Isaias says ‘cunt’
In the first chapters of the book named after him, Isaias gives a view of the future, when all the world will be in peace and all the people of the earth will turn to Zion for guidance and will worship the God of Israel. The famous quote about ‘swords to ploughshares’ is part of it (Isa 2:4).
But before that can happen, some things need to be set straight. The haughtiness of man needs to be made low (2:11 and 2:17) and idols need to be abolished (2:18), so only the Lord shall be high (2:17). And the Lord shall pass judgement on Jerusalem, because its inhabitants have robbed the poor (3:14). The Lord also has some things to say about the women of Jerusalem, who are haughty, and walk with stretched forth necks and wanton eyes, walking and mincing as they go, and making a tinkling with their feet (3:16).
Because the womenfolk do this, Isaias tells them that the Lord will deprive them of their jewelry, accesories and precious clothing. The text runs from 3:18 to 3:23 and must have been written with gusto. It’s basically a summing up of every conceivable item that the Lord might take from a woman. It’s also a text that has a large number of hapaces: words that only occur once in the entire Tanakh, so their meaning is difficult to determine. Of the 29 words in those six verses 4 are a real hapax, 7 are words that only occur twice in the entire Tanakh.
In the introduction, just before the description of the divine robbery (3:17) Isaias tells the women what the Lord will start with. There’s various renderings if you consult the regular translations.
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 (KJV).
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 (NKJV).
The Lord will send a plague of scabs to ornament their heads. Yes, the LORD will make them bald for all to see (NLT).
Therefore the Lord will bring sores on the heads of the women of Zion; the Lord will make their scalps bald (NIV).
Therefore the Lord will strike with a scab the heads of the daughters of Zion, and the Lord will lay bare their secret parts (ESV).
Therefore the Lord will afflict the scalp of the daughters of Zion with scabs, And the LORD will make their foreheads bare (NASB).
The Lord will smite with a scab the heads of the daughters of Zion, and the LORD will lay bare their secret parts (RSV).
It’s pretty clear from the original text that something will happen to the heads of the daughters of Zion. The verb that has these heads as object occurs 6 times in the Tanakh. It literally means ‘to join’, but that doesn’t make sense in this context. In this one instance ‘smite with scab’ is the almost unanimous choice. I don’t know what it’s based on and I suspect ‘scabies’ is meant.
It’s also pretty clear that the Lord will discover, uncover, lay bare, denude or even raze something. The verb occurs 16 times in the Tanakh, so its meaning is quite well attested. But what is being uncovered is quite unclear. There are roughly two options: either it’s ‘forehead’ or ‘scalp’ and it’s uncovered (of its veil?) or made bald (by scabies?), or it’s the womans privates that are uncovered.
The word that needs to be translated here (פֹּת pot) is almost a hapax. There’s an Arabic cognate فوت foot, that literally means ‘space in between’, but is also used to refer to a womans privates. The word פֹּת pot occurs only twice in the Tanakh: in 1Ki 7:50 and here. In the book of Kings it is translated as ‘hinges’. They’re gold and belong to the doors of the temple, so this translation is pretty secure.
Now hinges in antiquity were nothing more than holes in the doorstep and the lintel in which pivots stuck. So basically פֹּת pot, means ‘hole’. A hole for a pivot, to swivel in. Can you put it any more graphically? Is there any more deprecating way to address the daughters of Zion? Basically, Isaias says ‘cunt’.