Isaiah 3:20
The bonnets, and the ornaments of the legs, and the headbands, and the tablets, and the earrings,
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(20) The bonnets . . .—The English word is perhaps, too modern in its associations, and should be replaced by “diadems” (Exodus 39:28; Isaiah 61:10).

The ornaments of the legs.—These were chains connecting the anklets of Isaiah 3:18, and so regulating the “mincing” or “tripping” motion of the wearer.

The headbands.—Better, girdles, always the most highly ornamented part of an Eastern dress, such as were worn by brides (Jeremiah 2:32; Isaiah 49:18).

The tablets.—Literally, houses of the souli.e., of the spirit or essence of a perfume. These seem to have been of the nature of scent-bottles, or the modern vinaigrettes.

The earrings.—The noun is connected with the idea of enchantments. Better, amulets or charms, such as are worn in the East as safeguards against the evil eye.

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.The bonnets - The "tiara, head-dress, or turban." The word comes from the verb "to adorn." The "turban" is almost universally worn in the East. It was worn by the priests, Exodus 39:28; by the bridegroom, Isaiah 61:10; Ezekiel 24:17; and by women. Its form is well known.

And the ornaments for the legs - The word used here is derived from a verb signifying "to walk, to go," particularly to walk in a stately and formal manner - with a measured step, הצעדות hatse‛ādôth, from צעד tsâ‛ad; and thus refers to a proud and lofty gait. The "ornament" which is here referred to is supposed to have been a short chain extending from one foot to the other, worn by the Eastern women to give them a measured and stately gait. - "Gesenius." This "chain" is supposed to have been attached by hooks or clasps to the 'tinkling ornaments' mentioned in Isaiah 3:16. Safieri mentions these ornaments, and thus describes them: 'The word denotes a small chain, with which females, when they walk, connect their feet, in order to make their steps equal.' Happily these ornaments are unknown in modern times, at least in Western countries. They are still retained in the East.

And the head-bands - This word means "girdles" of any kind, still commonly worn on the head. A picture in the book illustrates one of the usual forms of the head-band.

And the tablets - The Hebrew is, as in the margin, 'the houses of the soul.' The word translated "soul" means also the "breath;" and hence, as one of its meanings, that which is "breathed," "or which is smelled; "scent; fragrancy, odor." The word "houses" here may denote also "boxes" - as boxes of perfumes. The phrase here means, undoubtedly, "smelling boxes" or "bottles," containing perfumes or fragrant odors. The word "tablets" has no meaning here.

And the ear-rings - It is by no means certain that the original means ear-rings. The word לחשׁים lechāshı̂ym is derived from the verb לחשׁ lâchash signifying "to whisper," and then "to conjure, to charm" (see the note at Isaiah 3:3); and here probably denotes precious stones worn by the females as "amulets" or "charms." The word is often used to denote charming "serpents" - from their "hissing" and it has been supposed probable that these amulets were small images of serpents. There is no doubt that such ornaments were worn by Oriental females. 'These ornaments seem to have been amulets, often gems and precious stones, or plates of gold and silver, on which certain magic formulas were inscribed, which were worn suspended from the neck or ears by Oriental females.' - "Gesenius." The following extract will furnish an explanation of these ornaments: 'Besides ornamental rings in the nose and the ears, they (Oriental females) wore others round the legs, which made a tinkling as they went.

This custom has also descended to the present times, for Rauwolf met with a number of Arabian women on the Euphrates, whose ankles and wrists were adorned with rings, sometimes a good many together, which, moving up and down as they walked, made a great noise. Chardin attests the existence of the same custom in Persia, in Arabia, and in very hot countries, where they commonly go without stockings, but ascribes the tinkling sound to little bells fastened to those rings. In the East Indies, golden bells adorned the feet and ankles of the ladies from the earliest times; they placed them in the flowing tresses of their hair; they suspended them round their necks, and to the golden rings which they wore on their fingers, to announce their superior rank, and extort the homage which they had a right to expect from the lower orders; and from the banks of the Indus, it is probable the custom was introduced into the other countries of Asia. The Arabian females in Palestine and Syria delight in the same ornaments, and, according to the statements of Dr. Clarke, seem to claim the honor of leading the fashion.' - 'Their bodies are covered with a long blue tunic; upon their heads they wear two handkerchiefs, one as a hood, and the other bound over it, as a fillet across the temples.

Just above the right nostril, they place a small button, sometimes studded with pearl, a piece of glass, or any other glittering substance; this is fastened by a plug, thrust through the cartilage of the nose. Sometimes they have the cartilaginous separation between the nostrils bored for a ring, as large as those ordinarily used in Europe for hanging curtains; and this pendant in the upperlip covers the mouth; so that, in order to eat, it is necessary to raise it. Their faces, hands, and arms are tatooed, and covered with hideous scars; their eyelashes and eyes being always painted, or rather dirtied, with some dingy black or blue powder. Their lips are dyed of a deep and dusky blue, as if they had been eating blackberries. Their teeth are jet black; their nails and fingers brick red; their wrists, as well as their ankles, are laden with large metal cinctures, studded with sharp pyramidical knobs and bits of glass. Very ponderous rings are also placed in their ears.' - "Paxton."

20. bonnets—turbans.

ornaments of the legs—the short stepping-chains from one foot to another, to give a measured gait; attached to the "tinkling ornaments" (Isa 3:16).

headbands—literally, "girdles."

tablets—rather, "houses of the breath," that is, smelling boxes [Vulgate].

earrings—rather, amulets suspended from the neck or ears, with magic formulæ inscribed; the root means to "whisper" or "conjure."

The bonnets: these were ornaments to cover the head, common both to men, as Exodus 39:28, and to women, as here.

The tablets, Heb. the houses of the soul, or of life, or of breath; whereby he seems to mean boxes of excellent perfumes, which are of great efficacy to revive our drooping spirits, and to that end are oft applied to such as are ready to faint away.

The bonnets,.... This word is used sometimes for the tire of the heads of men, Ezekiel 24:17 and even for the bonnets of the priests, Exodus 39:28. The Targum renders the word "crowns"; the Jewish women wore golden crowns on their heads, in the form of the city of Jerusalem, with which they might not go out on a sabbath day (b):

and the ornaments of the legs; and so the Targum,

"the chains or bracelets of the feet;''

with which Jarchi and Kimchi agree; but the word is used for a bracelet on the arm in 2 Samuel 1:10 and Aben Ezra so interprets it here:

and the headbands: the, word is rendered "attire" in Jeremiah 2:32 according to Jarchi, they were short binders with which the hair was bound up, and some of them were wrought with gold; but with Aben Ezra they were binders about the neck or throat:

and the tablets; in the Hebrew text, "the houses of the soul" (c); and were, as Aben Ezra, Jarchi, and Kimchi think, ornaments which women hung between their breasts on the heart, or over against it; they seem rather to be smelling bottles, as the Vulgate Latin version renders the words, which they carried in their bosoms to refresh the spirits, and fetch back the soul or breath when fainting and almost gone; the Targum renders it "earrings", by which we render the following:

and the earrings; so Jarchi and Kimchi, who suggest they are so called because the ear is the place where whispering and muttering is used, which this word has the signification of; but, according to Aben Ezra, they were writings written in gold, and silver, by way of enchantment or charm; and the Arabic version renders the word, "boxes of amulets" or "charms"; the word signifies enchantments, see Psalm 58:5.

(b) Maimon. & Bartenora in ib. (c) "domos animae", i.e. "olfactoriola", Cocceius; so V. L.

The bonnets, and the ornaments of the legs, and the headbands, and the tablets, and the earrings,
20. The tiaras (Exodus 39:28; Ezekiel 24:17; Isaiah 61:3; Isaiah 61:10 [R.V.]) and the foot-chains (see on Isaiah 3:16; others, “bracelets,” as in 2 Samuel 1:10, a slightly different word), and the girdles and the scent-bottles, and the amulets.

Verse 20. - The bonnets; rather, the headgear. It is quite uncertain what this was, since we have no representations of Hebrew women. Egyptian women commonly wore a mere fillet with pendant ends. The Hebrew word here employed is used in Exodus of the head-dress of the priests (Exodus 39:28). The ornaments of the legs. These are explained as chains connecting the two anklets together. The head-bands, and the tablets, and the ear-rings; rather, the girdles, and the scent-bottles, and the amulets. Scent-bottles and jars for holding sweet-smelling unguents are among the most frequent toilette articles recovered from Egyptian tombs and Assyrian palaces. Amulets have been worn in the East from very ancient times, and are still trusted in as much as ever. They frequently take the form of ornaments. Isaiah 3:20The 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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