Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, December 5th, 2023
the First Week of Advent
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Bible Commentaries
Isaiah 15

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New TestamentsSutcliffe's Commentary

Verses 1-9

Isaiah 15:1 . The burden of Moab. Joshua had spared this nation by divine command, being, as descendants of Lot, relatives of the Hebrews. Deuteronomy 2:9. But they made no returns: Eglon king of Moab oppressed them for eighteen years. Josephus remarks, that when the affairs of the Israelites were prosperous the Moabites claimed kindred with them, but disowned them in times of adversity. Moab had now dwelt at ease from her youth; partial wars had not destroyed her cities. At length her pride, her blood, her idolatries had provoked the Lord to make her drink the bitter cup. By advice of Balaam, she had laid an insidious snare for the Hebrews, drawing them to apostasy, to feasting and dancing to her gods; for which she received a curse, Deuteronomy 23:3; and the Israelites the pestilence; for the first violators of a new law, fly in the immediate face of the legislator. She had been chastised by David for joining the conspiracy against him, as Psalms 83:0., and when she fell under the power of the ten tribes, and rebelled, she was again vanquished; but now she must drink the bitter cup from the Assyrian army. This was effectuated, as is not doubted, when Shalmanezer had war with the ten tribes, whose army seems to have made a circuitous route from Samaria to Moab, to Ammon, and back to Nineveh across the Euphrates.

Three years before the visitation, the burden of Moab was laid on Isaiah, to call the haughty daughter to repentance. He perfectly knew the country, and the cities, and they could not be unacquainted with his character. His addresses are clothed in the sublime of eloquence, and the boldest figures of rhetoric. Thus he boldly begins: In the night, Ar of Moab is laid waste. This was the more terrific; the city being on the river Arnon, the Assyrians must have surprised Moab on the east. Babylon also was surprised in the night, and taken by storm.

Isaiah 15:2 . Gone up to Bajith; to the house of his idol, or Baal-Meon. Isaiah would not name this idol because of its obscenity. Dibon was on a hill, but overlooked by mount Nebo. This is irony. Moab in her trouble is gone to weep and pray to gods unmoved by tears, deaf to all cries, and regardless of her blood.

Isaiah 15:4 . Heshbon shall cry. This city is often named. Numbers 21:25; Numbers 32:3; Numbers 32:37. Joshua 13:17; Joshua 13:21. It was situate on a hill, and still subsists; it was visited by Burckhardt, a German traveller. It had two fishpools, whose rural beauty is noticed by Solomon. Song of Solomon 7:4.

Isaiah 15:5 . The mounting up of Luhith with weeping. This city was also on a hill, which in the warmer climates is preferred for salubrity. It lay on the road to Babylon, and the farewel-views of their country caused their cries to resemble a bereft heifer of three years old.

Isaiah 15:7 . The brook of the willows. This was a common name for countries watered by the river Euphrates. Prideaux.


We have in these two chapters the warning voice, and subsequent elegy of our princely prophet. Grieved for the sins of Moab, he satirized her pride, but seeks at the same time to save her from ruin. And what could do it but opening her eyes to the impending storm, and pouring contempt on the helpless character of her gods.

The prophet displayed to Moab the tremendous army of the Chaldeans, overspreading the country; an army whose character was to despise every strong hold. The strokes of heaven awaken the power of conscience. The spoilers were coming against a spoiler. Their staining the waters of Dimon with blood, was to visit for the abundance of blood which Moab had shed, when she, both vile and weak, had joined Philistia and Amalek in their wars. Her pride, the proverb of nations, should be brought low. Ah, in vain, oh Moab, shalt thou go up to the house of Bajith; thy long- boasted temple of Baal-Meon. Thy gods shall be blind to thy misery, and deaf to thy cries. Thy king shall fly to the desert, thy counsellors shall be confused, thy soldiers without strength. Alas, alas, the joy of harvest and the shouts of the vintage shall he heard no more. Profit therefore by these warnings; hide thyself under Jehovah’s wings, and bow to the shadow of David’s throne.

But why does the illustrious prophet of the Hebrews talk in words so strange? Is there any thing in the tablets of universal history which can justify those sombrous discoveries? Nay; Is there any thing else in the tablets but slaughter, burning, and destruction? Are not all great conquerors like great rivers, which sometimes drown and ravage the country which they ought only to water and enrich.

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Isaiah 15". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jsc/isaiah-15.html. 1835.
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