Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, by Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsh, [1857-78], at sacred-texts.com
The Moabites had spread themselves on the eastern side of the Dead Sea, where the Emims dwelt in former times (Deu 2:10). But previous to the immigration of the Israelites into Canaan, the Amorites, under King Sihon, had already taken forcible possession of the northern portion of this territory as far as the Arnon (Num 21:13). The Israelites, on their march through the desert, were not to treat the Moabites as enemies, nor touch their territory (Deu 2:9; cf. Jdg 11:15, Jdg 11:18). But when Sihon, king of the Amorites, had been slain by the Israelites, and his kingdom subdued, the Israelites took possession of the territory north of the Arnon, that had formerly belonged to the Moabites, but had been conquered by Sihon: this was given to the tribe of Reuben for an inheritance (Num 21:24.; Deu 2:32-36; Jos 13:15.). The Moabites could not get over this loss of the northern half of their country. The victory of the Israelites over the powerful kings of the Amorites, viz., Sihon in Heshbon and Og of Bashan, inspired them with terror for the power of this people; so that their king Balak, while the Israelites were encamped in the steppes of Moab opposite Jericho, fetched Balaam the sorcerer from Mesopotamia, with the design of destroying Israel through the power of his anathema. And when this plan did not succeed, since Balaam was obliged, against his will, to bless Israel instead of cursing them, the Moabites sought to weaken them, and to render them powerless to do any injury, by seducing them to idolatry (cf. Num 22-25). Such malicious conduct was shown repeatedly afterwards. Not long after the death of Joshua, Eglon the king of Joab, aided by the Ammonites and Amalekites, crossed the Jordan and took Jericho, which he made the centre of operations for keeping the Israelites under subjection: these were thus oppressed for eighteen years, until they succeeded in defeating the Moabites and driving them back into their own land, after Ehud had assassinated King Eglon (Jdg 3:12.). At a later period, Saul made war on them (Sa1 14:47); and David completely subdued them, severely chastised them, and made them tributary (Sa2 8:2). But after the death of Ahab, to whom King Mesha had paid a very considerable yearly tribute (Kg2 3:4), they revolted from Israel (Kg2 1:1; Kg2 3:5). In the time of Jehoshaphat, in conjunction with the Ammonites and a portion of the Edomites, they even invaded Judah, with the design of taking Jerusalem; but they ruined themselves through mutual discords, so that Jehoshaphat obtained a glorious victory over them (2 Chron 20). It was possibly also with the view of taking revenge for this exhibition of malicious spirit that the king of Judah afterwards, in conjunction with Joram king of Israel, carried war into their country, and defeated them (2 Kings 3:6-27). Still later, mention is made of an invasion of Israel by Moabite hosts during the reign of Joash (Kg2 13:20); and in the time of Hezekiah, we find them once more in possession of their ancient territory to the north of the Arnon, at a time when the trans-Jordanic tribes of Israel had been carried away by the Assyrians into exile.
Judging from these aphoristic notices, the Moabites, on the division of the kingdom after Solomon's death, seem to have remained tributary to the kingdom of the ten tribes until the death of Ahab; then they revolted, but soon afterwards were once more reduced to subjection by Joram and Jehoshaphat. Still later, they certainly made several invasions into Israel, but without permanent result; nor was it till the carrying away of the trans-Jordanic tribes by the Assyrians that they succeeded in regaining permanent possession of the depopulated land of Reuben, their former territory. This account, however, has been modified in several important respects by the recent discovery of an inscription on a monument raised by King Mesha after a victory he had gained; this "Moabite stone" was found in the neighbourhood of the ancient Dibon. The deciphering of the long inscription of thirty-four liens on this memorial stone, so far as success has followed the attempts hitherto made, has issued in its giving important disclosures concerning the relation of Moab to Israel.
(Note: On the discovery of this memorial stone, of which Count de Vog gave the first account in a paper entitled "Le stle de Msa: Lettre Mr. le Comte de Vog par Ch. Clermont-Ganneau," Paris 1870, cf. the detailed notice by Petermann in the Zeitschr. der Deutschen Morg. Gesell. xxiv. (for 1870), S. 640ff. The stone was broken to pieces by the Arabs; thus, unfortunately, the whole of the inscription has not been preserved. So much, however, of the fragments has been saved, that from these the contents of the inscription may be substantially obtained with tolerable certainty. The work of deciphering has been undertaken by Konst. Schlottmann (Ueber die Siegessule Mesa's, Knigs der Moabiter, Hall. Osterprogr. 1870, with these additions: "Die Inschrift Mesa's; Transcription u. Uebersetzung revidirt," in the Zeitschr. der Morg. Gesell. xxv. S. 253ff.; "Additamenta" in the same periodical, S. 415ff., 438ff., 645ff.; and "Der Moabiterknig Mesa nach seiner Inschrift und nach den bibl. Berichten," in the Theol. Stud. u. Kritiken, 1871, S. 587ff.), also by Theod. Nldeke "(Die Inschrift des K. Mesa," Keil 1870), Ferd. Hitzig ("Die Inschrift des Mesha," Heidelb. 1870), Himpel (in the Tb. Theol. Quartalschr. 1870, H. 4, and in Merx' Archiv, ii. S. 96ff.), Diestel ("Die moabit. Gedenktafel," in the Jahrb.f. deutsche Theol. 1871 (H. 4), S. 215ff.), Rabbi Dr. Geiger "(Die Sule des Mesa," in the Zeitschr. der Morg. Ges. xxiv. S. 212ff.), Dr. Ginsburg ("The Moabite Stone," Lond. 1870), Ganneau (in the Rvue archol.); by Derenburg and others (in German, English, and French periodicals). In addition to the work of Dr. Ginsburg, mentioned above, the English reader may consult an able article by Professor Wright in the North British Review for October 1870; one by W. H. Ward in the Bibliotheca Sacra of the same date; and another by Prof. A. B. Davidson in the British and Foreign Evangelical Review for January 1871. - Tr.])
From these we gather that Omri, king of Israel, had taken possession of the district of Medeba, and that the Moabites were heavily oppressed by him and his successor for forty years, until King Mesha succeeded, through the help of his god Chemosh, in regaining the territory that had been seized by the Israelites. We may further with certainty conclude, from various statements in this inscription, that the Moabites were by no means exterminated by the Israelites, when they took possession of the country to the north of the Arnon, which had been seized by the Amorites; they continued to live beside and among the Israelites. Moreover, since the tribe of Reuben was chiefly engaged in the rearing of cattle, and thus appropriated the pastoral districts of the country, the Moabites were not utterly, at least not permanently subdued, but rather took every opportunity of weakening the Israelites, in order not merely to reclaim their old possessions, but also to make themselves independent of Israel. This object they seem to have actually attained, even so soon as immediately after the death of Solomon. They continued independent until the powerful Omri restored the supremacy of Israel in the territory of Reuben; and Moab continued subject for forty years, at the end of which King Mesha again succeeded in breaking the yoke of Israel after the death of Ahab. Thenceforward, Israel never again got the upper hand, though Jeroboam II (as we are entitled to conclude from Kg2 14:25) may have disputed the supremacy with the Moabites for a time.
Amos (Amo 2:1-3) and Isaiah (Jer 15 and 16) have already, before Jeremiah, threatened Moab with destruction, because of the acts of hostility against Israel of which they have been guilty. We have no historical notice concerning the fulfilment of these threatenings. Inasmuch as the power of the Assyrians in Eastern Asia was broken through the defeat of Sennacherib before Jerusalem, the Moabites may possibly have asserted their independence against the Assyrians. Certainly it seems to follow, from the remark in Ch1 5:17 (that the families of Gad were reckoned by genealogies in the days of Jotham king of Judah), that some of the Israelites on the east of Jordan came for a time under the sway of Judah. But even though this were allowed to hold true of the tribe of Reuben also, such a mastery could not have lasted long, since even towards the end of Jotham's reign, Pekah the king of Israel joined with Hazael king of Syria in war against Judah (Kg2 15:37); and during the reign of Ahaz, Rezin invaded Gilead, and penetrating as far as the seaport of Elath, took it from Judah (Kg2 16:6). At all events, up till the time of Nebuchadnezzar, the threats of Amos and Isaiah had attained only the feeblest beginnings of fulfilment; and (as is abundantly evident from the prophecy in this chapter) the Moabites were then more powerful than ever they had been before, and in undisturbed possession also of that portion of their ancient territory lying north of the Arnon, which had been taken from them by Sihon the Amorite; and after his defeat, the victorious Israelites had again apportioned it to the tribe of Reuben.
This prophecy of Jeremiah concerning Moab is to be explained on the ground of these historical relations. The day of ruin was to begin with the appearance of the Chaldeans in Palestine; this day had been predicted not merely by Amos and Isaiah, but even by Balaam, on the occasion of the first conflict of the Moabites with Israel. Jeremiah accordingly takes up anew the utterances of the old prophets regarding Moab which had not yet been fulfilled, but were now about to receive their accomplishment: these he reproduces in his own peculiar manner, taking as his foundation the oracular sentences of Isaiah concerning Moab, and combining these by means of the utterances of Amos and Balaam, not only regarding Moab, but also regarding the whole heathen world now ripe for judgment; and out of all this he frames a comprehensive announcement of the ruin to fall on this people, so haughty, and so filled with hatred against Israel.
(Note: This reproduction Gesenius (on Isaiah, p. 511) characterizes as "a feeble imitation, by which the text of the older author is made quite diffuse and watery, frequently mixed through in a wonderful manner, made into a kind of patchwork, and enlivened now and again by a stiff turn." Movers and Hitzig have spoken still more deprecatingly of this chapter, and excised a great number of verses, on the ground of their having been introduced later by way of touching up; in this manner, Hitzig rejects as spurious verses which Movers recognises as exhibiting marks of Jeremiah's peculiar style, - a method of procedure which Graf has already denounced as arbitrary criticism. We hope to show in the commentary the total want of foundation for this pseudo-critical mode of dealing; we only make the further remark here by anticipation, that Keuper (on Jeremiah, p. 83ff.) has very clearly accounted for and vindicated the conduct of Jeremiah in making use of the expressions of previous prophets, while Movers and Hitzig have paid no regard to this thorough kind of work.)
The contents of this announcement are as follow: - The chief cities of Moab are perished, and with them their fame. Plans are being concocted for their destruction. On all sides there is a crying over the devastation, and wailing, and flight; Chemosh, with his priests and princes, wanders into exile, and country and city are laid waste (Jer 48:1-8). Let Moab escape with wings, in order to avoid the destruction; for although they have, in all time past, lived securely in their own land, they shall now be driven out of their dwellings, and come to dishonour with their god Chemosh, in spite of the bravery of their heroes (Jer 48:9-15). The destruction of Moab draws near, their glory perishes, the whole country and all its towns are laid waste, and the power of Moab is broken (Jer 48:16-25). All this befalls them for their pride and loftiness of spirit; because of this they are punished, with the destruction of their glorious vines and their harvest; and the whole land becomes filled with sorrow and lamentation over the desolation, and the extermination of all those who make offerings to idols (Jer 48:26-35). Meanwhile the prophet mourns with the hapless people, who are broken like a despised vessel (Jer 48:36-38). Moab becomes the laughing-stock and the horror of all around: the enemy captures all their fortresses, and none shall escape the ruin (Jer 48:39-44). Fire goes out from Heshbon and destroys the whole land, and the people must go into captivity; but at the end of the days, the Lord will turn the captivity of Moab (Jer 48:45-47). According to this view of the whole, this prophecy falls into seven strophes of unequal length, of which every one concludes either with אמר יהוה or נאם. The middle one, which is also the longest (Jer 48:26-35), forms an apparent exception, inasmuch as נאם יהוה does not stand at the end, but in the middle of Jer 48:35; while in the second last strophe (Jer 48:39-44), the last two verses (Jer 48:43 and Jer 48:44) end with this formula.
Calamities to come on Moab. - Jer 48:1. "Thus saith Jahveh of hosts, the God of Israel, Woe to Nebo, for it is laid waste! Kiriathaim is come to dishonour, it is taken: the fortress is come to dishonour and broken down. Jer 48:2. Moab's glory is no more. In Heshbon they have devised evil against her, [saying], Come, and let us cut her off from [being] a nation: thou also, O Madmen, art brought to silence; the sword shall go after thee. Jer 48:3. A sound of crying from Horonaim, desolation and great destruction. Jer 48:4. Moab is destroyed; her little ones have caused a cry to be heard. Jer 48:5. For they ascend the ascent of Luhith with weeping - weeping: for on the descent of Horonaim the enemies have heard a cry of destruction. Jer 48:6. Flee, save your life! and be like one destitute in the wilderness. Jer 48:7. For, because they trust [was] in thy works, and in thy treasures, thou also shalt be taken; and Chemosh shall go into captivity, his priests and his princes together. Jer 48:8. The destroyer shall come to every city, and no city shall escape; and the valley shall perish, and the plain shall be laid waste, as Jahveh hath said."
With the exclamation "Woe!" Jeremiah transports the hearers of the word of God at once into the midst of the catastrophe which is to come on Moab; this is with the view of humbling the pride of this people, and chastening them for their sins. The woe is uttered over Nebo, but holds also of the towns named afterwards. Nebo is not the mountain of that name (Deu 32:49; Deu 34:1), but the city, which probably did not lie far from the peak in the mountain-range of Abarim, which bore the same name (Num 32:3, Num 32:38; Isa 15:2), although in the Onomasticon, s.v. Ναβαῦ, the situation of the mountain is given as being six Roman miles from Heshbon, towards the west, and s.v. Ναβώρ, that of the city, eight Roman miles south from Heshbon, for both accounts point to a situation in the south-west. The Arab. name nba= is still applied to some ruins; cf. Robinson's Palestine, iii. p. 170. "Kiriathaim is taken." The site of this town, mentioned as early as Gen 14:5, has been fixed, since the time of Burckhardt, as that of a mass of ruins called et Teim, about five miles south of Heshbon; but Dietrich, in Merx' Archiv. i. S. 337ff., has shown this is incorrect. According to Eusebius, in his Onomasticon, Kiriathaim lay ten Roman miles to the west of Medeba: this suits not merely the position of et Teim, but also the ruins of Kereyat south-west from Medeba, on the ridge of Mount Attarus, a little to the south of M'kaur (Machaerus), and of Baara in the Wady Zerka Maein, where also is the plain mentioned in Gen 14:5, either in the plain stretching direct east from Kereyat between Wady Zerka Maein and Wady Wal, or south-east in the beautiful plain el Kura, described by Burckhardt, p. 371ff., between the Wal and the Mojeb. Nebo and Kiriathaim lay on the eastern border of the high range of mountains, and seem to be comprehended under המּשׂגּב, "the height, the high fortress," in the third clause of Jer 48:1, as the representatives of the mountain country of Moab. Various expositors, certainly, take the word as a proper name designating an elevated region; Graf and Ngelsbach take it to be a name of Kir-Moab (Kir-heres, Kir-haresheth, Jer 48:31, Jer 48:36), the chief fortress in the country, the modern Kerek in the southern part of Moab; but no valid proof has been adduced. By "the height" Hitzig understands the highlands, which learn of the fall of these towns in the lowlands, and feel this disgrace that has come on Moab, but have not yet themselves been taken. But this view is untenable, because the towns of Nebo and Kiriathaim are not situated in the level country. Again, since הובשׁה is common to the two clauses, the distinction between נלכּדה and חתּה could hardly be pressed so far as to make the latter the opposite of the former, in the sense of being still unconquered. The meaning rather is, that through Nebo's being laid waste, and the capture of Kiriathaim, the fortress on which the Moabites trusted is no more. And to this Jer 48:3 appropriately adds, "the boasting of Moab is gone," i.e., Moab has no more ground for boasting. "In Heshbon they (the enemy, or the conquerors) plot evil against Moab." Heshbon was formerly the capital of the Amorite kingdom of Sihon (Num 21:26; Deu 2:24, etc.), and was assigned to the tribe of Reuben (Jos 13:17); but because it lay on the boundary of the territory belonging to the tribe, it was given up to the Gadites, and set apart as a Levitical city (Jos 21:37). It lay ten Roman miles east from the Jordan, opposite Jericho, almost intermediate between the Arnon and the Jabbok, and is still pointed out, though in ruins, under the old name Heshbn (see on Num 32:37). At the time of Jeremiah it was taken possession of by the Ammonites (Jer 49:3), consequently it was the frontier town of the Moabite territory at that time; and being such, it is here named as the town where the enemy, coming from the north, deliberate regarding the conquest of Moab - "meditate evil," i.e., decide upon conquest and devastation. The suffix of עליה refers to Moab as a country, and hence is feminine; cf. v. 4. "We will destroy it (Moab) מגּוי, so that it shall no longer be a nation." Just as in בּחשׁבּון חשׁבוּ there is a play on the words, so is there also in the expression מדמן תּדּמּי which follows. This very circumstance forms an argument for taking Madmen as a proper name, instead of an appellative, as Venema and Hitzig have done, after the example of the lxx: "Yea, thou shalt be destroyed (and made into) a dunghill." In support of this rendering they point to Kg2 10:27; Ezr 6:11. But the verb דּמם, in its meaning, ill accords with מדמן in the sense of a dung-heap, and in this case there would be no foundation for a play upon the words (Graf). It is no proof of the non-existence of a place called Madmen in Moab, that it is not mentioned elsewhere; Madmena in the tribe of Benjamin (Isa 10:31), and Madmanna in Judah (Jos 15:31), are also mentioned but once. These passages rather show that the name Madmen was not uncommon; and it was perhaps with reference to this name that Isaiah (Isa 25:10) chose the figure of the dunghill. דּמם, to be silent, means, in the Niphal, to be brought to silence, be exterminated, perish; cf. Jer 49:26; Jer 25:37; Jer 8:14, etc. As to the form תּדּמּי instead of תּדּמּי , cf. Ewald, 140, b; Gesenius, 67, Rem. 5. The following clause refers to Madmen: "after thee shall the sword go;" cf. Jer 9:15.
A cry is heard from Horonaim against violence and destruction. The words שׁד ושׁב are to be taken as the cry itself; cf. Jer 4:20; Jer 20:8. The city of Horonaim, mentioned both here and in Isa 15:5 in connection with Luhith, lay on a slope, it would seem, not far from Luhith. Regarding this latter place we find it remarked in the Onomasticon: est usque hodie vicus inter Areopolim et Zoaram nomine Luitha (Λουειθά). As to ̓Ωροναείμ, the Onomasticon says no more than πόλις Μωὰβ ὲν ̔Ιερεμίᾳ (ed. Lars. p. 376). The destruction over which the outcry is made comes on Moab. By "Moab" Graf refuses to understand the country or its inhabitants, but rather the ancient capital of the country, Ar-Moab (Num 21:28; Isa 15:1), in the valley of the Arnon, which is also simply called Ar in Num 21:15; Deu 2:9. But, as Dietrich has already shown (S. 329ff.), the arguments adduced in support of this view are insufficient to prove the point.
(Note: The mention of Moab among names if cities in Jer 48:4, and in connection with Kir-heres in Jer 48:31 and Jer 48:36 proves nothing; for in Jer 48:4 Moab is not named among towns, and the expression in Jer 48:31 and Jer 48:36 is analogous to the phrase "Judah and Jerusalem." Nor can any proof be derived from the fact that Rabbath-Moab is merely called "Moab" in the Onomasticon of Eusebius, and Mb in Abulfeda, and Rabbath-Ammon, now merely "Amman;" because this mode of speaking will not admit of being applied for purposes of proof to matters pertaining to Old Testament times, since it originated only in the Christian ages,at a time, too, when Rabbath had become the capital of the country, and when Rabbath-Moab could easily be shortened by the common people into "Moab." Rabbath (of Moab), however, is not mentioned at all in the Old Testament.)
שׁבר, to break,of a nation or a city (Jer 19:11; Isa 14:25, etc.), as it were, to ruin, - is here used of the country or kingdom. צעוריה is for צעיריה, as in Jer 14:3. The little ones of Moab, that raise a cry, are neither the children (Vulgate, Dahler, Maurer), nor the small towns (Hitzig), nor the people of humble condition, but cives Moabi ad statum miserum dejecti (Kueper). The lxx have rendered εἰς Ζογόρα (i.e., צעורה), which reading is preferred by J. D. Michaelis, Ewald, Umbreit, Graf, Ngelsbach, but without sufficient reason; for neither the occurrence of Zoar in combination with Horonaim in Jer 48:34, nor the parallel passage Isa 15:5, will prove the point. Isa 15:5 is not a parallel to this verse, but to Jer 48:34; however, the train of thought is different from that before us here. Besides, Jeremiah writes the name of the town צער (not צוער), cf. v. 34, as in Isa 15:5; Deu 34:3; Gen 13:10 (צוער occurs only in Gen 19:22, Gen 19:30); hence it is unlikely that צעור has been written by mistake for צוער.
In Jer 48:5 this idea is further elucidated. The inhabitants flee, weeping as they go, towards the south, before the conquering enemy advancing from the north, up the ascent of Luhith, and down the descent of Horonaim. The idea is taken from Isa 15:5, but applied by Jeremiah in his own peculiar manner; יעלה בּו is changed into יעלה בּכי, and the notion of weeping is thereby intensified. We take בּכי as an adverbial accusative, but in fact it is to be rendered like the preceding בּבכי; and יעלה stands with an indefinite nominative: "one ascends = they ascend," not "weeping rises over weeping," as Hitzig, Graf, and others take it. For, in the latter case, בּבכי could not be separated from בּכי, nor stand first; cf. the instances adduced by Graf, שׁנה בּשׁנה and עין בּעין. The form חלּחות for חלּחית is either an error of transcription or an optional form, and there is no ground for taking the word as appellative, as Hitzig does, "the ascent of boards, i.e., as boards tower one above another, so does weeping rise," - an unnatural figure, and one devoid of all taste. The last words of the second member of the verse present some difficulty, chiefly on account of צרי, which the lxx have omitted, and which Ewald and Umbreit set down as spurious, although (as Graf rightly remarks) they do not thereby explain how it came into the text. To suppose, with the Rabbinical writers, that the construct state צרי stands for the absolute, is not only inadmissible, as being against the principles of grammar, but also contrary to the whole scope of the passage. The context shows that the clamour cannot proceed from the enemy, but only from the fugitive Moabites. Only two explanations are possible: either צרי must be taken in the sense of angustiae, and in connection with צעקת, "straits, distress of crying," a cry of distress, as De Wette does; or, "oppressors of the cry of distress," as Ngelsbach takes it. We prefer the former, in spite of the objection of Graf, that the expression "distress of crying," for "a cry of distress," would be a strange one: for this objection may be made against his own explanation, that צרי means the bursting open of the mouth in making a loud cry; and צרי זעקה is a loud outcry for help.
Only by a precipitate flight into the desert can the Moabites save even their lives. The summons to flee is merely a rhetorical expression for the thought that there is no safety to be had in the country. To ותּהינה in Jer 48:6 we must supply נפשׁות as the subject: "your souls shall be." Ewald would change נפשׁכם into נפשׁיכם; but this proposal has against it the fact that the plural form נפשׁים is found in but a single case, Eze 13:20, and נפשׁות everywhere else: besides, נפשׁ is often used in the singular of several persons, as in Sa2 19:6, and may further be easily taken here in a distributive sense; cf. מלּטוּ אישׁ נפשׁו, Jer 51:6. The assumption of C. B. Michaelis, Rosenmller, Maurer, and of the translators of our "Authorized" English Version, that תּהינה is the second person, and refers to the cities, i.e., their inhabitants, is against the context. ערוער cannot here be the name of a town, because neither Aroer in the tribe of Reuben, which was situated on the Arnon, nor Aroer of the tribe of Gad, which was before Rabbath-Ammon, lay in the wilderness; the comparison, too, of the fugitives to a city is unsuitable. The clause reminds us of Jer 17:6, and ערוער = the ערער of that passage; the form found here is either an error of transcription caused by thinking of Aroer, or a play upon the name of the city, for the purpose of pointing out the fate impending over it.
Moab will not be saved from destruction by any trust on their works or on their treasures. The lxx, Vulgate, and Syriac render מעשׂיך by fortresses, hence Ewald would read מעוניך instead; but there is no ground for the change, since the peculiar rendering alluded to has evidently originated from מעשׂה having been confounded with מעוז. Others, as Dahler, refer the word to idols; but these are always designated as מעשׂי יד. Graf translates "property," and points to Sa1 25:2; Exo 23:16; but this meaning also has really nothing to support it, for מעשׂה in these passages denotes only agriculture and its produce, and the combination of the word with אוצרות in this passage does not require such a rendering. We abide by the common meaning of "doings" or "works," not evil deeds specially (Hitzig), but "all that Moab undertakes." Neither their efforts to maintain and increase their power, nor their wealth, will avail them in any way. They shall be overcome. Moab is addressed as a country or kingdom. לכד, to seize, capture; of a land, to take, conquer. Chemosh, with his priests and princes, shall go into exile. כּמישׁ is perhaps a mere error of the copyist for כּמושׁ, Chemosh, the chief deity of the Moabites and Ammonites, worshipped as a king and the war-god of his people: see on Num 21:29. As in the last-named passage the Moabites are called the people of Chemosh, so here, not merely the priests, but also the princes of Moab, are called his priests and his princes. The Kethib יחד is not to be changed, although Jeremiah elsewhere always uses יחדּו, which is substituted in the Qeri; cf. Jer 49:3. In confirmation of this, it is added, in Jer 48:8, that all the cities of Moab, without exception, shall be laid waste, and the whole country, valley and plain, shall be brought to ruin. המּישׁור, "the level," is the table-land stretching from the Arnon to Heshbon, and north-eastwards as far as Rabbath-Ammon, and which originally belonged to the Moabites, hence called "the fields of Moab" in Num. 21:40; but it was taken from them by the Amorites, and after the conquest of the latter was taken possession of by the Israelites (Deu 3:10; Deu 4:43; Jos 13:9), but at that time had been taken back once more by the Moabites. העמק is the valley of the Jordan, commonly called הערבה, as in Jos 13:27 and Jos 13:19; here it is that portion of the valley towards the west which bounds the table-land. אשׁר can only be taken in a causal signification, "because," as in Jer 16:13, or in a relative meaning, quod, or "as."
Moab is laid waste, and its inhabitants carried captive. - Jer 48:9. "Give pinions to Moab, for he will flee and get away, and his cities shall become a waste, with no one dwelling in them. Jer 48:10. Cursed is he that doeth the work of Jahveh negligently, and cursed is he that restraineth his sword from blood. Jer 48:11. Moab hath been at ease from his youth, and lay still upon his lees; he was not poured out from vessel to vessel, neither hath he gone into captivity, therefore his taste hath remained in him, and his smell hath not changed. Jer 48:12. Therefore, behold, days come, saith Jahveh, when I will send to him those who pour out, and they shall pour him out; and they shall empty his vessels, and break their bottles. Jer 48:13. And Moab shall be ashamed of Chemosh, as the house of Israel was ashamed of Bethel their confidence. Jer 48:14. How can ye say, We are mighty, and men of valour for the war? Jer 48:15. Moab is laid waste, and people ascend into his cities, and the choice of his young men go down to the slaughter, saith the King, whose name is Jahveh of hosts."
The devastation will come so suddenly, that Moab, in order to escape it, uses wings for enabling him to flee from it. The request "give" is not ironical, but a mere rhetorical employment of the idea that wings would be necessary in order to escape. ציץ, which elsewhere means a flower, here signifies wings or waving plumes, as in the Targum on Psa 139:9, and in the Rabbinical writings. נצא, written with א for the sake of obtaining similarity of sound, stands for נצה = נצץ, to flee.
The devastation is a work of the Lord, and those who execute it must carry out the divine decree, so that they may not bring the curse upon themselves. The first clause is taken quite generally: the more exact specification of the work of the Lord follows in the second clause; it is the employment of the sword against Moab. "His sword" does not mean Jahveh's, but the sword carried by the devastator. רמיּה is used adverbially, but not in the sense of "deceitfully," rather "carelessly, negligently;" cf. כּף רמיּה, Pro 10:4; Pro 12:24. In Jer 48:11 follows the reason why the judgment has necessarily come on Moab. Moab is compared to old wine that has lain long on its lees, and thereby preserved its flavour and smell unchanged. The taste and odour of Moab signify his disposition towards other nations, particularly towards Israel, the people of God. Good wine becomes stronger and more juicy by lying pretty long on its lees (see on Isa 25:6); inferior wine, however, becomes thereby more harsh and thick. The figure is used here in the latter sense, after Zep 1:12. Moab's disposition towards Israel was harsh and bitter; the people were arrogant and proud (Jer 48:29.; Isa 16:6), and so hostile towards Israel, that they sought every opportunity of injuring them (see above, p. 385f., and the comments on Sa2 8:2). From his youth, i.e., from the time when Moab, after subduing the Emims (Deu 2:10), had established himself in his own land, or had become enrolled among the nations of history, - from that time forward had he remained undisturbed in his own land, i.e., without being driven out of it, had not gone into captivity (as is shown by the figure of the wine poured from one vessel into another). In this way there is a qualification made of the general statement that he remains at rest on his lees, and undisturbed. For Moab has often carried on wars, and even suffered many defeats, but has never yet been driven from his own land; nor had the temporary dependence on Israel exercised any transforming influence on the ordinary life of the people, for they were simply made tributary. This quiet continuance in the country is to cease. The God of Israel "will send to them cellarmen (Germ. Schrter), who shall bring them out of the cellar" (Germ. ausschroten), as Luther translates Jer 48:12. "Schrter" are men who bring the wine-casks out of the cellar; for "schroten" means to bring out heavy burdens, especially full casks on a strong kind of hand-barrow (Germ. Hebewerkzeug), like a ladder in appearance. צעים (from צעה, to bend, incline) are those who incline a barrel or vessel for the purpose or pouring out its contents. These will not merely empty the vessels, but also break the pitchers; i.e., not merely carry away the Moabites, but also break down their political organization, and destroy their social arrangements.
In this way Moab will come to dishonour through his god Chemosh, i.e., experience his powerlessness and nothingness, and perish with him, just as Israel (the ten tribes) came to dishonour through Bethel, i.e., through their golden calf at Bethel. As to the form מבטחם, with Segol in the pretone, cf. Ewald, 70, a; Olshausen, Gram. S. 377. Moab will then be no longer able to boast of his valour; this is the meaning of the question in Jer 48:14 : on this term in the address, cf. Jer 2:23; Jer 8:8. In Jer 48:15 it is further stated that the result will show this: "Moab is laid waste." ועריה עלה is variously interpreted. An explanation which has met with much acceptance, but which nevertheless is really untenable, is founded on Jdg 20:40 ("The whole city went up towards heaven" i.e., in smoke and fire): "As for his cities, fire or smoke ascends;" but there is no mention here either of smoke or fire. Kimchi long ago came near the truth when he sought to find the subject שׁדד in shudad שׁדּד: "and the devastator comes against his cities." However, the contrast between עלה and ירדוּ is not fully brought out in this way: it is better to leave the subject indeterminate: "and his cities they climb" (Kueper), or: "they go up to his cities" (Bttcher, Neue Aehrenlese, ii. 163). The enemy who mounts the cities is evidently intended. The change שׁדּד into שׁדד is both unnecessary and unsuitable; but J. D. Michaelis, Ewald, Dahler, Graf, after making the alteration, translate, "The destroyer of Moab and of his cities draws near." Hitzig justly remarks, in opposition to this conjecture: "There is nothing to justify the mere placing of the subject at the head of the sentence (contrast Jer 48:8, Jer 48:18); besides, one does not see why the cities of Moab are distinguished from Moab itself; and cf. 20b." ירד לבּטח, "to sink down to the slaughter," cf. Jer 50:27; and on this use of ירד, Isa 34:7. The enemy ascends into the cities, the young soldiers of Moab descend to the shambles. This threatening is enforced by the addition, "saith the King," etc. Jahveh is called the King, in contrast with the belief of the Moabites, that their god Chemosh was the king of his people (see on Jer 48:7). The true King of the Moabites also is Jahveh, the God of hosts, i.e., the Ruler of the whole world.
Moab's glory is departed. - Jer 48:16. "The destruction of Moab is near to come, and his trouble hastens rapidly. Jer 48:17. Bewail him, all [ye who are] round about him, and all who know his name! Say, How the rod of strength is broken, the staff of majesty! Jer 48:18. Come down from [thy] glory, and sit in the drought, [thou] inhabitants, daughter of Dibon; for the destroyer of Moab hath come up against thee, he hath destroyed thy strongholds. Jer 48:19. Stand by the way, and watch, O inhabitants of Aroer! ask him who flees, and her that has escaped; say, What has happened? Jer 48:20. Moab is ashamed, for it is broken down: howl and cry out; tell it in Arnon, that Moab is laid waste. Jer 48:21. And judgment hath come upon the country of the plain, upon Holon, and upon Jahzah, and upon Mephaath, Jer 48:22. And upon Dibon, and upon Nebo, and upon Beth-diblathaim, Jer 48:23. And upon Kirjathaim, and upon Beth-gamul, and upon Beth-meon, Jer 48:24. And upon Kerioth, and upon Bozrah, and upon all the cities of the land of Moab, those that are far off and those that are near. Jer 48:25. The horn of Moab is cut off, ad his arm is broken, saith Jahveh."
The downfall of Moab will soon begin. Jer 48:16 is an imitation of Deu 32:35; cf. Isa 13:22; Isa 56:1. The fall of the Moabite power and glory will be so terrible, that all the nations, near ad distant, will have pity on him. The summons to lament, Jer 48:17, is not a mockery, but is seriously meant, for the purpose of expressing the idea that the downfall of so mighty and glorious a power will rouse compassion. The environs of Moab are the neighbouring nations, and "those who know his name" are those who live far off, and have only heard about him. The staff, the sceptre, is the emblem of authority; cf. Eze 19:11-12, Eze 19:14, and Psa 110:2.
In Jer 48:18-25 is further described the downfall of this strong and glorious power. The inhabitants if Dibon are to come down from their glory and sit in misery; those of Aroer are to ask the fugitives what has happened, that they may learn that the whole table-land on to the Arnon has been taken by the enemy; and they are to howl over the calamity. The idea presented in Jer 48:18 is an imitation of that in Isa 47:1, "Come down, O daughter of Babylon, sit in the dust;" but רדי is intensified by the addition of מכּבוד, and וּשׁבי על is changed into וּשׁבי בצּמא (the Kethib ישׁבי has evidently been written by mistake for וּשׁבי, the Qeri). צמא elsewhere means "thirst;" but "sit down in the thirst" would be too strange an expression; hence צמא must here have the meaning of צמא, Isa 44:3, "the thirsty arid land:" thus it remains a question whether we should point the word צמא, or take צמא as another form of צמא, as חלב sa ,צמא fo mro is of חלב, Eze 23:19. There is no sufficient reason why Hitzig and Ewald should give the word a meaning foreign to it, from the Arabic or Syriac. Dibon lay about four miles north from the Arnon, at the foot of a mountain, in a very beautiful plain, where, under the name of Dibn, many traces of walls, and a well by the wayside, hewn out of the rock, are still to be found (Seetzen, i. S. 409f.). Hence it must have been well provided with water, even though we should be obliged to understand by "the water of Dimon" (Dibon), which Isaiah mentions (Isa 15:9), the river Arnon, which is about three miles off. The command to "sit down in an arid land" thus forms a suitable figure, representing the humiliation and devastation of Dibon. That the city was fortified, is evident from the mention of the fortifications in the last clause. ישׁבת , as in Jer 46:19. Aroer was situated on the north bank of the Arnon (Mojeb), where its ruins still remain, under the old name Arג'ir (Burckhardt, p. 372). It was a frontier town, between the kingdom of Sihon (afterwards the territory of the Israelites) and the possession of the Moabites (Deu 2:36; Deu 3:12; Deu 4:48; Jos 12:2; Jos 13:9, Jos 13:16). But after the Moabites had regained the northern portion of their original territory, it lay in the midst of the land. The fugitives here represented as passing by are endeavouring, by crossing the Arnon, to escape from the enemy advancing from the north, and subduing the country before them. נס ונמלטה means fugitives of every kind. The co-ordination of the same word or synonymous terms in the masc. and fem. serves to generalize the idea; see on Isa 3:1, and Ewald, 172, c. In נמלטה the tone is retracted through the influence of the distinctive accent; the form is participial. The question, "What has happened?" is answered in Jer 48:20. כּי חתּה, "for (= certainly) it is broken down." The Kethib הלילי וּזעקי must not be changed. Moab is addressed: with הגּידוּ is introduced the summons, addressed to individuals, to proclaim at the Arnon the calamity that has befallen the country to the north of that river.
In Jer 48:21-24 the general idea of Moab's being laid waste is specialized by the enumeration of a long list of towns on which judgment has come. They are towns of ארץ המּישׁור, the table-land to the north of the Arnon, the names of which early all occur in the Pentateuch and Joshua as towns in the tribe of Reuben. But Holon is mentioned only here. According to Eusebius, in the Onomasticon, s.v. ̓Ιεσσά, Jahzah was situated between Μηδαβῶν (Medeba) and Δηβοῦς (Dibon); according to Jerome, between Medeba and Debus, or Deblathai; but from Num 21:23, we conclude that it lay in an easterly direction, on the border of the desert, near the commencement of the Wady Wale. Mophaath or Mephaath, where, according to the Onomasticon, a Roman garrison was placed, on account of the near proximity of the desert, is to be sought for in the neighbourhood of Jahzah; see on Jos 13:18. As to Dibon, see on Jer 48:18; for Nebo, see on Jer 48:1. Beth-diblathaim is mentioned only in this passage. It is probably identical with Almon-diblathaim, Num 33:46, and to be sought for somewhere north from Dibon. For Kirjahthaim see Jer 48:1. Beth-gamul is nowhere else mentioned; its site, too, is unknown. Eli Smith, in Robinson's Palestine, iii. App. p. 153, is inclined to recognise it in the ruins of Um-el-Jemel, lying on the southern boundary of the Hauran, about twenty miles south-west from Bozrah; but a consideration of the position shows that they cannot be the same. Beth-meon, or Baal-meon (Num 32:38), or more fully, Beth-baal-meon (Jos 13:17), lay about three miles south from Heshbon, where Burckhardt (p. 365) found some ruins called Mi-n (Robinson, iii. App. p. 170, Ma-n); see on Num 32:38. Kerioth, Jer 48:24 and Jer 48:41, and Amo 2:2, is not to be identified with the ruins called Kereyath or Kreiyath, mentioned by Burckhardt (p. 367) and Seetzen (Reisen, ii. 342, iv. 384), as Ritter has assumed; for this Kereyath is more probably Kirjathaim (see on Jer 48:1). Rather, as is pretty fully proved by Dietrich (in Merx' Archiv. i. 320ff.), it is a synonym of Ar, the old capital of Moab, Num 22:36; and the plural form is to be accounted for by supposing that Ar was made up of two or several large portions. We find two great arguments supporting this position: (1.) When Ar, the capital, occurs among the names of the towns of Moab, as in the list of those in Reuben, Jos 13:16-21, and in the prophecy against Moab in Isaiah, Jer 15 and 16, where so many Moabitic towns are named, we find no mention of Kerioth; and on the other hand, where Kerioth is named as an important town in Moab, Amo 2:2; Jer 48:1, there is no mention of Ar. (2.) Kerioth is mentioned as an important place in the country in Amo 2:2, where, from the whole arrangement of the prophecy, it can only be the capital of Moab; in this present chapter also, Jer 48:24, Kerioth and Bozrah are introduced as two very important towns which maintained the strength of Moab; and immediately afterwards it is added, "The horn of Moab is cut off," etc. Further, in Jer 48:41 the capture of Kerioth is put on a level with the taking of the fortresses; while it is added, that the courage of the mighty men has failed, just as in Jer 49:22 the capture of Bozrah is coupled with the loss of courage on the part of Edom's heroes. Bozrah is not to be confounded with Bozrah in Edom (Jer 49:13), nor with the later flourishing city of Bostra in Hauran: it is the same with Bezer (בּצר), which, according to Deu 4:43 and Jos 20:8, was situated in the Mishor of the tribe of Reuben, but has not yet been discovered; see on Deu 4:43. For the purpose of completing the enumeration, it is further added, "all the towns of the land of Moab, those which are far off (i.e., those which are situated towards the frontier) and those which are near" (i.e., the towns of the interior, as Kimchi has already explained). Thereby the horn of Moab is cut off, and his arm broken. Horn and arm are figures of power: the horn an emblem of power that boldly asserts itself, and pushes down all that opposes (cf. Psa 75:5, 11); the arm being rather an emblem of dominion.
Moab's haughtiness and deplorable fall. - Jer 48:26. "Make him drunk - for he hath boasted against Jahveh - so that Moab shall splash down into his vomit, and himself become a laughing-stock. Jer 48:27. Was not Israel a laughing-stock to thee, or was he found among thieves? for whenever thou spakest of him, thou didst shake thine head. Jer 48:28. Leave the cities and dwell in the rock, ye inhabitants of Moab; and be ye like a dove [that] builds its nest in the sides of the mouth of a pit. Jer 48:29. We have heard the very arrogant pride of Moab, his haughtiness, and his arrogance, and his high-mindedness, and his elation of mind. Jer 48:30. I know, saith Jahveh, his wrath, and the untruthfulness of his words; they have done what is untrue. Jer 48:31. Therefore will I howl over Moab, and for all Moab will I cry; they mourn for the people of Kir-heres. Jer 48:32. I will weep for thee [with more] than the weeping of Jazer, O vine of Sibmah, thou whose tendrils have gone over the sea, have reached even to the sea of Jazer; on thy fruit-harvest and thy vintage a spoiler has fallen. Jer 48:33. And joy and gladness are taken from the garden, and from the land of Moab; and I have caused wine to fail from the wine-vats: they shall not tread [with] a shout; the shout shall be no shout. Jer 48:34. From the cry of Heshbon as far as Elealeh, as far as Jahaz, they utter their voice; from Zoar as far as Horonaim and the third Eglath; for even the waters of Nimrim shall become desolations. Jer 48:35. And I will destroy from Moab, saith Jahveh, him that offers on a high place and burns incense to his gods."
Through his pride, Moab has incurred the sentence of destruction to his power. In arrogance and rage he has exalted himself over Jahveh and His people Israel; therefore must he now be humbled, Jer 48:26-30. The summons to make Moab drunk is addressed to those whom God has charged with the execution of the sentence; cf. Jer 48:10 and Jer 48:21. These are to present to the people of Moab the cup of the divine wrath, and so to intoxicate them, that they shall fall like a drunk man into his vomit, and become a laughing-stock to others (cf. Jer 13:13; Jer 25:15), because they have boasted against Jahveh by driving the Israelites from their inheritance, and by deriding the people of God; cf. Zep 2:8. ספק, to strike, frequently of striking the hands together; here it signifies to fall into his vomit, i.e., to tumble into it with a splash. No other explanation of the word can find support from the language used. Cf. Isa 19:14 and Isa 25:10. In the last clause of Jer 48:26, the emphasis lies on גּם הוּא: "he also (Moab, like Israel before) shall become a laughing-stock." This statement is enforced by the question put in Jer 48:27, "Was not Israel a laughing-stock to thee?" ואם־אם shows a double question, like ה־אם; and ואם in the first clause may be further strengthened by the interrogative ה before שׂחק, as in Gen 17:17. For other forms of the double question, see Psa 94:9; Job 21:4; Jer 23:26. On Dagesh dirimens in השּׂחק, cf. Ewald, 104, b. There is no sufficient reason for questioning the feminine form נמצאה in the Qeri; Israel is personified as a woman, just as Moab in Jer 48:20, where חתּה is found. On מדּי דב, cf. Jer 31:20, where, however, דּבּר בּ is used in another meaning. התנודד, to shake oneself, is a stronger expression than הניד בּראשׁ, to shake the head (Jer 18:16), a gesture denoting mockery and rejoicing over another's injury; cf. Psa 64:9.
A transition is now made from figurative to literal language, and Moab is summoned to leave the cities and take refuge in inaccessible rocks, because he will not be able to offer resistance to the enemy; cf. Jer 48:6 and Jer 48:9. "Like a dove that builds its nest over deep crevices." The reference is to wild pigeons, which occur in large numbers in Palestine, and make their nests in the clefts of high rocks (Sol 2:14) even at the present day, e.g., in the wilderness of Engedi; cf. Robinson's Palestine, ii. 203. בּעברי , lit., "on the other side of the mouth of the deep pit," or of the abyss, i.e., over the yawning hollows. בּעברי is a poetic form for בּעבר, as in Isa 7:20. The humiliation of Moab finds its justification in what is brought out in Jer 48:29., his boundless pride and hatred against Israel.
Jer 48:29 and Jer 48:30 only more fully develop the idea contained in Isa 16:6. Those who "heard" are the prophet and the people of God. There is an accumulation of words to describe the pride of Moab. Isaiah's expression also, עברתו לא־כן בּדּיו, is here expanded into two clauses, and Jahveh is named as the subject. Not only have the people of God perceived the pride of Moab, but God also knows his wrath. בּדּיו belongs to לא־כן as a genitive, as in Isaiah לא־כן means "not right," contrary to actual facts, i.e., untrue.
(Note: The Masoretic accentuation, according to which Athnach is placed under כּן, exhibits another view of the words in the text: this is shown by the Chaldee paraphrase, "their nobles endure not, they have not done what is right." The Masoretes took בּדּים in the sense of "staves," and took staves as a symbol of princes, as in Hos 11:6. Luther, in his translation, "I know his anger well, that he cannot do so very much, and attempts to do more than he can," follows the Vulgate, Ego scio jactantiam ejus, et quod non sit juxta eam virtus ejus, nec juxta quod poterat conata sit facere, which again seems to have followed the lxx in taking בּדיּו for בּדּיו.)
Jer 48:31-33 are also an imitation of Isa 16:7-10. V. 31 is a reproduction of Isa 16:7. In Jer 48:7, Isaiah sets forth the lamentation of Moab over the devastation of his country and its precious fruits; and not until v. 9 does the prophet, in deep sympathy, mingle his tears with those of the Moabites. Jeremiah, on the other hand, with his natural softness, at once begins, in the first person, his lament over Moab. על־כּן, "therefore," is not immediately connected with Jer 48:29., but with the leading idea presented in Jer 48:26 and Jer 48:28, that Moab will fall like one intoxicated, and that he must flee out of his cities. If we refer it to Jer 48:30, there we must attach it to the thought implicitly contained in the emphatic statement, "I (Jahveh) know his wrath," viz., "and I will punish him for it." The I who makes lament is the prophet, as in Isa 16:9 and Isa 15:5. Schnurrer, Hitzig, and Graf, on the contrary, think that it is an indefinite third person who is introduced as representing the Moabites; but there is no analogous case to support this assumption, since the instances in which third persons are introduced are of a different kind. But when Graf further asserts, against referring the I to the prophet, that, according to what precedes, especially what we find in Jer 48:26., such an outburst of sympathy for Moab would involve a contradiction, he makes out the prophet to be a Jew thirsting for revenge, which he was not. Raschi has already well remarked, on the other hand, under Isa 15:5, that "the prophets of Israel differ from heathen prophets like Balaam in this, that they lay to heart the distress which they announce to the nations;" cf. Isa 21:3. The prophet weeps for all Moab, because the judgment is coming not merely on the northern portion (Jer 48:18-25), but on the whole of the country. In Jer 48:31, Jeremiah has properly changed לאשׁישׁי (cakes of dried grapes) into אל־אנשׁי, the people of Kir-heres, because his sympathy was directed, not to dainties, but to the men in Moab; he has also omitted "surely they are smitten," as being too strong for his sympathy. יהגּה, to groan, taken from the cooing of doves, perhaps after Isa 38:15; Isa 59:11. The third person indicates a universal indefinite. Kir-heres, as in Isa 16:11, or Kir-haresheth in Isa 16:7; Kg2 3:25, was the chief stronghold of Moab, probably the same as Kir-Moab, the modern Kerek, as we may certainly infer from a comparison of Isa 16:7 with Isa 15:1 see on Kg2 3:25, and Dietrich, S. 324.
מבּכי יעזר, "more than the weeping of Jazer," may signify, "More than Jazer weeps do I weep over thee;" or, "More than over Jazer weeps do I weep over thee;" or, "More than over Jazer do I weep over thee." However, the former interpretation is the more obvious, and is confirmed by the reading in Isa 16:9. According to the Onomasticon, Jazer was fifteen Roman miles north from Heshbon. Seetzen recognises it in the ruins called es Szir at the source of the Nahr Szir; see on Num 21:32. According to Jerome, on Isa 16:8, Sibmah was only five hundred paces from Heshbon; see on Num 32:38. Judging from the verse now before us, and from Isa. l.c., the vines of Sibmah must have been famed for the strength and excellence of their clusters. Even now, that region produces excellent grapes in abundance. From Szalt, which lies only ten miles north from Szir, raisins and grapes are carried to Jerusalem, and these of excellent quality (Seetzen, i. S. 399; Burckhardt, p. 350). In what follows, "his tendrils crossed the sea," etc., the extensive cultivation of the grape is set forth under the figure of a vine whose tendrils stretch out on all sides. "They have crossed over the sea" has reference in Isaiah (Isa 16:8) to the Dead Sea (ים, as in Psa 68:23; Ch2 20:2); not merely, however, in the sense of the shoots reaching close to the Dead Sea, but also over it, for Engedi was famed for its vines (Sol 1:14). Jeremiah also has reproduced the words taken from Isaiah in this sense. From the following clause, "they reached to the sea of Jazer," it does not follow that he has specified "the sea" by "Jazer." What tells rather the other way is the fact that עבר, which means to cross over, cannot possibly be used as equivalent to נגע עד, "to reach to." "They crossed over the sea" shows extension towards the west, while "they reached to the sea of Jazer" indicates extension towards the north. This latter statement also is an imitation of what we find in Isa 16:8; and "Jazer" is merely further specified as "the sea of Jazer." In spite of the most diligent inquiries, Seetzen (i. S. 406) could learn nothing from the people of that region regarding an inland lake; but in the beautiful green vale in the vicinity of Szr (i.e., Jazer) there were several ponds, which he supposes may possibly be the mare Jazer, since this valley lying among the mountains is somewhat depressed, and in ancient times was probably filled with water. The "sea" (ים) of Solomon's temple further shows that ים does not necessarily denote only a large lake, but might also be applied to a large artificial basin of water. So also, at the present day, the artificial water-basins on the streets of Damascus are called baharat, "seas;" cf. Wetzstein in Delitzsch on Isa 16:8. This cultivation of the vine is at an end; for the destroyer has fallen upon the fruit-harvest and the vintage. Jeremiah, by "the destroyer has fallen," explains the words of Isaiah (Isa 16:9), "shouting has fallen." - In Jer 48:33, Isa 16:10 is reproduced. "Joy and gladness are taken away from the gardens, and from the whole land of Moab." כּרמל is not here a proper name, for Mount Carmel does not at all suit the present context; it is an appellative, fruit-land, i.e., the fruitful wine-country near Jazer. Jeremiah adds, "and from the land (i.e., the whole land) of Moab." The pressing of the grapes comes to an end; there is no wine in the vat; no longer is the wine pressed with "Hedad." הידד is an adverbial accusative. This is further specified by the oxymoron: a "Hedad, and yet not a Hedad." This word generally signifies any loud shout, - not merely the shout of the wine-pressers as they tread the grapes (see on Jer 25:30), but also a battle-cry; cf. Jer 51:14. Hence the meaning is, "Hedad is heard, but not a merry shout of the wine-pressers."
Jer 48:34 is based on Isa 15:4-6. "From the cry of Heshbon is heard the echo as far as Elealeh and Jahaz," or "from Heshbon to Elealeh and Jahaz is heard a cry, and from Zoar to Horonaim." Heshbon and Elealeh are only about two miles distant from each other; their ruins are still visible under the names of Hesbn (Husban, see on Jer 48:2) and El Al (see on Num 32:37). They were both built on hills; Elealeh in particular was situated on the summit of a hill whence the whole of the southern Belka may be seen (Burckhardt, p. 365), so that a shout thence emitted could be heard at a great distance, even as far as Jahaz, which is pretty far off to the south-west from Heshbon (see on Jer 48:21). The words "from Zoar to Horonaim" also depend on "they uttered their voice." Both places lay in the south of the land; see on Jer 48:3 and Jer 48:4. The wailing resounds not merely on the north, but also on the south of the Arnon. There is much dispute as to the meaning of עגלת שׁלישׁיּה, which is here mentioned after Horonaim, but in Isa 15:5 in connection with, or after Zoar. To take the expression as an appellative, juvenca tertii anni (lxx, Vulgate, Targum, Gesenius, etc.), would perhaps be suitable, if it were an apposition to Moab, in which case we might compare with it passages like Jer 46:20; Jer 50:11; but this does not accord with its position after Horonaim and Zoar, for we have no analogy for the comparison of cities or fortresses with a juvenca tertii anni, h. e. indomita jugoque non assueta; and it cannot even be proved that Zoar and Horonaim were fortresses of Moab. Hence we take 'עגלת שׁ as the proper name of a place, "the third Eglath;" this is the view of Rosenmller, Drechsler, and Dietrich (in Merx' Archiv. i. S. 342ff.). The main reason for this view, is, that there would be no use for an addition being made, by way of apposition, to a place which is mentioned as the limit of the Moabites' flight, or that reached by their wailing. The parallelism of the clauses argues in favour of its being a proper name; for, on this view of it, three towns are named in both members, the first one, as the starting-point of the cry of wailing, the other two as points up to which it is heard. The preposition עד, which is omitted, may be supplied from the parallel member, as in Isa 15:8. Regarding the position of Eglath Shelishijah, it is evident from the context of both passages that we must look for it on the southern frontier of Moab. It is implied in the epithet "the third" that there were three places (villages), not far from one another, all bearing the same name. Dietrich (S. 344f.) has adduced several analogous cases of towns in the country to the east of the Jordan, - two, and sometimes even three, towns of the same name, which are distinguished from each other by numerals. "The waters of Nimrim also shall become desolations," because the enemy fill up the springs with earth. Nimrim is not the place called נמרה or בּית נמרה mentioned in Num 32:3, Num 32:36; Jos 13:27, whose ruins lie on the way from Szalt to Jericho, in the Wady Shaib, on the east side of the Jordan (see on Num 32:36), for this lies much too far to the north to be the place mentioned here. The context points to a place in the south, in Moab proper. where Burckhardt (p. 355), Seetzen (Reisen, ii. S. 354), and de Saulcy (Voyage, i. 283, ii. 52) have indicated a stream fed by a spring, called Moiet Numre (i.e., brook Nimrah), in the country at the south end of the Dead Sea, and in that wady a mass of ruins called Numre (the Nimmery of Seetzen, iii. 18).
Jer 48:35 ends the strophe of which it is a part; here the Lord declares that He will make to cease למואב (for, or from Moab, lit., to Moab), every one who offers on a high place and burns incense to his gods. מעלה cannot be a substantive, else the parallelism would be destroyed. Nor may we, with Hitzig, render "he who raises a high place," i.e., builds it, for העלה is not used in this sense.
Further lamentation over the fall of Moab. - Jer 48:36. "Therefore my heart sounds like pipes for Moab, and my heart sounds like pipes for the men of Kir-heres; therefore the savings which he has made are perished. Jer 48:37. For every head is baldness, and every beard is shorn; on all hands there are cuts, and on loins sackcloth. Jer 48:38. On all the roofs of Moab, and in its streets, it is all mourning; for I have broken Moab like a vessel, in which there is no pleasure, saith Jahveh."
The prophet once more lifts up his lamentation over Moab (Jer 48:36 corresponds to Jer 48:31), and gives reason for it in the picture he draws of the deep affliction of the Moabites. Jer 48:36 is an imitation of Isa 16:11; the thought presented in v. 36b accords with that found in Isa 15:7. Isaiah says, "My bowels sound (groan) like the harp," whose strings give a tremulous sound when struck with the plectrum. Instead of this, Jeremiah puts the sounding of pipes, the instruments used in dirges (Mat 9:23). Moab and Kir-heres are mentioned together, as in Jer 48:31. על־כּן, in the second clause, does not stand for כּי על־כּן, "on this account that" (Kimchi, Hitzig, Graf, etc.), but is co-ordinated with the first על־כּן. The idea is not, "Therefore my heart mourns over Moab, because the savings are perished;" but because the sentence of desolation has been passed on the whole of Moab, therefore the heart of the prophet makes lament, and therefore, too, all the property which Moab has acquired is lost. יתרה, as a collective noun, is joined with the plural verb אבדוּ. On the construction יתרת עשׂה, cf. Gesenius, 123, 3, Rem. 1; Ewald, 332, c. The proof of this is given by the deep sorrow and wailing of the whole Moabite nation, Jer 48:37. On all sides are tokens of the deepest sadness, - heads shorn bald, beards cut off, incisions on the hands, sackcloth round the loins.
Jer 48:37 is formed out of pieces taken from Isa 15:2-3. קרחה is a substantive, "baldness," i.e., quite bald. גּרוּעה, decurtata, instead of גּדוּעה (in Isaiah), is weaker, but more suitable for the present connection. גּדדת, i.e., cuts or scratches inflicted on the body, as signs of mourning; cf. Jer 16:6; Jer 41:5. כּלּה , "It is all wailing;" nothing is heard but wailing, for God has broken Moab in pieces like a useless vessel. On the simile employed, cf. Jer 22:28.
No escape from destruction. - Jer 48:39. "How it is broken! they howl. How hath Moab turned the back, for shame! And Moab becomes a laughing-stock and a terror to all his neighbours. Jer 48:40. For thus saith Jahveh: Behold, he shall fly like the eagle, and spread his wings over Moab. Jer 48:41. Kerioth is taken, and the strongholds are seized, and the heart of the heroes of Moab on that day become like the heart of a travailing woman. Jer 48:42. And Moab is destroyed from being a people, because he hath boasted against Jahveh. Jer 48:43. Fear, and a pit, and a snare, are against thee, O inhabitants of Moab, saith Jahveh. Jer 48:44. He who flees from the fear shall fall into the pit, and he who goes up out of the pit shall be taken in the snare; for I will bring against it, against Moab, the year of their recompense, saith Jahveh."
The subject of חתּה in Jer 48:39 is Moab viewed as a nation. הילילוּ might be imperative, but in this case we would be obliged to take בּושׁ also as an imperative (as Hitzig and Graf do). It is simpler to take both forms as perfects: "they howl...Moab turns the back, is ashamed" (= for shame). On היה לשׂחק, cf. Jer 48:26. מחתּה, object of terror, as in Jer 17:17. "All who are round about him," as in Jer 48:17. "For (Jer 48:40) the enemy rushes down upon Moab like an eagle, and seizes Kerioth and all his strongholds." The subject is left unnamed, as in Jer 46:18, but it is Nebuchadnezzar. The figure of the eagle, darting down in flight on its prey, is founded on Deu 28:49 (on אל- for על, cf. Jer 49:22). Kerioth, the capital, is taken (see on Jer 48:24); so are the other strongholds or fastnesses of the country. The mere fact that קריּות has the article does not justify any one in taking it as an appellative, "the cities;" this appears from a comparison of Amo 2:2 with this verse. No plural of קריה occurs anywhere. Then the fear of death falls on the heroes of Moab like a woman in labour. מצרה, partic. Hiphil from צרר, uterum comprimens, is found only here and in Jer 49:22, where the figure is repeated. Moab is annihilated, so that it is no longer a nation (cf. Jer 48:2), because it has risen up in pride against the God of Israel; cf. Jer 48:26. He who flees from one danger falls into the other. The play on the words פּחד, fear, horror, פּחת, pit, and פּח, spring-trap, as well as the mode in which it is carried out, is taken from Isa 24:17., - a prophecy of the judgment on the world; see a similar idea presented in Amo 5:19, but somewhat differently expressed. The Kethib הניס, perfect Hiphil, "he flees," is less suitable than the Qeri הנּס (after Isaiah). The last clause, "for I will bring," etc., is quite in Jeremiah's peculiar style; cf. Jer 4:23; Jer 23:12. אליה belongs to אל־מואב: the noun is anticipated by the pronoun, as frequently occurs; cf. Jer 9:14; Jer 41:3; Jer 43:11.
Conclusion. - Jer 48:45. "Under the shadow of Heshbon stand fugitives, powerless; for a fire goes out from Heshbon, and a flame from Sihon, and devours the region of Moab, and the crown of the head of the sons of tumult. Jer 48:46. Woe unto thee, Moab! the people of Chemosh are perished! for thy sons are taken away into captivity, and thy daughters into captivity. Jer 48:47. Yet will I turn the captivity of Moab at the end of the days, saith Jahveh. Thus far is the judgment of Moab."
From Heshbon issued the resolution to annihilate Moab (Jer 48:2); to Heshbon the prophecy finally returns. "In the shadow of Heshbon stand fugitives, powerless' (מכּח, with מן privative), where, no doubt, they were seeking refuge; cf. Isa 30:2-3. The fugitives can only be Moabites. Here it is astonishing that they seek refuge in Heshbon, since the enemy comes from the north, and according to Jer 48:2, it is in Heshbon that the resolution to destroy Moab was formed; and judging from Jer 49:3, that city was then in the hands of the Ammonites. Hence Hitzig and Graf miss the connection. Hitzig thinks that the whole clause was inserted by a glosser, who imagined the town belonged to Moab, perhaps allowing himself to be misled in this by Num 21:27, "Come to Heshbon." Graf, on the other hand, is of opinion that the fugitives are seeking the protection of the Ammonites in Heshbon, but do not find it: hence he would take the כּי which follows in the adversative sense of "however" or "rather;" but this is against the use of the word, and cannot be allowed. The tenor of the words, "Fugitives stand under the shadow of Heshbon," does not require us to assume that people had fled to Heshbon out of the whole of Moab. Let us rather think of fugitives from the environs of Heshbon, who seek refuge in this fortified town, from the enemy advancing from the north, but who find themselves disappointed in their expectation, because from this city there bursts forth the fire of war which destroys Moab. The thought merely serves the purpose of attaching to it the utterances which follow regarding Moab; but from Jer 48:43 and Jer 48:44 alone, it is evident that escape will be impossible. In proof of this he mentions the flight to Heshbon, that he may have an opportunity of introducing a portion of the old triumphal songs of the Mosaic age, with which he wished to conclude his prophecy, Jer 48:45 and Jer 48:46. The fugitives stand powerless, i.e., exhausted and unable to flee any further, while Heshbon affords them no refuge. For there bursts forth from it the fire that is to destroy the whole of Moab. The words from "for a fire," etc., on to the end of Jer 48:46, are a free imitation of some strophes out of an ancient song, in which poets of the Mosaic period celebrated the victory of Israel over Sihon the king of the Amorites, who had conquered the greater portion of Moab; but with this here is interwoven a passage from the utterances of Balaam the seer, regarding the fall of Moab, found in Num 24:17, viz., from ותּאכל to בּני שׁאון. These insertions are made for the purpose of showing that, through this judgment which is now coming upon Moab, not only those ancient sayings, but also the prophecy of Balaam, will find their full accomplishment. Just as in the time of Moses, so now also there again proceeds from Heshbon the fire of war which will consume Moab. The words, "for a fire has gone out from Heshbon," are a verbatim repetition of what we find in Num 21:28, with the single exception that אשׁ is here, as in Psa 104:4, construed as masculine, and thus takes יצא instead of יצאה; but this change, of course, does not affect the meaning of the words. The next clause runs, in Numbers, l.c., להבה מקּרית סיחון, but here ולהבה מבּין; this change into מבּין is difficult to account for, so that J. D. Michaelis and Ewald would alter it into מבּית.
There is no need for refuting the assumption of Raschi and Ngelsbach, that Sihon stands for the city of Sihon; or the fancy of Morus and Hitzig, that an old glosser imagined Sihon was a town instead of a king. When we consider that the burning of Heshbon by the Israelites, celebrated in that ancient song, was brought on by Sihon the Amorite king, since the Israelites were not to make war on Moab, and only fought against Sihon, who had made Heshbon his residence, there can be no doubt that Jeremiah purposely changed מקּרית into מבּין סיחון, in order to show that Sihon was the originator of the fire which consumed Heshbon. By this latter expression Jeremiah seeks to intimate that, in Nebuchadnezzar and the Chaldean army, there will arise against the Moabites another Sihon, from whose legions will burst forth the flame that is to consume Moab. מבּין, "from between," is to be explained on the ground that Sion is not viewed as a single individual, but as the leader of martial hosts. This fire will "devour the region of Moab, and the crown of the head of the sons of tumult." These words have been taken by Jeremiah from Balaam's utterance regarding Moab, Num 24:17, and embodied in his address after some transformation. What Balaam announces regarding the ruler (Star and Sceptre) that is to arise out of Israel, viz., "he shall smite the region of Moab, and dash in pieces the sons of tumult," Jeremiah has transferred to the fire: accordingly, he has changed וּמחץ into ותּאכל, and וקרקר into וקדקד. Several commentators understand פאה as signifying the margin of the beard (Lev 19:27; Lev 21:5); but the mention of the crown of the head in the parallel member does not require this meaning, for פאה does not signify the corner of the beard, except when found in combination with ראשׁ or זקן. The singeing of the margin of the beard seems, in connection with the burning of the crown, too paltry and insignificant. As in the fundamental passage פּאתי signify the sides of Moab, so here פאה is the side of the body, and קדקד the head. בּני שׁאון, homines tumultuosi, are the Moabites with their imperious disposition; cf. Jer 48:29.
Jer 48:46 is again derived from the ancient poem in Num 21, but the second half of the verse is altered. The bold figure which represents Chemosh the god of the Moabites as delivering his people up to captivity, is continued in the literal statement of the case; Moab's sons and daughters, i.e., its population, are carried away by the enemy into captivity.
This infliction of judgment, however, on the Moabites, is not to prove a complete annihilation of them. At the end of the days, i.e., in the Messianic times (see on Jer 23:20), there is in store for them a turn in their fortunes, or a restoration. For שׁוּב שׁבוּת, see on Jer 29:14. Cf. the similar promise for Egypt, Jer 46:26; Ammon and Elam, Jer 49:6 and Jer 49:39. The last clause, "Thus far," etc., is an addition made by the editor, when this oracle was received into the collection of Jeremiah's prophecies; cf. Jer 51:64. משׁפּט means the prophecy regarding Moab with respect to its contents.
As to the fulfilment of the threatened ruin, Josephus (Antt. x. 9. 7) states that Nebuchadnezzar, in the fifth year after the destruction of Jerusalem, made war on the Moabites and subdued them. This statement is not to be questioned, though the date given should be incorrect. We have no other sources of information regarding this people. After the return of the Israelites from Babylon, the Moabites are no longer mentioned as a people, except in Ezr 9:1; Neh 13:1, Neh 13:23, where it is stated that some Israelites had married Moabitish wives; nor is any mention made of this people in the books of the Maccabees, which, however, relate the wars of Judas Maccabeus with the Ammonites and Edomites (1 Macc. 5:3 and 6, cf. 4:61); neither is there any further notice taken of them in Josephus, who only now and then speaks of Moab, i.e., the country and its towns (Antt. xiii. 14. 2, 15. 4; Bell. Jud. iii. 3. 3, iv. 8. 2). This name seems to have been merged, after the exile, in that of the Arabians. But the disappearance of the name of this people does not exclude the probability that descendants continued to exist, who, when Christianity spread in the country to the east of the Jordan, were received into the communion of the Christian church.