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Bible Commentaries
Jeremiah 48

Kretzmann's Popular Commentary of the BibleKretzmann's Commentary

Verses 1-15

The Coming Devastation of Moab Described

v. 1. Against Moab. Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, Woe unto Nebo! an important city in Southwestern Moabitis. For it is spoiled, laid waste by the enemies; Kiriathaim, another ancient city of the country, is confounded and taken; Misgab, literally, "the citadel," probably Kir-Moab, the strongest fort of the Moabites, or a general expression denoting the overthrow of Moab's power, is confounded and dismayed.

v. 2. There shall be no more praise of Moab, literally, "Not is there any more boasting of Moab," that is, Moab no longer has cause for praising herself; in Heshbon they have devised evil against it, this ancient capital of the Amorites, almost directly opposite Jericho, being in the hands of the invaders, who were there making plans for further humiliating Moab, Come and let us cut it off from being a nation! Moab, although repeatedly tributary to the kingdom of Israel, especially under David and Solomon, nevertheless retained its national organization and finally regained its independence, even to the extent of joining in an attack on Judah. But this glory would now be definitely ended. Also thou shalt be cut down, O Madmen, another city of Moab; the sword shall pursue thee, to bring slaughter and destruction to its inhabitants.

v. 3. A voice of crying shall be from Horonaim, a village east of the Dead Sea, spoiling and great destruction, the town sinking into ruins.

v. 4. Moab, that is, Ar-Moab, the ancient capital of the land, is destroyed; her little ones have caused a cry to be heard, her citizens giving voice to the distress which they felt.

v. 5. For in the going up of Luhith, a town in the hilly section south of the Arnon, continual weeping shall go up; for in the going down of Horonaim, which lay in the plain, the enemies have heard a cry of destruction. As the enemy advances from the north, the inhabitants of Moab, weeping bitterly over the devastation of their cities, flee over the heights of Luhith and down the long incline toward Horonaim to save their lives if possible.

v. 6. Flee! so the cry goes forth to them, save your lives and be like the heath in the wilderness, like forsaken ones, like those stripped of everything out in the desert, that being Moab's eventual lot.

v. 7. For because thou hast trusted in thy works and in thy treasures, in her successful undertakings and the wealth which she had thereby amassed, thou shalt also be taken, the land subdued and its inhabitants led away into captivity; and Chemosh, the chief idol of the Moabites, worshiped chiefly as the god of war, shall go forth into captivity with his priests and his princes together, both the spiritual and the temporal rulers of the country included in the judgment of Jehovah.

v. 8. And the spoiler shall come upon every city, and no city shall escape, all of them being doomed to ruin and their inhabitants to slaughter and captivity; the valley also shall perish, that is, the inhabitants of the lowlands near the Jordan, and the plain shall be destroyed, the plateau which extended from the Arnon toward the north and northeast beyond what had been Rabbath-Ammon, as the Lord hath spoken.

v. 9. Give wings unto Moab that it may flee and get away, on account of the suddenness of the calamity which was threatening; for the cities thereof shall be desolate, without any to dwell therein.

v. 10. Cursed be he that doeth the work of the Lord deceitfully, being negligent in carrying out the judgment of God upon Moab, and cursed be he that keepeth back his sword from blood, the invader charged with the slaughter of Moab.

v. 11. Moab hath been at ease from his youth, never really having suffered the reverses which fell to the lot of some other nations, and he hath settled on his lees, like poor wine which turns to vinegar after long standing, and hath not been emptied from vessel to vessel, neither hath he gone into captivity. Because the people of Moab had not suffered the calamities which befell some other nations because they had not been tried out by repeated exiles, their character had become harsh and supercilious. Therefore his taste remained in him, and his scent is not changed, his bearing toward other nations, and particularly against the children of Israel, had remained the same throughout the centuries.

v. 12. Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will send unto him wanderers, literally, "pourers-out," the Hebrew word being used of men who handled wine-kegs and skins, especially in transferring or transfusing wine from one vessel to another and thereby separating it from the lees, that shall cause him to wander, tilting him up and pouring him out, and shall empty his vessels and break their bottles, dash his dishes in pieces. The conquerors would not only lead the Moabites away into exile, but would also destroy their national organization.

v. 13. And Moab shall be ashamed of Chemosh, getting evidence of the powerlessness and utter vanity of their chief idol, as the house of Israel was ashamed of Bethel, their confidence, finding out to their sorrow that the golden calf was a vain idol.

v. 14. How say ye, We are mighty and strong men for the war? Moab would no longer boast of its courage and strength, because terror would possess every heart.

v. 15. Moab, as a result of this attitude, is spoiled and gone up out of her cities, or, "men go up," that is, they take her cities, and his chosen young men, the soldiers of the country, are gone down to the slaughter, saith the King, whose name is the Lord of hosts, the one supreme Ruler of the whole world. Before Him all nations must finally bow, either in meek submission, which accepts His rule, or in the subjection of terror, which fawns before the Victor.

Verses 16-35

Moab's Glory Followed by its Deep Fall

v. 16. The calamity of Moab is near to come, so that destruction will soon overtake him, and his affliction hasteth fast, his misfortune coming on apace, with great speed.

v. 17. All ye that are about him, all his neighbors, bemoan him, and all ye that know his name, those living at a distance and knowing only the fame of Moab, say, How is the strong staff broken and the beautiful rod! The breaking of Moab's scepter of beauty and splendor signifies the total overthrow of his government and rule. The admonition is addressed in a general way, to emphasize the total ruin of the former mighty people.

v. 18. Thou daughter that dost inhabit Dibon, a city some four miles north of the Arnon, come down from thy glory and sit in thirst, her surroundings becoming an arid wilderness; for the spoiler of Moab shall come upon thee, and he shall destroy thy strongholds, leveling all her proud fortifications in which she trusted.

v. 19. O inhabitant of Aroer, a city on the northern bank of the Arnon, originally belonging to Ammon, Deuteronomy 2:36; Deuteronomy 3:12, stand by the way and espy, watching, as it were, for the fugitive Moabites coming down from the north to escape the Chaldean invaders; ask him that fleeth and her that escapeth, for both men and women were seeking to save their lives by a hurried flight, and say, What is done? The answer to this question is given in the next verse.

v. 20. Moab is confounded, put to shame and confusion; for it is broken down; howl and cry! Tell ye it in Arnon, the former northern boundary between Moab and Ammon, that Moab is spoiled, the news of its destruction traveling southward with the fugitives.

v. 21. And judgment is come upon the plain country, upon the plateau; north of the Arnon, cities which had been in the possession of the tribe of Reuben for some centuries after the conquest, upon Holon, and upon Jahazah, and upon Mephaath,

v. 22. and upon Dibon, and upon Nebo, and upon Beth-diblathaim,

v. 23. and upon Kiria-thaim, and upon Beth-gamul, and upon Beth-meon,

v. 24. and upon Kerioth, probably another name for the capital of the country, and upon Bozrah, and upon all the cities of the land of Moab, far and near, most of these being situated in the region east of the Dead Sea. The fact that the judgment has struck Moab is made more specific by the enumeration of the individual cities that have been destroyed.

v. 25. The horn of Moab, emblem of strength and sovereignty, is cut off, and his arm is broken, saith the Lord, he has lost all his former great power, his mighty position is shattered. All this, as the prophet now points out, is the result of Moab's pride.

v. 26. Make ye him drunken, so the prophet addresses all those whom the Lord has made executors of His punishment, for he magnified himself against the Lord, wherefore he must drink the cup of Jehovah's avenging fury; Moab also shall wallow in his vomit, the consequence of his intoxication, and he also shall be in derision, an object of mockery on the part of all men. This is retribution in kind.

v. 27. For was not Israel a derision unto thee? Did Moab not make a mockery of the people of God? Was he found among thieves? for since thou spakest of him, thou skippedst for joy, or, "Had he been found among thieves that thou, as often as thou spakest of him, shookest thy head?" Moab had given every exhibition of derision and mockery over Israel, while, in truth, this nation, together with other heathen nations nearby, had been the cause of Israel's criminal conduct.

v. 28. O ye that dwell in Moab, leave the cities, dwellings which no longer offered a sufficient shelter, and dwell in the rock, in caves of inaccessible mountain fastnesses, and be like the dove that maketh her nest in the sides of the hole's mouth, on the walls of the yawning ravine.

v. 29. We have heard the pride of Moab (he is exceeding proud), his loftiness, and his arrogancy, and his pride, and the haughtiness of his heart, the synonymous terms being heaped to express, in a way, the unusual hatefulness of Moab's sin.

v. 30. I know his wrath, his furious insolence, saith the Lord; but it shall not be so, his boastings are nothingness, idle talk, vain vauntings; his lies shall not so effect it, his deeds being just as vain as his words. All this causes the prophet to give expression to his sympathy for Moab, well as it had deserved its fate.

v. 31. Therefore will I howl for Moab, raise his voice in lamentation, and I will cry out for all Moab; mine heart shall mourn for the men of Kir-heres, the strongest citadel of the country, probably identical with Kir-Moab.

v. 32. O vine of Sibmah, I will weep for thee with the weeping of Jazer, or, "more than Jazer," since, because the vines of Sibmah excelled in grapes which they produced, their destruction by the enemy was a calamity; thy plants are gone over the sea, they reach even to the Sea of Jazer, to the Dead Sea and beyond, and northward to the pools of Jazer, considerably beyond Heshbon. The spoiler is fallen upon thy summer-fruits and upon thy vintage, so that this entire industry was ruined.

v. 33. And joy and gladness is taken from the plentiful field, from the fertile farm- and garden-land which has just been described, and from the land of Moab, from the entire country; and I have caused wine to fail from the wine-presses, there being no longer a supply of grapes for them; none shall tread with shouting, with the usual cry of "Hedad!" heard in the fields; their shouting shall be no shouting. Cf Isaiah 16:7-10.

v. 34. From the cry of Heshbon even unto Elealeh, and even unto Jahaz, have they uttered their voice, that is, throughout the entire country inhabited by the Moabites, from the northern part to the southern end of their land, the cry of distress was heard, from Zoar, in the southwest, even unto Horonaim, as an heifer of three years old, or, "to the third Eglat," one of three villages bearing the same name; for the waters also of Nimrim, copious springs with the meadow-lands belonging to them, near the southern end of the Dead Sea, shall be desolate, dried up as a result of God's punishment.

v. 35. Moreover, I will cause to cease in Moab, saith the Lord, him that offereth in the high places and him that burneth incense to his gods, making an end of all idolaters, as He would break down their places of worship. The same fate eventually awaits all idolaters, also those who indulge in the finer forms of the sin only and consider themselves safe in their insolent behavior.

Verses 36-47

Lamentation over Moab

v. 36. Therefore mine heart shall sound for Moab like pipes, sighing with the wailing sound of the flute, and mine heart shall sound like pipes for the men of Kir-heres, the chief stronghold of Moab, because the riches that he hath gotten are perished, literally, "because the remnant that they had gained, perished. " Because the judgment of destruction had struck Moab, therefore his heart was wailing so bitterly, and therefore also the wealth of Moab was lost.

v. 37. For every head shall be bald, shaved as a sign of deep grief, and every beard clipped, another evidence of mourning; upon all the hands shall be cuttings, incisions such as the heathen made in deep sorrow, and upon the loins sackcloth, the whole nation lamenting on account of the great losses which had come upon the entire land.

v. 38. There shall be lamentation generally, nothing but wailing, upon all the housetops of Moab, and in the streets thereof, both at home and abroad; for I have broken Moab like a vessel wherein is no pleasure, saith the Lord, like a worthless vase which is cast aside without so much as a backward glance.

v. 39. They shall howl, literally, "How is it broken!" saying, How is it broken down! How hath Moab turned the back with shame! no longer proud and insolent, but utterly broken in spirit. So shall Moab be a derision and a dismaying to all them about him, an object of scorn, mockery, and horror.

v. 40. For thus saith the Lord, Behold, he, namely, Nebuzar-adan, the captain of Nebuchadnezzar, shall fly as an eagle and shall spread his wings over Moab, to pounce upon them as a welcome prey, to tear them to pieces.

v. 41. Kerioth, Cf v. 24, is taken, and the strongholds are surprised, and the mighty men's hearts in Moab at that day shall be as the heart of a woman in her pangs, full of fear and terror.

v. 42. And Moab shall be destroyed from being a people, losing its identity among the nations, because he hath magnified himself against the Lord, and Jehovah resisteth the proud.

v. 43. Fear and the pit, used by the hunter of big game, and the snare, used by the fowler, shall be upon thee, O inhabitant of Moab, saith the Lord, some sort of catastrophe being sure to strike the proud and defiant people.

v. 44. He that fleeth from the fear, trying to escape the general horror, shall fall into the pit, and he that getteth up out of the pit shall be taken in the snare, one or the other of the calamities will be sure to catch him; for I will bring upon it, even upon Moab, the year of their visitation, saith the Lord.

v. 45. They that fled, the fugitives who escaped the slaughter, stood under the shadow of Heshbon because of the force, powerless in the face of the danger confronting them; but a fire shall come forth out of Heshbon, the city in which they hoped to find refuge, and a flame from the midst of Sihon, the ancient king of the Amorites, and shall devour the corner of Moab, so that it would be totally destroyed, and the crown of the head of the tumultuous ones, of the sons of warlike confusion. The prophet here applies the ancient hymn. Numbers 21:27-28, to the circumstances before him; for as in ancient times Sihon, king of the Amorites, came forth from his city, Heshbon, like a devouring flame, which consumed Moab, so the Chaldeans, starting from Heshbon, would descend upon the country of the Moabites and destroy their power.

v. 46. Woe be unto thee, O Moab! The people of Chemosh perisheth, the idolaters with their false god; for thy sons are taken captives, led away into prison, and thy daughters captives, dragged into exile.

v. 47. Yet will I bring again the captivity of Moab in the latter days, saith the Lord, the Messianic idea becoming evident in this promise of restoration. Thus far is the judgment of Moab. The Lord has His children even in the midst of a people which has rejected Him, which, for this reason, He is bound to punish according to His holiness. The Gospel-message has reached many Gentiles, and the Gospel-blessings have descended upon many persons outside of Israel according to the flesh.

Bibliographical Information
Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Jeremiah 48". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kpc/jeremiah-48.html. 1921-23.
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