Two elements of these verses really stood out to me.
First, I notice all of the references to Zion (verse 3) give the nation of Israel singular feminine pronouns. From the NRSV: “. . . her waste places . . . her wilderness . . . her desert . . . joy and gladness found in her . . .”
Countries have often been referred to in the feminine. Most of us are familiar with the song, “God Bless America,” the lyrics of which ask God to “. . . stand beside her and guide her . . . “ Some say the feminine is used because our homeland is seen as our “motherland.” Another theory is that when under threat, the military feels protective of their country as they feel protective of their women.
When I read these verses, I was reminded of the metaphor from the New Testament of the Church as the Bride of Christ.
I’m wondering about the author’s intent in this wording in Isaiah. Why was Zion portrayed in the feminine?