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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible
Jeremiah 48

 

 

Verse 1

CALAMITIES IN MOAB, Jeremiah 48:1-8.

1. Against Moab — Rather, concerning “Moab.” In Isaiah (chaps. 15 and 16) and Amos (Amos 2:1-3) are prophecies against Moab. This one is, to a great extent, on the basis of that in Isaiah, which it amplifies and changes. It also contains two verses (43 and 44) from Isaiah, (Isaiah 24:17-18.)

Nebo — Not the mountain, but the city of the same name in the vicinity. Kiriathaim is also a city in the same general region.

Misgab — The high-fortress; probably the chief fortress of the country.


Verse 2

2. No more praise of Moab — Literally, the boasting of Moab is gone.

In Heshbon they have devised evil — Heshbon was the chief city on the border, about ten Roman miles east of the Jordan, opposite Jericho. “Heshbon” literally means devising. Hence there is here a play upon the word. In the following clause, also, there is a similar play on the term.


Verse 3

3. Horonaim — Literally, two caves; a place mentioned both here and in Isaiah 15:5 in connexion with Luhith, and hence may be inferred to be near it. Of its precise location, however, we have no knowledge.


Verse 4

4. Moab — Some understand here the city Ar-Moab, of Numbers 21:15, etc.; but this is unnecessary. It is better to take it in its ordinary sense, the name of the country.

Little ones… cry — No feature of the picture could be more pathetic than these piteous cries of the children.


Verse 5

5. In the going up of Luhith — The literal reading of the last clause is, with weeping shall go up weeping. “Luhith” was on an eminence; and the sense is, that wave upon wave of weeping, or rank presses upon rank of weepers.


Verse 6

6. Be like the heath, etc. — See note on Jeremiah 17:6.


Verse 7

7. Because thou hast trusted in thy works — By “works” the old Versions understood fortifications, and this meaning falls in well with what we know of the life of Moab, which was famous for its fortresses and strongholds. Chemosh was the national god of Moab. If he goes into captivity, so also his worshippers.


Verse 8

8. The valley of the Jordan in Moab, and the plain or level upland stretching between the Arnon and Heshbon, shall be overrun with this destruction. The last is called repeatedly “the fields of Moab” in Ruth and elsewhere.


Verse 9

DEVASTATION OF MOAB, Jeremiah 48:9-15.

9. Give wings unto Moab, etc. — The expression suggests the suddenness of the devastation. The word for “wings” elsewhere means a flower, as in Job 14:2.


Verse 10

10. Deceitfully — Rather, negligently. The meaning is, that God will require the ministers of judgment upon Moab to do thorough work.


Verse 11

11. The reason for these judgments is here given. Moab had remained at ease, and in the enjoyment of a prosperity which had vitiated her life. Hence she is compared to wine which has remained long on the lees — a process which improves good wine, but makes poor wine more harsh and thick. The teaching of the figure is, that if a people retain undisturbed possession of their country for a long time their characteristic national qualities will have a high development, but if they be emptied from vessel to vessel, the process may indeed purify them, but may also render them light, weak, and insipid. What is true of national life is true also of individual life; and what is true of life in its lowest conditions applies also to life in its highest aspects. (See, on this last, the most ingenious and admirable sermon of Dr. Horace Bushnell on The Necessity of Spiritual Dislodgments.)


Verse 12

12. Wanderers — As is patent on the very surface, and as all expositors agree, this word is a wrong translation, and misleading. Luther renders tapsters; Ewald, overturners; Nagelsbach, Smith, Noyes, and others, tilters. Keil’s rendering expresses well the exact sense. I will send him those who pour out, and they shall pour him out. The wine in the earthen vessels of the time could be poured off only by tilting the vessel instead of draining it off, as in a wooden vessel, by a hole for the purpose.


Verse 13

13. As the house of Israel was ashamed of Beth-el — That is, of their golden calf at Beth-el.


Verse 15

15. Gone up… gone down — An evident antithesis. The words out of, inserted by the translators in this verse, are unjustifiable and misleading. The simplest translation is, her cities have gone up, perhaps in smoke and flame. Another rendering is preferred by Keil, and is, perhaps, barely defensible, which leaves the subject of the verb indeterminate: they go up to his cities. The enemy ascends to the cities: the soldiers go down to slaughter.


Verse 17

PARTICULARS OF MOAB’S RUIN, Jeremiah 48:16-25.

17. Strong staff… beautiful rod — The power and the splendour of Moab have departed.


Verse 18

18. Thou daughter that dost inhabit Dibon — Literally, thou that dost inhabit, daughter of Dibon. “Daughter” may be the subject or object of the verb.

Sit in thirst — In the desert-land, in contrast with her accustomed place near the Arnon in a beautiful plain, where to this day there is a well by the wayside hewn out of the rock.


Verse 19

19. Aroer — A town on the northern bank of the Arnon, once belonging to Ammon, but now, apparently, to Moab.


Verse 21

21. Holon… Jahazah, etc. — This is a list of towns and cities in Moab, most of which are mentioned elsewhere, but this first one, Holon, is found nowhere else.


Verse 26

THE CONTRAST, Jeremiah 48:26-47.

26. Make ye him drunken, etc. — This commission is addressed to those who execute God’s vengeance on Moab. For his haughtiness and arrogance are appointed shame and disgrace. Moab is a laughing-stock because Israel was a derision to her, as is said in Jeremiah 48:27.


Verse 27

27. Was he found among thieves — The second member of this verse should not be separated from the third, that as often as thou speakest of him thou waggest thine head.


Verse 28

28. Leave the cities, etc. — Leave the cities and take refuge in the inaccessible rocks.

The sides — Literally, the farther sides. “The wild rock pigeon invariably selects deep ravines for its nesting and roosting places.”

— Tristram.


Verses 29-33

29-33. Substantially taken from Isaiah 16:6-10.


Verse 34

34. Heshbon… unto Elealeh — This verse is based on Isaiah 15:4. Heshbon and Elealeh are about two miles distant from each other. Their ruins are still visible. It is not impossible that a shout of wailing on one height may be heard on the other, and yet this supposition is not necessary to the understanding of the passage.

As a heifer of three years old — The force of this comparison is not very evident. If it embraced not a single locality, but Moab as a whole, it would be more intelligible as suggesting a land which had never been brought under the yoke, subjugated. Keil regards the original as a proper name, and translates from Zoar as far as Horonaim and the third Eglath. He explains the ordinal on the theory that there were three places of the same name which were distinguished. This, though conjectural, may be accepted as not without value.

Waters… of Nimrim — This “Nimrim” cannot be the Nimrah of Numbers 32:3; Numbers 32:36, and Joshua 13:27, for they must be too far north for this verse. It must be some well watered district of Moab.


Verse 35

35. Clause to cease… in the high places — As the last sign and proof of national desolation.


Verse 36

36. Pipes — In Isaiah it is harp. Jeremiah says “pipes” for the plaintive and dirge-like quality of the music.


Verse 37

37. Head… bald,… beard clipped, upon… the hands… cuttings, and upon the loins sackcloth, are signs of abject grief and desolation.


Verse 40

40. He (Nebuchadrezzar) shall fly as an eagle — So strong and swift shall be his coming.


Verse 41

41. Kerioth — The capital.

Is taken — Captured. The use of the present term denotes the certainty of the event predicted.


Verse 45

45. Under the shadow of Heshbon — Why do we find fugitives in Heshbon, since the enemy comes from the north? They came from the environs and sought refuge in this fortified town, but a fire devoured them.

 


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Bibliography Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Jeremiah 48:4". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/jeremiah-48.html. 1874-1909.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, November 17th, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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