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For now the Sovereign, the L ord of hosts,

is taking away from Jerusalem and from Judah

support and staff—

all support of bread,

and all support of water—


warrior and soldier,

judge and prophet,

diviner and elder,


captain of fifty

and dignitary,

counselor and skillful magician

and expert enchanter.


And I will make boys their princes,

and babes shall rule over them.


The people will be oppressed,

everyone by another

and everyone by a neighbor;

the youth will be insolent to the elder,

and the base to the honorable.



Someone will even seize a relative,

a member of the clan, saying,

“You have a cloak;

you shall be our leader,

and this heap of ruins

shall be under your rule.”


But the other will cry out on that day, saying,

“I will not be a healer;

in my house there is neither bread nor cloak;

you shall not make me

leader of the people.”


For Jerusalem has stumbled

and Judah has fallen,

because their speech and their deeds are against the L ord,

defying his glorious presence.



The look on their faces bears witness against them;

they proclaim their sin like Sodom,

they do not hide it.

Woe to them!

For they have brought evil on themselves.


Tell the innocent how fortunate they are,

for they shall eat the fruit of their labors.


Woe to the guilty! How unfortunate they are,

for what their hands have done shall be done to them.


My people—children are their oppressors,

and women rule over them.

O my people, your leaders mislead you,

and confuse the course of your paths.



The L ord rises to argue his case;

he stands to judge the peoples.


The L ord enters into judgment

with the elders and princes of his people:

It is you who have devoured the vineyard;

the spoil of the poor is in your houses.


What do you mean by crushing my people,

by grinding the face of the poor? says the Lord G od of hosts.



The L ord said:

Because the daughters of Zion are haughty

and walk with outstretched necks,

glancing wantonly with their eyes,

mincing along as they go,

tinkling with their feet;


the Lord will afflict with scabs

the heads of the daughters of Zion,

and the L ord will lay bare their secret parts.


18 In that day the Lord will take away the finery of the anklets, the headbands, and the crescents; 19the pendants, the bracelets, and the scarfs; 20the headdresses, the armlets, the sashes, the perfume boxes, and the amulets; 21the signet rings and nose rings; 22the festal robes, the mantles, the cloaks, and the handbags; 23the garments of gauze, the linen garments, the turbans, and the veils.


Instead of perfume there will be a stench;

and instead of a sash, a rope;

and instead of well-set hair, baldness;

and instead of a rich robe, a binding of sackcloth;

instead of beauty, shame.


Your men shall fall by the sword

and your warriors in battle.


And her gates shall lament and mourn;

ravaged, she shall sit upon the ground.

17. Therefore will the Lord make bald 6767     Smite with a scab. — Eng. Ver. the crown of the head Here the particle ו, (vau,) which signifies and, is put for therefore; for he threatens that, since neither gentle advices nor any words can reform them, the Lord will deal with them in a very different manner, and will not only employ sharp and severe language, but will advance in dreadful array, with an armed band, to take vengeance. Accordingly, as they had manifested their obstinacy from head to foot, so he declares that the Lord will exhibit the marks of his vengeance in every part of their body. He therefore begins with the head, where ornament is chiefly bestowed, and afterwards takes notice of the other parts.

It is worthy of notice that the Prophet had good reason for reproving, with so great earnestness and vehemence, the luxury of women; for while they are chargeable with many vices, they are most of all inflamed with mad eagerness to have fine clothes. Covetous as they naturally are, still they spare no expense for dressing in a showy manner, and even use spare diet, and deprive themselves of what nature requires, that their clothes may be more costly and elegant. So grievously are they corrupted by this vice, that it goes beyond every other.

History tells us what vast crowds the women brought together on account of the Oppian Law 6868     “The Oppian Law,” so called from the tribune, Caius Oppius, who proposed it, was enacted during the disastrous wars with Hannibal, about 213 years before the Christian era. It was to this effect, “That no woman should wear on her person more than half an ounce of gold, or use garments of variegated colors, or ride in a carriage in any city or town, or within a mile’s distance of one, unless when she was going to observe the public festivals.” This law, though extorted by the hard necessities of the state, was all along regarded by many persons as harsh and tyrannical, and, after producing extraordinary commotions, was overwhelmed by the tide of public opinion. Livy informs us (34:1) that “ladies, not restrained either by modesty or by the authority of their husbands,” and neglecting the privacy which belonged to the customs of that age, assembled in a tumultuous manner, and publicly solicited the votes of the consuls and praetors, and other persons in office, for the repeal of the law. Ultimately their chief opponent was Cato, who spoke with all his ability and eloquence, but with a sternness peculiar to his character, and increased by the nature of the question under discussion. He was overmatched by the tact and resources of Valerius, who brought to his aid a considerable amount of historical information, placed the popular arguments in an advantageous light, and succeeded in obtaining an almost unanimous repeal of the law, when it had been twenty years in force. Our Author immediately afterwards refers to the arguments employed on that occasion. — Ed which some wished to maintain, and others to repeal; and that transaction was not conducted with any gravity or moderation in consequence of the crowds of women. But we need not go far to find examples; for they are innumerable in almost every nation, and it is a vice which has been very common in every age. As we are dexterous and sharp-sighted in contriving apologies for defending our luxury and extravagance, the Prophet, on that account, has pointed his finger at the source of all the evils, namely, that mad ambition by which men are hurried along to obtain public notice, and to arrive at eminence above others; for, in order that they may be better known, they wish to outshine their neighbors by the elegance of their dress, that they may draw the eyes of others upon them.

Having pointed to the source of the evil, the Prophet descends to many particulars for the purpose of bringing to public view the fooleries of women, and enumerates a long catalogue of them, to show that, in gathering them together, nothing can exceed the curiosity which dwells in woman. Indeed there is no end to those contrivances; and it was not without reason that the ancients called the collection of a woman’s ornaments a world; 6969     In the speech already mentioned, Valerius wittily alludes to this antiquated use of the Latin word mundus (a world.) “Our ancestors,” he says, “gave to it the appellation of a woman’s world.” Hunc mundum muliebrem appellarunt majores nostraEd. for if they were collected into one heap, they would be almost as numerous as the parts of the world. On this account the Prophet appears to search the women’s chests, and to bring into public view the gaudy trifles which they have treasured up in them, that their extravagant delight and boasting of these things may render their idleness and folly more evident to all. There is no superfluity, therefore, in this enumeration, though spread out in many words, by which their lawless desires are proved to be insatiable.

As to the particulars, I shall not stay to explain them, especially as the best Hebrew scholars have doubts about some of them, and cannot distinguish with certainty the forms of those ornaments. It is enough if we understand the general import and design of the Prophet; namely, that he heaps up and enumerates these trifles in order that the prodigious variety of them may disclose their luxury and ambition, so as to leave them without any excuse. It would be the height of impudence to allege that the contrivances made by the childish vanity of women, beyond what nature requires, are necessary for protecting the body. How many things are here enumerated which are not demanded by nature or necessity or propriety! What is the use of chains, bracelets, earrings and other things of the same sort? Hence it is plain enough that a superfluous collection of such ornaments admits of no excuse; that it gives evidence of excessive luxury which ought to be suppressed or restrained; and that frequently they are unchaste contrivances for weakening the mind and exciting lust. We need not wonder, therefore, that the Prophet speaks so sharply, and threatens severe punishments, against this vice.

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