Bible Commentaries
Isaiah 16

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Verse 1

Send ye the lamb to the ruler of the land from Sela to the wilderness, unto the mount of the daughter of Zion.

Send ye the lamb to the ruler of the land - advice of the prophet to the Moabites who had fled southwards to Idumea, to send to the King of Judah the tribute of lambs, which they had formerly paid to Israel, but which they had given up (2 Kings 3:4-5). David probably imposed this tribute before the severance of Judah and Israel (2 Samuel 8:2). Therefore Moab is recommended to gain the favour and protection of Judah by paying it to the Jewish king. Type of the need of all submitting to Messiah (Psalms 2:10-12; Romans 12:1).

From Sela to the wilderness - rather, 'from Petra through (literally, toward) the wilderness.' Hebrew, midbaaraah (H4057) (Maurer). All the Moabites are addressed with this injunction, whose boundaries reached from Sela, or Petra of Idumea, toward the wilderness of the Jordan. cela` (H5553) means 'a rock;' Petra, in Greek, the capital of Idumea and Arabia Petrea: the dwellings are mostly hewn out of the rock. The country around was a vast common ("wilderness") or open pasturage, to which the Moabites had fled on the invasion from the West (Isaiah 15:7).

The ruler of the land - namely, of Idumea; i:e., the King of Judah Amaziah had become master of Idumea and Selah (2 Kings 14:7).

Verse 2

For it shall be, that, as a wandering bird cast out of the nest, so the daughters of Moab shall be at the fords of Arnon.

As a wandering bird cast out of the nest - rather, 'as wandering birds, a brood cast out' (in apposition with "a wandering bird," or rather wandering birds); namely, a brood just fledged and expelled from the nest in which they were hatched (Horsley) Compare Isaiah 10:14; Deuteronomy 32:11.

(So) the daughters of Moab - i:e., the inhabitants of Moab. So 2 Kings 19:21; Psalms 48:11; Jeremiah 46:11; Lamentations 4:22 (Maurer).

Shall be at the fords of Arnon - trying to cross the boundary river of Moab, in order to escape out of the land. Ewald and Maurer make "fords" a poetical expression for 'the dwellers on Arnon:' answering to the parallel clause of the same sense, "daughters of Moab."

Verse 3

Take counsel, execute judgment; make thy shadow as the night in the midst of the noonday; hide the outcasts; bewray not him that wandereth.

Take counsel, execute judgment ... - Take measures for espousing our cause in our affliction. Gesenius, Maurer, etc., regard these verses as an address of the fugitive Moabites to the Jews for protection: they translate Isaiah 16:4, 'Let mine outcasts of Moab dwell with thee, Judah;' the protection will be refused by the Jews for the pride of Moab (Isaiah 16:6). Vitringa makes it an additional advice to Moab, besides paying tribute. Give shelter to the Jewish outcasts who take refuge in thy land (Isaiah 16:3-4): so "mercy" will be shown thee in turn by whatever king sits on the "throne" of "David" (Isaiah 16:5). Isaiah foresees that Moab will be too proud to pay the tribute, or conciliate Judah by sheltering its outcasts (Isaiah 16:6); therefore judgment shall be executed. However, as Moab just before is represented as itself an outcast in Idumea, it seems incongruous that it should be called on to shelter Jewish outcasts. So that it seems rather (as Gesenius views it) to foretell the ruined state of Moab, when its people should beg the Jews for shelter, but be refused for their pride. Make thy shadow as the night in the midst of the noon-day - emblem of a thick shelter from the glaring noon-day heat (Isaiah 4:6; Isaiah 25:4; Isaiah 32:2).

Bewray not him that wandereth - betray not the fugitive to his pursuer.

Verse 4

Let mine outcasts dwell with thee, Moab; be thou a covert to them from the face of the spoiler: for the extortioner is at an end, the spoiler ceaseth, the oppressors are consumed out of the land.

Let mine outcasts dwell with thee, Moab - `Let the outcasts of Moab dwell with thee' (Judah) (Horsley). [Thus, nidaachay Mow'aab (H4124) is 'the outcasts of Moab, the final -ay, being the old termination of the construct state. Or else the construction is, 'the outcasts of me, Moab.'] So the Septuagint, Chaldaic, and Syriac. How just the retribution in kind, that Moab, who had refused "bread and water" to Israel when coming from Egypt, should now herself supplicate Israel for shelter and food, and supplicate in vain, became of her unhumbled pride!

For the extortioner - the Assyrian oppressor probably: Hebrew, hammeetz: wringer of milk, blood, etc. (Leviticus 1:15.)

Is as an end. By the time that Moab begs Judah for Shelter, Judah shall be in a condition to afford it, for the Assyrian "oppressors" shall have been "consumed out of the land."

Verse 5

And in mercy shall the throne be established: and he shall sit upon it in truth in the tabernacle of David, judging, and seeking judgment, and hasting righteousness.

And in mercy shall the throne be established. If Judah shelters the suppliant Moab, allowing him to remain in Idumea, a blessing will redound to Judah itself and its "throne."

And he shall sit upon it in truth in the tabernacle of David, judging, and seeking judgment, and hasting righteousness - language so divinely framed as to apply to 'the latter days' under King Messiah, when "the Lord shall bring again the captivity of Moab," as the result of the restoration of Israel and Judah (Psalms 72:2; Psalms 96:13; Psalms 98:9; Jeremiah 48:47; Romans 11:12).

Hasting - prompt in executing.

Verse 6

We have heard of the pride of Moab; he is very proud: even of his haughtiness, and his pride, and his wrath: but his lies shall not be so.

Reply of Judah to Moab's entreaty.

We Jews - have heard of the pride of Moab - We reject Moab's supplication, for his pride, but his lies - false boasts - "shall not be so" (Hebrew lo keen) - shall not be ratified (Zephaniah 2:8-9); shall prove vain (Isaiah 25:10; Jeremiah 48:29-30). 'It shall not be so: his lies shall not so effect it.'

Verse 7

Therefore shall Moab howl for Moab, every one shall howl: for the foundations of Kirhareseth shall ye mourn; surely they are stricken.

Therefore shall Moab howl - all hope of being allowed shelter by the Jews being cut off.

For the foundations of Kir-hareseth - i:e., ruins; because, when houses are pulled down, the "foundations" alone are left (Isaiah 58:12). Jeremiah, in the parallel place (Jeremiah 48:31), renders it "the men of Kir-heres." Men are the moral foundations or stay of a city.

Kir-hareseth - literally, a citadel of brick.

Surely (they are) stricken - rather, joined with "mourn," 'ye shall mourn, utterly stricken' [ 'ak (H389), only, nothing but, utterly] (Maurer).

Verse 8

For the fields of Heshbon languish, and the vine of Sibmah: the lords of the heathen have broken down the principal plants thereof, they are come even unto Jazer, they wandered through the wilderness: her branches are stretched out, they are gone over the sea.

The fields of Heshbon - vine-fields (Deuteronomy 32:32).

The vine of Sibmah - near Heshbon; namely languishes The vine of Sibmah - near Heshbon; namely, languishes

The lords of the heathen have broken down the principal plants thereof - the pagan princes, the Assyrians, etc., who invaded Moab, destroyed his vines. So Jeremiah in the parallel place (Jeremiah 48:32-33). Maurer thinks the following words require rather the rendering, 'Its (the vine of Sibmah) shoots (the wines gotten from them formerly) overpowered (by its generous flavour and potency) the lords of the nations.' So 'broken with wine' is used in Isaiah 28:1, margin (Genesis 49:11-12; Genesis 49:22). Thus, "its" stands for whose. The vine of Sibmah languishes, whose principal plants (Hebrew, sªruwqeyhaa (H8291); the saruwq (H8291) choicest vines), used formerly to overpower by their generous wine the Moabite lords of the nations. I prefer the English version.

They are come (even) unto Jazer. For "they" supply which-the principal plants, which reached even to Jazer, 15 miles from Heshbon.

They wandered (through) the wilderness - they overran, in wild luxuriance, the wilderness of Arabia, encompassing Moab.

They are gone over the sea - the Dead Sea; or else some lake near Jazer, now dry; in Jeremiah 48:32 called the sea of Jazer; but see note there (Psalms 80:8-11). The vine was so luxuriant that it spread itself round the margin of the sea, and so reached beyond it to the other side. The wide extent of this region of luxuriant vines here described contrasts sadly with the foretold desolation which the 'pagan lords' would cause by 'breaking' and trampling all "down."

Verse 9

Therefore I will bewail with the weeping of Jazer the vine of Sibmah: I will water thee with my tears, O Heshbon, and Elealeh: for the shouting for thy summer fruits and for thy harvest is fallen.

I will bewail - for its desolation, though I belong to another nation (note, Isaiah 15:5).

With the weeping of Jazer - as Jazer weeps.

The shouting for thy summer fruits, and for thy harvest, is fallen - thy joyous vintage and harvest shoutings have ceased. Rather, as the Chaldaic, Vulgate, Syriac, and Septuagint virtually 'upon thy summer fruits (Hebrew, literally, summers) and upon thy harvests the shouting (the battle-shout, and the shout of devastating treaders down, instead of the joyous shout of the grape gatherers, usual at the vintage) is fallen' (Isaiah 16:10; Jeremiah 25:30; Jeremiah 51:14). In the parallel passage (Jeremiah 48:32) the words substantially express the same sense - "the spoiler is fallen upon thy summer fruits."

Verse 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 shall tread out no wine in their presses; I have made their vintage shouting to cease.

Gladness is taken away - such as is felt in gathering a rich harvest. There shall be no harvest or vintage, owing to the desolation, therefore no "gladness."

Verse 11

Wherefore my bowels shall sound like an harp for Moab, and mine inward parts for Kirharesh.

My bowels - in Scripture the seat of yearning compassion. It means the inward seat of emotion, the heart, etc. (Isaiah 63:15: cf. Isaiah 15:5; Jeremiah 48:36.)

Shall sound like an harp - as its strings vibrate when beaten with the plectrum or hand.

Verse 12

And it shall come to pass, when it is seen that Moab is weary on the high place, that he shall come to his sanctuary to pray; but he shall not prevail.

When it is seen that Moab is weary on the high place, that he shall come to his sanctuary to pray; but he shall not prevail - or, 'when Moab shall have appeared (before his gods: cf. Exodus 23:15), when he is weary

(i:e., when he shall have fatigued himself with observing burdensome rites, 1 Kings 18:26, etc.) on the high place (cf. Isaiah 15:2), and shall come to his sanctuary (of the idol Chemosh, on mount Nebo) to pray, he shall not prevail:' he shall effect nothing by his prayers (Maurer). The English version is good sense, and is supported by the Vulgate, and the Septuagint, Chaldaic, Arabic, and Syriac in the main. 'It shall come to pass that when it is seen (by Moab himself, and by all others to his confusion) that he is weary of his burdensome rites on the high place, he shall come to his sanctuary, (i:e., to the central temple of the whole nation-what was to Chemosh that which the temple at Jerusalem was to Yahweh) to pray; but he shall not prevail.'

Verse 13

This is the word that the LORD hath spoken concerning Moab since that time. This (is) the word that the Lord hath spoken concerning Moab since that time. The Arabic translates [ mee'aaz (H227)] it 'formerly,' in contrast to "But now" (Isaiah 16:14): heretofore former prophecies (Exodus 15:15; Numbers 21:29) have been given as to Moab, of which Isaiah has given the substance; but now a definite and sure time also is fixed. Since the time that Moab cursed Israel (Numbers 22:5-6), and sinned, through pride and wrath, against God's people (Isaiah 16:6), so that God excluded Moab forever from the congregation of His people (Deuteronomy 23:3-4).

Verse 14

But 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 feeble.

Within three years, as the years of an hireling. Just as a hireling has his fixed term of engagement, which neither he nor his master will allow to be added to or taken from, so the limit within which Moab is to fall is unalterably fixed (Isaiah 21:16). Fulfilled about the time when the Assyrian led Israel into captivity. The ruins of Elealeh, Heshbon, Medeba, Dibon, etc., still exist to confirm the inspiration of Scripture. The accurate particularity of specification of the places 3,000 years ago, confirmed by modern research, is a strong testimony to the truth of prophecy.

Remarks: How wise it is to submit with tokens of heartfelt allegiance to the Divine Son of David, who sits enthroned in the heavenly Zion; that so we may, while yet the day of grace lasts, avert His wrath and escape condemnation in the judgment! We need not, as Moab, procure and "send a lamb;" for the Lamb of God, Messiah Himself, has been sent; and all that we have to do is by faith to make Him ours, and through Him to find acceptance before God our Judge. They who refuse justice and mercy to others, as Moab once did to Israel, shall yet have to supplicate for justice and mercy to be shown to themselves. But they who would not afford 'a covert from the face of the spoiler' (Isaiah 16:4) to the people of God, as Moab, through pride and wrath, would not afford it to Israel, shall justly be given over to the enemy and the avenger.

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Isaiah 16". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". 1871-8.