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Bible Commentaries

Dr. Constable's Expository Notes

Isaiah 15

Introduction

The oracle against Moab chs. 15-16

"The Babylon oracle revealed that world history, even in its most threatening and climactic forms, is so organized that the people of God are cared for. The Philistia oracle confirmed this by insisting that the Davidic promises would be kept, and the Moab oracle corrects any impression that the hope expressed in the Davidic promises is exclusivist." [Note: Motyer, p. 149.]

The literary structure of this oracle is generally chiastic, focusing the reader’s attention on security in Zion (Isaiah 16:4-5). It is very difficult to date. One writer believed this invasion took place around 718 B.C. when Sargon the Assyrian descended on the tribal peoples of northwest Arabia (cf. Isaiah 21:16-17), but this is not at all certain. [Note: Grogan, p. 115.] Another speculated that Tiglath-pilesar’s 732 B.C. or Sennacherib’s 701 B.C. invasions of Moab may have fulfilled this prophecy initially. [Note: J. Martin, p. 1064.] Moab lay east of Judah and the Dead Sea, between the Arnon and Zered rivers, and occupied an area about 30 miles long and 30 miles wide. The Moabites were more friendly neighbors of Judah than the Edomites or the Ammonites, who also lived east of the Jordan River. Notice the more friendly tone of this oracle compared with the two preceding ones. But hostility toward Judah due to land claims in Transjordan had a long history and resulted in deep antagonism (cf. Zephaniah 2:9-10). The point of this oracle is that Judah should not rely on Moab because she would suffer destruction.

"There is no other prophecy in the book of Isaiah in which the heart of the prophet is so painfully affected by what his mind sees, and his mouth is obliged to prophesy." [Note: Delitzsch, 1:322.]

Verse 1

Isaiah began by announcing Moab’s certain ruin. The two main cities, Ar on the Arnon and Kir in central Moab, would fall quickly.

Verses 2-4

The Moabites would express great grief over their national defeat. Dibon was the site of a temple to the Moabite god Chemosh. Many of the people would go there to bewail Chemosh’s inability to save them. They would also mourn the loss of the towns of Nebo and Medeba in typical Near Eastern fashion. The residents of Heshbon and Elealeh in the north of Moab would be heard wailing in Jahaz to the south because the noise would be so great. Even soldiers would cry aloud in fear.

Verses 5-9

The Lord also expressed His grief over Moab’s coming judgment through the prophet (cf. Isaiah 21:3-4; Isaiah 22:4; Jeremiah 9:1). Isaiah took up God’s words in his own mouth and represented God’s thoughts and words by using the first person singular (cf. Isaiah 16:9). The Moabite refugees would move from place to place trying to find security. Their movement would be generally south, so the enemy may have descended from the north. The whole country would suffer devastation. Even though people would flee, they would not escape destruction. A lion is frequently an image of a fierce, implacable attacker in biblical poetry (Isaiah 15:9; cf. Amos 3:12).

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Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Isaiah 15". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcc/isaiah-15.html. 2012.