Haughty women are punished in the Bible with rape!

In the Bible we have seen that women are viewed as inferior human beings. In lamentations 1:8-17 for example we have seen that the Bible uses female sexuality to represent male sin [ in order to humiliate sinful men, by placing them in the inferior female position]. 

Due to this it is no surprise to come across passages or verses in the Bible which inflict on women cruel or harsh punishments for minor or less serious issues [ sometimes punishments are even given to innocent women.

See for example 2. Samuel 12-11 which tells us how God orders the rape of David’s wives to punish David].  In Isaiah 3:14-24 we read the next: \

The Lord will enter into judgment with the ancients of his people, and the princes thereof: for ye have eaten up the vineyard; the spoil of the poor [is] in your houses. What mean ye [that] ye beat my people to pieces and grind the faces of the poor? saith the Lord GOD of hosts.

Moreover, the Lord saith, Because the daughters of Zion are haughty, and walk with stretched forth necks and wanton eyes, walking and “mincing as they go, and making a tinkling with their feet:

Therefore, the Lord will smite with a scab the crown of the head of the daughters of Zion, and the Lord will discover their secret parts In that day the Lord will take away the bravery of [their] tinkling ornaments [about their feet], and [their] cauls, and [their] round tires like the moon,

The chains, and the bracelets, and the mufflers, The bonnets, and the ornaments of the legs, and the headbands, and the tablets, and the earrings,

The rings, and nose jewels, the changeable suits of apparel, and the mantles, and the wimples, and the crisping pins, the glasses, and the fine linen, and the hoods, and the vails.

And it shall come to pass, [that] instead of sweet smell there shall be stink; and instead of a girdle a rent; and instead of well-set hair baldness; and instead of a stomacher a girding of sackcloth; [and] burning instead of beauty.  [1] example 2

 punish In Isaiah 3:16-17

Here one can see that the “biblical” Lord decides to punish the haughty women. The next question off course is: “what sort of punishment does the biblical Lord inflict here? ” To answer this question we have to study the last part of the verse which reads: “.Therefore the Lord will smite with a scab the crown of the head of the daughters of Zion.

And the Lord will discover their secret parts.” . What does this mean or indicate? What does the expression

“…. The Lord will discover their secret parts…” mean or indicate? David Guzik, the director of Calvary Chapel Bible College, answers this question very well in his commentary on Isaiah 3:16-17

Their obsession with their appearance, their love of luxury, and their promiscuity made the daughters of Zion ripe for judgment:

Therefore, the Lord will strike with a scab the crown of the head of the daughters of Zion, and the Lord will uncover their secret parts.

Their “crown” will be a scab, and instead of being beautifully adorned, they will be exposed and humiliated. Also, the Lord will take away the finery. In Isaiah’s time, these judgments were connected with the coming invasions. Because of scarcity and disease, the haughty daughters of Zion would be sick and diseased. They would be raped and humiliated. And all their wonderful “accessories” would be taken away. [2]               


Bible scholars C F Keil and F Delitzsch in their commentary on the Old Testament write:


The attractive influence of natural charms, especially when heightened by luxurious art, is very great; but the prophet is blind to all this splendour, and seeing nothing but the corruption within, foretells to these rich and distinguished women a foul and by no means aesthetic fate.

The Sovereign Ruler of all would smite the crown of their head, from which long hair was now flowing, with scab [ “v’sippach” , a progressive preterite with “Vav apodosis” , a denom. verb from “sappachath” , the scurf which adheres to the skin: see at Hab 2:15 ],

And Jehovah would uncover their nakedness, by giving them up to violation and abuse at the hands of coarse and barbarous foes-the greatest possible disgrace in the eyes of a woman, who covers herself as carefully as she can in the presence of any stranger [3]   


So now we can see and understand that the expression “…Therefore the Lord will smite with a scab the crown of the head of the daughters of Zion…”  refers to the sickness and disease that would befall these women [ as a punishment].

John Gill explains this expression very well in the next words: “…This is opposed to the lifting up of their heads in that haughty manner they did, and to the binding, and plaiting, and curling of their hair, which now will fall off, through the scab or leprosy upon them, or must be obliged to be shaven off…”

 The second expression “…The Lord will discover their secret parts…” refers to the exposure of their [ the daughters] genitalia. This is also confirmed when take a look at the commentary given by the bible scholars Robert Jamieson, Andrew Fausset, and David Brown:


Discover – cause them to suffer the greatest indignity that can befall female captives, namely, to be stripped naked, and have their persons exposed [4]        


Another renowned bible scholar, John Wesley in his commentary on Isaiah 3:17 writes:


Secret paths – By giving her into the power of those enemies that shall strip her of all her raiment. [5]


Here again we can clearly see how women are treated like a piece of meat in biblical literature. The poem in Isaiah makes a promise to the daughters of Zion that their private parts or genitalia will be exposed.

This promise as we know from the historical context and classic bible commentaries also refers to the act of by making them sexually available to the rapists [ the barbaric gentile soldiers] . In other words, women are mocked, insulted, and scared to death with this poem.

But the poet subverts our expectations by shifting our focus away from the Jerusalemite dignitaries to the ‘daughters of Zion’. By belaboring the graphic depiction of the demeanor, gait, and apparel of these women, the Isaianic poet derives some enjoyment at mocking their vanity. [6]


Sandie Gravett in the Journal for the Study of the Old Testament writes:


Isaiah 3.16-17 harshly condemns the women of Zion for their arrogance and seductiveness, resulting in YHWH laying bare their genitalia [7]


In other words, haughty women are punished with rape and total humiliation in the Bible!

The Bible full of proud tells us how these women [ as a punishment] will be given into the hands of barbaric / brutal soldiers who will strip their clothes off, rape and humiliate them [ simply because these women were haughty] !

This biblical account and unjust punishment show us how much the Bible opresses and dislikes women. It’s disgusting to read those women are punished with rape.

humiliation for the “daughters of Zion” becomes explicitly graphic with the exposure of their genitalia by YHWH. Just as Pope inscribed male readers who would ‘get the point’ of his satiric humour, the Isaianic poet, too, engages in an inscribing activity by interpellating [male] readers to share in his mockery of these women with his belabored depiction of their vanity. [8]


Johnny Miles in his work makes an interesting observation:


it was the Jerusalem nobles, not the women, who implemented exploitative policies against the poor. Nonetheless, slurs against women, whether socially disenfranchised or not, were commonplace in such a patriarchal culture.  

The poet’s sleight-of-hand association of the sins of Zion with woman would have received minimal, if any, criticism.

Being the object of ridicule in a shame-oriented culture, though, could prove fatal, hence empowering the malign efficacy of satire. Yet, the poet’s insidious play does not end here. [9]


Johnny Miles also points out that this biblical poem has much in common with Alexander Pope’s poem [ The Rape of the Lock] : 


Pope intends with his satire a critique of the superficial values of a fashionable society in the reign of Queen Anne, a critique similar to that made by the Isaianic poet of Judean society.

The Isaianic poet’s barrage of difficult-to-translate “hapax”intends to position the reader to dwell upon the removal of each clothing article, thus evoking images of a slow, agonizing rape of the daughters of Zion by YHWH. With each article’s removal, the intensity level escalates to culminate in the fatigue of this poem’s interpellated readers paralleled only by that of the ‘daughters of Zion’.

But while making their attacks, both poets simultaneously establish a poetic economy of gender in which woman functions “as the sign not of her own subjectivity but of a male desire of which she is the object” ……..Isaiah’s satire.

However, far surpasses the “mock” violence perpetrated by that of Pope as poetic intent and divine activity collude to ravage the daughters of Zion. The androcentric perspective of these texts inscribes male readers who, as salacious voyeurs, can appreciate such literary acts of misogynous judgment- the “daughters of Zion” and Belinda deserve what they get. [10]


Isaiah 3:24 moreover shows us in which desperate condition these women will end: “And it shall come to pass, that instead of sweet smell there shall be stink; and instead of a girdle a rent; and instead of well set hair baldness; and instead of a stomacher a girding of sackcloth; and burning instead of beauty…”

David Guzik in his commentary comments: “…They will live the stench, the baldness, the branding and the general deprivation of captivity….”

Other bible commentators explain that the biblical expression “…and instead of well-set hair baldness…” refers to the customary expressions of mourning in those times and countries [ people used to shave their own heads when mourning]. John Gill explains the biblical expression in Isaiah 3:24: “…

And instead of well-set hair baldness…”  as:  “…instead of plaited hair, and curled locks, kept in order, there would be scabs, ulcers, leprosy, or such diseases as would cause the hair to fall off, and leave a baldness.

The Septuagint [ Greek version] and Arabic versions render it, “instead of the golden ornament of the head, thou shall have baldness for thy works”; and the Syriac version, “instead of gems, incisions….”

In other words, after being raped by the most barbaric soldiers women still [ after all of this] had to suffer the results of the diseases which were brought upon them later on [ after the gang-rape, destruction, and invasion of the city] as a punishment. This “biblical” promise is clearly a woman’s nightmare!

Credit: written by Kevin Abdullah Karim

Allah knows Best.

References and Notes:

[1]

The Bible, The Book of Isaiah [ Old Testament] , Chapter 3, Verse 14-24 [ Kings James Translation ].

[2]

David Guzik’s Commentaries on the Bible, see: – http://www3.calvarychapel.com/ccbcgermany/commentaries/2303.htm

[3]

Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament, see: – http://www.biblecentre.net/comment/ot/k&d/isa/isa54.html –  

[4]

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown commentary on the Bible, see: –http://bible.crosswalk.com/Commentaries/JamiesonFaussetBrown/jfb.cgi?book=isa&chapter=003

[5]

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes, see: – http://bible.crosswalk.com/Commentaries/WesleysExplanatoryNotes/wes.cgi?book=isa&chapter=003

[6]

Johnny Miles [ Texas Christian University] , “Re-reading the Power of Satire: Isaiah’s ‘Daughters of Zion’, Pope’s ‘Belinda’, and the Rhetoric of Rape”,  Journal for the Study of the Old Testament, Vol. 31, No. 2, pp. 198-199 [ 2006 Sage Publications ]

[7]

Sandie Gravett, “Reading rape in the Hebrew Bible: a consideration of language” , Journal for the Study of the Old Testament, No. 3, vol 28,  p. 293.

[8]

Johnny Miles [ Texas Christian University] , “Re-reading the Power of Satire: Isaiah’s ‘Daughters of Zion’, Pope’s ‘Belinda’, and the Rhetoric of Rape”,  Journal for the Study of the Old Testament, Vol. 31, No. 2, p. 202 [ 2006 Sage Publications ] .

[9]

Johnny Miles [ Texas Christian University] , “Re-reading the Power of Satire: Isaiah’s ‘Daughters of Zion’, Pope’s ‘Belinda’, and the Rhetoric of Rape”,  Journal for the Study of the Old Testament, Vol. 31, No. 2, p. 202 [ 2006 Sage Publications ] .

[10]

Johnny Miles [ Texas Christian University] , “Re-reading the Power of Satire: Isaiah’s ‘Daughters of Zion’, Pope’s ‘Belinda’, and the Rhetoric of Rape”,  Journal for the Study of the Old Testament, Vol. 31, No. 2, p. 205 [ 2006 Sage Publications ] .