Why do you make us stray
From your ways?
Why do you harden our hearts,
So that we do not fear you?
For the sake of your servants!
For the tribes of your heritage!
Your holy people took possession
For a little while.
But now our adversaries
Have trodden down your sanctuary.
We have long been
Like those whom you do not rule.
We have long been
Like those who are not called
By your name.”
The prophet acknowledges that they are sinners. However, he seems to put the blame on Yahweh who let this happen. Yahweh seems to have let them stray from his ways and harden their hearts, so that they do not fear Yahweh any longer. This prophet wanted Yahweh to return for the sake of Yahweh’s servants and the tribal heritage. His people had possession of the sanctuary for a short time, but now Yahweh’s adversaries trampled down this holy place. In the end, he admitted that they have been too long without Yahweh’s rule. They have not called Yahweh by his name.
“‘The day of vengeance was in my heart.
The year of my redeeming work had come.
But there was no helper.
But there was no one to sustain me.
So my own arm brought me victory.
My wrath sustained me.
I trampled down people in my anger.
I crushed them in my wrath.
I poured out their lifeblood on the earth.’”
This had been the day of vengeance and the year of redemption of Yahweh. No one was there to help. No one was there to sustain him. Only his own arm brought victory. His wrath and anger sustained him as he trampled down people. He crushed them, as he poured out their blood on the earth. This was the day of revenge when the angry God alone crushed people.
“Moab shall be trodden down
In their place,
As straw is trodden down
In a dung-pit.
Though they spread out their hands
In the midst of it,
As swimmers spread out their hands
Their pride will be laid low,
Despite the struggle of their hands.
The high fortifications of his walls
Will be brought down.
They will be laid low.
They will be cast to the ground,
Even to the dust.”
This work of Isaiah has a strange turn against the Moabites, perhaps due to the anti-Moabite feelings in the post-exilic era. The Moabites will be trampled down like straw in a dung-pit. There was no mincing of words here. Even though they might spread their hands as if swimming, their pride will be put down. Despite their struggles and highly fortified walls, they will be crushed to the ground just like dust.