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Isaiah 58:3

    Isaiah 58:3 Translations

    King James Version (KJV)

    Wherefore have we fasted, say they, and thou seest not? wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge? Behold, in the day of your fast ye find pleasure, and exact all your labours.

    American King James Version (AKJV)

    Why have we fasted, say they, and you see not? why have we afflicted our soul, and you take no knowledge? Behold, in the day of your fast you find pleasure, and exact all your labors.

    American Standard Version (ASV)

    Wherefore have we fasted,'say they , and thou seest not? wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge? Behold, in the day of your fast ye find your own pleasure, and exact all your labors.

    Basic English Translation (BBE)

    They say, Why have we kept ourselves from food, and you do not see it? why have we kept ourselves from pleasure, and you take no note of it? If, in the days when you keep from food, you take the chance to do your business, and get in your debts;

    Webster's Revision

    Wherefore have we fasted,'say they , and thou seest not? wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge? Behold, in the day of your fast ye find your own pleasure, and exact all your labors.

    World English Bible

    'Why have we fasted,' [say they], 'and you don't see? [why] have we afflicted our soul, and you take no knowledge?' "Behold, in the day of your fast you find pleasure, and exact all your labors.

    English Revised Version (ERV)

    Wherefore have we fasted, say they, and thou seest not? wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge? Behold, in the day of your fast ye find your own pleasure, and exact all your labours.

    Definitions for Isaiah 58:3

    Fast - Abstaining from food.
    Wherefore - Why?; for what reason?; for what cause?

    Clarke's Commentary on Isaiah 58:3

    Have we adopted our soul "Have we afflicted our souls" - Twenty-seven MSS. (six ancient) of Dr. Kennicott's, thirty-six of De Rossi's, and two of my own, and the old edition of 1488 have the noun in the plural number, נפשינו naphsheynu, our souls; and so the Septuagint, Chaldee, and Vulgate. This reading is undoubtedly genuine.

    In the day of your fast ye find pleasure - Fast days are generally called holidays, and holidays are days of idleness and pleasure. In numberless cases the fast is turned into a feast.

    And exact all your labors - Some disregard the most sacred fast, and will oblige their servant to work all day long; others use fast days for the purpose of settling their accounts, posting up their books, and drawing out their bills to be ready to collect their debts. These are sneaking hypocrites; the others are daringly irreligious.

    Barnes' Notes on Isaiah 58:3

    Wherefore have we fasted - They had fasted much, evidently with the expectation of delivering themselves from impending calamities, and securing the divine favor. They are here introduced as saying that they had been disappointed. God had not interposed as they had expected. Chagrined and mortified, they now complain that he had not noticed their very conscientious and faithful regard for the duties of religion.

    And thou seest not? - All had been in vain. Calamities still impended; judgments threatened; and there were no tokens of the divine approbation. Hypocrites depend on their fastings and prayers as laying God under obligation to save them. If he does not interpose, they complain and murmur. When fasting is the result of a humble and broken heart, it is acceptable; when it is instituted as a means of purchasing the divine favor, and as laying God under obligation, it can be followed by no happy result to the soul.

    Have we afflicted our soul - By fasting. Twenty-one manuscripts (six ancient), says Lowth, have this in the plural number - 'our souls' and so the Septuagint, Chaldee, and the Vulgate. The sense is not materially affected, however. It is evident here that they regarded their numerous fastings as laying the foundation of a claim on the favor of God, and that they were disposed to complain when that claim was not acknowledged. Fasting, like other religious duties, is proper; but in that, as in all other services of religion, there is danger of supposing that we bring God under obligations, and that we are laying the foundation of a claim to his favor.

    Thou takest no knowledge - Thou dost not regard our numerous acts of self-denial.

    Behold, in the day of your fast you find pleasure - The prophet here proceeds to state the reasons why their fastings were not succeeded as they supposed they would be, by the divine favor. The first reason which he states is, that even when they were fasting, they were giving full indulgence to their depraved appetites and lusts. The Syriac has well rendered this, 'In the day of your fasting you indulge your lusts, and draw near to all your idols.' This also was evidently the case with the Jews in the time of the Saviour. They were Characterized repeatedly by him as 'an evil and adulterous generation,' and yet no generation perhaps was ever more punctual and strict in the external duties of fasting and other religious ceremonies.

    And exact all your labors - This is the second reason why their fasting was attended with no more happy results. The margin renders this 'griefs,' or things wherewith ye grieve others.' Lowth renders it, 'All your demands of labor ye rigorously exact.' Castellio renders it, 'And all things which are due to you, you exact.' The word rendered here 'labors' denotes usually hard and painful labor; toil, travail, etc. The Septuagint renders it here, 'And goad (ὑπονύσσετε huponussete) all those who are under your control' (τοὺς ὑποχειρίους ὑμῶν tous hupocheirious humōn). The idea seems to be that they were at that time oppressive in exacting all that was due to them; they remitted nothing, they forgave nothing. Alas, how often is this still true! People may be most diligent in the external duties of religion; most abundant in fasting and in prayer, and at the same time most unyielding in demanding all that is due to them. Like Shylock - another Jew like those in the time of Isaiah - they may demand 'the pound of flesh,' at the same time that they may be most formal, punctual, precise, and bigoted in the performance of the external duties of religion. The sentiment taught here is, that if we desire to keep a fast that shall be acceptable to God, it must be such as shall cause us to unbind heavy burdens from the poor, and to lead us to relax the rigor of the claims which would be oppressive on those who are subject to us (see Isaiah 58:6).