The Meaning of Isaiah 66:3 Explained

Isaiah 66:3

KJV: He that killeth an ox is as if he slew a man; he that sacrificeth a lamb, as if he cut off a dog's neck; he that offereth an oblation, as if he offered swine's blood; he that burneth incense, as if he blessed an idol. Yea, they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delighteth in their abominations.

YLT: Whoso slaughtereth the ox smiteth a man, Whoso sacrificeth the lamb beheadeth a dog, Whoso is bringing up a present -- The blood of a sow, Whoso is making mention of frankincense, Is blessing iniquity. Yea, they have fixed on their own ways, And in their abominations their soul hath delighted.

Darby: He that slaughtereth an ox, smiteth a man; he that sacrificeth a lamb, breaketh a dog's neck; he that offereth an oblation, it is as swine's blood; he that presenteth a memorial of incense, is as he that blesseth an idol. As they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delighteth in their abominations,

ASV: He that killeth an ox is as he that slayeth a man; he that sacrificeth a lamb, as he that breaketh a dog's neck; he that offereth an oblation, as he that offereth'swine's blood; he that burneth frankincense, as he that blesseth an idol. Yea, they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delighteth in their abominations:

What does Isaiah 66:3 Mean?

Context Summary

Isaiah 66:1-14 - God's People Made A Blessing
The prophet forecasts the advent of a new day, when places and rites would be comparatively unimportant compared with the condition of the heart, Isaiah 66:1-4. The opening words were quoted by Stephen, when announcing the substitution of spiritual worship for the effete system which it superseded. See Acts 7:48-49. What is the outward rite to God, when the spirit has fled? It was all one to Him, whether a man killed a lamb in the Temple, or broke a dog's neck on his farm. His chosen home is not in ornate temples but in contrite hearts!
The blessedness of God's people is depicted in glowing words, Isaiah 66:5-14. God will appear, to the joy of His people and the recompense of their foes. Those times will be characterized by great revivals, and souls will be easily born into the heavenly kingdom. The Jew and Gentile will meet like confluent streams in one blessed channel. But, above all, we shall become aware of the mother-side in God's nature. As one whom his mother comforteth, Isaiah 66:13. [source]

Chapter Summary: Isaiah 66

1  The glorious God will be served in humble sincerity
5  He comforts the humble by showing the confusion of their enemies
7  With the marvelous growth
10  And the gracious benefits of the church
15  God's severe judgments against the wicked
18  The Gentiles shall have an holy church
24  And see the damnation of the wicked

What do the individual words in Isaiah 66:3 mean?

He who kills a bull [is as if] he slays a man He who sacrifices a lamb [as if] he breaks a neck of dog He who offers a grain offering [as if he offers] blood of swine He who burns incense [as if] He blesses an idol Just as they have chosen their own ways and in their abominations their soul delights
שׁוֹחֵ֨ט הַשּׁ֜וֹר מַכֵּה־ אִ֗ישׁ זוֹבֵ֤חַ הַשֶּׂה֙ עֹ֣רֵֽף כֶּ֔לֶב מַעֲלֵ֤ה מִנְחָה֙ דַּם־ חֲזִ֔יר מַזְכִּ֥יר לְבֹנָ֖ה מְבָ֣רֵֽךְ אָ֑וֶן גַּם־ הֵ֗מָּה בָּֽחֲרוּ֙ בְּדַרְכֵיהֶ֔ם וּבְשִׁקּוּצֵיהֶ֖ם נַפְשָׁ֥ם חָפֵֽצָה

שׁוֹחֵ֨ט  He  who  kills 
Parse: Verb, Qal, Participle, masculine singular
Root: שָׁחַט 
Sense: to kill, slaughter, beat.
הַשּׁ֜וֹר  a  bull 
Parse: Article, Noun, masculine singular
Root: שֹׁור  
Sense: ox, bull, a head of cattle.
מַכֵּה־  [is  as  if]  he  slays 
Parse: Verb, Hifil, Participle, masculine singular construct
Root: נָכָה  
Sense: to strike, smite, hit, beat, slay, kill.
אִ֗ישׁ  a  man 
Parse: Noun, masculine singular
Root: אִישׁ 
Sense: man.
זוֹבֵ֤חַ  He  who  sacrifices 
Parse: Verb, Qal, Participle, masculine singular
Root: זָבַח  
Sense: to slaughter, kill, sacrifice, slaughter for sacrifice.
הַשֶּׂה֙  a  lamb 
Parse: Article, Noun, masculine singular
Root: שֶׂה  
Sense: one of a flock, lamb, sheep, goat, young sheep, young goat.
עֹ֣רֵֽף  [as  if]  he  breaks  a  neck 
Parse: Verb, Qal, Participle, masculine singular
Root: עָרַף  
Sense: (Qal) to break the neck (of an animal).
כֶּ֔לֶב  of  dog 
Parse: Noun, masculine singular
Root: כֶּלֶב  
Sense: dog.
מַעֲלֵ֤ה  He  who  offers 
Parse: Verb, Hifil, Participle, masculine singular construct
Root: סָלַק 
Sense: to go up, ascend, climb.
מִנְחָה֙  a  grain  offering 
Parse: Noun, feminine singular
Root: מִנְחָה  
Sense: gift, tribute, offering, present, oblation, sacrifice, meat offering.
דַּם־  [as  if  he  offers]  blood 
Parse: Noun, masculine singular construct
Root: דָּם  
Sense: blood.
חֲזִ֔יר  of  swine 
Parse: Noun, masculine singular
Root: חֲזִיר  
Sense: hog, swine, boar.
מַזְכִּ֥יר  He  who  burns 
Parse: Verb, Hifil, Participle, masculine singular
Root: זָכַר 
Sense: to remember, recall, call to mind.
לְבֹנָ֖ה  incense 
Parse: Noun, feminine singular
Root: לְבֹונָה 
Sense: frankincense.
מְבָ֣רֵֽךְ  [as  if]  He  blesses 
Parse: Verb, Piel, Participle, masculine singular
Root: בָּרַךְ 
Sense: to bless, kneel.
אָ֑וֶן  an  idol 
Parse: Noun, masculine singular
Root: אָוֶן 
Sense: trouble, wickedness, sorrow.
גַּם־  Just  as 
Parse: Conjunction
Root: גַּם  
Sense: also, even, indeed, moreover, yea.
בָּֽחֲרוּ֙  have  chosen 
Parse: Verb, Qal, Perfect, third person common plural
Root: בָּחוּר 
Sense: to choose, elect, decide for.
בְּדַרְכֵיהֶ֔ם  their  own  ways 
Parse: Preposition-b, Noun, common plural construct, third person masculine plural
Root: דֶּרֶךְ  
Sense: way, road, distance, journey, manner.
וּבְשִׁקּוּצֵיהֶ֖ם  and  in  their  abominations 
Parse: Conjunctive waw, Preposition-b, Noun, masculine plural construct, third person masculine plural
Root: שִׁקּוּץ  
Sense: detestable thing or idol, abominable thing, abomination, idol, detested thing.
נַפְשָׁ֥ם  their  soul 
Parse: Noun, feminine singular construct, third person masculine plural
Root: נֶפֶשׁ  
Sense: soul, self, life, creature, person, appetite, mind, living being, desire, emotion, passion.
חָפֵֽצָה  delights 
Parse: Verb, Qal, Perfect, third person feminine singular
Root: חָפֵץ 
Sense: to delight in, take pleasure in, desire, be pleased with.