“The Daughters of Zion Are Haughty”

Bryan Richards

These unusual verses describe the many beauty accessories of the daughters of Zion. Their attempts to look beautiful are driven from their superficiality, haughtiness, and wicked practices. Their beauty is superficial and their reward will be a stink instead of a sweet smell, a rent ‘instead of a girdle’, baldness ‘instead of well set hair’, sackcloth ‘instead of a stomacher’, and ’burning instead of beauty.’

What in the world are wimples and crisping-pins? Obviously, beauty accessories have changed since the days of Isaiah. The best explanation of these terms can be found in the 1981 Old Testament Institute Manual:

"The following explanations may be helpful in understanding the power of Isaiah‘s condemnation of the women’s apostasy.

Verse 16. ‘Stretched forth necks’ is an ancient idiom describing haughtiness—pride in self and scorn toward others.

Verse 16 ’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.

Verse 17. ‘Discover their secret parts’ is an idiom meaning that they would be put to shame.

Verse 18. ’Cauls…round tires like the moon’ were ornamental jewelry in the shape of suns and moons according to the fashions of that day.

Verses 19-23. Archaic terms were used in the translations to convey a message of the fashions that were popular among the worldly women in ancient times: ‘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, 1:162-66: Keil and Delitzsch, Commentary, 7:1:144-47)." (Old Testament Student Manual, 140-141)

Joseph Fielding Smith

“As I sit on the stand in a stake conference and look down over the congregation, I see some of the conditions existing of which Isaiah spoke…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.” (Answers to Gospel Questions, 5:172-4 as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p.34)
“I have been hoping…that the sayings contained in that chapter [Isa. 3] would never apply to the daughters of Zion in our day; but I believe they will…Some of the daughters of Zion do not seem willing to forsake the fashions of Babylon. I to such would say hasten it, and let the woe that is threatened on this account come, that we may get through with it, then we can go on and build up the Zion of God on the earth…Think not, ye elders of Israel, ye sons and daughters of Zion, the we are going to live after the order of Babylon always. We are not. We shall be chastised and afflicted, and shall feel the chastening rod of the Almighty, unless we serve the Lord our God, and build up his kingdom.” (The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, 226-227 as taken from Commentaries on Isaiah in the Book of Mormon, ed. by K. Douglas Bassett, [American Fork, UT: Covenant Publishing Co., 2003], 82)