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Bible Commentaries

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

Isaiah 3

Verses 1-26

Isaiah 3:1 . Behold, the Lord doth take away from Jerusalem the whole stay of bread. This threatening is understood of the Chaldean invasion in the reign of Jechoniah, and after the death of king Josiah. The prophet, as in the preseding chapter, continues to speak of future times. Habakkuk is considered as referring to the same invasion, when he says, Though the figtree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be on the vine, &c. Habakkuk 3:17.

Isaiah 3:2 . The mighty man. The soldier shall be devoid of courage, the judge destitute of wisdom, the prophet hopeless, the false prophet struck dumb on seeing all his predictions of plenty, terminate in want of bread, and in a diversion of the streams of water from the city. A nation without God; a people torporized with guilt! They were then made to know the breach of God’s covenant.

Isaiah 3:4 . I will give children to be their princes. The four last kings of David’s race were young men, mere boys in wisdom, and their baseness augmented the calamities of their country. See 2 Kings 24:14.

Isaiah 3:10 . Say ye to the righteous. See on Ezekiel 21:3.

Isaiah 3:12 . Children are their oppressors. Their rulers were children in understanding, such imbeciles as Rehoboam and Ahaz. Women rule over them. A soft husband is often hen pecked, and often for the good of the family. Cato, in one of his satirical humours, said, Mulieres regunt nos, nos Senatum; Senatus Romam. That is, women rule over us; they rule the senate; the senate is an old wife.

Isaiah 3:14 . Ye have eaten up the vineyard. The elders of Israel had taken advantage of every change in the nation to wrest the lots of land from the poor, as their own freeholds for ever. At the captivity, the jubilee was but a name: now the Lord wrested the land from the oppressors. The prophet Micah follows Isaiah in raising his voice against the oppressors, who ground the faces of the poor, and sold the needy for a pair of shoes.

Isaiah 3:16 . The daughters of Zion are haughty. Women are particularly formed for maternal virtues, and to shine in all the paths of piety, like the noble Grecian ladies mentioned in the reflections on Acts 4:0. At present they play a high game in the fashionable world; and even religious women are seen on Saturday at the theatre, and on Sunday at the sacrament! They had better look at the daughters of Zion, dragged in a state of nudity to the markets of Babylon, as in Isaiah 3:17. An offended God has the rod in his hand; the sword, disease, and captivity, are at his command. The cholera makes the wicked fear, and all have reason to exclaim with the dying patriot, Oh my country! We have now also a powerful empire in our front. Since the peace of 1815, France, which so much excels us in population, has revived all her energies of agriculture, of commerce, of naval and military grandeur. All her seamen are registered, and ready at a moment’s command. When the wary Romans made peace with Antiochus they stipulated concerning the extent of his navy, to obviate future fears. Tradito et naves longas armamentaque earum; neve plures quam decem naves actuarias (nulla plusquam triginta remis agatur) habeto; neve monerem ex bella causa, quod ipse illaturus erit, &c.

Isaiah 3:18 . Round tires like the moon. An ornament horned like the moon, a species of golden torque to support their robes. See Deuteronomy 1:28. Proverbs 1:9.

Isaiah 3:21 . Nose jewels. In Holdsworth’s book of Asiatic dresses, nose jewels are not to be found; they occur in bones of white ivory in some untutored negroes of Africa, and among the Indians of the South sea. The human face being the noblest work of God, both for perfection and beauty, jewels only degrade its noble aspect. What can diamonds add to a countenance which should ever shine with the moral glory of God.

Isaiah 3:23 . The glasses polished reflectors of copper or mixed metals. Glass was not discovered till about fifty years before the birth of our Saviour.


During the long and peaceful reign of Uzziah, the Hebrews had improved their agriculture and commerce, and wantonly indulged themselves in luxuries, horses and carriages. The prophet therefore was led to foresee their calamities, that God would punish waste with want, pride with humiliation, and incorrigible crimes with the sword of the Chaldees. 2 Kings 24, 25. Their bribery and corruption, in obtaining places of trust and dignity, he would punish by making those rulers anxious to transfer their power to any one, that the evil might not dishonour their own name. The equity of God’s national visitations was founded on the greatness of their sin; the infidel character of their conversion, and the reigning habits of vice had long caused them to cease from blushing. They showed, as the people of Sodom, a daring affront; they gloried in the insults they had offered to modesty and conscience, and mocked both piety and vengeance.

The women, in the more fashionable circles of Jerusalem, contributed not less than men towards the ruin of their country. Their haughty airs, their wanton eyes, their mincing gait, which dispersed the perfumes in their shoes, accompanied with offensive dresses, all mark the awful stage of corruption to which they had arrived. And who in reading this portrait can forbear thinking of the ladies in London, Paris, and in all the polished circles of Europe. Their education, their course of reading, their monthly changes of dress, their nocturnal pleasures, with their total effeminacy and dissipation, announce them to be in a situation which cannot be far distant from punishment. And how striking, how mortifying are the characters of that punishment! Instead of beauty and fine tresses of hair, there should be baldness, and a shriveled mien. Instead of Indian perfumes, there should be the effluvia of disease. Instead of fashionable dresses, there should be sackcloth. Their husbands and paramours should fall by the sword, and burning should follow beauty, when those delicate ladies, whose fingers disdained to touch domestic labour, should be compelled to work in the field. What shall mortals say of the Lord’s judgments? Our sins indeed are great; but is there no remedy? Are we glutted with wealth, and cursed with pleasure? Is there no way to check the gay and giddy crowd? Is there no gospel which can persuade, and no paternal rod which can prevent a greater destruction. Are we lost, irretrievably lost? Must we then sink with gay indifference down to everlasting fire? Oh Lord, in the midst of wrath remember mercy. The first verse of the fourth chapter should be added here. The daughters of Zion who knew not what to do with themselves in pride and prosperity, shall not know what to do with themselves in adversity. Husbands failing because of slaughter, seven of them, a certain for an uncertain number, shall claim and beg protection from one man on the abject condition of feeding and clothing themselves. Hence it appears that polygamy, which has no foundation in nature, often originated in the great slaughter of men. Besides, they might do this not only to take away their reproach, but to protect them against being seized more dishonourably by the heathen.

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Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Isaiah 3". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. 1835.