(When I taught my two year long Bible study on Isaiah, I used The Pulpit Commentary Volume 10: Isaiah edited by H.D.M. Spence and Joseph S. Exell to give me a starting point and rough outline of the material covered in the chapters. In this article, when you read the phrase “my commentary”, I am referring to this volume.)
Read Isaiah 3:12. This appears to refer back to verse 14, where boys are their officials. Or perhaps act “childishly.”
“women rule over them — ” Isaiah is not saying that there are literally women rulers or officials, but rather that the male officials are acting “womanishly” or effeminately. They are exemplifying women at their worst (weak, wavering, timid, impulsive.) Isaiah is talking about the present in this verse, as opposed to earlier, in which he is prophesizing about the future. He is saying that Judah NOW has childish, effeminate leaders, who are leading the people to act wickedly, rather than righteously.
Read Isaiah 3:13-15. This is a picture of a courtroom, with God as judge, as well as the prosecuting attorney, with the people of Judah the plaintiffs, as well as the victims. Notice that though all the people of Judah are on trial, it is the leaders and the elders that are held primarily responsible ‘” the ones that God condemns. (“With great power comes great responsibility”, to quote Spiderman’s Uncle Ben.) What are these leaders accused of?
Ruining God’s vineyard
Plundering the poor
Crushing & grinding the faces of the poor
These show that we can come under judgment for how we treat other people. If we are in positions of authority over people, we are responsible for what happens to those people who are under us. We can see that God clearly cares very much about the poor and the needy ‘” this is a common theme we have seen in Isaiah. The leaders were clearly taking advantage of their positions by treating the poor unfairly (deliberate selfishness and greed) and probably simply ignoring them and allowing them to suffer (indifference and apathy). God is telling them that the weak and helpless will always have Him as an advocate.
But what is this vineyard of God’s that the leaders are accused of ruining? If we skip a couple chapters we will find the answer. Read Isaiah 5:1-7
The vineyard that God planted and took care of was Israel (Judah), but it did not yield good fruit (good deeds, good relationship with God), but rather bad deeds (bad fruit), with the good fruit destroyed. Here is chapter 3 God is saying that the leaders were the ones to destroy all that God had planted and tended for centuries.
Read Isaiah 3:16-4:1. What graphic images! The Lord spends more time discussing and describing these women than the elders and leaders just mentioned.
Keep your finger in Isaiah and now turn back a few pages to Proverbs 31.
Read Proverbs 31:10-31. Compare and contrast these two kinds women. What are their relationships with other people? What does the Bible say is going to happen to them?
I believe that both of these sections demonstrate that God cares very much about women ‘” He gives us both good and bad examples of the kind of women (people) He wants us to be.
H.D.M. Spence and Joseph S. Exell (editors). The Pulpit Commentary Volume 10: Isaiah