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Bible Commentaries
Jeremiah 48

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

Verses 1-47

Jeremiah 48:1 . Against Moab, saith the Lord. Isaiah had prophesied of the devastation of Moab by Salmaneser: chap. 15, 16. Jeremiah here speaks of the terrible conquest of the country by Nebuchadnezzar, which, according to Josephus, happened five years after the fall of Jerusalem. It was Messiah, the eternal Word, that gave the prophet his commission on this occasion, and inspired him with an elegy on the doom of Moab, an elegy of incomparable beauty, that it might be read with interest in the cities of Moab, and that the style and general character of the composition might not dishonour a minister of the Lord. On the divine presence, when nations are addressed, the words of Zechariah are remarkable. “Thus saith the Lord of hosts: after the Glory hath he sent me to the nations which spoiled you:” Zechariah 2:8. Such is the general testimony of jewish targums, or paraphrases of the prophets, that the Word of Jehovah talked with the holy seers. In short, such also is the faith of the christian fathers. Professor Cocceius, on this grand credential of the prophets, remarks, Nil impedit, quò minus, id ipsius Personæ Divinæ oratio sit. Why should we think otherwise than that the oration is the dictate of the Divine Person?

Woe unto Nebo. A frontier town in the tribe of Reuben, of which the Moabite, in some crisis of weakness, had gained possession. Kiriathaim is confounded, stormed and taken. The prophet, with the sanction of the Lord, speaks of the conquest as already done.

Jeremiah 48:2 . Moab shall have no more praise: in Heshbon they have devised evil against her. The princes of Chaldea have decided on the fall of Moab. All the small states of Palestine were agreed to pull down the kingdom of David; but blind in policy, they pulled the building on their own heads.

Jeremiah 48:6 . Flee, save your lives, and be like the heath in the wilderness. The word heath is unsuccessful: a heath cannot flee away. On the word כערוער Ke-aroer, we have almost as many readings as versions. Montanus has juniper. The sense seems to be, as thistle-down, which grows in dry places, and is blown far away in the wind. Cocceius has instar myricarum aut ericarum aut carduorum in deserto. Hosea 9:17.

Jeremiah 48:7 . Chemosh shall go forth into captivity. This idol was reckoned the titular divinity of the land. Numbers 21:29. Judges 11:24. How mortifying to see the priests and the princes accompanying their gods into captivity.

Jeremiah 48:9 . Give wings to Moab. Such is the reading of Kimchi. Others read, give flowers to Moab, which shall soon fade as a garland. The English reading is no doubt correct, and it best agrees with the dispersion of thistle- down.

Jeremiah 48:13 . Moab shall be ashamed of Chemosh, as much as Samaria was of the golden calves in Bethel. The gods of gold and silver are in more danger than gods of wood. Our little silver goddess at Loretto disappeared before the French reached the place. Her right foot, says Dr. Smith in his view of the manners of Italy, was rather shorter than the left, supposed to have been worn away by the kissing of millions of votaries.

Jeremiah 48:16 . The calamity of Moab is near approaching. Though we know not the date of these prophecies, yet it is likely that three or four years were the limits of the divine forbearance. When Jerusalem fell, Moab shouted for joy, as in Jeremiah 48:27.

Jeremiah 48:18 . Thou daughter that dost inhabit Dibon. The country of Moab was well watered with streams from the hills, and the vales were exquisitely beautiful. In this modern travellers are agreed. Isaiah bids the daughter of Babylon come down, and sit in dust, the position of mourners; but Moab must leave her limpid streams, and sit in thirst, while crossing the parched deserts. With Dibon, the prophet counts twelve other cities, as sharing the like calamities, and closes this part of the elegy with a full stroke. The horn of Moab is broken.

Jeremiah 48:29 . We have heard the pride of Moab. Her riches, her splendour of dress, her beautiful mansions, all the enlivened cosmography, and retiring graces of her palaces were proverbs in the country. Now all must be plundered and lost in the blaze of conflagration. The prophet commands her to leave those inviting abodes, to dwell on the rocks, and mourn like the doves that have lost their mates.

Jeremiah 48:32 . The sea of Jazer. This town stood on the dead sea: hence the lake of Sodom is here called after Jazer. All large collections of water are called seas in the Hebrew.

Jeremiah 48:34 . From the cry of Heshbon even to Eleàleh, the most western city of Moab, shall be strong and incessant, like the cry of a heifer three years old when she has lost her company. God in anger would cast away the pride of Moab, as the broken pieces of a potter’s vase.

Jeremiah 48:40 . Behold, he (the Assyrian) shall fly as an eagle, and spread his wings over Moab. Thus Daniel also beheld him: Daniel 7:4. This designates the eagerness of a victorious army for conquest, and the spoils of war. David wisely preferred the pestilence to the sword.

Jeremiah 48:42 . Moab shall be destroyed, so as to be no more a people, enjoying national power and glory under her own king. Her wound could only be healed with the loss of limbs.

Jeremiah 48:47 . Yet will I bring again the captivity of Moab in the latter days, saith the Lord. Whatever reference this promise may have to the Messiah’s times, Josephus in his Antiquities, Jeremiah 13:23, says that after the captivity, the Moabites were reduced under the power of the Jews, and received circumcision. They are accused of vacillation: when the affairs of the Jews were prosperous, they claimed kindred with them, but disowned them in adversity. See on Isaiah 15:0.


Jeremiah, in this chapter, has borrowed many expressions from Isaiah 15:0. and 16., it being proper that the prophets should confirm the words of one another. Micah has done the same in chap. 4. It is a maxim of providence to thrust in the sickle when the harvest of the earth is ripe; and when God begins in anger to punish nations, no man knows when the storms of vengeance shall subside. Moab soon recovered from her visitation by Assyria, and enjoyed repose for about a hundred years. She was too weak to fight with great nations, and this weakness was frequently the cause of her safety; she avoided doubtful contests with her powerful neighbours. She was as a cask of wine settled on its lees, and it was high time to draw it off. She saw Jerusalem fall, of which she had been afraid, and rejoiced at the evil, because the storm, for the present, was bought off no doubt, by concessions to the victor. She was therefore fat and at ease; her pride was her leading sin, and proved her utter destruction.

When the severer storms of national visitations come, happy is the man who can fly to a peaceful retreat. Hence, says the prophet, “Give wings to Moab.” But happier still is the sinner who takes refuge in Christ; he is a hidingplace from all the storms of life, and all the fears of a future world. God’s indignation ran so high against the sins of Moab, that he sealed the mission of the Chaldeans with a malediction, in case of too much lenity. Cursed be the man that doeth the work of the Lord deceitfully; and cursed be the man that keepeth back his sword from blood; and withal he promises mercy to a remnant who should return. How faithful then should ministers of religion be in the discharge of their duty, for theirs is a ministry of grace; a ministry to save both men and nations from destruction and eternal death. Oh preacher, enjoying honours and revenues in the church, do not think that thou shalt escape the curse, if thou art silent concerning the extortions, the adulteries and atheism of thy supporters and patrons.

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Jeremiah 48". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jsc/jeremiah-48.html. 1835.
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