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Book of Isaiah
This prophecy would come to pass within three years, and would confirm the prophet's mission and the belief in all his other prophecies. Regarding Moab, it is foretold: #1. That their chief cities would be surprised by the enemy. Great and very miserable changes would be made in a very short time. #2. The Moabites would have the option of their idols for relief. Ungodly men, when in trouble, have NO comforter, but it is rare that they are brought by their terrors to turn to our forgiving God with true sorrow and believing prayer. #3. There would be great cries of grief throughout the land. It is no relief at all to be joined by many fellow-sufferers, fellow-mourners. #4. The courage of their soldiers should fail. God can very easily withdraw from a nation, of that on which it most depended for strength and defense. #5. These disasters would cause grief in the neighboring areas. Even though they were enemies of Israel, yet as fellow-creatures, it would be sad to see them in such distress. In verses 6-9, Isaiah describes the woeful howling heard throughout the country of Moab, when it became a prey to the Assyrian army. The country would be ransacked, and famine is usually the sad effect of war (Rev.6:4-8). Those who are eager to reap the abundance of this world, and store up what they have gotten, very few of them consider just how soon it could all be ripped away from them.
THEME: The burden of Moab.
This brief chapter records the third burden, the burden of Moab. Chapters 15 and 16, both deal with Moab. This seems strange in light of the fact that there were only two chapters that dealt with Babylon, and Babylon was the first great world power. When compared to Babylon, Moab was very small. But in Isaiah's day, and in fact, as early as the time of David, Moab was very important, and it was a great kingdom.
Moab was the nation which came from Lot through the incestuous relationship with his elder daughter (Gen.19:37). Moab was the illegitimate son of this sordid affair, was the father of the Moabites. These people became the confirmed and persistent enemies of the nation of Israel. Balak their king, hired Balaam, the prophet, to curse Israel, for he feared them when they passed through the land of Moab.
David was part Moabite, for his father Jesse was a descendant of Obed, the son of Boaz and Ruth. David had relatives in Moab, and he took his father and mother there when Saul was pursuing him.
Today the nation of Moab has disappeared. Like Felix and Festus, the Moabites were almost persuaded (Acts 24:25). They were not very far from the kingdom, but they never quite made it. They were neighbors of God's people but never became followers of God.
The modern Moabites are ungodly. They pretend to be godly, but they are not. They profess to be Christians, but do not possess Christ in their hearts. They flatter you when they think they can get something from you, but drop you the minute they find that they cannot get anything from you. Moab was never a trusted friend of Israel.
The Sudden Destruction of Moab (15:1-3)
Isaiah 15:1 The burden of Moab. Because in the night Ar of Moab is laid waste, and brought to silence; because in the night Kir of Moab is laid waste, and brought to silence; (KJV)
The burden of Moab . . . a heavy, grievous prophecy, concerning the destruction of Moab. This seems to respect the destruction of it by Nebuchadnezzar, which is prophesied of in (Jer.48:1), for that which was to be within three years (Isa,16:14), looks like another and distinct prophecy from this. Some think this was accomplished before the times of Nebuchadnezzar, either by Shalmaneser king of Assyria, sometime before the captivity of the ten tribes, or by Sennacherib, after the invasion of Judea.
Because in the night Ar of Moab is laid waste, and brought to silence . . . this was a chief city in Moab (Num.21:28). Some versions take Ar to signify a city, and render it, the city of Moab, without naming what city it was. The Targum calls it by another name, Lahajath, but whatever city it was, will be destroyed in the night, when the inhabitants of it were asleep and secure, and had no notice of danger.
Because in the night Kir of Moab is laid waste, and brought to silence . . . Kir was another city of Moab, which met with the same fate as Ar. This is called Kirhareseth and Kirharesh in Isaiah 16:7, and Kirheres in Jer.48:31. Kir was called Kir of Moab, to distinguish it from Kir in Assyria (Am.1:5) and Kir in Media (Isa.22:6).
In the night . . . the burden of Moab came quite suddenly. This is repeated twice to emphasize the suddenness of that which struck the nation. It came at night, and their night of weeping never ended. Assyria destroyed this nation in an unbelievable way that is almost unspeakable. They seemed to wipe Moab off the face of the earth.
Isaiah 15:2 He is gone up to Bajith, and to Dibon, the high places, to weep: Moab shall howl over Nebo, and over Medeba: on all their heads shall be baldness, and every beard cut off. (KJV)
He is gone up to Bajith . . . Bajith signifies house; and here a house of idolatry. It was an idol's temple, very likely the temple of their god Chemosh, the same which is called Bethbaalmeon (Josh.13:17), the house of Baal's habitation . . . and is mentioned with Dibon and Bamoth, as here; where the Moabites went in their distress, to lament, ask advice, make supplication, and offer sacrifice to their gods.
And to Dibon, the high places, to weep . . . Dibon was another city of Moab (Num.21:30), where the high places for idolatrous worship probably were, or since there was such a place in Moab as Bamoth . . . here rendered high places.
Moab shall howl over Nebo, and over Medeba . . . two considerable cities in the land of Moab, now taken, plundered and destroyed.
On all their heads shall be baldness, and every beard cut off . . . the hair of their heads and beards (which was their ornament) was shaved, as they did in great mourning (Lev.19:27; 21:5).
There are several places mentioned in this verse with which we may not be acquainted. Bajith means house and apparently refers to the temple of Chemosh (idol) which was in that land. Dibon was a town on the east side of Jordan where the Moabite stone was found. Nebo is the mountain from which Moses saw the Promised Land. Medeba was a city that belonged to Reuben (Josh.13:16). All of these cities and places belonged to Moab during Isaiah's day. They were going to be destroyed because, although the Moabites professed to know God, they spent their time in heathen temples dedicated to pagan gods, saying that they were worshiping the living and true God.
Isaiah 15:3 In their streets they shall gird themselves with sackcloth: on the tops of their houses, and in their streets, every one shall howl, weeping abundantly. (KJV)
In their streets they shall girt themselves with sackcloth . . . instead of their fine clothes, with which they had used to clothe themselves, being a very proud people (Isa.16:6), this was usual in times of distress on any account, as well as a token of mourning for the dead (Joel 1:8).
On the tops of their houses . . . which were flat, as the houses of the Jews were, on which were battlements (Deut.22:8), where they went for safety from their enemies, or to see if they could spot the enemy, or any that could assist them, and deliver them. They also went there for devotion, to pray to their gods for help; for here it was usual to have altars erected, to burn incense on to their deities (2 Ki.23:12), and in such places the people of God were accustomed to pray (Acts 10:9).
And in their streets . . . publicly, as well as privately, where they ran up and down to get from the enemy, and save themselves.
Everyone shall howl, weeping abundantly . . . the tears running down his cheeks in great abundance, so that their whole body was wet with them. The meaning may be, that everyone that went up to the temples of the idols, and to the high places (vs.2) or to the roofs of the houses, to pray the assistance of their gods, should come down weeping and howling, for they would have no success.
Isaiah 15:4 And Heshbon shall cry, and Elealeh: their voice shall be heard even unto Jahaz: therefore the armed soldiers of Moab shall cry out; his life shall be grievous unto him. (KJV)
And Heshbon shall cry, and Elealeh . . . two other cities in the land of Moab. The first of these was the city of Sihon king of the Amorites, who took it from the Moabites (Num.21:25), it then came into the hands of the Reubenites (Num.32:3), and afterwards was again possessed by the Moabites (Jer.48:2). Elealeh was another city of Moab, very near to Heshbon and was often mentioned with it (Isa.16:9). By these two places are meant the inhabitants of them, who cried for and lamented the desolation that was coming, or was come upon them.
Their voice shall be heard even unto Jahaz . . . Jahaz another city in the utmost borders of Moab Num.21:23), also called Jahazah (Josh.21:36).
Therefore the armed soldiers of Moab shall cry out . . . not as when they go to battle, with courage and joy, as some have thought; but through fear, and in great terror and distress. Not only the weak and unarmed inhabitants, men and women, would be in the utmost confusion and dismay, but the soldiers that should fight for them, and defend them; who were prepared for war, had no heart to fight, but lamented their sad case.
His life shall be grievous unto him . . . the Moabites shall long for death, to free themselves from those dreadful calamities which they perceive unavoidably coming upon them.
The Sympathy of the Isaiah for Zoar (15:5)
The judgment upon Moab was so serious that even Isaiah was moved.
Isaiah 15:5 My heart shall cry out for Moab; his fugitives shall flee unto Zoar, an heifer of three years old: for by the mounting up of Luhith with weeping shall they go it up; for in the way of Horonaim they shall raise up a cry of destruction. (KJV)
My heart shall cry out for Moab . . . because their approaching destruction is so dreadful. Even though they are a most vile nation, and by their cruel hostility against God and His people do abundantly deserve it, yet the words that Isaiah had to deliver filled him with horror at the very thoughts of it (Isa.16:11).
His fugitives shall flee unto Zoar . . . a city where Lot fled to (Gen.19:22-23), when he came out of Sodom, to which it is thought the allusion is, and the meaning seems to be, that those that escaped out of the above cities, when taken and destroyed, would flee there for safety. His fugitives . . . those that flee from other places shall cry extremely loud as they go along, that their cry shall be heard unto Zoar (Jer.48:34).
An heifer of three years old . . . which is not to be understood of Zoar in particular, or of the country of Moab in general, but is compared to a heifer of three years for fatness, strength, beauty and lasciviousness (unbridled lust). The cry of the fugitives, would be very loud and noisy, like the bawling of an ox, or a heifer in its full strength, which is heard a long way off.
For in the way of Horonaim they shall raise up a cry of destruction . . . of Moab, and the several cities of it; or of the breaking down of walls and of houses. The cry would be universal, in all places where they come, and reaching from one side of the country to another.
Although Moab was the enemy of Israel, Isaiah's heart goes out to them in compassion because of the terror that has come upon them. This reveals the heart of God. In spite of people's sin today, God still loves them and will extend His mercy to them if only they will just turn to Him.
The rest of the chapter gives a detailed description of the further devastation of the land of Moab. It has been literally fulfilled.
Isaiah 15:6 For the waters of Nimrim shall be desolate: for the hay is withered away, the grass faileth, there is no green thing. (KJV)
For the waters of Nimrim shall be desolate . . . or dried up, through a great drought that would come upon the land at this time . . . or the waters would be defiled with the blood of all those killed. It may mean the well-watered pastures around Nimrim that would be trodden under foot by its army, or be forsaken by the owners of them. Josephus speaks of fountains of hot water springing up in the country of Peraea, where Nimrim was, of different tastes, some bitter, and others sweet; which might be these waters of Nimrim; and, Bethnimrah was in that part of the country which was called the valley, where there were many springs of water.
For the hay is withered away, the grass faileth, there is no green thing . . . by which it seems that the desolation spoken of was not merely through the forage and trampling of the enemy's army, but also by a drought.
Isaiah 15:7 Therefore the abundance they have gotten, and that which they have laid up, shall they carry away to the brook of the willows. (KJV)
Therefore the abundance they have gotten, and that which they have laid up . . . the great substance which the Moabites had taken, and hoarded up.
Shall they carry away to the brook of the willows . . . either the Moabites would carry their substance to some brook, maybe near Nimrim, where many willows grew, and cast it into the brook, or lay it by the brook side, in some private place, or under and among the willows, to preserve it from the enemy . . . or the meaning could be that their enemies would take what they had with a great deal of labor gotten, and with a great deal of care had laid up, and carry it to the brook of the willows, some place outside the city, and there divide it.
Isaiah 15:8 For the cry is gone round about the borders of Moab; the howling thereof unto Eglaim, and the howling thereof unto Beerelim. (KJV)
For the cry is gone found about the borders of Moab . . . the cry of destruction and howling because of it; the places mentioned, as is observed by some, being on the borders of the land. Heshbon was on the north east, Elealeh on the north west, Jahaz on the south west, Horonaim further west, Zoar the farthest west, and the places following seem to be also on the borders.
The howling thereof unto Eglaim . . . which word signifies a border, and so the Arabic word Agalon; some take it to be the same with the brooks of Arnon (Num.21:13), said so be the border of Moab.
And the howling thereof unto Beerelim . . . is the same as Beer (Num.21:16), called Beerelim, or the well of the mighty ones, being dug by the princes of Israel (Num.21:18).
Isaiah 15:9 For the waters of Dimon shall be full of blood: for I will bring more upon Dimon, lions upon him that escapeth of Moab, and upon the remnant of the land. (KJV)
For the waters of Dimon shall be full of blood . . . of the slain. This was a river in the land of Moab, getting its name from the blood of those killed. Some think it to be the name of a city, and the same with Dibon (Isa.15:2), but because of the abundance of bloodshed in it, got this new name.
For I will bring more upon Dimon . . . not just add blood to the waters of the river, but bring additional evils and plagues besides.
Lions upon him that escapeth of Moab, and upon the remnant of the land . . . means that those who escaped the sword would be destroyed by lions, or other beasts of prey, which was one of the Lord's four judgments (Eze.14:21).
*****Some think this prophecy was delivered in the first years of Hezekiah's reign and fulfilled in the fourth year when Shalmaneser, on his way to invade Israel, seized the strongholds of Moab. Moab probably had joined the common cause with Israel and Syria in a league against Assyria, thus incurring the vengeance of Assyria. Jeremiah has presented much of this prophecy in Jeremiah Chapter 48.
Commentaries on Old Testament Books
Book of Isaiah . . Isaiah's Mini-Bible
Isaiah Ch.1 . . Isaiah Ch.2 . . Isaiah Ch.3 . . Isaiah Ch.4 . . Isaiah Ch.5 . . Isaiah Ch.6 . . Isaiah Ch.7 . . Isaiah Ch.8 . . Isaiah Ch.9 . . Isa.Ch.10 . . Isa.Ch.11 . . Isa.Ch12 . . Home Page
JUDGMENT ON THE NATIONS . . . . . Isaiah Ch.13 . . Isaiah Ch.14 . . Isaiah Ch.15 . . Isaiah Ch.16 . . Isaiah Ch.17 . . Isaiah Ch.18 . . Isaiah Ch.19 . . Isaiah Ch.20 . . Isaiah Ch.21 . . Isaiah Ch.22 . . Isaiah Ch.23 . . Home Page
ISAIAH’S APOCALYPSE . . . . . Isaiah Ch.24 . . Isaiah Ch.25 . . Isaiah Ch.26 . . Isaiah Ch.27 . . Home Page
ISAIAH'S SIX WOES . . . Isaiah Ch.28 . . Isaiah Ch.29 . . Isaiah Ch.30 . . Isaiah Ch.31 . . Isaiah Ch.32 . . Isaiah Ch.33 . . Isaiah Ch.34 . . Isaiah Ch.35 . . Home Page
Isaiah's Historic Part . . Isaiah Ch.36 . . Isaiah Ch.37 . . Isaiah Ch.38 . . Isaiah Ch.39 . . Home Page
Isaiah Speaks of Messiah's Incarnation. . Isaiah Ch.40 . . Isaiah Ch.41 . . Isaiah Ch.42 . . Isaiah Ch.43 . . Isaiah Ch.44 . . Isaiah Ch.45 . . Isaiah Ch.46 . . Isaiah Ch.47 . . Isaiah Ch.48 . . Home Page
Isaiah's Introduction to the Suffering Servant
Isaiah's Suffering Servant Prophecy. . . Isaiah 52:13-53:12
Isaiah's Redemption Through the Suffering Servant . . . Isaiah Ch.49 . . Isaiah Ch.50 . . Isaiah Ch.51 . . Isaiah Ch.52 . . Isaiah Ch.53 . . Isaiah Ch.54 . . Isaiah Ch.55 . . Isaiah Ch.56 . . Isaiah Ch.57 . . Home Page
Isaiah's Vision of the Dispersion . . . Isaiah Ch.58 . . Isaiah Ch59 . . Isaiah Ch.60 . . Isaiah Ch.61 . . Isaiah Ch.62 . . Isaiah Ch.63 . . Isaiah Ch.64 . . Isaiah Ch.65 . . Isaiah Ch.66 . . Home Page