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Isaiah: Chapter 3

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1

For now the Sovereign, the LORD of hosts, is taking away from Jerusalem and from Judah support and staff— all support of bread, and all support of water— 2 warrior and soldier, judge and prophet, diviner and elder, 3 captain of fifty and dignitary, counselor and skillful magician and expert enchanter. 4 And I will make boys their princes, and babes shall rule over them. 5 The people will be oppressed, everyone by another and everyone by a neighbor; the youth will be insolent to the elder, and the base to the honorable.

6

Someone will even seize a relative, a member of the clan, saying, “You have a cloak; you shall be our leader, and this heap of ruins shall be under your rule.” 7 But the other will cry out on that day, saying, “I will not be a healer; in my house there is neither bread nor cloak; you shall not make me leader of the people.” 8 For Jerusalem has stumbled and Judah has fallen, because their speech and their deeds are against the LORD, defying his glorious presence.

9

The look on their faces bears witness against them; they proclaim their sin like Sodom, they do not hide it. Woe to them! For they have brought evil on themselves. 10 Tell the innocent how fortunate they are, for they shall eat the fruit of their labors. 11 Woe to the guilty! How unfortunate they are, for what their hands have done shall be done to them. 12 My people—children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, your leaders mislead you, and confuse the course of your paths.

13

The LORD rises to argue his case; he stands to judge the peoples. 14 The LORD enters into judgment with the elders and princes of his people: It is you who have devoured the vineyard; the spoil of the poor is in your houses. 15 What do you mean by crushing my people, by grinding the face of the poor? says the Lord GOD of hosts.

16The LORD said:

Because the daughters of Zion are haughty and walk with outstretched necks, glancing wantonly with their eyes, mincing along as they go, tinkling with their feet; 17 the Lord will afflict with scabs the heads of the daughters of Zion, and the LORD will lay bare their secret parts.

18In that day the Lord will take away the finery of the anklets, the headbands, and the crescents; 19the pendants, the bracelets, and the scarfs; 20the headdresses, the armlets, the sashes, the perfume boxes, and the amulets; 21the signet rings and nose rings; 22the festal robes, the mantles, the cloaks, and the handbags; 23the garments of gauze, the linen garments, the turbans, and the veils.

24

Instead of perfume there will be a stench; and instead of a sash, a rope; and instead of well‐set hair, baldness; and instead of a rich robe, a binding of sackcloth; instead of beauty, shame. a Cn Compare Gk: Heb low 25 Your men shall fall by the sword and your warriors in battle. 26 And her gates shall lament and mourn; ravaged, she shall sit upon the ground.

Notes:

c Cn Compare Gk: Heb low

Text Commentary view alone

3.1–15 : Social and moral chaos.

1–5 :

The infrastructure of Judean society has collapsed, perhaps during the critical period of Sennacherib's invasion and its aftermath (701 BCE). Military protection has been withdrawn and civic and religious leadership, including prophetic intermediaries, is no longer in place. The social order is subverted.

6–7 :

A brief cameo (cf. Am 3.12; 6.9–10 ) providing a narrative illustration of social disorder (cf. Mic 7.5–6 ). People will be so concerned with their own survival that no one will want to take charge.

8–12 :

Social chaos is traced to moral disorder, especially evident in the Jerusalem leadership. The passage incorporates wisdom teaching (vv. 10–11 ). Sodom, 1.10–17n.

13–15 :

Indictment of the state leadership. The language is forensic, presupposing location in a court of law; hence the LORD rises to deliver the indictment (cf. Mic 6.1–5; Ps.50; 82 ). Exploitation of the poor (by enclosure and confiscation of lands, indentured service, etc.) is a principal target of eighth‐century BCE prophetic polemic (Am 2.6–8; 3.9–11; 6.4–7; 8.4–6; Mic 2.1–3; 3.1–4,9–12 ).

3.16–4.1 : The fate of the court ladies of Jerusalem.

A denunciation of the conduct of the Jerusalemite court ladies and a prediction of their brutal treatment at the hands of the enemy (vv. 16–17,24–26 ), following the example of Amos ( 4.1–3 ), has been expanded by a catalogue of female attire and ornament (many items of which are obscure) from a well‐informed but obsessive interpolator (vv. 18–23 ), and rounded off with a narrative cameo similar to 3.6–7 . While the conduct of the ladies as described does not represent a serious infraction of the moral order, it constitutes an example of ostentatious wealth condemned by prophet and sage alike (Am 6.4–7; Prov 23.4–5 ). The situation envisaged in 4.1 results from the decimation of the male population in battle. The seven women, probably acting in concert rather than in competition with each other, are willing to forgo the support mandated by law (Ex 21.10 ) to avoid the stigma of childlessness (cf. Gen 30.23, Rachel; 1 Sam 1.4–8, Hannah).

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