535. Idolatrous Feasts

Isaiah 65:11  •  2 min. read  •  grade level: 12
Isaiah 65:1111But ye are they that forsake the Lord, that forget my holy mountain, that prepare a table for that troop, and that furnish the drink offering unto that number. (Isaiah 65:11). But ye are they that forsake the Lord, that forget my holy mountain, that prepare a table for that troop, and that furnish the drink offering unto that number.
For “troop” and “that number” the margin substitutes the original words pad and meni. The precise meaning of these two terms is a matter of diversified opinion. Gesenius defines gad to be the god Fortune, the same as Baal or Bel, that is, the planet Jupiter, which was regarded throughout the East as the giver of good fortune. There was a city called Baal-Gad in the valley of Lebanon under Mount Hermon. Gesenius gives to meni the definition of fate, fortune, destiny, and thinks the planet Venus was intended. Venus was identical with Astarte, and was regarded by the ancient Semitic nations as the source of good fortune, and as such was coupled with the planet Jupiter; Jupiter being the “Greater Good Fortune,” and Venus the “Lesser Good Fortune.” Füerst is undecided whether gad refers to Jupiter or Venus; he supposes meni to refer to the moon, and that both were deities who were supposed to control fate.
Many interpreters have refused to render the two words as names of idols, and have “referred the whole clause either to convivial assemblies, perhaps connected with idolatrous worship, or to the troop of planets and the multitude of stars, as objects of such worship” (Alexander, Commentary in loco.
All, however, are agreed on one point, that the whole passage has reference to idolatrous worship of some sort; the “table” and the “drink offering” give evidence of that. The kind of offering referred to is supposed to be identical with the lectisternia of the Romans. These were feasts spread for the consumption of the gods on occasions of extraordinary solemnities. Images of the gods reclined on conches, while before them were placed tables filled with viands, as if the gods were really partaking of the things offered in sacrifice. The custom is thought to have been of Egyptian origin, and from the Egyptians the Hebrews probably learned it. Jerome states that in every city in Egypt, and especially in Alexandria, they were in the habit, on the last day of each year, of covering a table with dishes of various kinds, and with a cup filled with a liquor made of water, wine, and honey, either in acknowledgment of the fertility of the past year, or to implore fruitfulness for the year to come.