|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
47:1-6 Babylon is represented under the emblem of a female in deep distress. She was to be degraded and endure sufferings; and is represented sitting on the ground, grinding at the handmill, the lowest and most laborious service. God was righteous in his vengeance, and none should interpose. The prophet exults in the Lord of hosts, as the Redeemer and Holy One of Israel. God often permits wicked men to prevail against his people; but those who cruelly oppress them will be punished.
Verse 2. - Take the millstones, and grind meal. Do the hard work commonly allotted to female slaves. Turn the heavy upper millstone all day long upon the nether one (comp. Exodus 11:5). Babylon having been personified as a female captive, the details have to be in unison. Uncover thy locks. Babylonian women are represented in the Assyrian sculptures as wearing closefitting caps upon their heads (see 'Ancient Monarchies,' vol. 2, p. 500). Make bare the leg... pass over the rivers. On the way from their own city to the land of their captivity, they would have to wade through streams, and in so doing to expose parts of their persons which delicacy required to be concealed.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Take the millstones, and grind meal,.... Foretelling that the Chaldeans should be taken captives, and used as such, and sent to prison houses, where they should turn the mill, and grind corn into meal; a very servile work, and which used to be done by captives and slaves, even by female ones, Exodus 11:5. The Targum is,
"go into servitude;''
of which this was a sign:
uncover thy locks: the attire and dress of the head, by which the locks were bound up and kept together; but being taken off, would hang loose, and be dishevelled, as in captives and mourners. The Targum is,
"uncover the glory of thy kingdom:''
make bare the leg; or the shoulder, as the Vulgate Latin version, to be scourged by the Persians:
uncover the thigh, pass over the rivers: they are bid to tuck up their clothes so high, that they might pass over the rivers which lay between them and Persia, whither they were carried captives. The Targum is,
"thy princes are broken, the people of their army are scattered, they pass away as the waters of the river.''
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
2. millstones—like the querns or hand-mills, found in this country, before the invention of water mills and windmills: a convex stone, made by the hand to turn in a concave stone, fitted to receive it, the corn being ground between them: the office of a female slave in the East; most degrading (Job 31:10; Mt 24:41).
uncover thy locks—rather, "take off thy veil" [Horsley]: perhaps the removal of the plaited hair worn round the women's temples is included; it, too, is a covering (1Co 11:15); to remove it and the veil is the badge of the lowest female degradation; in the East the head is the seat of female modesty; the face of a woman is seldom, the whole head almost never, seen bare (see on Isa 22:8).
make bare the leg—rather "lift up (literally, 'uncover'; as in lifting up the train the leg is uncovered) thy flowing train." In Mesopotamia, women of low rank, as occasion requires, wade across the rivers with stript legs, or else entirely put off their garments and swim across. "Exchange thy rich, loose, queenly robe, for the most abject condition, that of one going to and fro through rivers as a slave, to draw water," &c.
uncover … thigh—gather up the robe, so as to wade across.
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