Send ye the lamb to the ruler of the land
Or tribute, as the Targum rightly interprets it. The Moabites, being conquered by David, paid tribute to him, ( 2 Samuel 8:2 ) and when the kingdom was divided in Rehoboam's time, the tribute was paid to the kings of Israel, which continued till the times of Ahab, when the Moabites rebelled, and refused to pay it, ( 2 Kings 3:4 2 Kings 3:5 ) and this tribute, as appears from the passage now referred to, was paid in lambs and rams; which now they are bid to pay to the king of Judah, David's lawful heir and successor in his kingdom; who is supposed to be meant by the ruler of the land, that is, of the land of Judah, whose reigning king at this time was Hezekiah; but rather by "the ruler of the land" is meant the king of Moab, for the words may be rendered, more agreeably to the language and the accents, "send ye the lamb" (or lambs, the singular for the plural), "O ruler of the land" F20; though others, "send ye the lamb of the ruler of the land" F21; that is either, O king of Moab send the tribute that is due; or ye people of the land send the tribute which your ruler owes to the king of Judah; so Jarchi understands it of the king of Moab: some indeed expound the ruler of the land of God himself, who is the Governor of the world; and take the sense to be, that the Moabites are bid to send a lamb, or lambs, for sacrifice, to the God of the whole earth, in order to appease him, and atone for their sins; which is said either seriously, as some think, this being to answer a good purpose, or ironically, as other's, it being now too late; but the sense given is the best: in the Talmud F23 it is applied to Nebuchadnezzar, ruler of the land, who came to the mount of the daughter of Zion, by the way of rocks and mountains. The Targum applies it to the Messiah, paraphrasing it thus,
``they shall be bringing tributes to the Christ of Israel, who is strong over them.''Jerom interprets it of Christ, the Lamb of God, the ruler of the world, or who was to be sacrificed to the ruler of the world; who descended from Ruth, the Moabitess, who he supposes is meant by the rock of the wilderness, as he renders the next clause: from Sela to the wilderness, unto the mount the daughter of Zion:
according to Kimchi, and others, Sela was the chief city of the kingdom of Moab. The word signifies a rock; it is the same with Petra F24, the chief city of Arabia, and from whence Arabia Petraea had its name. Some take it to be Selah, the chief city of Edom, afterwards called Joktheel, ( 2 Kings 14:7 ) it was a frontier city, and lay upon the borders of Moab and Edom to the south; as the wilderness of Jordan was on the border of Moab to the north, and is thought to be here meant; or, according to Vitringa, the plains of Jericho, the same with the wilderness of Judea, where John the Baptist came preaching; which lay in the way from Sela or Petra, the chief city in Moab, unto Jerusalem. Strabo F25 says of Petra, the metropolis of the Nabataeans, that it lies in a plain, surrounded with rocks and precipices, and within it fountains and gardens, and without it a large country, for the most part desert, especially towards Judea, and from hence it is a journey of three or four days to Jericho; and so the sense is, send the lambs, or the tribute, from Sela or Petra, the chief city of Moab; send them, I say, to the wilderness of Judea, or by the way of that, even to Mount Zion or Jerusalem, the metropolis of Judea, and the seat of the king of it.
F20 (Ura lvwm rk wxlv) "mittite agnum, dominator terrae", Montanus; so Luther; which is approved by Reinbeck de Accent. Heb. p. 395.
F21 "Mittite agnum dominatoris terrae", Pagninus, Vatablus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator.
F23 T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 96. 2. & Gloss. in ib.
F24 Joseph. Antiqu. l. 4. c. 4. sect. 7. Ptolem. Geogr. l. 5. c. 17. Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 6. c. 28.
F25 Geograph. l. 16. p. 536. Ed. Casaub.