Bible Commentaries
Isaiah 4

Peake's Commentary on the BiblePeake's Commentary

Verse 1

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

Verses 2-6

Isaiah 4:2-6 . Zion’ s Happy Estate.— Probably post-exilic on grounds of style, ideas, and imagery. In the blessed future the land will be glorious with vegetation and fruit for the holy remnant, that will escape the sifting judgment with which Yahweh will cleanse Jerusalem from its impurity and bloodshed. Then over the whole city and its assemblies He will create, as in the wilderness, cloud by day and flame by night, and a shelter from heat and storm.

Isaiah 4:2 . branch of the Lord: that which Yahweh causes to spring from the ground. There is no reference to the Messiah, as is clear from the unambiguous parallel “ the fruit of the land.” Predictions of Canaan’ s fertility are frequent in such prophecies.

Isaiah 4:3 . written unto life ( mg.) : their names are in the Book of Life: when the great judgment falls on Israel they will survive it and live on into the Messianic era, while others die. The reference is not to the life after death, but to life in the regenerate community on earth.

Isaiah 4:5 f. difficult; RV gives the general sense, but read in Isaiah 4:6 “ And he will be” (LXX).

Bibliographical Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Isaiah 4". "Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". 1919.