Did the Bible prophesy a shortage of men?

Isaiah 4:1 (NKJV)

1 And IN THAT DAY seven women shall TAKE HOLD OF ONE MAN, saying, “We will eat our own food and wear our own apparel; ONLY LET US BE CALLED BY YOUR NAME, to take away our reproach.”

Bible hermeneutics is the systematic study and interpretation of Biblical texts while abiding by the basic rules of Bible interpretation, one of which is the law of context.

Applying the law of context means you don’t give a text of Scripture a life on its own. No Bible verse stands alone. You must observe what came before (the antecedent text) and what came after (the succedent text) before arriving at a conclusion, as to the meaning of a Biblical text. This is VERY basic! If you miss it here, you miss the entire interpretation.

This approach would be taken in interpreting Isaiah 4:1. The key to understanding this text is to ascertain what “day” the prophecy speaks of.

Reading the antecedent text (the previous chapter) reveals that this text refers to JUDGMENT on Jerusalem and Judah for their sins:

Isaiah 3:1-3 (NKJV)

1 For behold, the Lord, the Lord of hosts, takes away FROM JERUSALEM and FROM JUDAH the stock and the store, the whole supply of bread and the whole supply of water; 2 The mighty man and the man of war, the judge and the prophet, and the diviner and the elder; 3 The captain of fifty and the honorable man, the counselor and the skillful artisan, and the expert enchanter.

Notice HOW this punishment would come: Men (a symbol of strength in the Hebrew culture) would be taken away, referring to their death in battle. The context is therefore the demise of men in JERUSALEM and JUDAH. This would lead to an underpopulation of men in the land.

In the Jewish culture, (which was HIGHLY patriarchal in Bible days), the men fought for the rights of the women (i.e. their mothers, daughters and wives).

The death of these men meant that the women were now susceptible and vulnerable to maltreatment and attacks, especially during wars:

Vv. 16-25

16 Moreover the Lord says:

“Because the daughters of Zion are haughty,

And walk with outstretched necks

And wanton eyes,

Walking and mincing as they go,

Making a jingling with their feet,

17 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.”

18 In that day the Lord will take away the finery:

The jingling anklets, the scarves, and the crescents;

19 The pendants, the bracelets, and the veils;

20 The headdresses, the leg ornaments, and the headbands;

The perfume boxes, the charms,

21 and the rings; the nose jewels,

22 the festal apparel, and the mantles; the outer garments, the purses,

23 and the mirrors;

The fine linen, the turbans, and the robes.

24 And so it shall be:

Instead of a sweet smell there will be a stench;

Instead of a sash, a rope;

Instead of well-set hair, baldness;

Instead of a rich robe, a girding of sackcloth;

And branding instead of beauty.


It is from this that the author flows into chapter 4. Do well to note that in the original Greek and Hebrew manuscripts (the Old Testament was originally written in Hebrew, and the New in Greek), there were no chapters, verses, punctuations etc. These were human conventions, done to facilitate better referencing.

They were added much later (around the 16th century) when the Bible was being translated from these languages (Greek and Hebrew) to Latin, then English for easy reading. The books of the Bible are thus to be read as a COMPOSITE WHOLE.

So, “chapter 4” of Isaiah is not separate from chapter 3 in the autograph. The author CONTINUES in the same flow of thoughts:

Isaiah 4:1 (NKJV)

1 And IN THAT DAY seven women shall take hold of one man, saying, “We will eat our own food and wear our own apparel; only let us be called by your name, to take away our reproach.”

In that day” here is not abstract but definite. It is referring to the SAME day he had been talking about since chapter 3—when judgment would come on Jerusalem for her sins. It is not referring to TODAY, it’s referring to THAT day, when war ensued. THIS ALREADY happened in the Bible days.

Chapter 4:1 comes as the climax of the chastisement of the daughters of Zion. The “seven-women-to-one-man” implies a land depopulated by war, thereby making polygamy the only resort (for the protection/safety of marriage).

The prophecy foretells women DESPERATE for male companions because they are few in the land. This desperation would make them do ANYTHING (even agree to a polygamous marriage), just to be protected and to “take away their reproach.”

This term was used in the Bible ALWAYS for childbearing (see Genesis 30:22-24 & Luke 1:24-25). In ancient Israel, it was a thing of shame/mockery for a woman to be without a husband and children (1 Samuel 1:6). It was a sign of contempt FROM men (i.e. she was undesirable and unwanted).

The judgment coming upon the land (the scarcity of men and ultimately male suitors and children) would cause the women to beckon to men to marry them, so as to remove the shame of having no husband or children.

This obviously cannot be referring to our days (the 21st Century), the succedent text reveals this:

Isaiah 4:2-5 (NKJV)

2 IN THAT DAY the Branch of the Lord shall be beautiful and glorious;

And the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and appealing

For those of Israel who have escaped.

3 And it shall come to pass that HE WHO IS LEFT IN ZION and REMAINS IN JERUSALEM will be called holy—everyone who is recorded among the living IN JERUSALEM. 4 When the Lord has washed away the filth of THE DAUGHTERS OF ZION, and purged THE BLOOD OF JERUSALEM from HER MIDST, by the spirit of judgment and by the spirit of burning, 5 then the Lord will create above every dwelling place of MOUNT ZION, and above her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day and the shining of a flaming fire by night. For over all the glory there will be a covering. 

This judgment (Isaiah 4:1) has ALREADY happened and Jerusalem restored. This event (of seven women to one man) happened in the past. It CANNOT be referring to a shortage of men in our times. In fact, the men-to-women ratio today is higher (at 102 men for every 100 women). Isaiah 4:1 should therefore be seen as a prophecy fulfilled in Bible history, not something to look forward to in the present day.


© Josh Banks Ministries. 2022.



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