The whole of this chapter, with the first verse of the next, is a prophecy of those calamities that should be occasioned by the Babylonish invasion and captivity. These calamities are represented as so great and so general, that even royal honors, in such a state, are so far from being desirable, that hardly any can be got to accept them, Isaiah 3:1-7. This visitation is declared to be the consequence of their profanity and guilt; for which the prophet farther reproves and threatens them, Isaiah 3:8-15. Particular amplification of the distress of the delicate and luxurious daughters of Zion; whose deplorable situation is finely contrasted with their former prosperity and ease, Isaiah 3:16-26.
For, behold, the Lord, the LORD of hosts, doth take away from Jerusalem and from Judah the stay and the staff, the whole stay of bread, and the whole stay of water,The stay and the staff "Every stay and support" - Hebrew, "the support masculine, and the support feminine:" that is, every kind of support, whether great or small, strong or weak. "Al Kanitz, wal-kanitzah; the wild beasts, male and female. Proverbially applied both to fishing and hunting: i.e., I seized the prey, great or little, good or bad. From hence, as Schultens observes, is explained Isaiah 3:1, literally, the male and female stay: i.e., the strong and weak, the great and small." - Chappelow, note on Hariri, Assembly 1. Compare Ecclesiastes 2:8.
The Hebrew words משען ומשענה mashen umashenah come from the same root שען shaan, to lean against, to incline, to support; and here, being masculine and feminine, they may signify all things necessary for the support both of man and woman. My old MS. understands the staff and stay as meaning particular persons, and translates the verse thus: - Lo forsoth, the Lordschip Lord of Hoostis schal don awey fro Jerusalem and fro Juda the stalworth and the stronge.
The two following verses, Isaiah 3:2, Isaiah 3:3, are very clearly explained by the sacred historian's account of the event, the captivity of Jehoiachin by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon: "And he carried away all Jerusalem, and all the princes, and all the mighty men of valor, even ten thousand captives, and all the craftsmen and smiths; none remained save the poorest sort of the people of the land," 2 Kings 24:14. Which is supplied by our version.
The mighty man, and the man of war, the judge, and the prophet, and the prudent, and the ancient,
The captain of fifty, and the honourable man, and the counseller, and the cunning artificer, and the eloquent orator.
And I will give children to be their princes, and babes shall rule over them.I will give children to be their princes "I will make boys their princes" - This also was fully accomplished in the succession of weak and wicked princes, from the death of Josiah to the destruction of the city and temple, and the taking of Zedekiah, the last of them, by Nebuchadnezzar.
Babes shall rule over them - Dymennysche men schul lordschopen to hem. - Old MS. Bible.
And the people shall be oppressed, every one by another, and every one by his neighbour: the child shall behave himself proudly against the ancient, and the base against the honourable.
When a man shall take hold of his brother of the house of his father, saying, Thou hast clothing, be thou our ruler, and let this ruin be under thy hand:Of the house of his father "Of his father's house" - For בית beith, the house, the ancient interpreters seem to have read מבית mibbeith, from the house; του οικειου του πατρος αυτου, Septuagint; domesticum patris sui, Vulgate; which gives no good sense. But the Septuagint MS. 1. D. 2: for οικειου has οικου. And, his brother, of his father's house, is little better than a tautology. The case seems to require that the man should apply to a person of some sort of rank and eminence; one that was the head of his father's house, (see Joshua 12:14), whether of the house of him who applies to him, or of any other; ראש בית אביו rosh beith abaiu, the chief, or head of his father's house. I cannot help suspecting, therefore, that the word ראש rosh, head, chief, has been lost out of the text.
Saying - Before שמלה simlah, garment, two MSS., one ancient, and the Babylonish Talmud have the word לאמר lemor, saying; and so the Steptuagint, Vulgate, Syriac, and Chaldee. I place it with Houbigant, after שמלה simlah.
Thou hast clothing "Take by the garment" - That is, shall entreat him in an humble and supplicating manner. "Ten men shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, Let us go with you; for we have heard that God is with you," Zechariah 8:23. And so in Isaiah 4:1, the same gesture is used to express earnest and humble entreaty. The behavior of Saul towards Samuel was of the same kind, when he laid hold on the skirt of his raiment, 1 Samuel 15:27. The preceding and following verses show, that his whole deportment, in regard to the prophet, was full of submission and humility.
And let this ruin be under thy hand "And let thy hand support" - Before תחת ידך tachath yadecha, a MS. adds תהיה tihyeh, "let it be;" another MS. adds in the same place, תקח בידך takach beyadecha, which latter seems to be a various reading of the two preceding words, making a very good sense: "Take into thy hand our ruinous state." Twenty-one MSS. of Kennicott's, thirteen of De Rossi's, one of my own, ancient, and three editions of the Babylonish Talmud have ידיך yadeycha, plural, "thy hands."
In that day shall he swear, saying, I will not be an healer; for in my house is neither bread nor clothing: make me not a ruler of the people.In that day shall he swear "Then shall he openly declare" - The Septuagint, Syriac, and Jerome, read וישא veyissa, adding the conjunction, which seems necessary in this place.
I will not be a healer - I am noy a leche. - Old MS. Bible. Leech was the ancient English word for a physician.
For in my house is neither bread nor clothing "For in my house is neither bread nor raiment" - "It is customary through all the East," says Sir J. Chardin, "to gather together an immense quantity of furniture and clothes; for their fashions never alter." Princes and great men are obliged to have a great stock of such things in readiness for presents upon all occasions. "The kings of Persia," says the same author, "have great wardrobes, where there are always many hundreds of habits ready, designed for presents, and sorted," Harmer, Observ., 2:11 and 88. A great quantity of provision for the table was equally necessary. The daily provision for Solomon's household, whose attendants were exceedingly numerous, was proportionately great, 1 Kings 4:22, 1 Kings 4:23. Even Nehemiah, in his strait circumstances, had a large supply daily for his table; at which he received a hundred and fifty of the Jews and rulers, besides those that came from among the neighboring heathen, Nehemiah 5:17, Nehemiah 5:18.
This explains the meaning of the excuse made by him that is desired to undertake the government. He alleges that he has not wherewithal to support the dignity of the station, by such acts of liberality and hospitality as the law of custom required of persons of superior rank. See Harmer's Observations, 1:340, 2:88.
For Jerusalem is ruined, and Judah is fallen: because their tongue and their doings are against the LORD, to provoke the eyes of his glory.The eyes "The cloud" - This word appears to be of very doubtful form, from the printed editions, the MSS., and the ancient versions. The first yod in עיני eyney, which is necessary according to the common interpretation, is in many of them omitted; the two last letters are upon a rasure in two MSS. I think it should be ענן anan, "a cloud," as the Syriac reads; and the allusion is to the cloud in in which the glory of the Lord appeared above the tabernacle; see Exodus 16:9, Exodus 16:10; Exodus 40:34-38; Numbers 16:41, Numbers 16:42.
Either of the readings gives a very good sense. The allusion may be to the cloud of the Divine presence in the wilderness: or the eyes of the Lord may be meant, as they are in every place beholding the evil and the good. And he cannot look upon iniquity but with abhorrence; therefore, the eyes of his glory might be well provoked by their crimes.
The shew of their countenance doth witness against them; and they declare their sin as Sodom, they hide it not. Woe unto their soul! for they have rewarded evil unto themselves.The show of their countenance - Bishop Lowth has it the steadfastness of their countenance - they appear to be bent on iniquity, their eyes tell the wickedness of their hearts. The eye is the index of the mind. Envy, hatred, malice, malevolence, concupiscence, and murder, when in the heart, look most intelligently out at the eye. They tell the innocent to be on their guard; and serve the same purpose as the sonorous rings in the tail of the rattlesnake - they announce the presence of the destroyer.
They declare their sin as Sodom - Impure propensities are particularly legible in the eyes: whoever has beheld the face of a debauchee or a prostitute knows this; of these it may be said, they wish to appear what they really are. They glory in their iniquity. This is the highest pitch of ungodliness.
They have rewarded evil unto themselves - Every man's sin is against his own soul. Evil awaiteth sinners - and he that offends his God injures himself.
Say ye to the righteous, that it shall be well with him: for they shall eat the fruit of their doings.Say ye to the righteous - לצדיק letsaddik, the ל lamed is added here by one MS. and the Chaldee. The righteous is the person,
1. Who fears God.
2. Departs from evil.
3. Walks according to the testimony of God.
4. And expects and prepares for a glorious immortality.
"Pronounce ye." - The reading of this verse is very dubious. The Septuagint for אמרו imru read נאסר neasor, or both, אמרו נאסר imru neasor, and כי לא טוב לנו ki lo tob lanu. Δησωμεν τον δικαιον, ὁτι δυσχρηστος ἡμιν εστι. Perhaps, for אמרו imru, the true reading may be אשרו ashsheru, "bless you;" or אמרו אשרי imru ashrey, "say ye, blessed is." The Vulgate and an ancient MS. read in the singular number, יאכל yochel, comedat, "he shall eat."
"It shall be well with him:" - כי טוב ki tob, "that good." Say nothing to such but good. He is a good man, he does nothing but good, and has a good God to deal with, from whom he expects nothing but goodness. It shall be well with such in all circumstances of life.
1. In prosperity.
2. In adversity.
3. In sickness.
4. In health.
5. In death.
6. In judgment. And,
7. Through eternity
In every case, occurrence, and circumstance, he shall eat the fruit of his doings - he shall derive benefit from being a righteous man, and walking in a righteous way.
Woe unto the wicked! it shall be ill with him: for the reward of his hands shall be given him.Wo unto the wicked - לרשע lerasha, the man who is,
1. Evil in his heart.
2. Evil in his purposes.
3. Evil in his life.
As he is wicked, he does that which is wicked; and is influenced by the wicked one, of whom he is the servant and the son. It shall be ill with him, רע ra; in a single word say to him - evil! Of him you can speak no good; and to him you can speak no good - all is evil, in him - before him - after him - round about him - above him - below him. Evil in time - evil through eternity!
The reward of his hands - What he has deserved he shall get. He shall be paid that for which he has labored, and his reward shall be in proportion to his work. O, what a lot is that of the wicked! Cursed in time, and accursed through eternity!
As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths.Err "Pervert" - בלעו billeu, "swallow." Among many unsatisfactory methods of accounting for the unusual meaning of this word in this place, I choose Jarchi's explication, as making the best sense. "Read בללו billalu, 'confound.' Syriac." - Dr. Judd. "Read בהלו beholu, 'disturb or trouble.'" - Secker. So Septuagint. This verse might be read, "The collectors of grapes shall be their oppressors; and usurers (noshim, instead of nashim, women) shall rule over them."
The LORD standeth up to plead, and standeth to judge the people.The people "His people" - עמו ammo, Septuagint.
The LORD will enter into judgment with the ancients of his people, and the princes thereof: for ye have eaten up the vineyard; the spoil of the poor is in your houses.The vineyard. "My vineyard" - כרמי - "dr carmi, Septuagint, Chaldee, Jerome.
What mean ye that ye beat my people to pieces, and grind the faces of the poor? saith the Lord GOD of hosts.And grind the faces - The expression and the image is strong, to denote grievous oppression but is exceeded by the prophet Micah, Micah 3:1-3 : -
"Hear, I pray you, ye chiefs of Jacob,
And ye princes of the house of Israel:
Is it not yours to know what is right?
Ye that hate good and love evil:
Who tear their skins from off them,
And their flesh from off their bones;
Who devour the flesh of my people;
And flay from off them their skin;
And their bones they dash in pieces;
And chop them asunder, as morsels for the pot:
And as flesh thrown into the midst of the caldron."
In the last line but one, for כאשר keasher, read, by the transposition of a letter, כשאר kisher, with the Septuagint and Chaldee.
Moreover the LORD saith, Because the daughters of Zion are haughty, and walk with stretched forth necks and wanton eyes, walking and mincing as they go, and making a tinkling with their feet:And wanton eyes "And falsely setting off their eyes with paint" - Hebrew, falsifying their eyes. I take this to be the true meaning and literal rendering of the word; from שקר shakar. The Masoretes have pointed it, as if it were from שקר sakar, a different word. This arose, as I imagine, from their supposing that the word was the same with סקר sakar, Chaldee, "intueri, innuere oculis;" or that it had an affinity with the noun סיקרא sikra, which the Chaldeans, or the rabbins at least, use for stibium, the mineral which was commonly used in colouring the eyes. See Jarchi's comment on the place. Though the colouring of the eyes with stibium be not particularly here expressed, yet I suppose it to be implied; and so the Chaldee paraphrase explains it; stibio linitis oculis, "with eyes dressed with stibium." This fashion seems to have prevailed very generally among the Eastern people in ancient times; and they retain the very same to this day.
Pietro delta Valle, giving a description of his wife, an Assyrian lady born in Mesopotamia, and educated at Baghdad, whom he married in that country, (Viaggi, Tom. I., Lettera 17), says, "Her eyelashes, which are long, and, according to the custom of the East, dressed with stibium, (as we often read in the Holy Scriptures of the Hebrew women of old, Jeremiah 4:30; Ezekiel 23:40; and in Xenophon, of Astyages the grandfather of Cyrus, and of the Medes of that time, Cyropaed. lib. i.), give a dark, and at the same time a majestic, shade to the eyes." "Great eyes," says Sandys, Travels, p. 67, speaking of the Turkish women, "they have in principal repute; and of those the blacker they be the more amiable; insomuch that they put between the eyelids and the eye a certain black powder with a fine long pencil, made of a mineral, brought from the kingdom of Fez, and called Alcohole; which by the not disagreeable staining of the lids doth better set forth the whiteness of the eye; and though it be troublesome for a time, yet it comforteth the sight, and repelleth ill humours." Vis ejus (stibii) astringe ac refrigerare, principalis autem circa oculos; namque ideo etiam plerique Platyophthalmon id appellavere, quoniam in calliblepharis mulierum dilatat oculos; et fluxiones inhibet oculorum exulcerationesque. "It is astringent in its virtue, and refrigerant, and to be chiefly employed about the eyes, and it is called Platyophthalmon, for being put into those ointments with which women beautify their eyes, it dilates them, removes defluxions, and heals any ulcerations that may be about the eyelids." - Pliny, Nat. Hist. 33:6.
Ille supercilium madida fuligine tactum
Obliqua producit acu, pingitque trementes
Juv. Sat. 2:93.
One his eyebrows, tinged with black soot,
Lengthens with an oblique bodkin, and paints,
Lifting up his winking eyes.
"But none of those [Moorish] ladies," says Dr. Shaw, Travels, p. 294, fol., "take themselves to be completely dressed, till they have tinged the hair and edges of their eyelids with alkahol, the powder of lead ore. This operation is performed by dipping first into the powder a small wooden bodkin of the thickness of a quill; and then drawing it afterwards through the eyelids, over the ball of the eye." Ezekiel, Ezekiel 23:40, uses the same word in the form of a verb, כחלת עניך cachalt eynayik, "thou didst dress thine eyes with alcahol;" which the Septuagint render εστιβιζου τους, οφθαλμους σου, "thou didst dress thine eyes with stibium;" just as they do when the word פוך phuch is employed: compare 2 Kings 9:30; Jeremiah 4:30. They supposed, therefore, that פוך phuch and כחל cachal, or in the Arabic form, alcahol, meant the same thing; and probably the mineral used of old for this purpose was the same that is used now; which Dr. Shaw (ibid. note) says is "a rich lead ore, pounded into an impalpable powder." Alcoholados; the word משקרות meshakkeroth in this place is thus rendered in an old Spanish translation. - Sanctius. See also Russell's Nat. Hist. of Aleppo, p. 102.
The following inventory, as one may call it, of the wardrobe of a Hebrew lady, must, from its antiquity, and the nature of the subject, have been very obscure even to the most ancient interpreters which we have of it; and from its obscurity must have been also peculiarly liable to the mistakes of transcribers. However, it is rather matter of curiosity than of importance; and is indeed, upon the whole, more intelligible and less corrupted than one might have reasonably expected. Clemens Alexandrinus, Paedag. lib. ii., c. 12, and Julius Pollux, lib. vii., c. 22, have each of them preserved from a comedy of Aristophanes, now lost, a similar catalogue of the several parts of the dress and ornaments of a Grecian lady; which, though much more capable of illustration from other writers, though of later date, and quoted and transmitted down to us by two different authors, yet seems to be much less intelligible, and considerably more corrupted, than this passage of Isaiah. Salmasius has endeavored, by comparing the two quotations, and by much critical conjecture and learned disquisition, to restore the true reading, and to explain the particulars; with what success, I leave to the determination of the learned reader, whose curiosity shall lead him to compare the passage of the comedian with this of the prophet, and to examine the critic's learned labors upon it. Exercit. Plinian, p. 1148; or see Clem. Ales. as cited above, edit. Potter, where the passage, as corrected by Salmasius, is given.
Nich. Guel. Schroederus, professor of oriental languages in the University of Marpurg, has published a very learned and judicious treatise upon this passage of Isaiah. The title of it is, "Commentarius Philologico-Criti cus de Vestitu Mulierum Hebraearum ad Iesai 3 ver. 16-24. Lugd. Bat. 1745." As I think no one has handled this subject with so much judgment and ability as this author, I have for the most part followed him, in giving the explanation of the several terms denoting the different parts of dress, of which this passage consists; signifying the reasons of my dissent, where he does not give me full satisfaction.
Bishop Lowth's translation of these verses is the following: -
18. In that day will the Lord take from them the ornaments,Of the feet-rings, and the net-works, and the crescents;
19. The pendants, and the bracelets, and the veils;
20. The tires, and the fetters, and the zones, And the perfume-boxes, and the amulets;
21. The rings, and the jewels of the nostrils;
22. The embroidered robes, and the tunics, And the cloaks, and the little purses,
23. The transparent garments, and the fine linen vests, And the turbans, and the mantles.
24. And there shall be instead of perfume, a putrid ulcer;And instead of well-girt raiment, rags;And instead of high-dressed hair, baldness;And instead of a zone, a girdle of sackcloth; And sun-burnt skin, instead of beauty.
The daughters of Zion - walk - What is meant by these several kinds of action and articles of dress cannot be well conjectured. How our ancestors understood them will appear from the following, which is the translation of these verses in my old MS. Bible: -
16. The doughteris of Syon wenteh with strught out necks, and ib beckes (winking) of eegen, geeden and flappeden with hondis for joye, and geeden: and with theire feet in curyous goying geeden; - 17. the Lord schall fully make ballid the top of the boughtris of Syon: and the Lord the her of hem schal naken. And for ournemente schal be schenschip.
18. In that day, the Lord schal don awey the ournement of Schoon and hoosis: 19. and beegis, and brochis, and armeerclis, and mytris; 20. and coombis, and rybanys and reversis at the hemmys, and oynment boris and ereringis; 21. and ryngis and jemmys in the frount hongynge; 22. and chaunginge clothis, and litil pallis, and scheetis, and prynys; 23. and scheweris, and neche hercheuys, and flyetis, and roketis; 24. and ther schal be for swot smel, stynke, and for gyrdil, a litl coord; and for crisp her, ballidnesse; and for brest boond and heyr.
Some of these things are hard to be understood, though I think this version as good as that of the very learned bishop: but there is little doubt that articles of clothing and dress bore these names in the fourteenth century.
Therefore the Lord will smite with a scab the crown of the head of the daughters of Zion, and the LORD will discover their secret parts.The Lord will smite "Will the Lord humble" - ταπεινωσει, Septuagint; and so Syriac and Chaldee. For שפח sippach they read שפל shaphal. Instead of יהוה Yehovah, many MSS. have אדני Adonai.
Will discover their secret parts "Expose their nakedness" - It was the barbarous custom of the conquerors of those times to strip their captives naked, and to make them travel in that condition, exposed to the inclemency of the weather; and the worst of all, to the intolerable heat of the sun. But this to the women was the height of cruelty and indignity; and especially to such as those here described, who had indulged themselves in all manner of delicacies of living, and all the superfluities of ornamental dress; and even whose faces had hardly ever been exposed to the sight of man. This is always mentioned as the hardest part of the lot of captives. Nahum, Nahum 3:5, Nahum 3:6, denouncing the fate of Nineveh, paints it in very strong colors: -
"Behold, I am against thee, saith Jehovah, God of hosts:
And I will discover thy skirts upon thy face;
And I will expose thy nakedness to the nations;
And to the kingdoms thy shame.
And I will throw ordures upon thee;
And I will make thee vile, and set thee as a gazing-stock."
In that day the Lord will take away the bravery of their tinkling ornaments about their feet, and their cauls, and their round tires like the moon,Ornaments about their feet "The ornaments of the feet rings" - The late learned Dr. Hunt, professor of Hebrew and Arabic in the University of Oxford, has very well explained the word עכס both verb and noun, in his very ingenious Dissertation on Prov, Isaiah 7:22, Isaiah 7:23. The verb means to skip, to bound, to dance along, and the noun, those ornaments of the feet which the Eastern ladies wore; chains or rings, which made a tinkling sound as they moved nimbly in walking. Eugene Roger, Description de la Terre Sainte, 54:2 Chronicles 2, speaking of the Arabian women, of the first rank in Palestine, says,"Au lieu de brasselets elles ont de menottes d'argent, qu'elles portent aux poignets et aux pieds; ou sont attachez quantite de petits annelets d'argent, qui font un cliquetis comme d'une cymbale, lorsqu'elles cheminent ou se mouvent quelque peu." See Dr. Hunt's Dissertation; where he produces other testimonies to the same purpose from authors of travels. Hindoo women of ill fame wear loose ornaments one above another on their ankles, which at every motion make a tinkling noise. See Ward.
And their cauls "the net-works" - I am obliged to differ from the learned Schroederus almost at first setting out. He renders the word שביסים shebisim by soliculi, little ornaments, bullae, or studs, in shape representing the sun, and so answering to the following word שהרנים saharonim, lunulae, crescents. He supposes the word to be the same with שמישים shemishim, the י yod in the second syllable making the word diminutive, and the letter מ mem being changed for ב beth, a letter of the same organ. How just and well founded his authorities for the transmutation of these letters in the Arabic language are, I cannot pretend to judge; but as I know of no such instance in Hebrew, it seems to me a very forced etymology. Being dissatisfied with this account of the matter, I applied to my good friend above mentioned, the late Dr. Hunt, who very kindly returned the following answer to my inquiries: -
"I have consulted the Arabic Lexicons, as well MS. as printed, but cannot find שביסים shebisim in any of them, nor any thing belonging to it; so that no help is to be had from that language towards clearing up the meaning of this difficult word. But what the Arabic denies, the Syriac perhaps may afford; in which I find the verb שבש shabas, to entangle or interweave, an etymology which is equally favorable to our marginal translation, net-works, with שבץ shabats, to make chequer work, or embroider, (the word by which Kimchi and others have explained שביס shabis); and has moreover this advantage over it, that the letters ש sin and ס samech are very frequently put for each other, but צ tsaddi and ס samech scarcely ever. Aben Ezra joins שביסים shebisim and עכסים achasim, which immediately precedes it, together; and says that שביס shabis was the ornament of the leps, as עכס eches was of the feet. His words are, שביס תכשיט של שוקים כמו עכס של רגלים - L."
The chains, and the bracelets, and the mufflers,
The bonnets, and the ornaments of the legs, and the headbands, and the tablets, and the earrings,The tablets - The words בתי הנפש bottey hannephesh, which we translate tablets, and Bishop Lowth, perfume boxes, literally signify houses of the soul; and may refer to strong scented bottles used for pleasure and against fainting; similar to bottles with otto of roses, worn by the ladies of the East to the present time.
The rings, and nose jewels,Nose-jewels "The jewels of the nostril" - נזמי האף nizmey haaph. Schroederus explains this, as many others do, of jewels, or strings of pearl hanging from the forehead, and reaching to the upper part of the nose; than which nothing can be more ridiculous, as such are seldom seen on an Asiatic face. But it appears from many passages of Holy Scripture that the phrase is to be literally and properly understood of nose-jewels, rings set with jewels hanging from the nostrils, as ear-rings from the ears, by holes bored to receive them.
Ezekiel, enumerating the common ornaments of women of the first rank, has not omitted this particular, and is to be understood in the same manner, Ezekiel 16:11, Ezekiel 16:12. See also Genesis 24:47 : -
"And I decked thee with ornaments;
And I put bracelets upon thine hands,
And a chain on thy neck:
And I put a jewel on thy nose,
And ear-rings on thine ears,
And a splendid crown upon thine head."
And in an elegant proverb of Solomon, Proverbs 11:22, there is a manifest allusion to this kind of ornament, which shows it to have been used in his time: -
"As a jewel of gold in the snout of a swine;
So is a woman beautiful, but wanting discretion."
This fashion, however strange it may appear to us, was formerly and is still common in many parts of the East, among women of all ranks. Paul Lucas, speaking of a village or clan of wandering people, a little on this side of the Euphrates, says, (2d Voyage du Levant, tom. i., art. 24), "The women, almost all of them, travel on foot; I saw none handsome among them. They have almost all of them the nose bored; and wear in it a great ring, which makes them still more deformed." But in regard to this custom, better authority cannot be produced than that of Pietro della Valle, in the account which he gives of the lady before mentioned, Signora Maani Gioerida, his own wife. The description of her dress, as to the ornamental parts of it, with which he introduces the mention of this particular, will give us some notion of the taste of the Eastern ladies for finery. "The ornaments of gold and of jewels for the head, for the neck, for the arms, for the legs, and for the feet (for they wear rings even on their toes) are indeed, unlike those of the Turks, carried to great excess, but not of great value: for in Bagdad jewels of high price are either not to be had, or are not used; and they wear such only as are of little value, as turquoises, small rubies, emeralds, carbuncles, garnets, pearls, and the like. My spouse dresses herself with all of them according to their fashion; with exception, however, of certain ugly rings of very large size, set with jewels, which, in truth, very absurdly, it is the custom to wear fastened to one of their nostrils, like buffaloes: an ancient custom, however, in the East, which, as we find in the Holy Scriptures, prevailed among the Hebrew ladies even in the time of Solomon, Proverbs 11:22. These nose-rings, in complaisance to me, she has left off, but I have not yet been able to prevail with her cousin and her sisters to do the same; so fond are they of an old custom, be it ever so absurd, who have been long habituated to it." Viaggi, Tom. i., Let. 17.
It is the left nostril that is bored and ornamented with rings and jewels. More than one hundred drawings from life of Eastern ladies lie now before me, and scarcely one is without the nose-jewel: both the arms and wrists are covered with bracelets, arm-circles, etc., as also their legs and feet; the soles of their feet and palms of their hands coloured beautifully red with henna, and their hair plaited and ornamented superbly. These beautiful drawings are a fine comment on this chapter.
The changeable suits of apparel, and the mantles, and the wimples, and the crisping pins,
The glasses, and the fine linen, and the hoods, and the vails.The glasses - The conjunction ו vau, and - And the glasses, is added here by forty-three of Kennicott's and thirty-four of De Rossi's MSS., and one of my own, ancient, as well as by many editions.
And the veils. "The transparent garments" - Τα διαφανη Λακωνικα, Sept. A kind of silken dress, transparent, like gauze; worn only by the most elegant women, and such as dressed themselves elegantius quam necesse esset probis, "more elegantly than modest women should." Such garments are worn to the present day; garments that not only show the shape of every part of the body, but the very color of the skin. This is evidently the case in some scores of drawings of Asiatic females now before me. This sort of garments was afterwards in use among the Greeks. Prodicus, in his celebrated fable (Xenoph. Memorab. Socr. lib. ii.) exhibits the personage of Sloth in this dress: Εσθητα δε, εξ ἡς αν μαλιστα ὡρα διαλαμποι: -
"Her robe betray'd
Through the clear texture every tender limb,
Height'ning the charms it only seem'd to shade;
And as it flow'd adown so loose and thin,
Her stature show'd more tall, more snowy white her skin."
They were called multitia and coa (scil, vestimenta) by the Romans, from their being invented, or rather introduced into Greece, by one Pamphila of the island of Cos. This, like other Grecian fashions, was received at Rome, when luxury began to prevail under the emperors. It was sometimes worn even by the men, but looked upon as a mark of extreme effeminacy. See Juvenal, Sat. ii., 65, etc. Publius Syrus, who lived when the fashion was first introduced, has given a humorous satirical description of it in two lines, which by chance have been preserved: -
"Aequum est, induere nuptam ventum textilem?
Palam prostare nudam in nebula linea?"
And it shall come to pass, that instead of sweet smell there shall be stink; and instead of a girdle a rent; and instead of well set hair baldness; and instead of a stomacher a girding of sackcloth; and burning instead of beauty.Instead of sweet smell "perfume" - A principal part of the delicacy of the Asiatic ladies consists in the use of baths, and of the richest oils and perfumes; an attention to which is in some degree necessary in those hot countries. Frequent mention is made of the rich ointments of the spouse in the Song of Solomon, Sol 4:10, Sol 4:11 : -
"How beautiful are thy breasts, my sister, my spouse!
How much more excellent than wine;
And the odour of thine ointments than all perfumes!
Thy lips drop as the honey-comb, my spouse!
Honey and milk are under thy tongue:
And the odor of thy garments is as the odour of Lebanon."
The preparation for Esther's being introduced to King Ahasuerus was a course of bathing and perfuming for a whole year; "six months with oil of myrrh, and six months with sweet odours;" Esther 2:12 (note). A diseased and loathsome habit of body, instead of a beautiful skin, softened and made agreeable with all that art could devise, and all that nature, so prodigal in those countries of the richest perfumes, could supply, must have been a punishment the most severe and the most mortifying to the delicacy of these haughty daughters of Sion.
Burning instead of beauty "A sunburnt skin" - Gaspar Sanctius thinks the words כי תחת ki thachath an interpolation, because the Vulgate has omitted them. The clause כי תחת יפי ki thachath yophi seems to me rather to be imperfect at the end. Not to mention that כי ki, taken as a noun for adustio, burning, is without example, and very improbable. The passage ends abruptly, and seems to want a fuller conclusion.
In agreement with which opinion, of the defect of the Hebrew text in this place, the Septuagint, according to MSS. Pachom. and 1 D. ii., and Marchal., which are of the best authority, express it with the same evident marks of imperfection at the end of the sentence; thus: ταυτα σοι αντι καλλωπισμου The two latter add δου. This chasm in the text, from the loss probably of three or four words, seems therefore to be of long standing.
Taking כי ki in its usual sense, as a particle, and supplying לך lech from the σοι of the Septuagint, it might possibly have been originally somewhat in this form: -
מראה רעת לך תהיה יפי תחת כי marah
"Yea, instead of beauty thou shalt have an illfavoured countenance."
כי תחת יפי ki thachath yophi (q. יחת yachath), "for beauty shall be destroyed." Syr. חתת chathath or נחת nachath.-Dr. Durell.
"May it not be כהי cohey, 'wrinkles instead of beauty?' as from יפה yaphah is formed יפי yephi, yophi; from מרה marah, מרי meri, etc.; so from כהה cahah, to be wrinkled, כהי cohey." - Dr. Jubb. The כי ki is wanting in one MS., and has been omitted by several of the ancients.
Thy men shall fall by the sword, and thy mighty in the war.Thy mighty men - For גבורתך geburathech an ancient MS. has גבורך gibborech. The true reading, from the Septuagint, Vulgate, Syriac, and Chaldee, seems to be גבוריך gibborayich.
And her gates shall lament and mourn; and she being desolate shall sit upon the ground.Sit upon the ground - Sitting on the ground was a posture that denoted mourning and deep distress. The prophet Jeremiah (Lamentations 2:8) has given it the first place among many indications of sorrow, in the following elegant description of the same state of distress of his country: -
"The elders of the daughter of Sion sit on the ground, they are silent: They have cast up dust on their heads; they have girded themselves with sackcloth; The virgins of Jerusalem have bowed down their heads to the ground."
"We find Judea," says Mr. Addison, (on Medals, Dial. ii), "on several coins of Vespasian and Titus, in a posture that denotes sorrow and captivity. I need not mention her sitting on the ground, because we have already spoken of the aptness of such a posture to represent an extreme affliction. I fancy the Romans might have an eye on the customs of the Jewish nation, as well as those of their country, in the several marks of sorrow they have set on this figure. The psalmist describes the Jews lamenting their captivity in the same pensive posture: 'By the waters of Babylon we sat down and wept, when we remembered thee, O Zion.' But what is more remarkable, we find Judea represented as a woman in sorrow sitting on the ground, in a passage of the prophet, that foretells the very captivity recorded on this medal." Mr. Addison, I presume, refers to this place of Isaiah; and therefore must have understood it as foretelling the destruction of Jerusalem and the Jewish nation by the Romans: whereas it seems plainly to relate, in its first and more immediate view at least, to the destruction of the city by Nebuchadnezzar, and the dissolution of the Jewish state under the captivity at Babylon. - L.
Several of the coins mentioned here by Mr. Addison are in my own collection: and to such I have already referred in this work. I shall describe one here. On the obverse a fine head of the emperor Vespasian with this legend, Imperator Julius Caesar Vespasianus Augustus, Pontifex Maximus, Tribunitia Potestate Pater Patriae, Consul VIII.
On the reverse a tall palm tree, emblem of the land of Palestine, the emperor standing on the left, close to the tree, with a trophy behind him; on the right, Judea under the figure of a female captive sitting on the ground, with her head resting on her hand, the elbow on her knee, weeping. Around is this legend, Judea Capta. Senates Consulto. However this prediction may refer proximately to the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar, I am fully of opinion that it ultimately refers to the final ruin of the Jewish state by the Romans. And so it has been understood by the general run of the best and most learned interpreters and critics.