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Please Help Me Interpret Isaiah 58:7

Discussion in 'General Discussions' started by God_be_with_you, Nov 21, 2013.


What does the blue text refer to? Please add additional poll choices.

  1. Don't hide from your flesh and blood (family)

  2. Confront your flesh and sin nature rather than cower away from it

    0 vote(s)
Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. Isaiah 58 is a chapter about the type of fast that God finds acceptable and worthy of rewarding. I understand almost the entire chapter, except the blue colored text below. What does God mean when he says not to hide yourself from your own flesh? It could mean not to be distant with your own flesh and blood (or family), or it could mean to confront your flesh and sinful nature, or perhaps it means something else entirely. Thank you in advance for your comments, and God bless.

    (Young's Literal Translation)
    5 Like this is the fast that I choose? The day of a man's afflicting his soul? To bow as a reed his head, And sackcloth and ashes spread out? This dost thou call a fast, And a desirable day -- to Jehovah?

    6 Is not this the fast that I chose -- To loose the bands of wickedness, To shake off the burdens of the yoke, And to send out the oppressed free, And every yoke ye draw off?

    7 Is it not to deal to the hungry thy bread, And the mourning poor bring home, That thou seest the naked and cover him, And from thine own flesh hide not thyself?
  2. Compare with the NIV (verse 7):
    Is it not to share your food with the hungry
    and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
    when you see the naked, to clothe them,
    and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

    Sometimes it's helpful, for me anyway, to compare a word-for-word type translation (formal equivalence, like Young's) with a sense-for-sense (dynamic equivalence) translation. The NIV translation seems to be a faithful rendering, given the context set by the first part of the verse. The part you've highlighted seems to be saying, don't ignore a fellow human being who is in need.
    God_be_with_you likes this.
  3. Hey thanks! I appreciate it!
  4. Greetings:

    First spend money for doctors on yourself,and then attend to the unfortunate.Remember,first fruits go to the storehouse.

    God_be_with_you likes this.
  5. Thanks Krossquad =)
  6. Own flesh = family.

    The context before and after supports that view more then 'hiding from your flesh and sin nature'.
  7. I tend to agree with you KingJ. It seems such a strange thing for God to emphasize, eh? Why is associating with your family so important?
  8. I'm a bit of a word nerd, so I thought this might be interesting to look into, and here are some observations from what I found (Not that I'm even close to being an authority in ancient Hebrew, but it's maybe something to consider).

    In the KJV, I'm not sure about other translations, the word translated "flesh" here (H1320) is used 264 times, and it only means "kin" twice. Usually it means literal flesh, like meat or a person or animal's physical body. But like King J points out, I think we can rule out literal flesh in this verse, or an analogy for your own sin nature, on the merits of the context of the surrounding themes alone.

    In this verse H1320 "flesh" is understood in conjunction with H4480, which means "out of". I didn't look at every single instance where these two words are translated in conjunction, but frequently (not always) the combination H4480+H1320 is used to describe a remainder after a portion is taken from a whole. For example, it's the combination used in Genesis when Adam calls Eve "flesh of my flesh." The combination of the two words is the second "flesh" here, not the first. It's the part that remains after a portion is taken away. It means a remainder in a few other places too, but sometimes it seems to just as easily mean the part that is taken out from the whole. It's kind of a rare combination though, and it at has least one complex rendering in Job 19:26, "And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God." It could mean something like "whatever's left," I suppose, but this is a complex verse. Like anything else in the Bible, translation is tricky.

    So it seems like we could safely read "flesh" in Isaiah 58:7 to mean "the whole of which you are a part," or something similar: essentially, anyone other than yourself. This reading seems to adequately fit the context. I don't want to lead anyone the wrong way though; I don't know a lot about translation of ancient Hebrew, this is just my personal observation based simply on looking at ways this word combination has been translated in some other places. So I can't say for sure exactly what it does mean; understanding the subtle nuances of a dead language is very complex, and I'm not anywhere close to being an expert. But based on other ways the combination has been translated, I'd suggest it probably doesn't mean family here.

    Anyway, I looked into it for my own benefit, so I thought I might as well share my observations. Feel free to disagree, I'm not necessarily committed to that reading. Others here are much more experienced in examining Hebrew than I am.
  9. Wow! Thank you for the thorough response. This is exactly what I was looking for, and it seems to make sense as well. Throughout that chapter, God points out that you should be out spreading charity and bringing the unfortunate into your home.

    If your interpretation is correct, God seems to be expressing that you should not hide yourself away during your time of fasting. You are right when you say that Bible translation is tricky, but I believe that your interpretation is the correct one, considering that the message of the entire chapter seems to support it. Thank you for helping me clarity this.

    By the way, I've always wanted to be well educated on Biblical translation, so I'm curious how you have learned what you know. Also, what are those numbers that you referenced?
  10. I'm not sure if this passage is talking about what do to "during a time of fasting" so much as pointing out that God wanted his people to obey his commands, like to take care of those in need among them, rather than practice what had become empty ritualistic observances.

    I wouldn't say I'm "educated" in Bible translation. I grew up on a Bible college campus, and picked up a few things here and there.

    The numbers are "Strong's numbers," and they're used in Strong's Concordance (for the KJV) to index all of the original-language root words. So each root word in the language is assigned its own number. Strong's isn't really meant to be a translation tool exactly, and it's certainly not an exhaustive dictionary accounting for all possible meanings and connotations of words. It's a way of indexing the Bible to help you find other instances where a word appears to help give the reader a sense of context for how it's usually used. I think other English translations and even other-language translations can help give an increasingly accurate sense of context as well, but lots of people will disagree with me on that.

    I generally use the free e-sword software http://www.e-sword.net/ since it has clickable links in the KJV text (KJV+ tab) to Strong's concordance as well as indexing tools to help you quickly find other instances of the word you're interested in. I'm not very confident in my abilities in this sort of thing, so if I'm not absolutely sure about something, I make sure to discuss it with mature believers to get their thoughts as well, to help ground my perspective and help me see if I've missed something or added some unintended meaning. Submitting my observations, for example, to this forum is one way of doing that.
  11. Cool! Thanks!
  12. #14 ixoye_8, Nov 24, 2013
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2013
    Pro 21:3 To do righteousness and justice is desired by the LORD more than sacrifice.

    Mat 9:13 “But go and learn what this means: ‘I DESIRE COMPASSION, AND NOT SACRIFICE,' for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

    Zec 7:9 “Thus has the LORD of hosts said, ‘Dispense true justice and practice kindness and compassion each to his brother;

    same God, same commandment (love neighbor as self) different day ..

    Roads said it first ..

    so much as pointing out that God wanted his people to obey his commands, like to take care of those in need among them, rather than practice what had become empty ritualistic observances.
    Roads likes this.
  13. Isaiah writes in Hebrew poetic form. Hebrew poetry is based on parallelism and not rhythm and rhyme. One key in studying this book is being able to identify which verses parallel with one another. Every verse of his book is written this way except for the last three chapters.

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