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tation of asp" as denoting the subject or occasion of the lamentation:—the simplest supposition * o Moab for Moab means Moab for itself. --J.
In what follows, several localities present themselves to the view of the Prophet elevated above the general level of universal lament, and these are such localities that hitherto had produced the most precious gifts of field or vineyard, and thus had been the places of most joyous pleasures. Kir-hareseth, (comp. ver. 11, Jer. xlviii. 11, 31, 36; 2 Kings iii.25), since VITRINGA, has been recognized as identical with Kir-Moab xvi. 1, and perhaps so named on account of its brick walls. It sighs for its grape cakes; and as a further reason for the mourning it is said that the meadows of Heshbon (xv. 4) are withered and dry. The Essebonitis (Josephus Antiq. xii. 4, 11) was very fruitful. Thence came the celebrated grain of Minnith, Ezek. xxvii. 17. “The traveller LEGH brought so-called Heshbon wheat to England with stalks 5' 1" long and having 84 grains in the ear, which weighed four times as much as an English ear of wheat (LEY RER in HERz. R. Encycl. VI., p. 21).-Sibmah (Num. xxxii. 3 blo, comp. ver. 38; Josh. xiii. 19) according to JEROME on Jer, xlviii. 32, say only 500 paces from Heshbon. The vines of Sibmah are cut down by the lords of the nations, i. e. the leaders of the heathen host. If these words were understood to mean that the vines by the power of their wine overcame the lords of the nations, then nothing would be said of the calamity that overtook the vines themselves. [Of the exposition here objected to, J. A. A. says: “This ingenious exposition (scil. of Cocceius, is adopted by WITRINGA, LowTH, Hitzig, MAURER, HENDEWER K, DE WETTE, KNoBEL, on the ground of its agreement with the subsequent praises of the vine of Sibmah. GESENIUs objects that there is then no mention of the wasting of the vineyards by the enemy unless this can be supposed to be
tent of their culture. It reached to Jazer northward, and eastward to the desert they wandered, i. e. the vines extended in wild growth. Jazer (Num. xxxii. 1, 3, 35; Josh. xiii. 25, and often) now a cluster of ruins of Siev, according to the ONoMASTICON, lay 15 Roman miles north of Heshbon. The vigorous growth of the vine is, even in our colder climate, something extraordinary. It is quite possible that in that warm and fruitful land the vine, by root-sprouts, spread itself, extending beyond the limits of cultivation, till it was stopped by the san I of the desert. But to the sea also it spread. What sea is this? Jer. (xlviii. 32) understands thereby “the sea of Jazer.” That can be nothing but a pool or basin (comp. “the sea,” in the temple, 1 Rings vii. 23 sqq.). But our context demands that we look rather for a sea lying to the south or west; for the extension of the vines northward and eastward has already been mentioned. If it is to be described as an extension on every side, there is only wanting the southern and western direction, or, as combining both, the south-western. Southwest of Sibmah lay the Dead Sea. This the Prophet means (comp. 2 Chr. xx. 2). But I would not, with DELItzsch, take only, “they passed over,” as a hyperbolical expression for “extended close to it.” We may without ado understand the expression in its full and proper sense. Did not Engedi, celebrated for its vine culture (Song of Solomon i. 14), lie on the west shore of the Dead Sea in a corner, splendidly watered by a spring 2 And there, only a few hours further westward, lay Hebron, also renowned for its wine (Num. xiii. 24, HERz. R. Encycl. XVII., p. 611). It is only a bold poetic view when the Prophet treats the vines that grow on the western shore of the Dead Sea as runners from those that grow so gloriously on the east shore in Moab. 4. Therefore I will—-shouting to cease. —Vers. 9, 10. The Prophet cannot restrain himself from joining in the heart-rending lament that he hears proceeding from Moab. One may know by that how fearful it must be. For if even the enemy feels compassion the misery must have reached the acme. [“The emphasis does not lie merely in the Prophet's feeling for a foreign nation, but in his feeling for a guilty race, on whom he was inspired to denounce the wrath of God.” —J. A. A.J. "D53 is not = "333; and therefore the Prophet does not say that he weeps “as bitterly as Jazer,” but that among the voices of the people of Jazer, his too is to be heard. He mingles with those who are most troubled about the ruin of the vines of Sibmah because they are most particularly affected by it. For neither the desert, whither the vines “wander,” nor the region west of the Dead Sea can be so concerned about the destruction of the grape culture in the central point Sibmah, as the neighboring Jazer. The Prophet will moisten with his tears the fields of Heshbon and Elealeh (xv. 4). These withered fields (ver. 8) may well stand in need of such moistening, for on the fruit and grain harvests there has fallen the shout (see Text. and Gram.) of the harvesters or rather of the wine-treaders, an expression that can only be chosen in bitter irony. For it is the devastating feet of the enemy that have so trampled the fruitful meadows and
pressed the sap out of every living plant, so that they now lie there joi In consequence of this wine treading, joy and jubilee are (thus and together) wrested away from the cultivated fields. 5. Wherefore —not prevail.—Vers. 11, 12. The “therefore ” of ver, 11, stands parallel with the “therefore ” of ver, 9. Moab's misery described vers. 7, 8, has a double effect on the Prophet: first it constrains him to outward exF. of sympathy, to weep along with them: e feels, so to speak, the contagion of the universal weeping: second, he feels himself reall moved inwardly. He feels this emotion in his bowels, for the motions of the affection find their echo, in the noble organs of the body. The expression no “to sound,” is often used of the
bowels; indeed in relation to God Himself: Ixiii. 15; Jer, Xxxi. 20; comp. Lam, i. 20; ii. 11; Jer. iv. 19. But the greatest misfortune of all in the whole affair is that Moab does not know the true source of all consolation. Would it only know that, then would its sorrow and the sorrow on account of Moab not be so great. But Moab appears on the high place consecrated to his god Chemosh, and torments himself to weariness. Examples of such self-tormenting, and sore sacrifices for the sake of obtaining what is prayed for, are presented by every sort of false religion, comp. 1 Kings xviii. 28, and by Moabite history itself, in the offering of his own son by Mesa (Mesha) 2. Kings iii. 27-But all that shall be of no avail.
b) The later prophecy: more exact determination of the period of its fulfilment. CHAPTER XVI. 13, 14.
This is the word that the Lord hath spoken concerning Moab since that time.
14 "But now the Lord hath spoken, saying, Within three years, as the years of an hireling, And the glory of Moab shall be contemned,
With all that great multitude;
And the remnant shell be very small and 'feeble.
1. Isaiah felt himself moved to repeat a prophecy against Moab, which was imparted to him at an earlier period, and to fix accurately the term of its fulfilment. For in precisely three years it will be all over with the glory of Moab, and only an inferior remnant of it will be left.
2. This is the word——feeble.—Vers. 13, 14. There are instances elsewhere of a Prophet, receiving command not to publish a prophecy at once, but to treasure it up with a view to later |. (comp. viii. 1 sqq., xxx.8; li. 60 sqq.)
ere we have the reverse of this procedure. Isa., receives command now to publish a revelation that was imparted to him at an earlier date, with more particular designation of the term of its fulfilment that was before left undetermined. If the prophecy was not imparted to him but to another, why should he not name this other? Would Isaiah deck himself in the plumage of another? No one needed this less than he. Nor was it unnecessary to mention the name. For a nameless
only to coincide with a fact which bore with it in principle the fall of Moab, to assure the relative fulfilment of the prophecy, for to the absolute fulfilment belongs of course the entire time following. It is quite possible that the Prophet received the prompting to the first prophecy against Moab (xv. 1-xvi. 12) from the event of the Moabites occupying the east Jordan territory of Gad and Reuben which was depopulated by Pul and Tiglath-Pileser (1 Chr. v. 6, 26; 2 Kings xv. 29), although in our chapters there occurs no express reference to such an act of enmity against Israel (comp. VAIHINGER in HERz. R. Encycl. IX. p. 662). Isaiah published this prophecy later when the first act of the judgment was in prospect, that was to make a definitive end of the state of Moab. But we are not able to say wherein this first act consisted. Yet that it was only a first act, appears from the fact that more than a hundred years later, Jeremiah once again prophesied the judgment of destruction against Moub (Jer. xlviii.). In three years, that should be reckoned like the years of an hireling, i. e., close, without abbreviation to his advantage, and without extension to his hurt (the expression occurs again xxi. 16), in three years, therefore, Moab's glory was to be made insignificant (iii. 5).
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL.
1. On xv. 1. “Although the Prophets belonged to the Jewish people, and were sent especially for the sake of the Jewish people, yet as God would that all men should come to repentance and the knowledge of the truth, therefore at times also the Prophets were called on to go out of these limits, and preach to other nations for a sign against them, that they might have nothing whereby to excuse themselves.”—CRAMER. 2. On xv.2 sqq. “Against the wrath of God, neither much money and land, nor a well equipped nation, nor great and strong cities, nor flight from one place to another avail anything, but true repentance (Ps. xxxiii. 16 sq.). Whoever forsakes God in good days, He will forsake again in misfortune, and then they can find nowhere rest or refuge (Prov. i. 24 sqq.).-STARKE. 3. On xv. 7. “What a man unjustly makes, that another unjustly takes.”—STARKE. 4. On xv. 8 sq. “God is wont, in His ". ments, to proceed by degrees, to begin with lesser punishments, and proceed to the sorer (lev. xxvi. 18, 21, 24, 28). Although the godless escape one misfortune yet they soon fall into another.”—StARKE. 5. On xvi. 1 sqq. “God can quickly bring it about that the people that once gave us shelter. ing entertainment must in turn, look to us for entertainment and a lurking place. For in the famine, Naomi and her husband and sons were pilgrims in the land of Moab (Ruth i. 1). David procured a refuge for his parents among the Moabites (1 Sam. xxii. 3). N. their affairs are in so bad a case that they, who were able to af. sord shelter to others, must themselves go wandering among others; for human fortune is unstable.”—CRAMER. 6. On xvi. 4. “God therefore threatens the Moabites, at the same time winning them to re
pentance, for He seeks not the death of the sinner (Ezek. xviii. 32). Thus it was still a season for repentance. For had the Moabites once again used hospitality, then again had mercy been extended to them.”—CRAMER. 7. On xvi. 5. “Light arises to the pious in the darkness from the Gracious, Merciful and Just One. His heart is of good courage and fears not, till he sees his desire on his enemies (Ps. cxii. 4, 8). And as it went well with Jerusalem, while it went ill with the Moabites, thus shall Christ's kingdom stand, and the enemies go down. For it is an everlasting kingdom, and the set up tabernacle of David shall surely remain (Am. ix. 11.)”—CRAMER. 8. On xvi. 6 sqq. “Moab was a haught nation, for it was rich and had everything o For it commonly goes thus, that wilere one is full, there the heart is lifted up, and the legs must be strong that can bear good days.”— CRAMER. 9. On xvi. 9 sqq. “Such must be the disposition of teachers and preachers, that for the sake of their office, they should and must castigate injustice for God's sake, but with those that suffer the punishment they must be pitiful in heart. And therefore they must be the sin’s enemy, and the persons' friend. Example: Micah announces the punishment to Jerusalem yet howls over it, testifies also his innermost condolence by change of clothing (Mic. i. 8). Samuel announces destruction to Saul and has sorrow for him (1 Sam. xv. 26; xvi. 1). Likewise Christ announces every sort of evil to the Jews, and yet weeps bitterly (Luke xix. 41). Paul preaches the frightful rejection of the Jews, and yet wishes it were |..."; to purchase their salvation by His eternal hurt (Rom. ix. 3).”—CRAMER. 10. On xvi. 14. “Exceeding, and very great is the grace and friendliness of God, that in the midst of the punishments that He directs against the Moabites, He yet thinks on His mercy. For the LoRD is good unto all and has compassion on all His works (Ps. cxlv. 9).”—CRAMER. 11. On xvi. 12. Hypocritae, ubi, etc. “Hypocrites, whose souls are filled with impious notions of God, are much more vehement in their exercises than the truly pious in the true worship of God. And this is the first retribution of the impious, that they are wasted by their own labor which they undertake of their own accord. Another is that those exercises are vain in time of need and profit nothing. Therefore their evils are born with the greatest uneasiness, nor do they see any hope of aid. On the contrary true piety, because it knows that it is the servant of Christ, suffers indeed externally, yet conquers the cross by the confidence which it has in Christ.”— LUTHER. 12. On xvi. GENUINENEss. [BARNEs in loc. forcibly presents the argument for the gennineness of these P. afforded by the numerous mention of localities and the prediction of the desolations that would overtake them. In doing so he quotes also the language of Prof. SHEDD (Bib. |. Vol. VII., pp. 108 sq.). BARNEs says: “That evidence is found in the particularity with which places are mentioned; and in the fact that impostors would not specify places, an further than was unavoidable. Mistakes, we
know, are liable to be made by those who attempt to describe the geography of places which they have not seen. Yet |. is a description of a land and its numerous towns, made nearly three thousand years ago, and in its particulars it is sustained by all the travellers of modern times. The ruins of the same towns are still seen ; their places in general can be designated; and there is a moral certainty, therefore, that this prophecy was made by one who knew the locality of those places, and that, therefore, the prophecy is ancient and genuine.”—“Every successive traveller who visits Moab, Idumea or Palestine, does something to confirm the accuracy of Isaiah. Towns bearing the same name, or the ruins of towns, are located in the same relative position in which he said they were, and the ruins of once splendid
cities, broken columns, dilapidated walls, trodden
down vineyards, and half demolished temples
roclaim to the world that those cities are what }. said they would be, and that he was under the inspiration of God.”. See KEITH on Prophecy, whose whole book is but the amplification of this argument. The modern traveller, who explores those regions with Isaiah in one hand and RoBINSON's Researches or MURRAY's Guide in the other, has a demonstration that Isaiah was as surely written with the accurate knowledge of
3. AGAINST SYRIA—EPHRAIM AND ETHIOPIA—EGYPT. CHAPTERs XVII.-XX.
The prophecies contained in xvii.-xx. have this much in common, that they are directed against two double nations. For as here Syria and Ephraim belong together, so there Ethiopia and Egypt. Thus in the north and south the gaze of the Prophet falls on a double nation, and in each case the remoter nation is the more heterogeneous. Then all these prophecies point to the future of Assyria. But they do so in a very different sense. In xvii. Assyria appears as instrument for accomplishing the judgment on the neighboring enemy of Judah, Syria and Israel. But immediately thereafter (xvii. 12–14) destruction is announced against Assyria itself, so that xvii. can conclude with the words: “This is the portion of them that spoil us and the lot of them that rob us.” But Assyria threatened not merel Judah and its next neighbors. The terror of it went further: it extended into distant lands. To these belonged also Ethiopia. Therefore on this account the Prophet announces to Ethiopia, too, the impending danger proceeding from Assyria. And this announcement could so much the more find a place here as the Prophet at the same time had to announce the putting aside of this danger by the same overthrow of the Assyrians that (xvii. 12–14) he holds up to view as the delivering event for Judah. Thus the Prophet in so far points away to a future of Assyria which is to it fatal, and on that account for Judah full of comfort. Hence these chapters involve the warning to fear neither Syria-Ephraim nor Assyria. We can say, therefore, that the contents of xvii, correspond to the contents of the first and third part of the prophetic-cycle vii.-xii. For we find
here everything that is set forth in extenso vii. 1 —ix. 6, and then again x. 5–xi. 16, given compactly in the brief space of one chapter. Regarding the period of their composition, we must ascribe xvii. and xviii. to the same time. For in both Assyria is spoken of in the same sense, i.e., the overthrow of Assyria is held up to view in both, and not the victory as in xix. and xx. But then in both passages this overthrow is spoken of in such a way that one sees the lines of perspective of both pictures of the future meet in the historical event that is described xxxvii. 36 sqq. To this is added what DRECHSLER calls attention to, that chapter xviii. has no superscription, but appears with its "T. “woe,” to join on to the “woe” of xvii. 12. DRECHSLER, indeed, urges the unity too strongly (in his Commentary, and Stud, u. Krit., 1847, p. 857 sqq.). Yet one don't see why the Prophet o have set just Ethiopia parallel with Judah. This is only conceivable if chapter xviii. was not conceived ad hoc, but was put here only as a parallel actually existing and, according to the reference of vers. 5, 6, a fitting parallel. But, as already said, the two passages, as regards their origin, belong to one period. And inasmuch as, according to xvii. 1–3, Damascus and Ephraim still . intact, we must ascribe both chapters xvii. xviii., to the beginning of the reign of Ahaz, the time to which chapters vii. 1–ix. 6 owe their origin. We would then have in our chapters a proof that Isaiah, at that time not only foresaw the significance of Assyria as an instrument of punishment, but also its destruction. Chapters xix. and xx, also treat of the future of Assyria, but in the opposite sense: for chapter xix., holds up to the view of Egypt its destruction. Who will be the instrument of this destruction is not said. It is known only from vers. 16, 17 that it is the God of Israel that causes the ruin to fall on Egypt. But when, now, ver. 23 sqq., the view is displayed in the still more remote future of the most intimate friendship between Egypt and Assyria, and great salvation for both, so it results, by force of the contrast implied, that Assyria must previously have been the enemy and destroyer of Egypt. And this, then, is said in express words in chapter xx., which is related to chapter xix., as an explanatory sequel. Evidently, therefore, chapters xix. xx., involve for Judah the warning that confederacy with Egypt is of no avail against Assyria. The LoRD has given Egypt, inevitably into the hand of Assyria in the immediate future. From this we recognize that these chapters must have been written at a time when Judah needed such a warning against false reliance on the protection of Egypt against the danger that threatened on the . of Assyria. Such was the case in the time of Hezekiah. We learn from xxviii.-xxxii., that an “Egyptian policy” was the great theocratic error of the reign of Hezekiah. Moreover the date given xx. 1 (see comment in loc.), according to the Assyrian monuments, refers us to the year 711, the 17th year of Hezekiah, for the beginning, and xx. 3 to the year 708, as the period of the conclusion, and of the prophetic indication of that typical transaction. According to that, chapter xx. cannot have been written before the year 708 B. C., and the words, “and fought against Ashdod and took it,” ver. 1 b are, relatively, indeed, but not absolutely considered, an historical anticipation. But our chapters have still a further peculiarity in common. That is to . with exception of chapter xx., they are all of them comprehensive surveys, while chapter xx., as already said, only more nearly determines a chief point left indistinct in chapter xix. For the Prophet comprehends here, as in one look, the entire future of all the nations mentioned in these chapters, down into the remotest Messianic time,
where all shall belong to the kingdom of peace that the Messiah shall found. Israel (and by implication Syria, comp. on “as the glory,” etc. xvii. 3, and “a man,” ver. 7), Judah, Ethiopia, Egypt, Assyria, all of them shall with one accord serve the Lord, and in equal measure enjoy His blessing. Connected therewith is the fact that these chapters (xx. excepted, for the reason given) form a total by themselves, in that they sketch, prophetic fashion, in grand brevity, a panorama of the future history of the nations in question. But as regards the relation of this. second element, the Messianic to the first, the Assyrian, it must be observed that the former in chapters xviii. xix., forms quite normally the conclusion. But in xvii., the Assyrian element forms the conclusion, and indeed it is joined on in a loose and unconnected way. In xvii. 9–11, the cause of the fall described vers. 4-6 is assigned in only an incidental way, so that the Messianic element (vers. 7, 8) has, so to speak, a subsequent endorser in this reason assigned. Yet this style. of adding the reason after describing the event has many examples. But the words xvii. 12–14 certainly give the impression of being a later addition, yet one that in any case proceeds from the Prophet himself. Without this addition there would be wanting to xvii., one of the two. elements that characterize chapters xvii.-xx. With it, chapter xvii. not only becomes homogeneous with the following chapters, but also it becomes complete in itself (comp. ver, 14 b), and receives a bridge that unites it with chap. xviii.
We may group the four chapters in the following fashion:
a) Prophecies that give warning not to be afraid either of Syria-Ephraim, or Assyria (xvii., xviii.). a. Damascus and Ephraim now and in time
to come (xviii.).
B. Ethiopia now and in time to come (xviii.).
b) Prophecies that give warning not to trust to false help against Assyria (xix., xx.). a. Egypt now and in time to come (xix.). B. The Assyrian captivity of Egypt (xx.).
a) Prophecies that give warning not to be afraid either of Syria-Ephraim or Assyria. CHAPTERs XVII, XVIII. a) DAMASCUS AND EPHRAIM NOW AND IN TIME TO COME. CHAPTER XVII.
R.) The destruction of Damascus and Ephraim.
1 THE BURDEN of DAMASCUs.
Behold, Damascus is taken away from being a city,
And it shall be a ruinous heap. 2 The cities of Aroer are forsaken: They shall be for flocks,
*Which shall lie down and none shall make them afraid.