on Isaiah 3 :16
And wanton eyes "And falsely setting off their eyes with paint" - Hebrew, falsifying their eyes. I take this to be the true meaning and literal rendering of the word; from שקר shakar. The Masoretes have pointed it, as if it were from שקר sakar, a different word. This arose, as I imagine, from their supposing that the word was the same with סקר sakar, Chaldee, "intueri, innuere oculis;" or that it had an affinity with the noun סיקרא sikra, which the Chaldeans, or the rabbins at least, use for stibium, the mineral which was commonly used in colouring the eyes. See Jarchi's comment on the place. Though the colouring of the eyes with stibium be not particularly here expressed, yet I suppose it to be implied; and so the Chaldee paraphrase explains it; stibio linitis oculis, "with eyes dressed with stibium." This fashion seems to have prevailed very generally among the Eastern people in ancient times; and they retain the very same to this day.
Pietro delta Valle, giving a description of his wife, an Assyrian lady born in Mesopotamia, and educated at Baghdad, whom he married in that country, (Viaggi, Tom. I., Lettera 17), says, "Her eyelashes, which are long, and, according to the custom of the East, dressed with stibium, (as we often read in the Holy Scriptures of the Hebrew women of old, Jeremiah 4:30; Ezekiel 23:40; and in Xenophon, of Astyages the grandfather of Cyrus, and of the Medes of that time, Cyropaed. lib. i.), give a dark, and at the same time a majestic, shade to the eyes." "Great eyes," says Sandys, Travels, p. 67, speaking of the Turkish women, "they have in principal repute; and of those the blacker they be the more amiable; insomuch that they put between the eyelids and the eye a certain black powder with a fine long pencil, made of a mineral, brought from the kingdom of Fez, and called Alcohole; which by the not disagreeable staining of the lids doth better set forth the whiteness of the eye; and though it be troublesome for a time, yet it comforteth the sight, and repelleth ill humours." Vis ejus (stibii) astringe ac refrigerare, principalis autem circa oculos; namque ideo etiam plerique Platyophthalmon id appellavere, quoniam in calliblepharis mulierum dilatat oculos; et fluxiones inhibet oculorum exulcerationesque. "It is astringent in its virtue, and refrigerant, and to be chiefly employed about the eyes, and it is called Platyophthalmon, for being put into those ointments with which women beautify their eyes, it dilates them, removes defluxions, and heals any ulcerations that may be about the eyelids." - Pliny, Nat. Hist. 33:6.
Ille supercilium madida fuligine tactum
Obliqua producit acu, pingitque trementes
Juv. Sat. 2:93.
One his eyebrows, tinged with black soot,
Lengthens with an oblique bodkin, and paints,
Lifting up his winking eyes.
"But none of those [Moorish] ladies," says Dr. Shaw, Travels, p. 294, fol., "take themselves to be completely dressed, till they have tinged the hair and edges of their eyelids with alkahol, the powder of lead ore. This operation is performed by dipping first into the powder a small wooden bodkin of the thickness of a quill; and then drawing it afterwards through the eyelids, over the ball of the eye." Ezekiel, Ezekiel 23:40, uses the same word in the form of a verb, כחלת עניך cachalt eynayik, "thou didst dress thine eyes with alcahol;" which the Septuagint render εστιβιζου τους, οφθαλμους σου, "thou didst dress thine eyes with stibium;" just as they do when the word פוך phuch is employed: compare 2 Kings 9:30; Jeremiah 4:30. They supposed, therefore, that פוך phuch and כחל cachal, or in the Arabic form, alcahol, meant the same thing; and probably the mineral used of old for this purpose was the same that is used now; which Dr. Shaw (ibid. note) says is "a rich lead ore, pounded into an impalpable powder." Alcoholados; the word משקרות meshakkeroth in this place is thus rendered in an old Spanish translation. - Sanctius. See also Russell's Nat. Hist. of Aleppo, p. 102.
The following inventory, as one may call it, of the wardrobe of a Hebrew lady, must, from its antiquity, and the nature of the subject, have been very obscure even to the most ancient interpreters which we have of it; and from its obscurity must have been also peculiarly liable to the mistakes of transcribers. However, it is rather matter of curiosity than of importance; and is indeed, upon the whole, more intelligible and less corrupted than one might have reasonably expected. Clemens Alexandrinus, Paedag. lib. ii., c. 12, and Julius Pollux, lib. vii., c. 22, have each of them preserved from a comedy of Aristophanes, now lost, a similar catalogue of the several parts of the dress and ornaments of a Grecian lady; which, though much more capable of illustration from other writers, though of later date, and quoted and transmitted down to us by two different authors, yet seems to be much less intelligible, and considerably more corrupted, than this passage of Isaiah. Salmasius has endeavored, by comparing the two quotations, and by much critical conjecture and learned disquisition, to restore the true reading, and to explain the particulars; with what success, I leave to the determination of the learned reader, whose curiosity shall lead him to compare the passage of the comedian with this of the prophet, and to examine the critic's learned labors upon it. Exercit. Plinian, p. 1148; or see Clem. Ales. as cited above, edit. Potter, where the passage, as corrected by Salmasius, is given.
Nich. Guel. Schroederus, professor of oriental languages in the University of Marpurg, has published a very learned and judicious treatise upon this passage of Isaiah. The title of it is, "Commentarius Philologico-Criti cus de Vestitu Mulierum Hebraearum ad Iesai 3 ver. 16-24. Lugd. Bat. 1745." As I think no one has handled this subject with so much judgment and ability as this author, I have for the most part followed him, in giving the explanation of the several terms denoting the different parts of dress, of which this passage consists; signifying the reasons of my dissent, where he does not give me full satisfaction.
Bishop Lowth's translation of these verses is the following: -
18. In that day will the Lord take from them the ornaments,Of the feet-rings, and the net-works, and the crescents;
on Isaiah 3 :16
Moreover, the Lord saith - In the previous parts of this prophecy, the prophet had rebuked the princes, magistrates, and the people generally. In the remainder of this chapter, he reproves with great severity the pride, luxury, and effeminacy of the female part of the Jewish community. Some interpreters have understood this as designed to reprove the pride and luxury of the "cities" and "towns" of Judah, regarded as "daughters of Zion;" see the note at Isaiah 1:8. But this interpretation is far-fetched and absurd. On this principle everything in the Bible might be turned into allegory.
The daughters of Zion - Jewish females; they who dwelt in "Zion." Perhaps he means particularly those who dwelt in Zion, the capital - or the females connected with the court. It is probable that the prophet here refers to the prosperous reign of Uzziah (2 Chronicles 26:5, ...), when by successful commerce luxury would naturally abound.
Are haughty - Are proud.
And walk with stretched-forth necks - Displaying the neck ostentatiously; elevating or extending it as far as possible. Septuagint, ὑψηλῷ τραχήλῳ hupsēlō trachēlō, with elevated or exalted neck; that is, with that indication of pride and haughtiness which is evinced by a lofty demeanour. 'When the females dance (in India), they stretch forth their necks, and hold them away, as if their heads were about to fall from their shoulders.' - "Roberts."
And wanton eyes - עינים וּמשׁקרות ûmeshaqerôth ‛ēynāyı̂m. The word שׁקר shâqar usually means "to lie, to deceive," and may here refer to the art of alluring by a wanton or fascinating glance of the eye. There has been great diversity of opinion about the meaning of this expression. Lowth proposes to read it, 'and falsely setting off their eyes with paint,' in allusion to a custom known to prevail in the East, of coloring the eye-lids with stibium, or the powder of lead ore. This was done the better to exhibit the white of the eye, and was supposed by many to contribute to the healthful action of the eye itself. This practice is known to prevail extensively now; but it is not clear that the prophet here has reference to it. The expression is usually interpreted to mean 'deceiving with the eyes,' that is, "alluring" or "enticing" by the motion of the eyes. The "motion" of the eyes is mentioned Proverbs 6:13-14 as one mode of "deceiving" a person:
He winketh with his eyes,
He speaketh with his feet,
He teacheth with his fingers;
Frowardness is in his heart,
He deviseth mischief continually.
Compare the notes at Job 42:14. The meaning here, doubtless, is, that they attempted to entice by the "motion" or "glance" of the eye. The Chaldee seems to have understood this of staining the eyes with stibium.
Mincing as they go - Margin, 'Tripping nicely;' that is, walking with an affected gait - a mode which, unhappily, is too well known in all ages to need a more particular description. Roberts, speaking of the dance in India, says, 'Some parts of the dance consist of a tripping or mincing step, which they call tatte-tatee. The left foot is put first, and the inside of the right keeps following the heel of the former.'
And making a tinkling with their feet - That is, they adorn themselves with "ankle rings," and make a tinkling or noise with them to attract attention. The custom of wearing rings on the fingers and wrists has been common every where. In addition to this, Oriental females often wore them on the "ankles" - a custom in itself not more unreasonable or absurd. The custom is mentioned by travelers in Eastern countries in more modern times. Thus, Michaelis says, 'In Syria and the neighboring provinces, the more opulent females bind ligaments around their feet, like chains, or bracelets, united by small chains of silver and gold, and exhibit them by their sound as they walk.' And Pliny ("Nat. Hist.," lib. xxiii., ch. 12) says, 'Silver has succeeded to gold in the luxury of the females who form bracelets for their feet of that, since an ancient custom forbids them to wear gold.' Frequent mention is made of these ornaments, says Rosenmuller, in the Arabic and Persian poems. Roberts, speaking of the ornaments on the feet of females in India, says, 'The first is a large silver curb like that which is attached to a bridle; the second is of the same kind, but surrounded by a great number of small bells; the third resembles a bracelet; and the fourth is a convex hoop, about two inches deep.'
on Isaiah 3 :16
3:16 The daughters - The women; (hitherto he reproved the men). A tinkling - By some ornaments which they wore upon their shoes.