Isaiah 3:26
And her gates shall lament and mourn; and she being desolate shall sit on the ground.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
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.And her gates - Cities were surrounded with walls, and were entered through gates opening into the principal streets. Those gates became, of course, the places of chief confluence and of business; and the expression here means, that in all the places of confluence, or amidst the assembled people, there should be lamentation on account of the slain in battle, and the loss of their mighty men in war.

And she - Jerusalem is often represented as a female distinguished for beauty. It is here represented as a female sitting in a posture of grief.

Being desolate, shall sit upon the ground - To sit on the ground, or in the dust, was the usual posture of grief and mourning, denoting great depression and humiliation; Lamentations 2:10; Lamentations 3:28; Jeremiah 15:17; Job 3:13; Ezra 9:3-5. It is a remarkable coincidence, that in the medals which were made by the Romans to commemorate the captivity of Judea and Jerusalem, Judea is represented under the figure of a female sitting in a posture of grief, under a palm tree, with this inscription - judea capta. The passage here, however, refers not to the captivity by the Romans, but to the first destruction by Nebuchadnezzar. It is a tender and most affecting image of desolation. During the captivity at Babylon, it was completely fulfilled; and for ages since, Judea might be appropriately represented by a captive female sitting pensively on the ground.

26. gates—The place of concourse personified is represented mourning for the loss of those multitudes which once frequented it.

desolate … sit upon … ground—the very figure under which Judea was represented on medals after the destruction by Titus: a female sitting under a palm tree in a posture of grief; the motto, Judæa capta (Job 2:13; La 2:10, where, as here primarily, the destruction by Nebuchadnezzar is alluded to).

Her gates; the gates of Zion or Jerusalem, which, by a figure very usual in sacred Scripture and all authors, are said to lament, to imply the great desolation of the place, that there should be no people to go out and come in by the gates, or to meet together in the gates, as they used to do. Shall sit upon the ground, like a mournful woman bewailing the loss of her husband and children. And her gates shall lament and mourn,.... These being utterly destroyed; or there being none to pass through them, meaning the gates of the city of Jerusalem:

and she being desolate; clear of inhabitants, quite emptied, and exhausted of men; being laid even with the ground, and her children within her, Luke 19:44.

shall sit upon the ground; being levelled with it, and not one stone cast upon another; alluding to the posture of mourners, Job 2:13. Our countryman, Mr. Gregory (k), thinks that the device of the coin of the emperor Vespasian, in the reverse of it, upon taking Judea, which was a woman sitting on the ground, leaning back, to a palm tree, with this inscription, "Judea Capta", was contrived out of this prophecy; and that he was helped to it by Josephus, the Jew, then in his court. The whole prophecy had its accomplishment, not in the Babylonish captivity, as Jarchi suggests, much less in the times of Ahaz, as Kimchi and Abarbinal suppose, but in the times of Jerusalem's destruction by the Romans.

(k) Notes and Observations, &c, p. 26, 27.

And her gates shall lament and mourn; and she being desolate shall sit upon the ground.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
26. her gates] the places of rendezvous in Eastern cities. lament and mourn] because they are now deserted. Cf. Lamentations 1:4; Jeremiah 14:2.

and she, emptied, shall sit upon the ground] Cf. ch. Isaiah 47:1; Lamentations 2:10; Job 2:13.Verse 26. - Her gates. The sudden change of person is common in Oriental poetry. Shall lament and mourn. On account of their destruction, which would be very complete (see Lamentations 1:4; Lamentations 2:9; Nehemiah 1:3; Nehemiah 2:13). Conquerors could not do more than break breaches in the walls of a town, but they carefully destroyed the gates. Being desolate; or, emptied - plundered of everything, and so far "cleansed" from her abominations. Shall sit upon the ground. In deep grief (see Job 2:13; and comp. Isaiah 47:1; Lamentations 2:10). So in the coin of Vespasian, the captive Judah (Judea capta) sits upon the ground.



The prophet then proceeds to describe still further how the Lord would take away the whole of their toilet as plunder. "On that day the Lord will put away the show of the ankle-clasps, and of the head-bands, and of the crescents; the ear-rings, and the arm-chains, and the light veils; the diadems, and the stepping-chains, and the girdles, and the smelling-bottles, and the amulets; the finger-rings, and the nose-rings; the gala-dresses, and the sleeve-frocks, and the wrappers, and the pockets; the hand-mirrors, and the Sindu-cloths, and the turbans, and the gauze mantles." The fullest explanation of all these articles of female attire is to be found in N. W. Schrder's work, entitled Commentarius de vestitu mulierum Hebraearum ad Jes. Isaiah 3:16-24, Ludg. Batav 1745 (a quarto volume), and in that of Ant. Theod. Hartmann, consisting of three octavo volumes, and entitled Die Hebrerin am Putztische und als Braut (The Jewess at the Toilet-table, and as Bride, 1809-10); to which we may also add, Saalschtz, Archaeologie, chapter iii., where he treats of the dresses of men and women. It was not usually Isaiah's custom to enter into such minute particulars. Of all the prophets, Ezekiel was the one most addicted to this, as we may see, for example, from Ezekiel 16. And even in other prophecies against the women we find nothing of the kind again (Isaiah 32:9.; Amos 4:1.). But in this instance, the enumeration of the female ornaments is connected with that of the state props in Isaiah 3:1-3, and that of the lofty and exalted in Isaiah 2:13-16, so as to form a trilogy, and has its own special explanation in that boundless love of ornament which had become prevalent in the time of Uzziah-Jotham. It was the prophet's intention to produce a ludicrous, but yet serious impression, as to the immeasurable luxury which really existed; and in the prophetic address, his design throughout is to bring out the glaring contrast between the titanic, massive, worldly glory, in all its varied forms, and that true, spiritual, and majestically simple glory, whose reality is manifested from within outwards. In fact, the theme of the whole address is the way of universal judgment leading on from the false glory to the true. The general idea of tiphereth (show: rendered "bravery" in Eng. ver.) which stands at the head and includes the whole, points to the contrast presented by a totally different tiphereth which follows in Isaiah 4:2. In explaining each particular word, we must be content with what is most necessary, and comparatively the most certain. "Ankle-clasps" (acâsim): these were rings of gold, silver, or ivory, worn round the ankles; hence the denom. verb (icces) in Isaiah 3:16, to make a tinkling sound with these rings. "Head-bands," or "frontlets" (shebisim, from shâbas equals shâbatz: plectere), were plaited bands of gold or silver thread worn below the hair-net, and reaching from one ear to the other. There is some force, however, in the explanation which has been very commonly adopted since the time of Schrder, namely, that they were sun-like balls ( equals shemisim), which were worn as ornaments round the neck, from the Arabic ‛sumeisa (‛subeisa), a little sun. The "crescents" (saharonim) were little pendants of this kind, fastened round the neck and hanging down upon the breast (in Judges 8:21 we meet with them as ornaments hung round the camels' necks). Such ornaments are still worn by Arabian girls, who generally have several different kinds of them; the hilâl, or new moon, being a symbol of increasing good fortune, and as such the most approved charm against the evil eye. "Ear-rings" (netiphoth, ear-drops): we meet with these in Judges 8:26, as an ornament worn by Midianitish kings. Hence the Arabic munattafe, a woman adorned with ear-rings. "Arm-chains:" sheroth, from shâra, to twist. According to the Targum, these were chains worn upon the arm, or spangles upon the wrist, answering to the spangles upon the ankles. "Fluttering veils" (re'âloth, from râ'al, to hang loose): these were more expensive than the ordinary veils worn by girls, which were called tza'iph.

"Diadems" (pe'erim) are only mentioned in other parts of the Scriptures as being worn by men (e.g., by priests, bride-grooms, or persons of high rank). "Stepping-chains:" tze'âdoth, from tze'âdah, a step; hence the chain worn to shorten and give elegance to the step. "Girdles:" kisshurim, from kâshar (Cingere), dress girdles, such as were worn by brides upon their wedding-day (compare Jeremiah 2:32 with Isaiah 49:18); the word is erroneously rendered hair-pins (kalmasmezayyah) in the Targum. "Smelling-bottles:" botte hannephesh, holders of scent (nephesh, the breath of an aroma). "Amulets:" lechashim (from lâchash, to work by incantations), gems or metal plates with an inscription upon them, which were worn as a protection as well as an ornament. "Finger-rings:" tabbâ'oth, from tâba, to impress or seal, signet-rings worn upon the finger, corresponding to the Chothâm worn by men upon the breast suspended by a cord. "Nose-rings" (nizmê hâaph) were fastened in the central division of the nose, and hung down over the mouth: they have been ornaments in common use in the East from the time of the patriarchs (Genesis 24:22) down to the present day. "Gala-dresses" (machalâtsoth) are dresses not usually worn, but taken off when at home. "Sleeve-frocks" (ma'atâphâh): the second tunic, worn above the ordinary one, the Roman stola. "Wrappers" (mitpâchoth, from tâphach, expandere), broad cloths wrapped round the body, such as Ruth wore when she crept in to Boaz in her best attire (Ruth 3:15). "Pockets" (Charitim) were for holding money (2 Kings 5:23), which was generally carried by men in the girdle, or in a purse (Cis). "Hand-mirrors" (gilyonim): the Septuagint renders this διαφανῆ λακωνικὰ, sc. ἱμάτια, Lacedaemonian gauze or transparent dresses, which showed the nakedness rather than concealed it (from gâlâh, retegere); but the better rendering is mirrors with handles, polished metal plates (from gâlâh, polire), as gillâyon is used elsewhere to signify a smooth table. "Sindu-cloths" (sedinim), veils or coverings of the finest linen, viz., of Sindu or Hindu cloth (σινδόνες) - Sindu, the land of Indus, being the earlier name of India.

(Note: The Mishna (Kelim xxiv 13) mentions three different sedinin: night dresses, curtains, and embroidery. The sindon is frequently referred to as a covering wrapped round the person; and in b. Menachoth 41a, it is stated that the sindom is the summer dress, the sarbal (cloak) the winter dress, which may help to explain Mark 14:51-52.)

"Turbans" (tseniphoth, from tsânaph, Convolvere), the head-dress composed of twisted cloths of different colours. "Gauze mantles" (redidim, from râdad, extendere, tenuem facere), delicate veil-like mantles thrown over the rest of the clothes. Stockings and handkerchiefs are not mentioned: the former were first introduced into Hither Asia from Media long after Isaiah's time, and a Jerusalem lady no more thought of suing the latter than a Grecian or Roman lady did. Even the veil (burko) now commonly worn, which conceals the whole of the face with the exception of the eyes, did not form part of the attire of an Israelitish woman in the olden time.

(Note: Rashi, however, makes a different statement (Sabbath 65a), viz., that "Israelitish women in Arabia go out with veils which conceal the face, and those in Media with their mantles fastened about the mouth.")

The prophet enumerates twenty-one different ornaments: three sevens of a very bad kind, especially for the husbands of these state-dolls. There is no particular order observed in the enumeration, either from head to foot, or from the inner to the outer clothing; but they are arranged as much ad libitum as the dress itself.

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