Isaiah 3:24
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.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(24) And it shall come to pass.—Now comes the terrible contrast of the day of destruction that is coming on all this refined luxury. Instead of the balmy perfume of the scent-bottles, there shall be the stench of squalor and pestilence; instead of the embroidered girdle (Isaiah 11:5), not a “rent,” but the rope by which they would be dragged in the march of their conquerors; instead of the plaited hair (1Peter 3:3; 1Timothy 2:9), natural or artificial, the baldness of those who were cropped as slaves were cropped (comp. 1Corinthians 11:5-6); instead of the “stomacher” (better, cloak, or mantle), the scanty tunic of the coarsest sackcloth; instead of the elaborate beauty in which they had exulted, the burning, or brand, stamped on their flesh, often in the barbarism of the East on the forehead, to mark them as the slaves of their captors.

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.And it shall come to pass - The prophet proceeds to denounce the "judgment" or "punishment" that would come upon them for their pride and vanity. In the calamities that would befall the nation, all their ornaments of pride and vainglory would be stripped off; and instead of them, they would exhibit the marks, and wear the badges of calamity and grief.

Instead of sweet smell - Hebrew בשׂם bôs'em, aromatics, perfumes, spicy fragrance; such as they used on their garments and persons. 'No one ever enters a company without being well perfumed; and in addition to various scents and oils, they are adorned with numerous garlands, made of the most odoriferous flowers.' - "Roberts." 'The persons of the Assyrian ladies are elegantly clothed and scented with the richest oils and perfumes. When a queen was to be chosen to the king of Persia, instead of Vashti, the virgins collected at Susana, the capital, underwent a purification of twelve months' duration, to wit: "six months with oil of myrrh, and six months with sweet odors." The general use of such precious oil and fragrant perfumes among the ancient Roamns, particularly among the ladies of rank and fashion, may be inferred from these words of Virgil:

Arabrosiaeque comae divinum vertice odorem Spiravere:

AEn. i.403.

"From her head the ambrosial locks breathed divine fragrance."

Paxton.

A stink - This word properly means the fetor or offensive smell which attends the decomposition of a deceased body. It means that the bodies which they so carefully adorned, and which they so assiduously endeavored to preserve in beauty by unguents and perfumes, would die and turn to corruption.

And instead of a girdle - Girdles were an indispensable part of an Oriental dress. Their garments were loose and flowing, and it became necessary to gird them up when they ran, or danced, or labored.

A rent - There has been a great variety of opinion about the meaning of this word. The most probable signification is that which is derived from a verb meaning "to go around, encompass;" and hence, that it denotes "a cord." Instead of the beautiful girdle with which they girded themselves, there shall be "a cord" - an emblem of poverty, as the poor had nothing else with which to gird up their clothes; a humiliating description of the calamities which were to come upon proud and vain females of the court.

And instead of well-set hair - Hair that was curiously braided and adorned. 'No ladies pay more attention to the dressing of the hair than these (the dancing girls of India), for as they never wear caps, they take great delight in this their natural ornament.' - "Roberts." Miss Pardoe, in 'The City of the Sultan,' says, that after taking a bath, the slaves who attended her spent an hour and a half in dressing and adorning her hair; compare 1 Peter 3:3.

Instead of a stomacher - It is not certainly known what is meant by this, but it probably means some sort of "girdle," or a platted or stiffened ornament worn on the breast. 'I once saw a dress beautifully plaited and stiffened for the front, but I do not think it common.' - "Roberts."

A girding of sackcloth - This is a coarse cloth that was commonly worn in times of affliction, as emblematic of grief; 2 Samuel 3:31; 1 Kings 20:31; 1 Kings 21:27; Job 16:15; Isaiah 32:11.

And burning - The word used here does not occur elsewhere. It seems to denote "a brand, a mark burnt in, a stigma;" perhaps a sun-burned countenance, indicating exposure in the long and wearisome journey of a captivity over burning sands and beneath a scorching sun.

continued...

24. stink—arising from ulcers (Zec 14:12).

girdle—to gird up the loose Eastern garments, when the person walked.

rent—the Septuagint, better, a "rope," an emblem of poverty; the poor have nothing else to gird up their clothes with.

well-set hair—(1Pe 3:3, 4).

baldness—(Isa 3:17).

stomacher—a broad plaited girdle.

sackcloth—(2Sa 3:31).

burning—a sunburnt countenance, owing to their hoods and veils being stripped off, while they had to work as captives under a scorching sun (So 1:6).

Instead of sweet smell, those perfumes mentioned Isaiah 3:20,

there shall be stink, from their scabs, mentioned Isaiah 3:17, or from other ill usages of their enemies.

Instead of a girdle, which were fine and costly, and useful to gird their garments about them,

a rent; either the rending of their garments for grief; or torn and tattered garments, not sufficient to cover their bodies.

Burning, by the heat of the sun, to which they are now commonly exposed, from which they used formerly to guard themselves with great care.

And it shall come to pass, that instead of sweet smell there shall be a stink,.... Instead of "spice", or in the place where they put spices, carried musk, or had their smelling bottles, of precious and aromatic ointment, balsam, and myrrh, and such like things (g), namely, in their bosoms, there should be a "stink" or putrefaction, arising from ulcers and diseases of the body, Zechariah 14:12 the Septuagint, Syriac, and Arabic versions, render it "dust"; or this may refer to the anointing of their hair with ointment of myrrh and other things, which gave an agreeable scent; but instead of this there would be a scab, giving an ill scent, Isaiah 3:17.

and instead of a girdle a rent; such as is made in times of mourning and distress, or by the enemy. The Septuagint and Arabic versions render it, a "rope"; instead of fine curious girdles, wrought with gold and silver, they should have nothing but a rope about their loins. The Targum is,

"in the place where they bind the girdles, shall be marks of smiting;''

stripes, cuts, see Isaiah 10:34 as either by blows from the enemy, by whom they should be taken, or by the hand of God, being smitten with sores and ulcers, so that they should not be able to bear girdles upon them; or "holes", in their clothes or skin:

and instead of well set hair baldness; instead of plaited hair, and curled locks, kept in order, there would be scabs, ulcers, leprosy, or such diseases as would cause the hair to fall off, and leave a baldness. The Septuagint and Arabic versions render it, "instead of the golden ornament of the head, thou shall have baldness for thy works"; and the Syriac version, "instead of gems, incisions":

and instead of a stomacher a girding of sackcloth; the word for a "stomacher" is only used in this place; according to Kimchi, it signifies a very broad girdle; but Aben Ezra says it was a thin garment embroidered, which was put over all the rest of the clothes; perhaps something like a "mantelet". The Septuagint version renders it, "instead of the garment worked with purple"; and so the Syriac version, "instead of their hyacinths, or purples"; and the Arabic version, "instead of thy silken garment thou shall be girt with sackcloth"; which was usually done in times of distress and mourning:

and burning instead of beauty; either through the scorching beams of the sun, being stripped of their hoods and veils; or rather this is to be understood of carbuncles, and such like hot burning ulcers in their faces, which once were beautiful, and they prided themselves in; though the Hebrew word seems rather to be a preposition than a noun; so Jarchi, whose note is,

"for this is fit to be unto them instead of beauty, with which they have prided themselves,''

or have lifted up themselves; and so in his gloss upon the Talmud (h), where this clause, with the context, is cited and paraphrased,

"for all these things shall come unto thee instead of thy beauty;''

and this clause may be read in connection with the following, "because of beauty", or "instead of beauty, thy men shall fall", &c. and so the Targum,

"this vengeance shall be taken on them, because they have committed fornication in their beauty; thy beautiful men shall be killed by the sword.''

The Syriac version is, "because their beauty shall be corrupted", and those versions which seem to have left out this clause, yet retain something of it in the beginning of the next verse Isaiah 3:25. The Vulgate Latin version is, "thy most beautiful men also shall fall by the sword". The Septuagint and Arabic versions begin it thus, "and thy beautiful son, whom thou lovest, shall fall by the sword".

(g) Misn. Sabbat, c. 6. sect. 3.((h) T. Bab. Sabbat, fol. 62. 2.

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.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
24. A description of the degradation of the high-born women of Jerusalem, reduced to beggary and slavery. The verse would appear to connect better with Isaiah 3:17 than with 18–23.

instead of … stink] R.V. instead of sweet spices (lit. “balsam”) there shall be rottenness. a rent] Render with R.V. a rope.

well set hair] artificial curls (Cheyne), lit. “turner’s work.”

baldness] the result of disease, Isaiah 3:17, or, possibly, a sign of mourning.

a stomacher] an obscure word; perhaps mantle.

branding instead of beauty; branding the symbol of slavery.

Verse 24. - Instead of sweet smell; literally, spice (comp. Exodus 35:28; 1 Kings 10:10, etc.). Stink; rather, rottenness, as translated in Isaiah 5:24 (compare the cognate verb in Leviticus 26:39). Instead of a girdle a rent. So Lowth and Kay; but most moderns prefer the meaning given by the Septuagint and Vulgate, "instead of a girdle, a rope." The word used occurs only in this place. Instead of well-set hair baldness (compare above, ver. 17). By "well-set hair" seems to be meant "hair arranged with such exactness and order as to look like a work of art." The exact arrangement of the hair is very remarkable, both in the Egyptian and the Assyrian sculptures. Instead of such elaborate attempts to improve their looks, the daughters of Jerusalem would soon pluck their hair out by the roots, or shave it off, in mourning. A girding of sackcloth (comp. Genesis 37:34; 2 Samuel 3:31, etc.; and for the adoption of the custom by women, see 2 Samuel 21:10; Joel 1:8). Burning instead of beauty. This meaning is now generally acknowledged, the sense of "burning" being borne out by the cognate verb used in Proverbs 6:28; Isaiah 43:2, and the cognate noun used in Exodus 21:25. The" burning" intended is probably branding by a barbarous enemy (see Herod., 7:233; 'Hist. Tamerlau.,' p. 320). Isaiah 3:24When Jehovah took away all this glory, with which the women of Jerusalem were adorned, they would be turned into wretched-looking prisoners, disfigured by ill-treatment and dirt. - "And instead of balmy scent there will be mouldiness, and instead of the sash a rope, and instead of artistic ringlets a baldness, and instead of the dress-cloak a frock of sackcloth, branding instead of beauty." Mouldiness, or mother (mak, as in Isaiah 5:24, the dust of things that have moulded away), with which they would be covered, and which they would be obliged to breathe, would take the place of the bosem, i.e., the scent of the balsam shrub (bâsâm), and of sweet-scented pomade in general; and nipâh that of the beautifully embroidered girdle (Proverbs 31:24). The meaning of this word is neither "a wound," as the Targums and Talmud render it, nor "rags," as given by Knobel, ed. 1((from nâkaph, percutere, perforare), but the rope thrown over them as prisoners (from kâphâh equals kâvâh, Contorquere: lxx, Vulg., Syr.).

(Note: Credner (Joel, p. 147) renders the word "tatters," from nâkaph, to rub in pieces; but the word has no such meaning, whereas the meaning vulnus, lit., percussio, is admissible (see at Job 19:26), but does not suit the antithesis. Luzzatto connects it with n'kaph, to bind (from which the makkeph derives its name), and understands it as referring to the dressing applied to wounds, to lint into which the girdle was torn. The most plausible derivation is from kâphâh, which is really employed in post-biblical usage to signify not only to congeal and wrinkle, but also to thicken (Sabbath 21a, l'hakpoth: "Make the wick thicker, that it may burn the brighter"). It is probably radically akin to the Arabic nukbe (explained in Lamachzari as equivalent to the Persian mijân-bend, a girdle), which is apparently used to denote the coarse girdle worn by peasants or by Arab women of the wandering tribes, resembling a rope of goat's hair, as distinguished from the artistic and costly girdle worn by women of the upper classes in the towns.)

Baldness takes the place of artistic ringlets (מקשׁה מעשׂה, not מעשׂה, so that it is in apposition: cf., Isaiah 30:20; Ges. 113; Ewald, 287, b). The reference is not to golden ornaments for the head, as the Sept. rendering gives it, although miksheh is used elsewhere to signify embossed or carved work in metal or wood; but here we are evidently to understand by the "artificial twists" either curls made with the curling-tongs, or the hair plaited and twisted up in knots, which they would be obliged to cut off in accordance with the mourning customs (Isaiah 15:2; Isaiah 22:12), or which would fall off in consequence of grief. A frock of sackcloth (machagoreth sak), i.e., a smock of coarse haircloth worn next to the skin, such as Layard found depicted upon a bas-relief at Kouyunjik, would take the place of the pethigil, i.e., the dress-cloak (either from pâthag, to be wide or full, with the substantive termination ı̄l, or else composed of pethi, breadth, and gil, festive rejoicing); and branding the place of beauty. Branding (Ci equals Cevi, from Câvâh, καἰειν), the mark burnt upon the forehead by their conquerors: Ci is a substantive,

(Note: It is so understood in b. Sabbath 62b, with an allusion to the proverb, "The end of beauty is burning" (viz., inflammation). In Arabia, the application of the Cey with a red-hot iron (mikwâh) plays a very important part in the medical treatment of both man and beast. You meet with many men who have been burned not only on their legs and arms, but in their faces as well, and, as a rule, the finest horses are disfigured by the Cey. - Wetzstein.)

not a particle, as the Targum and others render it, and as the makkeph might make it appear. There is something very effective in the inverted order of the words in the last clause of the five. In this five-fold reverse would shame and mourning take the place of proud, voluptuous rejoicing.

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