Isaiah 3:23
The glasses, and the fine linen, and the hoods, and the vails.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(23) The glassesi.e., the polished metal mirrors (as in Exodus 38:3; Job 37:18; 1Corinthians 13:12; James 1:23), which the Eastern lady carried in her hand, that she might adjust her toilet. The LXX. rendering, “Laconian [Spartan] garments,” i.e., indecently transparent, is curious enough to deserve notice, as throwing light on the social life of Alexandria, if not of Israel.

The fine lineni.e., the chemise worn under the tunic next the skin. The Heb. sedîn, like the Greek σίνδων (Mark 14:51), seems to imply a commerce with India; so our muslin (mosul) and calico (calicut) bear record of their origin. In Sanscrit, sindhu is the term for fine linen.

The hoodsi.e., the turbans which completed the attire, and over which was thrown the “vail,” or gauze mantle. Jewish women, however, did not veil their faces after the manner of those of Turkey and Arabia. The prophet seems to have carried his eye upward from the feet to the head, as he catalogued with indignant scorn the long list of superfluities. We may compare the warnings of 1Timothy 2:9; 1Peter 3:3. It is noticeable that stockings and handkerchiefs do not seem to have been used by the women of Judah.

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 glasses - There is a great variety of opinion about the expression used here. That ancient Jews had "looking-glasses," or mirrors, is manifest from the account in Exodus 38:8. These "mirrors" were made of polished plates of brass. The Vulgate and Chaldee understand this of "mirrors." The Septuagint understands by it a "thin, transparent covering like gauze," perhaps like silk. The word is derived from the verb "to reveal, to make apparent," etc., and applies either to mirrors or to a splendid shining garment. It is probable that their excessive vanity was evinced by carrying small mirrors in their hands - that they might examine and adjust their dress as might be necessary. This is now done by females of Eastern nations. Shaw informs us that, 'In the Levant, looking-glasses are a part of female dress. The Moorish women in Barabary are so fond of their ornaments, and particularly of their looking-glasses, which they hang upon their breasts, that they will not lay them aside, even when, after the drudgery of the day, they are obliged to go two or three miles with a pitcher or a goat-skin to fetch water.' - "Burder." In Egypt, the mirror was made of mixed metal, chiefly of copper, and this metal was so highly polished, that in some of the mirrors discovered at Thebes, the luster has been partially restored, though they have been buried in the earth for many centuries. The mirror was nearly round, inserted in a handle of wood, stone, or metal, whose form varied according to the taste of the owner. The picture in the book will give you an idea of the ancient form of the mirror, and will show that they might be easily carried abroad as an ornament in public; compare Wilkinson's "Manners and Customs of the Ancient Egyptians," vol. iii., pp. 384-386.

And the fine linen - Anciently, the most delicate and fine garments were made from linen which was obtained chiefly from Egypt; see the note at Luke 16:19.

And the hoods - Or, "turbans."

And the veils - This does not differ probably from the veils worn now, except that those worn by Eastern females are "large," and made so as to cover the head and the shoulders, so that they may be drawn closely round the body, and effectually conceal the person; compare Genesis 24:65.

23. glasses—mirrors of polished metal (Ex 38:8). But the Septuagint, a transparent, gauze-like, garment.

hoods—miters, or diadems (Isa 62:3; Zec 3:5).

veils—large enough to cover the head and person. Distinct from the smaller veils ("mufflers") above (Ge 24:65). Token of woman's subjection (1Co 11:10).

The glasses; the looking-glasses, as we call them, though in truth they were not made of glass, but of bright and burnished brass.

The glasses,.... Looking glasses, by which they dressed themselves, see Exodus 38:8 and so Kimchi explains the word; but elsewhere (e) he says it signifies thin garments, so called because the flesh is seen through them, being so exceeding thin; which sense is favoured by the Septuagint version, which renders it by garments which the Lacedemonians wore, which were so thin and transparent, that the naked body might be seen through them:

and the fine linen; of which several of their garments and ornaments were made, and particularly their veils, with which they veiled themselves, as Jarchi observes:

and the hoods; the word is used for a diadem and mitre, Isaiah 62:3 the Targum renders it "crowns"; and such the Jewish women wore; see Gill on Isaiah 3:20 and particularly newly married women (f):

and the veils; so the word is rendered in Sol 5:7 with which women covered their heads, either through modesty, or as a token of subjection to their husbands, see Genesis 24:65 but, according to the Targum and Kimchi, these were thin garments which women wore in summertime; Jarchi says they are the same which the French call "fermelan", and are of gold, which they put about the cloak the woman is covered with; perhaps they were a sort of umbrellas, to keep off the heat of the sun.

(e) Ib. (In Sepher Shorash.) rad. (f) Misn. Sota, c. 9. sect. 14.

The mirrors, and the fine linen, and the turbans, and the {s} veils.

(s) In rehearsing all these things particularly he shows the lightness and vanity of such as cannot be content with comely apparel according to their degree.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
23. The mirrors (made of polished metal, see ch. Isaiah 8:1) and the shifts (Jdg 14:12 f.) and the turbans and the overalls (a kind of veil, Song of Solomon 5:7).

Verse 23. - The glasses; rather, the mirrors. In ancient times these were not made of glass, but of some metal which took a high polish. Most commonly, the material seems to have been bronze. Many such mirrors have been found in Egypt, a few in Assyria, in Etruria a considerable number. They are of small size, intended to be carried in the hand, and have for that purpose a metal or a wooden handle, which is sometimes highly artistic. The fine linen; rather, the muslin robes. Sedin, the Hebrew word used, is probably a corruption or analogue of sin-don, the Greek name for Indian fabrics. It is only used here and in Judges 14:12, 13; Proverbs 31:24. The hoods, and the vails; or, the turbans and the scarfs. The word translated" hood" is nearly the same as that which designates the head-dress of the high priest in Exodus (Exodus 28:4, 37, 39; Exodus 29:6, etc.) and Leviticus (Leviticus 8:9; Leviticus 16:4), which seems to have been a "turban" (see note on Exodus 28:4). The other word, here translated "vail," occurs only in this place and Song of Solomon 5:7. Its exact meaning is uncertain; but it can scarcely be a veil; since "veils" have been already mentioned (ver. 19). Isaiah 3:23The 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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