The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Isaiah 3

Isa 3:1

SUPPLY AND SUPPORT: Masc and fem of sw: all the nation, male and female together, come under condemnation here.

Isa 3:3

SKILLED CRAFTSMAN: The ingenious engineers of Uzziah (2Ch 26:15).

Isa 3:4

BOYS... CHILDREN: Instead of mature, capable leaders. (Israel, in Christ's day, ruled by childish triflers, Edomites, and Roman puppets.) Woe to the land whose king is a child (Ecc 10:16).

Isa 3:5

THE YOUNG WILL RISE UP AGAINST THE OLD: Cp 2Ti 3:2: disobedient to parents, etc. Warned against in Lev 19:32.

Isa 3:6

Such a poor state that none will even attempt to remedy it.

YOU HAVE A CLOAK: A mark of relative wealth in a time of poverty?

Isa 3:7

I HAVE NO REMEDY: That is, for the diseased body of Israel (Isa 1:5,6).

Isa 3:8

DEFYING HIS GLORIOUS PRESENCE: Sins committed even in the very presence of God (the Temple?).

Isa 3:9

THEY DO NOT HIDE IT: They show a stubbornness of will -- not even attempting to hide their sins from God!

Isa 3:10

TELL THE RIGHTEOUS IT WILL BE WELL WITH THEM: As always, a remnant who lament the sorry state of the nation, and hope and pray for better times.

"It is well with the righteous ALWAYS. If it had said, 'Say ye to the righteous, that it is well with him in his prosperity,' we must have been thankful for so great a boon, for prosperity is an hour of peril, and it is a gift from heaven to be secured from its snares: or if it had been written, 'It is well with him when under persecution,' we must have been thankful for so sustaining an assurance, for persecution is hard to bear; but when no time is mentioned, all time is included...

"From the beginning of the year to the end of the year, from the first gathering of evening shadows until the day-star shines, in all conditions and under all circumstances, it shall be well with the righteous. It is so well with him that we could not imagine it to be better, for he is well fed, he feeds upon the flesh and blood of Jesus; he is well clothed, he wears the imputed righteousness of Christ; he is well housed, he dwells in God; he is well married, his soul is knit in bonds of marriage union to Christ; he is well provided for, for the Lord is his Shepherd" (CHS).

RIGHTEOUS: Singular, as if to suggest such a class was not very numerous!

IT WILL BE WELL WITH THEM: Strong connection to Ecc 8:12,13. (Written in days of Uzziah, or Hezekiah?)

Isa 3:11


Isa 3:12

A ruling class misleading the nation for their own benefit.

LEAD: Lit, "bless", but not the expected "barak"; instead, the "sinister" "asher" -- suggestive of the "asherah" (sig the way to happiness!): the sex-based idolatry which led to Israel's undoing (WIsa 112).

Isa 3:13

Vv 13-15: Isaiah has many law-court figures and images: eg, Isa 41:1-5,21-29; 43:8-12.

Isa 3:14

MY VINEYARD: Anticipating Isa 5. The "vineyard" is the nation itself (Isa 5:1-7; 27:2; Psa 80:8-11).

THE PLUNDER FROM THE POOR IS IN YOUR HOUSES: Devouring widow's fortunes (Mat 23:14).

Isa 3:15

CRUSHING MY PEOPLE AND GRINDING THE FACES: Stone-breaking and grinding at the mill: this the rich would do to the poor. But Jesus inverts the figure of speech (Luk 20:14,15)!

Isa 3:16

Vv 16-24: These words were spoken against the women of Israel, who made a vain and wanton display of the wealth (beauty, culture, fashion, display, ostentation) their husbands had wickedly acquired. (Luxury had greatly increased in the days of Uzziah: 2Ch 26:5,15.) Their dressiness was not necessarily wicked in itself, but it was wrong when unaccompanied by the inner adorning, of which the apostles wrote (1Ti 2:9; 1Pe 3:3).

For a time, these women in Israel continued on their way completely indifferent to the requirements of the law or the appeal of the prophets. They preferred to please themselves. They stood before their mirrors and admired the beauty that they saw reflected therefrom, but they did not see the hidden ugliness of the heart: the spirit of rebellion that made Yahweh sad and angry.

The day came, however, when they learned to regret the folly of their actions. It was the day of judgment, and they were held accountable for the manner in which they had defied the requirements of Yahweh, and had influenced others to do likewise.

OUTSTRETCHED NECKS: The long, slender neck is a sign of beauty. But, in great irony, it can be a neck "laid bare" as a sacrifice is prepared for the priest's knife (cp Heb 4:12,13 and sig of "open")!

Isa 3:17

SORES ON THE HEADS: The beginning of leprosy!

Isa 3:18

THEIR FINERY: "That superb Bible scholar Kay catalogues seven separate items mentioned here as having direct connection with the garments of the High Priest, the best-dressed man in Israel. Now women of the temple, who originally had been glad to forego their personal vanities (Exo 38:8), sought to outdo in appearance the most exalted man in the nation. Accordingly, Isaiah applies to these 'haughty' (v 16) women the very word which he has already used three times about the 'loftiness of man' (Isa 2:11,15,17)" (WIsa 114).

CRESCENT NECKLACES: "Moon ornaments", mentioned only re Midianites (Jdg 8:21,26).

Isa 3:19

EARRINGS: Mentioned only re Midianites (Jdg 8:26).

VEILS: "Mufflers" in AV.

Isa 3:22

PURSES: "Crisping pins" (AV) cannot be correct; should be "purses", or bags, attached to girdles in 2Ki 5:23.

Isa 3:23

MIRRORS: May be correct; LXX has "see-through garments".

Isa 3:24

STENCH: No opportunity to bathe and cleanse oneself.

A ROPE: To bind up one's clothes, OR to lead a slave captive!

FINE CLOTHING: AV has "stomacher"; prob dainty undergarments -- to be replaced by hard, rough sackcloth!

BRANDING: The ugly brand of a slave on a once-beautiful complexion!

Isa 3:26

THE GATES OF ZION: The places of commerce, and social intercourse -- now all gone! Or (WIsa 115), the women themselves, previously involved in duties in the temple, as "gates" or "gate-keepers.

DESTITUTE, SHE WILL SIT ON THE GROUND: As in "Judea Capta", the coin commissioned by Roman Emperor Titus, to commemorate the conquest of Jerusalem in 70 AD. Cp idea, Isa 1:8: a hut in the vineyard: picture of desolation. Also cp Job 2:13; Lam 1:1; 2:10. And the words of Jesus in Luk 19:44.

ON THE GROUND: Quite poss, like the adulterous woman in Joh 8, cast on the ground at the feet of Jesus. Is Joh 8 a prophetic indicator that the "destitute" woman of Jerusalem/Zion/Israel will be forgiven and lifted up by the hand of Jesus? "Go and sin no more!"

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