Moab is exhorted to yield obedience. (1-5) The pride and the judgments of Moab. (6-14)
Verses 1-5 God tells sinners what they may do to prevent ruin; so he does to Moab. Let them send the tribute they formerly engaged to pay to Judah. Take it as good advice. Break off thy sins by righteousness, it may lengthen thy quiet. And this may be applied to the great gospel duty of submission to Christ. Send him the lamb, the best you have, yourselves a living sacrifice. When you come to God, the great Ruler, come in the name of the Lamb, the Lamb of God. Those who will not submit to Christ, shall be as a bird that wanders from her nest, which shall be snatched up by the next bird of prey. Those who will not yield to the fear of God, shall be made to yield to the fear of every thing else. He advises them to be kind to the seed of Israel. Those that expect to find favour when in trouble themselves, must show favour to those in trouble. What is here said concerning the throne of Hezekiah, also belongs, in a much higher sense, to the kingdom of Jesus Christ. Though by subjection to Him we may not enjoy worldly riches or honours, but may be exposed to poverty and contempt, we shall have peace of conscience and eternal life.
Verses 6-14 Those who will not be counselled, cannot be helped. More souls are ruined by pride than by any other sin whatever. Also, the very proud are commonly very passionate. With lies many seek to gain the gratification of pride and passion, but they shall not compass proud and angry projects. Moab was famous for fields and vineyards; but they shall be laid waste by the invading army. God can soon turn laughter into mourning, and joy into heaviness. In God let us always rejoice with holy triumph; in earthly things let us always rejoice with holy trembling. The prophet looks with concern on the desolations of such a pleasant country; it causes inward grief. The false gods of Moab are unable to help; and the God of Israel, the only true God, can and will make good what he has spoken. Let Moab know her ruin is very near, and prepare. The most awful declarations of Divine wrath, discover the way of escape to those who take warning. There is no escape, but by submission to the Son of David, and devoting ourselves to him. And, at length, when the appointed time comes, all the glory, prosperity, and multitude of the wicked shall perish.
Isaiah 16:1-14 . CONTINUATION OF THE PROPHECY AS TO MOAB.
1. lamb--advice of the prophet to the Moabites who had fled southwards to Idumea, to send to the king of Judah the tribute of lambs, which they had formerly paid to Israel, but which they had given up ( 2 Kings 3:4 2 Kings 3:5 ). David probably imposed this tribute before the severance of Judah and Israel ( 2 Samuel 8:2 ). Therefore Moab is recommended to gain the favor and protection of Judah, by paying it to the Jewish king. Type of the need of submitting to Messiah ( Psalms 2:10-12 , Romans 12:1 ).
from Sela to--rather, "from Petra through (literally, 'towards') the wilderness" [MAURER]. "Sela" means "a rock," Petra in Greek; the capital of Idumea and Arabia-Petræa; the dwellings are mostly hewn out of the rock. The country around was a vast common ("wilderness") or open pasturage, to which the Moabites had fled on the invasion from the west ( Isaiah 15:7 ).
ruler of the land--namely, of Idumea, that is, the king of Judah; Amaziah had become master of Idumea and Sela ( 2 Kings 14:7 ).
2. cast out of . . . nest--rather, "as a brood cast out" (in apposition with "a wandering bird," or rather, wandering birds), namely, a brood just fledged and expelled from the nest in which they were hatched [HORSLEY]. Compare Isaiah 10:14 , Deuteronomy 32:11 .
daughters of Moab--that is, the inhabitants of Moab. So 2 Kings 19:21 , Psalms 48:11 , Jeremiah 46:11 , Lamentations 4:22 [MAURER].
at the fords--trying to cross the boundary river of Moab, in order to escape out of the land. EWALD and MAURER make "fords" a poetical expression for "the dwellers on Arnon," answering to the parallel clause of the same sense, "daughters of Moab."
3-5. GESENIUS, MAURER, &c., regard these verses as an address of the fugitive Moabites to the Jews for protection; they translate Isaiah 16:4 , "Let mine outcasts of Moab dwell with thee, Judah"; the protection will be refused by the Jews, for the pride of Moab ( Isaiah 16:6 ). VITRINGA makes it an additional advice to Moab, besides paying tribute. Give shelter to the Jewish outcasts who take refuge in thy land ( Isaiah 16:3 Isaiah 16:4 ); so "mercy" will be shown thee in turn by whatever king sits on the "throne" of "David" ( Isaiah 16:5 ). Isaiah foresees that Moab will be too proud to pay the tribute, or conciliate Judah by sheltering its outcasts ( Isaiah 16:6 ); therefore judgment shall be executed. However, as Moab just before is represented as itself an outcast in Idumea, it seems incongruous that it should be called on to shelter Jewish outcasts. So that it seems rather to foretell the ruined state of Moab when its people should beg the Jews for shelter, but be refused for their pride.
make . . . shadow as . . . night . . . in . . . noonday--emblem of a thick shelter from the glaring noonday heat ( Isaiah 4:6 , 25:4 , 32:2 ).
bewray . . . wandereth--Betray not the fugitive to his pursuer.
4. Rather, "Let the outcasts of Moab dwell with thee" (Judah) [HORSLEY].
for the extortioner, &c.--The Assyrian oppressor probably.
is at an end--By the time that Moab begs Judah for shelter, Judah shall be in a condition to afford it, for the Assyrian oppressor shall have been "consumed out of the land."
5. If Judah shelters the suppliant Moab, allowing him to remain in Idumea, a blessing will redound to Judah itself and its "throne."
truth . . . judgment . . . righteousness--language so divinely framed as to apply to "the latter days" under King Messiah, when "the Lord shall bring again the captivity of Moab" ( Psalms 72:2 , 96:13 , 98:9 , Jeremiah 48:47 , Romans 11:12 ).
hasting--"prompt in executing."
6. We--Jews. We reject Moab's supplication for his pride.
not be so--rather, "not right"; shall prove vain ( Isaiah 25:10 , Jeremiah 48:29 Jeremiah 48:30 , Zephaniah 2:8 ). "It shall not be so; his lies shall not so effect it."
7. Therefore--all hope of being allowed "shelter by the Jews being cut off.
foundations--that is, "ruins"; because, when houses are pulled down, the "foundations" alone are left ( Isaiah 58:12 ). Jeremiah, in the parallel place ( Jeremiah 48:31 ), renders it "men," who are the moral foundations or stay of a city.
Kirhareseth--literally, "a citadel of brick."
surely they are stricken--rather, joined with "mourn"; "Ye shall mourn utterly stricken" [MAURER and HORSLEY].
8. fields--vine-fields ( Deuteronomy 32:32 ).
vine of Sibmah--near Heshbon: namely, languishes.
lords of . . . heathen--The heathen princes, the Assyrians, &c., who invaded Moab, destroyed his vines. So Jeremiah in the parallel place ( Jeremiah 48:32 Jeremiah 48:33 ). MAURER thinks the following words require rather the rendering, "Its (the vine of Sibmah) shoots (the wines got from them) overpowered (by its generous flavor and potency) the lords of the nations" ( Genesis 49:11 Genesis 49:12 Genesis 49:22 ).
come . . . Jazer--They (the vine shoots) reached even to Jazer, fifteen miles from Heshbon.
wandered--They overran in wild luxuriance the wilderness of Arabia, encompassing Moab.
the sea--the Dead Sea; or else some lake near Jazer now dry; in Jeremiah 48:32 called "the sea of Jazer"; but ( Psalms 80:8-11 ).
9. I--will bewail for its desolation, though I belong to another
with . . . weeping of Jazer--as Jazer weeps.
shouting for . . . fallen--rather, "Upon thy summer fruits and upon thy luxuriant vines the shouting (the battle shout, instead of the joyous shout of the grape-gatherers, usual at the vintage) is fallen" ( Isaiah 16:10 , Jeremiah 25:30 , 51:14 ). In the parallel passage ( Jeremiah 48:32 ) the words substantially express the same sense. "The spoiler is fallen upon thy summer fruits."
10. gladness--such as is felt in gathering a rich harvest. There shall be no harvest or vintage owing to the desolation; therefore no "gladness."
11. bowels--in Scripture the seat of yearning compassion. It means the inward seat of emotion, the heart, &c. ( Isaiah 63:15 ; compare Isaiah 15:5 , Jeremiah 48:36 ).
sound . . . harp--as its strings vibrate when beaten with the plectrum or hand.
12. when it is seen that--rather, "When Moab shall have appeared (before his gods; compare Exodus 23:15 ), when he is weary (that is, when he shall have fatigued himself with observing burdensome rites 1 Kings 18:26 , &c.), on the high place (compare Isaiah 15:2 ), and shall come to his sanctuary (of the idol Chemosh on Mount N ebo) to pray, he shall not prevail"; he shall effect nothing by his prayers [MAURER].
13. since that time--rather, "respecting that time" [HORSLEY]. BARNES translates it, "formerly" in contrast to "but now" ( Isaiah 16:14 ): heretofore former prophecies ( Exodus 15:15 , Numbers 21:29 ) have been given as to Moab, of which Isaiah has given the substance: but now a definite and steady time also is fixed.
14. three years . . . hireling--Just as a hireling has his fixed term of engagement, which neither he nor his master will allow to be added to or to be taken from, so the limit within which Moab is to fall is unalterably fixed ( Isaiah 21:16 ). Fulfilled about the time when the Assyrians led Israel into captivity. The ruins of Elealeh, Heshbon, Medeba, Dibon, &c., still exist to confirm the inspiration of Scripture. The accurate particularity of specification of the places three thousand years ago, confirmed by modern research, is a strong testimony to the truth of prophecy.