Isaiah 3



                        GOD'S JUDGMENT UPON JERUSALEM (vs. 1-7)


The general denunciations against Israel of the two preceding chapters are here

turned especially against Jerusalem. God will deprive her of all her superior and

more honorable classes (vs. 1-3); and will give her "children" for her rulers

(v. 4). There will be continued oppression, and the rise of an insolent and undutiful

spirit (v. 5). Those fit to bear rule will refuse to do so (vs. 6-7). 


1 “For, behold, the Lord, the LORD of hosts, doth take away from Jerusalem

and from Judah the stay and the staff, the whole stay of bread, and the whole

stay of water,”  The Lord, the Lord of hosts (see note on ch.1:24). The stay and

the staff; rather, stay and staff. Neither word has the article. The latter is the

feminine form of the former; and the intention is to announce that all support

of every kind is about to be withdrawn. The whole stay of bread... of water. 

Mr. Cheyne agrees with Hitzig and Knobel that this clause is probably a

gloss on the text, subsequently introduced into it, and a gloss which (did not

proceed from a very enlightened commentator. The "stay" and "staff"

intended are certainly not, literal "bread" and "water," but the powerful and

respectable classes enumerated in the two following verses. If the words

are Isaiah's, he must have intended them to be taken metaphorically.


2 “The mighty man, and the man of war, the judge, and the prophet, and

the prudent, and the ancient,”  The mighty man, and the man of war; or, 

hero and warrior. The first rank is given to those distinguished in war, as being

held in the highest esteem, and perhaps as actually, under the coming

circumstances (I am 77 years old and I have always believed the Bible.

2020 is the year for the first time that I believe all Americans and perhaps

all the flesh of the world can understand the above phrase the coming

circumstances), the men of most importance to the country. It is thus implied,

as later (vs. 25-26) it is expressly taught, that the impending visitation

will be a terrible invasion. The judge, and the prophet; literally, judge and

prophet. The judge holds his place as one of the highest officers of the state

(see ch. 1:26); the prophet holds a lower position than might have been expected,

on account of the writer's humility. The prudent; rather, the divineras the

word is translated in ch. 44:25; Deuteronomy 18:14I Samuel 6:2;  

Jeremiah 27:929:8Ezekiel 13:9Micah 3:7Zechariah 10:2; or soothsayer,

as in Joshua 13:22. Isaiah arranges the classes, not so much according to the

order in which he values them, as to that in which they were valued by

the people. The ancient; i.e. "the elder," as the word is translated commonly.

The "elders" had an ascertained position in the state under the monarchy

(II Samuel 5:319:11I Kings 8:120:7II Kings 6:32, etc.).


3 “The captain of fifty, and the honorable man, and the counselor, and the

cunning artificer, and the eloquent orator.” The captain of fifty. "Captains of

fifties" were scarcely at this period "civil officers" (Cheyne). They represent

simply the lowest grade of officers in the army (II Kings 1:9, 11, 13). Honorable.

The same expression is used again in ch. 9:15. It occurs also in II Kings 5:1 and 

Job 22:8The cunning artificer. "All the craftsmen and smiths" in Jerusalem were

carried away by Nebuchadnezzar in the captivity of Jehoiachin (II Kings 24:14;

compare Jeremiah 24:1). They were among the most valuable of the population,

in time of war no less than of peace, since on them depended the construction

and repair of the military engines which were regarded as of so much

importance (II Chronicles 26:15). The eloquent orator; rather, the expert

enchanter (compare Ecclesiastes 10:11Jeremiah 8:17).


4 “And I will give children to be their princes, and babes shall rule over them.”

I will give children to be their princes; rather, youths than "children." The extreme

youth of the later kings of Judah at the date of their accession is very remarkable.

After Hezekiah, only one was as much as twenty-five years old when he came

to the throne.


·         Jehoahaz was twenty-three (II Kings 23:31);

·         Amon, twenty-two (ibid. 21:19);

·         Zedekiah twenty-one (ibid. 24:18);

·         Jehoiachin, eighteen (ibid. v. 8);

·         Manasseh, twelve (ibid. 21:1); and

·         Josiah eight (ibid.  22:1).


Thus this prophecy was fulfilled to the letter. And babes shall rule over them;

literallypuerilities (silly, trivial, juvenile children) shall rule over themi.e. 

the youths shall behave in a childish way.


5 “And the people shall be oppressed, every one by another, and every one by

his neighbor: the child shall behave himself proudly against the ancient, and

the base against the honorable.”  And the people shall be oppressed, etc.; rather, 

shall oppress each man his fellowand each man his companion. This would

be no new thing (see ch1:17, 21, 23), but perhaps might be more widely spread,

having passed from the upper classes to the lower ones, as is usual with vices. 

The child; rather, the youth. Shall behave himself proudly; or, insolently.

The respect for age inculcated by the Law (Leviticus 19:32) shall disappear.

Youths shall set at naught the counsel of the aged. The spirit of Rehoboam shall

prevail over that of Solomon, with the usual result - rashness, recklessness,

and FAILURE! And the base, etc. Respect for station shall likewise disappear.

The dregs of the people shall grow insolent towards those above them in the

social scale; and thus the old social order shall be inverted.


6 “When a man shall take hold of his brother of the house of his father, saying,

Thou hast clothing, be thou our ruler, and let this ruin be under thy hand:”

When a man shall take hold of his brother. A new departure. In the general

anarchy described (vs. 4-5) it will be felt that something must be done. A man

will take hold of his brother (i.e. his fellow) in his (i.e. the latter's) father's house,

where he lives in seclusion, and say to him, Thou hast clothing (or, "thou art

decently clad"), thou must be our ruler; let this ruin (i.e. "this ruined state")

be under thy hand. This ruin; literally, this stumbling-block (see Zephaniah 1:3;

and compare the uniform translation of the kindred noun mikshol (ch. 57:14

Leviticus 19:14Psalm 119:165;  Jeremiah 6:21; Ezekiel (3:20).

The Jewish community is meant, which was full of stumbling itself, and

might well cause all those to stumble who came into contact with it.


7 “In that day shall he swear, saying, I will not be an healer; for in my house 

is neither bread nor clothing: make me not a ruler of the people.”

In that day shall he swear; or, lift up his voice - speaking with emotion (Kay). 

I will not be an healer; literally, a binder-up (compare ch. 1:6); "I will not

undertake to heal the calamities of the state." In my house is neither bread

nor clothing; i.e. "I am not a wealthy man; I have no stores laid up; I am

quite unfit to be the people's ruler." Make me not; or, ye shall not make me.

The decently clad man entirely declines to be advanced to the helm of the state.



                        THE CAUSE OF THE JUDGMENT SHOWN TO BE

                                        THE SINS OF JERUSALEM

                                                            (vs. 8-26)


·         The sins of the men. (vs. 8-15). These are declared to be partly sins of

      speech, but mainly sins of act (v. 8). Of sins of speech the only one

specified is the open and shameless declaration of their wickedness (v. 9).

Under the head of sins of act are enumerated


Ø      childishness and effeminacy;

Ø      irreligion and leading people away from God (v. 12);

Ø      oppression of the poor and afflicted (vs. 14-15).

The enumeration of the sins is mixed with exhortation and comment in

such a way as to give rise to the conjecture that we have here, not the

original prophecy as the author penned it, but a later "summary" of

several prophetical discourses, which summary itself is "a little fragmentary"



8 “For Jerusalem is ruined, and Judah is fallen: because their tongue and their

doings are against the LORD, to provoke the eyes of His glory.” Jerusalem is

ruined; or, has come to ruin - the "perfect of prophetic certainty" (Cheyne -

I learned over half a century ago, from the Pulpit Commentary, that “prophetic

certainty” is speaking of something in the future as if it was in the past – it

reminds me  of  something I learned this year from Vines Expository Dictionary

of New Testament Words,  that the word Amen:


Ø      when spoken by men, means “so let it be”,

Ø      when spoken by God, it means “It is and it shall be so.”

                                                                                    (CY – 2020) 


Compare Amos 5:2, "The virgin of Israel is fallen. Their tongue and their doings.

Sins of the tongue are denounced in the Old Testament as well as in the New,

though not, perhaps, so frequently (see Exodus 20:7 21:1722:2823:1-2

Psalm 31:1894:4, etc.). To provoke the eyes of His glory. This is an unusual

metaphor. God's glory seems here to be identified with Himself, as being of

His very essence; and thus "provoking the eyes of his glory" is simply provoking

Him to look on them with anger.


9 “The shew of their countenance doth witness against them; and they declare

their sin as Sodom, they hide it not. Woe unto their soul! for they have rewarded

evil unto themselves.”  The show of their countenance doth witness against them. 

This is not in itself a sin, but it is a sign of frequent and habitual sin.

Vice, long indulged in, stamps its mark upon the countenance, giving men what

is called "a bad expression" - a guilty and hardened look. It does not require

a skilled physiognomist (a person supposedly able to judge character from facial

characteristics) to detect at a glance the habitual criminal or sensualist. They

declare their sin as Sodom. Not only does their countenance betray them, but,

like the Sodomites (Genesis 19:5, 9), they boldly and impudently declare

their wicked purposes beforehand, and make no attempt at concealment.

Hypocrisy has been said to be the homage that vice pays to virtue. Where there

is none, where vice has ceased to shroud or veil itself, a very advanced stage

of wickedness has been reached. They have rewarded evil unto themselves. 

They have "received in themselves the recompense of their error which was meet"

(Romans 1:27). Their sins have at once marred their countenance and injured their

moral nature.


10 “Say ye to the righteous, that it shall be well with him: for they shall eat the

fruit of their doings.”  Say ye to the righteous. The mention of the fact that the

men of Jerusalem have permanently injured their moral natures by sin, and thus

"rewarded evil to themselves," leads the prophet to declare at this point,

parenthetically, the general law, which extends alike to the evil and the good –

that men receive in themselves the recompense of their deeds.

The righteous raise their moral nature, become better, and, in becoming better,

become happier. "It is well with them, for of the fruit of their doings they eat."

The wicked deprave and corrupt themselves, lower their moral nature,

become worse than they were, and, in becoming worse, become more

miserable. "Woe unto them! with them it is ill; for the achievement of their

hands is given them."


11 “Woe unto the wicked! it shall be ill with him: for the reward of his hands

shall be given him.”


12 “As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over

them. O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the

way of thy paths.  As for my people. Return is now made to the sins of the

dwellers in Jerusalem, and the first thing noted is that the people suffer from

the childishness and effeminacy of their rulers. The rulers are called "oppressors"

by the way here, the sin of oppression being dwelt on later (vs. 14-15).

Here the emphatic words are "children," "women." Children (see v. 4).

The rulers are "children," or rather "babes":


Ø      foolish,

Ø      capricious (unaccountable moods swings or behavior),

Ø      cowardly.


It is not clear that any prince in particular is meant; rather, by the plural form,

the upper class generally seems to be intended, as in ch. 1:10, 17, 23, etc. 

Women; compare Herod., 8:88, where Xerxes says that "his men have shown

themselves women, and his women men;" and see also Virg., 'AEneid' –

"O vere Phrygia, neque enim Phryges." The rulers were womanly, i.e.:


Ø      weak,

Ø      wavering,

Ø      timid,

Ø      impulsive,

Ø      passionate,


and are therefore called actual "women." There is no allusion to female sovereigns. 

They which lead thee cause thee to err; or, they which direct thee lead thee astray.

Professing to point out the right path, they led men away from it. Destroy the way;

literallyswallow it up, or obliterate it.


13 “The LORD standeth up to plead, and standeth to judge the people.”

The Lord standeth up to plead. The great sin of the time was oppression of the

poor by the rich, and especially by the rulers (ch. 1:15, 17, 21). In noticing

this, the prophet, to give more weight to his denunciation, introduces Jehovah as

standing up, and coming forward on the popular side, to plead the people's cause,

and remonstrate with their oppressors. (Now if this is the case in contemporary

America, is it not noteworthy, that instead of leaving things to God, men take

things into their own hands?  Natural man can never improve himself this

way, my experience has been just the opposite, that when I, without authority

or commission, try to take things into my own hands, it has always created a mess!

Things have always worked out well when I let the God of all the heavens and

earth take care of it!  CY – 2020)  There is great force in this sudden entrance

on the scene of JEHOVAH HIMSELF, as Pleader and Judge.  (Perhaps this

is what is occuring in the United States and world today.  In the Book of Ezekiel,

sixty-two times, it mentions “and they shall know that I am the Lord.”

(see below – CY - 2020)  And.....judge the people.  Rather, the peoples. Primarily,

Israel is God's care; but He does not stop at this point. All the nations of the earth

are also under His protection.










14 “The LORD will enter into judgment with the ancients of His people, and

the princes thereof: for ye have eaten up the vineyard; the spoil of the poor 

is in your houses.”  The ancients... the princes. These were the chief oppressors.

They delivered the judgments, and it was by them that justice was perverted.

Jehovah therefore enters specially into judgment with them. For ye have eaten

up; rather, So ye have eaten up. Jehovah is supposed to address the unjust judges.

He reproaches them with having "eaten up," or rather "scorched up," His vineyard, 

i.e. Israel (compare ch. 5:1-7), and taxes them with having still their ill-gotten gains

in their houses. "So ye," He says, "have thus acted - ye whose duty it was to have

acted so differently."


15 “What mean ye that ye beat my people to pieces, and grind the faces of

the poor? saith the Lord GOD of hosts.”  What mean ye? i.e. "What has

come over you?" or "What strange perversity has possessed yon?" (Kay). 

That ye beat my people to pieces, etc. The strongest possible expressions

are used to mark God's abhorrence of the oppression to which the poor

were subjected. Under the Law, He constituted himself the champion of such

persons (see Exodus 22:22-24).


·         The sins of the women. (vs. 16-26.) These may be summed up under the

      three heads of:


Ø      pride,

Ø      wanton manners (v. 16), and           

Ø      love of dress and ornament (vs. 18-23).


It was natural that, with increased commerce (II Kings 14:22here, ch. 2:16) and  

more frequent communication with foreign nations, such as Assyria (II Kings

16:7-10) and Babylon (ibid. 20:12-13), there should be an increase of luxury,

and quite in accordance with Eastern ideas that the luxury should particularly

show itself in the dress and adornment of the women. The Egyptian remains

show an advanced state of luxury among the women at a time anterior to

Moses; and in Assyria, though the evidence is less abundant, we find also

indications of a similar kind.   The Jews, whose regard for their women

was high, are not likely to have been behindhand in the gallantry which

 shows itself in heaping ornament and the newest appliances of civilization

on the weaker sex.


16 “Moreover the LORD saith, Because the daughters of Zion are haughty,

and walk with stretched forth necks and wanton eyes, walking and mincing 

as they go, and making a tinkling with their feet:”  The daughters of Zion. 

It is over-fanciful to go beyond the plain meaning of the words here, and suppose

allegory. "The daughters of Zion" are the female inhabitants of JerusalemAre haughty;

orproud - like the men (ch. 2:11-12, 17). Walk with stretched forth necks and

wanton eyes. Mr. Cheyne translates, "ogling eyes." Both actions indicate the desire

to attract men's attention, and are shameless and immodest. Walking and

mincing as they go; i.e. taking short steps in an affectedly childish way. 

Making a tinkling with their feet. This meaning is generally accepted,

though not very certain. It has been suggested that the anklets which they

wore (v. 18) had silver bells attached to them.


17 “Therefore the Lord will smite with a scab the crown of the head of the

daughters of Zion, and the LORD will discover their secret parts.”

Therefore the Lord will smite with a scab. Thus destroying their beauty

by producing baldness (compare v. 24; and for the meaning "smite with a scab,"

see Leviticus 13:214:56).


18 “In that day the Lord will take away the bravery of their tinkling

ornaments about their feet, and their cauls, and their round tires like

the moon,”  The bravery of their tinkling ornaments about their feet; rather, 

of their anklets. Anklets were worn by the Egyptian women from the time of

the twelfth dynasty (about B.C. 1900). They were, in general, plain rings

of metal, but appear to have been sometimes set with precious stones

(see Lepsius, 'Denkmaler,' pt. 2. pls. 128, 129). No bells appear attached

to any; but bells were known in Assyria from the time of Sennacherib

('Ancient Monarchies,' vol. 1. p. 417, 2nd edit.). Their cauls; margin, 

networks. The marginal rendering is probably correct (compare the

Septuagint, ἐμπλόκιαemplokia). Network caps to contain the

hair seem to be intended (so Kimchi, Saadiah, Jarchi, Rosenmüller, Kay).

Mr. Cheyne prefers "wreaths worn round the forehead, reaching from

one ear to the other." Round tires like the moon; rather, crescents.

Flat ornaments in metal, like a young moon, generally worn

suspended round the neck (see Judges 8:26, where the same word occurs).


19 “The chains, and the bracelets, and the mufflers,” rather, the ear-drops

and the armletsand the veils. Earrings were worn from very ancient times by

both the Assyrians and the Egyptians. The ring had frequently a pendant

hanging from it. Men wore armlets in Assyria, and both men and women

in Egypt (Lepsius, 'Denktamer,' pt. 3. pl. 1). Veils have always been regarded

in the East as almost a necessary part of female attire.


20 “The bonnets, and the ornaments of the legs, and the headbands,

and the tablets, and the earrings,”  The bonnets; rather, the headgear.

It is quite uncertain what this was, since we have no representations of

Hebrew women. Egyptian women commonly wore a mere fillet with

pendant ends. The Hebrew word here employed is used in Exodus of the

head-dress of the priests (Exodus 39:28). The ornaments of the legs.

These are explained as chains connecting the two anklets together.

The headbands, and the tablets, and the ear-rings; rather, the girdles

and the scent-bottlesand the amulets. Scent-bottles and jars for holding

sweet-smelling unguents are among the most frequent toilette articles

recovered from Egyptian tombs and Assyrian palaces. Amulets (good luck

charms) have been worn in the East from very ancient times, and are still

trusted in as much as ever. They frequently take the form of ornaments.


21 “The rings, and nose jewels,” The rings; literally, seal-rings, or 

signet-rings. Such were known in Egypt from the time of Joseph

(Genesis 41:42), and probably earlier. It would seem from the

present passage that their use was not confined to men. Nose-jewels. 

Actual nose-rings are not represented in any of the ancient remains;

and the use of them seems to be confined to very barbarous

communities. Probably the "nose-jewels" here mentioned were

ornaments appending from the forehead and touching the upper part

of the nose,


22 “The changeable suits of apparel, and the mantles, and the wimples, and

the crisping pins,”  The changeable suits of apparel; rather, the festival robes 

(Revised Version), or the full-dress suits; i.e. those worn upon grand occasions,

and then put off and set aside. The mantles, and the wimples, and the crisping-pins;

ratherthe upper petticoatsthe wrapsand the purses. An inner and an outer tunic

or petticoat were commonly worn by females of the higher class in the East.

The inner tunic was a simple linen vest; but the outer was generally of a better

material, and richly ornamented. Outside this, a sort of wrap, or cloak,

was worn occasionally (see Ruth 3:15). Purses were, no doubt, carried by

wealthy persons of both sexes; but their mention in this list does not seem

very appropriate. Perhaps toilet-bags of some kind or other are intended

(see II Kings 5:23).


23 “The glasses, and the fine linen, and the hoods, and the vails.”

The glasses; rather, the mirrors. In ancient times these were not made of

glass, but of some metal which took a high polish. Most commonly, the

material seems to have been bronze. Many such mirrors have been found

in Egypt, a few in Assyria, in Etruria a considerable number. They are of

small size, intended to be carried in the hand, and have for that purpose a

metal or a wooden handle, which is sometimes highly artistic. The fine linen;

ratherthe muslin robesSedin, the Hebrew word used, is probably a corruption

or analogue of sindin, the Greek name for Indian fabrics. It is only used here and

in Judges 14:12-13Proverbs 31:24The hoods, and the vails; or, the turbans

and the scarfs. The word translated" hood" is nearly the same as that which

designates the headdress of the high priest in Exodus (Exodus 28:4,37,39

29:6, etc.) and Leviticus (Leviticus 8:916:4), which seems to have been

a "turban" (see note on Exodus 28:4). The other word, here translated

"vail," occurs only in this place and Song of Solomon 5:7. Its exact meaning

is uncertain; but it can scarcely be a veil; since "veils" have been already

mentioned (v. 19).


24 “And it shall come to pass, that instead of sweet smell there shall be stink;

and instead of a girdle a rent; and instead of well set hair baldness; and

instead of a stomacher a girding of sackcloth; and burning instead of beauty.”

Instead of sweet smell; literally, spice (compare Exodus 35:28I Kings 10:10, etc.). 

Stink; rather, rottenness, as translated in ch.5:24 (compare the cognate verb

in Leviticus 26:39). Instead of a girdle a rent. So Lowth and Kay; but most

moderns prefer the meaning given by the Septuagint and Vulgate, "instead

of a girdle, a rope." The word used occurs only in this place. Instead of

well-set hair baldness (compare above, v. 17). By "well-set hair" seems to

be meant "hair arranged with such exactness and order as to look like a

work of art." The exact arrangement of the hair is very remarkable, both

in the Egyptian and the Assyrian sculptures. Instead of such elaborate

attempts to improve their looks, the daughters of Jerusalem would soon

pluck their hair out by the roots, or shave it off, in mourning. A girding of

sackcloth (compare Genesis 37:34II Samuel 3:31, etc.; and for the adoption

of the custom by women, see II Samuel 21:10Joel 1:8). Burning instead of beauty.

This meaning is now generally acknowledged, the sense of "burning" being

borne out by the cognate verb used in Proverbs 6:28; here, ch.43:2, and

the cognate noun used in Exodus 21:25. The" burning" intended is probably

branding by a barbarous enemy (see Herod., 7:233; 'Hist. Tamerlau.,' p. 320).


25 “Thy men shall fall by the sword, and thy mighty in the war.”

Thy men; rather, thy people; i.e. the inhabitants of Jerusalem generally.

Note here the first distinct statement that the coming visitation will be one of war.


26 “And her gates shall lament and mourn; and she being desolate shall

sit upon the ground.” Her gates. The sudden change of person is common

in Oriental poetry. Shall lament and mourn. On account of their destruction,

which would be very complete (see Lamentations 1:4 2:9Nehemiah 1:3; 2:13).

Conquerors could not do more than break breaches in the walls of a town,

but they carefully destroyed the gates. Being desolate; or, emptied - plundered 

of everything, and so far "cleansed" from her abominations. Shall sit

upon the ground. In deep grief (see Job 2:13; and compare ch. 47:1

Lamentations 2:10). So in the coin of Vespasian, the captive Judah

(Judea capta) sits upon the ground.




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