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Bible Commentaries
Jeremiah 48

Utley's You Can Understand the BibleUtley Commentary


Jeremiah 48:0


(The parentheses represent poetic literary units)

Prophecy Against MoabJudgment On MoabAgainst MoabThe Destruction of MoabProphecies Against Moab
Jeremiah 48:1-10(vv. Jeremiah 48:1-10)Jeremiah 48:1aJeremiah 48:1-13(vv. Jeremiah 48:1-2)Jeremiah 48:1-3(vv. Jeremiah 48:1-3)Jeremiah 48:1-2(vv. Jeremiah 48:1-2)
Jeremiah 48:1-5(vv. Jeremiah 48:1-5)
(vv. Jeremiah 48:3-6)Jeremiah 48:3-9(vv. Jeremiah 48:3-9)
Jeremiah 48:4-6(vv. Jeremiah 48:4-6)
Jeremiah 48:6-10(vv. Jeremiah 48:6-10)
(vv. Jeremiah 48:7-8)(vv. Jeremiah 48:9)Jeremiah 48:7-10(vv. Jeremiah 48:7-10)
The Cities of Moab Are DestroyedJeremiah 48:10
Jeremiah 48:11-20(vv. Jeremiah 48:11)Jeremiah 48:11-25(vv. Jeremiah 48:11)Jeremiah 48:11-13(vv. Jeremiah 48:11)Jeremiah 48:11Jeremiah 48:11(vv. Jeremiah 48:11)
(vv. Jeremiah 48:12-13)Jeremiah 48:12-13Jeremiah 48:12-13
(vv. Jeremiah 48:13-20)
(vv. Jeremiah 48:14-15)Jeremiah 48:14-20(vv. Jeremiah 48:14-17)Jeremiah 48:14-16(vv. Jeremiah 48:14-16)Jeremiah 48:14-17(vv. Jeremiah 48:14-17)
(vv. Jeremiah 48:16-17)
Jeremiah 48:17-20(vv. Jeremiah 48:17-20)
(vv. Jeremiah 48:18-20)(vv. Jeremiah 48:18-20)Jeremiah 48:18-20(vv. Jeremiah 48:18-20)
Jeremiah 48:21-35(vv. Jeremiah 48:21-25)Jeremiah 48:21-25Jeremiah 48:21-25Jeremiah 48:21-24
Moab Will Be HumbledJeremiah 48:25(vv. Jeremiah 48:25)
Jeremiah 48:26-39(vv. Jeremiah 48:26-28)Jeremiah 48:26-27Jeremiah 48:26-27Jeremiah 48:26-27
(vv. Jeremiah 48:28-33)Jeremiah 48:28-33(vv. Jeremiah 48:28-33)Jeremiah 48:28-33Jeremiah 48:28(vv. Jeremiah 48:28)
Jeremiah 48:29-33(vv. Jeremiah 48:29-33)
(vv. Jeremiah 48:30-34)
Jeremiah 48:34-36Jeremiah 48:34-35Jeremiah 48:34
(vv. Jeremiah 48:35-36)Jeremiah 48:35
Jeremiah 48:36-39Jeremiah 48:36-39Jeremiah 48:36-39
(vv. Jeremiah 48:37-39)Jeremiah 48:37-44No Escape For Moab
Jeremiah 48:40-44(vv. Jeremiah 48:40-44)Jeremiah 48:40-44(vv. Jeremiah 48:40-44)(vv. Jeremiah 48:40-44)Jeremiah 48:40-46Jeremiah 48:40-43(vv. Jeremiah 48:40-43)
Jeremiah 48:44(vv. Jeremiah 48:44)
Jeremiah 48:45-47(vv. Jeremiah 48:45-47)Jeremiah 48:45-47(vv. Jeremiah 48:45-46)(vv. Jeremiah 48:47)Jeremiah 48:45-47(vv. Jeremiah 48:45-47)Jeremiah 48:45-46(vv. Jeremiah 48:45-46)
Jeremiah 48:47Jeremiah 48:47(vv. Jeremiah 48:47)

READING CYCLE THREE (see “Guide to Good Bible Reading”)


This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.


A. This is a lengthy condemnation of Moab (cf. Isaiah 15-16) made up of several different poems and comments about their judgment. Moab, Ammon, and Edom were relatives of the Israelites.

1. Moab - judged in Jeremiah 48:0

2. Ammon - judged in Jeremiah 49:1-6

3. Edom - judged in Jeremiah 49:7-22

B. There are many (17 or 18) IMPERATIVES in this chapter. Several of them are involved in Kethiv, (in MT text) Qere (suggested reading in the margin) issues. The Masoretic scholars recognized about one thousand places in the OT where one form is in the text but another is suggested in the margin. There are five of these in this chapter and three are related to the gender of the IMPERATIVES.

Jeremiah 48:1. Jeremiah 48:18, “sit” (BDB 442, KB 444)



Jeremiah 48:2. Jeremiah 48:20, “wail” (BDB 410, KB 413)



Jeremiah 48:3. Jeremiah 48:20, “cry out” (BDB 277, KB 277)



This same “FEMININE” vs. “MASCULINE” issue is also involved in Jeremiah 48:27.



The issue involves the proper gender when addressing a nation or inhabitants of a city.

C. Notice how many cities are listed in this chapter.

1. Nebo, Jeremiah 48:1, Jeremiah 48:22 (cf. Isaiah 15:2)

2. Kiriathaim, Jeremiah 48:1, Jeremiah 48:23 (cf. Ezekiel 25:9)

3. Heshbon, Jeremiah 48:2, Jeremiah 48:34, Jeremiah 48:45 (cf. Isaiah 15:4; Isaiah 16:8, Isaiah 16:9)

4. Dimon/Dibon (“Madmen”), Jeremiah 48:2, Jeremiah 48:18, Jeremiah 48:22 (cf. Isaiah 15:2, Isaiah 15:9)

5. Horonaim, Jeremiah 48:3, Jeremiah 48:5, Jeremiah 48:34 (cf. Isaiah 15:5)

6. Luhith, Jeremiah 48:5 (cf. Isaiah 15:5)

7. Aroer, Jeremiah 48:19; Jeremiah 48:19 (possibly Jeremiah 48:6, cf Deuteronomy 2:36; Deuteronomy 3:12; Deuteronomy 4:48)

8. Holon, Jeremiah 48:21; Jeremiah 48:21 (possibly Horon, cf. Isaiah 15:5 and same as #5)

9. Jahzah, Jeremiah 48:21, Jeremiah 48:34 (cf. Isaiah 15:4)

10. Mephaath, Jeremiah 48:21 (cf. Joshua 13:18; Joshua 21:37)

11. Beth-diblathaim, Jeremiah 48:22

12. Beth-gamul, Jeremiah 48:23

13. Beth-meor, Jeremiah 48:23

14. Kerioth, Jeremiah 48:24, Jeremiah 48:41 (cf. Amos 2:2)

15. Bozrah, Jeremiah 48:24

16. Kir-heres, Jeremiah 48:31; Jeremiah 48:31, Jeremiah 48:36 (one of Moab's capitals, cf. Isaiah 16:7, Isaiah 16:11)

17. Sibmah, Jeremiah 48:32 (cf. Isaiah 16:8, Isaiah 16:9)

18. Jazer, Jeremiah 48:32; Jeremiah 48:32 (cf. Isaiah 16:8, Isaiah 16:9)

19. Elealeh, Jeremiah 48:34 (cf. Isaiah 15:4; Isaiah 16:9)

20. Zoar, Jeremiah 48:34 (cf. Isaiah 15:5, RSV and NEB have it in Jeremiah 48:4)

21. Eglath-shelishiyah, Jeremiah 48:34; Jeremiah 48:34 (cf. Isaiah 15:5)

22. Sihon, Jeremiah 48:45; Jeremiah 48:45 (name of an Amorite king who lived in Heshbon, #3)

Verses 1-10

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Jeremiah 48:1-10 1Concerning Moab. Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, “Woe to Nebo, for it has been destroyed; Kiriathaim has been put to shame, it has been captured; The lofty stronghold has been put to shame and shattered. 2There is praise for Moab no longer; In Heshbon they have devised calamity against her: 'Come and let us cut her off from being a nation!' You too, Madmen, will be silenced; The sword will follow after you. 3The sound of an outcry from Horonaim, 'Devastation and great destruction!' 4Moab is broken, Her little ones have sounded out a cry of distress. 5For by the ascent of Luhith They will ascend with continual weeping; For at the descent of Horonaim They have heard the anguished cry of destruction. 6Flee, save your lives, That you may be like a juniper in the wilderness. 7For because of your trust in your own achievements and treasures, Even you yourself will be captured; And Chemosh will go off into exile Together with his priests and his princes. 8A destroyer will come to every city, So that no city will escape; The valley also will be ruined And the plateau will be destroyed, As the LORD has said. 9Give wings to Moab, For she will flee away; And her cities will become a desolation, Without inhabitants in them. 10Cursed be the one who does the LORD'S work negligently, And cursed be the one who restrains his sword from blood.”

Jeremiah 48:1 “Moab” The etymology of the name is uncertain. Genesis 19:37 seems to connect it to Lot's daughter, linking the child to her father, “from my father” or “water of my father,” but this is the type of popular etymology so common in the OT. Lot's incestuous child becomes the designation of a nation (as does the other daughter's son, Ammon (cf. Genesis 19:38). Their territory was between the Zered and Arnon Rivers on the eastern side of the Dead Sea.

“Nebo” This term (BDB 612) has several biblical orientations.

1. a Babylonian deity (cf. Isaiah 46:1), sometimes spelled “Nabu.” He was the eldest son of Marduk.

2. a mountain in Moab just east of the top of the Dead Sea, in the plains of Moab from which Moses was allowed to view (but not enter) the Promised Land (cf. Deuteronomy 32:48-52). He died there and was buried by God (cf. Deuteronomy 34:0). The mountain was also known as Pisgah (cf. Deuteronomy 34:1).

3. a city on the plains of Moab (cf. Numbers 32:3, Numbers 32:38; Isaiah 15:2; Jeremiah 48:1, Jeremiah 48:22)

“Kiriathaim” This city (not to be confused with Kiriatharim) is located on the eastern side of the Jordan River on the plateau of Moab (cf. line 5) in the tribal allocation of Reuben (cf. Numbers 32:37; Joshua 13:19; Jeremiah 48:1, Jeremiah 48:23; Ezekiel 25:9). The name itself (BDB 900) means “double city.”

NASB“the lofty stronghold” NKJV“the high stronghold” NRSV, NET“the fortress” TEV“its mighty fortress” NJB“the citadel” REB, JPSOA footnote“Misgab” LXX“Hamasagab” JPSOA“the stronghold”

This word (BDB 960, KB 640) basically means “high refuge” (cf. Isaiah 33:16). However, it has the ARTICLE which is unusual “the fortress” unless it is referring to all of the plateau of Moab (cf. Jeremiah 48:0:8d). Also, the NOUN for fortress is MASCULINE in gender, but all the VERBS used in Jeremiah 48:1 (except for the first one, “say”) are THIRD PERSON FEMININE SINGULAR. There are two other cities listed in Jeremiah 48:1. These FEMININE forms fit a place name (cf. LXX and REB). Unfortunately this place name appears nowhere in ancient literature.

Jeremiah 48:2 “Heshbon” This city (BDB 363 II) is in northern Moab but it was in an area contested by Ammon (cf. Numbers 21:25). Apparently it is involved in a conspiracy against Moab, possibly by the Ammonites. However, it is probably better to see it as a reference to a campsite of the Babylonian army.

There is a word play between the name of Heshbon (BDB 363 II, חשׁבון) and the VERB “devised calamity” (lit. “think,” BDB 362, KB 359, Qal PERFECT, חשׁבו).

“Madmen” There is considerable doubt about the meaning of this word (מדמן, BDB 199, KB 226-227). Do not confuse it with the English meaning.

1. a play on the VERB (BDB 198 I, KB 226 I) “be silenced” (cf. LXX)

2. a play on dung hill (BDB 199 I, KB 226, מדן, cf. Isaiah 25:10)

3. a city's name (BDB 199), found only in Jeremiah 48:2

4. a play on “Dimon” (BDB 192, דימון, cf. Isaiah 15:9), a variant of Dibon (BDB 192, cf. Isaiah 15:2)

Jeremiah 48:3 “Horonaim” The term (BDB 357) means “two hollows,” “two caves,” or “two ravines.” This city's name is found only in Isaiah 15:5 and Jeremiah 48:5, Jeremiah 48:34 although RSV translates 2 Samuel 13:34 as a form of this word.

Jeremiah 48:4 “Her little ones” The RSV and NRSV think this word (צעוריה [translated “servants” in Jeremiah 14:3], BDB 859) should be translated by a city's name, Zoar (צער, BDB 858, cf. Jeremiah 48:34 and Isaiah 15:5). The LXX also has a place name here (i.e., Zogora).

The UBS Text Project gives the Qere reading, “her little ones,” a “B” rating. In this way the grammar of the Hebrew verse fits better.

Jeremiah 48:5 “Luhith” This Moabite city (BDB 532) is linked to Horonaim as a place of ascent and descent, probably close to the Dead Sea.

Jeremiah 48:6 The cities of Moab are doomed. They are commanded to

1. flee - Qal IMPERATIVE

2. save your lives - Piel IMPERATIVE

3. give wings - Qal IMPERATIVE

NASB, NKJV“like a juniper” NRSV, LXX“like a wild ass” TEV, NJB“like a wild donkey” JPSOA“like Aroer” REB“like one destitute” Pehsitta“like a plant”

The MT is uncertain, as the various options show. Aroer (cf. Jeremiah 48:19b) is the name of a city in Moab (BDB 792 II) and the parallelism of other cities seems to favor this option.

However, a similar word “shrub” or “juniper” is used in Jeremiah 17:6 (BDB 792 I),

“Aroer” - כערוער (BDB 792 II), as in Jeremiah 48:19

“wild ass” - כערוד (KB 882) in LXX and Aquila, cf. Jeremiah 2:24; Jeremiah 14:6 (different Hebrew word)

“juniper” - כערער (BDB 792 I, KB 883, cf. Jeremiah 17:6) in MT which UBS Text Project gives a “C” rating (considerable doubt)

Jeremiah 48:7 “For because you trusted in. . .” Several things are mentioned that Moab trusted (BDB 105, KB 120, Qal INFINITIVE CONSTRUCT).

1. NASB “our own achievements”

NKJV “works”

NRSV, LXX “strongholds”

TEV “strength”

NJB “deeds”

JPSOA “wealth”

REB “defenses”

The MT has “deeds” or “works” (BDB 795), which could refer to a number of things.

2. “treasures” JPSOA sees both #1 and #2 as parallel

3. they also trusted in their national idol Chemosh who would utterly fail them (cf. Jeremiah 48:13, Jeremiah 48:35)

The pride, arrogance, and idolatry of Moab is clearly seen in Jeremiah 48:29-30, Jeremiah 48:42.

“Chemosh” This was the national deity of the Moabites (cf. Numbers 21:29), where Moab is called “the people of Chemosh.” In Judges 11:24 this deity is linked to Ammon. Solomon brought this cult into Jerusalem in 1 Kings 11:7; 2 Kings 23:13, on behalf of his young Canaanite wives.

The etymology of the name itself (BDB 484) is uncertain. Some scholars assume “destroyer,” or “subduer,” while other scholars see it linked to a “fish god.” Most of our information about this Canaanite deity comes from the Mesha Stele called “the Moabite Stone,” discovered in 1868 at Dibon.

The text of 2 Kings 3:21-27 (esp. Jeremiah 48:27) strongly suggests that Chemosh was worshiped with child sacrifice, as were Molech and Ba'al, two other Canaanite fertility gods.

Jeremiah 48:8 Moab's doom was by the word of YHWH (cf. Jeremiah 48:15c). His instrument was Babylon.

Jeremiah 48:9

NASB, NKJV, NJB, JPSOA“Give wings” NRSV“Set aside salt” TEV“Set up a tombstone” LXX“give signs” REB“give a warning signal”

There are several options on how to understand this line of poetry.

1. the MT has “wings” (BDB 851 II), a unique meaning from a supposed Aramiac root used only here

2. LXX, TEV, and REB see the VERB as a road marker (BDB 846, cf. Jeremiah 33:21)

3. the NRSV assumes a Ugaritic root, “salt,” which would fit the context of judgment (cf. Judges 9:45)

Jeremiah 48:10 Many English translations mark this as a parenthesis (cf. TEV, NJB, NET). It is addressed to the Babylonian invaders, admonishing them to fully execute YHWH's judgment on every city in Moab. Show no mercy!

Verses 11-20

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Jeremiah 48:11-20 11”Moab has been at ease since his youth; He has also been undisturbed, like wine on its dregs, And he has not been emptied from vessel to vessel, Nor has he gone into exile. Therefore he retains his flavor, And his aroma has not changed. 12Therefore behold, the days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will send to him those who tip vessels, and they will tip him over, and they will empty his vessels and shatter his jars. 13And Moab will be ashamed of Chemosh, as the house of Israel was ashamed of Bethel, their confidence. 14How can you say, 'We are mighty warriors, And men valiant for battle'? 15Moab has been destroyed and men have gone up to his cities; His choicest young men have also gone down to the slaughter,” Declares the King, whose name is the LORD of hosts. 16”The disaster of Moab will soon come, And his calamity has swiftly hastened. 17Mourn for him, all you who live around him, Even all of you who know his name; Say, 'How has the mighty scepter been broken, A staff of splendor!' 18Come down from your glory And sit on the parched ground, O daughter dwelling in Dibon, For the destroyer of Moab has come up against you, He has ruined your strongholds. 19Stand by the road and keep watch, O inhabitant of Aroer; Ask him who flees and her who escapes And say, 'What has happened?' 20Moab has been put to shame, for it has been shattered. Wail and cry out; Declare by the Arnon That Moab has been destroyed.”

Jeremiah 48:11-20 Notice that all the English translations have different ways to divide this chapter into paragraphs/strophes. It is often difficult to distinguish between prose and poetry. Even though these divisions are not inspired (i.e., marked in the original text) they serve the hermeneutical purpose of determining the literary units and how they relate to each other. Every paragraph/strophe has one main truth. This information is crucial in trying to find and follow the original inspired author's intent. See Biblical Interpretation Seminar online at www.freebiblecommentary.org.

Jeremiah 48:11-12 This is imagery drawn from the wine industry (see Special Topic: Biblical Attitudes Toward Alcohol and Alcoholism). Notice how this is also seen in Jeremiah 48:26 and 33. Because of these allusions to wine making these poems may have been joined together in one context.

Jeremiah 48:13 Idol worship brought shame and humiliation, to Israel or to Moab (i.e., Jeremiah 48:35; Isaiah 44:10-11; Isaiah 45:16).

The allusion to Bethel: (1) a title for God used by the Jewish inhabitants of Elephantine, an island in the Nile River (lit. “House of God”) or (2) a place name involving Jeroboam I setting up a rival temple site at Bethel where the symbol of YHWH (i.e., the golden calf, cf. Exodus 32:0) was turned into Canaanite fertility worship (cf. 1 Kings 12:25-33).

As fallen humans trust (BDB 105) in the power of manmade gods and reject or ignore the one true God, there is no hope, confidence, or security! Idols cannot affect reality!

Jeremiah 48:17-20 This part of a larger poem addresses two groups.

1. those who live near Moab

2. those who have heard of it

These two groups are collectively personified and give advice to Moab.

1. mourn, Jeremiah 48:17 - Qal IMPERATIVE

2. say, Jeremiah 48:17 - Qal IMPERATIVE

3. come down, Jeremiah 48:18 - Qal IMPERATIVE

4. sit, Jeremiah 48:18 - Qal IMPERATIVE(Qere)

5. stand by, Jeremiah 48:19 - Qal IMPERATIVE

6. keep watch, Jeremiah 48:19 - Piel IMPERATIVE

7. ask, Jeremiah 48:19 - Qal IMPERATIVE

8. say, Jeremiah 48:19 - Qal IMPERATIVE

9. wail, Jeremiah 48:20 - Hiphil IMPERATIVE

10. cry out, Jeremiah 48:20 - Qal IMPERATIVE

11. declare, Jeremiah 48:20 - Hiphil IMPERATIVE

Jeremiah 48:17 “scepter. . .staff” These are both royal symbols of power.

1. scepter - BDB 641, a staff or rod

2. staff - BDB 596

They could refer to

1. a shepherd's staff (cf. Genesis 32:10)

2. a traveler's stick (cf. Exodus 12:11)

3. riding stick (cf. Numbers 22:27)

4. weapon (cf. 1 Samuel 17:40; Ezekiel 39:9)

5. diviner's rod (cf. Hosea 4:12)

6. kingly power (i.e., Messianic in Zechariah 11:0)

Here it refers to the kingdom of Moab.

Jeremiah 48:18-28 The Jewish Study Bible (p. 1022) asserts that this poem/oracle is based on the imagery of a woman being raped (i.e., Moab by Babylon), possibly because there are so many FEMININE SINGULAR forms.

Jeremiah 48:18

NASB, NRSV, NJB, REB“sit on the parched ground” NKJV, JPSOA“sit on the ground in the dust” LXX“sit on moist ground” PESHITTA“sit in disgrace” AB“sit in filth [?]”

The footnote in the AB (Anchor Bible Commentary by John Bright) lists the options as (p. 315):

1. basso'ah - filth/excrement

2. bassama - thirst (MT)

3. bassame - on parched ground (cf. Isaiah 44:3)

The JPSOA footnote says “Meaning of the Heb. uncertain” (p. 1022). Often in poetry one must rely on

1. context (i.e., parallelism and strophe emphasis)

2. cognate roots in other Semitic languages

3. parallel passages (for Jeremiah 48:0 use Isaiah 15-16)

The Expositor's Bible Commentary (p. 662) has a chart that shows the relationship between Isaiah 15-16 and Jeremiah 48:0.

Isaiah 15:2 - Jeremiah 48:1

Isaiah 15:2-3 - Jeremiah 48:37

Isaiah 15:3 - Jeremiah 48:38

Isaiah 15:4 - Jeremiah 48:21, Jeremiah 48:5

Isaiah 15:4-6 - Jeremiah 48:5, Jeremiah 48:34

Isaiah 15:5 - Jeremiah 48:3

Isaiah 15:5; Isaiah 16:7, Isaiah 16:11 - Jeremiah 48:31

Isaiah 15:7 - Jeremiah 48:36

Isaiah 16:6 - Jeremiah 48:29

Isaiah 16:8-9 - Jeremiah 48:32

Isaiah 16:10 - Jeremiah 48:33

Isaiah 16:11 - Jeremiah 48:36

Isaiah 16:12 - Jeremiah 48:35

Verses 21-35

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Jeremiah 48:21-35 21”Judgment has also come upon the plain, upon Holon, Jahzah and against Mephaath, 22against Dibon, Nebo and Beth-diblathaim, 23against Kiriathaim, Beth-gamul and Beth-meon, 24against Kerioth, Bozrah and all the cities of the land of Moab, far and near. 25The horn of Moab has been cut off and his arm broken,” declares the LORD. 26”Make him drunk, for he has become arrogant toward the LORD; so Moab will wallow in his vomit, and he also will become a laughingstock. 27Now was not Israel a laughingstock to you? Or was he caught among thieves? For each time you speak about him you shake your head in scorn. 28Leave the cities and dwell among the crags, O inhabitants of Moab, And be like a dove that nests Beyond the mouth of the chasm. 29We have heard of the pride of Moab-he is very proud- Of his haughtiness, his pride, his arrogance and his self-exaltation. 30I know his fury,” declares the LORD, “But it is futile; His idle boasts have accomplished nothing. 31Therefore I will wail for Moab, Even for all Moab will I cry out; I will moan for the men of Kir-heres. 32More than the weeping for Jazer I will weep for you, O vine of Sibmah! Your tendrils stretched across the sea, They reached to the sea of Jazer; Upon your summer fruits and your grape harvest The destroyer has fallen. 33So gladness and joy are taken away From the fruitful field, even from the land of Moab. And I have made the wine to cease from the wine presses; No one will tread them with shouting, The shouting will not be shouts of joy. 34From the outcry at Heshbon even to Elealeh, even to Jahaz they have raised their voice, from Zoar even to Horonaim and to Eglath-shelishiyah; for even the waters of Nimrim will become desolate. 35I will make an end of Moab,” declares the LORD, “the one who offers sacrifice on the high place and the one who burns incense to his gods.”

Jeremiah 48:21-24 The cities of Moab are listed.

Jeremiah 48:25 Two ancient metaphors are used to describe Moab's total defeat.

1. her “horn” has been cut off (BDB 154, KB 180, Niphal PERFECT)

2. her arm broken (BDB 990, KB 1402, Niphal PERFECT)

Jeremiah 48:26 The imagery from excessive wine drinking is used as a metaphor for judgment (cf. Jeremiah 52:27; Isaiah 19:14).

1. make him drunk

2. wallow in his vomit (lit. “splash,” see BDB 706, Qal #3, meaning used only here, usually the VERB means to “clap” one's hands in joy or one's thigh in grief)

The reasons for YHWH's judgment of Moab:

1. he is arrogant toward YHWH, Jeremiah 48:26, Jeremiah 48:42

2. he is prideful, Jeremiah 48:29 (cf. Isaiah 16:6)

3. his idle boasts are futile, Jeremiah 48:30

NASB, NRSV, NJB, JPSOA“laughingstock” NKJV, REV, Peshsitta”derision”

This word (BDB 966) denotes joyous laughter (Job 8:21; Psalms 126:2; Ecclesiastes 2:2; Ecclesiastes 10:19), but when used in sarcasm it denotes derision (cf. Jeremiah 20:7; Lamentations 3:14; Job 12:4).

Jeremiah 48:27 What Moab did to Israel is now done to them (i.e., reversal)! For an example of this kind of derision see Lamentations 2:15-17!

Jeremiah 48:28 This verse has three Qal IMPERATIVES. They use imagery involving the inhabitants of Moab, to seek safety in the uninhabited places (i.e., crags, caves, cf. Jeremiah 16:16; Judges 6:2; 1 Samuel 13:6; Isaiah 2:19).

Jeremiah 48:29-39 The Jewish Study Bible (p. 1022) notes that these verses are written in a 3/2 beat, which characterized funeral songs. This is the lament form often used in prophetic literature in the sense of “woe.”

Jeremiah 48:29 This is similar to Isaiah 16:6. Moab's judgment is discussed in Isaiah 15-16. There are many literary parallels and allusions between Jeremiah 48:0 and Isaiah 15-16. Isaiah wrote before Jeremiah.

The UBS A Handbook on Jeremiah (p. 888) mentions that there are several NOUNS used to describe the pride of Moab.

1. the pride of Moab (BDB 144)

2. he is very proud (BDB 144 and 547)

3. his haughtiness (BDB 147)

4. his pride (BDB 144)

5. his arrogance (BDB 144)

6. his self-exaltation (lit. “elevation of his heart,” BDB 927 CONSTRUCT BDB 524)

This purposeful repetition is to powerfully communicate the prideful attitude of Moab (cf. Jeremiah 48:7).

Jeremiah 48:31-32 The subject is YHWH (cf. Jeremiah 48:33, Jeremiah 48:36; Jeremiah 31:20; Isaiah 16:11; Hosea 11:8-9). He continuously grieves over the necessity of judgment on Moab, part of the tribal inheritance of His people. Judgment is YHWH's strange work! He desires to bless, prosper, and restore!

Notice the powerful, remorseful parallel.

1. I wail - BDB 410, KB 413, Hiphil IMPERFECT

2. I cry out - BDB 277, KB 277, Qal IMPERFECT

3. I mourn - BDB 211, KB 237, Qal IMPERFECT (form is THIRD PERSON but parallelism is FIRST PERSON)

The NASB Study Bible (p. 1132) asserts that the FIRST PERSON PRONOUN should refer to the prophet and uses Jeremiah 48:5 and 16:9 as examples.

Jeremiah 48:32 Lines 3 and 4 are repeated from Isaiah 16:8. The MT has “sea” twice but the LXX does not. The “sea” would refer to the Dead Sea.

Jeremiah 48:34 The geographical locations are uncertain, but the meaning is obvious the outcry of judgment is heard far and wide!

Verses 36-39

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Jeremiah 48:36-39 36”Therefore My heart wails for Moab like flutes; My heart also wails like flutes for the men of Kir-heres. Therefore they have lost the abundance it produced. 37For every head is bald and every beard cut short; there are gashes on all the hands and sackcloth on the loins. 38On all the housetops of Moab and in its streets there is lamentation everywhere; for I have broken Moab like an undesirable vessel,” declares the LORD. 39”How shattered it is! How they have wailed! How Moab has turned his back-he is ashamed! So Moab will become a laughingstock and an object of terror to all around him.”

Jeremiah 48:37-38 These were signs of mourning (cf. Jeremiah 4:8, see Special Topic: Grieving Rites). It is possible they were also denoting idol rituals (i.e., “gashes on their hands,” cf. Jeremiah 16:6, or “on house tops,” cf. Jeremiah 19:13; Jeremiah 32:29) or possibly even the corrupted worship of YHWH (cf. Jeremiah 41:5).

Jeremiah 48:39 “turned back” This VERB (BDB 815, KB 937, Hiphil PERFECT) can refer to

1. humiliation

2. retreat in battle

Verses 40-44

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Jeremiah 48:40-44 40For thus says the LORD: “Behold, one will fly swiftly like an eagle And spread out his wings against Moab. 41Kerioth has been capturedv And the strongholds have been seized, So the hearts of the mighty men of Moab in that day Will be like the heart of a woman in labor. 42Moab will be destroyed from being a people Because he has become arrogant toward the LORD. 43Terror, pit and snare are coming upon you, O inhabitant of Moab,” declares the LORD. 44”The one who flees from the terror Will fall into the pit, And the one who climbs up out of the pit Will be caught in the snare; For I shall bring upon her, even upon Moab, The year of their punishment,” declares the LORD.

Jeremiah 48:40 This refers to Nebuchadnezzar's army (cf. Jeremiah 4:13; Jeremiah 49:22; Ezekiel 17:3; Hosea 8:1).

Jeremiah 48:41


The Hebrew root, קרת (BDB 900) means “city.” The form in the text, הקריות, is used of a proper name in Amos 2:2 (but a different Hebrew word for “strongholds”) and also on the Moabite Stone.

“like. . .a woman in labor” See note at Jeremiah 30:6.

Jeremiah 48:43-44 This same terminology is used in Isaiah 24:17-18, possibly a well known proverbial saying because it is a sound play on the three words (BDB 808, 809, 809 I). Imagery from hunting techniques are used of YHWH's judgment (cf. Amos 5:19). There is no escape, no help, no hope!

Verses 45-47

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Jeremiah 48:45-47 45”In the shadow of Heshbon The fugitives stand without strength; For a fire has gone forth from Heshbon And a flame from the midst of Sihon, And it has devoured the forehead of Moab And the scalps of the riotous revelers. 46Woe to you, Moab! The people of Chemosh have perished; For your sons have been taken away captive And your daughters into captivity. 47Yet I will restore the fortunes of Moab In the latter days,” declares the LORD.

Jeremiah 48:45 “the forehead of Moab” This is an allusion to Numbers 24:17, which is one of the prophecies of Balaam. “Forehead” (BDB 802), like “rod” and “staff” of Jeremiah 48:17, is a symbol of royal power.

It is also possible that “forehead” is parallel to “crown” (BDB 869), meaning the heads of the rebellious Moabites were crushed (i.e., killed in battle).

Jeremiah 48:47 As YHWH grieves over His need to judge (cf. Jeremiah 48:31, Jeremiah 48:36), now He promises a future day of hope (cf. Jeremiah 12:14-17). It must be remembered that YHWH chose Abraham/Israel to choose the world (see Special Topic: YHWH's Eternal Redemptive Plan).

Bibliographical Information
Utley. Dr. Robert. "Commentary on Jeremiah 48". "Utley's You Can Understand the Bible". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ubc/jeremiah-48.html. 2021.
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