The LORD of hosts judgment
HISTORICAL SETTING. R. E. Clements thinks this passage refers to the incompetent leaders who let the nation become an Assyrian vassal during the Syro-Ephraimite War (734–732 BC), while Childs prefers a time after the fall of Jerusalem (587 BC). Although the date of this message is not exactly signaled in the text, its structural and thematic integration into the larger unit in 2:1–4:6 implies that it comes from the time of Uzziah, just like 2:6–22. The political setting precedes a major decline in military and economic status (3:1–5, 8–9); there were still many wealthy women in Jerusalem (3:16). The era of Uzziah was a time of wealth and pride in Jerusalem that fits the cultural setting of chap. 3. Dating this event during Uzziah’s reign also could suggest that the judgment predicted in chap. 3 was fulfilled a few years later during the Syro-Ephraimite War.
Chaos and the breakdown of government
In society as a whole there is divisiveness and ruthless self-advancement (the ‘rat-race’) and within society’s natural groupings, teenage rebellion. Rise up speaks not just of revolt but also of its arrogant, loud-mouthed spirit (it comes from √rāhaḇ, ‘to storm against’). In the moral order, honour is accorded without consideration of worth. The base is lit. ‘the one who ought to be thought nothing of’ and the honourable, the one ‘who merits honour’.
Women possibly refers to the royal harem. If the king was a spoiled brat then likely enough his wives were numerous and manipulative, fitting what we sense of the reign of Ahaz (but cf. Am. 4:1). The reference may be to dominant and demanding women, the ‘power behind the throne’ and not only in the palace!
Judgement on the Elite women of Jerusalem
Everything is designed to attract attention—posture, demeanour, movement, ornament.
Thus sin and its due reward frustrate all life’s ambitions and would-be fulfilments.