“But come here, you sons of a sorceress,
Offspring of an adulterer and a prostitute.
“Against whom do you jest?
Against whom do you open wide your mouth
And stick out your tongue?
Are you not children of rebellion,
Offspring of deceit,
Who inflame yourselves among the oaks,
Under every luxuriant tree,
Who slaughter the children in the ravines,
Under the clefts of the crags?
“Among the smooth stones of the ravine
Is your portion, they are your lot;
Even to them you have poured out a drink offering,
You have made a grain offering.
Shall I relent concerning these things?
“Upon a high and lofty mountain
You have made your bed.
You also went up there to offer sacrifice.
“Behind the door and the doorpost
You have set up your sign;
Indeed, far removed from Me, you have uncovered yourself,
And have gone up and made your bed wide.
And you have made an agreement for yourself with them,
You have loved their bed,
You have looked on their manhood.
“You have journeyed to the king with oil
And increased your perfumes;
You have sent your envoys a great distance
And made them go down to Sheol.
“You were tired out by the length of your road,
Yet you did not say, ‘It is hopeless.’
You found renewed strength,
Therefore you did not faint. (Isaiah 57:3-10)
God graphically describes the disloyalty of his people, trying to get them to understand just how much they have hurt him, how his heart had been broken. “Uncovering” yourself and “looked on their manhood” or literally, “looked at their nakedness” are Hebrew idioms indicating sexual activity. Israel’s worship of other gods is described in terms of sexual infidelity; Israel is portrayed as a wife who has traveled far for her affairs with other men only to find that nothing cooled her ardor or made her rethink her infidelity.
Israel worshipped a wide variety of gods and goddesses. Molech, an Ammonite god, was worshiped by sacrificing children to him. Ashera was a popular deity among the Israelites as well, a fertility goddess whose wooden poles—phallic symbols—stood on hills and other high places throughout the land, while those who worshipped her engaged in sympathetic magic: sleeping with the priestesses devoted to her.
And yet the Israelites felt no shame; in fact, they ridiculed those who insisted on worshipping God alone, and laughed in God’s face. Arrogantly they insisted on their own ways, doing what they wanted to do regardless of the pain they caused God, feeling no guilt over their betrayal.