|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
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.
Verse 24. - Instead of sweet smell; literally, spice (comp. Exodus 35:28; 1 Kings 10:10, etc.). Stink; rather, rottenness, as translated in Isaiah 5:24 (compare the cognate verb in Leviticus 26:39). Instead of a girdle a rent. So Lowth and Kay; but most moderns prefer the meaning given by the Septuagint and Vulgate, "instead of a girdle, a rope." The word used occurs only in this place. Instead of well-set hair baldness (compare above, ver. 17). By "well-set hair" seems to be meant "hair arranged with such exactness and order as to look like a work of art." The exact arrangement of the hair is very remarkable, both in the Egyptian and the Assyrian sculptures. Instead of such elaborate attempts to improve their looks, the daughters of Jerusalem would soon pluck their hair out by the roots, or shave it off, in mourning. A girding of sackcloth (comp. Genesis 37:34; 2 Samuel 3:31, etc.; and for the adoption of the custom by women, see 2 Samuel 21:10; Joel 1:8). Burning instead of beauty. This meaning is now generally acknowledged, the sense of "burning" being borne out by the cognate verb used in Proverbs 6:28; Isaiah 43:2, and the cognate noun used in Exodus 21:25. The" burning" intended is probably branding by a barbarous enemy (see Herod., 7:233; 'Hist. Tamerlau.,' p. 320).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And it shall come to pass, that instead of sweet smell there shall be a stink,.... Instead of "spice", or in the place where they put spices, carried musk, or had their smelling bottles, of precious and aromatic ointment, balsam, and myrrh, and such like things (g), namely, in their bosoms, there should be a "stink" or putrefaction, arising from ulcers and diseases of the body, Zechariah 14:12 the Septuagint, Syriac, and Arabic versions, render it "dust"; or this may refer to the anointing of their hair with ointment of myrrh and other things, which gave an agreeable scent; but instead of this there would be a scab, giving an ill scent, Isaiah 3:17.
and instead of a girdle a rent; such as is made in times of mourning and distress, or by the enemy. The Septuagint and Arabic versions render it, a "rope"; instead of fine curious girdles, wrought with gold and silver, they should have nothing but a rope about their loins. The Targum is,
"in the place where they bind the girdles, shall be marks of smiting;''
stripes, cuts, see Isaiah 10:34 as either by blows from the enemy, by whom they should be taken, or by the hand of God, being smitten with sores and ulcers, so that they should not be able to bear girdles upon them; or "holes", in their clothes or skin:
and instead of well set hair baldness; instead of plaited hair, and curled locks, kept in order, there would be scabs, ulcers, leprosy, or such diseases as would cause the hair to fall off, and leave a baldness. The Septuagint and Arabic versions render it, "instead of the golden ornament of the head, thou shall have baldness for thy works"; and the Syriac version, "instead of gems, incisions":
and instead of a stomacher a girding of sackcloth; the word for a "stomacher" is only used in this place; according to Kimchi, it signifies a very broad girdle; but Aben Ezra says it was a thin garment embroidered, which was put over all the rest of the clothes; perhaps something like a "mantelet". The Septuagint version renders it, "instead of the garment worked with purple"; and so the Syriac version, "instead of their hyacinths, or purples"; and the Arabic version, "instead of thy silken garment thou shall be girt with sackcloth"; which was usually done in times of distress and mourning:
and burning instead of beauty; either through the scorching beams of the sun, being stripped of their hoods and veils; or rather this is to be understood of carbuncles, and such like hot burning ulcers in their faces, which once were beautiful, and they prided themselves in; though the Hebrew word seems rather to be a preposition than a noun; so Jarchi, whose note is,
"for this is fit to be unto them instead of beauty, with which they have prided themselves,''
or have lifted up themselves; and so in his gloss upon the Talmud (h), where this clause, with the context, is cited and paraphrased,
"for all these things shall come unto thee instead of thy beauty;''
and this clause may be read in connection with the following, "because of beauty", or "instead of beauty, thy men shall fall", &c. and so the Targum,
"this vengeance shall be taken on them, because they have committed fornication in their beauty; thy beautiful men shall be killed by the sword.''
The Syriac version is, "because their beauty shall be corrupted", and those versions which seem to have left out this clause, yet retain something of it in the beginning of the next verse Isaiah 3:25. The Vulgate Latin version is, "thy most beautiful men also shall fall by the sword". The Septuagint and Arabic versions begin it thus, "and thy beautiful son, whom thou lovest, shall fall by the sword".
(g) Misn. Sabbat, c. 6. sect. 3.((h) T. Bab. Sabbat, fol. 62. 2.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
24. stink—arising from ulcers (Zec 14:12).
girdle—to gird up the loose Eastern garments, when the person walked.
rent—the Septuagint, better, a "rope," an emblem of poverty; the poor have nothing else to gird up their clothes with.
well-set hair—(1Pe 3:3, 4).
stomacher—a broad plaited girdle.
burning—a sunburnt countenance, owing to their hoods and veils being stripped off, while they had to work as captives under a scorching sun (So 1:6).
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