‘Because the daughters of Zion
With outstretched necks.
They glance wantonly
With their eyes.
They mince along
As they go.
With their feet.
Yahweh will afflict them
On the heads
Of the daughters of Zion.
Yahweh will lay bare
Their secret parts.”
Now Isaiah presents another oracle of Yahweh about the prideful women of Zion in Jerusalem. The women of Zion were proud, since they stretched out their necks. They were provocative with their wandering unrestrained sexual looks in their eyes. They minced or played around as they went their way. They made noises or tinkled bells with their feet as they walked to gain attention. Yahweh was not content to let this go. Instead he was going to put scabs on their heads. He was going to make them naked, revealing their private parts. Obviously, this is a strong anti-feminism attitude.
“Why do you seek further beatings?
Why do you continue to rebel?
The whole head is sick.
The whole heart is faint.
From the sole of the foot
Even to the head,
There is no soundness in it.
There are only bruises.
There are only sores.
There are bleeding wounds.
These have not been drained.
These have not been bound up.
These have not been softened with oil.”
The oracle of Yahweh, via Isaiah, continued with a comparison of this society to a sick or injured rebel. Why would they want to receive more whippings? Why did they continue to rebel against Yahweh? Their heads are sick and their hearts are weak. There is no health in them, from the soles of their feet to the tip of their head. They are bruised, with sores and bleeding wounds that have not been drained, bounded up, or cared for with oil. They are just plain suffering from head to toe.
“Like a house in ruins
Is wisdom to a fool.
To the ignorant,
Knowledge is talk
That has no meaning.
To a senseless man,
Fetters on his feet.
Like manacles on his right hand.
A fool raises his voice
When he laughs.
But the wise
To the sensible person,
Like a golden ornament.
Like a bracelet on the right arm.”
The foolish people do not understand or appreciate education. The ignorant foolish people think that wisdom is a ruined house, since smart talk is meaningless. The ignorant ones think that education is nothing but chains on their feet and handcuffs on their hands. It holds them back from physical activity. The foolish laugh loudly, but the wise smile quietly. For the sensible person, education is a golden ornament or a bracelet on their arms. The fools are happy with their lack of education because they are ignorant.
Accept my judgment!
Do not reject my counsel!
Put your feet into her fetters!
Put your neck into her collar!
Bend your shoulder!
Do not fret under her bonds!
Come to her with all your soul!
Keep her ways with all your might!
She will become known to you.
When you get hold of her,
Do not let her go.
For at last,
You will find the rest she gives.
She will be changed into joy for you.
Then her fetters will become for you a strong defense.
Her collar will be a golden ornament.
Her bonds will be a purple cord.
You will wear her like a glorious robe.
You will put her on like a splendid crown.”
Sirach wants the children to listen to him and accept his judgment. They should receive the chains of wisdom around their necks and on their feet in order to accept wisdom. They should carry her, this feminine wisdom, and let her come into their souls. They should seek and search her out. She will become known to them. They should never let her go. Their lives will be changed into joy as the chains will be a defense. They will have golden ornaments around their necks, purple cords, and a splendid crown. Just listen to what he and wisdom are telling them. This almost sounds like a masochistic love for this female wisdom.
“God will shatter the heads of his enemies.
God will shatter the hairy crown
Of those who walk in their guilty ways.
‘I will bring them back from Bashan.
I will bring them back from the depths of the sea.
Thus you may bathe your feet in blood.
The tongues of your dogs
May have their share from the foe.’”
After the rousing praise for God, now we turn to the action of God. He was going to shatter the heads of his enemies. He would smash the hairy crowns of the guilty ones. He would bring them back from the mountains of Bashan, the Golan Heights, and from the depths of sea. Why would he bring his foes? Then the Israelites could bathe their feet in the blood of their enemies. After that the dogs could have a portion of their bodies. This was a gruesome description of the guilty enemies of God.
“Bless our God!
Let the sound of his praise be heard!
He has kept us among the living.
He has not let our feet slip.
You have tested us!
You have tried us as silver is tried.
You brought us into the net.
You laid burdens on our backs.
You let people ride over our heads.
We went through fire.
We went through water.
You have brought us out to a spacious place.”
God has been good to the Israelites. They should bless God. The sounds of praise should be heard because he kept them among the living. He did not let their feet slip. They were tested like silver is tested in minting it. They fell into nets. They had burdens on their backs. People ran over them. They went through fire and water. However, in the end, they settled into a spacious place, the Promised Land.
“The righteous will rejoice
When they see the vengeance done.
They will bathe their feet
In the blood of the wicked.
People will say.
There is a reward
For the righteous.
There is a God
Who judges on earth.’”
This psalm concludes with the righteous winning out. They would rejoice when they saw that vengeance against the wicked ones had been carried out. They would bathe their feet in the blood of the wicked ones. What a cruel metaphor. This was the reward for the righteous because God was the true judge who ruled the earth.