ISAIAH CHAPTER 16.
Further Prophecies Concerning Moab.
THE CONDITIONS OF DELIVERANCE. — V. 1. Send ye the lamb to the ruler of the land from Sela to the wilderness, unto the mount of the daughter of Zion, Moab here, having found refuge in Petra of Idumea, being admonished to send its tribute of lambs to the ruler of the land, to the king reigning at Jerusalem, the road to this capital, whose most important section was Mount Zion, leading through the wilderness south and west of the Dead Sea. To submit to Judah, in both the physical and the spiritual sense, was Moab’s only hope. V. 2. For it shall be that, as a wandering bird cast out of the nest, like birds aimlessly fluttering, like a nest whose occupants have suddenly been turned out, so the daughters of Moab shall be at the fords of Arnon; for here, at the boundary of their land, they assemble in huddled bands, looking for help and deliverance. To this appeal the prophet answers: v. 3. Take counsel, execute judgment, planning deliverance instead of oppression, as heretofore; make thy shadow as the night in the midst of the noonday, thereby concealing all those who trust in this shadow as completely as if the darkness of night enclosed them; hide the outcasts, those who are driven from home without cause; bewray not him that wandereth, betraying him into the hands of the enemies. V. 4. Let Mine outcasts dwell with thee, Moab; be thou a covert to them from the face of the spoiler, thus giving shelter to all people who might become fugitives from Judah in the uncertain circumstances obtaining at that time. The reason for this admonition is now given. For the extortioner is at an end, the great world-power which made it a practice to destroy and tread under foot was itself overcome, the spoiler ceaseth, destruction is no longer to be found, the oppressors are consumed out of the land. Jerusalem was delivered from the Assyrian affliction, which represented, at the same time, all the forces of evil arrayed against the Church of God. V. 5. And in mercy shall the throne, that of Judah, of the Messiah, be established, prepared and confirmed; and He, the Messiah Himself, shall sit upon it in truth in the tabernacle of David, one in whom the truth of the Lord’s promise is fulfilled, one who Himself is the Truth, judging, and seeking judgment, and hasting righteousness, for those are the principles of His government. There is only one way for Moab to escape the threatening everlasting Judgment, and that is by throwing itself upon the mercy of this King.
MOAB’S PRIDE AND RUIN. — The Lord’s invitation was issued to Moab also, for He wants all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. The appeal, however, was unavailing, and therefore the prophecy of punishment is once more resumed. V. 6. We have heard of the pride of Moab, its conceit and foolish dependence upon its own strength, Jer. 48, 14-29; he is very proud; even of his haughtiness and his pride and his wrath, his senseless anger against Israel; but his lies shall not be so, his false boasts would soon be shown to be vain. V. 7. Therefore shall Moab howl for Moab, lamenting its own ruin; every one shall howl; for the foundations of Kir-hareseth, the ruins of its strongest fortress, shall ye mourn, for this citadel of brick would be razed, or its grape-cakes would no more be available; surely they are stricken, rather, the people of Moab, utterly stricken by this calamity, would lament. V. 8. For the fields of Heshbon languish and the vine of Sibmah, their richest products being ruined by the invaders; the lords of the heathen have broken dawn the principal plants thereof, all the fine plants of the vine whose culture was so extensively carried on in this country; they, namely, the grape-vines, are come even unto Jazer, in the northern part of the country; they wandered through the wilderness, extending to the desert on the east; her branches are stretched out, they are gone over the sea, spreading out over the Dead Sea, to Engedi and Hebron. All these rich gifts of God’s goodness were appointed to destruction. V. 9. Therefore I will bewail with the weeping of Jazer the vine of Sibmah, the prophet’s tears joining in pity and in lament with those of the rich districts of Moab; I will water thee with my tears, O Heshbon, and Elealeh, weeping on account of the hardness of heart shown by the Moabites, which resulted in such a terrible punishment; for the shouting for thy summer fruits and for thy harvest is fallen, rather, “for the vintage-shout (hedad) is fallen on thy fruits and on thy vintage,” namely, the invader, whose shout of triumph accompanied his trampling the harvest of fruits and grapes into the ground. V. 10. And gladness is taken away and joy out of the plentiful field, out of the garden-land; and in thy vineyards there shall be no singing, neither shall there be shouting, as when the harvest was gathered in times of peace; the treaders shall tread out no wine in their presses; I have made their vintage-shouting to cease. The destruction wrought by the enemy has brought about the end of all happy harvesting; for what he does not destroy outright he plunders. V. 11. Wherefore my bowels, his whole heart, shall sound like an harp for Moab, like the sounding-board of a stringed instrument, which vibrates with the depth of his emotion, and mine inward parts for Kir-haresh. But the most pitiful aspect of the entire situation is now given: v. 12. And it shall come to pass, when it is seen that Moab is weary on the high place, when its people have lamented themselves weary, that he shall come to his sanctuary to pray, turning to the high place consecrated to his god Chemosh and tormenting himself to utter fatigue; but he shall not prevail, for the god in whom he foolishly trusts is nothing but a dead idol. Such is ever the result when men place their confidence in an idol of their own invention. V. 13. This is the word that the Lord hath spoken concerning Moab since that time, that is, the prophecy recorded till now had been made some time before. The accurate time of its fulfilment is now added by the prophet: v. 14. But now the Lord. hath spoken, saying, Within three years, as the years of an hireling, very carefully measured, and the glory of Moab shall be contemned, covered with shame, with all that great multitude, the whole mass of its inhabitants; and the remnant shall be very small and feeble, in no sense large, there would be but an insignificant remainder of the former mighty nation. The ruins of the places mentioned in this prophecy, whose names have been preserved even to this day, testify to both the inspiration of prophecy and the punitive justice of God.