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Bible Commentaries
Jeremiah 48

Coke's Commentary on the Holy BibleCoke's Commentary



The judgment of Moab, for their pride, for their security, for their carnal confidence, and for their contempt of God, and his people. The restoration of Moab.

Before Christ 599.

Verse 1

Jeremiah 48:1. Against Moab, &c.— The Moabites were in league with Zedekiah against Nebuchadnezzar: see chap. Jeremiah 27:3; Jeremiah 27:9, &c. But they gave Israel no assistance against him. See Jeremiah 48:26-27. Nebo and Kiriathaim, were the names of two cities of Moab, the latter of which was given to the Reubenites; but the inhabitants of Moab afterwards recovered it, together with several other places. The reader will refer to Isaiah's prophesies concerning Moab. Instead of Misgab, Houbigant and many other commentators read, That high structure, or that which boasted itself.

Verse 5

Jeremiah 48:5. For in the going-up of Luhith Surely at the ascent of Luhith weeping shall go up after weeping; surely at the descent of Horonaim mine enemies have heard a cry of destruction. Houbigant reads, For they have ascended the height of Luhith with weeping: in the descent of Horonaim the enemies, &c.

Verse 6

Jeremiah 48:6. Heath Withered tree, Hiller, p. 86.

Verse 7

Jeremiah 48:7. Chemosh shall go forth into captivity It was customary for the heathens to carry the images of their gods with them to battle; and the capture of these deities was deemed a very great acquisition. The prophets frequently ridiculed this absurdity of the Gentiles. See ch. Jer 43:11-12 Jer 46:25 and Calmet.

Verse 8

Jeremiah 48:8. And the spoiler shall come That is Nebuchadrezzar. This character is frequently given him in Scripture. See ch. Jer 51:48 and Isaiah 33:1; Isaiah 33:24.

Verse 10

Jeremiah 48:10. Cursed be he, &c.— "Cursed is he who doth not execute with fidelity and the greatest exactness the orders of the Lord; cursed will ye be, O Chaldeans, if you spare Moab, if you treat her not with the utmost severity, since God hath appointed her to destruction, and you are only the executors of his just vengeance." Calmet.

Verse 11

Jeremiah 48:11. Moab hath been at ease Instead of hath been at ease, the Chaldee renders, hath been opulent;—from his youth, means from the time of Salmanezer. He hath never felt any calamity, since that judgment foretold by Isaiah, and inflicted by Salmanezer; so that there were forty years between that captivity, and this here spoken of. The comparison between the state of the Moabites and that of wine, is elegant. It is kept up with great propriety: and as it is well known, that wine which remains long on its lees, is of a strong body, the prophet's simile imports that the Moabites increased in spirit and insolence in proportion to the duration of their national success and tranquillity. By wanderers in the next verse, are meant the Chaldean soldiers. The words may be read, He hath settled upon his lees, and hath not been decanted from vessel to vessel: that is, he hath never gone into captivity; therefore his flavour remaineth in him, and his scent is not changed or sowered; Jeremiah 48:12. Therefore—I will send unto him decanters, or, those who shall decant him, and dash his bottles; or disturbers, who shall shake him up, and shall rack off his vessels, and their bottles in pieces.

Verse 15

Jeremiah 48:15. Moab is spoiled Go up, O spoiler, to Moab; ascend into her cities; let her chosen young men descend to the slaughter, &c.

Verse 17

Jeremiah 48:17. How is the strong staff broken How is the powerful rod, the glorious sceptre broken! The Moabites were remarkable for their pride and vanity; of which Jeremiah speaks in the 29th verse.

Verse 18

Jeremiah 48:18. And sit in thirst Dibon was a village in Moab famous for its waters. The prophet foretels that the inhabitants of it should be obliged to seek refuge in the desert, in dry and sandy places. See Isaiah 15:9. Houbigant renders it, And sit in disgrace. The places mentioned in the following verses were cities and towns of Moab.

Verse 26

Jeremiah 48:26. Moab also shall wallow And clap at Moab in his vomiting, that he also may become an object of derision.

Verse 27

Jeremiah 48:27. For was not Israel a derision Houbigant renders the verse thus; For was not Israel a derision to thee, and wast thou not found with those who made songs upon him? How didst thou speak of him! how didst thou shake the head!

Verse 28

Jeremiah 48:28. In the sides of the hole's mouth By the sides of the pit's mouth: that is, on the edge of the precipice. The mouth of the pit is the same as the brink of destruction; the pit or grave yawning wide, as it were, ready to swallow one up. And the image is peculiarly striking, when a person from the side of a steep rock looks down into a deep gulph below. The Moabites are exhorted to retire for safety to such places, where the apprehensions of danger would secure them from the enemy's pursuit. That doves build in the clefts or natural hollows of a rock, see Song of Solomon 2:14. Dr. Shaw in his Travels, p. 162 fol. mentions a city on the African coast, called Hamam-et, from the number of wild pigeons (Hamam) that are bred in the cliffs of the adjacent mountains.

Verse 30

Jeremiah 48:30. I know I know, saith JEHOVAH, his fierce wrath; but he is not alike in the extent of his ability, he is not alike in performing. See Vitringa on Isaiah 16:6.

Verse 32

Jeremiah 48:32. Even to the sea of Jazer Unto Jazer have they extended.

Verse 33

Jeremiah 48:33. Their shouting shall be no shouting The shouting will not be a shouting; or will be a very different shouting.

Verse 36

Jeremiah 48:36. Therefore, &c.— The music of pipes was used at funerals. See Sir Norton Knatchbull's notes on Matthew 9:23. See Isaiah 16:11. Galen compares the hoarse and dead sound of the bowels when they are empty to that of the flutes used at funerals. See lib. 3: de Symtomat. Causis.

Verses 43-44

Jeremiah 48:43-44. Fear Terror.

Verse 45

Jeremiah 48:45. They that fled, &c.— But stand ye under the shadow of Heshbon, and confide in it: for a fire shall burst forth out of Heshbon, and a flame from the midst of Sihon, which shall devour the hairs of Moab, and the necks of the sons of pride. Houbigant. See Num 21:28 to which Jeremiah refers in this part of his prophesy.

Verse 47

Jeremiah 48:47. Yet will I bring again, &c.— The Moabites were afterwards restored to their country, as appears from Josephus. Antiq. lib. 13: cap. 17. But these and similar promises of mercy, after judgment, are chiefly to be understood of the conversion of the Gentiles under the Gospel, and at last the bringing in the fulness of them, called in the prophets the latter days. The conversion of idolaters is expressed by returning from their captivity. Ezekiel 16:53. See Lowth, and Calmet.

REFLECTIONS.—1st, We have here,

1. The destruction of Moab. The Lord of Hosts, who hath all the armies of heaven and earth at his beck, sends forth spoilers, whose sword shall devour around, and pursue the fugitives. Desolation shall be spread on every side, every city be destroyed; there shall be no more praise of Moab, the place and people utterly ruined, every fruitful valley wasted, the land left without inhabitant, the princes and priests shall go into captivity; and, with confusion, they shall behold their idol Chemosh, their confidence, share their fate, unable as the calf of Bethel to defend his votaries. In vain they cry, Flee, when flight is impossible, or perhaps this is the call of the prophet, ironically deriding their attempt to escape from city to city, when all must fall, and no city shall escape. The cry of 'Horonaim taken,' echoes; and, while the fugitives go weeping up the ascent to Luhith, the enemies hear their cry, and follow at their heels. Swift the destruction passes through, as the bird cuts the air; and as on eagles' wings they are hurried into captivity. Moab throughout is destroyed, and desolate, like the heath in the wilderness, not even the infants are spared; nor can their cries avail. The charge is given, and sealed with an anathema; Cursed be he that doeth the work of the Lord deceitfully, and cursed be he that keepeth back his sword from blood, and no pleas of pity must be heard, when vengeance from God is to be executed. Note; (1.) When God's work is given us to do, of whatever kind, to act hypocritically or negligently will bring his curse upon our heads. (2.) The vain confidence of sinners will as much disappoint their hopes in the day of trial, as Chemosh shamed his foolish votaries.

2. The cause of this destruction is their pride and carnal security. Like wine which has not been emptied from vessel to vessel, Moab had been at ease from the days when they were formed into a people, and had never known such captivities as Israel had undergone. Strong as wine settled on its lees, filled with wealth, and confident with long prosperity, they defied danger, trusting in their works, their fortifications, or their idol-deities, the work of their own hands, and in their treasures, as if these were a sure defence; though the event must so fearfully disappoint their expectations, their works be demolished, their treasures and their gods together spoiled and carried off by the conquerors. Note; (1.) Worldly prosperity is a dangerous snare to the soul. (2.) God's enemies often enjoy here below that worldly ease and affluence to which his own people are strangers. They have their good things here, and have nothing to hope for in eternity. (3.) Creature confidence in the day of evil proves utter vanity and vexation of spirit. (4.) The sinner's presumption is the prelude to his ruin.

2nd, The destruction of Moab is more largely painted, with the sins, the cause of her calamities.
1. The destruction is terrible, sudden, universal, near, irreparable, drawn in the strongest colours, if so be it might awaken a sense of danger, and be the means of leading to repentance any of that devoted people. They thought themselves secure in warlike hosts, able to repel any invader; but Moab is spoiled, her cities universally taken, her people captives, the flower of her youth fallen by the sword, sent by that Lord of Hosts whose power none can resist, and from whose arm none can fly: near, even at the door, is the fearful judgment, and time it is for all around her to begin the lamentation over her, How is the strong staff broken? on which they trusted for support, or had been lifted up with terror: and the beautiful rod, the kingdom once so splendid, is overturned; so poor and perishing are all human excellencies. Hurled from the summit of glory, her strongest holds shall be laid, in the dust by the Chaldean spoiler, and the people reduced to the greatest extremities; while they who dwell in the utmost border, shall with solicitous eagerness inquire of the fugitives What is done? and shall in answer hear, that all is in confusion, their case desperate, their fortresses destroyed, their country wasted, their power broken; and for this are called upon to howl and cry. Drunk with the cup of God's fury, Moab is become weak and sick, wallowing in his vomit; a loathsome spectacle, a derision to the beholders. Like a dove that flies to the cleft of the rock, the prophet calls on the inhabitants to quit their cities, and take refuge in some solitary cave, where they may be hid. With deepest signs of most expressive woe, the people are enjoined to lament their desolations, and with sympathetic tenderness the prophet mingles his tears with theirs, affected deeply with the terrible scene that he beheld. All gladness is banished, their harvest and vintage a prey to the spoiler, and nothing heard around but shrieks and groans, the universal ruin spreading an universal lamentation. They can neither fly nor fight; for, swift as an eagle darteth on his prey, the Babylonian conqueror advances. Their fortresses are scaled, their mighty men sunk under panic fear, every effort to escape fruitless: they who attempt to avoid one evil, shall plunge into another; and, since the judgment is from God, and the appointed time come, it is vain to hope for deliverance. Even under the shadow of Heshbon, where they hoped at least to find some protection, the fire of the Chaldeans shall devour them, and the crown of the head of the tumultuous ones, their nobles and great men, who boasted of their wealth and strength, be laid low. Woe, therefore, to miserable Moab, the people of Chemosh perisheth, finding no protection from their God. Thy sons are taken captives, and thy daughters captives, and the land left desolate without inhabitant.

2. Their sins are many and exceedingly aggravated, and in these his judgments God is altogether righteous. [1.] Insufferable pride, where a variety of expressions are used to intimate in how many instances and how deeply it appeared; and wherever this spirit is found, there for ever the curse of God will rest. [2.] Contempt of God, as if they were above his arm, and defied his threatenings. [3.] Unkindness to God's people; they mocked at their calamities, derided them when led captive, as if they had been thieves taken in the fact, and expressed a malicious pleasure in their miseries. Note; Nothing is more hateful to God than such a diabolical temper; and those who mock at the sufferings of God's people, God will mock at when their fear cometh. [4.] Wrath and slander. They instigated, probably, the Chaldeans to extirpate the Jewish people, and by their lies sought to exasperate them; but, saith God, I know it, and it shall not be so: he sees the devices of the crafty, will disappoint the enemies of his church, and reckon with them for their malignity. [5.] Their idolatry: because they burnt incense to their false gods, and preferred Chemosh before the living Jehovah. For these things God will visit them, and be avenged of such a nation as this.

3. A gracious promise concludes the whole, and gives one ray of hope to prevent utter despair. Yet will I bring again the captivity of Moab in the latter days, saith the Lord; which had a temporal accomplishment, when, with the other captive nations, they were released by Cyrus; and has respect to those more blessed days, when Moab should, with other Gentiles, submit to the Messiah's kingdom, be delivered from the bondage of Satan, sin, and death, and rejoice in that liberty wherewith Christ makes his people free.

Bibliographical Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Jeremiah 48". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/tcc/jeremiah-48.html. 1801-1803.
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