Judgment on Jerusalem and Judah
1* The Lord, the LORD of hosts,
will take away from Jerusalem and from Judah
Support and staff—
all support of bread,
all support of water:a
2Hero and warrior,
judge and prophet, diviner and elder,
3The captain of fifty and the nobleman,
counselor, skilled magician, and expert charmer.
4I will place boys as their princes;
the fickle will govern them,b
5And the people will oppress one another,
yes, each one the neighbor.
The child will be insolent toward the elder,
and the base toward the honorable.c
6When anyone seizes a brother
in their father’s house, saying,
“You have clothes! Be our ruler,
and take in hand this ruin!”—
7He will cry out in that day:
“I cannot be a healer,d
when there is neither bread nor clothing in my own house!
You will not make me a ruler of the people!”
8Jerusalem has stumbled, Judah has fallen;
for their speech and deeds affront the LORD,
a provocation in the sight of his majesty.
9Their very look bears witness against them;e
they boast of their sin like Sodom,f
They do not hide it.
Woe to them!
They deal out evil to themselves.
10Happy the just, for it will go well with them,
the fruit of their works they will eat.
11Woe to the wicked! It will go ill with them,
with the work of their hands they will be repaid.
12My people—infants oppress them,
women rule over them!
My people, your leaders deceive you,g
they confuse the paths you should follow.
13* The LORD rises to accuse,
stands to try his people.
14The Lord enters into judgment
with the people’s elders and princes:
You, you who have devoured the vineyard;
the loot wrested from the poor is in your houses.
15What do you mean by crushing my people,
and grinding down the faces of the poor?
says the Lord, the GOD of hosts.
The Haughty Women of Zion*
16The LORD said:h
Because the daughters of Zion are haughty,
and walk with necks outstretched,
Ogling and mincing as they go,
their anklets tinkling with every step,
17The Lord shall cover the scalps of Zion’s daughters with scabs,
and the LORD shall lay bare their heads.* i
18* On that day the LORD will do away with the finery of the anklets, sunbursts, and crescents; 19the pendants, bracelets, and veils; 20the headdresses, bangles, cinctures, perfume boxes, and amulets; 21the signet rings, and the nose rings; 22the court dresses, wraps, cloaks, and purses; 23the lace gowns, linen tunics, turbans, and shawls.
24Instead of perfume there will be stench,
instead of a girdle, a rope,
And instead of elaborate coiffure, baldness;
instead of a rich gown, a sackcloth skirt.
Then, instead of beauty, shame.
25Your men will fall by the sword,
26Her gates will lament and mourn,
as the city sits desolate on the ground.k
* [3:1–12] These verses suggest deportation, with resulting social upheaval, and thus may date to sometime after Ahaz submitted as vassal to Assyria. The deportation practiced by Assyria, as later by Babylon, exiled the leading elements of society, such as those named in vv. 2–3; cf. 2 Kgs 24:12, 14–16 for a similar list of those exiled by the Babylonians. Denuding society of its leaders opens the way to near anarchy and a situation in which leadership is seized by or thrust upon those unqualified for it (vv. 5–7). The situation has been provoked by sinfully inept leadership (vv. 4, 8–9, 12). Some suggest that vv. 4 and 12 refer to Ahaz, who may have come to the throne at an early age. Verses 10–11 form a wisdom couplet that was inserted later.
* [3:13–15] The princes and the elders, here accused of despoiling the poor, are the very ones who should be their defenders. Loot: by the Hebrew term (gazela) Isaiah conveys the idea of violent seizure, though 10:1–4 suggests the poor could be plundered by legal means.
* [3:16–4:1] Here and again in 32:9–14 Isaiah condemns the women of the ruling class for their part in Jerusalem’s plight.
* [3:17] A shaven head is a mark of social disgrace; cf. Nm 5:18.
* [3:18–23] The long list of women’s apparel in these verses suggests luxury and vanity; it contains a number of rare words, and the precise meaning of many of the terms is uncertain.
* [3:25] Your men…your champions: the second person feminine singular pronoun here shows that the prophet has shifted his attention from the women of Zion to the personified city of Zion.
b. [3:4] Eccl 10:16.
h. [3:16] Is 32:9–14; Ez 16:50; Am 4:1–3.
i. [3:17] Jer 13:26; Ez 16:37.