Isaiah’s Prophecy Holds the Key to Avoiding the Practice of Worshiping Images or Representations of gods, ישעיהו מד:טו-כא / Isaiah 44:15-21

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Introduction to Isaiah 44:15-21

Here we read according to Isaiah 44:15-21 a sarcastic and scathing critique of the absurdity and futility of idol worship. The prophet Isaiah mocks the idolater who uses the same wood to make a fire for cooking and heating one’s home to then also make a god for worshiping and bowing down. Isaiah says the idolator is blind and ignorant, not realizing that he is worshiping a mere product of his own hands, which has no life, power, or knowledge. The idolater is also forgetful and unfaithful, not remembering or acknowledging the true God who made him and redeemed him from Egypt. Idolatry is the practice of worshiping images or representations of gods other than the One True God, the Creator of heaven and earth. The Scriptures relate Idolatry to spiritual adultery, as it breaks the covenant relationship that God established with his people Israel. Idolatry also implies a lack of trust and gratitude towards God, who has revealed Himself and His will to His chosen people. The point of the idol is an attempt by man to manipulate his god by making a god according to one’s own desires and preferences, and by seeking favors or guidance from them through rituals and sacrifices. We note according to the Scriptures, how the history of Israel is marked by repeated episodes of idolatry, especially during the time of the judges and the kings. The people of Israel often followed the practices of the surrounding nations, who worshiped various gods such as Baal, Asherah, Molech, Chemosh, and others. These gods were associated with natural phenomena, fertility, war, and prosperity. Archeological discoveries at Ugarit revealed that the people who lived in Ugarit belonged to a Canaanite culture that shared many religious beliefs and practices with the Israelites. Some of the names of the Middle Eastern religions overlap with the names in the Hebrew Bible regarding the God of Israel, such as:

Names of the Ancient Canaanite gods

  • El (אֵל) – The supreme god of the Canaanite pantheon, also known as the father of gods and men. El is also one of the names of the God of Israel in the Hebrew Bible, especially in the patriarchal narratives (Bereshit / Genesis 14:18-22, 21:33, 33:20).
  • Baal (בַּעַל) – The storm god and the son of El, also known as the lord of the land and the fertility god. Baal was often worshiped by the Israelites alongside or instead of the God of Israel, especially during the time of the judges and the kings (Judges 2:11-13, 1 Kings 18:18-40).
  • Asherah (אֲשֵׁרָה) – The consort of El and the mother goddess, also known as the lady of the sea and the queen of heaven. Asherah was also worshiped by some Israelites as the consort of the God of Israel, and her cult objects were set up in the temple and other places (1 Kings 15:13, 2 Kings 21:7, Jeremiah 44:17-19).
  • Anat (עֲנַת) – The sister and lover of Baal, also known as the virgin goddess and the goddess of war and love. Anat is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible as a foreign goddess whose worship was introduced by King Solomon. (1 Kings 11:5, 2 Kings 23:13)

Scholars have different opinions on the origin and relation of יהוה to the Canaanite gods. The Ugaritic texts, which are the main source of information about the Canaanite religion, do not mention יהוה by name, but they do mention some divine names that may be related or similar to יהוה, such as Yw, Yw in the divine name smn yw, and Yhw. However, these names are not conclusive evidence that יהוה was used as a name for a Canaanite god or that he was worshiped at Ugarit. Therefore, the question of יהוה’s origin and relation to the Canaanite gods remains unresolved and debated among scholars. The overlap of these names could have had some influence on syncretism in their religious practices, as they might have assumed that the God of Israel was the same as or related to the Canaanite gods, or that the Canaanite gods were subordinate to or compatible with the God of Israel. This could explain why the idols and objects were set up in the temple in Jerusalem according to 1 Kings 15:13, 2 Kings 21:7, Jeremiah 44:17-19. This could have led to the adoption of Canaanite rituals, symbols, and ethics, which were condemned by the prophets in the Hebrew Bible as idolatry and apostasy (Isaiah 2:6-9, Hosea 2:2-13, 2 Kings 23:4-20). We note how the people of Israel during the Exodus made idols of their own, such as the golden calf at Sinai, the ephod and teraphim of Micah and the Danites, and the high places and groves that were set up throughout the land. These idols were often made of wood, stone, metal, or clay, and were shaped into human or animal forms. Take for example at Sinai, the people had just spent over 400 years in the land of Egypt. The bull was a sacred animal in Egyptian religion, and was often associated with various gods, such as Ptah, the creator god of Memphis. The most famous bull cult was that of Apis, a black and white bull that was believed to be the incarnation of Ptah and later Osiris. The Apis bull was worshiped as a living god and oracle, and was buried with great honors in the Serapeum. When the Israelites manufactured the idol bull, it was obvious how living many years in Egypt, the Egyptian cults had influenced them and so they were doing what they knew to do and disobeying God’s command. When Moses went up to Mount Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments, the Israelites grew impatient and asked Aaron to make them a god who would lead them. The golden calf incident may have been related to the Egyptian bull cults. The significant point is that our culture can influence us in many ways, even in ways that we do not even realize! The Lord God Almighty warns us of the dangers of world cultures and condemns idol worship. 

God Condemns Idol Worship for Several Reasons

  • Idol worship is a violation of the first and second commandments, which prohibit having any other gods besides the LORD, and making any graven image or likeness of anything in heaven or earth to bow down to or serve (Shemot / Exodus 20:3-6).
  • Idol worship is an insult and a provocation to the LORD, who is a jealous God and will not share his glory with another or his praise with graven images (see Isaiah 42:8, 48:11).
  • Idol worship is a deception and a delusion, as idols are worthless and vain, and cannot speak, hear, see, or do anything. They are less than nothing and cause confusion, and those who trust in them are like them (see Isaiah 41:29, 44:9-10, Tehillim / Psalm 115:4-8).
  • Idol worship is a source of defilement and destruction, as idols pollute the land and the people with their abominations and abhorrent practices, such as child sacrifice, sexual immorality, and divination. They also bring the wrath and judgment of God upon the idolaters and their idols (see Vayikra / Leviticus 18:24-30, 26:30, Devarim / Deuteronomy 12:31, 2 Kings 23:24, Jeremiah 51:18).

The Hebrew bible refers to idolatry and idols in the following way: 

Hebrew Words Used in the Bible Idolatry and Idols

  • אֱלֹהִים אֲחֵרִים (elohim acherim) – other gods (Exodus 20:3)
  • פֶּסֶל (pesel) – graven image (Exodus 20:4)
  • מַסֵּכָה (massekah) – molten image (Exodus 20:4)
  • גִּלּוּלִים (gillulim) – idols, literally dung pellets (Ezekiel 6:4)
  • תְּרָפִים (teraphim) – household idols (Genesis 31:19)
  • אֱלִיל (elil) – idol, literally worthless or of no account (Isaiah 2:8)

We also note the continuity of the Scriptures, how the Torah has not passed away and is relevant for the NT believers. This is illustrated in how idolatry is strongly condemned in the NT since it is incompatible with faith in Yeshua our Savior. Some of the prohibitions and warnings against idolatry in the New Testament are as follows:

Prohibitions and Warnings Against Idolatry in the NT

  • In the first letter to the Corinthians, Paul urges the believers to flee from idolatry, as it is a participation in the table of demons and a provocation of the Lord’s jealousy (1 Corinthians 10:14-22).
  • In the letter to the Galatians, Paul lists idolatry among the works of the flesh, which are contrary to the fruit of the Spirit and prevent one from inheriting the kingdom of God (Galatians 5:19-21).
  • In the letter to the Colossians, Paul equates idolatry with greed, which is a form of covetousness and a rejection of the supremacy and sufficiency of the Messiah (Colossians 3:5).
  • In the first letter of John, John warns the believers to keep themselves from idols, as they are false gods that cannot give life or light, and to abide in the true God, who is eternal life and who has given us his Son (1 John 5:20-21).
  • In the book of Revelation, John describes the idolatry of the beast and the false prophet, who deceive the inhabitants of the earth and cause them to worship the image of the beast and receive its mark (Revelation 13:11-18). He also records the judgments of God upon the idolaters and their idols, and the exclusion of the idolaters from the holy city, the new Jerusalem (Revelation 9:20-21, 21:8, 22:15).

Idolatry is against faith in Yeshua because it involves replacing the true God with a false god, and thus denying the revelation and authority of God according to Paul in Romans 1:18-25. Idolatry breaks the first and greatest commandment, which is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. (see Mark 12:29-30) Idolatry fails to acknowledge and glorify God as the source of every good and perfect gift, and instead being ungrateful and discontent. (see James 1:17, Hebrews 13:5) Idolatry leads one to trust in the things of this world, which are passing away, and not in the things of God, which are eternal. (see 1 John 2:15-17, 2 Corinthians 4:18) Also, some say that idolatry is synonymous to loving the creation more than the Creator, and thus becoming enslaved to the desires of the flesh and the mind. (Romans 6:16, Ephesians 2:3) All of these things relate to the irony that the prophet Isaiah is speaking of here, how a man makes an idol from the wood that he uses to warm his house and bake his food upon. The idols lack the power to bless or to defile. (see 1 Corinthians 8:4-8, Acts 17:29). The creation itself was meant to bring glory to God, and to the might of His power and abilities. Note the vastness of the universe, how we can hardly imagine how large and vast the universe is, and not to mention the complexity of life here on earth. These things are meant to lead men to faith in the Creator and not to be taken and manipulated to make a god after one’s own image. Note how when one makes an idol, one is choosing bondage, manipulation, and coercion. These things stand in opposition to the God of Israel and the Messiah who are for peace, freedom, grace, and mercy. 

Masoretic Text (MSS) on Isaiah 44:15-21

Isaiah goes on saying the following according to Isaiah 44:15-17.

ספר ישעיה פרק מד
טו   וְהָיָה לְאָדָם לְבָעֵר וַיִּקַּח מֵהֶם וַיָּחָם אַף-יַשִּׂיק וְאָפָה לָחֶם אַף-יִפְעַל-אֵל וַיִּשְׁתָּחוּ עָשָֹהוּ פֶסֶל וַיִּסְגָּד-לָמוֹ: טז   חֶצְיוֹ שָֹרַף בְּמוֹ-אֵשׁ עַל-חֶצְיוֹ בָּשָֹר יֹאכֵל יִצְלֶה צָלִי וְיִשְֹבָּע אַף-יָחֹם וְיֹאמַר הֶאָח חַמּוֹתִי רָאִיתִי אוּר: יז   וּשְׁאֵרִיתוֹ לְאֵל עָשָֹה לְפִסְלוֹ יִסְגָּוד [יִסְגָּד] -לוֹ וְיִשְׁתַּחוּ וְיִתְפַּלֵּל אֵלָיו וְיֹאמַר הַצִּילֵנִי כִּי אֵלִי אָתָּה: 

Isaiah 44:15 states, “Then shall it be for a man to burn: for he will take thereof, and warm himself; yea, he kindleth it, and baketh bread; yea, he maketh a god, and worshippeth it; he maketh it a graven image, and falleth down thereto. (וְהָיָה לְאָדָם לְבָעֵר וַיִּקַּח מֵהֶם וַיָּחָם אַף-יַשִּׂיק וְאָפָה לָחֶם אַף-יִפְעַל-אֵל וַיִּשְׁתָּחוּ עָשָֹהוּ פֶסֶל וַיִּסְגָּד-לָמוֹ:)” Isaiah 44:16 “He burneth part thereof in the fire; with part thereof he eateth flesh; he roasteth roast, and is satisfied: yea, he warmeth himself, and saith, Aha, I am warm, I have seen the fire: (חֶצְיוֹ שָֹרַף בְּמוֹ-אֵשׁ עַל-חֶצְיוֹ בָּשָֹר יֹאכֵל יִצְלֶה צָלִי וְיִשְֹבָּע אַף-יָחֹם וְיֹאמַר הֶאָח חַמּוֹתִי רָאִיתִי אוּר)” Isaiah 44:17 “And the residue thereof he maketh a god, even his graven image: he falleth down unto it, and worshippeth it, and prayeth unto it, and saith, Deliver me; for thou art my god. (וּשְׁאֵרִיתוֹ לְאֵל עָשָֹה לְפִסְלוֹ יִסְגָּוד [יִסְגָּד] -לוֹ וְיִשְׁתַּחוּ וְיִתְפַּלֵּל אֵלָיו וְיֹאמַר הַצִּילֵנִי כִּי אֵלִי אָתָּה)”

Cross References for Isaiah 44:15-17: Ex 20:5; Jdg 10:14; 1 Ki 18:26, 28; 2 Ch 25:14; Is 2:8; 5:5; 6:13; 24:15; 44:15, 17, 19; 45:20; 46:6–7; 47:14–15; Je 1:16; Wis 13:12, 17; Re 9:20 

These verses directly state the foolishness of building idols, that they are made from the same wood that one warms himself with, that one cooks bread and meat over, and then what remains is made into an idol god. So, Isaiah is basically describing the absurdity of using the same wood to make a fire for cooking and warming, and to make a god for worshiping and praying. The Hebrew text uses irony and repetition to emphasize the folly of idolaters who do not see or understand their own deception. (see Isaiah 44:18-19) These verses from Isaiah 44:15-17 are not directly quoted in the NT text, but they are echoed in some passages that warn against idolatry and call for repentance. For example, in Romans 1:18-25, Paul describes the wrath of God against those who suppress the truth and exchange the glory of the immortal God for images of mortal creatures. He says that they became futile in their thinking and their foolish hearts were darkened. He also says that they worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. In Acts 17:22-31, Paul addresses the Athenians who were very religious and had many idols, including an altar to an unknown god. He says that God made the world and everything in it, and that He does not live in temples made by human hands, nor is He served by human hands, as if he needed anything. He also says that God commands all people everywhere to repent, because He has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom He has appointed, and of this He has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead. The appointed day of judgment of the world is an important theme in the Scriptures that speak of God judging the living and the dead according to their deeds and faith in the Messiah. The NT and the Tanakh references have some similarities and differences in how they describe this day and its implications for the nations who serve idol gods. Both the Tanakh and the NT warn that the day of judgment will be a time of wrath, destruction, and terror for the wicked and the ungodly, especially those who worship idols and false gods. For example, Jeremiah 50:31 states, “Behold, I am against you, O arrogant one, declares the Lord God of hosts, for your day has come, the time when I will punish you.” Revelation 6:17 states, “for the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?” Both the Tanakh and the NT affirm that the day of judgment will be a time of salvation, vindication, and reward for the righteous and the godly, especially those who worship the true God and believe in His Son Yeshua. For example, Ezekiel 14:22 says, “But behold, some survivors will be left in it who will be brought out, both sons and daughters. Behold, they are going to come forth to you and you will see their conduct and actions; then you will be comforted for the calamity which I have brought against Jerusalem for everything which I have brought upon it.” in the NT according to 1 John 4:17 the apostle John writes, “By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world.” The differences between the Tanakh and the NT text reveal how in the Tanakh, the main focus is on the day of judgment as a historical event that will happen to specific nations and peoples, such as Israel, Judah, Babylon, Moab, Egypt, etc. In the Tanakh, the prophets often announce the year or the time of their punishment, and sometimes link it to the exile or the restoration of Israel. For example, Jeremiah 48:44 states, “The one who flees from the terror will fall into the pit, and the one who climbs up out of the pit will be caught in the snare; for I shall bring upon her, even upon Moab, the year of their punishment, declares the Lord.” The NT on the other hand focuses on the day of judgment as a universal event that will happen to the whole world at the end of the age, when Yeshua will return as the judge of all. The NT apostles often emphasize the imminence or the nearness of this day, and urge the believers to be ready and watchful. For example, 2 Peter 3:7 states, “But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.” This day of judgment relates to the idol gods in the Tanakh which speak of the idolatrous nations as the enemies and oppressors of God’s people, who will be judged and destroyed by God for their wickedness and arrogance. Jeremiah 10:25 says, “Pour out Your wrath on the nations that do not know You and on the families that do not call Your name; for they have devoured Jacob; they have devoured him and consumed him and have laid waste his habitation.” The NT speaks of the idolatrous nations as the place to speak of the one true God and His Messiah, and how God sends His Spirit to change people, so they walk away from their idolatry, and turn to the God of Israel because of His mercy and grace. For example, Revelation 14:6-7 says, “And I saw another angel flying in midheaven, having an eternal gospel to preach to those who live on the earth, and to every nation and tribe and tongue and people; and he said with a loud voice, ‘Fear God, and give Him glory, because the hour of His judgment has come; worship Him who made the heaven and the earth and sea and springs of waters.’”

Looking closer at the Hebrew text, one interesting aspect of the Hebrew text is the use of the word אַף, which means “also” or “even.” This word appears two times in verse 15 and once in verse 16, each time introducing a new action that the idolater does with the same wood. The word אַף creates a sense of escalation and incredulity, as if the prophet is saying, “Can you believe that he also does this?” The word אַף also connects the actions of burning, baking, making, and worshiping, showing that they are all equally vain and futile. Another interesting word is יִסְגָּד, which means “he will prostrate himself” or “he will bow down.” This word appears in verses 15 and 17. The word יִסְגָּד is a rare form of the verb סָגַד, which is only used in the Tanakh to describe the worship of idols or foreign gods (see Daniel 3:5-6, 3:10-11, 3:15). The word יִסְגָּד is related to the Akkadian word sagadu, which means “to prostrate oneself,” “to worship,” or “to pay homage.” The use of this word in Isaiah 44:17 implies that the idolater is imitating the customs of the pagan nations and adopting their terminology for worship. The word יִסְגָּד also contrasts with the word יִשְׁתַּחוּ, which means “he will worship” or “he will bow down,” which is more often used in the Tanakh. This word is used in the Tanakh to describe both the worship of the true God and the worship of idols or false gods (see Bereshit / Genesis 22:5, Shemot / Exodus 4:31, and 1 Kings 19:18). The word יִשְׁתַּחוּ is related to the Hebrew word שָׁחָה, which means “to bow down” or “to worship.” The use of both words in Isaiah 44:17 shows that the idolater is confusing and mixing the worship of the true God and the worship of idols, and that he is guilty of breaking the first and second commandments (Shemot / Exodus 20:3-6).

These verses from Isaiah 44:15-17 are related to passages in the Tanakh that deal with the same theme of idolatry and its consequences. For example, in Jeremiah 10:1-16, the prophet denounces the idols of the nations that are made of wood and metal, and that cannot speak or walk or do any good or evil. He says that they are worthless and a work of delusion, and that they will perish in the time of their punishment. He also says that the Lord is the true God and the living God, the King of the ages, and that he made the earth by his power and established the world by his wisdom. In Tehillim / Psalm 115:1-18, the psalmist contrasts the idols of the nations that have mouths but do not speak, eyes but do not see, ears but do not hear, and so on, with the God of Israel who is in heaven and does whatever he pleases. He says that those who make them and trust in them will become like them, but that those who trust in the Lord will be blessed and will praise Him forever. Note something about what Yeshua said according to Matthew 6:7-8.

Matthew 6:7–8  
6:7 But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. 6:8 Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him. (KJV 7 * Προσευχόμενοι δὲ μὴ βατταλογήσητε ὥσπερ οἱ ⸀ἐθνικοί,* δοκοῦσιν γὰρ ὅτι ἐν τῇ πολυλογίᾳ αὐτῶν εἰσακουσθήσονται.* 8 μὴ οὖν ὁμοιωθῆτε αὐτοῖς· οἶδεν γὰρ ⸂ὁ πατὴρ ὑμῶν⸃ ὧν χρείαν ἔχετε πρὸ τοῦ ὑμᾶς ⸄αἰτῆσαι αὐτόν⸅.)

What is interesting is how Yeshua describes these things in relation to what Isaiah is saying. Yeshua speaks of the vain repetitive rituals and prayers of the pagans. The reason this is so is because the idols do not hear or answer their worshipers. The God of Israel on the other hand is different. Yeshua says that God knows what we need, even before we ask Him. This speaks to the power of God and is a reminder that we can trust in the Lord God and believe that all things are in His hands!

Isaiah goes on saying the following according to Isaiah 44:18.

ספר ישעיה פרק מד
יח   לֹא יָדְעוּ וְלֹא יָבִינוּ כִּי טַח מֵרְאוֹת עֵינֵיהֶם מֵהַשְֹכִּיל לִבֹּתָם: 

Isaiah 44:18 states, “They have not known nor understood: for he hath shut their eyes, that they cannot see; and their hearts, that they cannot understand. (לֹא יָדְעוּ וְלֹא יָבִינוּ כִּי טַח מֵרְאוֹת עֵינֵיהֶם מֵהַשְֹכִּיל לִבֹּתָם)”

Cross References for Isaiah 44:18: Ps 81:12; Is 1:3; 6:9–10; 16:12; 29:10; 42:13–17; 43:20–28; 45:20; Je 4:22; 10:8, 14–15; 2 Th 2:11

Previously, in Isaiah 44:13-17 the scriptures are speaking of those who manufacture and worship idols. Here in Isaiah 44:18, Isaiah goes on speaking of how they have closed their eyes and hearts to prevent understanding the truth. Note that in Isaiah 44:18, the word טַח (taḥ), means “to smear” or “to plaster.” This word is used to point out specifically that it is the Lord God who has blinded the eyes and hearts of the idolaters, so that they cannot see or understand the truth. Notice how this is consistent with what Paul wrote according to Romans 1:1-32. In Paul’s description, this action of God implies a deliberate and irreversible action which also involves a sense of shame and disgrace for the idolaters. Note that we do not want to get to a point of no return, and the Scriptures do describe how God is merciful and gracious and provides second chances, but there is also the description like here and in Romans how there is a point of no return when one continues to live an unrepentant life! There is a danger to embracing and enjoying sin while refusing to perform Teshuvah (repent). 

The New Testament does not quote Isaiah 44:18 directly, but there are some parallels to the content of this verse. Let’s look at a couple of examples:

Romans 1:21–23  
1:21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 1:22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, 1:23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. (KJV 21 διότι γνόντες τὸν θεὸν οὐχ ὡς θεὸν ἐδόξασαν ἢ ηὐχαρίστησαν, ἀλλʼ ἐματαιώθησαν ἐν τοῖς διαλογισμοῖς αὐτῶν καὶ ἐσκοτίσθη ἡ ἀσύνετος αὐτῶν καρδία*. 22 φάσκοντες εἶναι σοφοὶ ἐμωράνθησαν* 23 καὶ ⸀ἤλλαξαν τὴν δόξαν τοῦ ἀφθάρτου θεοῦ ἐν ὁμοιώματι εἰκόνος φθαρτοῦ ἀνθρώπου καὶ πετεινῶν καὶ τετραπόδων καὶ ἑρπετῶν*.)

2 Corinthians 4:4  
4:4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. (KJV 4 ἐν οἷς ὁ θεὸς τοῦ αἰῶνος τούτου ἐτύφλωσεν τὰ νοήματα τῶν ἀπίστων εἰς τὸ μὴ ⸀αὐγάσαι ⸆ τὸν φωτισμὸν τοῦ εὐαγγελίου τῆς δόξης τοῦ Χριστοῦ, ὅς ἐστιν εἰκὼν τοῦ θεοῦ*.)

We note in Romans 1:21-23 it is the Lord God Almighty who is blinding the people’s eyes. In 2 Corinthians 4:4 it is the Evil One who is blinding the eyes of the people. The reason these things happen, which is a point of no return, is because of what Paul writes in Romans 1:21-23, that the Gentiles who exchanged the glory of God for images of creatures became futile in their thinking and their foolish hearts were darkened. In 2 Corinthians 4:4, Paul says that the god of this age has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ. In 2 Corinthians 4:4, Paul uses the Greek word τυφλόω (typhloō), which means “to blind” or “to make blind.” The interpretation and application of Isaiah 44:18 to our lives depends on how we view the nature and purpose of God’s judgment. Some scholars suggest that God’s blinding of the idolaters is a form of mercy, because it prevents them from seeing the full extent of their sin and guilt, and gives them an opportunity to repent and be restored. I would argue that this is not the case. Our being able to recognize the extent of our sins is what leads us to Teshuvah. The blinding of the eyes is a part of God’s wrath on those who refuse to repent, so that their sins may be brought to their completion, or to the fullest extent. This is the point at which one may be sealed for destruction because it is God who is rendering one incapable of responding to the truth and the mercy and grace of God. These verses challenge us to examine our own hearts and minds, and to avoid the folly of idolatry, which can take many forms in our modern world. 

Isaiah goes on saying the following according to Isaiah 44:19-20. 

ספר ישעיה פרק מד
יט   וְלֹא-יָשִׁיב אֶל-לִבּוֹ וְלֹא דַעַת וְלֹא-תְבוּנָה לֵאמֹר חֶצְיוֹ שָֹרַפְתִּי בְמוֹ-אֵשׁ וְאַף אָפִיתִי עַל-גֶּחָלָיו לֶחֶם אֶצְלֶה בָשָֹר וְאֹכֵל וְיִתְרוֹ לְתוֹעֵבָה אֶעֱשֶֹה לְבוּל עֵץ אֶסְגּוֹד: כ   רֹעֶה אֵפֶר לֵב הוּתַל הִטָּהוּ וְלֹא-יַצִּיל אֶת-נַפְשׁוֹ וְלֹא יֹאמַר הֲלוֹא שֶׁקֶר בִּימִינִי: 

Isaiah 44:19 states, “And none considereth in his heart, neither is there knowledge nor understanding to say, I have burned part of it in the fire; yea, also I have baked bread upon the coals thereof; I have roasted flesh, and eaten it: and shall I make the residue thereof an abomination? shall I fall down to the stock of a tree? (וְלֹא-יָשִׁיב אֶל-לִבּוֹ וְלֹא דַעַת וְלֹא-תְבוּנָה לֵאמֹר חֶצְיוֹ שָֹרַפְתִּי בְמוֹ-אֵשׁ וְאַף אָפִיתִי עַל-גֶּחָלָיו לֶחֶם אֶצְלֶה בָשָֹר וְאֹכֵל וְיִתְרוֹ לְתוֹעֵבָה אֶעֱשֶֹה לְבוּל עֵץ אֶסְגּוֹד)” Isaiah 44:20 “He feedeth on ashes: a deceived heart hath turned him aside, that he cannot deliver his soul, nor say, Is there not a lie in my right hand? (רֹעֶה אֵפֶר לֵב הוּתַל הִטָּהוּ וְלֹא-יַצִּיל אֶת-נַפְשׁוֹ וְלֹא יֹאמַר הֲלוֹא שֶׁקֶר בִּימִינִי)”

Cross References for Isaiah 44:19-20: Dt 4:28; 27:15; 1 Ki 11:5, 7; 2 Ki 23:13–14; Job 13:12; 15:31; Ps 102:9; 144:8; Is 5:5, 13; 6:13; 27:11; 40:20; 42:13–17; 43:20–28; 44:15, 18–19; 45:20; 46:8; 57:11; 59:3–4, 13; Je 9:3; 10:14; 51:17; Ho 4:12; 10:5; 12:1; 13:2; Wis 15:10; Ro 1:21–23, 25, 28; 2 Th 2:11; 2 Ti 3:13; Heb 3:13

Isaiah continues with how the idolater is without knowledge or understanding and then continues with the futility of the logic of creating the idol from the wood that one bakes bread upon and cooks meat and how this is an abomination to God. Note again that the ancient middle eastern religions involved human sacrifice and so it is clear why idolatry is considered an abomination to God! The Hebrew text of Isaiah 44:19-20 uses the word לְבוּל (lə-ḇūl), which means “a wood block” or “a log.” This word is a hapax legomenon, meaning that it occurs only once in the entire Hebrew Bible. Some scholars suggest that this word is related to the Akkadian word balu, which means “a pole” or “a stake.” This word is used to contrast the idolaters’ worship of a piece of wood with the true worship of God, who is the first and the last the Almighty God (Isaiah 44:6). We note that the New Testament does not directly quote Isaiah 44:19-20, but there are some parallels to the content of these verses in the NT. 

1 Corinthians 8:4  
8:4 As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one. (KJV 4 Περὶ τῆς βρώσεως οὖν τῶν εἰδωλοθύτων,* οἴδαμεν ὅτι οὐδὲν εἴδωλον ἐν κόσμῳ καὶ ὅτι οὐδεὶς θεὸς ⸆ εἰ μὴ εἷς.)

1 John 5:21  
5:21 Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen. (KJV 21 Τεκνία,* φυλάξατε ♦⸀ἑαυτὰ ἀπὸ τῶν εἰδώλων. ⸆)

In 1 Corinthians 8:4, Paul writes that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is no God but one. In 1 John 5:21, John warns his readers to keep themselves from idols. In both cases, the NT writers use the Greek word εἴδωλον (eidōlon), which means “an image” or “an idol.” The interpretation and application of Isaiah 44:19-20 to our lives depends on how we view the nature and purpose of God’s grace. Some scholars suggest that God’s grace is irresistible, meaning that God will eventually overcome the idolatry and blindness of his people, and bring them to salvation. The various warnings in both the Tanakh and the NT text argue differently that the mercy and grace of God is present to allow one to return to the Lord and seek His holy and righteous ways, repent and have faith and live faithfully, however there may be a point when there is no turning back, the deception will have fully set into one’s life and lifestyle. We note how the God of Israel respects the free will of people and allows them to persist in their idolatry and delusion. Either way, these verses again challenge us to examine our own worship and allegiance, and to avoid the folly of idolatry, which can take many forms in our modern world. We note that someone may suggest that what if a person makes a mistake about idolatry? What then? The problem is that a wrong choice is not merely a mistake when one’s entire life rides on the decision to not repent and continue to serve and worship an idol. The point is that there is only One True God, the God of Israel, and when one chooses to turn from the God of Israel, one is not trusting in the Creator God, but in the work of his or her hand, in a piece of wood as Isaiah is stating here, which is an unholy thing, a thing that keeps one in bondage to sin, and abomination. The idol worshiper misses the mark of which all of mankind was created for, to bear the image of God. The idolater on the other hand bears his own delusion, the delusion that the creature and the Creator are the same, just like Paul wrote, and this causes failure. Why does the idolater not see the fallacies in his or her delusion? It is because what is written in the Scriptures, believing these things requires humility before God and men! Pride is a difficult thing to overcome, and pride is connected directly to the things of this world. We are called to the truth that God is the Creator, and that he is beyond our control or manipulation. We are to submit our lives to the Lord and trust in Him and in the work of the Messiah Yeshua! 

Isaiah continues saying the following according to Isaiah 44:21.

ספר ישעיה פרק מד
כא   זְכָר-אֵלֶּה יַעֲקֹב וְיִשְֹרָאֵל כִּי עַבְדִּי-אָתָּה יְצַרְתִּיךָ עֶבֶד-לִי אַתָּה יִשְֹרָאֵל לֹא תִנָּשֵׁנִי: 

Isaiah 44:21 states, “Remember these, O Jacob and Israel; for thou art my servant: I have formed thee; thou art my servant: O Israel, thou shalt not be forgotten of me. (זְכָר-אֵלֶּה יַעֲקֹב וְיִשְֹרָאֵל כִּי עַבְדִּי-אָתָּה יְצַרְתִּיךָ עֶבֶד-לִי אַתָּה יִשְֹרָאֵל לֹא תִנָּשֵׁנִי)”

Cross References for Isaiah 44:21: Ps 27:10; 136:22; Is 27:11; 41:8; 42:1, 13–17, 19; 43:1, 20–44:2; 46:8; 49:15; Je 31:20; Zec 10:9

Here Isaiah 44:21 states, “Remember these things, O Jacob, and Israel, for you are My servant; I formed you, you are My servant; O Israel, you will not be forgotten by Me.” 

It is interesting here how Isaiah opens verse 21 with זְכָר (zakhar, remember) written in the Qal imperative form, implying a command or an exhortation from God to His people. This word also has the connotation of “mention” or “invoke,” suggesting that God wants His people to recall His deeds and promises, and to praise Him for them. A maqqef connects the word אֵלֶּה (eleh) “these things” or “these words,” referring to the previous verses where God contrasts His power and faithfulness with the futility and vanity of idols. God wants His people to remember His words of comfort and assurance, and not to be deceived by false gods. The word עַבְדִּי (avdi) means “My servant” and is repeated twice times in this verse, emphasizing God’s relationship with His people as their Master and Lord. He says אתה (you) “I have formed you” (יְצַרְתִּיךָ) you are my servant. So, the Lord God has created us to serve Him, and we do so by living our lives according to His Word to serve and glorify Him! God also uses this term to describe His chosen prophets, such as Moses, David, and Isaiah, who faithfully obeyed and served Him. So, these terms imply faithfulness to God and His Word! God calls His people to be His servants, not only in obedience, but also in mission and witness to the nations. Furthermore, this word יְצַרְתִּיךָ (yetzartikha) means “I formed you” and is derived from the root יָצַר (yatzar), which means “to form,” “to fashion,” or “to create.” This word is used in Bereshit / Genesis 2:7 to describe how God formed Adam from the dust of the ground, and in Tehillim / Psalm 139:13 to describe how God crafted us and knit us together in our mother’s womb. God reminds His people that He is our Creator, and that He has a purpose and a plan for us. The word תִנָּשֵׁנִי (tinasheni) is a nifal verb which means “cause to forget” and juxtaposed to the negative particle לֹא means “you will not be forgotten by Me.” This word is often used in the context of God’s covenant with His people, and His promise to remember them and to be faithful to them. God assures His people that He will not forget them, nor forsake them, even when they are in exile or in distress. 

Isaiah 44:21 is not directly quoted or used in the New Testament, but there are some parallels to the content of this verse in the NT. For example, in Hebrews 13:5, God says to His people: “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” This echoes God’s promise in Isaiah 44:21 that He will not forget His people, and that He will be with them always. In 1 Peter 2:9, Peter calls the believers “a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God.” Note how this concept of our being God’s people and He being our God is a common concept that is repeated throughout the Scriptures. This reflects God’s calling of His people in Isaiah 44:21 as His servants, whom He formed and chose for Himself. In Revelation 2:17, Yeshua says to the one who overcomes: “I will give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it.” This implies that God has a special name and identity for each of His servants, whom He knows and remembers personally. These things from Isaiah and the NT text draw on the great themes and words from the Torah and the History of Israel to motivate people to have faith in the God of Israel and to live obedient to His calling and to His Holy Word. We note that here Isaiah does not specify exactly what God has done in the history of Israel, so this functions as a generalization as a reminder for His people to remember all of the things that He has done! This again is in contrast to the idols who have no actions to remember in history besides pain and misery from the sense of how these idols killed innocent lives through human sacrifice. Note also how all of the remembering is in the relationship that one has with the God of Israel and His Servant King Messiah. This is the context since we have the language that speaks of being created for the Lord God, and that the Lord did not merely shape and form us, but has promised to be with us and love us and bless those who love Him back. So, with all of these things in mind, in relation to the coming exile, the Lord God will not cast off His people, but will continue to work in their lives, and then bring them back to the Promised Land of Israel. Note that today the Lord God is working in our lives, and in the Messiah Yeshua, he has swept away our sins because of His mercy and grace on our lives as His people. This is the context of our relationship with God, that of remembering for the purpose of continuing by faith in the Messiah Yeshua, and living our lives for the glory of God according to His Word!

Rabbinic Commentary on Isaiah 44:15-21

The Targum Jonathan is an Aramaic and Rabbinic translation of the book of Isaiah and therefore is a valuable resource for continuing to study the book of Isaiah!

תרגום יונתן בן עוזיאל אל ישעיה פרק מד:טו-כא
טו      וְהָוֵי לַאְנָשָא לְאַדלָקָא וּנסֵיב מִנְהֹון וּשחֵין אַף אָזָא וַאְפָא לְחֵים אַף עַבדֵיה דַחלָא וּסגֵיד אַתְכֵיה צַלמָא וּבעָא מִנֵיה׃ טז     פַלגֵיה אֹוקֵיד בְנוּרָא עַל פַלגֵיה אְכַל בִסרָא טְוָא טְוָא וּסבַע אַף שְחֵין וַאְמַר אָח שְחֵינִית חְזֵיתִי נוּר׃ יז     וּשאָרֵיה לְדַחלָא עְבַד לְצַלמָא סְגֵיד וְאִשתַעבַד לֵיה וּבעָא מִנֵיה וַאְמַר שֵיזֵיבנִי אְרֵי דַחלְתִי אַת׃ יח     לָא יָדְעִין וְלָא מִסתַכְלִין אְרֵי מִטַמטְמָן מִלְמִחזֵי עֵינֵיהֹון מִלְאִסתַכָלָא בְלִבְהֹון׃ יט     וְלָא מְתִיב לְלִיבֵיה וְלָא מַדַע וְלָא סוּכלְתָנוּ לְמֵימַר פַלגֵיה אֹוקֵידִית בְנוּרָא וְאַף אְפֵיתִי עַל גֻמרֹוהִי לְחֵים טְוֵית בִסרָא וַאְכַלִית וּשאָרֵיה לְתֹועֵיבָא אַעְבֵיד לִבלִי אָעָא אַסגֹוד׃ כ     הָא דַחלְתֵיה פַלגַה קִטמָא לִבֵיה שָטיָא אַטעְיֵיה וְלָא יְשֵיזֵיב יָת נַפשֵיה וְלָא יֵימַר הְלָא שִקרָא עְבַדַת יְמִינִי׃ כא     אִידְכַר אִלֵין יַעְקֹב וְיִשׂרָאֵל אְרֵי עַבדִי אַת אַתקֵינתָך לְמִהוֵי עַבַד פָלַח קֳדָמַי אַת יִשׂרָאֵל לָא תִתנְשֵי דַחלְתִי׃

Targum Jonathan son of Uziel Isaiah 44:15-21
44:15 That it may serve a man to burn: and he taketh thereof, and warmeth himself; yea, he kindleth it, and baketh bread; yea, he maketh it a god, and worshippeth it; he formeth it an image, and prayeth to it. 44:16 He burneth half thereof in the fire; and by the other half he eateth flesh, he roasteth meat, and is satisfied; he also warmeth himself, and saith, Aha, I am warm, I have seen the fire. 44:17 And the remainder thereof he maketh a god; to the image he boweth down; he becometh servile to it, and prayeth to it, and saith, Deliver me; for thou art my god. 44:18 They know not, neither do they understand; for their eyes are closely shut up, so that they cannot see, and their heart, that they cannot understand. 44:19 And he does not consider in his heart, neither hath he knowledge or understanding to say, Half of it I have burned in the fire; yea, I have baked bread upon the coals thereof; I have roasted flesh and eaten it: and shall I make the remnant thereof a god? shall I bow myself down to the stock of a tree? 44:20 Behold his god, part of it is ashes; his undiscerning heart has caused him to err, so that he cannot deliver his soul, nor say, Is it not a lie which I have made with my right hand? 44:21 Remember these things, O Jacob and Israel; for thou art my servant: I have formed thee that thou shouldest serve me, that thou, O Israel, shouldest not forget my fear. (TgJ)

ספר ישעיהו פרק מד
טו   וְהָיָה לְאָדָם לְבָעֵר וַיִּקַּח מֵהֶם וַיָּחָם אַף-יַשִּׂיק וְאָפָה לָחֶם אַף-יִפְעַל-אֵל וַיִּשְׁתָּחוּ עָשָֹהוּ פֶסֶל וַיִּסְגָּד-לָמוֹ: טז   חֶצְיוֹ שָֹרַף בְּמוֹ-אֵשׁ עַל-חֶצְיוֹ בָּשָֹר יֹאכֵל יִצְלֶה צָלִי וְיִשְֹבָּע אַף-יָחֹם וְיֹאמַר הֶאָח חַמּוֹתִי רָאִיתִי אוּר: יז   וּשְׁאֵרִיתוֹ לְאֵל עָשָֹה לְפִסְלוֹ יִסְגָּוד [יִסְגָּד] -לוֹ וְיִשְׁתַּחוּ וְיִתְפַּלֵּל אֵלָיו וְיֹאמַר הַצִּילֵנִי כִּי אֵלִי אָתָּה: יח   לֹא יָדְעוּ וְלֹא יָבִינוּ כִּי טַח מֵרְאוֹת עֵינֵיהֶם מֵהַשְֹכִּיל לִבֹּתָם: 
לוגוס
טו     וְהָוֵי לַאְנָשָא לְאַדלָקָא וּנסֵיב מִנְהֹון וּשחֵין אַף אָזָא וַאְפָא לְחֵים אַף עַבדֵיה דַחלָא וּסגֵיד אַתְכֵיה צַלמָא וּבעָא מִנֵיה׃ טז      פַלגֵיה אֹוקֵיד בְנוּרָא עַל פַלגֵיה אְכַל בִסרָא טְוָא טְוָא וּסבַע אַף שְחֵין וַאְמַר אָח שְחֵינִית חְזֵיתִי נוּר׃ יז      וּשאָרֵיה לְדַחלָא עְבַד לְצַלמָא סְגֵיד וְאִשתַעבַד לֵיה וּבעָא מִנֵיה וַאְמַר שֵיזֵיבנִי אְרֵי דַחלְתִי אַת׃ יח      לָא יָדְעִין וְלָא מִסתַכְלִין אְרֵי מִטַמטְמָן מִלְמִחזֵי עֵינֵיהֹון מִלְאִסתַכָלָא בְלִבְהֹון׃ 
ספריה
טו    וֶהֱוֵי לֶאֱנָשָׁא לְאַדְלָקָא וּנְסֵיב מִנְהוֹן וּשְׁחֵין אַף אֲזָא וְאָפָא לְחֵם אַף עָבְדֵהּ דַחֲלָא וּסְגֵיד אִתְּכֵהּ צַלְמָא וּבְעָא מִנֵהּ: טז    פַּלְגֵהּ אוֹקִיד בְּנוּרָא עַל פַּלְגֵהּ בִּסְרָא אָכִיל טְוָא טָוִי וּסְבַע אַף שְׁחִין וַאֲמַר אָח שַׁחֵינִית חֲזֵיתִי נוּר: יז    וּשְׁאָרֵהּ לְדַחֲלָא עָבַד לְצַלְמָא סְגִיד לֵיהּ וְאֶשְׁתַּעְבֵּד לֵיהּ וּבְעָא מִנֵהּ וַאֲמַר שֵׁיזְבָנִי אֲרֵי דְחַלְתִּי אָתְּ: יח    לָא יָדְעוּן וְלָא מִסְתַּכְּלִין אֲרֵי מְטַמְטְמָן מִלְמֶחֱזֵי עֵינֵיהוֹן מִלְאִסְתַּכָּלָא בְּלִבְּהוֹן: 

Isaiah continues saying the following according to the Targum Jonathan on Isaiah 44:15-18 to say the following, טו      וְהָוֵי לַאְנָשָא לְאַדלָקָא וּנסֵיב מִנְהֹון וּשחֵין אַף אָזָא וַאְפָא לְחֵים אַף עַבדֵיה דַחלָא וּסגֵיד אַתְכֵיה צַלמָא וּבעָא מִנֵיה׃ 44:15 That it may serve a man to burn: and he taketh thereof, and warmeth himself; yea, he kindleth it, and baketh bread; yea, he maketh it a god, and worshippeth it; he formeth it an image, and prayeth to it. טז     פַלגֵיה אֹוקֵיד בְנוּרָא עַל פַלגֵיה אְכַל בִסרָא טְוָא טְוָא וּסבַע אַף שְחֵין וַאְמַר אָח שְחֵינִית חְזֵיתִי נוּר׃ 44:16 He burneth half thereof in the fire; and by the other half he eateth flesh, he roasteth meat, and is satisfied; he also warmeth himself, and saith, Aha, I am warm, I have seen the fire. יז     וּשאָרֵיה לְדַחלָא עְבַד לְצַלמָא סְגֵיד וְאִשתַעבַד לֵיה וּבעָא מִנֵיה וַאְמַר שֵיזֵיבנִי אְרֵי דַחלְתִי אַת׃ 44:17 And the remainder thereof he maketh a god; to the image he boweth down; he becometh servile to it, and prayeth to it, and saith, Deliver me; for thou art my god. יח     לָא יָדְעִין וְלָא מִסתַכְלִין אְרֵי מִטַמטְמָן מִלְמִחזֵי עֵינֵיהֹון מִלְאִסתַכָלָא בְלִבְהֹון׃ 44:18 They know not, neither do they understand; for their eyes are closely shut up, so that they cannot see, and their heart, that they cannot understand. (TgJ) These verses from the Targum Jonathan translation of the Hebrew Bible are a paraphrase of Isaiah 44:15-18, which describe the folly of idolatry. The Targum Jonathan adds some Aramaic words and expressions that are not found in the original Hebrew text, such as the word לְאַדלָקָא (le’adlaka) for “to burn,” which is more specific than the Hebrew לְבָעֵר (leba’er), which can also mean “to consume” or “to destroy.” Verse 15 also uses the word וּשחֵין (ushchein) for “and warm himself,” which is a different verb than the Hebrew וַיָּ֔חָם (vayyacham), which means “and he became warm.” The wordsאַף אָזָא (af aza) are also added which mean “even so he warms or kindles it,” which is an emphatic expression that is not in the Hebrew text. The word וּסגֵיד (usegid) is used mean “and worships it,” which is a different verb than the Hebrew וַיִּשְׁתָּ֔חוּ (vayishtachu), which means “and he bowed down to it.” The words וּבעָא מִנֵיה (uba’a minei) for “and prayeth to it,” which is a different verb than the Hebrew וַיִּסְגָּד-לָמוֹ (vayisgad lamo), which means “and he bowed down to it.” The Aramaic text uses the word דַחלָא (dachla) for “fear” to refer to “a god,” which is a different word than the Hebrew אֵל (el), which can also mean “God” or “mighty one.” The TgJ also uses the word צַלמָא (tzalma) for “an image,” which is a different word than the Hebrew פֶ֖סֶל (pesel), which means “a carved image” or “an idol.” These differences in the translation may affect our interpretation and application of these scriptures to our lives, depending on how we understand the nuances and implications of the Aramaic words and expressions. For example, the Targum Jonathan may be emphasizing the contrast between the true God and the false gods, by using different words for them. It may also highlight the absurdity and ingratitude of the idolaters, by using emphatic expressions and verbs that show their devotion to the idols. It may also reflect the cultural and linguistic context of the Aramaic-speaking Jews, who may have encountered different forms of idolatry in their surroundings.

These verses are not directly quoted or referenced in the New Testament text, but there are some parallels to the content of these verses in the New Testament. For example, Paul writes according to Romans 1:21-23 how the Gentiles exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things, which is similar to the idea of making a god out of wood according to Isaiah 44:15-17. Paul states elsewhere saying in 1 Corinthians 10:14 warning the Corinthians to flee from idolatry, which is the same message as Isaiah 44:18-20, where the prophet calls the idolaters to repent and return to the Lord. And in Revelation 9:20, John reports that the people who survived the plagues did not repent of the works of their hands, nor give up worshiping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk, which is similar to the description of the idols in Isaiah 44:18, which have eyes but do not see, and hearts but do not understand. In the Rabbinic literature, the rabbis parallel this to drunkenness in the following way.

Duties of the Heart, Eighth Treatise on Examining the Soul 3:122
הה למבוכה הזאת כמה היא כוללת ולשכרות הזאת כמה היא חזקה כמו שאמר הכתוב (ישעיהו מ״ד:י״ח-י״ט) כי טח מראות עיניהם מהשכיל לבותם ואמר (שם כט) שכרו ולא יין וגו’:
Alas to this confusion! How so universal it is! And to this drunkenness, how strong it is!, as the verse says: “for their eyes are shrouded, that they cannot see, and their hearts, that they cannot understand” (Yeshaya 44:18), and “ye that are drunken, but not with wine, that stagger, but not with strong drink” (Yeshaya 29:9).

Drunkenness causes one to lose their connection to reason and logic, and this is so because one’s senses become dull and uncaring for what happens, so the issue then is that when one is drunk one is not able to separate what is holy from what is profane. This Jewish commentary “Duties of the heart” is a Jewish ethics and philosophical work that discusses various faculties and qualities of the human soul. Here the author is speaking of one’s ability to discern the truth, and he does so by defining what it means to discern truth from falsehood, good from evil, and reality from illusion. He argues that understanding is the most important and noble faculty of the soul, and that it is the basis of all other virtues and obligations. He also warns against the dangers of ignorance, confusion, and drunkenness, which impair the faculty of understanding which lead to idolatry and sin. This commentary cites Isaiah 44:18 and 29:9 as examples of how the idolaters of Israel were blinded and became ignorant through their attachment to false gods and images. The commentator connects these things to the spiritual state of the idolaters, who are unable to see or comprehend the truth of God’s Word, His mercy and grace, and sovereignty. He compares idolaters to drunkards who are intoxicated by wine or strong drink, and who lose their sense of reason and judgment. He implies that the idolaters are not only physically drunk, but also morally and intellectually drunk, as they followed their base desires and false opinions instead of the divine commandments and wisdom of the God of Israel. The author’s major conclusion from the midrash on Isaiah 44:18 is that idolatry is the result of a lack of understanding, and that understanding is the antidote to idolatry. It is interesting how it is possible to lay out, organize, and teach the truth of God’s Word in the Scriptures, and how understanding is not outside of the reach of the listener. The issue is whether the listener is willing to accept, receive, and change his or her life to bring glory to God. This unwillingness is a spiritual malady in which there is the need for the direct intervention of God on behalf of the listener to elicit faith. This is why the author of the commentary here urges his readers to examine their souls and to purify their understanding from any trace of idolatry or falsehood. He exhorts everyone to seek the true knowledge of God and His Torah, and to avoid anything that may cloud or corrupt their understanding, such as drunkenness, ignorance, or confusion.

The author’s view of drunkenness and its effect on holiness and righteousness is based on the Jewish tradition that regards alcohol as a double-edged sword. On the one hand, alcohol can be used for holy and festive purposes, such as celebrating Shabbat, holidays, and other occasions. On the other hand, alcohol can also be abused and lead to unholy and sinful behavior, such as violence, immorality, or idolatry. Therefore, the approach to alcohol should always be one of moderation and temperance, which requires the proper intention, time, place, and volume of alcohol that one is to limit one’s self. For those who have a problem with drinking, alcohol should be totally off limits. It is better to follow the approach of totally eliminating alcohol from one’s life, so that there is no chance of excessive or inappropriate drinking, which is also considered a form of idolatry which is a violation of God’s word. The reasoning is that if alcohol clouds judgment and reason, this becomes not just a cognitive or intellectual ability, but also a moral and spiritual one. So, clouded judgment and understanding leads to a failure in the ability to perceive the truth of God and His will, and to act accordingly. If our minds are clouded by any sort of alcohol or drugs, then we are unable to discern truth, wisdom, faith, and love, which are the foundation of all the commandments and virtues. The rabbis also teach that understanding is a gift from God, and that it requires constant study, practice, and refinement. What happens if one instead chooses to practice alcoholism as opposed to seeking to draw closer to God in these things? There is a definite spiritual harm or distortion in alcohol that should absolutely be avoided, especially if this is paralleled to idolatry per the explanation of the commentary here on Isaiah 44:18. 

In addition to all of these things, this commentary on Isaiah 44:18 and 29:9 can be connected to the NT text that speaks of similar concepts. For example, in Romans 1:18-32, Paul describes the folly and wickedness of the Gentiles who suppressed the truth of God and exchanged His glory for idols and images. He says that God gave them over to a depraved mind and a reprobate sense, and that they became futile in their thinking and darkened in their understanding. He also lists the various sins and vices that they committed as a result of their idolatry and ignorance. Notice how this would parallel the one who gives his or herself over to alcohol? What is the outcome? Would God give such a person over to this because their understanding has been darkened? This passage echoes the theme of Isaiah 44:9-20, where the prophet mocks the idolaters who make and worship images of wood and metal, and who are blind and foolish in their hearts and minds. In Ephesians 4:17-24, Paul exhorts the believers not to live as the Gentiles do, who are alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, and who have hardened their hearts and given themselves over to sensuality and impurity. Notice how alcohol can have this effect, of leading one to sensuality and immorality, and to be alienated from the life that God wants for us. This is why Paul urges us to put off the old self, which is corrupted by deceitful desires, and to put on the new self, which is created in the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. He also tells us to be renewed in the spirit of our minds, and to speak the truth in love. This passage reflects the theme of Isaiah 29:9-16, where the prophet rebukes the people of Judah who are drunk, but not with wine, and who are hypocritical and rebellious in their words and deeds. Drunkenness can have this very same effect because it distorts the mind. Note also how God is merciful, which is why Paul continues speaking of the restoration of the humble and the meek, who will rejoice in the Lord and understand His ways. Paul also explains according to 1 Corinthians 2:6-16 the difference between the wisdom of God and the wisdom of the world. He says that the wisdom of God is hidden and mysterious, and that it is revealed by the Spirit of God to those who love Him. He says that the natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. He also says that the spiritual person judges all things, but is himself judged by no one, and that he has the mind of Christ. This passage relates to the theme of Isaiah 44:18, where the prophet says that the idolaters have closed their eyes and minds and do not see or know the truth. It also relates to the theme of alcoholism or drunkenness spoken of here in the Jewish commentary, and on the verse from Isaiah 29:13-14 where the prophet says that the people draw near to God with their lips, but their hearts are far from Him, and that their wisdom and understanding will perish because of these things. These are stern warnings which have a lot of life application for us today and for all generations! Again, this is why the Scriptures have application for all generations throughout time! Note also how Midrash Tanchuma Buber, Sh’lach 6:1 also speaks of drunkenness with the inability to see the truth and lashon hara (slander and gossip). The rabbinic connections go even deeper with the connection of lashon hara to idolatry, immorality, and murder. All of these things have a major spiritual component that we need to be aware of in our lives! The major point is that the things we do in our lives, even if they seem or appear to be minor, can have major spiritual implications that can affect our relationship with God!

ספר ישעיהו פרק מד
יט   וְלֹא-יָשִׁיב אֶל-לִבּוֹ וְלֹא דַעַת וְלֹא-תְבוּנָה לֵאמֹר חֶצְיוֹ שָֹרַפְתִּי בְמוֹ-אֵשׁ וְאַף אָפִיתִי עַל-גֶּחָלָיו לֶחֶם אֶצְלֶה בָשָֹר וְאֹכֵל וְיִתְרוֹ לְתוֹעֵבָה אֶעֱשֶֹה לְבוּל עֵץ אֶסְגּוֹד: כ   רֹעֶה אֵפֶר לֵב הוּתַל הִטָּהוּ וְלֹא-יַצִּיל אֶת-נַפְשׁוֹ וְלֹא יֹאמַר הֲלוֹא שֶׁקֶר בִּימִינִי:       כא   זְכָר-אֵלֶּה יַעֲקֹב וְיִשְֹרָאֵל כִּי עַבְדִּי-אָתָּה יְצַרְתִּיךָ עֶבֶד-לִי אַתָּה יִשְֹרָאֵל לֹא תִנָּשֵׁנִי: 
לוגוס
יט      וְלָא מְתִיב לְלִיבֵיה וְלָא מַדַע וְלָא סוּכלְתָנוּ לְמֵימַר פַלגֵיה אֹוקֵידִית בְנוּרָא וְאַף אְפֵיתִי עַל גֻמרֹוהִי לְחֵים טְוֵית בִסרָא וַאְכַלִית וּשאָרֵיה לְתֹועֵיבָא אַעְבֵיד לִבלִי אָעָא אַסגֹוד׃ כ      הָא דַחלְתֵיה פַלגַה קִטמָא לִבֵיה שָטיָא אַטעְיֵיה וְלָא יְשֵיזֵיב יָת נַפשֵיה וְלָא יֵימַר הְלָא שִקרָא עְבַדַת יְמִינִי׃ כא      אִידְכַר אִלֵין יַעְקֹב וְיִשׂרָאֵל אְרֵי עַבדִי אַת אַתקֵינתָך לְמִהוֵי עַבַד פָלַח קֳדָמַי אַת יִשׂרָאֵל לָא תִתנְשֵי דַחלְתִי׃
ספריה
יט    וְלָא מֵתִיב לְלִבֵּהּ וְלָא מַדַע וְלָא סוּכְלְתָנוּ לְמֵימַר פַּלְגֵהּ אוֹקֵידַת בְּנוּרָא וְאַף אֲפִיתִי עַל גוּמְרוֹהִי לְחֵם טְוֵית בִּסְרָא וַאֲכַלֵית וּשְׁאֵרֵהּ לְתוֹעֵבָא אַעְבֵּיד לְיִבְלֵי אָעָא אֶסְגוֹד: כ    הָא דְחַלְתָּא פַלְגֵהּ קִטְמָא לִבֵּהּ שַׁטְיָא אַטְעֲיֵהּ וְלָא יְשֵׁיזֵיב יַת נַפְשֵׁהּ וְלָא יֵימַר הֲלָא שִׁקְרָא עֲבָדֵית בִּימִינִי: כא    אִדְכַּר אִלֵין יַעֲקֹב וְיִשְׂרָאֵל אֲרֵי עַבְדִי אַתְּ אַתְקֵינְתָּךְ לְמֶהֱוֵי עֲבֵיד פְּלַח קֳדָמַי אַתְּ יִשְׂרָאֵל לָא תִתְנְשֵׁי דְחַלְתִּי:

Isaiah goes on saying the following according to the TgJ translation on Isaiah 44:19-21, יט     וְלָא מְתִיב לְלִיבֵיה וְלָא מַדַע וְלָא סוּכלְתָנוּ לְמֵימַר פַלגֵיה אֹוקֵידִית בְנוּרָא וְאַף אְפֵיתִי עַל גֻמרֹוהִי לְחֵים טְוֵית בִסרָא וַאְכַלִית וּשאָרֵיה לְתֹועֵיבָא אַעְבֵיד לִבלִי אָעָא אַסגֹוד׃ 44:19 And he does not consider in his heart, neither hath he knowledge or understanding to say, Half of it I have burned in the fire; yea, I have baked bread upon the coals thereof; I have roasted flesh and eaten it: and shall I make the remnant thereof a god? shall I bow myself down to the stock of a tree? כ     הָא דַחלְתֵיה פַלגַה קִטמָא לִבֵיה שָטיָא אַטעְיֵיה וְלָא יְשֵיזֵיב יָת נַפשֵיה וְלָא יֵימַר הְלָא שִקרָא עְבַדַת יְמִינִי׃ 44:20 Behold his god, part of it is ashes; his undiscerning heart has caused him to err, so that he cannot deliver his soul, nor say, Is it not a lie which I have made with my right hand? כא     אִידְכַר אִלֵין יַעְקֹב וְיִשׂרָאֵל אְרֵי עַבדִי אַת אַתקֵינתָך לְמִהוֵי עַבַד פָלַח קֳדָמַי אַת יִשׂרָאֵל לָא תִתנְשֵי דַחלְתִי׃44:21 Remember these things, O Jacob and Israel; for thou art my servant: I have formed thee that thou shouldest serve me, that thou, O Israel, shouldest not forget my fear. (TgJ) The Targum Jonathan translation of the Hebrew Bible from Isaiah 44:19-21 differs from the Hebrew Bible in some ways, in verse 19, the Targum adds the word אוקידית (I have burned) before בנורא (in the fire), which is not in the Hebrew text and means “to burn in the fire.” This may emphasize the absurdity of the idolater who burns part of the wood and worships the other part. In verse 20, the Targum uses the word דחלתיה (means fear of his god) which may show the contrast between the true God and the false god that the idolater worships. In verse 21, the Targum adds the word אתקינתך (I have formed you) after את (you), which is not in the Hebrew text. This may remind the people of Israel that they are God’s special creation and chosen people, and that they should not forget their covenant with him. In verse 21, the Targum also adds the word דחלתי (I have feared) at the end of the verse, which is not in the Hebrew text, and refers to the fear of God. This may imply that the people of Israel should fear God and not idols, and that the Lord God is the source of their protection and salvation. These differences in the translation may affect our interpretation and application of these scriptures to our lives by helping us to appreciate the richness and diversity of the biblical text and its reception history. Idolatry is an illogical way to serve the God of Israel, we know that Israel had in history placed idols in the Temple of God or sacrificed in the high places, or burned their own children in fire to false gods, etc. The descriptions of these things are in 2 Kings 21:4-7, 2 Chronicles 28:1-4, 33:4-7, Jeremiah 7:8-11, and Ezekiel 8:1-18. These things illustrate how the people had disobeyed the commands of God and provoked Him to anger and judgment. The mercy of God is illustrated in His sending prophets to the people to warn them and call them back to His holy and righteous ways. The NT text parallels these things discussing similar issues, and how idolatry is incompatible with the faith. For example, in Romans 1:21-23, Paul describes the folly of the Gentiles who exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. This echoes the theme of Isaiah 44:9-20, where the prophet mocks the idolaters who make and worship images of wood and metal. In 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, Paul reminds the believers that we are God’s temple, our bodies are the temple of God, and that we have been bought with a price. This reflects the theme of Isaiah 44:21-23, where God reminds us how we are His servants and how He has redeemed us. In 2 Corinthians 3:16-18, Paul contrasts the veil that covers the mind of those who read the Tanakh and how the Spirit of God is needed to reveal the truth of who the Messiah is that God had promised according to the prophet Isaiah. This relates to the theme of Isaiah 44:18, where the prophet says that idolaters have closed their eyes and minds and do not see or know the truth. 

The commentary Sefer HaYashar 2:48 has the following to say concerning these verses from Isaiah 44:19-21.

Sefer HaYashar 2:48
ואחרי אשר התבאר כי העבודה תהיה בשלשה דברים: ביראה, בחכמה, ובאהבה, שלשתן ניתנו מרועה אחד, והוא השכל, כי השכל כולל שלשתן וכולל כחות אחרים, כי מן הידוע, כי השכל כולל החכמה, וכולל האהבה, וכולל שיאהב המשכיל בכל דבר ודבר המישור לבל יוסיף באחד מהם על הראוי או יגרע מהראוי ונלמד מזה, כי לפי שלימות שכל האדם תהיה עבודתו שלימה, וכפי מה שיחסר משלימות עבודתו יחסר משכל בעליה ומדעתו. ואם תהיה העבודה שלימה, אין ספק כי דעת בעליה ושכלו שלימים, כי הכתוב אומר בחטאים (ירמיה י) ״נבער כל אדם מדעת״. ואמר (ישעיהו מ״ד:י״ח-י״ט) ״לא ידעו ולא יבינו כי טח מראות עיניהם מהשכיל לבותם, ולא ישיב אל לבו ולא דעת ולא תבונה״. רצונו לומר, כי העבודה תהיה מכח החכמה, כאשר אמר (תהילים קיא) ״ראשית חכמה יראת ה׳״. וזה לך האות, כי עבודת האל יתברך, תכלית השכל והחכמה, ועוזבי האל יתברך, הם אוילים, ואם יאמר אומר: הנה אנחנו רואים רשעים שיש מהם חכמים ומשכילים בכל חכמה, ואיך תאמר כי הם אוילים וחסרי לב. נאמר לו, כי כל חכם אשר בעת תבוא עליו צרה עושה דבר ממה שלא עשה קודם לכן ויכיר כי בדבר ההוא תהיה לו עזרה וישועה זה לאות על סכלותו.
Since it has been made clear that service to God must be with three things: with fear, with wisdom, and with love, we recognize that these three are given by one shepherd, and that is reason, for reason contains all three and other powers as well. For it is obvious that reason contains wisdom and love and the awareness that the rational person should in all things love the righteous path, lest he add to any of them more than is fitting or diminish more than is fitting. We learn from this that according to the perfection of the reason of man will his service to God become whole, and that what is lacking in the perfection of his service to God is lacking in the man’s reason and knowledge. If the service be perfect there is no doubt that the knowledge of their possessor is complete. For Scripture says with regard to sins and sinners (Jeremiah 10:14), “Every man is proved to be brutish, without knowledge,” and it says (Isaiah 44:18-19), “They know not, neither do they understand; for their eyes are bedaubed, that they cannot see, and their hearts, that they cannot understand. And none considereth in his heart, neither is there knowledge nor understanding.” The Prophet means that the service must be with the power of wisdom, as it is said (Psalms 111:10), “Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” And this is a sign that the service of God, blessed be He, is the goal of reason and wisdom and that those who forsake God are fools. If someone were to say, “Behold you see the wicked, that even among them there are wise and intelligent men in every branch of wisdom. How can you say of them that they are fools or lacking in mental power?” Our answer would be: “When a wise man is visited by misfortune and thereupon does a thing which he has never done before, but suddenly realizes that through this thing salvation will come to him, it is a sign of his previous folly.

Sefer HaYashar is a book of Jewish ethics and philosophy written by Rabbi Bahya ibn Paquda in the 11th century. The major conclusion of this passage from the commentary is that the service of God requires three things: fear, wisdom, and love, and that these three are derived from reason / logic, which is the most important and noble faculty of the human soul. The author argues that the perfection of one’s service to God depends on one’s reason and knowledge, and that the lack of either leads to sin and folly. The interesting aspect is that when we add the NT text, we notice how we need God’s help to perfect our understanding of the Scriptures in its application for our lives so that we can life to serve the Lord. This is the purpose of the transformed life in the Messiah Yeshua, and the indwelling of God’s Holy Spirit. Note how the author of the commentary cites verses from the Hebrew Bible that support his view, and he challenges the notion that the wicked can be wise or intelligent in any meaningful sense but are unable to see or understand the truth such that he or she will live their lives for the Lord. This is why it is important and necessary to seek the God of Israel and the righteous path. The outcome of not following the righteous path, according to the author, is that one becomes brutish, ignorant, and foolish, and that one loses the true knowledge and fear of God. One also exposes oneself to misfortune and calamity due to what we read according to Devarim / Deuteronomy 28, and one fails to recognize the divine guidance and providence in one’s life, which means that one fails to recognize God’s calling to repent and turn from sin. Then, one becomes enslaved to one’s base desires and false opinions, and worships idols and images instead of the true God. One also forfeits the reward and happiness that await the righteous in this world and the next. The outcome of not following the righteous path is that one becomes distant from God and His Torah and suffers the consequences of one’s sins in this world and the next. The rabbinic texts also support this view, for example, in the Mishnah Avot 2:5 we read, “In a place where there are no men, strive to be a man.” This means that one should follow the righteous path even when others do not, and not be influenced by the wickedness of the society. The Talmud Bavli Berakhot 7a states: “The perfectly righteous do not suffer; the less perfect do. Under the law of solidarity, the latter often suffer for the sins of others, and therefore save others from suffering.” This means that one’s level of righteousness can have an effect on others, and that the righteous may sometimes endure hardships for the sake of others. This is what Yeshua did bearing our burdens and sins for our forgiveness. Midrash Rabbah Shemot / Exodus 43 states: “God said to Israel: ‘My children, I created you for the sole purpose that you should fear Me and not sin.'” This means that the purpose of human existence is to serve God and obey His commandments, and that sinning is contrary to one’s created nature. The Torah also has similar concepts saying according to Devarim / Deuteronomy 30:15-20, Moses exhorts the people of Israel to choose life by loving and obeying God and warns them of the curses that will befall them if they turn away from Him and follow other gods. In Tehillim / Psalm 1:1-6, the psalmist contrasts the blessedness of the righteous who delight in the Torah of the Lord, and the wickedness of the wicked who are like chaff that the wind drives away, and who will not stand in the judgment or in the congregation of the righteous. Matthew 7:13-14, writes that Yeshua taught how the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and that few find it, while the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and that many enter by it. So these things describe how righteousness in this life is something to strive for and something we will struggle with. The NT text writes that with God’s help all things are possible, even to overcoming sin and living for His glory when we have His presence in our lives, which is again a Torah centric principle! 

The Midrash Lekach Tov has the following to say regarding these verses from Isaiah.

Midrash Lekach Tov, Numbers 15:40:1
פס’. למען תזכרו ועשיתם. לעשות זכרון כמעשה. גדול הוא זכרון שנא’ (מלאכי ג׳:כ״ב) זכרו תורת משה עבדי ואומר (ירמיה נא) זכרו מרחוק את ה’ (כל אפסי ארץ). ואומר (ישעיהו מ״ד:כ״א) זכר אלה יעקב. ועשיתם את כל מצותי. מלמד שהזכירה מביאה לידי מעשה. והייתם קדושים לאלהיכם. זו קדושת ציצית. מגיד שהציצית מוספת קדושה לישראל. שלשה פעמים כתיב ועשו להם ציצית. ונתנו על ציצית. והיה לכם לציצית. כשתחלק ל’ י’ לאחד י’ לאחד י’ לאחד יהיו כולם מלאים כי כולם ציצת חסר יו״ד כתובים. א״ר חנינא בן אנטגנס כל המקיים מצות ציצית מה הוא אומר (זכריה ח׳:כ״ג) (בי) בימים ההמה אשר יחזיקו עשרה אנשים מכל לשונות הגוים [והחזיקו] בכנף איש יהודי מלמד שכל אחד ואחד מישראל עתידין לשמשו עבדים אלפים ושמונה מאות:
The verse: In order that you will remember and do them – to make remembering like action. Great is remembering, as it is stated (Malachi 3:22), “Remember the Torah of Moshe, My servant.” And it states (Jeremiah 51:50), “remember the Lord from afar (all the corners of the world).” And it states (Isaiah 44:21), “Remember these things, Yaakov.” And do all of My commandments – this teaches that remembering brings to action. And you shall be holy to your God – this is the holiness of tzitzit (fringes). It is saying that tzitzit adds holiness to the Jewish people. It is written three times: “and they shall make for themselves tzitzit; and they shall place on the tzitzit; and they shall be for (le) tzitzit.” When you divide the [numerical count of the letter,] lamed (which is 30 and spells le) – ten for one, ten for one and ten for one – all of them become fully spelled. For they are all written tzitzat, without [a letter,] yod (the numerical count of which is ten). Rabbi Chanina ben Antigonos said, “What does it state about anyone who fulfills the commandment of tzitzit? ‘In those days, ten people from nations of every tongue will take hold; they will take hold of every Jew by a corner of their cloak’ (Zechariah 8:23) – this teaches that in the future, every Jew will be served by 2,800 servants.

Midrash Lekach Tov is a collection of homiletical interpretations of the Torah and the Five Megillot, attributed to Rabbi Toviah ben Eliezer, who lived in the 11th century. The major conclusion of this commentary is that the mitzvah of tzitzit, the fringes attached to the corners of the garments, is a means of remembering God and His commandments, and of attaining holiness and blessing. The largest contribution here is to one’s intention, to the desire to live our lives for the Lord and to obey His Word. The purpose of the tzitzit is for remembering what God has done is very significant because it inspires gratitude, faith, and obedience. By looking at the tzitzit, the people are reminded of God’s creation, redemption, and revelation, and of the covenant and identity as the People of God. Remembering also motivates us to act according to God’s will and to help us to avoid sin and idolatry. The rabbinic literature, generally speaking, agrees with the importance and value of remembering God and His commandments. They cite verses from the Tanakh that support this idea, and they also use numerical and linguistic methods to derive deeper meanings from the text. For example, here in Midrash Lekhach Tov the author quotes Malachi 3:22, Jeremiah 51:50, and Isaiah 44:21, which all contain the word “remember” in different contexts. It analyzes the word “tzitzit” and its spelling and shows how it relates to the number of commandments, the number of strings and knots, and the number of servants that one will have in the future. The major purpose of remembering, according to the rabbis, is to fulfill the command of God, who said in Bamidbar / Numbers 15:39-40, “You will have these tassels to look at and so you will remember all the commands of the Lord, that you may obey them and not prostitute yourselves by chasing after the lusts of your own hearts and eyes. Then you will remember to obey all my commands and will be consecrated to your God.” Remembering is also a way of honoring and loving God, who said in Devarim / Deuteronomy 6:5-6: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.” In addition to this, the NT has some parallel concepts, for example, in Matthew 22:34-40, Yeshua summarizes the law and the prophets in two commandments: to love God and to love one’s neighbor. He quotes Devarim / Deuteronomy 6:5, which is part of the Shema, the Jewish declaration of faith that is recited daily with the tzitzit. In John 14:15-17, Yeshua promises to send the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth, to his disciples, who will teach them and remind them of everything he has said to them. He also says that if they love him, they will keep his commandments, which are based on the law of Moses and the prophets. According to 2 Peter 1:12-15, Peter writes to the believers that he will always remind them of the truths they have learned, even though they are firmly established in them. He also says that he will make every effort to ensure that they will always remember these things after his departure. These things essentially teach us how those who love God will obey His commands which are summarized as loving God and loving your neighbor. The Lord God desires to help us to live for Him and wants us to seek Him for His help to do so which demonstrates our humbleness of heart. These things also demonstrate that walking in God’s ways is a lifelong commitment and in this world is something we will all struggle with until we are face to face with the Lord in the Olam HaBa!