Isaiah 40:20

Hebrew Bible

18 To whom can you compare God? To what image can you liken him? 19 A craftsman casts an idol; a metal smith overlays it with gold and forges silver chains for it. 20 To make a contribution one selects wood that will not rot; he then seeks a skilled craftsman to make an idol that will not fall over. 21 Do you not know? Do you not hear? Has it not been told to you since the very beginning? Have you not understood from the time the earth’s foundations were made? 22 He is the one who sits on the earth’s horizon; its inhabitants are like grasshoppers before him. He is the one who stretches out the sky like a thin curtain, and spreads it out like a pitched tent.

Jeremiah 10:4

Hebrew Bible

2 The Lord says:“Do not start following pagan religious practices. Do not be in awe of signs that occur in the sky even though the nations hold them in awe. 3 For the religion of these people is worthless. They cut down a tree in the forest, and a craftsman makes it into an idol with his tools. 4 He decorates it with overlays of silver and gold. He uses hammer and nails to fasten it together so that it will not fall over. 5 Such idols are like scarecrows in a cucumber field. They cannot talk. They must be carried because they cannot walk. Do not be afraid of them because they cannot hurt you. And they do not have any power to help you.” 6 I said, “There is no one like you, Lord. You are great, and you are renowned for your power.

 Notes and References

"... The trough is then placed on the brick of the birth goddess, who elsewhere is called dtibira-dingir-re-ne-ka ‘Copper caster of the gods’ (Jacobsen 1976: 107 n. 135).106 Around her stand the craftsman, who are now reduced to mere midwives. Symbolizing the birth, three masqû-troughs are filled with blood. The statue faces the three gods Ea, Shamash, and Asalluhi, and the following incantation greets the new day ... These statues were as dead and immobile as the materials from which they were crafted. They may have had mouths, but they could not speak (Jeremiah 10:5); noses, but they could not smell; feet, but they could not walk (Jeremiah 10:5; Psalm 115:3–9). Their only motion was their tendency to wobble (Jeremiah 10:4) or to fall over (Isaiah 40:20; 41:7), so that they had to be fastened to the wall. However, it is clear from the mis pî rite that a cultic attempt was made to have the statue “reborn” with heavenly materials, and so raw products were placed in the tamarisk birth-trough. Furthermore, the rite is replete with countless incantations for the blessing of all the elements used in the ritual, asking that the materials be provided by the gods themselves: “In the great sanctuary of the heavens, the great gods have increased the bounty for the Opening of the Mouth of the gods” (79-7-8, 68 + K.3511, §iii, col. ii, lines 5–6) ..."

Dick, Michael B. "Prophetic Parodies of Making the Cult Image" in Dick, Michael Brennan (ed.) Born in Heaven, Made on Earth: The Making of the Cult Image in the Ancient Near East (pp. 1-53) Eisenbrauns, 1999

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