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Bible Commentaries
Isaiah 16

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and HomileticalLange's Commentary

Verses 1-14


Isaiah 16:1-5

1          Send ye 1the lamb to the ruler of the land

From2 3Sela to the wilderness,

Unto the mount of the daughter of Zion.

2     For it shall be, that, as a wandering bird

4Cast out of the nest,

So the daughters of Moab shall be

At 5the fords of Arnon.

3     6Take counsel, execute judgment;

Make thy shadow as the night in the midst of the noon day;
Hide the outcasts;
Bewray not him that wandereth.

4     Let mine outcasts dwell with thee, Moab;

Be thou a covert to them from the face of the spoiler;
For the 7extortioner is at an end,

8The spoiler ceaseth,

9The oppressors are consumed out of the land.

5     And in mercy shall bthe throne be 10established:

And 11he shall sit upon it in truth in the tabernacle of David,

Judging, and seeking judgment, and 12hasting righteousness.


Isaiah 16:1. כָּר is “the fat lamb.” It never occurs in the stat. absol. sing.; it is found only here in the stat. constr. sing.; and occurs again in Isaiah in the plural only Isaiah 34:6. Comp. Deuteronomy 32:14.—The expression הַר בַּת צ׳ occurs again only Isaiah 10:32 K’ri.

Isaiah 16:2. On עוף־נודד comp. Isaiah 10:14; Proverbs 27:8.—מְשֻׁלָּח comp. Isaiah 27:10.—מעברות, wherever the word occurs (Joshua 2:7; 1 Samuel 14:4; Judges 3:28; Judges 12:5 sq.; Jeremiah 51:32) are “the fords.” The word stands here as the accus. localis. Moreover, according to rule the expression means “fords of the Arnon,” not, the “fords of the Arnon.”

Isaiah 16:3-4 a. The expression הביא עצה occurs only here. It reminds one of הָבוּ עֵצָה 2 Samuel 16:20. The alteration of הביאו and עשׂו to הביאי and עשׂי which the K’ri offers for the sake of conformity with the following verbal forms, is unnecessary. פְלִילָה, judicium, occurs only here: פְּלִילִיָה Isaiah 28:7.—נִדָּחִים (Isaiah 27:13), נוֹדֵד (Isaiah 10:14; Isaiah 21:14), גוּר (Isaiah 11:6; Isaiah 23:7; Isaiah 33:14), שׁוֹדֵד (Isaiah 21:2; Isaiah 33:1), סֵתֶר (Isaiah 28:17; Isaiah 32:2) are Isaianic expressions.—מואב, Isaiah 16:4 a, ought, according to the accents, to be connected with what follows. And nothing stands in the way of this. Delitzsch, who construes Isaiah 16:3 sq. as the language of Moab to Israel must take מואב Isaiah 16:4 as casus absolutus, which is harsh. The form הֱוִי (comp. הֲיִי Genesis 24:60) occurs only here. It, too, is perhaps Moabitic. But the inscription of Mesa offers no analogy for it.—מֵן “the presser” (from מוּץ like זִדִ ,לֵץ ,מֵת; comp. מִיץ Proverbs 30:33, “the pressing out”) is ἅπ. λεγ. אָפֵם is an Isaianic word, as the entire thought is also Isaianic. comp. Isaiah 29:20 :—שֹׁד comp. on Isaiah 13:6.—רֹמֵם only here; but other forms of the verb are frequent in Isaiah 1:12; Isaiah 26:6; Isaiah 28:3; Isaiah 41:25; Isaiah 63:3.

Isaiah 16:5. הֵכִין “to make firm,” stabihre, 1 Samuel 13:13; 2 Samuel 5:12; Isaiah 30:33.—חֶסֶד is not “grace,” which is not the opposite of שֹׁד ,מִיץ and מִרְמָם (Isaiah 10:6) but “gentleness,” clementia. Comp. מַלְכֵי חֶסֶד 1 Kings 20:31, and Proverbs 20:28.—אהל דוד, comp. סֻכַּת דויד Amos 9:11, and as contrast אֹהֶל יוֹסֵף Psalms 78:67.—It is an expression of modesty, comp. the contrast between בַּיִת and אֹהֶל 2 Samuel 7:6.—The expression דרשׁ משׁפט is wholly Isaianic. It occurs only Isaiah 1:17 and here. מהיר צדק (comp. Psalms 45:2; Proverbs 22:29) occurs only here.


1. These words connect closely with what precedes, in that they assume that the fugitives of Moab that fled over the border (Isaiah 15:7) have arrived in Sela, the chief city of Edom (“from Sela,” Isaiah 16:1). The chief thought is that Moab is counselled to seek help and protection from Judah (Isaiah 16:1-2), and therefore eventually itself to afford protection and help to Judah (Isaiah 16:3-4 a). When then the time comes wherein all unrighteousness on earth shall have an end (Isaiah 16:4 b), and the righteous ruler shall sit on the throne of David (Isaiah 16:5), then—this is the necessary consequence—Moab, too, shall share this salvation.

2. Send ye——Arnon.

Isaiah 16:1-2. No one but the Prophet can speak these words, as well as all that follows, because he only was able to give the prophecy contained in Isaiah 16:4 b, Isaiah 16:5. In the summons to send lambs to Jerusalem there is evidently an allusion to the fact that the Moabite king Mesa, according to 2 Kings 3:4, was obliged to send the wool of 100,000 lambs (כָּרִים) and of 100,000 rams (אֵילִים) as tribute to the king of Israel. “The lambs of the ruler” is evidently the tribute of lambs that belongs to the ruler of the land. But the king of Judah is called מושׁל ארץ “ruler of the land,” in distinction from the מלך מואב, “the king of Moab,” who was tributary to the former. They are to send the tribute to Jerusalem from Sela, the capital city of Edom (called Petra by the Romans; its ruins were discovered by Burkhardt in Wadi Musa, comp. Isaiah 42:11). We account for this by representing to ourselves that according to Isaiah 15:7 the Moabites have arrived in Sela as fugitives. Unto the wilderness—which is more exactly defined by “unto the mount of the daughter of Zion”—corresponds exactly to the description that Strabo gives of the region of Petra. He says: χώρα ἔρημος ἡ πλείστη καὶ μάλιστα ἡ πρὸς Ἰουδαίαν (Knobel). On the subject matter comp. Isaiah 18:7. But the fugitives are not in Sela only. According to Isaiah 15:8, they dispersed on every side. Therefore fleeing crowds appear also at Arnon, the northern border river of Moab. These are called “daughters of Moab.” Does not the feminine stamp the timid fugitives as those that have turned into women and lost all masculine courage? Comp. e.g. Isaiah 3:1.

3. Take counsel——the spoiler.

Isaiah 16:3-4 a. These are not the words of the Moabites, but of the Prophet, who directs this petition to the Moabites in the name of his people. They are not only to put themselves in subjection to Judah, and purchase protection for themselves by tribute, but they are also on their part to afford protection. By the likeness of their contents, Isaiah 16:3-4 a belong together. The Prophet hereby assumes that there shall come upon Judah also such a visitation as 15, 16. he proclaims to Moab. This was fulfilled by Nebuchadnezzar, and in Jeremiah 40:11 Moab is expressly named among the lands into which scattered Judah (נִדְּחוּ, Jeremiah 40:12) had fled.—The Prophet cannot mean that the Moabites shall bring about justice between the Israelites and their oppressors, for they lack power and force to do this. But they are to do what is right in that they receive to their protection those oppressed and driven out. This demand for protecting shelter is expressed by means of an admirable figure of speech. Moab shall make its shadow at clear midday dark as at midnight, so that he who is concealed in this shadow shall be hid as completely as if the darkness of night enclosed him.

4. For the extortioner——righteousness.

Isaiah 16:4 b, Isaiah 16:5. The Prophet now gives the reasons why Moab should seek shelter from Judah and likewise afford shelter to the fugitives of Judea. This reason is one eminently prophetic. That is to say, Isaiah sees in spirit the end of the world-power, therefore the cessation of all violent oppression and the dominion of the kingdom of God under a great one of the line of David. Would Moab share in this glory of the people of God, then it must now display such conduct as the Prophet imputes to it, Isaiah 16:1-4 a. This is the same thought, the correlative of which is expressed Isaiah 60:12 (comp. Zechariah 14:16 sqq.) in the words: “For the nation and kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish.”—הארץ, “the land,” according to the context, signifies the whole earth. For the world-power that is characterized in the preceding words dominates not a single land, but the whole earth. In contrast with the violent, unjust world-power another throne shall be set up by mildness (חסד, see Text and Gram.). On this throne, which stands in the tabernacle of David (an expression of modesty, see Text and Gram.), shall one sit in truth, i.e., one who is truthful and reliable, and he will do nothing arbitrarily; but he will keep to the forms of law (שֹׁפֵט). But not only this—he will also interest himself to find out the (substantial) right (דּרֵשׁ מִשְׁפָט)—and when he has found it, he will promptly execute it (מְהִיר צֶדֶק). That the Prophet has in mind here the great Son of David, whose friendliness and righteousness he had already celebrated, Isaiah 9:5 sq.; Isaiah 11:1 sq., cannot be doubted. Where ceasing from violence and injustice and a kingdom of righteousness and of loving mildness are spoken of, the Messianic kingdom is meant.


[1]tribute lamb.

[2]Or, Petra.

[3]Heb. a rock.

[4]Or, a nest forsaken.

[5]omit the.

[6]Heb. Bring.

[7]Heb. wringer.


[9]Heb. the treaders down.

[10]Or, prepared.

[11]one sits.

[12]prompt in equity.


Isaiah 16:6-12

6          We have heard of the pride of Moab; 13he is very proud:

14Even of his haughtiness, and his pride, and his wrath;

15But his lies shall not be so.

7     Therefore shall Moab howl 16for Moab,

Every one shall howl;
For the 17foundations of Kir-hareseth shall ye 1819mourn;

20Surely they are stricken.

8     For the fields of Heshbon 21languish,

And the vine of Sibmah: 22the lords of the heathen have broken down the 23principal plants thereof,

They 24are come even unto Jazer, they wandered 25through the wilderness:

Her branches are 26stretched out, they are gone over the sea.

9     Therefore I will bewail with the weeping of Jazer the vine of Sibmah:

I will 27water thee with my tears, O, Heshbon, and Elealeh:

For 28the 29shouting for thy summer fruits and for thy harvest is fallen.

10     And gladness is taken away, and joy out of the plentiful field;

And in the vineyards there shall be no singing, neither shall there be shouting:
The treaders 30shall tread out no wine in their presses;

I have made their vintage shouting to cease.

11     Wherefore my bowels shall sound like an harp for Moab,

And mine inward parts for Kir-haresh.

12     And it shall come to pass, when 31it is seen

That Moab is weary on the high place,
That he shall come to his sanctuary to pray;

32But he shall not prevail.


Isaiah 16:6. The plural שׁמענו intimates that this haughtiness of Moab is generally known.—גֵא, contracted from גֵאֶה (Isaiah 2:12) occurs only here; (comp. Ew. § 155 e). Regarding the construction, it belongs to גאון and not to מואב, for the Prophet had not experienced that the very proud Moab is proud, but that the pride of Moab is very intense, or that his pride mounts up very high.—גָאוֹן (comp. Isaiah 2:10; Isaiah 4:2; Isaiah 13:11; Isaiah 13:19; and often) and גַֽאֲוָה (Isaiah 9:8; Isaiah 13:3; Isaiah 13:11; Isaiah 25:11) are Isaianic words. עֶבְדָה is “excess,” and in this sense is more frequently used of wrath, but is used also of overweening pride (comp. עֶבְדַת זָדוֹן Proverbs 21:24). In Isaiah the word occurs in the latter sense only here; in the former he uses it often: Isaiah 9:18; Isaiah 10:6; Isaiah 13:9; Isaiah 13:13; Isaiah 14:6—In the expression לא־כן = “the not right, incorrect, wrong,” the two elements are fused into a unity of notion (comp. לֹא־עֵץ Isaiah 10:15). It is used adverbially (2 Samuel 18:14) as well as substantively (2 Kings 7:9; 2 Kings 17:9; Proverbs 15:7; Jeremiah 8:6; Jeremiah 23:10; Jeremiah 48:30, bis).—בַּדִּים from בָּדָא = בָּדַד (comp. בָּטָא and בָּטָה “inconsiderate speaking,” Leviticus 5:4; Numbers 30:7; Numbers 30:9) “to invent, think out” = commenticia, ficticia, “conceited, vain babbling” (Job 11:3; Jeremiah 48:30); personally “a braggart, fop” (Isaiah 44:25; Jeremiah 50:36).

Isaiah 16:7. אֲשִׁישָׁה, “cakes,” 2Sa 6:19; 1 Chronicles 16:3; plural אשׁ שׁות Song of Solomon 2:5, and אשׁישׁים Hosea 3:1, where it speaks of אשׁישׁי עֲנָבִים—אךְ־נכאים is in apposition with the subject of תהגו—אַךְ = “only;” “who is only troubled, nothing but troubled.”—נָכָא is ἅπ. λεγ.; comp. נָכֶה Isaiah 66:2 and נָכֵא Proverbs 15:13.

Isaiah 16:8. שְׁדֵמָה Isaiah 37:27, plural שְׁדֵמוֹת Habakkuk 3:17, st. constr., שַׁדֵמוֹת Deuteronomy 32:32; 2 Kings 23:4.—Isaiah uses not unfrequently forms of אֻמְלַל, Isaiah 19:8; Isaiah 24:4; Isaiah 24:7; Isaiah 33:9.—הָלַם is tundere, percutere, “to smite.” It occurs again Isaiah 28:1, where, to be sure, it speaks of הֲלוּמֵי יַיִן.—The plural of שָׂרֹק, meaning the same as שׂרֵק, Isaiah 5:2, occurs only here.—נִטַּשׁ Niph. Isaiah 33:23, “spread themselves.”—שׁלחות ἅπ. λεγ., “the sprouts” of the vine.

Isaiah 16:9. אריוך Piel of רָוָה, with the second and third radicals transposed, Isaiah 34:5; Isaiah 34:7.—הֵידָד is the shout with which the torcularii cheered their labor, and probably beat time, Isaiah 16:10; Jeremiah 25:30; Jeremiah 51:14; הֵידָד לֹא הֵידָד Jeremiah 48:33.—It is certain that the Prophet for the sake of similarity in sound wrote קצירך instead of בצירך, the latter means the grape harvest. But קָצִיר must not be taken as = בָּצִיר. For why should not the grain harvest also have suffered under the trampling feet of the warrior wine treaders?

Isaiah 16:10. שׂמהה וגיל from Joel 1:16.—כרמל a very frequent word with Isaiah 10:18; Isaiah 29:17; Isaiah 32:15 sq.; Isaiah 35:2; Isaiah 37:24. Here, too, כרמל and כרמים are distinguished, a proof that we may take קָצִיר in its proper sense.—רנן and רעע are also associated on account of the similarity of sound. The former occurs, beside passages like Isaiah 24:14; Isaiah 26:19; Isaiah 35:2; Isaiah 42:11, etc., also in Isaiah 12:6; the latter Isaiah 15:4. Neither occurs again in the Passive conjugation used here.

Isaiah 16:11. Mark the assonance in קִרְבִּי and קִיר חָֽרֶשׂ. Likely it is purely out of regard for such assonance that the name of this single city is here repeated. This passage generally, especially from Isaiah 16:6 on, is extraordinarily rich in such assonances.

Isaiah 16:12. On הבמה comp. on הַבַּיִת Isaiah 15:2, and מַֽעֲלֵה בָמָה Jeremiah 48:35.—נִלְאָה Isaiah 1:14; Isaiah 47:13.—התפלל occurs not seldom in Isaiah 37:15; Isaiah 37:21; Isaiah 38:2; Isaiah 44:17; Isaiah 45:14; Isaiah 45:20.—יָכל without expressed object, with the meaning “to put through, accomplish,” occurs only here in Isaiah. Of another sort are the instances Isaiah 1:13; Isaiah 7:1; Isaiah 29:11, and often. On the contrary this usage is frequent in Jeremiah 3:5; Jeremiah 5:22; Jeremiah 20:7. Comp. 1 Kings 22:22.


1. By the words Isaiah 16:1-5 the Prophet had indicated to Moab the way by which it might escape destruction. Unhappily he must verify that Moab has no mind to follow this way of deliverance. It is much too proud for that: its old haughtiness is exhibited in a ruinous manner (Isaiah 16:6). Therefore the judgments run their course: lamentation fills the whole land. But three localities become especially prominent in the general chorus of those that lament, which hitherto had been just the places of most joyous pleasure: Kir-hareseth with its grape confections (Isaiah 16:7), Heshbon with its fruitful meadows, Sib-ma with its vine culture (Isaiah 16:8). The misery is so great that the Prophet, as feeling the contagion, must not only outwardly join in the lament of the places named (Isaiah 16:9-10), but also feels himself moved in his inmost by the universal distress (Isaiah 16:11). And though now Moab turns to his idols with fervent entreaty, yet, of course, that is of no avail (Isaiah 16:12).

2. We have heard—not be so.

Isaiah 16:6. What the Prophet urged Isaiah 16:1-5, is made nugatory by the pride of Moab. Jeremiah 48:11 compares Moab to wine not drawn off from vessel to vessel, but ever settled on its lees. That means: Moab has always remained in his land: never gone into exile. Thereby has been developed in him a strong sense of strength and security (comp. Isaiah 25:11; Jeremiah 48:14; Jeremiah 48:17-18; Jeremiah 48:25-26; Jeremiah 48:29; Zephaniah 2:8; Zephaniah 2:10).

3. Therefore—the sea.

Isaiah 16:7-8. The Prophet now describes the consequences of this haughtiness. Moab must then howl for it. Moab howls to Moab, i.e. as the Prophet (Isaiah 15:3, “all of it shall howl,”) himself declares every thing howls, and thus the cry of lament from one locality meets that of the next. For not for its neighbor does each locality lament, but for itself; but this howling is heard from one place to the other. [“It is better to adhere to the common interpretation of למואב as denoting the subject or occasion of the lamentation:—the simplest supposition is that Moab for Moab means Moab for itself.—J. A. A.].

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. Isaiah 16:11, Jeremiah 48:11; Jeremiah 48:31; Jeremiah 48:36; 2 Kings 3:25), since Vitringa, has been recognized as identical with Kir-Moab Isaiah 16:1, 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 (Isaiah 15:4) are withered and dry. The Essebonitis (Josephus Antiq. xii, 4, 11) was very fruitful. Thence came the celebrated grain of Minnith, Ezekiel 27:17. “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 (Leyrer in Herz. R. Encycl. VI., p. 21).—Sibmah (Numbers 32:3 שְׂבָם, comp. Numbers 16:38; Joshua 13:19) according to Jerome on Jeremiah 48:32, 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 Vitringa, Lowth, Hitzig, Maurer, Hendewerk, 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 included in אמלל “languish.” Besides Gesenius, Rosenmueller, Ewald, Umbreit, and most of the older writers make שׂרוקיה the object of the verb הלם instead of its subject.” See Text. and Gram.]. In order to make a due impression of the damage done by cutting down the vines of Sibmah, the Prophet presents a picture of the extent of their culture. It reached to Jazer northward, and eastward to the desert they wandered, i.e. the vines extended in wild growth. Jazer (Numbers 32:1; Numbers 32:3; Numbers 32:35; Joshua 13:25, 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 sand of the desert. But to the sea also it spread. What sea is this? Jer. (Jeremiah 48:32) understands thereby “the sea of Jazer.” That can be nothing but a pool or basin (comp. “the sea,” in the temple, 1 Kings 7:23 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 Chronicles 20:2). But I would not, with Delitzsch, take עָֽבְרוּ, “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 1:14), lie on the west shore of the Dead Sea in a corner, splendidly watered by a spring? And there, only a few hours further westward, lay Hebron, also renowned for its wine (Numbers 13:24, 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.

Isaiah 16:9-10. 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.]. בִּבְכִי is not = כִּבְבִי; 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 (Isaiah 15:4). These withered fields (Isaiah 16:8) 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 withered. In consequence of this wine treading, joy and jubilee are (thus and together) wrested away from the cultivated fields.

5. Wherefore——not prevail.

Isaiah 16:11-12. The “therefore” of Isaiah 16:11, stands parallel with the “therefore” of Isaiah 16:9. Moab’s misery described Isaiah 16:7-8, has a double effect on the Prophet: first it constrains him to outward expression of sympathy, to weep along with them: he feels, so to speak, the contagion of the universal weeping: second, he feels himself really 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 הָמָה “to sound,” is often used of the bowels; indeed in relation to God Himself: Isaiah 63:15; Jeremiah 31:20; comp. Lamentations 1:20; Lamentations 2:11; Jeremiah 4:19. 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 18:28, and by Moabite history itself in the offering of his own son by Mesa (Mesha) 2 Kings 3:27.—But all that shall be of no avail.


[13]as very proud.

[14]omit even of.

[15]the vanity of his pretension.


[17]grape cakes.

[18]Or, mutter.


[20]wholly stricken.

[21]are withered.

[22]Omit the.




[26]Or, plucked up.

[27]vintage shout is fallen on, etc.

[28]Or, the alarm is fallen upon, etc.


[30]shall not tread wine.

[31]when Moab appears, when it afflicts itself on, etc., when it come to, etc:

[32]so he shall not.

b) The later prophecy: more exact determination of the period of its fulfilment

Isaiah 16:13-14

13          This is the word that the Lord hath spoken concerning Moab 33since that time.

14     34But 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 shall be very small and 35feeble.


Isaiah 16:14. בְּ before כל המון הרב is construed by some as designative of the part in which Moab suffers diminution, by others as the בְּ of association. The former construction does not answer because it restricts the diminution of Moab to a falling off of the dense population solely. Therefore I prefer with Delitzsch the second explanation according to which it is affirmed that Moab’s glory, i.e., power and riches together with the crowded population shall be destroyed.—הָמוֹן, comp. Isaiah 13:4; Isaiah 17:12; Isaiah 29:5, and often.—מעט מזער stand together as in Isaiah 10:25. The expression כַּבִּיר occurs only in Job and Isaiah, comp. Isaiah 10:13; Isaiah 17:12; Isaiah 28:2. It seems as if in this place the Prophet has in mind Job 36:5, where it reads: הֶן־אֵל כַּבִּיר וְלֹא יִמְאַם.


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.

Isaiah 16:13-14. 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 publication (comp. Jeremiah 8:1 sqq., Jeremiah 30:8; Jeremiah 51:60 sqq.) Here 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 prophecy lacks all authority. At most it could be said Isaiah recognized the word as genuine word of prophecy, and published it under the seal of his name and authority, like Isaiah 2:2-4, he takes a prophecy of Micah for a foundation. But against this is the fact that this passage bears on the face of it too undeniably the stamp of the spirit, and language of Isaiah. Therefore, מאז, “aforetime,” must only mean that some time before he had received this revelation. By מֵאָז is not indicated a definite measure of time. It is also elsewhere found opposed to the עַתָּה, “now,” Isaiah 48:7.——Why the Prophet chose just that season for publishing designated by “now,” and what season this might be, we have not the means of knowing. In no case was the prophecy fulfilled in one act. Here too, as so often, the fulfilment is dispersed through many stages, which the Prophet himself does not distinguish. The end of the three years needed 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 (Isaiah 15:1 to Isaiah 16:12) from the event of the Moabites occupying the east Jordan territory of Gad and Reuben which was depopulated by Pul and Tiglath-Pileser (1Ch 5:6; 1 Chronicles 5:26; 2 Kings 15:29), although in our chapters there occurs no express reference to such an act of enmity against Israel (comp. VaihingerinHerz.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 Moab (Jeremiah 48:0).—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 Isaiah 21:16), in three years, therefore, Moab’s glory was to be made insignificant (Isaiah 3:5).


[33]at one time.


[35]Or, not many.


1. On Isaiah 15:1. “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 Isaiah 15:2 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 (Psalms 33:16 sq.). Whoever forsakes God in good days, He will forsake again in misfortune, and then they can find nowhere rest or refuge (Proverbs 1:24 sqq.).—Starke.

3. On Isaiah 15:7. “What a man unjustly makes, that another unjustly takes.”—Starke.

4. On Isaiah 15:8 sq. “God is wont, in His judgments, to proceed by degrees, to begin with lesser punishments, and proceed to the sorer (Leviticus 26:18; Leviticus 26:21; Leviticus 26:24; Leviticus 26:28). Although the godless escape one misfortune yet they soon fall into another.”—Starke.

5. On Isaiah 16:1 sqq. “God can quickly bring it about that the people that once gave us sheltering 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 1:1). David procured a refuge for his parents among the Moabites (1 Samuel 22:3). Now their affairs are in so bad a case that they, who were able to afford shelter to others, must themselves go wandering among others; for human fortune is unstable.”—Cramer.

6. On Isaiah 16:4. “God therefore threatens the Moabites, at the same time winning them to repentance, for He seeks not the death of the sinner (Ezekiel 18:32). 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 Isaiah 16:5. “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 (Psalms 112:4; Psalms 112:8). 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 (Amos 9:11)”—Cramer.

8. On Isaiah 16:6 sqq. “Moab was a haughty nation, for it was rich and had everything abundant. For it commonly goes thus, that where one is full, there the heart is lifted up, and the legs must be strong that can bear good days.”—Cramer.

9. On Isaiah 16:9 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 (Micah 1:8). Samuel announces destruction to Saul and has sorrow for him (1 Samuel 15:26; 1 Samuel 16:1). Likewise Christ announces every sort of evil to the Jews, and yet weeps bitterly (Luke 19:41). Paul preaches the frightful rejection of the Jews, and yet wishes it were possible to purchase their salvation by His eternal hurt (Romans 9:3).”—Cramer.

10. On Isaiah 16:14. “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 compulsion on all His works (Psalms 145:9).”—Cramer.

11. On Isaiah 16:12. 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 Isaiah 16:0. Genuineness. [Barnes in loc. forcibly presents the argument for the gennineness of these prophecies 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. Repos. 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, any further than was unavoidable. Mistakes, we all know, are liable to be made by those who attempt to describe the geography of places which they have not seen. Yet here 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 proclaim to the world that those cities are what he 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 those regions in their day of prosperity and populous cities, as that the accounts of Robinson, Tristram or Murray’s Guide were written by those who only had a knowledge of their ruins and desolations.—Tr.].


1. On Isaiah 16:5. This text can be used on the Reformation Feast, at Synods, Missionary Anniversaries and similar occasions. The Throne of the Lord Jesus Christ. I. Its Foundation: Grace. II. The Substance of which it is made: Truth. III. The Place where it stands: The Tabernacle of David. IV. The Object, for whose attainment it is set up: Justice and Righteousness.

2. On Isaiah 16:6-14. Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is the people’s destruction (Proverbs 14:34). Therefore the salvation of a people, rests on their knowing and serving the Lord. The example of Moab proves this. We learn from it: What a People must shun and do that salvation may be its portion. I. It must shun, a) pride (Isaiah 16:6); b) false and external worship (Isaiah 16:12). II. It must serve the Lord, who is a) a true, b) an almighty, c) a holy and just God.

Bibliographical Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Isaiah 16". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lcc/isaiah-16.html. 1857-84.
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