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Bible Commentaries
Jeremiah 48

Benson's Commentary of the Old and New TestamentsBenson's Commentary


A.M. 3399. B.C. 605.

In this chapter, which concerns the Moabites, the prophet,

(1,) Foretels, that a dreadful destruction should come upon them, and extend to all parts of their land, Jeremiah 48:1-6 , Jeremiah 48:8 , Jeremiah 48:21-25 , Jeremiah 48:34 : that the Chaldeans should shortly and unexpectedly invade their country, destroy them with great fury, force some to flee away, carry multitudes captive, with their idols, and lay the land desolate, Jeremiah 48:7-12 , Jeremiah 48:14-16 , Jeremiah 48:40-45 . That their joys should be turned into mourning, while their neighbours should bewail their miseries, Jeremiah 48:17-19 , Jeremiah 48:33-39 .

(2,) He sets forth the causes of these calamities, namely, their pride, carnal security, and idolatry, Jeremiah 48:7 , Jeremiah 48:11 , Jeremiah 48:14 , Jeremiah 48:29 , Jeremiah 48:35 ; and their contempt of, and enmity against God and his people; 20, Jeremiah 48:27 , Jeremiah 48:30 , Jeremiah 48:42 .

(3,) Promises their restoration after the Chaldean captivity, Jeremiah 48:47 .

Verse 1

Jeremiah 48:1. Against Moab Hebrew, למואב , To, or, concerning Moab, thus saith the Lord of hosts This prophecy concerning the Moabites, as also the following which respect the Ammonites, Edomites, and other neighbouring nations, are supposed to have been fulfilled during the siege of Tyre by Nebuchadnezzar: see note on Jeremiah 47:1. Many expressions and passages are found in this chapter which Jeremiah seems to have borrowed from a prophecy of Isaiah, chap. 15., and 16., concerning a like calamity which befell Moab, in all probability when Shalmaneser, king of Assyria, seized upon their cities and fortresses, and ravaged their country, on his march through it to invade the kingdom of Israel. By comparing the parallel places much light may be mutually thrown upon them. Kiriathaim, one of the cities of Moab, here mentioned, was given by Moses to the Reubenites, as appears by Joshua 13:10, but the Moabites afterward recovered the possession of it. Blaney thinks the word which our translators have rendered Misgab, as if it were the proper name of a city, is rather to be considered as an appellative, especially as it has an article prefixed. He therefore renders it, the high fortress, observing that it may either mean Kiriathaim, before mentioned, or any other high fortress of Moab.

Verses 2-6

Jeremiah 48:2-6. There shall be no more praise of Moab The glory of Moab shall be contemned, as Isaiah speaks, Isaiah 16:14. Every thing for which it was famous shall be destroyed. In Heshbon they have devised evil against it Heshbon was the capital city of the Moabites: when the Chaldeans made themselves masters of Heshbon, a place of great importance, they consulted how to carry on their conquests over the rest of the country. Thou shalt be cut down, or, brought to silence, Isaiah 15:1. O Madmen A city in Moab. Her little ones have caused a cry to be heard Or, sent forth a cry. Both small and great were involved in this calamity, but the word צעיר , signifies great as well as little: and the Chaldee paraphrast renders it here lords; which seems to be the sense in which it is used. For in the going up, &c. The ascent of Luhith is in tears, and their weeping is increased, because, in the descent of Horonaim, the enemies have heard the cry of the sufferers: see Isaiah 15:5. Flee, &c ., and be like the heath Resort to the most solitary places, and continue in obscurity where no enemy can find you out.

Verses 7-10

Jeremiah 48:7-10. Chemosh shall go, &c. Chemosh was the idol of the Moabites, Numbers 21:29. The valley also shall perish and the plain Those who live in the country, with their flocks and pastures, shall be involved in the same calamity with the inhabitants of the cities. Give wings to Moab, &c. It is not a common speed that can deliver him from that imminent danger which threatens him. Cursed be he, &c. God executes his judgments upon sinners by the ministry of men, and those oftentimes as great sinners as they who suffer by them. He had declared by Jeremiah his purpose of making the Chaldeans his instruments in punishing the Jews and the neighbouring countries: see Jeremiah 25:9. And it is here signified, that they would expose themselves to the divine wrath and curse if they spared Moab, and did not execute judgment upon it effectually.

Verses 11-12

Jeremiah 48:11-12. Moab hath been at ease Or, hath been opulent, as the Chaldee renders שׁאנן , from his youth Moab was an ancient kingdom, and had enjoyed great tranquillity, though a small country and surrounded with potent neighbours. It had now been in a state of peace and prosperity since the time of Shalmaneser, having experienced no particular calamity since the judgment foretold by Isaiah, and inflicted by that prince; so that there were forty years between that affliction and this here spoken of. The comparison between the state of the Moabites and that of wine is elegant, and is kept up with great propriety. All wines, it is said, ought to be kept for some time upon their lees, in order to preserve their strength and flavour; on which account the lees are expressed by a word that signifies the preservers. Wine is apt to be damaged by being drawn off too soon into other vessels. By this allegory, therefore, Moab is represented as having enjoyed singular advantages from having constantly remained in his own country ever since he became a people. And the prophet’s words imply, that the Moabites had increased in pride and insolence in proportion to the duration of their national tranquillity and prosperity. Behold, saith the Lord, I will send unto him wanderers The Chaldean soldiers, that come out of a foreign country. These shall make a prey of him, and carry off as much of his wealth as they can, and spoil the rest. Blaney thinks the allegory begun in the preceding verse, is here continued and accordingly renders וצעים , tilters, observing, that the Chaldeans, who are here designed, “should lower the vessels of Moab, namely, the cities, and empty them; and also break to pieces their bottles or pitchers, that is, destroy the lesser towns and villages, dependant on the cities; to which the bottles, or pitchers, answer, being filled with the redundancy of the larger vessels.”

Verses 13-17

Jeremiah 48:13-17. And Moab shall be ashamed of Chemosh, &c. They shall be disappointed in their expectations of succour from their tutelary idol, as the ten tribes have been in the trust they reposed in the calf they worshipped at Bethel. Moab is spoiled, and gone up out of her cities The words out of are not in the Hebrew; therefore some render this clause, Moab is spoiled, and the cities to which she ascended; that is, those situated on high eminences. All ye that are about him bemoan him His calamities are so great as must needs make all who see him, or have heard of his former fame and glory, bewail his misfortunes. How is the strong staff broken A staff, or rod, is an emblem of authority, and thence comes to signify a kingdom, or government, especially such a one as oppresses its subjects, or neighbours, Isaiah 9:4; Isaiah 10:5.

Verses 18-25

Jeremiah 48:18-25. Thou daughter that dost inhabit Dibon Thou that art exalted in pride, and rendered effeminate through luxury: Dibon being one of the chief cities of Moab; come down from thy glory, and sit in thirst Submit to a mean condition, wherein thou shalt feel the want of all the conveniences of life. The Hebrew language expresses a barren land, which yields no sustenance by a thirsty ground, Psalms 63:2; Isaiah 35:7; Ezekiel 19:13. O inhabitant of Aroer A town in the borders of Moab; stand by the way and espy, &c. The prophet describes the great concern and fear that were upon them, which made them hearken to every little report that was stirring. Howl and cry There will be just cause for a general lamentation. Judgment is come upon the plain country, &c. The inhabitants of the low grounds have suffered the punishment they deserved. The horn of Moab is cut off The authority and power of Moab are taken away. This is a metaphorical expression, taken from horned beasts, whose power to defend themselves, and injure other creatures, lies chiefly in their horns. And his arm is broken His strength is exhausted, the arm of man being the instrument whereby he chiefly discovers his strength.

Verses 26-27

Jeremiah 48:26-27. Make ye him drunken God’s judgments are often represented under the metaphor of a cup of intoxicating liquors: see note on Jeremiah 25:15. Moab also shall wallow in his vomit The judgments which God sends upon him shall expose him to the scorn of his enemies; just as a drunken man is the object of men’s laughter and derision. For was not Israel a derision unto thee? Didst not thou insult over the calamities of the Jews when they were carried away captive? Israel is here put for Judah. Was he found among thieves? Though the sins of Israel were great in the sight of God, yet, as he had done no injury to the Moabites, there was no reason why they should use him with the same despite and contempt as if he had been a common thief and robber, whom all men think they have a right to abuse. For since thou spakest of him, thou skippedst for joy This translation, Blaney observes, seems quite foreign to the purpose, and does not accord with the literal meaning of the Hebrew, מדי דברין בו תתנודד , which, he thinks, may be properly rendered, That thou shouldest insult him with all the power of thy words. The sense then of the sentence will be, “Didst thou find Israel among thieves, coming to rob thee of thy property, that thou shouldest think thyself entitled to break out into all manner of revilings against him? Compare Ezekiel 25:8; Zephaniah 2:8; Zephaniah 2:10. Lowth suggests another interpretation, which the words will very well bear, and which agrees with the Chaldee paraphrase, namely, For the words thou hast spoken against him, thou shalt be carried captive. To this purpose also the Vulgar Latin, propter verba tua quæ adversum ilium locutus es, captivus diceres.

Verse 28

Jeremiah 48:28. Ye that dwell in Moab, leave the cities The walls of which will not be sufficient to defend you from the sword of the enemy. And dwell in the rock Hide yourselves in the rocks and caverns of your country. And be like the dove that maketh her nest in the sides of the hole’s mouth That is, on the edge of the precipice, as Blaney interprets the expression, or the brink of destruction. The Moabites are here, therefore, “exhorted to retire for safety to those places where the apprehensions of danger would secure them from the enemy’s pursuit. That doves build in the clefts, or natural hollows of rocks, see Song of Solomon 2:14. Dr. Shaw, in his Travle, p. 162, fol., mentions a city on the African coast, called Hamanet, from the number of wild pigeons that are bred in the cliffs of the adjacent mountains.”

Verses 29-39

Jeremiah 48:29 ; Jeremiah 48:39. We have heard the pride of Moab The several synonymous terms made use of in this verse are meant to express the great pride and insolence of Moab. Though some of these terms are not found in the parallel passage, (Isaiah 16:6,) yet in the main they agree therewith; and “while they describe the overweening pride and haughtiness of Moab, and the intemperance of his rage, they intimate the small pretensions he had for such high assuming, either in respect of the extent of his power, or his actual performances.” I know his wrath Hebrew, עברתו , his fierce wrath, or rage; but it shall not be so He shall not be able to execute it, or bring to pass what he thinks to do: his power shall not be equal to his malice. His lies shall not so effect it Or rather, have not so effected, the verb being in the past time. But this latter part of the sentence seems more properly rendered by Blaney, thus: “But he is not alike,” (that is, equal to his wrath and threats,) “in the extent of his ability he is not alike in performing.”

Verses 31-33

Jeremiah 48:31-33. Therefore will I howl for Moab See note on Isaiah 15:5. I will cry out for all Moab The whole country of Moab: the phrase is the same with whole Palestina, Isaiah 14:31. For the men of Kirheres See note on Isaiah 16:7; Isaiah 16:11. O vine of Sibmah The expressions here denote the destruction of the fruitful vineyards of Sibmah; the loss of which the neighbouring places of Jazer would have reason to lament. Thy plants are gone over the sea The vineyards of Sibmah seem to have been of a vast extent, and to have been greatly celebrated: see note on Isaiah 16:8-9. And joy and gladness is taken from the plentiful field The gathering in of the harvest and other fruits of the earth is usually accompanied with great expressions of joy; but there would be no occasion for this in the land of Moab, as the enemy would spoil or carry away their crop and vintage. None shall tread with shouting They shall not have a vintage left sufficient to excite them to shouts of joy, or to induce them to exhort and encourage one another to labour diligently.

Verses 34-39

Jeremiah 48:34-39. From the cry of Heshbon When Heshbon was taken by the enemy, the cry of the inhabitants reached as far as Elealeh and Jahaz: the same was likewise heard from Zoar to Horonaim. As a heifer of three years old The meaning undoubtedly is, that the cry of Moab, beginning at Heshbon, was continued on from city to city, till the whole country resounded as with the lowing of a cow that runs from place to place in search of her calf that has been taken from her. An image singularly expressive: see notes on Isaiah 15:4-6. I will cause to cease in Moab him that offereth in the high places For an explanation of this and the next verse, see notes on Isaiah 16:11-12. For every head shall be bald, &c. This and all the other expressions of this verse signify the greatness of the affliction, intimated by the manner of mourning, which is such as was used in the greatest calamities: compare Isaiah 15:3. I have broken Moab like a vessel wherein is no pleasure As earthen vessels, if they are not fit for the use for which they were designed, are broken to pieces without any concern or regret, so as never to be repaired; thus have I broken Moab, saith the Lord. They shall howl, saying, How is it broken down! Hebrew, חתה , broken to pieces, as the same word is twice rendered Jeremiah 50:2. The prophet persists in his allusion to the breaking of an earthen vessel.

Verses 40-44

Jeremiah 48:40-44. Behold, he shall fly as an eagle Conquerors are often compared to eagles and other birds of prey; and the encamping of their armies is represented by the spreading of the wings of such fowls. The mighty men’s hearts shall be as the heart of a woman in her pangs They shall be dismayed at the apprehension of the evils that are coming upon them, and shall lose their wonted courage and resolution. Moab shall be destroyed from being a people From being a nation or government, as it was before. Fear, and the pit, and the snare, &c. These words, and those of the next verse, are taken from Isaiah 24:17-18, where see the notes.

Verses 45-46

Jeremiah 48:45-46. They that fled stood under the shadow of Heshbon, &c. They that fled for fear of the enemies’ forces thought to find shelter and safety in Heshbon, a strong fenced city. Or, instead of, because of the force, the Hebrew מכח , may be rendered for want of force, or strength, namely, force of their own to withstand the enemy. But a fire shall come forth out of Heshbon, and a flame from the midst of Sihon That is, of the city of Sihon, meaning still Heshbon. When the enemies have possessed themselves of Heshbon, they will quickly spread like fire over the rest of the country. Thus the prophet fitly applies to the present case the words of an ancient poem made upon Sihon’s conquests over Moab, and recited by Moses, Numbers 21:27-28, where see the notes. And shall devour the corner of Moab, and the crown of the head of the tumultuous ones By the corner may be meant the borders, or extreme parts of the country. So the Hebrew word פאת signifies, Numbers 34:3; Nehemiah 9:22. The nobility, who are the stay and support of the government, are expressed by the crown of the head. By the tumultuous are meant those that are proud and haughty in their state and plenty, and insult over their inferiors. Wo be unto thee, O Moab! This verse is likewise taken out of Numbers 21:19. The people of Chemosh perisheth People are sometimes denominated from the God they worship: so the Jews were called the people of the Lord, or Jehovah.

Verse 47

Jeremiah 48:47. Yet will I bring again the captivity of Moab “The Moabites were afterward restored to their country, as appears from Josephus, Antiq. lib. 13. c. 17. But these and similar promises of mercy after judgment are chiefly to be understood of the conversion of the Gentiles under the gospel, called the latter days in the prophets. The conversion of idolaters is expressed by returning from their captivity, Ezekiel 16:53.” Lowth. See also Calmet’s Dissertation upon the return of the Moabites, &c.

Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Jeremiah 48". Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rbc/jeremiah-48.html. 1857.
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