Bible Commentaries
Isaiah 16

Peake's Commentary on the BiblePeake's Commentary


Isaiah 15, 16. Oracle on Moab.— In Isaiah 16:13 f. we read that the preceding prophecy had been spoken in time past: now it is confirmed, and its fulfilment exactly dated. The natural meaning of this is that the main body of the oracle had been uttered some time previously. Very few accept the view that Isaiah himself wrote it. It is generally thought that he quotes the work of an older prophet and endorses it. This is suggested by the language of Isaiah 16:13 f., which does not favour the view that its author also wrote the main body of the prophecy. The style of the prophecy is archaic and tedious, and there are many peculiar forms in the language. The sympathetic tone has no parallel in Isaiah, and the minute knowledge of the topography of Moab is rather improbable in a city prophet. If this view is correct, it is still uncertain when the original prophecy was spoken. It must be later than the time of Ahab, since cities are represented as belonging to Moab which, as we know from the Moabite Stone, were recovered by Mesha. Many think the original occasion was a conquest of Moab by Jeroboam II, which, though not expressly mentioned, is implied in the history. Since Judah is supposed to be able to protect the fugitives of Moab, she must have been fairly strong at the time, and this would suit the reign of Uzziah, which was for the most part contemporary with that of Jeroboam II. Isaiah may have republished the oracle with the appendix shortly before Sargon’ s campaign against Ashdod in 711, when Moab was intriguing against Assyria with Egypt and Philistia, or he might have done so shortly before Sennacherib’ s invasion in 701. Several scholars believe that the original prophecy is post-exilic. Gray (ICC) analyses into an elegy consisting of Isaiah 15:1-9 a, Isaiah 16:1-11, and a prophetic interpolation containing Isaiah 15:9 b Isaiah 16:5; Isaiah 16:12. The elegy he thinks has reference to the Nabatæ an conquest of Moab in the fifth century. The oracle forms the basis of the much longer prophecy in Jeremiah 48.

Verses 1-14

Isaiah 16:1-12 . The Moabites now in Sela, a city of Edom ( 2 Kings 14:7 *; cf. Judges 1:36, mg.*) , exhort each other to send the tribute of lambs once paid to Israel ( 2 Kings 3:4) to Jerusalem to secure her protection and shelter, since Edom was under the suzerainty of Judah. Judah can protect the Moabites, for it is under a righteous government. But the prayer is rejected, for the arrogance of Moab ( Isaiah 25:11) is such that its flattery of Judah must be insincere. So Moab must mourn still more, lamenting for the raisin cakes of Kir-hareseth (in Isaiah 16:11 Kir-heres, probably identical with Kir of Moab). The vineyards of Heshbon, the vines of Sibmah languish, whose vintage was so choice that it was drunk by monarchs, so strong that it overcame them, accustomed though they would be to powerful intoxicants. The poet shares the grief of Jazer (15 miles N. of Heshbon), for the vintage is all ruined. Though the poet’ s compassion is moved at the desolation, the prayers of the doomed people cannot avert it.

Isaiah 16:2 . Out of place. The Moabites are here back at the fords of Arnon ( Numbers 21:13 *), timid and irresolute. It breaks the connexion between Isaiah 16:1 and Isaiah 16:3.

Isaiah 16:7 . raisin-cakes: grapes pressed together in the form of a cake used at religious festivals (p. 99, Hosea 3:1 *).

Isaiah 16:8 . Poetically the author describes the vines under the figure of a single vine branching out to Jazer on the north, to the desert on the east, and the Dead Sea on the west.

Isaiah 16:9 f. The word rendered “ battle shout” is the same as that rendered “ vintage shout.” It is the technical name for the shout of the wine-treaders as they press the grapes. There will be a vintage shout, but it will be that of the soldiers as they trample the vineyards down; cf. Jeremiah 48:33, “ the shouting shall be no shouting.”

Isaiah 16:11 . As the harp responds to the touch of the musician, so the poet’ s heart is moved by the sorrows of Moab.

Isaiah 16:13 f. The preceding prophecy was spoken in time past, but now in three years precisely the glory of Moab shall be brought low, and only an insignificant remnant be spared.

Isaiah 16:14 . The hired servant serves for the stipulated period exactly. The master sees to it that it shall be no less, the servant takes care that it shall be no more.

Bibliographical Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Isaiah 16". "Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". 1919.