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Isaiah 3:1

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

The stay and the staff "Every stay and support" - Hebrew, "the support masculine, and the support feminine:" that is, every kind of support, whether great or small, strong or weak. "Al Kanitz, wal-kanitzah; the wild beasts, male and female. Proverbially applied both to fishing and hunting: i.e., I seized the prey, great or little, good or bad. From hence, as Schultens observes, is explained Isaiah 3:1, literally, the male and female stay: i.e., the strong and weak, the great and small." - Chappelow, note on Hariri, Assembly 1. Compare Ecclesiastes 2:8.

The Hebrew words ומשענה משען mashen umashenah come from the same root שען shaan, to lean against, to incline, to support; and here, being masculine and feminine, they may signify all things necessary for the support both of man and woman. My old MS. understands the staff and stay as meaning particular persons, and translates the verse thus: - Lo forsoth, the Lordschip Lord of Hoostis schal don awey fro Jerusalem and fro Juda the stalworth and the stronge.

The two following verses, Isaiah 3:2, Isaiah 3:3, are very clearly explained by the sacred historian's account of the event, the captivity of Jehoiachin by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon: "And he carried away all Jerusalem, and all the princes, and all the mighty men of valor, even ten thousand captives, and all the craftsmen and smiths; none remained save the poorest sort of the people of the land," 2 Kings 24:14. Which is supplied by our version.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

For - This is a continuation of the previous chapter. The same prophecy is continued, and the force of the argument of the prophet will not be seen unless the chapters are read together; see the Analysis prefixed to Isaiah 2:22, the prophet had cautioned his countrymen against confiding in man. In this chapter, a reason is given here why they should cease to do it - to wit, that God would soon take away their kings and princes.

The Lord - האדון hā'âdôn see the note at Isaiah 1:24.

The Lord of hosts - see the note at Isaiah 1:9. The prophet calls the attention of the Jews particularly to the fact that this was about to be done by Yahweh “of hosts” - a title which he gives to God when he designs to indicate that that which is to be done implies special strength, power, and majesty. As the work which was now to be done was the removal of the mighty men on which the nation was depending, it is implied that it was a work of power which belonged especially to the God of armies - the Almighty.

Doth take away - Is about to remove. In the Hebrew, the word here is a “participle,” and does not mark the precise time. It has reference here, however, to the future.

From Jerusalem … - Note Isaiah 1:1.

The stay - In the Hebrew, the words translated “stay” and “staff” are the same, with the exception that the former is in the masculine, and the latter in the feminine gender. The meaning is, that God would remove “all kinds of support,” or “everything” on which they relied. The reference is undoubtedly to the princes and mighty men on whose counsels and aid the nation was resting for defense; see Isaiah 3:2-3.

The whole stay of bread - We use a similar expression when we say that “bread is the staff of life.” The Hebrews often expressed the same idea, representing the “heart” in man as being “supported or upheld” by bread, Genesis 18:5 (margin); Judges 19:5 (margin); Leviticus 26:26; Psalm 105:16.

Stay of water - He would reduce them from their luxuries introduced by commerce Jeremiah 38:21; Jeremiah 38:9; Lamentations 4:4: “The tongue of the sucking child cleaveth to the roof of his month for thirst; the young children ask bread, and no man breaketh it unto them.”

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
God was about to deprive Judah of every stay and support. The city and the land were to be made desolate, because their words and works had been rebellious against the Lord; even at his holy temple. If men do not stay themselves upon God, he will soon remove all other supports, and then they must sink. Christ is the Bread of life and the Water of life; if he be our Stay, we shall find that is a good part not to be taken away, Joh 6:27. Here note, 1. That the condition of sinners is exceedingly woful. 2. It is the soul that is damaged by sin. 3. Whatever evil befals sinners, be sure that they bring it on themselves.
Ellen G. White
Prophets and Kings, 323-4

Inspiration declares, “The sacrifice of the wicked is abomination: how much more, when he bringeth it with a wicked mind?” Proverbs 21:27. The God of heaven is “of purer eyes than to behold evil,” and cannot “look on iniquity.” Habakkuk 1:13. It is not because He is unwilling to forgive that He turns from the transgressor; it is because the sinner refuses to make use of the abundant provisions of grace, that God is unable to deliver from sin. “The Lord's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither His ear heavy, that it cannot hear: but your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you, that He will not hear.” Isaiah 59:1, 2. PK 323.1

Solomon had written, “Woe to thee, O land, when thy king is a child!” Ecclesiastes 10:16. Thus it was with the land of Judah. Through continued transgression her rulers had become as children. Isaiah called the attention of the people to the weakness of their position among the nations of earth, and he showed that this was the result of wickedness in high places. “Behold,” he said, “the Lord, the Lord of hosts, doth take away from Jerusalem and from Judah the stay and the staff, the whole stay of bread, and the whole stay of water, the mighty man, and the man of war, the judge, and the prophet, and the prudent, and the ancient, the captain of fifty, and the honorable man, and the counselor, and the cunning artificer, and the eloquent orator. And I will give children to be their princes, and babes shall rule over them.” “For Jerusalem is ruined, and Judah is fallen: because their tongue and their doings are against the Lord.” Isaiah 3:1-4, 8. PK 323.2

“They which lead thee,” the prophet continued, “cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths.” Verse 12. During the reign of Ahaz this was literally true; for of him it is written: “He walked in the ways of the kings of Israel, and made also molten images for Baalim. Moreover he burnt incense in the valley of the son of Hinnom;” “yea, and made his son to pass through the fire, according to the abominations of the heathen, whom the Lord cast out from before the children of Israel.” 2 Chronicles 28:2, 3; 2 Kings 16:3. PK 324.1

Read in context »
Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, 270

The prophecy of Isaiah 3 was presented before me as applying to these last days, and the reproofs are given to the daughters of Zion who have thought only of appearance and display. Read verse 25: “Thy men shall fall by the sword, and thy mighty in the war.” I was shown that this scripture will be strictly fulfilled. Young men and women professing to be Christians, yet having no Christian experience, and having borne no burdens and felt no individual responsibility, are to be proved. They will be brought low in the dust and will long for an experience in the things of God, which they have failed to obtain. 1T 270.1

War lifts his helmet to his brow;
O God, protect Thy people now.
1T 270.2

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