Isaiah 3:23
The glasses, and the fine linen, and the hoods, and the veils.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(23) The glassesi.e., the polished metal mirrors (as in Exodus 38:3; Job 37:18; 1Corinthians 13:12; James 1:23), which the Eastern lady carried in her hand, that she might adjust her toilet. The LXX. rendering, “Laconian [Spartan] garments,” i.e., indecently transparent, is curious enough to deserve notice, as throwing light on the social life of Alexandria, if not of Israel.

The fine lineni.e., the chemise worn under the tunic next the skin. The Heb. sedîn, like the Greek σίνδων (Mark 14:51), seems to imply a commerce with India; so our muslin (mosul) and calico (calicut) bear record of their origin. In Sanscrit, sindhu is the term for fine linen.

The hoodsi.e., the turbans which completed the attire, and over which was thrown the “vail,” or gauze mantle. Jewish women, however, did not veil their faces after the manner of those of Turkey and Arabia. The prophet seems to have carried his eye upward from the feet to the head, as he catalogued with indignant scorn the long list of superfluities. We may compare the warnings of 1Timothy 2:9; 1Peter 3:3. It is noticeable that stockings and handkerchiefs do not seem to have been used by the women of Judah.

3:16-26 The prophet reproves and warns the daughters of Zion of the sufferings coming upon them. Let them know that God notices the folly and vanity of proud women, even of their dress. The punishments threatened answered the sin. Loathsome diseases often are the just punishment of pride. It is not material to ask what sort of ornaments they wore; many of these things, if they had not been in fashion, would have been ridiculed then as now. Their fashions differed much from those of our times, but human nature is the same. Wasting time and money, to the neglect of piety, charity, and even of justice, displease the Lord. Many professors at the present day, seem to think there is no harm in worldly finery; but were it not a great evil, would the Holy Spirit have taught the prophet to expose it so fully? The Jews being overcome, Jerusalem would be levelled with the ground; which is represented under the idea of a desolate female seated upon the earth. And when the Romans had destroyed Jerusalem, they struck a medal, on which was represented a woman sitting on the ground in a posture of grief. If sin be harboured within the walls, lamentation and mourning are near the gates.The glasses - There is a great variety of opinion about the expression used here. That ancient Jews had "looking-glasses," or mirrors, is manifest from the account in Exodus 38:8. These "mirrors" were made of polished plates of brass. The Vulgate and Chaldee understand this of "mirrors." The Septuagint understands by it a "thin, transparent covering like gauze," perhaps like silk. The word is derived from the verb "to reveal, to make apparent," etc., and applies either to mirrors or to a splendid shining garment. It is probable that their excessive vanity was evinced by carrying small mirrors in their hands - that they might examine and adjust their dress as might be necessary. This is now done by females of Eastern nations. Shaw informs us that, 'In the Levant, looking-glasses are a part of female dress. The Moorish women in Barabary are so fond of their ornaments, and particularly of their looking-glasses, which they hang upon their breasts, that they will not lay them aside, even when, after the drudgery of the day, they are obliged to go two or three miles with a pitcher or a goat-skin to fetch water.' - "Burder." In Egypt, the mirror was made of mixed metal, chiefly of copper, and this metal was so highly polished, that in some of the mirrors discovered at Thebes, the luster has been partially restored, though they have been buried in the earth for many centuries. The mirror was nearly round, inserted in a handle of wood, stone, or metal, whose form varied according to the taste of the owner. The picture in the book will give you an idea of the ancient form of the mirror, and will show that they might be easily carried abroad as an ornament in public; compare Wilkinson's "Manners and Customs of the Ancient Egyptians," vol. iii., pp. 384-386.

And the fine linen - Anciently, the most delicate and fine garments were made from linen which was obtained chiefly from Egypt; see the note at Luke 16:19.

And the hoods - Or, "turbans."

And the veils - This does not differ probably from the veils worn now, except that those worn by Eastern females are "large," and made so as to cover the head and the shoulders, so that they may be drawn closely round the body, and effectually conceal the person; compare Genesis 24:65.

23. glasses—mirrors of polished metal (Ex 38:8). But the Septuagint, a transparent, gauze-like, garment.

hoods—miters, or diadems (Isa 62:3; Zec 3:5).

veils—large enough to cover the head and person. Distinct from the smaller veils ("mufflers") above (Ge 24:65). Token of woman's subjection (1Co 11:10).

The glasses; the looking-glasses, as we call them, though in truth they were not made of glass, but of bright and burnished brass. The glasses,.... Looking glasses, by which they dressed themselves, see Exodus 38:8 and so Kimchi explains the word; but elsewhere (e) he says it signifies thin garments, so called because the flesh is seen through them, being so exceeding thin; which sense is favoured by the Septuagint version, which renders it by garments which the Lacedemonians wore, which were so thin and transparent, that the naked body might be seen through them:

and the fine linen; of which several of their garments and ornaments were made, and particularly their veils, with which they veiled themselves, as Jarchi observes:

and the hoods; the word is used for a diadem and mitre, Isaiah 62:3 the Targum renders it "crowns"; and such the Jewish women wore; see Gill on Isaiah 3:20 and particularly newly married women (f):

and the veils; so the word is rendered in Sol 5:7 with which women covered their heads, either through modesty, or as a token of subjection to their husbands, see Genesis 24:65 but, according to the Targum and Kimchi, these were thin garments which women wore in summertime; Jarchi says they are the same which the French call "fermelan", and are of gold, which they put about the cloak the woman is covered with; perhaps they were a sort of umbrellas, to keep off the heat of the sun.

(e) Ib. (In Sepher Shorash.) rad. (f) Misn. Sota, c. 9. sect. 14.

The mirrors, and the fine linen, and the turbans, and the {s} veils.

(s) In rehearsing all these things particularly he shows the lightness and vanity of such as cannot be content with comely apparel according to their degree.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
23. The mirrors (made of polished metal, see ch. Isaiah 8:1) and the shifts (Jdg 14:12 f.) and the turbans and the overalls (a kind of veil, Song of Solomon 5:7).Verse 23. - The glasses; rather, the mirrors. In ancient times these were not made of glass, but of some metal which took a high polish. Most commonly, the material seems to have been bronze. Many such mirrors have been found in Egypt, a few in Assyria, in Etruria a considerable number. They are of small size, intended to be carried in the hand, and have for that purpose a metal or a wooden handle, which is sometimes highly artistic. The fine linen; rather, the muslin robes. Sedin, the Hebrew word used, is probably a corruption or analogue of sin-don, the Greek name for Indian fabrics. It is only used here and in Judges 14:12, 13; Proverbs 31:24. The hoods, and the vails; or, the turbans and the scarfs. The word translated" hood" is nearly the same as that which designates the head-dress of the high priest in Exodus (Exodus 28:4, 37, 39; Exodus 29:6, etc.) and Leviticus (Leviticus 8:9; Leviticus 16:4), which seems to have been a "turban" (see note on Exodus 28:4). The other word, here translated "vail," occurs only in this place and Song of Solomon 5:7. Its exact meaning is uncertain; but it can scarcely be a veil; since "veils" have been already mentioned (ver. 19). But notwithstanding the dramatic vividness with which the prophet pictures to himself this scene of judgment, he is obliged to break off at the very beginning of his description, because another word of Jehovah comes upon him. This applies to the women of Jerusalem, whose authority, at the time when Isaiah prophesied, was no less influential than that of their husbands who had forgotten their calling. "Jehovah hath spoken: Because the daughters of Zion are haughty, and walk about with extended throat, and blinking with the eyes, walk about with tripping gait, and tinkle with their foot-ornaments: the Lord of all makes the crown of the daughters of Zion scabbed, and Jehovah will uncover their shame." Their inward pride (gâbah, as in Ezekiel 16:50; cf., Zephaniah 3:11) shows itself outwardly. They walk with extended throat, i.e., bending the neck back, trying to make themselves taller than they are, because they think themselves so great. The Keri substitutes the more usual form, נטוּית; but Isaiah in all probability intentionally made use of the rarer and ruder form netuvoth, since such a form really existed (1 Samuel 25:18), as well as the singular nâtu for nâtui (Job 15:22; Job 41:25 : Ges. 75, Anm. 5). They also went winking the eyes (mesakkeroth, for which we frequently find the erratum mesakkeroth), i.e., casting voluptuous and amatory glances with affected innocence (νεύματα ὀφθαλμῶν, lxx). "Winking:" sâkar is not used in the sense of fucare (Targ. b. Sabbath 62b, Jome 9b, Luther) - which is all the more inappropriate, because blackening the eyelids with powder of antimony was regarded in the East of the Old Testament as indispensable to female beauty - but in the sense of nictare (lxx, Vulg., Syr., syn. remaz, cf., sekar, Syr. to squint; Targ. equals shâzaph, Job 20:9). Compare also the talmudic saying: God did not create woman out of Adam's ear, that she might be no eavesdropper (tsaithânith), nor out of Adam's eyes, that she might be no winker (sakrânith).

(Note: Also b. Sota 47b: "Since women have multiplied with extended necks and winking eyes, the number of cases has also multiplied in which it has been necessary to resort to the curse water (Numbers 5:18)." In fact, this increased to such an extent, that Johanan ben Zakkai, the pupil of Hillel, abolished the ordeal (divine-verdict) of the Sota (the woman suspected of adultery) altogether. The people of his time were altogether an adulterous generation.)

The third was, that they walked incedendo et trepidando. The second inf. abs. is in this case, as in most others, the one which gives the distinct tone, whilst the other serves to keep before the eye the occurrence indicated in its finite verb (Ges. 131, 3). They walk about tripping (tâphop, a wide-spread onomato-poetic word), i.e., taking short steps, just putting the heel of one foot against the toe of the other (as the Talmud explains it). Luther renders it, "they walk along and waggle" (schwnzen, i.e., Clunibus agitatis). The rendering is suitable, but incorrect. They could only take short steps, because of the chains by which the costly foot-rings (achâsim ) worn above their ankles were connected together. These chains, which were probably ornamented with bells, as is sometimes the case now in the East, they used to tinkle as they walked: they made an ankle-tinkling with their feet, setting their feet down in such a manner that these ankle-rings knocked against each other. The writing beraglēhem (masc.) for beraglēhen (fem.) is probably not an unintentional synallage gen.: they were not modest virgines, but cold, masculine viragines, so that they themselves were a synallage generis. Nevertheless they tripped along. Tripping is a child's step. Nevertheless they tripped along. Tripping is a child's step. Although well versed in sin and old in years, the women of Jerusalem tried to maintain a youthful, childlike appearance. They therefore tripped along with short, childish steps. The women of the Mohammedan East still take pleasure in such coquettish tinklings, although they are forbidden by the Koran, just as the women of Jerusalem did in the days of Isaiah. The attractive influence of natural charms, especially when heightened by luxurious art, is very great; but the prophet is blind to all this splendour, and seeing nothing but the corruption within, foretells to these rich and distinguished women a foul and by no means aesthetic fate. The Sovereign Ruler of all would smite the crown of their head, from which long hair was now flowing, with scab (v'sippach, a progressive preterite with Vav apodosis, a denom. verb from sappachath, the scurf which adheres to the skin: see at Habakkuk 2:15); and Jehovah would uncover their nakedness, by giving them up to violation and abuse at the hands of coarse and barbarous foes - the greatest possible disgrace in the eyes of a woman, who covers herself as carefully as she can in the presence of any stranger (Isaiah 47:3; Nahum 3:5; Jeremiah 13:22; Ezekiel 16:37).

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