Isaiah 3 Commentary

Ungodly society (3:1-4:1)

Isaiah now gives a picture of the end of a society characterized by human self-sufficiency and self- centredness. The government collapses, resulting in a shortage of basic necessities such as food and water. Judah had previously depended for leadership on a variety of people, good and bad – statesmen, soldiers, judges, prophets, magicians – but now no one can be found to lead the country (3:1-3). Power falls into the hands of immature youths, and lawlessness results. People show no respect for former social values, but seize every opportunity to advance themselves and exploit their fellows (4-5).

In a time when food and clothing are so scarce, anyone who appears a little better off than others will be invited to take over the leadership in an effort to restore order in the chaotic city. But he will quickly make excuses and refuse the invitation, for no one will want to be leader in such a troubled time (6-7).

The people arrogantly declare themselves to be independent of God. They boast of their new-found moral freedom and are proud of their immoral acts (8-9). All the wrongdoers will suffer a fitting punishment, but the righteous will escape (10-11). The nation is almost without leadership, because the former leaders have either fled or been overthrown. Their corruption is the reason for the present crisis. They used their positions entirely for their own benefit, and now the nation has come to ruin (12-15).

These leaders oppressed and robbed the poor so that their wives could dress themselves lavishly. But women who once enjoyed the luxury of the upper classes now suffer humiliation (16-17). Their extravagance is replaced by poverty, their vanity by shame (18-24). They once tried to tempt men with their artificial beauty, but now they will find themselves begging men to marry them, so that they will not be left childless. So many men will be killed in battle that there will not be enough husbands for all the women (25-4:1).

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