Isaiah 16


The distress of Moab pathetically described by the son of the

prince, or ruler of the land, being forced to flee for his

life through the desert, that he may escape to Judea; and the

young women, like young birds scared from their nest, wade

helpless through the fords of Arnon, the boundary of their

country, to seek protection in some foreign land, 1, 2.

The prophet addresses Sion, exhorting her to show mercy to her

enemies in their distress, that her throne may be established

in righteousness, 3-5.

Exceeding great pride of Moab, 6.

The terrible calamities about to fall upon Moab farther

described by the languishing of the vine, the ceasing of the

vintage, the sound of the prophet's bowels quivering like a

harp, &c., 7-13.

Awful nearness of the full accomplishment of the prophecy, 14.


Verse 1. Send ye the lamb, &c.-"I will send forth the son, &c."]

Both the reading and meaning of this verse are still more doubtful

than those of the preceding. The Septuagint and Syriac read

eshlach, I will send, in the first person singular, future tense:

the Vulgate and Talmud Babylon, read shelach, send,

singular imperative: some read shilchu, send ye forth, or

shalechu, they send forth. The Syriac, for car, a lamb,

reads bar, a son, which is confirmed by five MSS. of Kennicott

and De Rossi. The two first verses describe the distress of Moab

on the Assyrian invasion in which even the son of the prince of

the country is represented as forced to flee for his life through

the desert, that he may escape to Judea; and the young women are

driven forth like young birds cast out of the nest, and

endeavouring to wade through the fords of the river Arnon. Perhaps

there is not so much difficulty in this verse as appears at first

view. "Send the lamb to the ruler of the land," may receive light

from 2Ki 3:4, 5: "And Mesha, king of Moab, was a sheepmaster, and

rendered unto the king of Israel one hundred thousand lambs with

their wool, and one hundred thousand rams: but when Ahab was dead,

the king of Moab rebelled against Israel." Now the prophet exhorts

them to begin paying the tribute as formerly, that their

punishment might be averted or mitigated.

Verse 3. Take counsel-"Impart counsel"] The Vulgate renders the

verbs in the beginning of this verse in the singular number, So

the Keri; and so likewise sixty-one MSS. of Kennicott's and De

Rossi's have it, and nineteen editions, and the Syriac. The verbs

throughout the verse are also in the feminine gender; agreeing

with Zion, which I suppose to be understood.

Verse 4. Let mine outcasts dwell with thee, Moab-"Let the

outcasts of Moab sojourn with thee, O Zion"] Setting the points

aside, this is by much the most obvious construction of the

Hebrew, as well as most agreeable to the context, and the

design of the prophet. And it is confirmed by the Septuagint οι

φυγαδεςμωαβ, and Syriac.

The oppressors-"The oppressor"] Perhaps the Israelites, who in

the time of Ahab invaded Judah, defeated his army, slaying one

hundred and twenty thousand men, and brought the kingdom to the

brink of destruction. Judah, being now in a more prosperous

condition, is represented as able to receive and to protect the

fugitive Moabites. And with those former times of distress the

security and flourishing state of the kingdom under the government

of Hezekiah is contrasted.

Verse 5. In mercy shall the throne be established] May not this

refer to the throne of Hezekiah? Here we have the character of

such a king as cannot fail to be a blessing to the people. 1. "He

sitteth on the throne in truth"-He does not merely profess to be

the father and protector of his people: but he is actually such.

2. He is judging. He is not a man of war or blood, who wastes his

subjects' lives and treasures in contentions with neighbouring

nations, in order to satisfy his ambition by the extension of his

territory. On the contrary, his whole life is occupied in the

distribution of justice. 3. He seeketh judgment. He seeks out the

poor distressed ones who cannot make their way to him, and avenges

them on their oppressors. 4. He hastens righteousness. He does not

suffer any of the courts of justice to delay the determination of

the causes brought before them: he so orders that the point in

litigation be fairly, fully, and speedily heard; and then judgment

pronounced. Delays in the execution of justice answer little end

but the enriching of unprincipled lawyers.

Verse 6. We have heard of the pride of Moab-"We have heard the

pride of Moab"] For ge, read geah; two MSS., one

ancient, and Jer 48:29. Zephaniah, Zep 2:8-10, in his prophecy

against Moab, the subject of which is the same with that of

Jeremiah in his forty-eighth chapter,

(See Clarke on Isa 15:1,) enlarges much on the pride of

Moab, and their insolent behaviour towards the Jews:-

"I have heard the reproach of Moab;

And the revilings of the sons of Ammon:

Who have reproached my people;

And have magnified themselves against their borders.

Therefore, as I live, saith JEHOVAH God of hosts,

the God of Israel:

Surely Moab shall be as Sodom,

And the sons of Ammon as Gomorrah:

A possession of nettles, and pits of salt,

And a desolation for ever.

The residue of my people shall spoil them,

And the remnant of my nation shall dispossess them:

This shall they have for their pride;

Because they have raised a reproach, and have magnified


Against the people of JEHOVAH God of hosts."

Verse 7. For the foundations of Kir-hareseth-"For the men of

Kirhares."] A palpable mistake in this place is happily corrected

by the parallel text of Jer 48:31, where, instead of

ashishey, foundations or flagons, nve read anshey, men.

In the same place of Jeremiah, and in Jer 48:36, and here in

Isa 16:11, the name of the city is Kirhares, not Kir-hareseth.

Verse 8. Languish-"Are put to shame"] Here the text of Jeremiah

leaves us much at a loss, in a place that seems to be greatly

corrupted. The Septuagint join the two last words of this verse

with the beginning of the following. Their rendering is: καιουκ

εντραπησηταπεδιαεσεβων. For ach they must have read

al; otherwise, how came they by the negative, which seems not to

belong to this place? Neither is it easy to make sense of the rest

without a small alteration, by reading, instead of εντραπησητα

εντραπησεται. In a word, the Arabic version taken from the

Septuagint, plainly authorizes this reading of the Septuagint,

and without the negative; and it is fully confirmed by MSS.

Pachom. and I. D. II., which have both of them εντραπησεται

πεδιαεσεβων, without the negative; which makes an excellent

sense, and, I think, gives us the true reading of the Hebrew text;

ak nichlemu shadmoth cheshbon. They

frequently render the verb nichlam by εντρεπομαι. And

nichlemu answers perfectly well to umlal, the

parallel word in the next line. The MSS. vary in expressing the

word nechaim, which gives no tolerable sense in this place;

one reads nochaim; two others bechaim; in

another the caph is upon a rasure of two letters; and the

Vulgate instead of it reads mecotham, plagas suas.-L.

For the men of Kirhares ye shall make a moan. For the fields of

Heshbon are put to shame. This is Bp. Lowth's sense of the


Her branches are stretched out-"Her branches extended

themselves."] For nitteshu, a MS. has niggeshu;

which may perhaps be right. Compare Jer 48:32, which has in this

part of the sentence the synonymous word nagau.

The meaning of this verse is, that the wines of Sibmah and

Heshbon were greatly celebrated, and in high repute with all the

great men and princes of that and the neighbouring countries; who

indulged themselves even to intemperance in the use of them. So

that their vines were so much in request as not only to be

propagated all over the country of Moab to the sea of Sodom, but

to have scions of them sent even beyond the sea into foreign


halemu, knocked down, demolished; that is overpowered,

intoxicated. The drunkards of Ephraim are called by the prophet,

Isa 28:1,

halumey yayin, drinkers of wine. See Schultens on Pr 23:25.

Grotius, speaking of the Mareotic wine, says of it,

Pharios quae fregit noxia reges. CYNEG. 312.

Verse 9. With the weeping-"As with the weeping"] For

bibechi, a MS. reads bechi. In Jer 48:32, it is

mibbechi. The Septuagint read kibeki, as with weeping,

which I follow.

For thy summer fruits and for thy harvest is fallen-"And upon

thy vintage the destroyer hath fallen."] veal

ketsirech heidad naphal. In these few words there are two great

mistakes, which the text of Jer 48:32 rectifies. For

ketsirech, it has betsirech; and for heidad,

shoded; both which corrections the Chaldee in this place

confirms. As to the first,

"Hesebon and Eleale, and

The flowery dale of Sibmah, clad with vines,"

were never celebrated for their harvests; it was the vintage that

suffered by the irruption of the enemy; and so read the Septuagint

and Syriac. heidad is the noisy acclamation of the treaders

of the grapes. And see what sense this makes in the literal

rendering of the Vulgate: super messem tuam vox calcantium irruit,

"upon thy harvest the voice of the treaders rushes." The reading

in Jer 48:32 is certainly right,

shoded naphal, "the destroyer hath fallen." The shout of the

treaders does not come in till the next verse; in which the text

of Isaiah in its turn mends that of Jeremiah, Jer 48:33, where

instead of the first heidad, "the shout," we ought

undoubtedly to read, as here, haddorech, "the treader."

Verse 10. Neither shall there be shouting-"An end is put to the

shouting"] The Septuagint read hishbeth, passive, and in

the third person; rightly, for God is not the speaker in this

place. The rendering of the Septuagint is πεπαυταιγαρκελευσμα,

"the cry ceaseth;" which last word, necessary to the rendering of

the Hebrew and to the sense, is supplied by MSS. Pachom. and I. D.

II., having been lost out of the other copies.

Verse 12. When it is seen that Moab, &c.-"When Moab shall see,"

&c.] For nirah, a MS. reads raah, and so the

Syriac and Chaldee. "Perhaps ki nirah is only a

various reading of ki nilah." SECKER. A very probable


Verse 14. Within three years] beshalish

keshalish, according, or in or about three years, is the reading

of nine of Kennicott's and De Rossi's MSS., and two ancient


But the present reading may well stand: "Now, the Lord hath

spoken, saying, Within three years, as the years of a hireling."

It seems as if this prophecy had been delivered before, without

any time specified for its fulfilment; but now the time is

determined-"in three years, as the years of a hireling"-for, as a

hireling counts even to a single day, and will not abide with

his employer an hour beyond the time agreed on; so, in three

years, even to a day, from the delivery of this prophecy, shall

destruction come upon Moab. This is the import of the present

text; but if we take keshalish, AS in three years, or in

about three years' time, the prophecy is not so definite.

These three years, says Calmet, are mentioned from the death of

Ahaz, see Isa 14:28, and end the third year of Hezekiah, three

years before the taking of Samaria by Shalmaneser. This conquerer

did not ruin Moab so completely as not to leave a man in the land;

the final desolation of Moab was reserved for Nebuchadnezzar, five

years after the taking of Jerusalem.

Feeble-"And without strength."] An ancient MS., with the

Septuagint, reads velo, "and not."

Copyright information for Clarke