Isaiah: Chapters Three and Four | The Wolfe Notes

Welcome, Family! We're spending 2024 with the prophet Isaiah. While we claim no expertise, we're excited to sit with you as we both learn at the feet of Jesus. Each month, we offer a calendar that outlines daily exercises (adapted from Jenn Wilkin's Women of the Word Bible study process) to progress through Isaiah. Download January's calendar to begin with us and witness what we uncovered in our weekly "Wolfe Note" postings:

Chapter One
Chapter Two

Bread Image by TiBine via Pixabay


  1. Different Versions Noting and clarifying differences between NLT and BRG.
  2. Annotation My thoughts, connections, clarifications, and questions.
  3. Research On the 21 articles worn by the daughters of Zion.
  4. Summary An approximately twenty word overview of the chapter.
  5. Reflection On Isaiah 4:1.
  6. Outline of major events, responses, and outcomes of Isaiah 1-4.
  7. Prediction for Chapter 5.

Different Versions

I read Chapters Three and Four in the New Living Translation (NLT) and the Blue Red & Gold Bible. The NLT is a thought-for-thought translation and the BRG is a word-for-word translation.

Major differences I noticed (*My thoughts alone are in italics and designated with an asterisk.):
  • The Blue Red & Gold Bible is a color-coded reprinting of the King James Version. Blue words belong to God, the Father. Red words are spoken by Jesus, His son. Gold words reference the Holy Spirit. Blue underlining captures the dialogue of angles and red underlining showcases messianic prophecy (foretelling of Christ's coming). A couple examples from Isaiah 3 & 4 follow:
    • Isaiah 3:14 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.
    • Isaiah 4:4 (all underlined in red) ...and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the Spirit of judgment, and by the Spirit of burning.
  • Lord of Heaven's Armies (NLT) v. Lord of Hosts (BRG). Isaiah 3:1. In Hebrew tsaba: army, war, warfare - mostly hosts. *NLT gives a clearer, modernized rendering of the phrases' meaning. Overall, reminds us of God's power - He will emerge victorious.
  • extra food or clothes (NLT) v. neither bread nor clothing (BRG). Isaiah 3:7. In Hebrew, ayin: nothing, nought. *The NLT softens the severity of the current condition. Regardless, the meaning is the same: The person asked to lead claims he lacks equipping.
  • will discover their secret parts (BRG) v. will make beautiful Zion bald (NLT) Isaiah 3:17. In Hebrew, poth: perhaps a hinge; open; secret + arah: to be naked or bare. *The BRG translation seems closer to the Hebrew, while the NLT translation projects the result of the previous phrase: "So the Lord will send scabs on her head;" to infer meaning here. I think significance is lost in the NLT translation. It seems God is both inflicting illness and removing pride, which is indicated in both verses. But, revealing her secret parts is akin to uncovering her shame. Consider the following verses:
    • "But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering." I Corinthians 11:15 BRG.  
    • "At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves." Genesis 3:7 NLT
    • "She doesn't realize it was I who gave her everything she has - the grain, the new wine, the olive oil; I even gave her silver and gold. But she gave all my gifts to Baal. But now I will take back the ripened grain and new wine I generously provided each harvest season. I will take away the wool and linen clothing I gave her to cover her nakedness." Hosea 2:8-9 NLT
  • with the hot breath of fiery judgment (NLT) v. by the Spirit of judgment, and by the Spirit of burning (BRG). Isaiah 4:4. In Hebrew, ruach: breath, wind, spirit. *The BRG clearly communicates the work of the Holy Spirit here whereas the NLT leaves it open to interpretation. Many readers could miss the presence of the Holy Spirit here unless they are familiar with the Holy Spirit's relationship to "breath". The word, ruach, is specifically connected to the Holy Spirit. "Ruach" also appears in the following verses:
    • Genesis 1:2 (NLT) The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.
    • Genesis 41:38 (NLT) So Pharaoh asked his officials, "Can we find anyone else like this man so obviously filled with the spirit of God?"


Notes on my process*Denotes my thoughts alone. ! Denotes a connection. Researched quick answers are in italics. *Indicates a topic with more extensive notes under the research heading.
  1. God Humbles (v1-9)
    1. *Jerusalem and Judah are two places (v1)
    2. What is the meaning of the stay of the staff? (v1) Supplies and support.
    3. *Everything to eat and drink will be taken away - their "milk". (v1)
    4. *Verses 2-3 outline everyone of importance who God will take away. He will take away the people they are proud of and gives them instead children and babes to rule. (v2-4)
    5. *Then, they experience conflict and disrespect one another. What should be done, is not. (v5).
    6. *In desperation, we ask anyone with a base level of experience to rule. But they respond negatively because they don't feel equipped. They have not bread (truth) or clothing (grace). (v6-7)
    7. *Jerusalem knows they're ruined (v8) but they don't care. They celebrate evil. (v9).
  2. We Have a Choice (v10 &11)
    1. ! "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to the flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting." Galatians 6:7-8 
    2. ! "Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates." Proverbs 31:31
  3. What God Sees (v12-23) 
    1. Does "my people" refer to God's people? (v12) Isaiah's people; noting a comradery (Cambridge)
    2. Children meaning selfish? (Inexperienced, unqualified. - Barnes; force tribute - Gill; "young in years" - Bensonand women meaning misguided? (Induced power over rulers, like Athalia, or men who were "weak and effeminate") - Matthew PoolePaul suggested women not preach or usurp authority (I Timothy 2:12-14) so God's word is not blasphemed (Titus 2:4-5) and Genesis 3:16 tells us men will rule over women. *If "women" symbolizes ideology, or differing systems of belief, this totally makes sense. Of course God, and Paul, wouldn't want false doctrine entering the church and it would be the definition of blasphemy! (v12) Specifically talking about Ahaz and the influence of the queen mother - cowardly (Isaiah 7:2), idolatrous, delighting in foreign worship and forms of art (2 Kings 16:10) - Ellicott
    3. * Because you've ruined my field, the work I'm doing (She considers a field and buys it. Proverbs 31:16), and refused to be content or trust what I supply (He shall have no need of spoil. Proverbs 31:11), now I come to set things right. (v14) 
    4. * In verse 15, God unleashes His righteous anger.
    5. Did they literally "beat God's people to pieces" and "grind the faces of the poor"? (v15)
    6. *Because they sin pridefully (v16)
    7. Does "daughters of Zion" refer to "nations of God"? *R
    8. *Casts Zion as temple prostitutes seeking attention, searching for adultery with other gods and enticing others to lust for that which they should not. *R
    9. *Therefore I will remove their pride and reveal their shame (v17) *R
  4. What Will Happen (v3:24-4:6)
    1. What is a rent? (v24)
    2. ! Here God trades ashes for beauty and later will trade beauty for ashes. (v24)
    3. *He trades their idea of beauty and shows what it really is: ashes. (v24)
    4. *There is a loss of power and pride with no one to protect her. (v25 & 26)
    5. *"shall sit upon the ground" shows humility, with a base of "dhghem", meaning from the earth. Other words with the same base: humble, human, hummus. (v26)
    6. *A return to God. 
    7. Seven (complete, perfection, all) women (ideology, system of beliefs). *So, all ideologies will turn to Jesus (one man) and beg for redemption. (v1)
    8. *Literally, so many needy people look for a way to regain their honor. (v1)
    9. *All good things will come for those who stayed with God. (v2)
    10. *Jesus is the one husband for all. Through cleansing judgment and refining fire, He restores truth and grace. (v4)
    11. *And He will stay with us always to guide and protect. (v5&6)


Why are all the elements of the prostitute listed out? Is there symbolism behind each one? Or are they all listed to accentuate the ridiculousness of the elaborate embellishments?

 *My thoughts alone are italicized and marked with an (*).

  • "Daughters of Zion"
    • Means exactly that: the women of Jerusalem and Judah. (Enduring Word & Bible Hub)
    • Is "a metaphor for Israel and the loving, caring, patient relationship God has with His chosen people." (Got Questions)
    • *Admittedly, I took it one step farther. After reading Unveiled, by Francine Rivers, I pictured the way Tamar dressed to act as a prostitute. It fit this description of the "Daughters of Zion" so I drew the connection. God often complains of His chosen bride (Israel) prostituting itself out to other gods, so it's not too much of a leap. Indeed, the god they commonly left God for was baal, which means husband.
  • The Embellishments
    • Are meant for emphasis. "The women of Judah were obsessed with their finery, luxury, and 'accessories.' They devoted far too much of their lives to their appearance and image" Enduring Word
      • Continuing problem in today's society.
      • Contrast with I Peter 3:3-4 NLT "Don't be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit which is so precious to God." Enduring Word
    • Goes from faults of men to the faults of the women. Ellicott
    • "It was the prophet's intention to produce a ludicrous, but yet serious impression, as to the immeasurable luxury which really existed." Goal to contrast worldly glory with true spiritual simple glory. Keil & Delitzsch
*In conclusion, it seems no symbolism by the elaborate embellishments is intended. But, yet I wonder in drawing out the metaphor of the prostitute drawing Israel away from the one true God if they might be different devices.


Zion, proud, haughty, and arrogant will be brought low. God will cleanse her so only the righteous will remain.


The verse that stands out to me is Isaiah 4:1:
And 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 reproach.

This is the turning point. Israel is downtrodden. She realizes all the other ideologies and efforts are meaningless. She turns to Jesus - one man (Romans 5:17) - and begs Him to save her, to be called by His name. Which He does this and more, giving also that which she did not ask for: the bread of life (John 6:35) and His robes of righteousness (Isaiah 61:10). Because "...He is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think..." (Ephesians 3:20).


  1. Speaker's Authority 
    1. Isaiah 1:1 Isaiah in a vision given by God.
    2. Isaiah 2:1 Words given to Isaiah by God.
  2. The Problem
    1. Isaiah 1:2-1:9 My children rebelled against Me and no good thing remains.
    2. Isaiah 3:8-9 Jerusalem and Judah speak and act against me and don't bother to hide it, even going so far as to consider evil as good. 
    3. Isaiah 3:12-15 Oppressed by children, ruled by women, led to err. Eaten God's vineyard, taken from the poor. 
  3. God's Emotion
    1. Isaiah 1:10-1:15 Fed up, troubled, weary, done.
  4. The Solution
    1. Isaiah 1:16-20 Clean yourselves, stop doing evil, learn to do good. Be willing and obedient.
    2. Isaiah 2:5 Walk in the light of the Lord.
    3. Isaiah 2:10 Fear God.
    4. Isaiah 3:10 & 11 Reap what you sow.
  5. The State of Israel
    1. Isaiah 1:21-23 No longer holy; defiled.
    2. Isaiah 2:6-9 Drawn to foreign practices, lured by money, worship idols.
  6. Prophecy
    1. Isaiah 1:24-31 God will purge the uncleanliness.
    2. Isaiah 2:2-4 God will be exalted, people will seek Him, and peace will reign.
    3. Isaiah 2:11-21 Earth will be brought low, God will be lifted up.
    4. Isaiah 3:1-7 Israel will be ruined: no provisions, no capable leaders, no people of esteem.
    5. Isaiah 3:16-4:6 God will destroy everything the pride of the Israelites and remain with those who reach out to Him.


Based on patterns established in Isaiah so far, I would predict that chapter 5 will begin by stating a problem or describing Israel's current sin. Following the description, we can expect an expression of God's reaction to it ending with a solution to the problem or prophecy of what is to come.

In Closing

Father, there are so many in need of You, in need of Your forgiveness and faithfulness. Yet, they are blinded by their pride, refusing to admit their need of a Savior. It's for these people I come to you today. Soften their hearts to You, Lord. Show them who they are, made from the dust by Your breath to live in unity with you. Thank you for Your enduring love and faithfulness, Lord. You always provide a way back to You! And thank you for building within us a longing for it.

Learning with You,

Ready for Chapter 5?

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