Judgment Against Moab1 The Lord God of Israel who rules over all ▼ spoke about Moab. ▼
▼ Moab was a country east of the Dead Sea whose boundaries varied greatly over time. Basically, it was the tableland between the Arnon River about halfway up the Dead Sea and the Zered River which is roughly at the southern tip of the Dead Sea. When the Israelites entered Palestine they were forbidden to take any of the Moabite territory but they did capture the kingdom of Sihon north of the Arnon which Sihon had taken from Moab. Several of the towns mentioned in the oracles of judgment against Moab here are in this territory north of the Arnon and were assigned to Reuben and Gad. Several are mentioned on the famous Moabite Stone which details how Mesha king of Moab recovered from Israel many of these cities during the reign of Joram (852–841 b.c.; cf. 2 Kgs 3:4–5). It is usually assumed that Moab submitted to Nebuchadnezzar after the battle of Carchemish and that they remained loyal to him throughout most of this period, though representatives were present at Jerusalem in 594 b.c. when plans for revolt were apparently being discussed (Jer 27:3). Moabite contingents were used by Nebuchadnezzar in 598 b.c. to harass Jehoiakim after he rebelled (2 Kgs 24:2) so they must have remained loyal at that time. According to the Jewish historian Josephus, Nebuchadnezzar conquered Moab in 582 b.c. and destroyed many of its cities.
“Sure to be judged is Nebo! Indeed, ▼
▼ Heb “Woe to Nebo for it is destroyed.” For the use of the Hebrew particle “Woe” (הוֹי, hoy) see the translator’s note on 22:13. The translation has taken this form because the phrase “Woe to” probably does not convey the proper meaning or significance to the modern reader. The verbs again are in the tense (Hebrew prophetic perfect) that views the action as if it were as good as done. The particle כִּי (ki) probably is causal but the asseverative works better in the modified translation.it will be destroyed!
Kiriathaim ▼ will suffer disgrace. It will be captured!
Its fortress ▼
▼ Or “Misgab.” The translation here follows the majority of commentaries and English versions. Only REB sees this as a place name, “Misgab,” which is otherwise unknown. The constant use of this word to refer to a fortress, the presence of the article on the front of it, and the lack of any reference to a place of this name anywhere else argues against it being a place name. However, the fact that the verbs that accompany it are feminine while the noun for “fortress” is masculine causes some pause.will suffer disgrace. It will be torn down! ▼
2 People will not praise Moab any more.
The enemy will capture Heshbon ▼
▼ Heshbon was originally a Moabite city but was captured by Sihon king of Og and made his capital (Num 21:26–30). It was captured from Sihon and originally assigned to the tribe of Reuben (Num 32:37; Josh 13:17). Later it was made a Levitical city and was assigned to the tribe of Gad (Josh 21:39). It formed the northern limits of Moab. It was located about eighteen miles east of the northern tip of the Dead Sea.and plot ▼
▼ There is a wordplay in Hebrew on the word “Heshbon” and the word “plot” (חָשְׁבוּ, khoshvu).how to destroy Moab, ▼
▼ Heb “In Heshbon they plot evil against her [i.e., Moab].” The “they” is undefined, but it would scarcely be Moabites living in Heshbon. Hence TEV and CEV are probably correct in seeing a reference to the enemy which would imply the conquest of this city which lay on the northern border of Moab.
saying, ‘Come, let’s put an end to that nation!’
City of Madmen, you will also be destroyed. ▼
▼ The meaning of this line is somewhat uncertain. The translation here follows all the modern English versions and commentaries in reading the place name “Madmen” even though the place is otherwise unknown and the Greek, Syriac, and Latin version all read this word as an emphasizing infinitive absolute of the following verb “will be destroyed,” i.e. דָּמוֹם יִדֹּמּוּ (damom yiddommu). Some see this word as a variant of the name Dimon in Isa 15:9 which in turn is a playful variant of the place name Dibon. There is once again a wordplay on the word “Madmen” and “will be destroyed”: מַדְמֵן (madmen) and יִדֹּמּוּ (yiddommu). For the meaning of the verb = “perish” or “be destroyed” see Jer 8:14; Ps 31:18.
A destructive army will march against you. ▼
▼ Heb “A sword will follow after you.” The sword is again figurative of destructive forces, here the army of the Babylonians.
3 Cries of anguish will arise in Horonaim,
‘Oh, the ruin and great destruction!’
4 “Moab will be crushed.
Her children will cry out in distress. ▼
▼ The reading here follows the Qere צְעִירֶיהָ (tse’ireha) which is the same noun found in Jer 14:3 in the sense of “servants.” Here it refers to the young ones, i.e., the children (cf. the use of the adjective BDB 859 s.v. I צָעִיר 2 and see Gen 43:33). Many of the modern commentaries and a few of the modern English versions follow the Greek version and read “their cry is heard as far as Zoar” (reading צֹעֲרָה, tso’arah; see, for example, J. A. Thompson, Jeremiah [NICOT], 699, n. 4, and BDB 858 s.v. צֹעַר). However, that leaves the verb with an indefinite subject (the verb is active 3rd plural not passive) not otherwise identified in the preceding context. Many of the modern English versions such as NRSV, NJPS, NIV retain the Hebrew as the present translation has done. In this case the masculine plural noun furnishes a logical subject for the verb.
5 Indeed they will climb the slopes of Luhith,
weeping continually as they go. ▼
▼ Or “Indeed her fugitives will…” It is unclear what the subject of the verbs are in this verse. The verb in the first two lines “climb” (יַעֲלֶה, ya’aleh) is third masculine singular and the verb in the second two lines “will hear” (שָׁמֵעוּ, shame’u) is third common plural. The causal particles at the beginning of the two halves of the verse suggest some connection with the preceding, so the translation assumes that the children are still the subject. In this case the singular verb would be a case of the distributive singular already referred to in the translator’s note on 46:15. The parallel passage in Isa 15:5 refers to the “fugitives” (בְּרִיחֶהָ, berikheha) with the same singular verb as here and that may be the implied subject here.▼
For on the road down to Horonaim
they will hear the cries of distress over the destruction. ▼
▼ Heb “the distresses of the cry of destruction.” Many commentaries want to leave out the word “distresses” because it is missing from the Greek version and the parallel passage in Isa 15:5. However, it is in all the Hebrew mss and in the other early versions, and it is hard to see why it would be added here if it were not original.
6 They will hear, ‘Run! Save yourselves!
Even if you must be like a lonely shrub in the desert!’ ▼
▼ The meaning of this line is uncertain. The translation follows one reading of the Hebrew text. The Greek version reads “Be like a wild donkey in the desert!” There are three points of debate in this line: the syntax of the verb form “be” (תִהְיֶינָה, tihyenah) and the text and meaning of the word translated “shrub” in the Hebrew text. This word only occurs with this meaning here and in Jer 17:6. A related word occurs in Ps 102:17 (102:18 HT). Elsewhere this spelling refers to the place name Aroer which was a place in Moab on the edge of the Arnon River. Most commentators do not feel that a reference to that place is appropriate here because it was not in the desert. The Greek version reads “like a wild donkey” (reading כְּעָרוֹד [ke’arod] in place of כַּעֲרוֹעֵר [ka’aro’er]). That would make an appropriate simile here because the wild donkey enjoys its freedom and is hard to capture. G. L. Keown, P. J. Scalise, and T. G. Smothers (Jeremiah 26-52 [WBC], 312) explain the simile of the “shrub” as referring to the marginal and rudimentary existence of a displaced person. That may not be as optimistic as the reference to the wild donkey but it does give an appropriate meaning. The third feminine plural has been explained as the singular noun + suffix = “yourselves” (נַפְשְׁכֶם, nafshekhem) used as a collective (so S. R. Driver, Jeremiah, 368, with cross reference to GKC 462-63 #145.c). J. Bright (Jeremiah [AB], 314, n. e-e) follows a suggestion of D. N. Freedman in seeing the form (תִהְיֶינָה, tihyenah) as a mistake for the 2nd masculine plural plus energic (תִהְיוּן, tihyun). Given the number of other textual corruptions in this passage, this is possible. The resultant meaning in either case is the same.
7 “Moab, you trust in the things you do and in your riches.
So you too will be conquered.
Your god Chemosh ▼ will go into exile ▼
along with his priests and his officials.
8 The destroyer will come against every town.
Not one town will escape.
The towns in the valley will be destroyed.
The cities on the high plain will be laid waste. ▼
▼ Heb “The valley will be destroyed and the tableland be laid waste.” However, in the context this surely refers to the towns and not to the valley and the tableland itself.▼
▼ Most commentaries see a reference to the towns in the Jordan valley referred to in Josh 13:27 and the towns mentioned in Josh 13:15–17 which were on the high tableland or high plateau or plain north of the Arnon. The mention of the towns in the first half of the verse is broader than that because it would include all the towns in the southern half of Moab between the Arnon and Zered as well as those mentioned in the second half in conjunction with the valley and the high plateau north of the Arnon.
I, the Lord, have spoken! ▼
9 Set up a gravestone for Moab,
for it will certainly be laid in ruins! ▼
▼ Or “Scatter salt over Moab for it will certainly be laid in ruins.” The meaning of these two lines is very uncertain. The Hebrew of these two lines presents several difficulties. It reads תְּנוּ־צִיץ לְמוֹאָב נָצֹא תֵּצֵא (tenu-tsits lemo’av natso’ tetse’). Of the five words two are extremely problematic and the meaning of the second affects also the meaning of the last word which normally means “go out.” The word צִיץ (tsits) regularly refers to a blossom or flower or the diadem on the front of Aaron’s mitre. BDB 851 s.v. II צִיץ gives a nuance “wings (coll)” based on the interpretation of Abu Walid and some medieval Jewish interpreters who related it to an Aramaic root. But BDB says that meaning is dubious and refers to the Greek which reads σημεῖα (sēmeia, “sign” or “sign post”). Along with KBL 802 s.v. I צִיץ and HALOT 959 s.v. II צִיץ, BDB suggests that the Greek presupposes the word צִיּוּן (tsiyyun) which refers to a road marker (Jer 31:21) or a gravestone (2 Kgs 23:17). That is the meaning followed here. Several modern commentaries and English versions have followed a proposal by W. Moran that the word is related to a Ugaritic word meaning salt (cf., e.g., J. Bright, Jeremiah [AB], 320). However, HALOT 959 s.v. II צִיץ questions the validity of this on philological grounds saying that the meaning of salt does not really fit the Ugaritic either. The present translation follows the suggestions of the lexicons here and reads the word as though the Greek supported the meaning “gravestone.” The other difficulty is with the word נָצֹא (natso’), which looks like a Qal infinitive absolute of an otherwise unattested root which BDB s.v. נָצָא says is defined in Gesenius’ Thesaurus as “fly.” However, see the meaning and the construction of an infinitive absolute of one root with that of another as highly improbable. Hence, most modern lexicons either emend the forms to read נָצֹה תִּצֶּה (natsoh titseh) from the root נָצָה (natsah) meaning “to fall into ruins” (so KBL 629 s.v. נָצָה Qal, and see among others J. A. Thompson, Jeremiah [NICOT], 700, n. 10, who notes that final א [aleph] and final ה [hey] are often confused; see the discussion and examples in GKC 216-17 #75.nn-rr). This is the option that this translation as well as a number of modern ones have taken. A second option is to see נָצֹא (natso’) as an error for יָצֹא (yatso’) and read the text in the sense of “she will certainly surrender,” a meaning that the verb יָצָא (yatsa’) has in 1 Sam 11:3; Isa 36:6. The best discussion of this option as well as a discussion on the problem of reading צִיץ (tsits) as salt is found in G. L. Keown, P. J. Scalise, T. G. Smothers, Jeremiah 26–52 (WBC), 313–14.
Its cities will be laid waste
and become uninhabited.”
10 A curse on anyone who is lax in doing the Lord’s work!
A curse on anyone who keeps from carrying out his destruction! ▼
▼ Heb “who withholds his sword from bloodshed.” This verse is an editorial aside (or apostrophe) addressed to the Babylonian destroyers to be diligent in carrying out the work of the Lord in destroying Moab.
11 “From its earliest days Moab has lived undisturbed.
It has never been taken into exile.
Its people are like wine allowed to settle undisturbed on its dregs,
never poured out from one jar to another.
They are like wine which tastes like it always did,
whose aroma has remained unchanged. ▼
▼ Heb “Therefore his taste remains in him and his aroma is not changed.” The metaphor is changed into a simile in an attempt to help the reader understand the figure in the context.▼
12 But the time is coming when I will send
men against Moab who will empty it out.
They will empty the towns of their people,
then will lay those towns in ruins. ▼
▼ Heb “Therefore, behold the days are coming, oracle of Yahweh, when I will send against him decanters [those who pour from one vessel to another] and they will decant him [pour him out] and they will empty his vessels and break their jars in pieces.” The verse continues the metaphor from the preceding verse where Moab/the people of Moab are like wine left undisturbed in a jar, i.e., in their native land. In this verse the picture is that of the decanter emptying the wine from the vessels and then breaking the jars. The wine represents the people and the vessels the cities and towns where the people lived. The verse speaks of the exile of the people and the devastation of the land. The metaphor has been interpreted so it conveys meaning to the average reader.
I, the Lord, affirm it! ▼
13 The people of Moab will be disappointed by their god Chemosh.
They will be as disappointed as the people of Israel were
when they put their trust in the calf god at Bethel. ▼
▼ Heb “Moab will be ashamed because of Chemosh as the house of Israel was ashamed because of Bethel, their [source of] confidence.” The “shame” is, of course, the disappointment, disillusionment because of the lack of help from these gods in which they trusted (for this nuance of the verb see BDB 101 s.v. בּוֹשׁ Qal.2 and compare usage in Jer 2:13; Isa 20:5). Because of the parallelism, some see the reference to Bethel to be a reference to a West Semitic god worshiped by the people of Israel (see J. P. Hyatt, “Bethel [Deity],” IDB 1:390 for the arguments). However, there is no evidence in the OT that such a god was worshiped in Israel, and there is legitimate evidence that northern Israel placed its confidence in the calf god that Jeroboam set up in Bethel (cf. 1 Kgs 12:28–32; Hos 10:5; 8:5–6; Amos 7:10–17).▼
14 How can you men of Moab say, ‘We are heroes,
men who are mighty in battle?’
15 Moab will be destroyed. Its towns will be invaded.
Its finest young men will be slaughtered. ▼
▼ Heb “will go down to the slaughter.”
I, the King, the Lord who rules over all, ▼ affirm it! ▼
16 Moab’s destruction is at hand.
Disaster will come on it quickly.
17 Mourn for that nation, all you nations living around it,
all of you nations that know of its fame. ▼ ▼
▼ This refers to both the nearby nations and those who lived further away who had heard of Moab’s power and might only by repute.
Mourn and say, ‘Alas, its powerful influence has been broken!
Its glory and power have been done away!’ ▼
▼ Heb “How is the strong staff broken, the beautiful rod.” “How” introduces a lament which is here rendered by “Alas.” The staff and rod refer to the support that Moab gave to others not to the fact that she ruled over others which was never the case. According to BDB 739 s.v. עוֹז 1 the “strong staff” is figurative of political power.
18 Come down from your place of honor;
sit on the dry ground, ▼ you who live in Dibon. ▼ ▼
▼ Dibon was an important fortified city located on the “King’s Highway,” the main north-south road in Transjordan. It was the site at which the Moabite Stone was found in 1868 and was one of the cities mentioned on it. It was four miles north of the Arnon River and thirteen miles east of the Dead Sea. It was one of the main cities on the northern plateau and had been conquered from Sihon and allotted to the tribe of Reuben (Josh 13:17).
For the one who will destroy Moab will attack you;
he will destroy your fortifications.
19 You who live in Aroer, ▼
▼ Aroer is probably the Aroer that was located a few miles south and west of Dibon on the edge of the Arnon River. It had earlier been the southern border of Sihon, king of Heshbon, and had been allotted to the tribe of Reuben (Josh 13:16). However, this whole territory had earlier been taken over by the Arameans (2 Kgs 10:33), later by the Assyrians, and at this time was in the hands of the Moabites.
stand by the road and watch.
Question the man who is fleeing and the woman who is escaping.
Ask them, ‘What has happened?’
20 They will answer, ‘Moab is disgraced, for it has fallen!
Wail and cry out in mourning!
Announce along the Arnon River
that Moab has been destroyed.’
21 “Judgment will come on the cities on the high plain: ▼ on Holon, Jahzah, and Mephaath, 22 on Dibon, Nebo, and Beth Diblathaim, 23 on Kiriathaim, Beth Gamul, and Beth Meon, 24 on Kerioth and Bozrah. It will come on all the towns of Moab, both far and near. 25 Moab’s might will be crushed. Its power will be broken. ▼ I, the Lord, affirm it! ▼
26 “Moab has vaunted itself against me.
So make him drunk with the wine of my wrath ▼
▼ Heb “Make him drunk because he has magnified himself against the Lord.” The first person has again been adopted for consistency within a speech of the Lord. Almost all of the commentaries relate the figure of drunkenness to the figure of drinking the cup of God’s wrath spelled out in Jer 25 where reference is made at one point to the nations drinking, staggering, vomiting, and falling (25:27 and see G. L. Keown, P. J. Scalise, T. G. Smothers, Jeremiah 26–52 [WBC], 316, for a full list of references to this figure including this passage and 49:12–13; 51:6–10, 39, 57).
until he splashes ▼
▼ The meaning of this word is uncertain. It is usually used of clapping the hands or the thigh in helpless anger or disgust. Hence J. Bright (Jeremiah [AB], 321) paraphrases “shall vomit helplessly.” HALOT 722 s.v. II סָפַק relates this to an Aramaic word and see a homonym meaning “vomit” or “spew out.” The translation is that of BDB 706 s.v. סָפַק Qal.3, “splash (fall with a splash),” from the same root that refers to slapping or clapping the thigh.around in his own vomit,
until others treat him as a laughingstock.
27 For did not you people of Moab laugh at the people of Israel?
Did you think that they were nothing but thieves, ▼
▼ Heb “were they caught among thieves?”
that you shook your head in contempt ▼
every time you talked about them? ▼
▼ The reading here presupposes the emendation of דְבָרֶיךָ (devarekha, “your words”) to דַבֶּרְךָ (dabberkha, “your speaking”), suggested by BHS (cf. fn c) on the basis of one of the Greek versions (Symmachus). For the idiom cf. BDB 191 s.v. דַּי 2.c.α.
28 Leave your towns, you inhabitants of Moab.
Go and live in the cliffs.
Be like a dove that makes its nest
high on the sides of a ravine. ▼
▼ Heb “in the sides of the mouth of a pit/chasm.” The translation follows the suggestion of J. Bright, Jeremiah (AB), 321. The point of the simile is inaccessibility.
29 I have heard how proud the people of Moab are,
I know how haughty they are.
I have heard how arrogant, proud, and haughty they are,
what a high opinion they have of themselves. ▼
▼ Heb “We have heard of the pride of Moab – [he is] exceedingly proud – of his haughtiness, and his pride, and his haughtiness, and the loftiness of his heart.” These words are essentially all synonyms, three of them coming from the same Hebrew root (גָּאָה, ga’ah) and one of the words being used twice (גָּאוֹן). Since the first person singular is used in the next verse, the present translation considers the “we” of this verse to refer to the plural of majesty or the plural referring to the divine council in such passages as Gen 1:26; 3:22; 11:7; Isa 6:8 and has translated in the singular to avoid possible confusion of who the “we” are. Most understand the reference to be to Jeremiah and his fellow Judeans.
30 I, the Lord, affirm that ▼ I know how arrogant they are.
But their pride is ill-founded.
Their boastings will prove to be false. ▼
▼ The meaning of this verse is somewhat uncertain: Heb “I know, oracle of the Lord, / his arrogance and [that it is?] not true; // his boastings accomplish that which is not true.” Several of the modern English versions and commentaries redivide the verse and read something like, “I know his insolence…his boastings are false; his deeds are false (NRSV, REB).” However, the word translated “deeds” in the last line is a verb in the third person plural and can only have as its logical grammatical subject the word “boastings.” The adjective כֵּן (ken) + the negative לֹא (lo’) is evidently repeated here and applied to two different subjects “arrogance” and “boasting” to emphasize that Moab’s arrogant boasts will prove “untrue” (Cf. HALOT 459 s.v. II כֵּן 2.c for the meaning “untrue” for both this passage and the parallel one in Isa 16:6). There is some difference of opinion about the identification of the “I” in this verse. Most commentators see it as referring to the prophet. However, F. B. Huey (Jeremiah, Lamentations [NAC], 395) is probably correct in seeing it as referring to the Lord. He points to the fact that the “I” in vv. 33, 35, 38 can only refer to God. The “I know” in v. 30 also clearly has the Lord as its subject. There are other cases in the book of Jeremiah where the Lord expresses his lament over the fate of a people (cf. 14:1–6, 17–18).
31 So I will weep with sorrow for Moab.
I will cry out in sadness for all of Moab.
I will moan ▼
▼ The translation is based on the emendation of the Hebrew third masculine singular (יֶהְגֶּה, yehggeh) to the first singular (אֶהְגֶּה, ’ehgeh). This emendation is assumed by almost all of the modern English versions and commentaries even though the textual evidence for it is weak (only one Hebrew ms and the Eastern Qere according to BHS).for the people of Kir Heres.
32 I will weep for the grapevines of Sibmah
just like the town of Jazer weeps over them. ▼
▼ Or “I will weep for the grapevines of Sibmah more than I will weep over the town of Jazer.” The translation here assumes that there has been a graphic confusion of מ (mem) with כְּ (kaf) or בְּ (bet). The parallel passage in Isa 16:9 has the preposition בְּ and the Greek version presupposes a comparative idea “as with.” Many of the modern English versions render the passage with the comparative מִן (min) as in the alternate translation, but it is unclear what the force of the comparison would be here. The verse is actually in the second person, an apostrophe or direct address to the grapevine(s) of Sibmah. However, the translation has retained the third person throughout because such sudden shifts in person are uncommon in contemporary English literature and retaining the third person is smoother. The Hebrew text reads: “From/With the weeping of Jazer I will weep for you, vine of Sibmah. Your tendrils crossed over the sea. They reached unto the sea of Jazer. Upon your summer fruit and your vintage [grape harvest] the destroyer has fallen.”
Their branches once spread as far as the Dead Sea. ▼
▼ Heb “crossed over to the Sea.”
They reached as far as the town of Jazer. ▼
▼ Or “reached the sea of Jazer.” The Sea is generally taken to be a reference to the Dead Sea. The translation presupposes that the word “sea” is to be omitted before “Jazer.” The word is missing from two Hebrew mss, from the parallel passage in Isa 16:8, and from the Greek version. It may have arisen from a mistaken copying of the same word in the preceding line.▼
▼ Though there is some doubt about the precise location of these places, Sibmah is generally considered to have been located slightly north and west of Heshbon and Jazer further north toward the border of Ammon not far from the city of Amman. Most commentators see the reference here (and in the parallel in Isa 16:8) to the spread of viticulture westward and northward from the vineyards of Sibmah. G. L. Keown, P. J. Scalise, and T. G. Smothers ( Jeremiah 26–52 [WBC], 318–19), however, see the reference rather to the spread of trade in wine westward beyond the coast of the Mediterranean and eastward into the desert.
The destroyer will ravage
her fig, date, ▼ and grape crops.
33 Joy and gladness will disappear
from the fruitful land of Moab. ▼
I will stop the flow of wine from the winepresses.
No one will stomp on the grapes there and shout for joy. ▼
▼ Heb “no one will tread [the grapes] with shout of joy.”
The shouts there will be shouts of soldiers,
not the shouts of those making wine. ▼
34 Cries of anguish raised from Heshbon and Elealeh
will be sounded as far as Jahaz. ▼
▼ The meaning of this verse is very uncertain. The ambiguity of the syntax and the apparent elliptical nature of this text makes the meaning of this verse uncertain. The Hebrew text reads: “From the cry of Heshbon unto Elealeh unto Jahaz they utter their voice from Zoar unto Horonaim Eglath Shelishiyah.” The translation and interpretation here are based on interpreting the elliptical syntax here by the parallel passage in Isaiah 15:4–6 where cries of anguish rise from Heshbon and Elealeh which are heard all the way to Jahaz. The people flee southward arriving at Zoar and Eglath Shelishiyah where they voice the news of the destruction in the north. Hence, the present translation interprets the phrase “from the cry of Heshbon unto Elealeh” to be parallel to “Heshbon and Elealeh cry out” and take the preposition “from” with the verb “they utter their voice,” i.e., with the cry of Heshbon and Elealeh. The impersonal “they raise their voice” is then treated as a passive and made the subject of the whole verse. There is some debate about the identification of the waters of Nimrim. They may refer to the waters of the Wadi Nimrim which enters the Jordan about eight miles north of the Dead Sea or those of the Wadi en-Numeirah which flows into the southern tip of the Dead Sea from about ten miles south. Most commentators take the reference to be the latter because of association with Zoar. However, if the passage is talking about the destruction in the north which is reported in the south by the fleeing refugees, the reference is probably to the Wadi Nimrim in the north.▼
▼ Elealeh was about two miles (3.3 km) north of Heshbon. Jahaz was about twenty miles (33 km) south of it. These three cities were in the north and Zoar, Horonaim, and Eglath Shelishiyah were apparently in the south. The verse is speaking about the news of destruction in the north spreading to the south. Comparison should be made with the parallel passage in Isa 15:4–6.
They will be sounded from Zoar as far as Horonaim and Eglath Shelishiyah.
For even the waters of Nimrim will be dried up.
35 I will put an end in Moab
to those who make offerings at her places of worship. ▼
I will put an end to those who sacrifice to other gods.
I, the Lord, affirm it! ▼
36 So my heart moans for Moab
like a flute playing a funeral song.
Yes, like a flute playing a funeral song,
my heart moans for the people of Kir Heres.
For the wealth they have gained will perish.
37 For all of them will shave their heads in mourning.
They will all cut off their beards to show their sorrow.
They will all make gashes in their hands.
They will all put on sackcloth. ▼
▼ Heb “upon every loin [there is] sackcloth.” The word “all” is restored here before “loin” with a number of Hebrew mss and a number of versions. The words “in mourning” and “to show their sorrow” are not in the text. They have been supplied in the translation to give the average reader some idea of the significance of these acts.▼
38 On all the housetops in Moab
and in all its public squares
there will be nothing but mourning.
For I will break Moab like an unwanted jar.
I, the Lord, affirm it! ▼
39 Oh, how shattered Moab will be!
Oh, how her people will wail!
Oh, how she will turn away ▼
▼ Heb “turn her back.”in shame!
Moab will become an object of ridicule,
a terrifying sight to all the nations that surround her.”
40 For the Lord says,
“Look! Like an eagle with outspread wings
a nation will swoop down on Moab. ▼
▼ Heb “Behold! Like an eagle he will swoop and will spread his wings against Moab.” The sentence has been reordered in English to give a better logical flow and the unidentified “he” has been identified as “a nation.” The nation is, of course, Babylon, but it is nowhere identified so the referent has been left ambiguous.▼
▼ Conquering nations are often identified with a swiftly flying eagle swooping down on its victims (cf. Deut 28:49). In this case the eagle is to be identified with the nation (or king) of Babylon (cf. Ezek 17:3, 12 where reference is to the removal of Jehoiachin (Jeconiah) and his replacement with Zedekiah).
41 Her towns ▼
▼ Parallelism argues that the word קְרִיּוֹת (qeriyyot) be understood as the otherwise unattested feminine plural of the noun קִרְיָה (qiryah, “city”) rather than the place name Kerioth mentioned in v. 24 (cf. HALOT 1065 s.v. קִרְיָה). Both this noun and the parallel term “fortresses” are plural but are found with feminine singular verbs, being treated either as collectives or distributive plurals (cf. GKC 462-63 #145.c or 464 #145.l).will be captured.
Her fortresses will be taken.
At that time the soldiers of Moab will be frightened
like a woman in labor. ▼
▼ Heb “The heart of the soldiers of Moab will be like the heart of a woman in labor.”
42 Moab will be destroyed and no longer be a nation, ▼
▼ Heb “Moab will be destroyed from [being] a people.”
because she has vaunted herself against the Lord.
43 Terror, pits, and traps ▼ are in store
for the people who live in Moab. ▼
▼ Heb “are upon you, inhabitant of Moab.” This is another example of the rapid switch in person or direct address (apostrophe) in the midst of a third person description or prediction which the present translation typically keeps in the third person for smoother English style.
I, the Lord, affirm it! ▼
44 Anyone who flees at the sound of terror
will fall into a pit.
Anyone who climbs out of the pit
will be caught in a trap. ▼
For the time is coming
when I will punish the people of Moab. ▼
▼ Heb “For I will bring upon her, even upon Moab, the year of her punishment.”
I, the Lord, affirm it! ▼
45 In the shadows of the walls of Heshbon
those trying to escape will stand helpless.
For a fire will burst forth from Heshbon.
Flames will shoot out from the former territory of Sihon.
They will burn the foreheads of the people of Moab,
the skulls of those war-loving people. ▼
▼ Or “of those noisy boasters.” Or “They will burn up the frontiers of Moab. They will burn up the mountain heights of those war-loving people.” The meaning of this verse is not entirely certain because of the highly figurative nature of the last two lines. The Hebrew text has been translated somewhat literally here. The Hebrew text reads: “In the shadow of Heshbon those fleeing stand without strength. For a fire goes forth from Heshbon, a flame from the midst of Sihon. And it devours the forehead of Moab and the skull of the sons of noise.” The meaning of the first part is fairly clear because v. 2 has already spoken of the conquest of Heshbon and a plot formed there to conquer the rest of the nation. The fire going forth from Heshbon would hence refer here to the conflagrations of war spreading from Heshbon to the rest of the country. The reference to the “midst of Sihon” is to be understood metonymically as a reference for the ruler to what he once ruled (cf. E. W. Bullinger, Figures of Speech, 583). The last two lines must refer to more than the fugitives who stopped at Heshbon for protection because it refers to the forehead of Moab (a personification of the whole land or nation). It is unclear, however, why reference is made to the foreheads and skulls of the Moabites, other than the fact that this verse seems to be a readaptation or reuse of Num 24:17 where the verb used with them is “smite” which fits nicely in the sense of martial destruction. Translated rather literally, it appears here to refer to the destruction by the fires of war of the Moabites, the part (forehead and skulls) put for the whole. TEV sees a reference here to the “frontiers” and “mountain heights” of Moab and this would work nicely for “foreheads” which is elsewhere used of the corner or border of a land in Neh 9:22. The word “crown” or “skull” might be a picturesque metaphor for the mountain heights of a land, but the word is never used elsewhere in such a figurative way. TEV (and CEV) which follows it might be correct here but there is no way to validate it. The meaning “war-loving people” for the phrase “sons of noise” is based on the suggestion of BDB 981 s.v. שָׁאוֹן 1 which relates the phrase to the dominant use for שָׁאוֹן (sha’on) and is adopted also by TEV, CEV, and C. von Orelli, Jeremiah, 341. REB “braggarts” and NIV “noisy boasters” seem to base the nuance on the usage of שָׁאוֹן (sha’on) in Jer 46:17 where Pharaoh is referred to as an empty noise and the reference to Moab’s arrogance and boasting in 48:29.▼
▼ This verse and the next are an apparent adaptation and reuse of a victory song in Num 21:28–29 and a prophecy in Num 24:17. That explains the reference to Sihon who was the Amorite king who captured Heshbon and proceeded from there to capture most of northern Moab (the area between Heshbon and the Arnon) which has been referred to earlier in this prophecy. This prophecy appears to speak of the destruction of Moab beginning from the same place under the picture of a destructive fire which burns up all the people. The fire is a reference to the conflagrations of war in which the enemy captures the cities and sets them on fire and burns all the people in them. What Sihon once did (Num 21:28–29) and what Balaam prophesied would happen to Moab in the future (by David? Num 24:17) are being reapplied to a new situation.
46 Moab, you are doomed! ▼
You people who worship Chemosh will be destroyed.
Your sons will be taken away captive.
Your daughters will be carried away into exile. ▼
▼ Heb “Your sons will be taken away into captivity, your daughters into exile.”
47 Yet in days to come
I will reverse Moab’s ill fortune.” ▼
says the Lord. ▼
The judgment against Moab ends here.
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