would be the most valuable which he could make - a piece of wood that was durable, and that would thus show his regard for the god that he worshipped. Or possibly the sense may be, that he designed it should not be moved; that he expressed a fixed and settled determination to adhere to the worship of the idol; and that as he had no idea of changing his religion, the permanency and durability of the wood would be regarded as a somewhat more acceptable expression of his worship.

A cunning workman - Hebrew, 'A wise artificer;' a man skilled in the art of carving, and of making images.

A graven image - An image engraved or cut from wood, in contradistinction from one that is molten or made from metals.

That shall not be moved - That shall stand long, as the expression of his devotion to the service of the idol. The wood that was commonly employed for this purpose as being most durable, as we learn from Isaiah 44:14, was the cedar, the cypress, or the oak (see the note in that place). The phrase, 'shall not be moved,' does not refer so much to its being fixed in one place, as to its durability and permanency.

Isaiah 40:20 Parallel Commentaries

Library
Unfailing Stabs and Fainting Men
'...For that He is strong in power; not one faileth.... He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might He increaseth strength.'-- ISAIAH xl. 26 and 29. These two verses set forth two widely different operations of the divine power as exercised in two sadly different fields, the starry heavens and this weary world. They are interlocked, as it were, by the recurrence in the latter of the emphatic words of the former. The one verse says, 'He is strong in power'; the other, 'He giveth
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

The Secret of Immortal Youth
'Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall. But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary; and they shall walk and not faint.'--ISAIAH xl. 30, 31. I remember a sunset at sea, where the bosom of each wavelet that fronted the west was aglow with fiery gold, and the back of each turned eastward was cold green; so that, looking on the one hand all was glory, and on the other
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

Prayer and Devotion
"Once as I rode out into the woods for my health, in 1737, having alighted from my horse in a retired place, as my manner commonly had been to walk for divine contemplation and prayer, I had a view that for me was extraordinary, of the glory of the Son of God. As near as I can judge, this continued about an hour; and kept me the greater part of the time in a flood of tears and weeping aloud.. I felt an ardency of soul to be what I know not otherwise how to express, emptied and annihilated; to love
Edward M. Bounds—The Essentials of Prayer

The God of all Comfort
"Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort; who comforteth us in all our tribulations, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God." Among all the names that reveal God, this, the "God of all comfort," seems to me one of the loveliest and the most absolutely comforting. The words all comfort admit of no limitation and no deductions; and one would suppose that,
Hannah Whitall Smith—The God of All Comfort

Cross References
1 Samuel 5:3
When the Ashdodites arose early the next morning, behold, Dagon had fallen on his face to the ground before the ark of the LORD. So they took Dagon and set him in his place again.

1 Samuel 5:4
But when they arose early the next morning, behold, Dagon had fallen on his face to the ground before the ark of the LORD. And the head of Dagon and both the palms of his hands were cut off on the threshold; only the trunk of Dagon was left to him.

Isaiah 41:7
So the craftsman encourages the smelter, And he who smooths metal with the hammer encourages him who beats the anvil, Saying of the soldering, "It is good"; And he fastens it with nails, So that it will not totter.

Isaiah 44:12
The man shapes iron into a cutting tool and does his work over the coals, fashioning it with hammers and working it with his strong arm. He also gets hungry and his strength fails; he drinks no water and becomes weary.

Isaiah 44:14
Surely he cuts cedars for himself, and takes a cypress or an oak and raises it for himself among the trees of the forest. He plants a fir, and the rain makes it grow.

Isaiah 46:7
"They lift it upon the shoulder and carry it; They set it in its place and it stands there. It does not move from its place. Though one may cry to it, it cannot answer; It cannot deliver him from his distress.

Jeremiah 10:4
"They decorate it with silver and with gold; They fasten it with nails and with hammers So that it will not totter.

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