This book begins with a note that Isaiah had a vision “concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah (Ahaziah), Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.” The events of those times can be reviewed beginning in 2 Kings 8 and going on to 20. Uzziah’s story does start a little sooner but that was the time of Elisha and this is about Isaiah. He and Jotham seemed to have done their best to steer Judah in the right direction but failed mostly when it came to the “high places” of other gods. Ahaz was a complete reversal and so bad that Israel teamed up with Syria against him. He eventually dies and is succeeded by Hezekiah who comes back around and fixes everything, even taking down the high places his ancestors had left for so long. Isaiah has even already made an appearance during Hezekiah’s mention in the 2 Kings 19 when Hezekiah asks him for help.
The book is organized so that these first 39 chapters are all prophecies or oracles. The first twelve are against Judah. We’re only going to do the first six here because not only are they not often discussed in places I could find online, but there are no notes in my study Bible on the verses of interest for this study. Also, there’s no context given for them and they are prophecies which tend to be vague and colored with euphemisms. Mentions of women could be not women at all but countries or tribes. Very confusing.
The vision mentioned above is described in the first chapter. It’s about the “wickedness of Judah” and what will happen if they persist down this road. They should already know from what their half of the Moses Covenant was, but its apparent from the 2 Kings portions that this set of people are so removed from their history as the descendants from Exodus that they may not even know that they were supposed to keep the covenant, let alone what it consisted of. Towards the end, God does give a reminder that He will keep them if they turn it back around. My favorite part is this:
16Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean;
remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes;
cease to do evil,
17learn to do good;
bring justice to the fatherless,
plead the widow’s cause.
It goes on to “The Unfaithful City” which sounds like God making the decision to “turn away” from them and let the chips fall where they may.
Chapter two doesn’t really have anything for the purposes of our study. There’s mostly warnings about the day that God comes in and punishes them for abandoning Him.
The first thing in this chapters is verse 12:
I get the second half of this about being led astray, but why the part about infants and women? Unfortunately, we don’t get any significant context for when these oracles or prophesies are given. Perhaps a woman was sitting on the throne at that time. There was at least one plus Jezebel seemed to have quite a bit of control over what her husband did and she led him and the people away from God at every opportunity. As far as infants, I had gone back to the Strong’s concordance on BibleHub and confirmed that they meant that the oppressors act like children and aren’t necessarily minors.
Interestingly, the NET Bible is the only version to translate this without the use of women or children/infants and does this:
Oppressors treat my people cruelly; creditors rule over them. My people’s leaders mislead them; they give you confusing directions.
Children can be cruel, but creditors instead of women? That brought me back to context and to take a second look at the surrounding verses:
9For 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.
10Tell the righteous that it shall be well with them,
for they shall eat the fruit of their deeds.
11Woe to the wicked! It shall be ill with him,
for what his hands have dealt out shall be done to him.
12My people—infants are their oppressors,
and women rule over them.
O my people, your guides mislead you
and they have swallowed upe the course of your paths.
Check out that second half of verse 11. Perhaps women will rule over these men because of the way they have ruled over the women. Their punishment is to subjugated in the same manner…. But it really looks like these two things are the current problem not the future one to deal with. I’d love to hear from someone more familiar about whether this is literal or if it means something else.
The chapter goes on to talk about the “daughters of Zion” in a rather disparaging light but I feel like this is a little more for them to not feel exception among the problems of Judah and Jerusalem. Most of this had been said about the men at one point or another already, except the decorative details and removal of beauty. For the men it was a removal of power equivalent for the same thing.
I will also note, though, that if you go back and look at where Isaiah’s prophesies begin, there was temporarily a female monarch whose character appears to have resembled Cersei Lannister from Game of Thrones, so there’s that.
This chapter starts off confusing with this verse:
1And seven women shall take hold of one man in that day, saying, “We will eat our own bread and wear our own clothes, only let us be called by your name; take away our reproach.”
Why be called by his name? I would think marriage except that there are seven of them. I also checked on “reproach” which includes “shame” and “disgrace”. The best that I can really come up is that these women (or countries or whatever he may be using women as a euphemism for) want to stand on their own but use a name that protects them somehow, whether it be the assumption that the name means they are spoken for or that they are associated as allies with another country or tribe or something.
The chapter goes on to mention the daughters of Zion from above and that their “flith” will be “washed away” and some other stuff about the men and that God will come back and actually reside in Jerusalem.
Chapters five and six has more destruction and woes but nothing that specifically mentions or eludes to women. Also chapter six has a strange “commission” that sounds like it says God wants Jerusalem to continue on it’s path and not learn how to be better because He wants the coming destruction. I did read study Bible notes from a few types of study Bibles that make it sound like Isaiah’s repetitive warnings will have a hardening effect rather than them listening to him. It’s a fairly typical reaction to hearing things you don’t want to be true, denial and all that, but that’s not how it reads. I include the mention though because I would like to think that people publishing things like that in study Bible books would be more educated on the subject and know something I don’t.
It’s interesting to me because I’ve been following along where I can on my husband’s theology classes and there is often some insight that I never would have thought of about certain passages. There is definite evidence that the Bible is not the kind of book that can be just picked up and understood like most modern writing. At the same time, needing to be educated on it in order to read it also leaves a lot of room for people to tell you what you should think about it and is dangerous in its own way.