Click here to learn more!
Isaiah 15-16 form a whole and contain “the burden of Moab” (Isaiah 15:1). A more complete description of the judgment on Moab can be found in Jeremiah 48. There we see that there is a restoration for Moab in the end times (Jeremiah 48:47). Remarkably, the sentences in Jeremiah are often the same as the sentences in Isaiah. Jeremiah knows and uses the book of Isaiah. This does not mean that he copies, but that he is led by the Spirit to represent it in the same way.
Moab is located east of the Dead Sea and the Jordan River. It corresponds to the present-day country of Jordan. It is a people related to Israel, for Lot, the ancestor of Moab, is a cousin of Abraham (Genesis 12:5). Moab has its origins in the incest that Lot commits with his eldest daughter (Genesis 19:37). Moab has always been hostile towards Israel. They once hired a wicked prophet to curse Israel (Numbers 22:4-Joshua :). Also, during the wilderness journey of Israel, Moabite women seduced the men of Israel (Numbers 31:15-Esther :). During the time of the judges, Moab oppressed Israel for eighteen years (Judges 3:12-2 Chronicles :).
In their kinship with God’s people, Moab represents Christians who confess with their mouths that they are Christians but have not converted and have no life from God. Such Christians, also called nominal Christians, will always persecute the true Christian (cf. Galatians 4:29), although they may sometimes appear friendly.
The description of “the burden of Moab” has a special poetic style. The inspired poet-prophet presents us with the judgment on Moab in pictorial language, often outlining the situation in short sentences. Not only does he describe the situation in such a way that we perceive it with our eyes, as it were, but he also appeals to our feelings. The reader’s heart is deeply affected by the anxious crying of those who have been robbed and are on the run.
We are reminded of the righteousness of judgment. The God-fearing must always be on God’s side if He exercises His judgments in righteousness. However, the reader is not forbidden to mourn the consequences of the sins of men. We therefore see here that the inspired page is wet from the tears of the prophet. Jeremiah cries over Judah (Jeremiah 9:1), but Isaiah cries over Moab! The reason is that the faithful remnant of Israel will flee to Moab during the great tribulation (Isaiah 16:4).
The prophecy of Moab consists of three parts, with a heading (Isaiah 15:1) and an epilogue (Isaiah 16:13-2 Chronicles :). The first part (Isaiah 15:1-1 Samuel :) and the third part (Isaiah 16:6-2 Kings :) are a lamentation about Moab; the middle second part is a call to Moab and, to our surprise, also to Judah.
Prophecy About Moab
As always in prophecy, Isaiah represents an event that will take place in the future, as if it were taking place in the present. He sees how in the night Moab is destroyed, unseen, suddenly and quickly (Isaiah 15:1). “Ar of Moab” is the capital of Moab; “Kir of Moab” is the castle close to this city. Both have not been able to offer any protection, but are destroyed in one night.
The enemy is Assyria who will destroy Moab both in the days of Isaiah and in the distant future. After Philistia it is Moab’s turn to be exterminated by the invasion of the king of the North.
Moab Plunged Into Mourning
To seek help from the gods, the Moabites go up to the heights, to their idol temple (Isaiah 15:2). There they wail over the fallen cities of Nebo and Medeba. They express their mourning over the popular disaster not only with their mouths by lamenting, but also by external signs such as the shaving of the head and the shaving of the beard (Isaiah 15:2). These mourning customs are general, “everyone’s head” and “every beard”. Their clothing also shows their mourning (Isaiah 15:3). In all places, on the street, on the housetops, in the squares, everywhere their mourning can be seen and heard.
The visit to the idols on the heights (Isaiah 15:2) did not bring any relief to their grief, they “dissolved in tears” (Isaiah 15:3). In cities like Heshbon and Elealeh they cry out (Isaiah 15:4). The cries are heard into the distant Jahaz. All of Moab trembles and even the warriors are filled with fear and have no courage to fight.
On the Run
Isaiah mourns intensely over the downfall of Moab (Isaiah 15:5). His heart cries out. Here we see that a prophecy in which judgment is foretold on an enemy people deeply touches the feelings of the prophet (Isaiah 16:9; Isaiah 21:3Isaiah 21:4; Isaiah 22:4; cf. Jeremiah 9:1). Like God, Isaiah did not like the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 18:23; Ezekiel 18:32).
Pronouncing a message on behalf of God is not a mechanical matter. The servant who utters the message is fully involved. The special thing here is that we are dealing with a heathen people. Isaiah is seized by pity for what happens to these people. If we have to pass on a message of judgment, either in the gospel or for God’s people, this should not happen without feeling.
In Isaiah 15:5-1 Samuel : Isaiah describes the flee of Moab from the enemy. “Zoar” is a fortress in the south. The addition “Eglath-shelishiyah”, a well-known place (Jeremiah 48:34). The meaning of the name is ‘a heifer of three years old’. This gives the picture that Moab is a heifer in the power of its life that has not yet been under a yoke. To this not yet conquered fortress Moab’s fugitives take refuge from the enemy from the north.
Then Isaiah follows in spirit the fugitives. They are chased by the enemy to the south. First they have climbed the slope to Luhith in the middle of the country. Then they descended again to Horonaim, wailing over the destruction of the country.
The enemy has destroyed everything by dampening the waters of Nimrim with the result that nothing grows anymore (Isaiah 15:6). They also spared nothing in their advance, but trampled everything with their feet. The possessions the Moabites were able to take with them were carried off over the brook of Arabim (Isaiah 15:7) to take refuge in the area of Edom.
Everywhere in Moab there is loud and desperate wailing (Isaiah 15:8). The cries of the Moabites has gone around the territory of Moab. From Eglaim to Beer-elim means from the far north of Moab to the far south, as in Israel from Dan to Berseba (Judges 20:1). There is no place it does not penetrate.
And no matter how much blood has flowed, it will get worse (Isaiah 15:9). To illustrate this, the prophet changes the name of the city of Dibon into Dimon, a word related to the word blood. In Hebrew it reads: ‘The city of blood is full of blood.’ Even the fugitives who are a remnant will not escape the judgment that the LORD has decided and executed over them.
Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
No part of the publications may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without the prior permission of the author.
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Isaiah 15". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany