Isaiah 3
Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
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,
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:
B.—The judgment upon the godless women

CHAP. 3:16–4:1

16          Moreover the LORD saith,

Because the daughters of Zion are haughty,

And walk with stretched forth necks

And 1wanton eyes,

Walking and 2mincing as they go,

And making a tinkling with their feet:

17     Therefore the LORD will smite with a scab

The crown of the head of the daughters of Zion,

And the LORD will 3discover their secret parts.

18     In that day the LORD will take away

The bravery of their tinkling ornaments about their feet,

And their 4cauls, and their round tires like the moon,

19     The 5chains, and the bracelets, and the 6mufflers,

20     The bonnets, and the ornaments of the legs, and the headbands,

And the 7tablets, and the earrings,

21     The rings, and nose jewels,

22     The changeable suits of apparel, and the mantles,

And the wimples, and the crisping pins,

23     The glasses, and the fine linen,

And the hoods, and the veils.

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.

25     Thy men shall fall by the sword,

And thy 8mighty in the war.

26     And her gates shall lament and mourn;

And she being9 10desolate shall sit upon the ground.

Isaiah 4:1 And in that day seven women shall take hold of one man, saying,

We will eat our own bread,

And wear our own apparel:

Only 11let us be called by thy name,

12To take away our reproach.

[For the different renderings of the commentator see the comment itself. On the importance of them see J. A. A’s note on Isa 3:18 below.—TR.]


1. This section, too, has for its subject an event that cannot possibly coincide with the last judgment to which 2, refers. For that great day, the last of all, will not have to do with a mere sinking down from the heights of luxury and pride to the plane of poverty; it will not treat of the exchange of a girdle for a rope, of a mantle for a sack, nor of a defeat in war, nor of mournful sitting on the ruins of the city; there will be nothing said of wives wanting nothing beside the prop of a man. For in that day all will be over; the old world generally shall be out and out destroyed in order to make room for a new. Thus this section, too, makes the impression of being some declaration, meant originally to serve some special object, but inserted here in order to complete the grand picture of the future in this particular aspect. The Prophet had occasion once, and this may likely have been in the days of Uzziah or Jotham, to declare himself against the irruption of pomp of dress and luxury. This declaration, or at least a part of it, he pieces in here to his comprehensive prophecy of judgment. And he may do this. For whenever this denunciation against the arrogance of woman may have been fulfilled, such fulfilment always constitutes a part of the great whole of judgment which is to be completed with the judgment of the last day. The Prophet assumes in the prophecy that stands at the head (2:2–4), that Israel itself, too, must be subjected to a judgment. For only by a great process of refining can the mountain of Jehovah rise to the height which, according to 2:2, it must attain, and only when Zion itself is full of the Spirit of God can it become the embodied ideal for all nations. How this refining is to take place in every respect and at different times is described in what follows up to 4:1. In this description the Prophet makes use also of older utterances, which were perhaps too short to appear independently, and that might more suitably be joined in just here than elsewhere. Thus there was a section of this sort that referred to the men, 3:1 sqq.; so now, too, we have one that has the women for a theme. The connecting formula, “and Jehovah said,” favors the view that this is a joined on piece. It would be quite superfluous if the discourse proceeded from one mould. Comp. on this the comment on Isa 3:16. The order of thought is as follows: The luxurious pride of the women, too, shall be humbled (Isa 3:16, 17). In the day that this shall happen all their splendid garments shall be taken from them (Isa 3:18–23) and replaced by wretched ones to correspond (Isa 3:24). Their husbands, too, they shall lose in a brief space (Isa 3:25), lamenting and desolated, they shall sit in the gates (Isa 3:26); yea, their want shall be so great that seven women shall attach themselves to one man, without demanding support from him, only thereby to escape the misfortune of being unmarried (4:1).

[On Isa 3:16 sqq. “The Prophet here resumes the thread which had been dropped or broken at the close of Isa 3:12, and recurs to the undue predominance of female influence, but particularly to the prevalent excess of female luxury, not only as sinful in itself but as a chief cause of the violence and social disorder previously mentioned, and therefore to be punished by disease, widowhood, and shameful exposure. These two verses (16, 17), like the sixth and seventh, form one continued sentence. And Jehovah said (in addition to what goes before, as if beginning a new section of the prophecy), because the daughters of Zion (the women of Jerusalem, with special reference to those connected with the leading men,” etc.)—J. A. A.

On Isa 3:18. “As in other cases where a variety of detached particulars are enumerated simply by their names it is now very difficult to identify some of them. This is the less to be regretted, as the main design of the enumeration was to show the prevalent extravagance in dress, an effect not wholly dependent on an exact interpretation of the several items. The interest of the passage in its details is not exegetical but arch-æological.”—J. A. A.

On Isa 3:26. “The gates of Ziou are said to mourn, by a rhetorical substitution of the place of action for the agent, or because a place filled with cries seems itself to utter them. She is described, not as lying, but as sitting on the ground. So on one of Vespasian’s coins, a woman is represented in a sitting posture, leaning against a palm-tree, with the legend Judœa Capta.”—J. A. A.]

2. Moreover the Lord—secret parts.

Isa 3:16, 17. The formula “and the LORD saith” occurs in Isaiah on the whole, relatively not often. It occurs in all thirty-two times; of these, sixteen times in the historical chapters 36–39, where it indicates the actual exchange of words in conversation. Beside that, it is only employed where the Lord appears actually speaking, and speaks of Himself in the first person (comp. 23:12; 29:13; 49:3, 6; 63:8). But in our passage Jehovah is immediately spoken of again in the third person. “The Lord will smite, the LORD will uncover” Isa 3:17. Moreover, in what follows, the Lord Is not introduced again as speaker. It is thus seen that by this formula what follows is only marked as God’s word so far as its contents are concerned, and not formally so. But as this is self-evident, it is further plain, that the formula is meant to serve as a transition, a link, a means of uniting. We recognize, therefore, in it a sign that here is a piece of an address, already on hand, that has been skilfully strung on here. As in 2:11 it was said that all lofty looks shall be humbled and all haughtiness of men be bowed down, so the Prophet here with entire justice declares that also feminine arrogance must expect its share in this judgment. Are proud, etc., stands, therefore, in direct relation with the entire section 2:6–17. What is said there in general of riches (Isa 3:7), of arrogance and haughtiness (Isa 3:11, 12, 17) of works of splendour (Isa 3:16), has its special application to the proud display of the women. But our passage stands in still closer connection with מַשְׁעֵנָה supportress 3:1. We showed there that this expression points to the second half of this chapter where the women are spoken of. That these, too, are called “supports,” staffs, refers evidently to the fact that women, even in the commonwealth of Israel, played a considerable part. Let it be remembered that the Book of Kings expressly names the mother of each king. Individual women are designated as enjoying political influence in a high degree; Deborah (Judg. 4); Bathsheba (1 Kings 1); Jezebel (1 Kings 16:31 sqq.); Athaliah (2 Kings 11). We are expressly informed that Solomon’s wives had a bad influence over him (1 Kings 11:3 sqq.). As long as a regular king ruled there must be a woman’s court household. If there were none such. then there would be surely no king. How closely kingdom and harem hung together, may be seen from the fact that the possession of the harem obtained as a sign that the royal dignity had been received. Therefore Absalom lay publicly with the coucubines of his father (2 Sam. 16:21). David, too, inherited the wives of Saul, and this is related in a connection (2 Sam. 12:8) that leads us to conclude that the fact must have been important to the recognition of David’s succession to the throne being a rightful one. Adonijah, after David’s death, begs for the hand of Abishag the Shunamite, and we see from Solomon’s reply that he regarded this request as an attempt to use the possession of the concubine as a step to the throne (1 Kings 2:22). Comp. MICHAELIS,Mos. Recht, I. p. 207. SAALSCHUETS,Das Mos. Recht, p. 85. According to this the harem was, in some measure, a political institution, an attribute of royalty as such, and in so far in a special sense a support of the life of the state. Yet if Isaiah here has especially in mind the royal ladies, that does not exclude the other noble and proud women from a share in his reproachs.

In וַתֵּלַכְנָה the imperfect with vav. consec. is not necessarily to be construed as aorist. The word מְשַׂקְּרוֹת is ἄπαξ λεγ. The root שָׂקַר even does not again occur in all the Old Testament. The Aramaic סְקַר‏ may be most suitable to compare here, which means “intueri, conspicari.” The Piel then may have the meaning “blinking, winking:”עֵינַיִם stands in the accusat., like גָּרוֹן. There is indeed a סָקַרִ that means to color, to paint, whence also, the CHALD., ABARBANEL and others express this idea (LUTHER: with painted faces). But the custom of painting the eye-brows black is so universal a custom or the Orient, that it has been justly objected, Isaiah would hardly have spoken out against it. Moreover the rest of the reproachful expressions relate to bodily gestures. BUXTORFin Lex. Chald., Talm, et Rabb., p. 1542 cites the talmudic dictum: “Non creavit deus mulierum ex capite Adami, ne caput suum nimium ornaret and efferret; negue ex oculo, ne essetסַקְרָנִית, oculis omnia observans.”HITZIG, justly cites Plaut. Aulul. I. 1, 2: “circumspectatrix cum oculis tuis emissiciis,” although this is spoken of an old tramp with thievish propensities. Also טָפַף (from which טַףToppler, Tripler, Child) is ἄπ. λεγ. The tripping short steps are the necessary consequences of the step-chains which were fastened by means of a ring (עֶכֶם, Isa 3:18, again only in Prov. 7:22) surrounding the leg above the ankle joint. The little chains themselves were called צְעָדוֹת Isa 3:20. The verb עִכֵּם, which occurs only here, is denominative. According to the context the meaning can be nothing else than; rattling the rings to make a noise, to clink. Comp. HERZOG’SR. Encycl. VII. p. 731. As chastisement for such arrogance the daughters of Zion shall be punished with disgraceful disorders. Their proud head shall become scurfy, covered with scabs, thus loathsomely unclean (Lev. 13:2, 6–8; 14:56). שִׂפַּח, (which, written with שׂ, occurs here only), is according to some a denominative from מִסְפַּחַת ,סַפַּחַת, scab. scurf (vid. Lev. 13:14) Still it is possible שִׂפַח means, to make flow, suppurate, and thus deprive of the hair, and that, so derived, ספחת means the fluid scab or scurf. Comp., at 37:30. Their shame, to whose impure pleasure those luxurious gestures were meant to minister, shall be disgracefully exposed (47:3; Jer. 13:22, 26; Ezek. 16:37, etc.). The singular פֹּת (from פּוּת ,פָּתָה פָתַח, pat-ere) occurs only here; the plural 1 Kings 7:50 of the cardo femina from an obvious resemblance.—עָרָה (from which עֶרְוָה and עָרוֹתloca nuda (19:7) which does not occur in the Kal, means nudum esse, hence Piel to make bare, (in Isaiah again only 22:6); Hiphil, (because what has been hitherto concealed, when it is laid bare, is at the same time poured out) effundere, (53:12), Niphal, effundi (32:15).

Without excluding the literal rendering of Isa 3:17, we may still construe the language first in an inexact sense and generalize it. In the day of judgment loathsome uncleanness shall take the place of the splendor of Zion’s daughters; disgrace and shame the place of their prond display. The Prophet has in this expressed something in general which he proceeds to specify in what follows. Feminine interest revolves chiefly around two poles: the decking out of the body and the surrender of the body to the husband; therefore about dress and husbands. Therefore the disgrace of the daughters of Zion in what follows is portrayed in these two respects. And first it is shown of what they shall be deprived in the way of dress (Isa 3:18–23), and what shall be given them instead (Isa 3:24).

3. In that day—instead of beauty.

Isa 3:18-24 “In that day,” refers back immediately to Isa 3:17. But we showed above that not the day of the last judgment is meant here, but only a prelude to it, which, of course, however, combines with the last judgment to make a unity of divine world-judgment. In that day, then, the Lord will take away the adornment (תפארת). All that follows is summed up-under this word. The word is found often in both parts of Isa. 4:2; 10:12; 13:19; 44:13; 52:1; 62:3; 63:14, etc.). Concerning the עכסים comp., at Isa 3:16. Concerning the שׁביסים there are two views held. From SCHROEDER down a number of expositors (ROSENMUELLER, WINER, EWALD, KNOBEL, DRECHSLER) have taken the word for a kindred form of the Arabic schumeisa (diminutive of schems, the sun), the letters m and b being interchanged, as is common between these two kindred letters: SCHROEDER proves, besides, from THEOPH,hist. pl. IX. 4 and PLIN. H. N. XII. 14, Σαβις to have been a name of the sun among the Arabians. The meaning then would be little suns i.e., a metallic ornament shaped like a sun. That would suit very well to the following שׁהרן, crescents, as generally to the words that precede and follow, all of which designate metal ornaments. In as much as in the following list occur several expressions borrowed from the Arabic (comp. DRECHSLER on 2:6), and this word in Hebrew is ἄπ λεγ., and even the root שָׁבַם does not again occur, so that word and thing both appear to be of foreign origin, I prefer this view. The other view takes שָׁבָם in the sense of שָׁבָץ and (Aram,) שְׁבָשׁ“plectere, to braid,” and שָבִים therefore, for opus reticulatum (LXX ἐμπλόκια) network. hair net: (DELITZSCH, “ribbons for the forehead worn underneath the hair net, and braided of gold or silver thread:” BUXTORF, Lex. Chald., p. 2315, “Ornamentum,” etc., a peculiar ribbon ornament, extending in front from one ear to the other”). The שׂהרנים are lunulœ, μηνίσκοι, moonshaped, or rather half-moon shaped decorations. They are mentioned Judg. 8:21, 26 as neck ornaments of camels. That they had a moon shape appears from this, that sahro in the Syriac, schahr in the Arabic mean the moon. Here, too, therefore word and thing are certainly of foreign origin. ־וֹן is a diminutive ending, comp. אִישׁוֹן; EWALD § 167, a.—נְטִפוֹת (Judg. 8:26) from נָטַףto drop (comp. Ex. 30:34, dropping resin, and Job. 36:27) are a drop shaped ornament, as they were likely worn as pendants from the ears (ear drops). שֵׁרוֹת (ἄπ. λεγ,) from שָׁרַרtorquere, to twist, is torques, a collar, chain, not for the neck, however, but an armlet, bracelet, as is to be seen from the dialects. ONKELOS,e.g., translates, Gen. 24:22, 30, 47, the Hebrew word צָמִיד (the proper word for bracelet for the arm) by שֵׁירָא. Comp., too, שַׁרְשְׁרָה and שַׁרשָׁהchainsExod. 28:14, 22.—רְעָלוֹת (ἄπ. λεγּ) from רָעַלto tremble, wave, are veils, and that, as appears, of a costly kind: viz.HERZOG,R. Encycl. VII. p. 728.—פְּאֵרִים are diadems, tiarœ., that are also elsewhere named as part of the head ornament of the priesthood (Exod. 39:28; Ezek. 44:18), or of the dress of a bridegroom (Isaiah 61:10). What part of the head covering or what sort, is not clear.—צְעָדָה from צָעַד, to march, pace, on account of the etymology seems most naturally to mean the step chains (comp. on תּעכסנה, Isa 3:16). But 2 Sam. 5:24 and 1 Chr. 14:15, where the word occurs, it seems to mean “the stepping, walking along;” and Num. 31:50; 2 Sam. 1:10אֶצְעָדָה designates arm bands, arm clasps, as one sees clearly in 2 Sam. 1:10 from the עַל־זְרֹעוֹ. Hence many expositors, both old and new, (among the last, EWALD), translate “arm clasps.” And yet it is only אֶצְעָדָה that has this meaning. The circumstance that צִעָדָה occurs twice in the sense of “walking along” is no obstacle to its meaning step-chainlets. For the abstract word could easily be taken in a concrete sense; the walking in the sense of the instrument of walking.—קִשֻּׁרִים from קָשַׁרto bind) are, according to Jer. 2:32, comp. Isa. 49:18, mentioned as pieces of a bride’s outfit. But whether the girdle is meant or bandages (perhaps the breastband, στηθόδεσμος LXX. in Jer. 2:32) is uncertain.—בָּתֵּי הַנֶּפֶשׁ are smelling bottles. For בית often stands for receptacle, place of storage generally (comp. Exod. 26:29; Job 8:17; Ezek. 41:9, and for the very common use of this word in Aram, and Rabb. language, see BUXTORF, Lex. p. 301 sqq.). נֶפֶשׁ, however is breath, scent (comp. Niphal הִנָּפֵשׁrespirare, to breathe out, Exod. 23:12; 31:17. ‎עֲצַת נֶפִשׁ. fragrant wood, Prov. 27:9; and the original passage Gen. 1:20, 30; Job 41:13). The expression occurs only here—לְחָשִׁים (comp. Isa 3:3; 26:16) are instruments of magic, amulets.—טַבַּעַת from טָבַע, imprimere, is the ring, generally, and especially the signet ring. Comp. Gen. 41:42; Exod. 25:12, 14, and many places beside in Exodus.—נִזְמֵי הָאַף are the nose rings which are in use in the East to the present day. Comp. Prov. 11:22; Ezek. 16:12; WINERR. W. B. the word, nose-ring.

So far the prophet has named articles of embellishment made of metal. In what follows he chiefly enumerates articles of clothing proper.—The מַחֲלָצוֹת, according to Zech. 3:4, are such as are the opposite of filthy garments, therefore stately, splendid clothes. According to the fundamental meaning (חָלַץ, extrahere, exuere) they are clothes that one takes off at home, comp. חֲלִיפוֹת. The expression appears to be one of general meaning, and occurs only here, and in the passage cited from Zech.—מַֽעֲטָפוֹת (properly covers, from עָטַףoperire) are mentioned only here. The word in Arabic signifies the second tunic, broader, longer and provided with sleeves, that corresponds to the Roman stola, the garment peculiar to women.—מִטְפַּחַת from טפחexpandere (48:13) is the great wide over all, shawl (Ruth 3:15, the only place beside that the word occurs). חָרִיט is found beside only 2 Kings 5:23, from which place it is seen that it means a bag or pocket that may serve to carry money.—גִּלְיֹנִים, according to LXX. would be διαΦανῆ Δακωνικά, i.e., Lacedæmonian gauze dresses that expose the body more than cover it. But גִּלָּיוֹן, 8:1, is the smooth, polished tablet. Such served for mirrors, as the ancients knew nothing of glass mirrors. Travellers assure us that such mirrors in the form of small plates set in a ring are worn to this day. Comp. HERZOG,R. Encycl. XIV., p. 666.—סְדִינִים are σινδόνες, i.e., garments of fine India linen. It is debated whether undergarments, such as shirts, are meant, or some sort of light thing to throw over one. The word is found again Judg. 14:12 sq.; Prov. 31:24.—צְנִיפוֹת (from צָנַף, tegere, velare) are the head-band, turban. The word bands, turbans, occurs 62:3; Job 29:14; Zech. 3:5.—רָדִיר (from רָדַדspread, spread under, spread out, 45:1; Ps. 144:2; 1 Kings 6:32) is the wide veil that covered over the rest of the clothes (Arab, rida ridat) Song of Sol. 5:7.—But not only shall all תִּפְאֶרֶתadornment, Isa 3:18, be taken away, they shall also be replaced by worse things. Instead of בּשֶֹׁם, balsam, (product of the balsam bush, vid.Exod. 30:23; Ezek. 27:22; 1 Kings 10:10) מַק shall be given. This latter word is only found again 5:24, where, however, it is written מָק, which has no effect on the meaning. The root מָקַק, diffluere is used of the flowing of matter from a wound; e. g.Ps. 38:6. מַק seems therefore rather to mean matter than the dry decay. In place of חֲגוֹרָה (apron, Gen. 3:7; girdle, Isa. 32:11; 1 K. 2:5) shall be a rope, נִקְפָּה. The word is ἅπ. λεγ. There is conflict regarding the meaning. Some derive it from נָקַףpercutere, to strike (10:34; 17:6) and take it in the sense of vulnus (so the CHALD. and the most of the Jewish expositors). But this meaning does not well suit the context. It is better to derive it from נָקַף=circuire, gyrare, circle, gyrate (see 29:1; Hiphil הִקִּיף). נִקְפָּה would be, then, feminine of נֵקֶף or נֶקֶף=turning around, i. e., that resulting from twisting. DELITZSCH derives it from קָפַה, contorquere, but this does not occur in biblical idiom, which uses only קָפָא, to contract, congeal.

Instead of the artistically curled hair, shall baldness be given. מִקְשֶׁה (ἄπ. λεγ.,) in apposition with מַֽעֲשֶׂה is synonymous with מִקְשָׁהExod. 25:18, 31, 36; Jer. 10:5, opus tornatile, twisted, turned work. Baldness, compare 2 K. 2:23; for women it is doubly disgraceful. And instead of a splendid mantle, shall be given a girding of sackcloth. פְּתִינִיל, ἄπ. λεγ., is of uncertain derivation and meaning. Expositors waver between the derivation from פָּתַגamplum esse, with affix –ִיל (like כַּרְמִיל from כֶּרֶם) and that from פְּתִיdistance, גִּילfestival joy, and between the meanings fascia pectoralis (VULG.) and broad mantle; yet the grammatical and hermeneutical grounds for the latter overbalance. מהגרת, too, is ἄπ. λεγ. Girding with sackcloth, as is known, is often mentioned as sign of the deepest mourning and humiliation: Gen. 37:34, Isa. 15:3; 22:12; Jer. 6:26, &c.

The conclusion of this list of mournful exchanges is made by the phrase: “Branding for beauty.” The words are strange. They appear disjointed and unsymmetrical. For וְ, and, is wanting which connects all the preceding members, and thus this small member of the sentence stands independent, and by its inversion (the thing given stands first) in contrast with all that goes before. It appears to me as if the prophet recalled a passage of the law wherein a number of exchanges or recompenses are defined by means of the preposition “instead of.” Such a passage is Exod. 21:23–25. Among these specifications occurs, “burning for burning.” כּוִיָּה תַחַת כְּוִיָּה. The Prophet, however, was not speaking of jus talionis, therefore the idem per idem or idem pro eodem, “like for like,” did not suit his purpose. He speaks of the recompense that threatened the daughters of Zion. Among the things to be taken from them he had not mentioned beauty, the direct gift of nature, which to women is of the greatest price. He had to this point spoken only of productions of art. Now as beauty is יְפִי (in Isa. again only 33:17), he might easily happen to think of כְּוִיָּה as a suitable rhyme for it. However, כְּוִיָּה itself does not rhyme, but a word of kindred root, properly its simple masculine form, כְּוִי, which appears only to have been used in the contracted form כִּי (comp. רִי ,צִי ,עִי ,אִי). Thus too the inversion explains itself. For as we find the words, they most resemble the passages in Exod.; much more than if they read “instead of beauty burning.” כִּי or כְּוִי is ἄπ. λεγ. Its root is כָּוָה“to burn,” and means, like כְּוִיָּה, and like the Arabic kej, the branded mark, στίγμα. If even it cannot be proved that it was customary to mark captives by branding them, that does not affect the matter. It was also not customary to offer them pus instead of balsam. Such traits of poetic speech must not be pressed. Enough if the thought in itself affords a suitable meaning. I think, therefore, the established meaning “brand mark,” which indicates a strong contrast with “beauty,” is not to be departed from, and we need not with KNOBEL understand “scratchings.”

4. The women—our reproach.

Isa 3:25-4:1 But the misery of the daughters of Zion is not yet exhausted. Worse things yet must happen to them. They shall be robbed, too, of the men. From the singular suffix, it is seen that the Prophet Isa 3:25 now addresses Zion itself, thus not “the daughters of Zion,” Isa 3:16, but “daughter of Zion.” The loss of splendid garments is not to be understood as if only articles of luxury would be taken from the women of Zion. It is seen from Isa 3:25 that the blow is to be universal, falling upon all. Therefore all shall suffer under it: but the rich and noble most of all. The loss of the men however, shall concern all in equal measure. For this reason the Prophet no longer addresses the daughters, but the daughter of Zion. מְתִים does not appear to involve the notion of strength, manhood. For it is wont to stand where inferiority, lowness are predicated of the subject man. מְתֵי מִסְפָּר, people of number, a few, Gen. 34:30, and often. מ׳ מְעַטDeut. 26:5; 28:62. מ׳ שָׁוְאPs. 26:4; מ׳ אָֽוֶזJob 22:15. מ׳ רָעָכIsa. 5:13: and 41:14מְתֵי יִשְׁרָאֵל stands directly parallel with תּוֹלַעַת יַעֲקבworm Jacob. It stands then as the antithesis of גְּבוּרָתֵןְthe troops, and designates not the manhood with emphasis, but only masculine individuals (people). גְּבוּרָה (a word of frequent occurrence in Isa. 11:2; 28:6; 63:15, &c.) only here stands in a concrete meaning=troops. For Jer. 49:35 there is no reason for taking it in any other than the usual abstract sense, strength.

And her gates, etc. Isa 3:26. אָנָה, to sigh, groan, occurs only here and 19:8, where, too, it stands with אבל. The latter word is in general more frequent, and common, too, in Isaiah: 24:4, 7; 33:9; 66:10. Most expositors translate; “and her gates groan and lament.” With that פֶּתַחgate, is personified and used by metonymy for the assemblies in the gate, which is grammatically allowable. But I would make three objections: 1) It is surprising that we do not read, then, שַׁעַר, gate. For פֶּתַח is only the door opening (hence so often פתח השׁער, door of the gate, Josh. 20:4; Judges 9:35, 44: 2 Sam. 10:8; Jer. 1:15; 19:2; Prov. 1:21, etc.), while שַׁעַר stands for gate in its emphatic, and also its comprehensive meaning. 2) Does it not seem strange in this exposition, that the discourse suddenly turns from the women to speak of the totality of the people? For the gates do not represent the women alone, but the entire people; whence DRECHSLER justly calls attention to the fact that this exposition occasions “something fluctuating in the connection of ideas.” 3) פֶּתַח, times without number, stands as acc. localis to the question where? or whither? without a preposition, vid. Lexicon and Concordances. It comes very natural therefore to translate; “and they (the women) groan and sigh at her gates.” There they await, and there they receive the mournful intelligence. The suffix in פתחיה relates naturally to Zion addressed in the verse before.

The following words are obscure. וְנִקָּתָה can be nothing else than Niph. perf. 3 pers. fem., from נָקָהpurum esse. Niphal often occurs in the sense of culpa vacuum, immunem esse, which gives no sense here. Purificari here can only mean “swept out, cleared up, emptied, desolated.” In this sense the word does not again occur; only Zech. 5:3, may in some degree be compared. HOFMANN (Schriftbeweis II. 2, p. 503) translates: “on the bareness, off on the bare ground sits she.” But נקתה is neither participial nor nominal form. If now we translate: “and she was emptied, desolated, on the ground she sits,”—we must first remark concerning the construction, that DRECHSLER is right in connecting the two verbs so that the first contains an adverbial qualification of the second. Sitting on the ground is the posture of those mourning: 47:1; Job 2:13; Lam. 2:10. The subject of נקתה as well as of תשׁב is Zion, to which also the suffixes in Isa 3:25, 26, refer. Therefore if the widows of Zion weep at the gates, Zion itself appears desolate and lies on the ground. Yet I confess that this exposition is not entirely satisfactory, although it fits the existing text. Perhaps the text is corrupt in נקתה.

At all events, according to Isa 3:25, a great scarcity of men exists. For the Hebrew woman that was the greatest misfortune. For in its most ancient parts the Old Testament knows no other genuine life than that on this earth, and thus no other continuation of living after death than by means of children. To be childless was, then, the same as being deprived of continuance after death. It corresponded to the being damned of the New Testament. Physical reasons, therefore, were not all that made marriage appear as a pressing necessity. It is now said here that seven women (notice the sacred number) shall lay hold of one man and, renouncing all claim of support and clothing, beg only the right to be called his wives.—Only let thy name, etc.—As the temple was called the house that bears the name of Jehovah, without however the temple being called Jehovah Himself, so, among the Hebrews, the wives were not called by the same name as their husbands, which would be to transfer modern customs to the ancients; but the name of the husband was named on her, when she was called this or that man’s wife. Comp. “Sarai, Abram’s wife,” Gen. 12:17, “Rachel, Jacob’s wife,” Gen. 46:19. GESENIUS quotes the beautiful parallel from Lucan, Pharsal. II. 342, which was first adduced by GROTIUS.

——da tantum nomen inane

Connubii, Liceat tumulo scripsisse: Catonis

Marcia * * * * * * *

Give only the empty name of marriage. Let my monument be inscribed: Cato’s Marcia.

אָסַף with the meaning “auferre, demere,” bear away, like 16:10; 57:1. As a parallel expression comp., too Zech. 8:23. The division of chapters is evidently incorrect here. That the words “seven women,” etc., were carried over to chap. 4, as VITRINGA remarks, happened because it was supposed that the seven women represented the seven graces of the Holy Spirit (11:1, 2), thus JEROME and CYRIL—or the believing women under the one man or Christ, the Branch, Isa 3:2.


[1]Heb. deceiving with their eyes.

[2]Or, tripping nicely.

[3]Heb. make naked.

[4]Or, networks.

[5]Or, sweet balls.

[6]Or, spangled ornaments.

[7]Heb. houses of the soul.

[8]Heb. might.

[9]Or, emptied.

[10]Heb. cleansed.

[11]Heb. let thy name be called upon us.

[12]Or, Take thou away.

Lange, John Peter - Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical

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