Jeremiah 48


The following prophecy concerning the Moabites is supposed to

have had its accomplishment during the long siege of Tyre in

the reign of Nebuchadnezzar. The whole of this chapter is

poetry of the first order. The distress of the cities of Moab,

with which it opens, is finely described. The cries of one

ruined city resound to those of another, 1-3.

The doleful helpless cry of the children is heard, 4;

the highways, on either hand, resound with the voice of

weeping, 5;

and the few that remain resemble a blasted tree in the wide

howling waste, 6.

Chemosh, the chief god of the Moabites, and the capital figure

in the triumph, is represented as carried off in chains, with

all his trumpery of priests and officers, 7.

The desolation of the country shall be so general and sudden

that, by a strong figure, it is intimated that there shall be

no possibility of escape, except it be in the speediest flight,

8, 9.

And some idea may be formed of the dreadful wickedness of this

people from the consideration that the prophet, under the

immediate inspiration of the Almighty, pronounces a curse on

those who do the work of the Lord negligently, in not

proceeding to their utter extermination, 10.

The subject is then diversified by an elegant and

well-supported comparison, importing that the Moabites

increased in insolence and pride in proportion to the duration

of their prosperity, 11;

but this prosperity is declared to be nearly at an end; the

destroyer is already commissioned against Moab, and his

neighbours called to sing the usual lamentation at his funeral,


The prophet then represents some of the women of Aroer and

Ammon, (the extreme borders of Moab,) standing in the highways,

and asking the fugitives of Moab, What intelligence? They

inform him of the complete discomfiture of Moab, 19-24,

and of the total annihilation of its political existence, 25.

The Divine judgments about to fall upon Moab are farther

represented under the expressive metaphor of a cup of

intoxicating liquor, by which he should become an object of

derision because of his intolerable pride, his magnifying

himself against Jehovah, and his great contempt for the

children of Israel in the day of their calamity, 26, 27.

The prophet then points out the great distress of Moab by a

variety of striking figures, viz., by the failure of the

customary rejoicings at the end of harvest, by the mournful

sort of music used at funerals, by the signs which were

expressive among the ancients of deep mourning, as shaving the

head, clipping the beard, cutting the flesh, and wearing

sackcloth; and by the methods of catching wild beasts in toils,

and by the terror and pitfall, 28-46.

In the close of the chapter it is intimated that a remnant

shall be preserved from this general calamity whose descendants

shall be prosperous in the latter days, 47.


Verse 1. Against Moab] This was delivered some time after the

destruction of Jerusalem. The Moabites were in the neighbourhood

of the Ammonites, and whatever evils fell on the one would

naturally involve the other. See Isa 15:1-9 and Isa 16:1-14 on

this same subject.

Wo unto Nebo! for it is spoiled] This was a city in the tribe of

Reuben, afterwards possessed by the Moabites. It probably had its

name from Nebo, one of the principal idols of the Moabites.

Kiriathaim] Another city of the Moabites.

Misgab is confounded] There is no place of this name known, and

therefore several learned men translate hammisgab,

literally, The high tower, or fortress, which may apply to

Kiriathaim, or any other high and well-fortified place.

Verse 2. No more praise of Moab] "The glory of Moab, that it had

never been conquered," (Dahler,) is now at an end. Dr. Blayney


"Moab shall have no more glorying in Heshbon;

They have devised evil against her (saying.)"

And this most certainly is the best translation of the original.

He has marked also a double paronomasia in this and the next

verse, a figure in which the prophets delight;

becheshbon chashebu, "in Cheshbon they have devised," and

madmen tiddommi, "Madmena, thou shalt be dumb."

Verse 3. Horonaim] Another city of Moab, near to Luhith. At this

latter place the hill country of Moab commenced. "It is a place,"

says Dahler, "situated upon a height between Areopolis and Zoar."

Verse 6. Flee, save your lives] The enemy is in full pursuit of


Be like the heath] caaroer, "like Aroer;" which some

take for a city, others for a blasted or withered tree. It is

supposed that a place of this name lay towards the north, in the

land of the Ammonites, on a branch of the river Jabbok; surrounded

by deserts. Save yourselves by getting into the wilderness, where

the pursuing foe will scarcely think it worth his while to follow

you, as the wilderness itself must soon destroy you.

Verse 7. Chemosh shall go forth into captivity] The grand

national idol of the Moabites, Nu 21:29; Jud 11:24. Ancient

idolaters used to take their gods with them to the field of

battle. This was probably in imitation of the Israelites, who took

the ark with them in such cases.

Verse 9. Give wings unto Moab] There is no hope in resistance,

and to escape requires the speediest flight. I cannot conceive how

Dahler came to translate thus: Tirez Moab par les chevaux, "Drag

Moab away by the hair of the head."

Verse 10. Cursed be he that doeth the work of the Lord

deceitfully] Moab is doomed to destruction, and the Lord

pronounces a curse on their enemies if they do not proceed to

utter extirpation. God is the Author of life, and has a sovereign

right to dispose of it as he pleases; and these had forfeited

theirs long ago by their idolatry and other crimes.

Verse 11. Moab hath been at ease] The metaphor here is taken

from the mode of preserving wines. They let them rest upon their

lees for a considerable time, as this improves them both in

strength and flavour; and when this is sufficiently done, they

rack, or pour them off into other vessels. Moab had been very

little molested by war since he was a nation; he had never gone

out of his own land. Though some had been carried away by

Shalmaneser forty years before this, he has had neither wars nor


Therefore his taste remained in him] Still carrying on the

allusion to the curing of wines; by resting long upon the lees,

the taste and smell are both improved.

See Clarke on Isa 25:6.

Verse 12. I will send unto him wanderers that shall cause him to

wander] Dr. Blayney renders tsaim, tilters; those who

elevate one end of the wine cask when nearly run out that the

remains of the liquor may be the more effectually drawn off at the

cock. And this seems to be well supported by the following words,-

And shall empty his vessels] I will send such as will carry the

whole nation into captivity.

Verse 13. Beth-el their confidence.] Alluding to the golden

calves which Jeroboam had there set up, and commanded all the

Israelites to worship.

Verse 17. How is the strong staff broken] The sceptre. The

sovereignty of Moab is destroyed.

Verse 18. That dost inhabit Dibon] This was anciently a city of

the Reubenites, afterwards inhabited by the Moabites, about two

leagues north of the river Arnon, and about six to the east of the

Dead Sea.-Dahler.

Verse 19. O inhabitant of Aroer] See Clarke on Jer 48:6.

This place, being at a greater distance, is counselled to watch for its

own safety, and inquire of every passenger, What is done? that it

may know when to pack up and be gone.

Verse 20. Tell ye it in Arnon] Apprize the inhabitants there

that the territories of Moab are invaded, and the country about to

be destroyed, that they may provide for their own safety.

Verse 21. Upon Holon, &c.] All these were cities of the

Moabites, but several of them are mentioned in no other place.

Verse 25. The horn of Moab is cut off, and his arm is broken]

His political and physical powers are no more.

Verse 27. Was not Israel a derision unto thee?] Didst thou not

mock my people, and say their God was no better than the gods of

other nations? See Eze 25:8.

Was he found among thieves?] Did the Israelites come to rob and

plunder you? Why then mock them, and rejoice at their

desolation, when their enemies prevailed over them? This the Lord

particularly resents.

Verse 28. Dwell in the rock] Go to the most inaccessible places

in the mountains.

The hole's mouth.] And into the most secret eaves and holes of

the earth.

Verse 29. The pride of Moab] See Clarke on Isa 16:1.

Verse 32. O vine of Sibmah] See Clarke on Isa 16:8.

Verse 34. As a heifer of three years old] Which runs lowing from

place to place in search of her calf, which is lost or taken from


Verse 37. For every head shall be bald] These, as we have seen

before, were signs of the deepest distress and desolation.

Verse 40. He shall fly as an eagle] The enemy will pounce upon

him, carry him off, and tear him to pieces.

Verse 42. Moab shall be destroyed from being a people] They

shall not have a king or civil governor: and I doubt whether there

be any evidence that they were ever reinstated in their national

character. They were captivated by the Chaldeans; and probably

many returned with the Jews on the edict of Cyrus: but as to their

being an independent nation after this, where is the positive


Verse 43. Fear, and the pit, and the snare] See the note on

Isa 24:17, 18.

Verse 45. They that fled stood under the shadow of Heshbon]

Heshbon being a fortified place, they who were worsted in the

fight fled to it, and rallied under its walls; but, instead of

safety, they found themselves disappointed, betrayed, and ruined.

See Jer 48:2, and the note there. See Clarke on Jer 48:2.

But a fire shall come forth out of Heshbon] Jeremiah has

borrowed this part of his discourse from an ancient poet quoted by

Moses, Nu 21:28; where see the notes.

The crown of the head] The choicest persons of the whole nation.

Verse 46. The people of Chemosh] The Moabites, who worshipped

Chemosh as their supreme god.

Verse 47. Will I bring again the captivity of Moab in the latter

days] I have already expressed doubts (see Jer 48:42) whether the

Moabites were ever restored to their national distinction. The

expressions in this chapter, relative to their total destruction

as a people, are so strong and so frequent, that they leave little

room for a limited interpretation. That many of them returned on

the edict of Cyrus, by virtue of which the Jews were restored, I

doubt not; but neither the Ammonites, Moabites, Philistines, nor

even the Jews themselves, were ever restored to their national

consequence. Perhaps the restoration spoken of here, which was to

take place in the latter days, may mean the conversion of these

people, in their existing remnants, to the faith of the Gospel.

Several judicious interpreters are of this opinion. The Moabites

were partially restored; but never, as far as I have been able to

learn, to their national consequence. Their conversion to the

Christian faith must be the main end designed by this prophecy.

Copyright information for Clarke