Isaiah 15


‘A prophecy against Moab: Ar in Moab is ruined, destroyed in a night! Kir in Moab is ruined, destroyed in a night! Dibon goes up to its temple, to its high places to weep; Moab wails over Nebo and Medeba. Every head is shaved and every beard cut off. In the streets they wear sackcloth; on the roofs and in the public squares they all wail, prostrate with weeping. Heshbon and Elealeh cry out, their voices are heard all the way to Jahaz. Therefore the armed men of Moab cry out, and their hearts are faint. My heart cries out over Moab; her fugitives flee as far as Zoar, as far as Eglath Shelishiyah. They go up the hill to Luhith, weeping as they go; on the road to Horonaim they lament their destruction. The waters of Nimrim are dried up and the grass is withered; the vegetation is gone and nothing green is left. So the wealth they have acquired and stored up they carry away over the Ravine of the Poplars. Their outcry echoes along the border of Moab; their wailing reaches as far as Eglaim, their lamentation as far as Beer Elim. The waters of Dimon are full of blood, but I will bring still more upon Dimon—a lion upon the fugitives of Moab and upon those who remain in the land.’ Isaiah 15:1-9

A Prophecy Against Moab

The Moabites were descendants of Lot by an incestuous union with his elder daughter, Genesis 19:37. They refused the Israelites’ permission to pass through their land while marching toward the promised land, Judges 11:17. Because, doubtless, of the kinship between the Moabites and Israelites, Moses was forbidden to attack them, Deuteronomy 2:9.

However, the king of Moab, alarmed when the Israelites encamped in his vicinity, sent for Balaam to curse them, Numbers 22-24 / Joshua 24:9. For this hostile attitude, the Israelites were commanded to exclude them from the congregation to the tenth generation, and to maintain a coldness and indifference toward them forever, Deuteronomy 23:3-6 / Nehemiah 13:1.

The prophets often denounced the Moabites as types of the enemies of God’s people, Isaiah 15:16 / Isaiah 25:10 / Jeremiah 9:36 / Jeremiah 25:21 / Ezekiel 25:8-11. Some of the Jews, who fled from Jerusalem when Nebuchadnezzar invaded Judah, took refuge in Moab but returned when Gedaliah was appointed governor, Jeremiah 40:11-12.

Isaiah sees the weeping which shall come from the people. The ‘high places’ were the places where the people went to weep, that is, they would ascend to their idols on the high places, but there would be no answer from their false gods.

Moab wails aloud with heads shaved and beards clipped, Jeremiah 9:17. Even those who met in the streets wept over the woe and destruction whilst wearing sackcloth, Genesis 37:34 / 2 Samuel 3:31 / 1 Kings 21:27 / 2 Kings 19:1 / Job 16:15 / Isaiah 3:24.

Those who escaped from the land would be destroyed. We see a picture of the streams flowing with the blood of the slain while the destroyer pursued them like a lion after his prey.

The reference to the ‘lion’ could be understood literally, 2 Kings 17:25, or it may stand metaphorically for invading foes, Jeremiah 4:7 / Jeremiah 5:6. Although some commentators suggest the lion here was such an invader as Nebuchadnezzar or Ashurbanipal.

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following about the cities mentioned.

‘Ar is the chief city of Moab, location unknown. Kir was a fortified city at an elevation of 3,370 feet, 11 miles east of the Dead Sea, and 15 miles north of the Arnon River. Dibon, the modern Dhiban east of the Dead Sea and 4 miles north of the Arnon River.

Nebo is the mountain from which Moses saw the Holy Land, one of the Moabite gods, and a small city of Moab, perhaps a local shrine of Nebo. Heshbon was the capital of Sihon, king of the Ammonites, which fell to Moses, Numbers 21:24, and was later allotted to Reuben, Numbers 32:37.

Elealeh was a small town east of Jordan, always mentioned in connection with Heshbon. It is identified as modern El-Al, 1 mile north of Heshbon. Zoar was a city near the Dead Sea, the southern extremity, from which Lot and his two daughters fled to a cave in the mountains, Genesis 19. Luhith, Eusebius placed it between Zoar and Areopolis, but it has not yet been surely identified. Nimrim was a place in south Moab some ten miles from the southern tip of the Dead Sea.’

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