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Jamieson, Fausset & Brown :: Commentary on Isaiah 3

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The Book of the Prophet Isaiah

Commentary by A. R. FAUSSET


Isa 3:1-26.

      1. For--continuation of Isa 2:22.
      Lord of hosts--therefore able to do as He says.
      doth--present for future, so certain is the accomplishment.
      stay. . . staff--the same Hebrew word, the one masculine, the other feminine, an Arabic idiom for all kinds of support. What a change from the previous luxuries ( Isa 2:7 )! Fulfilled in the siege by Nebuchadnezzar and afterwards by Titus ( Jer 37:21 38:9 ).

      2. Fulfilled ( 2Ki 24:14 ).
      prudent--the Hebrew often means a "soothsayer" ( Deu 18:10-14 ); thus it will mean, the diviners, on whom they rely, shall in that day fail. It is found in a good sense ( Pro 16:10 ), from which passage the Jews interpret it a king; "without" whom Israel long has been ( Hsa 3:4 ).
      ancient--old and experienced ( 1Ki 12:6-8 ).

      3. captain of fifty--not only captains of thousands, and centurions of a hundred, but even semi-centurions of fifty, shall fail.
      honourable--literally, "of dignified aspect."
      cunning--skilful. The mechanic's business will come to a standstill in the siege and subsequent desolation of the state; artisans are no mean "stay" among a nation's safeguards.
      eloquent orator--rather, as Vulgate, "skilled in whispering," that is, incantation ( Psa 58:5 ). See Isa 8:19, below; and on "prudent," see on JF & B for Isa 3:2.

      4. children--in ability for governing; antithesis to the "ancient" (see Isa 3:12 Ecc 10:16 ).
      babes--in warlike might; antithesis to "the mighty" and "man of war."

      5. The anarchy resulting under such imbecile rulers ( Isa 3:4 ); unjust exactions mutually; the forms of respect violated ( Lev 19:32 ).
      base--low-born. Compare the marks of "the last days" ( 2Ti 3:2 ).

      6. Such will be the want of men of wealth and ability, that they will "take hold of" ( Isa 4:1 ) the first man whom they meet, having any property, to make him "ruler."
      brother--one having no better hereditary claim to be ruler than the "man" supplicating him.
      Thou hast clothing--which none of us has. Changes of raiment are wealth in the East ( 2Ki 5:5 ).
      ruin--Let our ruined affairs be committed to thee to retrieve.

      7. swear--literally, "lift up," namely, his hand; the gesture used in solemn attestation. Or, his voice, that is, answer; so Vulgate.
      healer--of the body politic, incurably diseased ( Isa 1:6 ).
      neither. . . clothing--so as to relieve the people and maintain a ruler's dignity. A nation's state must be bad indeed, when none among men, naturally ambitious, is willing to accept office.

      8. Reason given by the prophet, why all shrink from the government.
      eyes of his glory--to provoke His "glorious" Majesty before His "eyes" (compare Isa 49:5 Hab 1:13 ). The Syriac and LOWTH, by a slight change of the Hebrew, translate, "the cloud of His glory," the Shekinah.

      9. show--The Hebrew means, "that which may be known by their countenances" [GESENIUS and WEISS]. But MAURER translates, "Their respect for person"; so Syriac and Chaldee. But the parallel word "declare" favors the other view. KIMCHI, from the Arabic, translates "their hardness" ( Job 19:3, Margin), or impudence of countenance ( Jer 3:3 ). They have lost not only the substance of virtue, but its color.
      witness--literally, "corresponds" to them; their look answers to their inner character ( Hsa 5:5 ).
      declare-- ( Jud 1:13 ). "Foaming out their own shame"; so far from making it a secret, "glorying" in it ( Phl 3:19 ).
      unto themselves--Compare "in themselves" ( Pro 1:31 8:36 Jer 2:19 Rom 1:27 ).

      10. The faithlessness of many is no proof that all are faithless. Though nothing but croaking of frogs is heard on the surface of the pool, we are not to infer there are no fish beneath [BENGEL]. (See Isa 1:19, 20 ).
      fruit of doings-- ( Pro 1:31 ) in a good sense ( Gal 6:8 Rev 22:14 ). Not salvation by works, but by fruit-bearing faith ( Isa 45:24 Jer 23:6 ). GESENIUS and WEISS translate, Declare as to the righteous that, &c. MAURER, "Say that the righteous is blessed."

      11. ill--antithesis to "well" ( Isa 3:10 ); emphatic ellipsis of the words italicized. "Ill!"
      hands--his conduct; "hands" being the instrument of acts ( Ecc 8:12, 13 ).

      12. (See Isa 3:4 ).
      oppressors--literally "exactors," that is, exacting princes ( Isa 60:17 ). They who ought to be protectors are exactors; as unqualified for rule as "children," as effeminate as "women." Perhaps it is also implied that they were under the influence of their harem, the women of their court.
      lead--Hebrew, "call thee blessed"; namely, the false prophets, who flatter the people with promises of safety in sin; as the political "rulers" are meant in the first clause.
      way of thy paths-- ( Jer 6:16 ). The right way set forth in the law. "Destroy"--Hebrew, "Swallow up," that is, cause so utterly to disappear that not a vestige of it is left.

      13. standeth up--no longer sitting in silence.
      plead--indignant against a wicked people ( Isa 66:16 Eze 20:35 ).

      14. ancients--Hence they are spoken of as "taken away" ( Isa 3:1, 2 ).
      vineyard--the Jewish theocracy ( Isa 5:1-7 Psa 80:9-13 ).
      eaten up--"burnt"; namely, by "oppressive exactions" ( Isa 3:12 ). Type of the crowning guilt of the husbandmen in the days of Jesus Christ ( Mat 21:34-41 ).
      spoil. . . houses-- ( Mat 23:14 ).

      15. What right have ye to beat, &c. ( Psa 94:5 Mic 3:2, 3 ).
      grind--by exactions, so as to leave them nothing.
      faces--persons; with the additional idea of it being openly and palpably done. "Presence," equivalent to "face" (Hebrew).

      16. Because the daughters of Zion are haughty, &c.--Luxury had become great in Uzziah's prosperous reign ( 2Ch 26:5 ).
      stretched forth--proudly elevated ( Psa 75:5 ).
      wanton--rather, "making the eyes to glance about," namely, wantonly ( Pro 6:13 ) [MAURER]. But LOWTH, "falsely setting off the eyes with paint." Women's eyelids in the East are often colored with stibium, or powder of lead (see on JF & B for Job 42:14; Jer 4:30, Margin).
      mincing--tripping with short steps.
      tinkling--with their ankle rings on both feet, joined by small chains, which sound as they walk, and compel them to take short steps; sometimes little bells were attached ( Isa 3:18, 20 ).

      17. smite with a scab--literally "make bald," namely, by disease.
      discover--cause them to suffer the greatest indignity that can befall female captives, namely to be stripped naked, and have their persons exposed ( Isa 47:3; compare with Isa 20:4 ).

      18. bravery--the finery.
      tinkling--(See Isa 3:16 ).
      cauls--network for the head. Or else, from an Arabic root, "little suns," answering to the "tires" or neck ornaments, "like the moon" ( Jdg 8:21 ). The chumarah or crescent is also worn in front of the headdress in West Asia.

      19. chains--rather, pendants, hanging about the neck, and dropping on the breast.
      mufflers--veils covering the face, with apertures for the eyes, close above and loosely flowing below. The word radically means "tremulous," referring to the changing effect of the spangles on the veil.

      20. bonnets--turbans.
      ornaments of the legs--the short stepping chains from one foot to another, to give a measured gait; attached to the "tinkling ornaments" ( Isa 3:16 ).
      headbands--literally, "girdles."
      tablets--rather, "houses of the breath," that is, smelling boxes [Vulgate].
      earrings--rather, amulets suspended from the neck or ears, with magic formulae inscribed; the root means to "whisper" or "conjure."

      21. nose jewels--The cartilage between the nostrils was bored to receive them; they usually hung from the left nostril.

      22. Here begin entire articles of apparel. Those before were single ornaments.
      changeable--from a root, "to put off"; not worn commonly; put on and off on special occasions. So, dress clothes ( Zec 3:4 ).
      mantles--fuller tunics with sleeves, worn over the common one, reaching down to the feet.
      wimples--that is, mufflers, or hoods. In Rth 3:15, "veils"; perhaps here, a broad cloak, or shawl, thrown over the head and body.
      crisping pins--rather, money bags ( 2Ki 5:23 ).

      23. glasses--mirrors of polished metal ( Exd 38:8 ). But the Septuagint, a transparent, gauze-like, garment.
      hoods--miters, or diadems ( Isa 62:3 Zec 3:5 ).
      veils--large enough to cover the head and person. Distinct from the smaller veils ("mufflers") above ( Gen 24:65 ). Token of woman's subjection ( 1Cr 11:10 ).

      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 ( Sgs 1:6 ).

      25. Thy men--of Jerusalem.

      26. gates--The place of concourse personified is represented mourning for the loss of those multitudes which once frequented it.
      desolate. . . sit upon. . . ground--the very figure under which Judea was represented on medals after the destruction by Titus: a female sitting under a palm tree in a posture of grief; the motto, Judaea capta ( Job 2:13 Lam 2:10, where, as here primarily, the destruction by Nebuchadnezzar is alluded to).

Introduction to Song of Solomon ← Prior Book
Introduction to Jeremiah Next Book →
Commentary on Isaiah 2 ← Prior Chapter
Commentary on Isaiah 4 Next Chapter →

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.


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