Isaiah 3:1-26

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3:1. Masoretic Text: For look! The Lord, YHWH of hosts, is removing from Jerusalem and from Judah support and prop, the entire support of bread and the entire support of water,

Septuagint: Look now! The Sovereign, the Lord Sabaoth, will remove from Judea and from Jerusalem strong [man] and strong [woman], strength of bread and strength of water,

The expression “support and prop” represents the masculine and feminine forms of the word mash‘én joined by the a conjunction “and.” In the Septuagint, the corresponding terms joined by the conjunction “and” are the masculine and feminine participial forms of the verb ischýo (“to be strong”) and may be understood to mean “strong man” and “strong woman.”

“Sabaoth” is the transliteration of the Hebrew word meaning “hosts” or “armies.”

Commentary

The interjection “look” directs attention to what YHWH is about to do. It is he, the One under whose command are hosts of angels, who would remove from the land of Judah and the capital Jerusalem “support and prop,” everything needed for sustaining life and providing protection, security, guidance, and stability. In this verse, the focus is on the essentials for sustaining life — bread and water. Enemy invasions would lead to cutting off the supply of food and water from the beleaguered populace. (Compare Isaiah 36:12; Jeremiah 37:21; 38:9; Ezekiel 4:7-11.)

3:2. Masoretic Text: hero and man of war, judge and prophet and diviner and elder,

Septuagint: giant and strong [man] and man of war and judge and prophet and diviner and elder,

The Hebrew term gibbór may be understood to mean a military hero or mighty man. In the Septuagint, the corresponding word gígas denotes a giant or mighty man. The book of Genesis (10:8, 9) identifies Nimrod as such a person.

The Septuagint includes “strong man” (the masculine participial form of the verb ischýo, as in the previous verse).

Commentary

The removal of military heroes or champions and warriors would leave the populace without those on whom they depended for protection from enemy forces. With no judges in the land, there would be a breakdown of law and order. Divination was divinely disapproved, but the unfaithful people did consult diviners for guidance. Because elders had benefited from years of experience, people generally looked to them for sound advice. In the absence of prophets, diviners, and elders, the inhabitants of the land would be without the guidance they would seek in times of distress.

3:3. Masoretic Text: captain of fifty and a man of noble bearing [literally, face] and counselor and wise artisan and a man understanding charming.

Septuagint: and captain of fifty and wonderful counselor and wise artisan and understanding listener.

The word “man” is not found in the Hebrew text, but the participles are masculine gender.

“Man of noble bearing” literally is one having a lifted-up face. The Hebrew expression has been variously rendered “nobleman” (NAB), “magnate” (Tanakh), “dignitary” (NRSV), and “man of rank” (NIV).

Instead of “artisan” (Tanakh) or “craftsman” (NIV), a number of modern translations read “magician” (NAB, NRSV). Lexicographers link the Hebrew root either with a term meaning “magician” or “craftsman,” “carver,” “artisan,” or “artificer.” The Hebrew word charás can designate any kind of craftsman working with wood, metals, stone, and gems. In the Septuagint, the expression modified by the adjective “wise,” “skilled,” or “skillful” (sophós) is architékton and designates an artisan, craftsman, or master builder. In 1 Corinthians 3:10, the same two Greek words have been rendered “expert builder” (NIV), “wise master builder” (NAB), and “skilled master builder” (NRSV). Both the Latin architectus (in the Vulgate) and the Greek architékton may be defined as “master builder” and have no link to “magic.” Therefore, it would appear that the preference should be given to a rendering of the Hebrew term that is unrelated to occult practices.

Possibly an “understanding listener” is one to whom dreams and omens were related and who then interpreted them.

Commentary

As a man in charge of fifty men, a captain played a vital role in the nation’s defense. A man of noble rank would have contributed to stability in society. The advice of a wise counselor assured that officials made sound decisions, safeguarding the stability of the realm. Successful construction projects, including fortifications, depended on skilled builders or artisans. A man understanding charming would have been an expert in magical arts. These arts were divinely disapproved means unfaithful Israelites pursued for guidance. The removal of all those enumerated would plunge the realm into a state of insecurity and instability.

3:4. Masoretic Text: And I will make boys their princes and mischief makers will rule over them.

Septuagint: And I will make youths their rulers and mockers will lord over them.

The Hebrew expression ta‘alulím, rendered “mischief makers,” is found only here and in Isaiah 66:4, where it is variously translated as “mock” (NRSV, Tanakh), “ruthless treatment” (NAB), “punishment” (NASB, HCSB), and “harsh treatment” (ESV). In Isaiah 3:4, the renderings “babes” (NRSV, Tanakh), “babies” (CEV), and “mere children” (NIV) are based on linking the Hebrew word with a term meaning “child.” In view of Isaiah 66:4, however, it seems more reasonable to conclude that the reference is to persons acting in a mischievous or capricious manner. A number of translations do reflect this significance — “arbitrary power” (NASB, footnote), “caprices” (J. P. Green), “anarchy” (NLT), Willkür (“arbitrariness,” German Einheitsübersetzung), and Mutwillige (“wanton ones,” German, revised Elberfelder Bibel and 1984 revision of Luther’s translation). The Septuagint uses empaíktes, meaning “mocker,” whereas the Vulgate rendering is effeminati (effeminate ones).

Commentary

With the end of stability in the realm, rulership would fall into the hands of those least qualified — inexperienced youths and troublemakers, persons whose lack of wisdom and whose arbitrariness would contribute to increasing instability. In expression of his judgment against the faithless people, YHWH would abandon them to the consequences of their wayward ways. Therefore, the setting up of unqualified persons as rulers is attributed to the Most High.

3:5. Masoretic Text: And the people will oppress one another, every man his fellow; the lad will be insolent to the elder, and the dishonorable to the honorable.

Septuagint: And the people will fall together, man against man, man against his fellow; the child will stumble against the elder, the dishonorable against the honorable.

Commentary

The entire social order would be subverted, with people oppressing one another. Youths would have no respect for elders, defying or acting insolently toward them. Dishonorable persons would likewise act arrogantly toward those who were honorable.

3:6. Masoretic Text: For a man will take hold of his brother in his father’s house. “You have a garment. Our ruler you shall be, and this heap of ruins will be under your hand.”

Septuagint: For a man will take hold of his brother or [a man] of his father’s family, saying: “You have a garment. Be our ruler, and let my food be under you.”

The reference in the Septuagint to food could mean that the responsibility for providing essential food or sustenance would fall upon the man to whom the appeal to be the ruler or leader would be directed.

Commentary

In desperation, a man would approach a family member with some evidence of respectability (possessing just a garment), appealing to him to accept a leadership position to restore some measure of stability. The Hebrew expression for “heap of ruins” may be understood to refer to the then-existing chaotic state of society suffering from a total breakdown of law and order.

3:7. Masoretic Text: He will raise [his voice] in that day, saying: “I will not be a [wound] binder, and in my house [there is] neither bread nor a garment. You shall not make me a ruler of the people.”

Septuagint: And answering, he will say in that day, “I will not be your ruler, for [there] is neither bread nor a garment in my house. I will not be a ruler of this people.”

The Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah, like the Septuagint, begins with the conjunction “and.”

Commentary

The person who would be approached to bring some relief from the deplorable situation would adamantly refuse, insisting that he had neither bread nor a garment. His words would indicate that he could not provide a remedy and that his circumstances were just as desperate as that of others in the realm.

3:8. Masoretic Text: For Jerusalem has stumbled and Judah has fallen, for their tongue and their deeds [are] against YHWH, rebelling [against the] eyes of his glory.

Septuagint: For Jerusalem has been forsaken and Judea has fallen, and their tongues [are filled] with lawlessness, rebelling against the things of the Lord; now, therefore, their glory has been overthrown.

Although resembling the Masoretic Text, the Septuagint differs in ascribing the people’s loss of glory, dignity, or honor to their defiance of God’s ways.

Commentary

The capital city Jerusalem and the kingdom of Judah are portrayed in a state of ruin. This was on account of the deplorable moral condition existing among the people. Both in word and action, they were corrupt.

The expression “eyes of his glory” may be understood as meaning before his eyes, before him, or before his presence. YHWH is the glorious or majestic One and, therefore, his eyes are appropriately linked with glory. The wayward people proved to be rebellious before YHWH, defiantly disregarding his commands.

3:9. Masoretic Text: [The] look of their faces testifies against them, and they, like Sodom, have announced their sin; they do not hide [it]. Woe to their soul, for they have brought evil upon themselves.

Septuagint: And the shame of their face has stood up against them. And their sin, like Sodom, they have announced and made manifest. Woe to their soul, for they have counseled evil counsel against themselves,

In the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah, the Hebrew word for “look” or “expression” is plural. Additionally, the words about the people not hiding their sin is linked with the conjunction “and.”

Commentary

The “look of their face” may refer to the guilty expression that was evident on their countenance. According to the Septuagint, the “shame of their face” stood against them, pointing to a shameful record of sin for which they would be held accountable. The Targum of Isaiah indicates that the people showed partiality in judgment, and their doing so testified against them. The sense of “look of face” would then mean showing regard for the face or the person, treating the individual with bias or partiality.

The people trumpeted their sin like Sodom did, doing nothing to conceal it from view. According to the Targum of Isaiah, the sins of the people cried out unceasingly as had been the case regarding the men of Sodom.

By their wayward conduct, the people had brought evil or calamity upon themselves. This is the reason for the pronouncement of woe upon “their soul” or upon themselves as persons.

The Septuagint differs from the Masoretic Text when referring to counsel. The kind of advice or counsel the people formulated against the righteous one (3:10) was against their own interests, for it would lead to their reaping what they had sown.

3:10. Masoretic Text: Say to the righteous one that [it will be] good, for they will eat the fruit of their deeds.

Septuagint: saying, “We should bind the righteous one, for he is troublesome to us.” Therefore, they will eat the products of their works.

Including “to” after “say” is based on the reading of the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah. Otherwise, it and the Masoretic Text are in agreement.

The elliptical nature of the Hebrew text requires the adding of words, resulting in renderings with two basic meanings regarding the righteous one. “You’re very fortunate” (CEV), and “he shall fare well” (Tanakh).

Unlike the Masoretic Text, the Septuagint points to the consequences for those intent on binding the righteous one (rendering him powerless) because of regarding him as an irritating obstacle, probably when it came to carrying out their hurtful schemes.

Commentary

The words provide assurance to those conducting themselves uprightly that their life would turn out well. Just as farmers eat from the produce of their labor, upright persons enjoy the fruit or beneficial result (God’s aid, guidance, and blessing) from their praiseworthy deeds.

3:11. Masoretic Text: Woe to the wicked one! [It will be] bad, for [according to] the dealing of his hands [it] will be done to him.

Septuagint: Woe to the lawless one! According to the works of his hands, evils will befall him.

In the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah, the verb translated “will be done” is “will be repaid,” and “hand” is singular.

Commentary

In view of the adverse judgment to be expressed against the wicked one, Isaiah began with a pronouncement of “woe” or calamity. The outcome for the lawless one would be bad. He would come to experience retribution based on his corrupt practices, “the dealing of his hands.”

3:12. Masoretic Text: My people — children [are] its oppressors, and women rule over it. My people, your leaders mislead you and confuse the way of your paths.

Septuagint: My people, your exactors glean you, and those demanding lord over you. My people, those pronouncing you fortunate deceive you and confuse the path of your feet.

The first half of the Septuagint text differs somewhat from the Masoretic Text and the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah. With the exception of the plural of the Hebrew word for “way,” both Hebrew texts are in agreement.

The Hebrew word commonly rendered “children” or “babes” is a participle, the root (‘alál) of which conveys the thought of gleaning or dealing severely or wantonly, and, in this context, may denote playing the role of a capricious child. This explains the reason for the Septuagint rendering kalamáomai (glean, gather, collect). The Hebrew word for “oppressors” is a participial form of nagás and conveys the idea of pressing, driving, exacting, or oppressing.

The Greek word makarízo can mean either to pronounce someone fortunate or to make someone happy or feel fortunate. In this case, the rendering is not really the departure from the Masoretic Text that it appears to be. Although translators generally render the Hebrew word as “leaders,” Robert Young chose “eulogizers.” This is because the Hebrew root, consisting of the consonants aleph, sin and resh (’SR), may mean either “to lead,” “to go,” “to stride,” “to go straight,” and “to advance,” or “to bless,” “to pronounce happy,” “to pronounce fortunate,” and “to consider fortunate.”

Commentary

The Masoretic Text may be understood to mean that inexperienced persons completely lacking in ability to administer affairs would be acting oppressively. Usually, women did not occupy official ruling positions. Therefore, the reference could be to unqualified women who were then exercising authority or women who did so by manipulating their husbands. Another possibility is that the men entrusted with authority were weak like women. Whether “leaders” or “eulogizers,” they did nothing to improve the lot of the people but deceived them, confusing or distorting the divinely approved course that would have benefited those pursuing it.

The Septuagint reading may be understood to mean that the people’s exactors would oppressively strip them of their possessions and that the people would be subservient to those demanding repayment of their debts. Those pronouncing them fortunate or trying to make them feel that they were fortunate would prove to be nothing but deceivers who confused the divinely approved course the people should have been following.

3:13. Masoretic Text: YHWH has positioned [himself] to contend, and he stands to judge peoples.

Septuagint: But now the Lord will position [himself] for judgment and will cause his people to stand for judgment.

The Hebrew word riv (“contend”) is in a judicial setting and signifies to bring a legal case against someone. This aspect is explicit in the Septuagint reading.

Commentary

YHWH is portrayed as having risen to act in a judicial capacity. While the Masoretic Text could mean that peoples besides the Israelites were in line for God’s judgment, the Septuagint reading restricts it to his people. The context points to a punitive judgment.

3:14. Masoretic Text: YHWH enters into judgment with his people’s elders and princes: And you have burned the vineyard. The plunder of the poor [is] in your houses.

Septuagint: The Lord himself will enter into judgment with the people’s elders and its rulers: But you, why have you burned my vineyard and [have] the plunder of the poor in your houses?

Commentary

The leading members of the nation had dealt unjustly with the people. Therefore, YHWH had a judicial case against the elders and the princes or officials. As in 5:7, the vineyard evidently represented the inhabitants of the entire realm, and this is supported by the Septuagint reading “my vineyard.” The representative elders of the people and the officials had exploited this vineyard and transformed it (as by a destructive fire) into a state of moral ruin. They derived profit from failing to uphold the cause of justice and accepting bribes. Instead of coming to the defense of the poor, they sided with ruthless oppressors. The gain from unjust dealings would thus come to be in the houses of the elders and princes. It was profit obtained at the expense of the poor and so was plunder from them.

3:15. Masoretic Text: What [is it] to you, crushing my people and grinding the face of the poor? says the Lord, YHWH of hosts.

Septuagint: Why do you wrong my people and disgrace the face of the poor?

The elliptical nature of the Hebrew requires adding words to convey a meaningful thought in English. Translators have variously rendered the initial part of the verse, “What do you mean …?” (NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV) “How dare you …?” (Tanakh) “What gave you the right …?” (NCV)

In the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah, “my Lord” is written above the divine name (YHWH).

Commentary

The question expresses astonishment regarding the acts of the oppressors. Ruthlessly, they had trampled on the rights of others, depriving them of every vestige of dignity. As a result, the people found themselves in a downcast state, crushed to the point of not being able to lift themselves up. Especially the poor were among the helpless victims. The oppression was comparable to having their faces rubbed in the dirt or, as expressed in the Septuagint, they were shamed or disgraced, evidently left completely destitute.

3:16. Masoretic Text: And YHWH said, Because the daughters of Zion are haughty and walk with an outstretched neck, winking with their eyes, walking and mincing as they go, and with their feet jingling,

Septuagint: Thus says the Lord, Because the daughters of Zion were lofty and walked with an outstretched neck and with a wink of the eyes, and as they walked [literally, gait of the feet ] simultaneously swishing [their] garments and simultaneously playing with [their] feet,

Commentary

The bearing of Zion’s womenfolk had not escaped YHWH’s notice. They were arrogant, walking with outstretched necks from turning their noses upward. As they walked, they cast seductive glances. Anklet chains shortened their steps and, with each dainty move, their anklets jingled.

According to the Septuagint reading, the women, as they walked, would sweep or swish their garments and playfully move their feet.

3:17. Masoretic Text: my Lord also will bring scabs on the head of the daughters of Zion, and YHWH will expose their brow.

Septuagint: God also will abase the ruling daughters of Zion, and the Lord will uncover their form.

In the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah, there is one correction. Where the Masoretic Text reads “my Lord,” the corrected reading above the line in the text of the scroll is “YHWH.” Then, where the Masoretic Text reads “YHWH,” the Dead Sea Scroll reads “my Lord.”

Definitions for the Hebrew word poth include “brow,” “forehead,” and “secret parts,” and these meanings are reflected in the renderings of modern translations. In the Septuagint, the reference is to the uncovering of the appearance or form, suggesting that the women would be stripped of their finery and exposed to shame. This reading would favor the meaning “secret parts.” If, however, the second part of the verse parallels the first part, “brow” or “forehead” would fit better. The thought would be that the women would be shamed by having their heads bared.

The Targum of Isaiah indicates that YHWH would cause Zion’s noble women to be enslaved and deprived of their dignity.

Commentary

The women would be disgraced. Their bared heads would be covered with sores. According to the reading of the Septuagint, the proud, influential women would find themselves humiliated and shamefully exposed.

3:18. Masoretic Text: In that day, my Lord will remove the beauty of the anklets and the discs and the crescents.

Septuagint: In that day, the Lord also will remove the splendor of their clothing and their ornamentation and the wreaths and the tassels and the crescents.

In the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah, “my Lord” appears as a correction written above the divine name (YHWH).

The Hebrew word shavís (disc, that is, a little sun disc) has also been understood to designate a headband or fillet, and this is reflected in the renderings of numerous modern translations.

The Septuagint includes clothing and ornamental items other than those mentioned in the Masoretic Text. Besides “wreath,” the Greek word emplókion may refer to braided work or a hair clasp.

Commentary

In the day or time of YHWH’s judgment, the women would loose their ornamental anklets, likely consisting of a chain from which bangles were suspended and which jingled as they walked. The womenfolk would also be deprived of their round and crescent-shaped ornaments, which probably were attached to a chain and worn over the forehead. All such jewelry was commonly made from gold, silver or bronze.

3:19. Masoretic Text: the pendants and the bracelets and the veils,

Septuagint: and the necklace and the ornamentation of their face,

Like the Septuagint, the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah starts with “and.”

The Septuagint reference to “ornamentation of their face” could include veils. Pendants could be suspended from a necklace, and so the difference between the Masoretic Text and the Septuagint may not be as great as it appears. In the extant Septuagint text, however, there is no corresponding term for “bracelets.”

Commentary

The pendants may have been hanging ornaments for the ears or necklaces and possibly were made of pearls. Bracelets could have included arm bands and, like other jewelry, were often made of gold, silver, or bronze. Veils may have consisted of two parts, with one section covering the forehead and the other part covering the face below the eyes. Ornaments would have been worn over the cloth.

3:20. Masoretic Text: the headdresses and the ankle chains and the bands and houses of the soul and the amulets.

Septuagint: and the collection of splendid ornamentation and the anklets and the armlets and the wreath and the right-arm bracelets and the rings and the earrings.

Like the Septuagint, the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah begins with an initial “and.”

The Septuagint listing does not correspond to that of the Masoretic Text, which agrees with the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah. “Splendid ornamentation” (literally, “ornamentation of glory”) probably included a variety of items used for adornment. The Greek term chlidón can designate either an anklet or a bracelet. In verse 18, emplókion (wreath) appears in the plural. Like armlets, “right-arm bracelets” would fit around the upper arm. The Greek term peridéxion (literally, "around [the] right") could also refer to a bracelet worn on the right wrist.

Commentary

Headdresses were likely made of wool or linen. They may have been cloth turbans.

If linked to a root meaning “step” or “march,” the Hebrew word tse‘adáh may designate ankle chains. These chains would have been attached to anklets and served to shorten the steps when walking. The Hebrew word has also been defined as “armlets,” ornaments fashioned from gold, silver or bronze and worn on the upper arm.

The bands (qishshurím) possibly were wool or linen sashes. They could also have been breastbands.

In this context, “soul” is apparently to be associated with “breath” and so could denote an aromatic substance, one that can be detected when breathing or smelling. This would suggest that the “houses” or containers were perfume receptacles.

Because the Hebrew word láchash (amulet) is linked to whispering, the ornament could have been a set of tied conch shells. Or, the item may simply have been a kind of charm.

3:21. Masoretic Text: the signet rings and the nose rings,

Septuagint: and the garments edged with purple and the garments mixed with purple,

The Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah includes the initial “and” that is found in the Septuagint but is missing in the Masoretic Text. Otherwise, the Septuagint reading is quite different. According to the Septuagint, the prominent women would be deprived of their costly garments with purple borders and other purple design features.

Commentary

Gold, silver, or bronze were used to make seal rings. A stone, engraved with the owner’s name or with symbols and set on such rings, would be used to make an impression in clay or wax. This would serve to indicate ownership or to authenticate documents. Nose rings also were often fashioned from gold, silver, or bronze.

3:22. Masoretic Text: the stately robes and the wraps and the shawls and the bags,

Septuagint: and the coats for the house and the sheer Laconian [garments],

The Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah (the Great Isaiah Scroll) starts with “and,” as does the Septuagint. Although the Great Isaiah Scroll does not have the word mitpachóth (shawls), another scroll agrees with the Masoretic Text.

The Septuagint rendering either reflects a different Hebrew text or indicates that the translator had difficulty in determining the significance of the Hebrew expressions. Possibly the Greek terms refer to garments worn in the house and garments made from fine fabric and reserved for special occasions.

Commentary

Based on Arabic, lexicographers understand the Hebrew word for “stately robes” (machalatsóth) to designate festival robes or white garments worn on special occasions. Wraps (ma‘ataphóth) probably were outer garments or mantels. Shawls (mitpachóth) may have been wide pieces of wool or linen cloth used to cover the head and shoulders. Bags (charitím) or purses of various sizes were made from leather or cloth.

3:23. Masoretic Text: and the mirrors and the undergarments and the headbands and the wraparounds.

Septuagint: and the sheer linen [garments], both the hyacinth-colored and scarlet ones, and the fine linen interwoven with gold and hyacinth-colored thread, and the lightweight flowing garments.

The Septuagint rendering differs considerably from the Masoretic Text and includes specifics about the material and color of the garments.

Commentary

Mirrors, often made of bronze, had highly polished reflective surfaces. There is uncertainty, however, about the meaning of the Hebrew word gillayón. The Vulgate rendering is specula (mirrors), but the term in the Septuagint (býssina) is understood to refer to fine or sheer linen garments. A 2001 revision of Koehler’s lexicon includes “papyrus garments” as one definition for the Hebrew word. Among renderings other than “mirrors,” translators have chosen “lace gowns” (Tanakh) and “garments of gauze” (NRSV).

One possible meaning for the Hebrew term sadín is “undergarment” (made from linen). Translators have variously rendered the Hebrew word as “linen garments” (NIV, NRSV), “linen tunics” (NAB), and “linen vests” (Tanakh).

The Hebrew word tsaníph is generally understood to designate a “headband,” “turban,” or “tiara.” This item of dress would commonly have been made from wool or linen.

The Hebrew term redíd probably referred to some kind of linen or wool wraparound for the upper part of the body. It may have been a wide shawl or headcloth.

3:24. Masoretic Text: And instead of the perfume that had existed, there will be rottenness; and instead of the girdle, a rope; and instead of the well-arranged hairdo, baldness; and instead of a costly robe, a girding of sackcloth; then, instead of beauty —

Septuagint: And instead of an agreeable fragrance, there will be dust; and instead of a girdle, you will bind yourself with a rope; and instead of ornamentation of gold for the head, you will have baldness because of your works; and instead of a garment adorned with purple, you will gird yourself with sackcloth.

The Masoretic Text does not have a term contrasting with beauty, but the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah concludes with bósheth (shame).

The Septuagint makes no mention of hair, and the Hebrew expression here translated “well-arranged hairdo” may be understood differently. Nevertheless, translators have commonly chosen renderings that relate to hair — “well-dressed hair” (NIV), “well-set hair” (NRSV), “coiffure” (NAB), and “fancy hairdos” (CEV). The reading of the Tanakh, however, is closer to the sense of the Septuagint — “instead of a diadem of beaten-work, a shorn head.”

Commentary

The once-proud women would find themselves disgraced as captives of war. Deprived of the means to bathe themselves and to use perfume, they would stink. Instead of attractive girdles for their robes, they would be tied with a rope. Shorn of their lovely locks, their haggard faces and bald heads would reflect little of their former beauty. According to the Septuagint, they would be deprived of their head ornaments fashioned from gold and be subjected to the disgrace of having their heads shorn. This would take place on account of their deeds, evidently their divinely disapproved course of life. Robes made from costly fabrics (or, according to the Septuagint, including purple in the design) would be replaced with sackcloth, a coarse, scratchy material. Whatever had been attractive about the women would be lost. Disgrace would cover them as a garment.

3:25. Masoretic Text: Your males will fall by the sword, and your might in war.

Septuagint: And your handsomest son, whom you love, will fall by the sword, and your strong men will fall by the sword.

Commentary

Abandoned to their enemies, the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem would experience an exceptionally high number of casualties among their warriors, decimating the male population. (Compare 2 Kings 18:13; 2 Chronicles 28:5, 6, 16-19; 32:1.)

3:26. Masoretic Text: And her entrances will sigh and mourn; and, emptied, she will sit on the ground.

Septuagint: And they will be humbled, and the cases of your ornamentation will mourn, and you will be left alone and dashed to the ground.

The obscure rendering of the Septuagint differs considerably from the Masoretic Text. The humbling could refer to the defeated warriors or to the womenfolk who would lose all that was precious to them. Emptied-out cases for ornaments would be a sad sight and, therefore, may be spoken of as mourning. Probably Zion is being addressed as a woman to be forsaken and dashed to the ground.

Commentary

On account of the ravages of war, the entrances to Zion or Jerusalem would present a sorry spectacle or be in a state of mourning. Emptied or cleaned out on account of having lost inhabitants, the condition of the city would be like that of a grief-stricken woman sitting on the ground.