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What does "And the Lord will make their foreheads bare" mean?

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New American Standard Bible Isaiah 3:17

The Lord will afflict the scalp of the daughters of Zion with scabs, And the LORD will make their foreheads bare.”

will make their foreheads
פָּתְהֵ֥ן (pā·ṯə·hên)
Noun - feminine singular construct | third person feminine plural
Strong's 6596: A hole, hinge, the female pudenda

New International Version

Therefore the Lord will bring sores on the heads of the women of Zion; the LORD will make their scalps bald.”

New King James Version

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.”

The basic idea is that God would expose their shame. It was a common practice for the conquerors to shame their victims.

Benson Commentary

Isaiah 3:17. Therefore the Lord will smite, &c. — Will humble the head of the daughters of Zion; and Jehovah will expose their nakedness. Thus Bishop Lowth renders the verse, observing, that “it was the barbarous custom of the conquerors of those times to strip their captives naked, and to make them travel in that condition, exposed to the inclemency of the weather; and, which was worst of all, to the intolerable heat of the sun. But this, to the women, was the height of cruelty and indignity; and especially to such as those here described, who had indulged themselves in all manner of delicacies of living, and all the superfluities of ornamental dress; and even whose faces had hardly ever been exposed to the sight of man. This is always mentioned as the hardest part of the lot of captives.

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The remarks of the prophet in Isa 3:17 are addressed to the haughty "daughters of Zion" in V16, more specifically:

16 The LORD also says: “Because the daughters of Zion are haughty— walking with heads held high and wanton eyes, prancing and skipping as they go, jingling the bracelets on their ankles—

In V18, the curse is continued against these proud, parading women who flaunt their beauty and finery:

18 In that day the Lord will take away their finery: their anklets and headbands and crescents; 19 their pendants, bracelets, and veils; 20 their headdresses, ankle chains, and sashes; their perfume bottles and charms; 21 their signet rings and nose rings; 22 their festive robes, capes, cloaks, and purses; 23 and their mirrors, linen garments, tiaras, and shawls.

Back to Isa 3:17.

the Lord will bring sores on the heads of the daughters of Zion, and the LORD will make their foreheads bare // [or] uncover their secret parts [= strip them naked].

Such haughty women never had bare heads or foreheads - they were decorated with fancy hair styles and jewelry. Thus, we understand this passage in one of two ways:

  1. The scab on the forehead refers to the shame of leprosy the same as bare foreheads does
  2. The stripping naked refers to the shame associated with capture and the practice of some nations in making their prisoners endure harsh weather during the trip to the new land without clothes

Ellicott has the same view:

(17) The Lord will smite with a scab . . .—The words point partly to diseases, such as leprosy, causing baldness, engendered by misery and captivity, partly to the brutal outrage of the Assyrian invaders, stripping off the costly garments and leaving the wearers to their nakedness. (Comp. Ezekiel 16:37; Nahum 3:5.)

Benson is similar -

Isaiah 3:17. Therefore the Lord will smite, &c. — Will humble the head of the daughters of Zion; and Jehovah will expose their nakedness. Thus Bishop Lowth renders the verse, observing, that “it was the barbarous custom of the conquerors of those times to strip their captives naked, and to make them travel in that condition, exposed to the inclemency of the weather; and, which was worst of all, to the intolerable heat of the sun. But this, to the women, was the height of cruelty and indignity; and especially to such as those here described, who had indulged themselves in all manner of delicacies of living, and all the superfluities of ornamental dress; and even whose faces had hardly ever been exposed to the sight of man. This is always mentioned as the hardest part of the lot of captives. Nahum, denouncing the fate of Nineveh, paints it in very strong colours,” Nahum 3:5-6.

In any case, the intent is clear - the haughtiness of the women is reduce to extreme shame and embarrassment as a suitable punishment for their pride.

Isaiah's prophecy in Isa 3 allude to the covenant curses as listed in Deut 28:15-68 for Israel's unfaithfulness.

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I can’t help to think that maybe the passage of the foreheads bare would have to do with the third eye?? As they do show by having a dot between the eyes on the forehead.. I could be totally wrong?? Just a thought:

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