Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter— when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? (Isa 58:7 NIV).

Does this mean more like members of the family, or my own physical body? Thanks.


A number of translators interpret "your own flesh" as your family/relatives. Comparison

This passage is a(nother) condemnation of Israel for being phony in their religious observances. God asks them what they think he really wants, then lists things that are actually what he wants. A person always has a higher obligation to his family than to others, and so in this context, I think it makes the most sense to understand it as talking about helping your relatives (esp. your parents).

  • Thanks Mojo, for answering the question and also correcting my question. – Decrypted Jan 23 '14 at 23:45
  • In pointing out the failings of Israel did you 'fast for strife and debate'? That was not what the question was about and was a 'strike with the fist of wickedness'. – gideon marx Jan 24 '14 at 8:49

In general, "your own flesh and blood" is an English idiom meaning "your children", or sometimes more generally any relatives.

In context, though, in this passage I think it means "other human beings".

  • I agree Jay, looks like your looking outside the Box. I'm remembering Jesus in Mark 3:35, and John in 1 John 3:17 addressing specifically the brothers of the church. Way to go! – Decrypted Jan 23 '14 at 23:49

In this scripture, Isaiah is explaining what a proper fast should entail. Like "mojo" said, Isaiah is pointing out Israels hypocrisy. "Your own flesh and blood" in this instance is your kinsfolk, your family, your siblings, parents, children, cousins, uncles, aunts, relatives, etc. What he is saying here is that you should not "turn away" or refuse to visit your family, especially if they are in need of your help. If you know that your family members are in need, you should go and administer to them, whether physical, emotional, or spiritual.

Fasting is a time where one abstains from the things of this world (food, drink, entertainment, ect.) to more fully dedicate oneself to God. If during this time of fasting you should refuse to help those that you know are in need, you are being a hypocrite. For how can God accept your sacrifice, when your heart is not right?

  • Your answer sparked my interest in its comparison the the usage here "If you do not fast from the world, you will not find the (Father's) kingdom. If you do not observe the sabbath as a sabbath you will not see the Father." (Gospel of Thomas 27) – Decrypted Jan 23 '14 at 23:56

After discussing with my pastor and doing my own research, this (basar) probably doesn't mean kin, but another of the meanings, specifically the genitalia. This allows the symmetry between the increasing risks. - Food for the hungry (limited risk as food will be eaten again in a few hours.) - Shelter for the homeless (greater risk, but the ownership of the house remains) - Give clothes to the naked (greatest risk, transfer of ownership of the clothes) (Bonus risk, take off your own apparel to cloth them)

Using kin (family/children/etc.) doesn't flow with the poetry and IMO is an instruction which seems to be an afterthought.

It is important to remember clothes were much more valuable in Biblical times (Judges 14:19 - Sampson kills 30 men for their clothes) and Isaiah was known as the naked prophet (Isaiah 20).


According to my understanding, Jesus' words in Mark 2:27, "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath", should be applied to Isa 58.

(1) If health needs to be restored, Sabbath fasting, to "loose the bands of wickedness", should be applied.

Isa 58:6 (KJ21) “Is not this the fast that I have chosen: to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?

(2) If healing is not needed the Sabbath should be used to help others in need, especially sons and daughters that have moved out (been "cast out") from one's family.

Isa 58:7 (KJ21) "Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house?—when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him, and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?

Mark 8:35 "... whoever loses their life (1) for me and (2) for the gospel will save it.

Mark 3:4 (NIV) Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent.

Mark 22:39 (NIV) And the second is like it: ‘Love (2) your neighbor as (1) yourself.’


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