Isaiah Chapter 3

Join Me In a Personal Study of Isaiah's warning judgments to be poured out on the rebellious

Click here to read the Isaiah Chapters in the Book of Mormon

Hoyt Brewster, in Isaiah Plain and Simple, suggests that Isaiah 3 “should be read in conjunction with the previous and following chapters in order to get the ‘big picture.’ While being filled with warnings to the ‘proud and lofty,’ Isaiah 2 contains a great deal of hope. Chapter 3, however, presents the downside; focusing on judgments to be poured out on the rebellious. Finally, Isaiah 4 provides the hope of a future redemption for Zion and Jerusalem.”

“Isaiah 3 contains a prophecy about the house of Judah in Isaiah’s day, and it also applies to people in our day. In Isaiah 3:1–7, Isaiah prophesied of the physical destruction and spiritual loss that would come upon Judah and Jerusalem. (Jerusalem was the capital of the Southern Kingdom of Judah.)” Old Testament Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students (OTSG)



Judah and Jerusalem will be punished for their disobedience—The Lord pleads for and judges His people—The daughters of Zion are cursed and tormented for their worldliness—Compare 2 Nephi 13.

King James Version

Book of Mormon

Expanded Foot Notes and Commentary

Isaiah 3:1–8 Prophetic Declaration of the Fall of Judah 

Joseph Smith Translation (JST) corrections are in RED; commentary is GREEN and when not otherwise noted comes from Old Testament Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students

aFor, behold, the Lord, the Lord of hosts, doth take away from bJerusalem [A] and from Judah the stay and the staff, the whole stay of cbread [B], and the whole stay of water,














1  aFor behold, the Lord, the Lord of Hosts, doth take away from Jerusalem, and from Judah, the stay and the staff, the whole staff of bread, and the whole stay of water—














In the following verses, “Isaiah described the eventual fall of Judah and Jerusalem in terms of the noted officials and respected persons of his day. These included government, military, educational, and religious leaders. With the loss of such individuals, the nation would fall under despotic reign at the hands of youthful puppets. Finally, it would rush toward anarchy as the last struggles for power were exercised within the ruling family. (See Keil and Delitzsch, Commentary, 7:1:130–35.) Old Testament Student Manual (OTSM)

“…in Isaiah 3, the prophet gets a good deal more explicit, setting aside evocative but now-dated imagery for direct description of what collapse would look like for the covenant people. First, basic staples run out as drought and famine prevail: ‘The Lord of Hosts doth take away from Jerusalem and from Judah . . . the whole staff of bread and the whole stay of water.’ (2 Ne. 13:1)–Spencer, Joseph M., Vision of All, Greg Kofford Books. Kindle Edition.

2 The mighty man [C], and the man of war, the judge, and the prophet, and the prudent, and the aancient, 2 The amighty man, and the man of bwar, the judge, and the prophet, and the cprudent, and the ancient;  aancient, OR elder (also v. 5).

3 The captain of fifty, and the honourable man, and the counsellor [D], and athe cunning artificer, and the beloquent orator.








3 The captain of fifty, and the honorable man, and the counselor, and the cunning artificer, and the eloquent orator.








 athe cunning artificer: OR the wise man of magic arts.
beloquent orator: HEB skillful enchanter.

When Israel and Judah were conquered by foreign nations like Assyria and Babylon, the conquerors carried away the upper class to serve them and to remove leaders that might threaten rebellion. Those who were left—women (v. 12), children (v. 4), or even a man with a cloak (v. 6, NRSV)—might be sought to lead. This theme continues through v. 12.—Madsen and Hopkin, Opening Isaiah, p 11

 4  And I will give achildren to be their princes [E], and babes shall rule over them. 4 And I will give children unto them to be their princes, and babes shall rule over them. aEccl. 10:16 Woe to thee, O land, when thy king is a child, and thy princes eat in the morning!
 5  And the people shall be oppressed,  every one by another[F], and every one by his neighbour: the child shall behave himself proudly against the aancient[E1], and the base against the honourable.  5 And the people shall be aoppressed, every one by another, and every one by his neighbor; the child shall behave himself bproudly against the ancient, and the base against the honorable.

[F]This is the pivot point of this chiasmus: anarchy. Ridges, The Old Testament Made Easier, p. 32 (see note below)

a JKVancient, OR elder (also v.2).

6  When a man shall take hold of his brother of the house of his father, saying, Thou hast clothing, be thou our ruler [D1], and let this aruin be under thy hand:




6 When a man shall take hold of his brother of the house of his father, and shall say: Thou hast clothing, be thou our ruler, and let not this aruin come under thy hand—



The people would be so desperate for leadership that they would select rulers because they were able to dress decently, but even family leaders would refuse to help. The Book of Mormon provides textual clarification for verse 6, showing that the people pleaded that the ruler not let ruin come upon them (see 2 Nephi 13:6).” Old Testament Student Manual (OTSM)
7  In that day shall he swear, saying, I will not be aan healer[C1]; for in my house is –neither bread [B1] nor clothing: make me not a ruler of the people. 7 In that day shall he swear, saying: I will not be a healer; for in my house there is neither bread nor clothing; make me not a ruler of the people. aan healer: HEB a binder up (of a wound); i.e., I cannot solve your problems.

8  For  aJerusalem is ruined [A1], and Judah is bfallen: because their tongue and their doings are against the LORD, to provoke the eyes of his glory.



  8 For Jerusalem is aruined, and Judah is bfallen, because their ctongueand their doings have been against the Lord, to dprovoke the eyes of his glory.


Read Isaiah 3:8–9, looking for what the people did to bring these consequences upon themselves.

What do you think the phrase “they have rewarded evil unto themselves” (Isaiah 3:9) means? (OTSG)  

Isaiah introduces us to a form of Hebrew poetic parallelism in this chapter called chiasmus. Using this writing style, David Ridges explains, “the author says certain things and then intentionally repeats them in reverse order for emphasis.” Ridges explains how chiasmus can be outlined something like this example from Isaiah 6:10:

A heart
     B ears
          C  eyes

          C’ eyes
     B’ ears
A’ heart

10 Make the heart A of this people fat,
and make their ears B heavy,
and shut their eyes Clest they see with their eyes C’,
and hear with their ears B,
and understand with their heart A’…

Ridges says, “the pivot point or midpoint of the chiasmus is the main message. For example, in the chiasmus used by Isaiah [in Isaiah 3:1–8 above]  …the main message is found in verse 5, where he emphasizes that when a society collapses because of wickedness, everyone is persecuted and oppressed by everyone else.” (You can find this chiasmus highlighted in yellow above. Read more about chiasmus here.)

9 ¶The shew of their countenance doth witness against them; and they declare their asin as bSodom, they hide itnot. Woe unto their soul! for they have rewarded evil unto themselves.














9 The show of their countenance doth witness against them, and doth declare their asin to be even as bSodom, and they cannot hide it. Wo unto their souls, for they have rewarded evil unto themselves!













The Book of Mormon clarifies the meaning of this significant verse (see 2 Nephi 13:9). Individuals radiate the quality of their spirit and attitude. They manifest the real person—good or evil. Isaiah warned that the disobedient cannot hide the effects of their transgressions from others. President David O. McKay provided the following insights into this principle:
“Every man and every person who lives in this world wields an influence, whether for good or for evil. It is not what he says alone; it is not alone what he does. It is what he is. Every man, every person radiates what he or she really is. … It is what we are and what we radiate that affects the people around us.
“As individuals, we must think nobler thoughts. We must not encourage vile thoughts or low aspirations. We shall radiate them if we do. If we think noble thoughts; if we encourage and cherish noble aspirations, there will be that radiation when we meet people, especially when we associate with them.’ (Man May Know for Himself, p. 108.)

10 Say ye to the arighteous, that it shall be well with him: for they shall beat the fruit of their doings.


10 Say unto the righteous that it is awell with them; for they shall beat the fruit of their doings.


If you wanted to grow apples, you would not plant an orange seed. Ponder how that simple truth relates to the choices you make and the consequences that follow. (OTSG) 

11 Woe unto the awickedit shall be ill with him: for bthe reward of his hands shall be given him.







11 Wo unto the wicked, for they shall perish; for the reward of their hands shall be upon them! 







b IE the recompense of his deeds shall be done to him.

Read Isaiah 3:10–11, and complete the following principles based on what the Lord taught about choices and consequences:
If we are righteous…
If we sin…
How do these principles relate to seeds and the fruit they produce?Answer the following question in your scripture study journal: How can remembering the consequences of righteousness and sin help you when you are faced with temptation? (OTSG)  

 12 ¶As for my people, children are their oppressors, andawomen rule over them. O my people, they which blead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths.





12 And my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they who alead thee cause thee to err and destroy the way of thy paths.




This verse refers to women ruling over Judah. Note nothing derogatory is said about leadership by women per se, but obviously, they would not be ruling with the priesthood. During Judah’s dispersion among the Gentiles, there were undoubtedly many women [queens, etc.] who ruled over them and in modern times Golda Meir served as modern Isreal’s prime minister.—Monte S. Nyman, Great Are the Words of Isaiah
 13 The Lord standeth up to aplead, and standeth to judge the people.  13 The Lord standeth up to aplead, and standeth to judge the people.  a HEB contend. Micah 6:2.

14 The Lord will enter into ajudgment with the bancientsof his people, and he cprinces thereof: for ye have deaten up the vineyard; the espoil of the fpoor is in your houses.


14 The Lord will enter into ajudgment with the ancients of his people and the princes thereof; for ye have eaten up the bvineyard and the spoil of the cpoor in your houses.


The vineyard is a symbol of the chosen people (see Isaiah 5:7), and the rulers of Israel were called to be watchmen over the vineyard. Instead of guarding the Lord’s vineyard they had oppressed the people and consumed the vineyard (compare Matthew 21:33–40). (OTSM) 
 15 What mean ye that ye abeat my people to pieces, and grind the faces of the poor? saith the Lord God of hosts.  15 What mean ye? Ye abeat my people to pieces, and grind the faces of the poor, saith the Lord God of Hosts.
President Monson changed the Mission of the Church to include: “caring for the poor and needy.”

 Isaiah 3:16–24. The “Daughters of Zion” to Succumb to Worldliness in the Latter Days

In these verses one can see a good example of dualism (see E-5 in the Old Testament Student Manual). Isaiah shows that the wickedness prevailing in Israel and Judah included the women, who were proud, arrogant, and more concerned with their clothing, jewels, and personal appearance than with righteousness. But these verses can also be applied in the latter days, when women will once more lose sight of proper priorities. President Joseph Fielding Smith said of this passage:

“Isaiah, one of the great prophets of early times, saw our day, and he described the conditions that would prevail among the ‘daughters of Zion’ in these latter days. …
“Now, in this modern day, Isaiah’s prophecy has been and is being fulfilled. …
“The standards expressed by the General Authorities of the Church are that women, as well as men, should dress modestly. They are taught proper deportment and modesty at all times. It is, in my judgment, a sad reflection on the ‘daughters of Zion’ when they dress immodestly. Moreover, this remark pertains to the men as well as to the women. The Lord gave commandments to ancient Israel that both men and women should cover their bodies and observe the law of chastity at all times.” (Answers to Gospel Questions,5:172–74.)  

16 ¶ Moreover the Lord saith, Because the adaughters of Zion are bhaughty, and cwalk with stretched forth necks and dwanton eyes, walking and emincing as they go, and making a tinkling with their feet:











16 Moreover, the Lord saith: Because the daughters of Zion are ahaughty, and bwalk with stretched-forth necks and wanton eyes, walking and mincing as they go, and making a tinkling with their feet—











Isaiah used one of his most descriptive images as he compared the house of Israel to prideful women completely decorated in the most fashionable styles of the day. These women, very concerned with appearing beautiful on the outside, had neglected true inner spirituality. We can liken these teachings to ourselves as a warning of what will happen to us if we are prideful and wicked. (Old Testament Seminary Student Study Guide, (2002), 140)

“Stretched forth necks” is an idiom describing haughtiness—pride in self and scorn toward others (see Young, Book of Isaiah, 1:162).

“Mincing … and making a tinkling with their feet.” The women wore costly ornamental chains connecting rings about the ankles. These were often adorned with bells. (See Keil and Delitzsch, Commentary,7:1:143.)

17 Therefore the Lord will smite with a ascab the crown of the head of the daughters of Zion, and the Lord will bdiscover their secret parts. 17 Therefore the Lord will smite with a ascab the crown of the head of the daughters of Zion, and the Lord will bdiscover their secret parts. “Discover their secret parts” is an idiom meaning that they would be put to shame (see Isaiah 3:17a). OTSM x
 18 In that day the Lord will take away the bravery of their tinkling ornaments about their feet, and their acauls, and their bround tires like the moon. 18 In that aday the Lord will take away the bravery of their tinkling ornaments, and cauls, and round tires like the moon;
To see the Latest Isaiah Fashion Trends click here. Isaiah Fashion News and Trends  Verses 19–23. These terms describe fashions that were popular among the worldly women in Isaiah’s day: “muffler”—veil; “bonnet”—headdress; “tablets”—perfume boxes; “earrings”—charms or amulets; “nose jewels”—nose rings; “changeable suits of apparel”—clothing for festivals only; “mantle”—overcloak; “wimples”—a type of shawl or veil worn over the head; “crisping-pins”—erroneously rendered as hair curling implements. The Hebrew suggests a bag, like modern purses or handbags; “glasses”—most authorities translate as a metal mirror, although some suggest transparent clothing, “hoods”—turbans, head cover wrapped by hand. (See Young, Book of Isaiah, 1:165–66; Keil and Delitzsch, Commentary, 7:1:144–47.) 
 19 The chains, and the bracelets, and the amufflers 19 The chains and the bracelets, and the mufflers;
 20 The bonnets, and the ornaments of the legs, and the headbands, and the tablets, and the earrings, 20 The bonnets, and the ornaments of the legs, and the headbands, and the tablets, and the ear-rings;
 21 The rings, and nose jewels,  21 The rings, and nose jewels;
 22 The achangeable suits of bapparel, and the mantles, and the wimples, and the crisping pins, 22 The changeable suits of apparel, and the mantles, and the wimples, and the crisping-pins;
 23 The aglasses, and the fine linen, and the hoods, and the veils. 23 The glasses, and the fine linen, and hoods, and the veils.
 24 And it shall come to pass, that instead of sweet smell there shall be stink; and instead of a girdle aa rent; and instead of well set hair bbaldness; and instead of ca stomacher a girding of sackcloth; and dburning instead ofebeauty. 24 And it shall come to pass, instead of sweet smell there shall be stink; and instead of a girdle, a rent; and instead of well set hair, abaldness; and instead of a stomacher, a girding of sackcloth; bburning instead of cbeauty.
 25 Thy amen shall fall by the sword, and thy mighty in the war. 25 Thy men shall fall by the sword and thy mighty in the war.
 26 And her agates shall blament and cmourn; and she being ddesolate shall sit upon the eground.  26 And her agates shall lament and bmourn; and she shall be desolate, and shall csit upon the ground. d IE Jerusalem shall be emptied, cleaned out.



Zion and her daughters will be redeemed and cleansed in the millennial day—Compare 2 Nephi 14.

Both the Josep Smith Translation and the Hebrew Bible put verse one of chapter 4 at the end of chapter 3, which puts it in the context of Jerusalem’s destruction and the scarcity of men resulting from the war prophesied in Isaiah 3:25–26. See 3:25.” Footnote b likewise refers the reader to chapter 3—Ridges, David J.. The Old Testament Made Easier Part 3. Cedar Fort, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

And in that day aseven women shall take hold of one bman, saying, We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel: only let us be called by thy cname, to take away our dreproach.


aAnd in that day, seven women shall take hold of one man, saying: We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel; only let us be called by thy name to take away our breproach.


This is the time of the destruction of Jerusalem spoken of in Isaiah 3:25–26 “because of a scarcity of men due to wars” women will pay their own way to take the name of a man in marriage—the stigma in that society of being unmarried and childless.—Ridges, David J.. The Old Testament Made Easier Part 3. Cedar Fort, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

Joseph Spencer adds this about “Isaiah 2–5 (or 2 Nephi 12–15)—we get a clear contrast between what’s to come and where things are at presently. Israel and all nations will gather together in peace to worship the true God someday, but for the moment Israel is entirely flouting its responsibility to the nations, with the result that Israel is largely indistinguishable from them. The nations aren’t joining Israel in offering hospitality to those in need; instead, Israel is joining the nations in the systematic oppression of the poor. The nations aren’t reconciling themselves one to another as Israel invites them to recognize their fraternal identity; instead, Israel seeks to define itself in terms of military might in full imitation of what the Gentile nations. The result, horrifically, is that the nations do indeed come swarming to Israel, but only to lay her in ruins. There’s a promise already of a remnant who’ll escape, but the emphasis is unmistakably on the perfect inversion in the present of what’s to be anticipated in the future.

Ridges, David J.. The Old Testament Made Easier Part 3
Ridges, ibid.
Spencer, Joseph M. The Vision of All: Twenty-five Lectures on Isaiah in Nephi’s Record. Greg Kofford Books. Kindle Edition.

Further Study: Insights into Isaiah—A Song of My Beloved

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Darryl Alder is a retired professional, with an adopted family of four, and a lovely wife of 40+years. He has blogged for a variety of sites and loves to bake, garden, camp, and study ancient scripture, all of which is reflected in his posts at,, and various Scouting blog sites


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