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Bible Commentaries

Peake's Commentary on the Bible

Isaiah 3

Verses 1-12

Isaiah 3:1-12 . Judah to be Punished with Anarchy.— The date is uncertain. That it was early in the reign of Ahaz is a dubious inference from Isaiah 3:12. The pillars of society will be removed, and control will thus be thrown into the hands of young, inexperienced upstarts. Social distinctions will be swept away, age and rank no longer secure respect. Tired of the anarchy, the people will offer the headship of their district to one whom they imagine equal to it, apparently because he belongs to the old order and has hereditary instincts for administration. But he will refuse, disclaiming the qualification. This impending ruin is due to Judah’ s rebellious provocation of Yahweh, its respect of persons ( mg.) , Sodom-like shamelessness in its sin. Blessed is the righteous, woe to the wicked; each shall reap what he has sown. The people is governed by oppressors and usurers, its leaders mislead it.

Isaiah 3:1 . the whole . . . water: a gloss; stay and staff are the pillars of society.

Isaiah 3:6 . Render, “ When a man shall take hold of his brother saying, In thy father’ s (reading 2nd person) house is a mantle (? robe of office), come be thou our ruler.”

Isaiah 3:10 f. Perhaps a gloss; the Heb. is elliptical, the thought generalising, the standpoint that of the later individualism, which sharply differentiated the pious and wicked and asserted a corresponding difference in their fate.— Say ye of: read “ Blessed is” (’ ashre for ’ imru) .

Isaiah 3:12 . Render, “ tormentors are their oppressors, and usurers ( nô shim) rule over them.”— destroy: confuse.

Verses 13-15

Isaiah 3:13-15 . Yahweh Judges the Rulers.— Probably an independent oracle, presumably, though not certainly, uttered early in Isaiah’ s career. Yahweh has taken up the cause of the wronged, and calls elders and princes to account. They are the keepers of the vineyard ( Isaiah 5:1-7), but they have abused their position to their own profit; they crush Yahweh’ s people, and grind between the millstones the faces of the poor.

Isaiah 3:13 . Isaiah would hardly speak of a judgment of the nations. Read “ his people” (LXX).

Verses 16-26

Isaiah 3:16 to Isaiah 4:1 . The Luxurious Ladies of Jerusalem and their Doom.— As Amos attacked the women of Samaria for their luxury, made possible through the oppression of the poor ( Amos 4:1), so Isaiah assails the luxury and haughtiness of the women. These West-end ladies, disdainful and affected, walking with short mincing steps, ogling the men with wanton glances, tinkling with their step-chains and making a clanging sound as they struck their ankle-rings together, will be smitten with leprous scab in their scalps, and be stripped bare of their finery. They will then offer a hideous contrast to their present magnificence— for perfume the stench of scabs, the rope of captivity for the girdle, baldness of mourning ( Isaiah 22:12) for their elaborate coiffure, sackcloth for costly apparel, branding that will ruin their beauty. The ravages of war will be so terrible that the women will outnumber the men by seven to one. Their pride will be so abased that seven will entreat one man to marry them, while they offer to maintain themselves, that the disgrace of being unwedded may be removed. The list of articles of dress, jewelry, and toilet is perhaps not Isaiah’ s. It is not in his manner to give long prosaic lists of this kind; he mentions enough to bring the picture vividly before the reader’ s eye without wearying him with details. If omitted, Isaiah 3:17 and Isaiah 3:24 are brought into connexion.

Isaiah 3:16 . Zion: in the narrower sense, the quarter of Jerusalem where the palace stood.— mincing: the ankle-chains ( Isaiah 3:20) which connected the anklets ( Isaiah 3:18) forced them to take short steps ( Numbers 31:50). They exaggerated their feminine characteristics.

Isaiah 3:18-23 . For the unprofitable details the larger commentaries must be consulted. The rendering “ perfume boxes” ( Isaiah 3:20) is that generally accepted; BDB says the meaning is evident from the context. The literal meaning is “ houses of soul.” Since souls are sometimes placed for safe-keeping in an amulet, J. G. Frazer takes the trinkets mentioned here to have been soul boxes, “ safes in which the souls of the owners are kept for greater security” ( Balder the Beautiful, ii, 155; Anthropological Essays Presented to E. B. Tylor, pp. 148ff.).

Isaiah 3:25 f. The curious transition from the women of Jerusalem to Jerusalem itself under the figure of a woman suggests that this may be a later insertion, unless some lines have fallen out

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Bibliographical Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Isaiah 3". "Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". 1919.