Make thee bald, and poll thee for thy delicate children
Which is said, either with respect to Mareshah, or to Adullam, or to the whole land, as Kimchi observes; rather to the latter; and that either to Israel, or to Judah, or both; the prophecy in general being concerning them both, ( Micah 1:1 ) ; making baldness, whether by plucking off the hair, or by shaving it, was used in token of mourning, ( Job 1:20 ) ( Jeremiah 7:29 ) ; and so it is designed to express it here: the inhabitants of the land are called to lamentation and weeping for their children taken from them, whom they dearly loved, and brought up in a delicate manner. The Targum is,
``pluck off thy hair, and cast it upon the children of thy delight;''and Sanctius observes; that it was a custom with the Gentiles to cut off their hair, and cast it into the graves of their kindred and friends at their interment, to which be thinks the prophet alludes: enlarge thy baldness as the eagle;
when it moults, and cast off all its feathers, as it does in old age, and so renews its youth; to which the allusion seems to be in ( Psalms 103:5 ) ( Isaiah 40:31 ) ; or every year, as birds of prey usually do at the beginning of the spring. The Jewish writers F25 say this happens to it every ten years; when, finding its feathers heavy and unfit for flying, it makes a tour to the sun with all its force it can, to get as near it as possible; and, having heated its plumage excessively, it casts itself into the sea for cooling, and then its feathers fall off, and new ones succeed; and this it does until it is a hundred years old; and to its then state of baldness, while it is moulting, is the allusion here; unless it can be thought any respect is had to that kind of eagle which is called the bald one. In Virginia F26 there are three sorts of eagles; one is the grey eagle, about the size of a kite; another the black eagle, resembling those in England; and a third the bald eagle, so called because the upper part of the neck and head are covered with a sort of white down: but the former sort of baldness seems to be intended, which is at certain stated times, and not what always is, and is only partial; for it denotes such an uersal baldness to be made, as to take in all the parts of the body where any hair grows; as expressive of the general devastation that should be made, which would be the cause of this great mourning: for they are gone into captivity from thee;
that is, the delicate children of Israel and Judah, and so were as dead unto them, or worse: this was accomplished in Israel or the ten tribes, partly by Tiglathpileser, and more completely by Shalmaneser, king of Assyria, ( 2 Kings 15:29 ) ( 17:6 ) ; and in Judah or the two tribes, when Sennacherib came and took their fenced cities; and doubtless some of the inhabitants and their children were carried captive by him, though not Jerusalem; and therefore cannot be addressed here, as some do interpret the words, unless the prophecy is to be extended to the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians.
F25 Saadiah Gaon apud Kimchi & Ben Melech in Psal. ciii. 5. & lsa. xl. 31.
F26 See Harris's Voyages and Travels, vol. 2. p. 229. Lowthorp's Philosoph. Transact. abridged, vol. 3. p. 589.