|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
4:1 This first verse belongs to the third chapter. When the troubles should come upon the land, as the unmarried state was deemed reproachful among the Jews, these women would act contrary to common usage, and seek husbands for themselves.
Verse 1. - Seven women shall take hold of one man. This verse has been well called a "companion picture to Isaiah 3:6, 7." As there, in the evil time of God's judgment, the despairing men are represented as" taking hold" of a respectable man to make him their judge, so now the despairing women "take hold" of such a man and request him to allow them all to be regarded as his wives. There has been such a destruction - men are become so scarce - that no otherwise can women escape the shame and reproach of being unwedded and childless. Our own bread will we eat. They do not ask him to support them; they are able and willing to support themselves. To take away; rather, take thou away - the imperative mood, not the infinitive. Our reproach. Children were regarded as such a blessing in the ancient times that to be childless was a misfortune and a subject of reproach. Hagar "despised" the barren Sarai (Genesis 16:4). Her "adversary provoked Hannah sore, because the Lord had shut up her womb" (1 Samuel 1:6). Compare the lament of Antigone, who views it as a disgrace that she descends to the tomb unwed (Soph., 'Antig.,' 11. 813-816). Among the Jews childlessness was a special reproach, because it took away all possibility of the woman being in the line of the Messiah's descent (comp. Isaiah 54:1-4).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And in that day seven women shall take hold of one man,.... Not in the days of Ahaz, when Pekah, son of Remaliah, slew in Judah a hundred and twenty thousand men in one day, 2 Chronicles 28:6 as Kimchi thinks; for though there was then such a destruction of men, yet at the same time two hundred thousand women, with sons and daughters, were carried captive by the Israelites, 2 Chronicles 28:8 but in the days of Vespasian and Titus, and in the time of their wars with the Jews; in which were made such slaughters of men, that there were not enough left for every woman to have a husband; and therefore "seven", or a great many, sue to one man to marry them, contrary to their natural bashfulness. It is a tradition of the Jews, mentioned both by Jarchi and Kimchi, that Nebuchadnezzar ordered his army, that none of them should marry another man's wife; wherefore every woman sought to get a husband; but the time of this prophecy does not agree with it:
saying, we will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel; which used to be provided for wives by their husbands, and that according to law, Exodus 21:10 but rather than be without a husband, they promise, in order to engage him to marry them, to provide food and raiment for themselves, by their own labour. The Arabic version adds,
"neither in anything will we be troublesome:''
only let us be called by thy name; let us be married to thee, let us become thy wives; for upon marriage the woman was called by her husband's name:
to take away our reproach: of being unmarried, and having no offspring: or it may be rendered in the imperative, "take away our reproach" (l); so the Targum, Septuagint, and Oriental versions. The words may be accommodated in a spiritual sense to some professors of religion, who lay hold on Christ in a professional way, but spend their money for that which is not bread, and live upon their own duties and services, and not on Christ, and wear their own rags of righteousness, and not his robe; only they desire to be called by the name of Christians, to take away the reproach of being reckoned Pagans or infidels.
(l) "aufer probrum nostrum", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; "aufer ignominiam nostram", Cocceius.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
that day—the calamitous period described in previous chapter.
seven—indefinite number among the Jews. So many men would be slain, that there would be very many more women than men; for example, seven women, contrary to their natural bashfulness, would sue to (equivalent to "take hold of," Isa 3:6) one man to marry them.
eat … own bread—foregoing the privileges, which the law (Ex 21:10) gives to wives, when a man has more than one.
reproach—of being unwedded and childless; especially felt among the Jews, who were looking for "the seed of the woman," Jesus Christ, described in Isa 4:2; Isa 54:1, 4; Lu 1:25.
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