Isaiah 16


‘Send lambs as tribute to the ruler of the land, from Sela, across the desert, to the mount of Daughter Zion. Like fluttering birds pushed from the nest, so are the women of Moab at the fords of the Arnon. “Make up your mind,” Moab says. “Render a decision. Make your shadow like night—at high noon. Hide the fugitives, do not betray the refugees. Let the Moabite fugitives stay with you; be their shelter from the destroyer.” The oppressor will come to an end, and destruction will cease; the aggressor will vanish from the land. In love a throne will be established; in faithfulness a man will sit on it—one from the house of David—one who in judging seeks justice and speeds the cause of righteousness.’ Isaiah 16:1-5

This chapter begins with an exhortation to the Moabites to seek again allegiance with the house of David for deliverance. Isaiah’s theme is hope for the righteous, not just to warn Moab but to encourage Judah.

Throughout the Moabites early history, they weren’t hospitable to Israel in the days after Israel’s wilderness wandering when they were approaching the land of Canaan, Deuteronomy 2:9 / Deuteronomy 23:3-6 / Judges 11:17 / Numbers 22-24 / Joshua 24:9 / Nehemiah 13:1.

Now Moab, in her own wilderness wandering, they were fluttering birds pushed from a nest, Isaiah 10:14 / Proverbs 26:2 / Proverbs 27:8, would plead for sanctuary from Israel. Their only hope is in submission to the house of David. As they appeal to Zion in their pitiful state, they place their state into the hands of Judah.

Isaiah asked for Israel to be the forgiving relative, for the Moabites were also descendants from Abraham. If Judah shows mercy to her relatives, the Moabites, then she herself would receive mercy, James 2:13.

The words, ‘in love a throne will be established; in faithfulness a man will sit on it—one from the house of David—one who in judging seeks justice and speeds the cause of righteousness,’ appears to refer to the rule of Christ, who could be described other than Christ?

Gill, in his commentary, says the following.

‘The throne of Hezekiah, and his government over Judah, which was more firmly settled and established after the overthrow of the Assyrian army, through the mercy of God vouchsafed to him, and on account of the mercy he exercised among his subjects, Proverbs 20:28. Hezekiah was a type of Christ, and his throne typical of his, and the ultimate view of the prophecy may be to the stability of the kingdom of Christ.’

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following.

‘Note the tragic picture of the daughters of Moab at the fords of the Arnon, where they appear as confused and helpless as a nest of baby birds, scattered and destroyed by a predator. What a pitiful contrast with the hundreds of ‘the daughters of Moab’ who participated in the shameful orgy of Numbers 25!’

‘We have heard of Moab’s pride—how great is her arrogance!—of her conceit, her pride and her insolence; but her boasts are empty. Therefore the Moabites wail, they wail together for Moab. Lament and grieve for the raisin cakes of Kir Hareseth. ‘The fields of Heshbon wither, the vines of Sibmah also. The rulers of the nations have trampled down the choicest vines, which once reached Jazer and spread toward the desert. Their shoots spread out and went as far as the sea. So I weep, as Jazer weeps, for the vines of Sibmah. Heshbon and Elealeh, I drench you with tears! The shouts of joy over your ripened fruit and over your harvests have been stilled. Joy and gladness are taken away from the orchards; no one sings or shouts in the vineyards; no one treads out wine at the presses, for I have put an end to the shouting. My heart laments for Moab like a harp, my inmost being for Kir Hareseth. When Moab appears at her high place, she only wears herself out; when she goes to her shrine to pray, it is to no avail.’ Isaiah 16:6-12

These verses show us that Moab will be made desolate because of her pride, Jeremiah 48:29. Sibmah was known for wine grapes and it was on tables of kings throughout the earth. The vineyards were broken up and destroyed and tears will be shed, Jeremiah 48:32, because the harvest cry to be heard no more, Jeremiah 48:32.

Barnes, in his commentary, says the following.

‘Sibmah was a city of Reuben, Numbers 32:38 / Joshua 13:19. Jeremiah, in the parallel place, Jeremiah 48:32, speaks of the vine of Sibmah also. He also says that the enemies of Moab had taken Sibmah, and that the vine and wine had been destroyed, Jeremiah 48:33.’

Her prayers would avail nothing because she hadn’t served God, Proverbs 28:9. The Moabite people prayed at the high place of Chemosh, 1 Kings 11:7, the place of their false god but their prayers were futile. I’m sure for Isaiah, this must have been a very sad sight indeed, seeing men cry out to a god who simply didn’t exist.

‘This is the word the LORD has already spoken concerning Moab. But now the LORD says: “Within three years, as a servant bound by contract would count them, Moab’s splendour and all her many people will be despised, and her survivors will be very few and feeble.” Isaiah 16:13-14

Here we read of the time which would be involved in the destruction of Moab’s glory. Before the LORD had already spoken, Numbers 24:17 / Deuteronomy 23:3-4, but now He says, ‘within three years,’ which is reference to the year of Ahaz’s death, Isaiah 14:28.

Barnes, in his commentary, says the following.

‘There had been a course of predictions declaring in general that Moab should be destroyed, and the prophet says here that he had expressed their general sense or that ‘his’ predictions accorded with them all, for they all predicted the complete overthrow of Moab. He now says, Isaiah 16:14, that these general prophecies respecting Moab which had been of so long standing were now to be speedily accomplished. The prophecies respecting Moab, foretelling its future ruin, may be seen in Exodus 15:15 / Numbers 21:29 / Numbers 24:17 / Psalm 60:8 / Psalm 108:9 / Amos 2:2 / Zephaniah 2:9.’

As a servant counts the days of his contract in order to fulfil the exact number of days of labour, so the proclamation made concerning Moab would be for a definite period of time.

De Hoff, in his commentary, says the following.

‘Three years may seem only a short time, but it is long to one who is hired into the service of another.’

Gill, in his commentary, says the following.

‘Some think this prophecy bears date with the former, concerning the Philistines, which was the year King Ahaz died, Isaiah 14:28, and so had its accomplishment in the fourth year of Hezekiah, when Shalmaneser came up against Samaria, and took Moab in his way, 2 Kings 18:9. Others, that it was given out in the fourth year of Hezekiah, when the Assyrian besieged Samaria, and after three years took it, and then returned and fell upon the Moabites. Others place it in the eleventh year of Hezekiah, and suppose it to be fulfilled in his fourteenth by Sennacherib, about the same time he came up and took the fenced cities of Judah, and besieged Jerusalem, 2 Kings 18:13.’

There will be few cities, few people, and very little wealth that will escape the desolation, Isaiah 10:25 / Isaiah 24:6.

Go To Isaiah 17


"But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."

Romans 5:8