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The Gospel To Israel
Book 1

Isaiah 15:1-18:7


The Oracle concerning Moab
Chapters 15-16

So far as the surrounding nations were concerned,  the monarchy of  Israel commenced with victory and glory.  Saul punished them all severely for their previous offences against Israel (1 Sam 14:47).

1 Samuel 14:47-48
So Saul established his sovereignty over Israel, and fought against all his enemies on every side, against Moab, against the people of Ammon, against Edom, against the kings of  Zobah, and against the Philistines. Wherever he turned, he harassed them. And he gathered an army and attacked the Amalekites, and delivered Israel from the hands of those who plundered them.

The Moabites were completely subdued by David (2 Sam 8:2).

2 Samuel 8:2
Then he defeated Moab. Forcing them down to the ground, he measured them off with a line. With two lines he measured off those to be put to death, and with one full line those to be kept alive. So the Moabites became David's servants, and brought tribute.

After the division of  the kingdom,  the northern kingdom took possession of  Joab.
The Moabites paid tribute from their flocks to Samaria. But when Ahab died,  Mesha the king of  Moab refused this tribute (2 Kings 1:1; 3:4 ff.).
Ahaziah of  Israel let this refusal pass.  In the meantime,  the Moabites formed an alliance with other nations,  and invaded Judah.  But the allies destroyed one another,  and Jehoshaphat celebrated in the valley of Berachah the victory which he had gained without a battle,  and which is commemorated in several psalms.  And when Jehoram the king of  Israel attempted to subjugate Moab again,  Jehoshaphat made common cause with him.

And the Moabites were defeated;  but the fortress, the Moabitish Kir,  which was situated upon a steep and lofty chalk rock,  remained standing still.  The interminable contests of  the northern kingdom with the Syrians rendered it quite impossible to maintain either Moab itself,  or the land to the east of  the Jordan in general. During the reign of  Jehu,  the latter,  in all its length and breadth,  even as far south as the Arnon,  was taken by the Syrians (2 Kings 10:32-33).

2 Kings 10:32-33
In those days the LORD began to cut off parts of Israel; and Hazael conquered them in all the territory of Israel from the Jordan eastward: all the land of Gilead — Gad, Reuben, and Manasseh — from Aroer, which is by the River Arnon, including Gilead and Bashan.

The tribes that were now no longer tributary to the kingdom of  Israel oppressed the Israelitish population,  and avenged upon the crippled kingdom the loss of  their independence.  Jeroboam II,  as the prophet Jonah had foretold (2 Kings 14:25),  was the first to reconquer the territory of  Israel from Hamath to the Dead Sea.

2 Kings 14:25
He restored the territory of Israel from the entrance of Hamath to the Sea of the Arabah, according to the word of the LORD God of Israel, which He had spoken through His servant Jonah the son of Amittai, the prophet who was from Gath Hepher.
It is not indeed expressly stated that he subjugated Moab again;  but as Moabitish bands had disturbed even the country on this side under his predecessor Joash (2 Kings 13:20), 
2 Kings 13:20
Then Elisha died, and they buried him. And the raiding bands from Moab invaded the land in the spring of the year.
it may be supposed that he also attempted to keep Moab within bounds.

If the Moabites,  as is very probable,  had extended their territory northwards beyond the Arnon,  the war with Joab was inevitable.  Moreover,  under Jeroboam II on the one hand,  and Uzziah-Jotham on the other,  we read nothing about the Moabites rising;  but,  on the contrary,  such notices as those contained in
1 Chron 5:17 and 2 Chron 26:10,

1 Chronicles 5:16-17
And the Gadites dwelt in Gilead, in Bashan and in its villages, and in all the common-lands of Sharon within their borders.  All these were registered by genealogies in the days of Jotham king of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam king of Israel.
2 Chronicles 26:9-10
And Uzziah built towers in Jerusalem at the Corner Gate, at the Valley Gate, and at the corner buttress of the wall; then he fortified them. Also he built towers in the desert. He dug many wells, for he had much livestock, both in the lowlands and in the plains; he also had farmers and vinedressers in the mountains and in Carmel, for he loved the soil.
show that they kept themselves quiet. But the application made by Ahaz to Assyria called up the hostility of Joab and the neighboring nations again.  Tiglath-pileser repeated what the Syrians had done before.  He took possession of  the northern part of  the land on this side,  and the whole of  the land on the other side,  and depopulated them.  This furnished an opportunity for the Moabites to re-establish themselves in their original settlements to the north of the Arnon.  And this was how it stood at the time when Isaiah prophesied.

The calamity which befell them came from the north,  and therefore fell chiefly and primarily upon the country to the north of the Arnon,  which the Moabites had taken possession of but a short time before,  after it had been peopled for a long time by the tribes of  Reuben and Gad.
(From Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament: New Updated Edition, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1996 by Hendrickson Publishers, Inc.)


Had been subdued by Saul  (1 Samuel 14:47)
Had been subdued by David  (2 Samuel 8:2)
Paid tribute to Ahab  (2 Kings 1:1; 3:4,5)
Jehoshaphat gained victories   (2 Chron. 20:1-30;  2 Kings 3:4-27)
Tiglath-pileser carried away tribes east of Jordan,  and received tribute from Moab as well as from Ahaz.  (2 Kings 16:10)
Ar Rabbah (Numbers 21:28;  Deuteronomy 2:9,18,29)
Kir Kirak, east of south end of the Dead Sea
Dibon Dhiban.  (Numbers 21:30;  32:3,34;  33:45,46.   Joshua 13:9,17;   Jeremiah 18:22)
Nebo Jebel Neba in Moab, overlooking the Jordan Valley
Medeba Same name.    (Numbers 21:30;   Joshua 13:9,16;   1 Chron. 19:7)
Heshbon Heshban. The capital of the Amorites. Rebuilt by Reuben..   (Numbers 32:37)
Elealeh el’Al, near Heshbon    (Isaiah 16:9;   Numbers 32:3,37;   Jeremiah 48:34)

Note:  Employ your reason,  and you will be able to discern what is said allegorically,  figuratively or hyperbolically,  and what is meant literally,  exactly according to the original meaning of the words.
You will then understand all prophecies,  as interpreted by the Jews,  and you will learn and retain rational principles of your faith,  which is pleasing in the eyes of  God who is most pleased with truth,  and most displeased with falsehood.
Paul the Learner.

Isaiah 15:1

From the Tanakh From the  LXX From the Targum
(1)  The “Moab” Pronouncement.   The oracle of the cup of cursing to give to Moab to drink.
Ah, in the night Ar was sacked, By night the land of Moab shall be destroyed.  
Moab was ruined;    
Ah, in the night Kir was sacked,
Moab was ruined.
For by night the wall of the land of Moab shall be destroyed.  

From the NKJV

(1)  The burden against Moab.  Because in the night Ar of Moab is laid waste and destroyed,  because in the night Kir of Moab is laid waste and destroyed,

There is no other prophecy in the book of  Isaiah in which the heart of  the prophet is so painfully affected by what his mind sees,  and his mouth is obliged to prophesy.  All that he predicts evokes his deepest sympathy,  just as if  he himself belonged to the unfortunate nation to which he is called to be a messenger of  woe.  The prophet justifies the peculiar heading to his prophecy from the horrible vision given him to see,  and takes us at once into the very heart of  the vision.

Ar - the name of  the capital of  Moab (Grecized, Areopolis),  which was situated to the south of  the Arnon,  at present a large field of  ruins,  with a village of  the name of  Rabba.

Kir  - (in which Kir is the Moabitish for Kiryah)  was the chief  fortress of  Joab,  which was situated to the south-east of  Ar,  the present Kerek,  where there is still a town with a fortification upon a rock, which can be seen from Jerusalem with a telescope on a clear day,  and forms so thoroughly one mass with the rock,  that in 1834, when Ibrahim Pasha resolved to pull it down,  he was obliged to relinquish the project.

The prophet repeats twice what it would have been quite sufficient to say once,  just as if  he had been condemned to keep his eye fixed upon the awful spectacle.  His first sensation is that of horror.

Isaiah 15:2-4
From the Tanakh From the  LXX
(2)  He went up to the temple to weep, Grieve for yourselves;
Dibon a [went] to the outdoor shrines. Even Debon, where your altar is, shall be destroyed.
Over Nebo and Medeba Thither shall ye go up to weep, over Nabau of the land of Moab:
Moab is wailing; on every head is baldness,  
Every beard is shorn. All arms shall be (cut to pieces) wounded.
(3)  In its streets, they are girt with sackcloth; on its roofs,
in its squares, everyone is wailing, streaming with tears.
(4)  Heshbon and Elealeh cry out, their voice carries to Jahaz. The loins of the region of Moab cry aloud;
Therefore, the shock troops of Moab shout, his body is convulsed Her soul shall know.

From the NKJV

(2)   He has gone up to the temple and Dibon,  to the high places to weep.  Moab will wail over Nebo and over Medeba;  on all their heads will be baldness,  and every beard cut off.
(3)    In their streets they will clothe themselves with sackcloth;   on the tops of their houses and in their streets everyone will wail, weeping bitterly.
(4)   Heshbon and Elealeh will cry out,  their voice shall be heard as far as Jahaz;  therefore the armed soldiers of Moab will cry out;  his life will be burdensome to him.

But just as horror,  when once it begins to reflect,  is dissolved in tears,  the thunder-claps in verse 1 are followed by universal weeping and lamentation.  The people ascend the mountain with the temple of  Chemosh,  the central sanctuary of  the land.  This temple is called  hab-baith.

All runs down with weeping (culloh).  In other cases it is the eyes that are said to run down in tears,  streams,  or water-brooks;  but here,  by a still bolder metonymy,  the whole man is said to flow down to the ground,  as if  melting in a stream of  tears.

Heshbon and Elale are still visible in their ruins,  which lie only half an hour apart upon their separate hills and are still called by the names Husban and el-Al.  They were both situated upon hills that commanded an extensive prospect.  And there the cry of  woe created an echo that was audible as far as Jahaz (Jahza),  the city where the king of  Heshbon offered battle to Israel in the time of  Moses (Deut 2:32-34  "Then Sihon and all his people came out against us to fight at Jahaz. And the LORD our God delivered him over to us; so we defeated him, his sons, and all his people."). 

The general mourning was so great, that even the armed men, i.e., the heroes (Jer 48:41) of  Moab,  were seized with despair,  and cried out in their anguish.

Jeremiah 48:41
Kerioth is taken,  and the strongholds are surprised;  the mighty men's hearts in Moab on that day shall be
Like the heart of a woman in birth pangs.    (NKJV)

The heart of  the prophet participates in this pain with which Moab is agitated throughout;  for,  as Rashi observes,  it is just in this that the prophets of  Israel were distinguished from heathen prophets,  such as Balaam for example,  viz.,  that the calamities which they announced to the nations went to their own heart (compare Isa 21:3-4).
(From Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament: New Updated Edition, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1996 by Hendrickson Publishers, Inc.)

Isaiah 21:3-4
Therefore my loins are filled with pain;  pangs have taken hold of me, like the pangs of a woman in labor.  I was distressed when I heard it; I was dismayed when I saw it. My heart wavered, fearfulness frightened me;  the night for which I longed He turned into fear for me.    (NKJV)

Isaiah 15:5a
From the Tanakh From the  LXX
(5)  My heart cries out for Moab – his fugitives flee down to Zoar, to Eglath-shelishiyah. For it is as a heifer of three years old:

From the NKJV

(5a)  "My heart will cry out for Moab;  his fugitives shall flee to Zoar  like a three-year-old heifer.

"Moab,"  which was masculine in verse 4,  is feminine here.

The statement that the fugitives of  this land went to Zoar is also a very appropriate one,  for Kir Moab and Zoar formed the southern fortified girdle of  the land;  and Zoar,  on the south-western tongue of  land which runs into the Dead Sea,  was the uttermost fortress of  Moab,  looking over towards Judah;  and in its depressed situation below the level of  the sea it formed,  as it were,  the opposite pole of  Kir Moab,  the highest point in the high land itself.

A three-year-old heifer
A three-year-old ox,  is one that is still in all the freshness and fullness of its strength,  and that has not yet been exhausted by the length of  time that it has worn the yoke.  Thus Zoar, (the ox of three years),  the fine,  strong,  and hitherto unconquered city,  is now the destination of  the wildest flight before the foe that is coming from the north.  A blow has fallen upon Joab,  which is more terrible than any that has preceded it.

Isaiah 15:5b, 6
From the Tanakh From the  LXX From the Targum
(5) For the ascent of Luhith
They ascend with weeping;
On the road to Horonaim
They raise a cry of anguish. She cries, Destruction, and trembling. Those defeated in battle.
(6)  Ah, the waters of Nimrim
Are become a desolation;
The grass is sear, Shall fail: The grass is dried up, the tender grass has failed,
The herbage is gone, For there shall be no green grass.  
Vegetation is vanished.    

From the NKJV

(5b)  For by the Ascent of Luhith they will go up with weeping;  for in the way of Horonaim they will raise up a cry of destruction,  (6)  For the waters of Nimrim will be desolate,  for the green grass has withered away; the grass fails, there is nothing green.

In a few co-ordinate clauses the prophet now sets before us the several scenes of  mourning and desolation.
The road to Luhith  (between Ar-Moab and Zoar,  and therefore in the center of  Moabites proper)  led up a height,  and the road to Horonayim down a slope (according to Jer 48:5 "For in the Ascent of Luhith they ascend ... For in the descent of Horonaim the enemies have heard a cry of destruction.).

Weeping,  they ran up to the mountain city to hide themselves there.
Raising loud cries of despair,  they stand in front of  Horonayim,  which lay below,  and was more exposed,  to the enemy.

From the farthest south the scene would suddenly be transferred to the extreme north of  the territory of  Moab,  if  Nimrim were the Nimra (Beth-Nimra, Talm. nimrin)  which was situated near to the Jordan in Gilead,  and therefore farther north than any of  the places previously mentioned,  and the ruins of which lie a little to the south of  Salt,  and are still called Nimrin.  But the name itself,  which is derived from the vicinity of  fresh water (nemir, nemîr, clear, pure, sound),  is one of  frequent occurrence;  and even to the south of  Moabitis proper there is a Wady Numeri,  and a brook called Moyet Numere  (two diminutives:  "dear little stream of Nimra"),  which flows through stony tracks,  and which formerly watered the country (Burckhardt, Seetzen, and De Saulcy).

The waters that flowed fresh from the spring had been filled up with rubbish by the enemy,  and would now probably lay waste for ever.  He had gone through the land scorching and burning,  so that all the vegetation had vanished.
(From Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament: New Updated Edition, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1996 by Hendrickson Publishers, Inc.)

Isaiah 15:7-9
From the Tanakh From the  LXX From the Targum
(7)  Therefore, Shall Moab even thus be delivered? The remnant of riches which they acquired
The gains they have made, and their stores, For I will bring the Arabians upon the valley, Plundered
They carry to the Wady of Willows. And they shall take it. Border, western sea taken from them.
8)  Ah, the cry has compassed
The country of Moab:
All the way to Eglaim her wailing,
Even at Beer-elim her wailing!
(9)  Ah, the waters of Dimon are full of blood   Of the slain:
For I pour added [water] on Dimon; For I will bring Arabians upon Dimon, Armies gathered
I drench d it – for Moab’s refugees – And I will take away the seed of Moab, Escaped of Moab
With soil for its remnant. And Ariel, and the remnant of Adama. Plunder remnant of land

From the NKJV

(7)  Therefore the abundance they have gained,  and what they have laid up,  they will carry away to the Brook of the Willows.  (8)  For the cry has gone all around the borders of Moab,  its wailing to Eglaim and its wailing to Beer Elim.  (9)  For the waters of  Dimon will be full of blood;  because I will bring more upon Dimon, lions upon him who escapes from Moab,  and on the remnant of the land."

As Moabitis has thus become a great scene of conflagration,  the Moabites cross the border and flee to Idumaea.  The reason for this is given in sentences that the prophet again links on to one another with the particle ci (for).

Wading through the willow-brook,  they carry their possessions across,  and hurry off  to the land of  Edom,  for their own land has become the prey of  the foe throughout its whole extent,  and within its boundaries the cry of  wailing passes from Eglayim,  on the south-west of  Ar,  and therefore not far from the southern extremity of  the Dead Sea,  as far as Beer-elim,  in the north-east of  the land towards the desert,  that is to say,  if we draw a diagonal through the land,  from one end to the other.

Blood.  Hebrew Dimon…dam.

Even the waters of  Dibon,  which are called Dimon here to produce a greater resemblance in sound to dâm,  blood,  and by which we are probably to understand the Arnon,  as this was only a short distance off  (just as in Judg 5:19 the  "waters of Megiddo"  are the Kishon),  are full of blood.

The number of the slain of  Moab shall be so great,  that the blood shall color the waters of the river-a very common occurrence in times of great slaughter.  Perhaps by the "waters" of  Dimon the prophet does not mean the river Arnon, but the small rivulets or streams that might flow into it near to the city of  Dibon.  Probably there were winter brooks there,  which do not run at all seasons. The Chaldee renders it, 'The waters of  Dimon shall be full of blood, because I will place upon Dimon an assembly of armies.'
(from Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft)

The enemy must have penetrated into the very heart of  the land in his course of devastation and slaughter.  But what drives them across the willow-brook is not this alone;  it is as if  they forebode that what has hitherto occurred is not the worst or the last.  Jehovah suspends over Dibon,  whose waters are already reddened with blood,  noosâphooth,  something to be added,  i.e.,  a still further judgment,  namely a lion.

The measure of Moab's misfortunes is not yet full:  after the northern enemy,  a lion will come upon those that have escaped by flight or have been spared at home.  This lion is no other than the basilisk of  the prophecy against Philistia,  but with this difference,  that the basilisk represents one particular Davidic king,  whilst the lion is Judah generally,  whose emblem was the lion from the time of  Jacob's blessing, in Gen 49:9.
(From Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament: New Updated Edition, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1996 by Hendrickson Publishers, Inc.)

Genesis 49:9
Judah is a lion's whelp;  from the prey, my son, you have gone up.  He bows down, he lies down as a lion; and as a lion, who shall rouse him?     (NKJV)

Wild beasts upon those who escaped from the slaughter, and who took refuge in the wilderness, or on the mountains.     (from Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft)

All the enemies of  God's people,  who now taunt and oppress them,  as Moab did Israel,  shall,  like Moab,  at last be  "brought to silence."  Neither fortresses nor  "armed soldiers"  can avail aught to ward off  the doom that is from the Lord.  How infinitely wiser it would be to weep in repentance for sins now,  than to have to "weep" and "howl" for justly-incurred sufferings hereafter!
(from Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft)


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Isaiah 16:1
From the Tanakh From the  LXX From the Targum
(1)  Dispatch as messenger I will send as it were reptiles on
the land:
Bring tribute to Messiah
The ruler of the land, Is not the mount of the daughter
of Sion
Mount of congregation of Zion
From Sela in the wilderness    
To the mount of Fair Zion: A desolate rock?  

From the NKJV

(1)  Send the lamb to the ruler of the land,  from Sela to the wilderness,  to the mount of the daughter of Zion.

But just because this lion is Judah and its government,  the summons goes forth to the Moabites,  who have fled to Edom,  and even to Sela, i.e., Petra (Wady Musa),  near Mount Hor in Arabia Petraea,  to which it gave its name,  to turn for protection to Jerusalem.

This verse is like a long-drawn trumpet-blast.
The prophecy against Moab takes the same turn here as in  Isa 14:32.
The judgment first of all produces slavish fear;  and this is afterwards refined into loving attachment.

Submission to the house of David is Moab's only deliverance.  This is what the prophet,  weeping with those that weep,  calls out to them in such long-drawn,  vehement,  and urgent tones,  even into the farthest hiding-place in which they have concealed themselves,  viz.,  the rocky city of the Edomite’s.  The tribute of  lambs which was due to the ruling prince is called briefly car moosheel-'eretz.

This tribute,  which the holders of  the pasture-land so rich in flocks have hitherto sent to Samaria (2 Kings 3:4), they are now to send to Jerusalem,  the "mountain of the daughter of  Zion,"  the way to which lay through  "the desert," i.e.,  first of all in a diagonal direction through the Arabah,  which stretched downwards to Aelath.

2 Kings 3:4
Now Mesha king of Moab was a sheepbreeder,  and he regularly paid the king of Israel one hundred thousand lambs and the wool of one hundred thousand rams.     (NKJV)

Isaiah 16:2
From the Tanakh From the  LXX From the Targum
(2)  “Like fugitive birds, For thou shalt be as a young bird.  
Like nestlings driven away, Taken away from a bird that has flown:  
Moab’s villagers linger Even thou shalt be so, daughter of Moab:  
By the fords of the Arnon. And then do thou, O Arnon, Carry their goods over the Arnon.

From the NKJV

(2)  For it shall be as a wandering bird thrown out of the nest;  so shall be the daughters of Moab at the fords of the Arnon.

The advice does not remain without effect,  but they embrace it eagerly.

"The daughters of Moab,"  are the inhabitants of  the cities and villages of  the land of  Moab.  They were already like birds soaring about (Prov 27:8), because of  their flight from their own land;  but here,  as we may see from the expression,  the simile is intended to depict the condition into which they would be thrown by the prophet's advice.

Proverbs 27:8
Like a bird that wanders from its nest is a man who wanders from his place.     (NKJV)

It is a state of  anxious and timid indecision,  resembling the fluttering to and fro of  birds,  that have been driven away from their nest,  and wheel anxiously round and round,  without daring to return to their old home.  In this way the daughters of  Moab, coming out of  their hiding-places,  whether nearer or more remote,  show themselves at the fords of  the Arnon,  that is to say,  on the very soil of  their old home,  which was situated between the Arnon and Wady el-Ahsa,  and which was now devastated by the hand of a foe,  we should regard as in apposition to benoth Moab (the daughters of Moab),  if  ma'bâroth  signifies the coast-lands (like 'ebree in Isa 7:20),  and not,  as it invariably does,  the fords.
It is locative in its meaning,  and is so accentuated.

Isaiah 16:3, 4a
From the Tanakh From the  LXX From the Targum
(3)  Give advice, Take farther counsel, Make a decision (or, plan); make thy shadow as the night
Offer counsel. And continually make thou a shelter from grief:  
At high noon make your shadow like night: They flee in darkness at mid-day;  
Conceal the outcasts, They are amazed;  
Betray not the fugitives Be not thou led captive Let not the dispersed come near.
(4)  Let Moab’s outcasts    
find asylum in you;   O kingdom of Moab;
be a shelter for them against the despoiler.    

From the NKJV

(3)   "Take counsel, execute judgment;  make your shadow like the night in the middle of the day;  hide the outcasts,  do not betray him who escapes.
(4a)   Let My outcasts dwell with you, O Moab; be a shelter to them from the face of the spoiler.

There they show themselves,  on the spot to which their land once reached before it passed into the possession of  Israel  -  there,  on its farthest boundary in the direction towards Judah,  which was seated above;  and taking heart,  address the following petitions to Zion,  or to the Davidic court,  on the other side.

In their extremity they appeal to Zion for counsel,  and the once proud but now thoroughly humbled Moabites place the decision of  their fate in the hands of  the men of  Judah (so according to the Keri),  and stand before Zion praying most earnestly for shelter and protection.  Their fear of the enemy is so great,  that in the light of the noonday sun they desire to be covered with the protecting shade of  Zion as with the blackness of night,  that they may not be seen by the foe.

Isaiah 16:4b, 5
From the Tanakh From the  LXX From the Targum
(4)  For violence has vanished, For thine alliance has been taken away,  
Rapine is ended, and marauders have perished from this land. The oppressing ruler has perished from off the earth.  
(5)  And a throne shall be established
in goodness
With mercy; Of the Anointed One (or, Messiah)
in the tent of David, And one shall sit upon it with truth in the tabernacle of David,  
And on it shall sit in faithfulness a
ruler devoted to justice
Judging, and earnestly seeking judgments,  
And zealous for equity. And hasting righteousness. And executing truth.

From the NKJV

(4b)  For the extortioner is at an end,  devastation ceases,  the oppressors are consumed out of the land.
(5)   In mercy the throne will be established;  and One will sit on it in truth, in the tabernacle of David,  judging and seeking justice and hastening righteousness."

The question then arises,

By what means has Zion awakened such reverence and confidence on the part of Moab?
This question is answered in vv. 4 b, 5.
The imperial world-power,  which pressed out both marrow and blood  (meetz,  a noun of  the same form as leetz - pressure),  and devastated and trod down everything,  is swept away from the land on this side of  the Jordan;  Jerusalem is not subject to it now,  but has come forth more gloriously out of all her oppressions than ever she did before.

And the throne of  the kingdom of  Judah has not fallen down,  but by the manifestation of  Jehovah's grace has been newly established.  There no longer sits thereon a king who dishonors Him,  and endangers His kingdom; but the tent-roof of  the fallen and now re-erected hut of  David  (Amos 9:11)  is spread over a King in whom the truth of  the promise of  Jehovah is verified, inasmuch as justice and righteousness are realized through all that He does. 

Amos 9:11
On that day I will raise up the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down, and repair its damages; I will raise up its ruins, and rebuild it as in the days of old.     (NKJV)

The Messianic times must therefore have dawned  (so the Targum understands it),  since

grace and truth (chesed ve'emeth)
justice and righteousness (mishpât uutzedâkâh)
are the divino-human signs of  those times,  and as it were their kindred genii;  and who can here fail to recall to mind the words of  Isa 9:6?  The king depicted here is the same as  "the lion out of Judah."

Only by thus submitting to Him and imploring His grace will it escape the judgment.

Here we have the character of such a king as cannot fail to be a blessing to the people.

1. He sits 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 neighboring 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 seeks 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.
(from Adam Clarke's Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1996 by Biblesoft)

Isaiah 16:6
From the Tanakh From the  LXX From the Targum
(6)  “We have heard of Moab’s pride –   The princes of Moab who act exceeding proudly,
Most haughty is he –   Even their nobles, and their delicate ones;
Of his pride and haughtiness and arrogance, I have cut off his pride: Respect of their punishment
And of the iniquity in him.” hy prophecy shall not be thus, no not thus. No profit to them

From the NKJV

(6)  We have heard of the pride of Moab — he is very proud — of his haughtiness and his pride and his wrath;  but his lies shall not be so.

The prophecy enters here upon a new stage,  commencing with Moab's sin,  and depicting the fate of  Moab in still more sorrowful strains.  The future self-humiliation of  Moab,  which would be the fruit of  its sufferings,  is here contrasted with the previous self-exaltation,  of  which these sufferings were the fruit.

"We have heard,"  says the prophet,  identifying himself with his people.
Boasting pompousness has hitherto been the distinguishing characteristic of  Moab in relation to the latter (see Isa 25:11).

Isaiah 25:11
And He will spread out His hands in their midst as a swimmer reaches out to swim, and He will bring down their pride together with the trickery of their hands.     (NKJV)

The heaping up of  words of  the same verbal stem is here intended to indicate how thoroughly haughty was their haughtiness (Rom 7:13,  "that sin might become exceeding sinful"),  and how completely it had taken possession of  Moab.  It boasted and was full of  rage towards Israel,  to which,  so far as it retained its consciousness of  the truth of  Jehovah,  the talk of  Moab must necessarily appear as lo'-keen,  not-right,  i.e.,  at variance with fact.  These expressions of  opinion had been heard by the people of  God,  and by Israel's God as well.

Isaiah 16:7, 8
From the Tanakh From the  LXX From the Targum
(7)  Ah, let Moab howl;
Let all in Moab howl!
For the raisin-cakes of Kir-hareseth But thou shalt care for them that dwell in Seth, Of the men
You shall moan most pitifully And thou shalt not be ashamed. They are subdued.
(8)  The vineyards of Heshbon are withered, The plains of Esebon shall mourn, The armies
And the vines of Sibmah; The companies of Sibmah are slain;  
Their tendrils spread Swallowing up the nations, Kings of nations murdered their princes:
To Baale-goiim, Trample ye her vines,  
And reached to Jazer, Even to Jazer: ye shall not come together; Their outcasts have come even unto Jazer;
And strayed to the desert; Wander ye in the desert: Wandered into the wilderness,
Their shoots spread out They that were sent are deserted,  
And crossed the sea. For they have gone over to the sea. They have crossed, they have gone over

From the NKJV

(7)  Therefore Moab shall wail for Moab; everyone shall wail.
For the foundations of Kir Hareseth you shall mourn; surely they are stricken.
(8) For the fields of Heshbon languish, and the vine of Sibmah; the lords of the nations have broken down its choice plants, which have reached to Jazer and wandered through the wilderness.
Her branches are stretched out, they are gone over the sea.

Therefore the delightful land is miserably laid waste.

Heres or Hareseth may possibly refer to the glazed tiles or grooved stones.  As this was the principal fortress of  Moab,  and according to Isa 15:1 it had already been destroyed,  'ashishee appears to mean the "strong foundations," - namely,  as laid bare;  in other words,  the "ruins".

Foundations...shall  mourn
That is,  that city shall be destroyed.  The word rendered here  'foundations'  'Şshiysheey (OT:808).
It is rendered:
In the Septuagint 'The inhabitants'
In the Chaldee 'Men'
Jeremiah, in the parallel place, renders it also 'men' (Jer 48:31  I will mourn for the men of Kir Heres)
(from Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft)

The wine of  Sibmah was so good,  that it was placed upon the tables of  monarchs,  and so strong that it smote down,  i.e.,  inevitably intoxicated,  even those who were accustomed to good wines.  This Sibmah wine was cultivated,  as the prophet says,  far and wide in Moab-northwards as far as Jazer (between Ramoth, i.e., Salt, and Heshbon, now a heap of ruins),  eastwards into the desert,  and southwards across the Dead Sea.
Jeremiah defines yâm  (the sea)  more closely as yam Jazer  (the sea of  Jazer -  Jer 48:32).

Isaiah 16:9
From the Tanakh From the  LXX From the Targum
(9)  Therefore, as I weep for Jazer,   As I brought armies against Jazer,
So I weep for Sibmah’s vines;
O Heshbon and Elealeh,
  So will I bring slayers against Sibmah;
I drench you with my tears. Have cast down thy trees;  
Ended are the shouts For I will trample on thy harvest and on thy vintages,  
Over your fig and grain harvests. And all thy plants shall fall.  

From the NKJV

(9)  Therefore I will bewail the vine of Sibmah, with the weeping of Jazer; I will drench you with my tears,
O Heshbon and Elealeh; for battle cries have fallen over your summer fruits and your harvest.

The beauties of  nature and fruitfulness of  the land,  which come into the possession of  any nation,  are gifts from the riches of  divine goodness,  remnants of  the paradisiacal commencement of  the history of  man,  and types of  its paradisiacal close;  and for this very reason they are not matters of  indifference to the spirit of  prophecy.  And for the same reason,  it is not unworthy of  a prophet,  who predicts the renovation of  nature and the perfecting of  it into the beauty of  paradise,  to weep over such a devastation as that of  the Moabitish vineyards which was now passing before his mind.

The circumstantiality of  the vision is here swallowed up again by the sympathy of  the prophet;  and the prophecy,  which is throughout as truly human as it is divine,  becomes soft and flowing like an elegy.  The prophet mingles his tears with the tears of  Jazer.  Just as the latter weeps for the devastated vines of Sibmah,  so does he also weep.  The form corresponds to the sorrowful tone of  the whole strophe.

Heshbon and Elealeh,  those closely connected cities,  with their luxuriant fields,  are now lying in ruins;  and the prophet waters them with tears,  because Hędad has fallen upon the fruit-harvest and vintage of  both the sister cities.  In other instances the term kâtziir is applied to the wheat-harvest.

Or Shibmah,  was a city of  Reuben (Num 32:38; Josh 13:19). Jeremiah, in the parallel place (Jer 48:32  O vine of Sibmah! I will weep for you) speaks of the vine of  Sibmah also.  He also says that the enemies of  Moab had taken Sibmah,  and that the vine and wine had been destroyed (Jer 48:33).   There was no more certain mode of  producing desolation in a land where grapes were extensively cultivated than to cut down the vines.  The Turks constantly practice that in regard to their enemies,  and the result is,  that wide desolation comes upon the countries which they invade.  At this time it is probable that Sibmah belonged to the Moabites.  It is mentioned here as being distinguished for the luxuriant production of the grape.
Seetzen still found the vine cultivated in that region.
Jerome says,  that between Sibmah and Heshbon there was scarcely a distance of  five hundred paces,  half a Roman mile.
(from Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft)

Numbers 32:37-38
And the children of Reuben built Heshbon and Elealeh and Kirjathaim, Nebo and Baal Meon (their names being changed) and Shibmah; and they gave other names to the cities which they built.     (NKJV)

Joshua 13:15-19
And Moses had given to the tribe of the children of Reuben an inheritance according to their families. Their territory was from Aroer, which is on the bank of the River Arnon, and the city that is in the midst of the ravine, and all the plain by Medeba;  Heshbon and all its cities that are in the plain: Dibon, Bamoth Baal, Beth Baal Meon,  Jahaza, Kedemoth, Mephaath,  Kirjathaim, Sibmah, Zereth Shahar on the mountain of the valley,     (NKJV)

That it does not refer to the wheat-harvest here,  but to the vintage,  which was nearly coincident with the
fruit-harvest  (which is called kaytz, as in Isa 28:4),  is evident from the figure suggested in the word  heedâd,  which was the shout raised by the pressers of  the grapes,  to give the time for moving their feet when treading out the wine  (verse 10).
A heedâd of  this kind had fallen upon the rich floors of  Heshbon-Elealeh,  inasmuch as they had been trodden down by enemies - a Hedad,  and yet no Hedad,  as Jeremiah gives it in a beautiful oxymoron (Isa 48:33), i.e., no joyous shout of actual grape-treaders.

Jeremiah 48:33
Joy and gladness are taken from the plentiful field and from the land of Moab;  I have caused wine to fail from the winepresses; no one will tread with joyous shouting — Not joyous shouting!     (NKJV)

Isaiah 16:10, 11
From the Tanakh From the  LXX From the Targum
(10)  Rejoicing and gladness
Are gone from the farm land;
In the vineyards no shouting
Or cheering is heard.
No more does the treaded
Tread wine in the presses –   The treading of grapes have I made to cease.
The shouts have been silenced. For the vintage has ceased.  
(11)  Therefore, My belly shall sound as a harp for Moab,  
Like a lyre my heart moans for Moab, And thou hast repaired my inward parts  
And my very soul for Kir-heres. As a wall. Men of their strong city.

From the NKJV

(10)  Gladness is taken away, and joy from the plentiful field; in the vineyards there will be no singing, nor will there be shouting;  no treaders will tread out wine in the presses; I have made their shouting cease.
(11)  Therefore my heart shall resound like a harp for Moab, and my inner being for Kir Heres.

The prophet,  to whose favorite words and favorite figures Carmel belongs,  both as the name of  a place and as the name of  a thing,  now proceeds with his picture,  and is plunged still more deeply into mourning.

It is Jehovah who says  "I put an end;"  and consequently the words,  "My bowels sound like a harp,"  or,  as Jeremiah expresses it  (Jer 48:36),  like flutes,  might appear to be expressive of  the feelings of  Jehovah.
And the Scriptures do not hesitate to attribute mee'ayim  (viscera)  to God  (Jer 31:20  My heart yearns for him.).

Just as the hand or plectrum touches the strings of the harp,  so that they vibrate with sound;  so did the terrible things that he had heard Jehovah say concerning Moab touch the strings of  his inward parts,  and cause them to resound with notes of  pain. 

God conversed with the prophet  "in the spirit;"  but what passed there took the form of  individual impressions in the domain of  the soul,  in which impressions the bodily organs of  the psychical life sympathetically shared. Thus the prophet saw in the spirit the purpose of  God concerning Moab,  in which he could not and would not make any change;  but it threw his soul into all the restlessness of  pain.

Isaiah 16:12
From the Tanakh From the  LXX From the Targum
(12)  And when it has become
apparent that Moab has gained
nothing in the outdoor shrine, he
shall come to pray in his temple –
but to no avail.
And it shall be to thy shame, (for
Moab is wearied at the altars,) that he shall go in to the idols thereof to pray, but they shall not be at all able to deliver him.
And it shall come to pass when Moab is tired and weary on the high places, and enters into the house of his idol to pray, that he shall not prevail.

From the NKJV

(12)  And it shall come to pass, when it is seen that Moab is weary on the high place, that he will come to his sanctuary to pray; but he will not prevail.

The ultimate reason for this restlessness is that Moab does not know the living God.
A pictorial assonance,  such as Isaiah delights in,  is transferred from the Israelitish worship (appearance before God in His temple) to the heathen;  syntactically.  It would be with the Moabites as with the priests of  Baal in the time of  Elijah (1 Kings 18:26 ff.).

1 Kings 18:26
So they took the bull which was given them,  and they prepared it,  and called on the name of  Baal from morning even till noon,  saying,  "O Baal, hear us!"  But there was no voice;  no one answered.  Then they leaped about the altar that they had made.     (NKJV)

High place
Barnes says the  "high place"  denotes the place of idolatrous worship,  and here means the same as the temple of  Chemosh or his sanctuary.  Temples and altars were usually constructed on such places,  and especially the temples of  the pagan gods.  Moab is represented here as looking to her gods for protection.  Weary,  exhausted,  worn down with calamities,  she is represented as fleeing from the desolate towns and cities,  and taking refuge at the altar,  and seeking assistance there.  This,  says Jerome,  is the final misery.  She is now forsaken of  those aids to which she had always trusted,  and on which she had relied.  Her people slain;  her towns destroyed;  her strong places broken down;  her once fertile fields languishing and desolate,  she flees to the shrine of  her god,  and finds even her god unable to aid and defend her.
(from Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft)

Isaiah 16:13, 14
From the Tanakh From the  LXX From the Targum
(13)  That is the word that the Lord spoke concerning Moab long ago. This is the word which the Lord spoke against Moab, when he spoke. This is the word which the Lord hath spoken concerning
Moab heretofore.
(14)  And now the Lord has spoken: In three years, fixed like the years of a
hired laborer, Moab’s population, with all its huge multitude, shall shrink.
Only a remnant shall be left, of no consequence.
And now I say, In three years, of the years of an hireling, the glory of
Moab shall be dishonored with all his great wealth; and he shall be left
Few in number, and not honored.
And now the Lord hath decreed, saying, Within
Three years, as the years of an hireling, the glory of the Moabites shall
Come to an end with all their great multitude; and the remnant shall
Be exceeding small, and all their glory shall come to an end.

From the NKJV

(13)  This is the word which the LORD has spoken concerning Moab since that time.   (14)  But now the LORD has spoken, saying, "Within three years, as the years of a hired man, the glory of Moab will be despised with all that great multitude, and the remnant will be very small and feeble."

There follows an epilogue which fixes the term of  the fulfillment now for the first time,  from the standpoint of  the anticipated history.

Of working time the hirer remits nothing,  and the laborer gives nothing in.  The statement as to the time,  therefore,  is intended to be taken exactly:  three yearsnot more,  rather under than over.  Then will the old saying of  God concerning Moab be fulfilled?  Only a remnant,  a contemptible remnant,  will be left  (Isa 8:6,  in sense equivalent to wŞshaa'ar (OT:7605));   for every history of  the nations is but the shadow of  the history of  Israel.

Since that time
Isaiah 15:1-16:12 was a word that had already gone forth from Jehovah  "long ago."
This statement may be understood in three different senses:

Isaiah may mean that older prophecies had already foretold essentially the same concerning Moab.
But what prophecies?  We may get an answer to this question from the prophecies of  Jeremiah concerning Moab in Jer 48.  Jeremiah there reproduces the Moab of  the book of Isaiah,  but interweaves with it reminiscences
(1) Out of the mashal on Moab in Numbers 21:27-30
Therefore those who speak in proverbs say:
"Come to Heshbon, let it be built; let the city of Sihon be repaired.  For fire went out from Heshbon, a flame from the city of Sihon; it consumed Ar of Moab, the lords of the heights of the Arnon.
Woe to you, Moab!  You have perished, O people of Chemosh!  He has given his sons as fugitives, and his daughters into captivity, to Sihon king of the Amorites.
But we have shot at them; Heshbon has perished as far as Dibon. Then we laid waste as far as Nophah, which reaches to Medeba."     (NKJV)
(2) Out of Balaam's prophecy concerning Moab in Numbers 24:17
"I see Him, but not now; I behold Him, but not near; a Star shall come out of Jacob; a Scepter shall rise out of Israel, and batter the brow of Moab, and destroy all the sons of tumult.     (NKJV)
(3) Out of the prophecy of Amos concerning Moab (Amos 2:1-3)
Thus says the LORD:
"For three transgressions of Moab, and for four,  I will not turn away its punishment, because he burned the bones of the king of Edom to lime.
But I will send a fire upon Moab, and it shall devour the palaces of Kerioth;  Moab shall die with tumult, with shouting and trumpet sound. And I will cut off the judge from its midst, and slay all its princes with him,"  says the LORD.     (NKJV)
Isaiah might mean that Isa 15:1 ff.  contained the prophecy of  an older prophet,  which he merely brought to remembrance in order to connect therewith the precise tenor of its fulfillment that had been revealed to him.  Hitzig,  in a special work on the subject (1831 AD),  as well as in his Commentary,  has endeavored to prove,  on the ground of  2 Kings 14:25,  that in all probability Jonah was the author of  the oracle which Isaiah here resumes.
2 Kings 14:25
He restored the territory of Israel from the entrance of  Hamath to the Sea of the Arabah, according to the word of the LORD God of Israel,  which He had spoken through His servant Jonah the son of Amittai, the prophet who was from Gath Hepher.      (NKJV)
If the conjecture that Jonah was the author could but be better sustained,  we should heartily rejoice in this addition to the history of the literature of the Old Testament.  But all that we know of  Jonah is at variance with such a conjecture.  He was a prophet of the type of Elijah and Elisha,  in whom the eloquence of a prophet's words was thrown altogether into the shade by the energy of a prophet's deeds.
Isaiah may mean that the fate of  Moab,  which he has just proclaimed,  had been revealed to him long ago;  and the addition made now is,  that it will be fulfilled in exactly three years.
mee'aaz (OT:227) does not necessarily point to a time antecedent to that of  Isaiah himself.
If we assume that what Isaiah predicts down to Isa 16:12 was revealed to him in the year that Ahaz died,  and that the epilogue reckons from the third or tenth year of  Hezekiah,  in either case the interval is long enough for the mę'âz  (from of old).


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The Oracle concerning Damascus
Chapters 17:1-3

Isaiah 17:1-3
From the Tanakh From the  LXX From the Targum
(1)  Behold, Damascus shall cease to be a city; it shall become a heap of ruins.   Damascus is about to be taken away from being a kingdom.
(2)  The towns of Aroer shall be deserted; Abandoned for ever,  
They shall be a place for flocks To be a fold and resting-place for flocks,  
To lie down, with none disturbing. And there shall be none to go after them.  
(3)  Fortresses shall cease from
And she shall no longer be a strong place for Ephraim to flee to,  
And sovereignty from Damascus; No longer a kingdom in Damascus  
The remnant of Aram shall become   Or a remnant of Syrians; for thou art no better than the children of Israel
Like the mass of Israelites - declares
the Lord of Hosts.
Even than their glory;  

From the NKJV

(1)  The burden against Damascus.
"Behold, Damascus will cease from being a city, And it will be a ruinous heap.
(2)  The cities of Aroer are forsaken;  They will be for flocks which lie down, and no one will make them afraid.
(3)  The fortress also will cease from Ephraim, the kingdom from Damascus, and the remnant of Syria; they will be as the glory of the children of Israel,"  Says the LORD of hosts.

From the Philistines on  the west,  and the Moabites on the east,  the prophecy relating to the neighboring nations now turns,  without any chronological order,  to the people of  Damascus Syria on the north.
The curse pronounced on them,  however,  falls upon the kingdom of  Israel also,  because it has allied itself with heathen Damascus,  in opposition to its own brother tribe to the south,  as well as to the Davidic government;  and by this unnatural alliance with a zâr,  or stranger,  had become a zâr itself.
From the period of  Hezekiah's reign,  we are here carried back to the reign of Ahaz,  and indeed far beyond "the year that Ahaz died"  (Isa 14:28),  to the very border of  the reigns of  Jotham and Ahaz-namely,  to the time when the league for the destruction of  Judah had only just been concluded.

At the time when Isaiah incorporated this oracle in his collection,  the threats against the kingdoms of  Damascus and Israel had long been fulfilled.  Assyria had punished both of  them.  And Assyria itself had also been punished,  as the fourth turn in the oracle indicates.  Consequently the oracle stands here as a memorial of  the truthfulness of  the prophecy;  and it answers a  further purpose still - to furnish a rich prophetic consolation for the church of  all times,  when persecuted by the world,  and sighing under the oppression of  the kingdom of  the world.
(From Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament: New Updated Edition, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1996 by Hendrickson Publishers, Inc.)

Barnes says:
This took place under the kings of Assyria, and particularly under Tiglath-pileser. This was in the fourth year of Ahaz (2 Kings 16:9   for the king of Assyria went up against Damascus and took it, carried its people captive to Kir, and killed Rezin.).
(from Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft)

Cities of Aroer.
The Hebrew is  ‘arey ‘aro’er.

By  "Aroer"  here seems to be meant a tract or region of country pertaining to Damascus,  in which were situated several cities.

Grotius supposes that it was a tract of  country in Syria which is called by Ptolemy "Aueira" - [Aueira].
Vitringa supposes that one part of  Damascus is meant by this,  as Damascus was divided by the river in the same manner that Babylon was.

There were several cities of  the name of "Aroer."

One was on the river Arnon in the land of Moab (Deut 2:36; 3:12).
Burckhardt found this city under the name of Araayr.
Deuteronomy 2:36
From Aroer, which is on the bank of the River Arnon, and from the city that is in the ravine, as far as Gilead, there was not one city too strong for us; the LORD our God delivered all to us.
Deuteronomy 3:12
And this land, which we possessed at that time, from Aroer, which is by the River Arnon, and half the mountains of Gilead and its cities, I gave to the Reubenites and the Gadites.
There was another city of this name further north, over against Rabbath-Ammon (Josh 13:25).
Joshua 13:25
Their territory was Jazer,  and all the cities of  Gilead,  and half the land of the Ammonites as far as Aroer, which is before Rabbah.
There was a third city of this name in the tribe of Judah (1 Sam 30:28).
1 Samuel 30:27-28
To those who were in Bethel,  those who were in Ramoth of  the South,  those who were in Jattir,  those who were in Aroer, those who were in Siphmoth, those who were in Eshtemoa.

Gesenius supposes ("Commentary in loc.") that the phrase  'the cities of Aroer'  means the cities round about Aroer,  and that were connected with it,  similar to the phrase  'daughters of a city.'  This city he supposes was near the river Arnon,  within the limits of  Moab,  and that the prediction here was fulfilled by Tiglath-pileser,  when he carried away the inhabitants of  Galilee,  Gilead,  and other places mentioned in 2 Kings 15:29.  There can be no doubt that it was under the jurisdiction of  Damascus.
(from Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft)

It is just the same with Israel,  which has made itself an appendage of  Damascus.  The "cities of Aroer" represent the land to the east of  the Jordan:  there the judgment upon Israel (executed by Tiglath- pileser) first began.
We meet here again with a significant play upon the sound in the expression 'âree 'Aro'eer (cities of Aroer):  the name of Aroer was ominous,  and what its name indicated would happen to the cities in its circuit.

`irŞ`eer  means  "to lay bare,"  to pull down (Jer 51:58);
and `arŞ`aar (OT:6199), `ariyriy (OT:6185)  signifies a  stark-naked condition,  a state of desolation and solitude.

After verse 1 has threatened Damascus in particular,
and verse 2 has done the same to Israel,
verse 3 comprehends them both.
Ephraim loses the fortified cities that once served it as defenses,  and Damascus loses its rank as a kingdom. Those that are left of Aram,  who do not fall in the war,  become like the proud citizens of  the kingdom of  Israel,  i.e.,  they are carried away into captivity.  All this was fulfilled under Tiglath-pileser.


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Isaiah 17:4-8
From the Tanakh From the  LXX From the Targum
(4)  In that day, the mass of Jacob
shall dwindle,
A failure of the glory of Jacob,  
And the fatness of his body become lean: And the riches of his glory shall be shaken Carried into exile.
(5)  After being like the standing grain
Harvested by the reaper –
Who reaps ears by the armful –
He shall be like the ears that are gleaned
In the Valley of Rephaim In a rich valley; The plain of the mighty men.
(6)  Only gleanings shall be left of
him, as when one beats an olive tree: two berries or three on the topmost branch,
As it were the berries of an olive tree  
Four or five on the boughs of the
crown declares the Lord, the Lord,
the God of Israel.
Left on their branches; Righteous only left.
(7)  In that day, men shall turn to their Maker, their eyes look to the Holy One of Israel;   The Memra of
(8)  they shall not turn to the altars that their own hands made,   To the trees, nor to their abominations.
Or look to the sacred posts and incense stands that their own fingers wrought.   Neither the Asherahs, nor the sun-images.

From the NKJV

(4)  "In that day it shall come to pass that the glory of Jacob will wane, and the fatness of his flesh grow lean.  (5)  It shall be as when the harvester gathers the grain, and reaps the heads with his arm;  it shall be as he who gathers heads of grain in the Valley of Rephaim.  (6)  Yet gleaning grapes will be left in it, like the shaking of an olive tree, two or three olives at the top of the uppermost bough, four or five in its most fruitful branches,"  Says the LORD God of Israel.
(7)  In that day a man will look to his Maker, and his eyes will have respect for the Holy One of Israel.   (8)  He will not look to the altars, the work of his hands; He will not respect what his fingers have made, nor the wooden images nor the incense altars.

This second turn does not speak of  Damascus,  but simply of  Israel,  and in fact of  all Israel,  the range of  vision widening out from Israel in the more restricted sense,  so as to embrace the whole.  It will all disappear,  with the exception of  a small remnant;  but the latter will return.

Thus  "a remnant will return,"  the law of  Israel's history,  which is here shown first of  all in its threatening aspect,  and then in its more promising one.  The reputation and prosperity to which Jeroboam II and Uzziah raised the two kingdoms would pass away.  Israel was ripe for judgment,  like a field of corn for the harvest;  and it would be as when a reaper grasps the stalks that have shot up,  and cuts off the ears.

The figure suggested here is more fully expanded in John 4 and Rev 14.
Hardly a single one will escape the judgment: just as in the broad plain of  Rephaim,  which slopes off  to the south-west of  Jerusalem as far as Bethlehem,  where it is covered with rich fields of  wheat,  the collectors of  ears leave only one or two ears lying scattered here and there.

The glory of Jacob
"Jacob"  is used here to denote the kingdom of  Israel,  or Samaria.
The word  'glory'  here denotes dignity,  power;  that on which they relied,  and of which they boasted.

As when the harvesters gathers the grain
As the farmer cuts down and collects his grain and removes it from the harvest field,  so the enemies of  Ephraim would come and remove the people and their wealth to a distant land.
This received a complete fulfillment when the ten tribes were removed by the Assyrians to a distant land.
This was done by Tiglath-pileser (2 Kings 15:29), and by Shalmaneser (2 Kings 17:6).

2 Kings 15:29
In the days of Pekah king of Israel, Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria came and took Ijon, Abel Beth Maachah, Janoah, Kedesh, Hazor, Gilead, and Galilee, all the land of Naphtali; and he carried them captive to Assyria.
2 Kings 17:6
In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria took Samaria and carried Israel away to Assyria, and placed them in Halah and by the Habor, the River of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes.

The valley of Rephaim
The name means  'the Giants.
In passing from Bethlehem to Jerusalem,  it lies on the left,  and descends gradually to the southwest,  until it contracts in that direction into a deeper and narrower valley,  called wady el-Werd,  which unites further on with wady Ahmed,  and finds its way to the Mediterranean.  The plain extends nearly to Jerusalem,  and is terminated by a slight rocky ridge forming the brow of  the valley of  Hinnom (see Josephus, "Ant." vii. 4. 1; viii. 12. 4; also Robinson's "Bib. Researches," vol. i. pp. 323, 324).
It seem to have been distinguished for its fertility,  and is used here to denote a fertile region in general.
(from Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft)

In that day shall a man look to his Maker
Instead of confiding in their strongly fortified places and armies,  they shall look for aid and protection to the God that made them,  and Who alone can help them.
National afflictions and judgments often have the effect to turn the eyes of even a wicked and rebellious people to God.

They feel their danger
They are convinced of  their guilt
They see that no one but God can protect them;
and for a time they are willing, even by humiliation and fasting, to seek the divine protection.

The Holy One of Israel
The God of Israel;  the true God.
As the Syrians were allied with the kingdom of  Samaria or Ephraim,  they were,  of course,  acquainted with the true God,  and in some sense acknowledged him.
In these times of impending calamity,  they would be led to seek him, and implore his aid and protection.

The altars
That is,  the altars of  the gods which the Syrians worshipped,  and the altars of  the false gods which had been erected in the land of  Israel or Samaria by its wicked kings,  and particularly by Ahaz.
Ahaz fancied an altar which he saw at Damascus when on a visit to Tiglath-pileser,  and ordered Urijah the priest to construct one like it in Samaria,  on which he subsequently offered sacrifice (2 Kings 16:10-13).

2 Kings 16:10-14
Now King Ahaz went to Damascus to meet Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria, and saw an altar that was at Damascus; and King Ahaz sent to Urijah the priest the design of the altar and its pattern, according to all its workmanship.  Then Urijah the priest built an altar according to all that King Ahaz had sent from Damascus. So Urijah the priest made it before King Ahaz came back from Damascus.  And when the king came back from Damascus, the king saw the altar; and the king approached the altar and made offerings on it.  So he burned his burnt offering and his grain offering; and he poured his drink offering and sprinkled the blood of his peace offerings on the altar.

It is well known,  also,  that the kings of  Israel and Judah often reared altars to false gods in the high places and the groves of  the land (see 2 Kings 21:3-5).

2 Kings 21:1-6
Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned fifty-five years in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Hephzibah.  And he did evil in the sight of the LORD, according to the abominations of the nations whom the LORD had cast out before the children of Israel.  For he rebuilt the high places which Hezekiah his father had destroyed; he raised up altars for Baal, and made a wooden image, as Ahab king of Israel had done; and he worshiped all the host of heaven and served them.  He also built altars in the house of the LORD, of which the LORD had said, "In Jerusalem I will put My name."  And he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the LORD.  Also he made his son pass through the fire, practiced soothsaying, used witchcraft, and consulted spiritists and mediums. He did much evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke Him to anger.

The Ephraimites were particularly guilty in this respect (Hos 8:11):  'Because Ephraim hath made many altars to sin, altars shall be unto him to sin.'
(from Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft)

Isaiah 17:9-11
From the Tanakh From the  LXX From the Targum
(9)  In that day, their fortress cities shall be like the deserted sites which    
the Horesh and the Amir abandoned because of the Israelites; and The Amorites and the Evaeans  
there shall be desolation. They shall be desolate.  
(10)  Truly, you have forgotten the
God who saves you
Forsaken God thy Savior,  
And have not remembered the Rock who shelters you; The Lord thy helper; Memra is thy help
That is why, though you plant a delightful sapling, A faithless or false plant,  
What you sow proves a
disappointing slip.
And a false seed. Multiplied corrupt deeds.
(11)  On the day that you plant, you
see it grow;
Thou shalt be deceived; Sanctified to be a people
On the morning you sow, you see it
bud –
The seed shall spring up for a crop Corrupted your deeds
But the branches wither away The day wherein thou shalt obtain
an inheritance, and as a man’s father,
On a day of sickness and mortal
Thou shalt obtain an inheritance for
thy sons.

From the NKJV

(9)   In that day his strong cities will be as a forsaken bough and an uppermost branch, which they left because of the children of Israel; and there will be desolation.
(10)  Because you have forgotten the God of your salvation, and have not been mindful of the Rock of your stronghold, therefore you will plant pleasant plants and set out foreign seedlings;   (11)  in the day you will make your plant to grow, and in the morning you will make your seed to flourish;  but the harvest will be a heap of ruins in the day of grief and desperate sorrow.

The statement in verse 3,  "The fortress of Ephraim is abolished,"  is repeated in verse 9 in a more descriptive manner.  The fate of  the strongly fortified cities of  Ephraim would be the same as that of  the old Canaanites castles,  which were still to be discerned in their antiquated remains,  either in the depths of forests or high up on the mountains.

And the reason why only the ruins in forests and on mountains are mentioned is,  that other places,  which were situated on the different lines of  traffic,  merely changed their inhabitants when the land was taken by Israel.  The reason why the fate of  Ephraim's fortified castles was the same as that of the Amorites castles,  which were then lying in ruins,  was that Ephraim,  as stated in verse 10,  had turned away from its true rocky stronghold,  namely from Jehovah.

And the very next morning he had brought into blossom what he had sown:  the foreign layer had shot up like a hot-house plant,  i.e.,  the alliance had speedily grown into a hearty agreement,  and had already produced one blossom at any rate,  viz.,  the plan of  a joint attack upon Judah.  But this plantation,  which was so flattering and promising for Israel,  and which had succeeded so rapidly,  and to all appearance so happily,  was a harvest heap for the day of  the judgment.
(From Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament: New Updated Edition, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1996 by Hendrickson Publishers, Inc

Isaiah 17:12-14
From the Tanakh From the  LXX From the Targum
(12)  Ah, the roar of many peoples Woe to the multitude of many nations  
That roar as roars the sea, So shall ye be confounded;  
The rage of nations that rage he force (back) of many nations  
As rage the mighty waters –
(13)  Nations raging like massive waters!  But He shouts at them, and they flee far away,
Driven like chaff before winds in the hills, And pursue him afar, as the dust of chaff  
And like tumbleweed before a gale. When men winnow before the wind, and as a storm  
(14)  At eventide, lo, terror! Toward evening, and there shall be grief; If they (lit. he) had not been.
By morning, it is no more. Before the morning, and he shall not be.  
Such is the lot of our despoilers
The portion of them that plunder us.

From the NKJV

(12)  Woe to the multitude of many people who make a noise like the roar of the seas, and to the rushing of nations that make a rushing like the rushing of mighty waters!   (13)   The nations will rush like the rushing of many waters; but God will rebuke them and they will flee far away, and be chased like the chaff of the mountains before the wind, like a rolling thing before the whirlwind.
(14)  Then behold, at eventide, trouble! And before the morning, he is no more. This is the portion of those who plunder us, and the lot of those who rob us.

It is the destruction of  Asshur that the prophet is predicting here  (as in Isa 14:25),  though not of  Asshur
as Asshur
,  but of  Asshur as the imperial kingdom,  which embraced a multitude of  nations all gathered together under the rule of  one will,  to make a common attack upon the church of  God.

Isaiah 14:25
That I will break the Assyrian in My land, and on My mountains tread him underfoot. Then his yoke shall be removed from them, and his burden removed from their shoulders.

The exclamation of  woe  (hoi)  is an expression of  pain,  as in Isa 10:1; and this is followed by a proclamation of  the judgment of  wrath.  The description of  the rolling wave of  nations is as pictorial as the well-known
illi inter sese, etc., of the Cyclops in Virgil.  "It spreads and stretches out, as if it would never cease to roll, and roar, and surge, and sweep onward in its course" (Drechsler).

In the expression "it" (bo) in verse 13a,  the many surging nations are kneaded together,  as it were,  into one mass.  It costs God simply a threatening word;  and this mass all flies apart (mimmerchâk like meerâchook, Isa 23:7),  and falls into dust,  and whirls about in all directions,  like the chaff of  threshing-floors in high situations,  or like dust whirled up by the storm.  The judgment commences in the evening,  and rages through the night;  and before the morning dawns,  the army of  nations raised by the imperial power is all destroyed (compare Isa 29:7-8, and the fulfillment in ch. 37:36).

Isaiah 29:7
The multitude of all the nations who fight against Ariel, even all who fight against her and her fortress,
And distress her, shall be as a dream of a night vision.
Isaiah 37:36
Then the angel of the LORD went out, and killed in the camp of the Assyrians one hundred and eighty-five thousand; and when people arose early in the morning, there were the corpses — all dead.
(From Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament: New Updated Edition, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1996 by Hendrickson Publishers, Inc.)

The fact that the oracle concerning Damascus in its fourth stage takes so comprehensive and,  so far as Israel is concerned,  so promising a form,  may be explained on the ground that Syria was the forerunner of  Asshur in the attack upon Israel,  and that the alliance between Israel and Syria became the occasion of  the complications with Asshur.  If the substance of the massâ Dammesek  (the oracle concerning Damascus)  had been restricted to the prophecy contained in the name Mahershalal,  the element of  promise so characteristic of  the prophecies against the nations of  the world would be entirely wanting.
(From Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament: New Updated Edition, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1996 by Hendrickson Publishers, Inc.)


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Isaiah 18:1
From the Tanakh From the  LXX From the Targum
(1)  Ah, Woe to you, ye wings of the land of ships, To the land whiter they come in ships
land in the deep shadow of wings,   From a far country, with sails spread out like a vulture which soars
Beyond the rivers of Nubia! Ethiopia India

From the NKJV

(1)  Woe to the land shadowed with buzzing wings, which is beyond the rivers of  Ethiopia,

The prophecy commences with hoi  (woe).
Here, however,  it differs from Isa 17:12,  and is an expression of compassion  (cf., Isa 55:1)  rather than of  anger;  for the fact that the mighty Ethiopia is oppressed by the still mightier Asshur,  is a humiliation which Jehovah has prepared for the former.

Isaiah 55:1
"Ho! (hoi) Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat.
Yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.

The land of  Cush commences,  according to Ezek 29:10,  where Upper Egypt ends.

Ezekiel 29:10
Indeed, therefore, I am against you and against your rivers, and I will make the land of Egypt utterly waste and desolate, from Migdol to Syene, as far as the border of Ethiopia.

According to Keil & Delitzsch:
The prophet is here foretelling the effect that will be produced upon Ethiopia by the judgment which Jehovah is about to inflict upon Asshur.  The expedition was still impending, and that against Judah was the means to this further end.  The ambassadors are not sent to Judah,  but carry commands with the most stirring dispatch to every province under Ethiopian rule.  The Ethiopian kingdom is thrown into the greatest excitement in the face of  the approaching Assyrian invasion,  and the messengers are sent out to raise the militia.  At that time both Egypt’s were governed by the Ethiopian (or twenty-fifth) dynasty,  Sabako the Ethiopian having made himself master of  the country on the Lower Nile.

The king of Egypt who was contemporaneous with Sennacherib was the Tirhaka of  the Old Testament,  the Tarakos of  Manetho,  and the Tearkon of  Strabo-a great conqueror,  according to Megasthenes,  like Sesostris and Nebuchadnezzar,  who had carried his conquests as far as the Pillars of  Hercules (Strabo, xv. 1, 6).  This explains the strangely sounding description given in verses 2 and 7 of  the Ethiopian people,  which had the universal reputation in antiquity of  gigantic strength and invincibility.  It is impossible to determine the length of  time that intervened between the composition of  the prophecy and the fourteenth year of  Hezekiah's reign,  in which the Assyrian army commenced the expedition across Judah to Egypt.  The event that the prophecy foretells - namely,  that the judgment of  Jehovah upon Asshur would be followed by the submission of  Ethiopia to Jehovah - was only partially and provisionally fulfilled (2 Chron 32:23).  And there is nothing to surprise us in this,  inasmuch as in the prophecies delivered before the destruction of  Assyria the latter always presented itself to the mind of  the prophet as the kingdom of  the world;  and consequently the prophecy had also an eschatological feature,  which still remained for a future and remote fulfillment.
(From Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament: New Updated Edition, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1996 by Hendrickson Publishers, Inc.)

According to Barnes:
The rivers of Ethiopia - Hebrew, 'Rivers of Cush.'
It is sometimes applicable to Ethiopia or  Nubia - that is,  the portion of  Egypt above the cataracts of  the Nile. Compare Jer 13:23: 'Can the Ethiopian (the "Cushite") change his skin?'.  This word does not determine with certainty the country to which reference is made - for the country of Cush may mean that:

east of  the Euphrates,  or
southern Arabia,  or
southern Egypt.
Egypt and Cush are,  however,  sometimes connected.  The  "probability"  from the use of  this word is,  that some part of  Upper Egypt is intended.  Ethiopia in part lies beyond the most considerable of the streams that make up the river Nile.
(from Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft)

Shadowed with buzzing wings

Shadowing with - tsiltsal (OT:6767)
Wings - kŞnaapaayim (OT:3671).
It is rendered by:

The Septuagint ouai (NT:3759) gees (NT:1093) ploioon (NT:4143) pteruges (NT:4420) -
`Ah! wings of the land of ships.'
The Chaldee 'Woe to the land in which they come in ships from a distant country, and whose sails are spread out as an eagle which flies upon its wings.'
Grotius 'The land whose extreme parts are shaded by mountains.'

The word rendered,  'shadowed' - tsiltsal (OT:6767),  is derived,  evidently,  from  tsaalal (OT:6749),  which has three significations:

(1) "To be shady,  dark,  obscure;"  and hence,  its derivatives are applied to anything that "makes" a shade or shadow - particularly
shady trees (Job 40:21-22);
the shades of night (Song 2:17; 4:6);
or anything that produces obscurity, or darkness, as a tree, a rock, a wing, etc.
(2) It means  "to tingle,"  spoken of  the ears (1 Sam 3:11; 2 Kings 21:13);
"to quiver,"  spoken of  the lips (Hab 3:16);
and hence,  its derivatives are applied to anything that makes a sound by "tinkling" - an instrument of  music;  a cymbal made of two pieces of  metal that are struck together (2 Sam 6:5; 1 Chron 15:16; 16:42; 25:6; 2 Chron 5:12; Neh 12:27; Ps 150:5)
(3) It means  "to sink"  (Ex 15:10).
From the sense of  making  "a shade,"  a derivative of  the verb tsŞlaatsaal (OT:6767) - the same as used here except the points - is applied to locusts because they appear in such swarms as to obscure the rays of  the sun,  and produce an extended shade,  or shadow,  over a land as a cloud does;  or because they make a rustling with their wings.
The word used here,  therefore, may mean either  "shaded,"  or "rustling,"  or "rattling,"  in the manner of  a cymbal or other tinkling instrument.
 It may be added,  that the word may mean a  "double shade,"  being a doubling of  the word tseel (OT:6738), a  "shade, or shadow,"  and it has been supposed by some to apply to Ethiopia as lying between the tropics,  having a  "double shadow;" that is,  so that the shadow of  objects is cast one half of  the year on the north side,  and the other half on the south.

The word 'wings' is applied in the Scriptures to the following things, namely:

(1) The wing of a fowl. This is the literal, and common signification.
(2) The skirts, borders,  or lower parts of  a garment,  from the resemblance to wings
(Num 15:38; 1 Sam 24:5,11; Zech 8:13)
(3) A bed-covering   (Deut 33:1).
(4) The extremities or borders of a country, or of the world   (Job 37:3; Isa 24:16; Ezek 17:3,7).
(5) The "wing" or extremity of an army   (Isa 8:8; Jer 48:40; Dan 9:27).
(6) The expanding rays of  the morning,  because the light  "expands or spreads out"  like wings
(Ps 139:9; Mal 4:2).
(7) The "wind" - resembling wings in rapid motion   (Ps 18:10,21; 104:3; Hos 4:19).
(8) The battlement or pinnacle of  the temple - or perhaps the porches extended on each side of  the temple like wings   (Dan 9:27; compare Matt 4:5).
(9) "Protection" - as wings are a protection to young birds in their nest
(see Ps 18:8; 36:7; 61:4; 91:4; Matt 23:37).
It has been proposed by some to apply this description to  "ships,"  or the  sails of vessels,  as if a land was designated which was covered with  "sails,"  or the "wings" of vessels.  So the Septuagint, and the Chaldee. But there is no instance in which the word "wings" is so applied in the Scriptures.

The expression used here may,  therefore,  be applied to many things;  and it is not easy to determine its signification. The general idea is,  that of  something that abounds in the land that is stretched out or expanded;  that,  as it were,  "covers"  it,  and so abounds as to make a shade or shadow everywhere.
And it may be applied:

(1) To a nation that abounds with birds or fowls,  so that they might be said to shade the land.
(2) To a nation abounding with locusts,  shading the land or making a rustling noise.
(3) To a nation furnishing protection,  or stretching out its wings,  as it were,  for the defense of  a feeble people.
So Vitringa interprets this place,  and supposes that it refers to Egypt,  as being the nation where the Hebrews sought protection.
(4) To a country that is shaded with trees,  mountains,  or hills.
So Grotius supposes it means here,  and thinks that it refers to Ethiopia,  as being bounded by high hills or mountains.
(5) A people distinguished for navigation - abounding in "sails" of  vessels - as if they were everywhere spread out like wings.
So the Septuagint and the Chaldee understand this;  and the interpretation has some plausibility,  from the fact that light vessels are immediately mentioned.
(6) The editor of Calmet's Dictionary supposes that it refers to the  "winged Cnephim"  which are sculptured over the temple gates in Upper-Egypt.  They are emblematic representatives of  the god  "Cneph,"  to which the temples are dedicated,  and abound in Upper Egypt.  The symbol of the  "wings"  is supposed to denote the  "protection"  which the god extended over the land.
(7) Gesenius  ("Com. on Isaiah")  renders it,  'land rustling with wings,'  and supposes that the word rendered  'shadowing,'  denotes the  "rustling"  sound that is made by the clangor of  weapons of  war.
Almost anyone of  the above significations will suit the connection;  and it is not very material which is chosen.  The one that,  perhaps,  best suits the connection,  is that of  the Septuagint and the Chaldee,  which refers it to the multitude of  ships that expand their sails,  and appear to fill all the waters of the land with wings.
(from Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft)

The Seveeneh (Aswân),  mentioned by Ezekiel,  is the boundary-point at which the Nile enters Mizraim proper,  and which is still a depot for goods coming from the south down the Nile.  The naharee-Cush  (rivers of  Cush)  are chiefly those that surround the Cushite Seba (Gen 10:7).

Genesis 10:7
The sons of  Cush were Seba, Havilah, Sabtah, Raamah,  and Sabtechah; and the sons of Raamah were Sheba and Dedan.

In Isa 7:18 the forces of  Egypt are called  "the fly from the end of  the rivers of Egypt."
Here Egypt and Ethiopia are called the land of  the whirring of wings,  inasmuch as the prophet had in his mind,  under the designation of  swarms of  insects,  the motley swarms of  different people included in this great kingdom that were so fabulously strange to an Asiatic.

Isaiah 18:2, 3
From the Tanakh From the  LXX From the Targum
(2)  Go, swift messengers, He sends messengers by the sea, and paper letters on the water:  
To a nation far and remote, For swift messengers shall go to a lofty nation,  
To a people thrust forth and away – And to a strange and harsh people.  
A nation of gibber and chatter Who is beyond it?  
Whose land is cut off by streams; A nation not looked for, Whose land the nations have spoiled.
Which sends out envoys by sea,
In papyrus vessels upon the water!
And trodden down  
(3)  [Say this:] Now all the rivers of the land shall be inhabited  
“All you who live in the world
And inhabit the earth,
As an inhabited country;  
When a flag is raised in the hills, take note! As when a signal is raised from a mountain;  
When a ram’s horn is blown, give heed!” It shall be audible as the sound of a trumpet. Hear salvation

From the NKJV

(2)  Which sends ambassadors by sea, even in vessels of reed on the waters, saying,  "Go, swift messengers, to a nation tall and smooth of skin, to a people terrible from their beginning onward, a nation powerful and treading down, whose land the rivers divide."
(3)   All inhabitants of the world and dwellers on the earth: when he lifts up a banner on the mountains, you see it; and when he blows a trumpet, you hear it.

The word 'gome' (OT:1573) is derived from the verb gaamaa' (OT:1572),  "to swallow, sip, drink;"  and is given to a reed or bulrush,  from its  "imbibing"  water.
It is usually applied in the Scriptures to the Egyptian "papyrus" - a plant which grew on the banks of the Nile, and from which we have derived our word "paper."   This plant, the  "Cyperus Papyrus",  mostly grew in Lower Egypt,  in marshy land,  or in shallow brooks and ponds,  formed by the inundation of the Nile.

Far and remote
mŞmushaak (OT:4900)
This word is derived from maashak (OT:4900),  "to seize, take, hold fast;"  to draw out,  extend,  or prolong;  to make double or strong; to spread out.
It is rendered by:

The Septuagint ethnos (NT:1484) meteooron (NT:3349) -
A lofty nation.
The Chaldee A people suffering violence.
Syraic A nation distorted
Vulgate A people convulsed, and lacerated
Vitringa A people "spread out" over a great extent of country;  or a people  "drawn out in length" - that is,  extended over a country of considerable length,  but of comparatively narrow breadth,  as Egypt is.
Gesenius A people  "strong,  valiant."
(from Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft)

Under Piankhi the Ethiopians had established the Twenty-fifth Dynasty in Egypt, and Piankhi's son Shabaka (called "So" in 2 Kings 17:4) had encouraged Hoshea of  Israel in the last unsuccessful revolt against Assyria. Shabaka also leagued with Merodach-baladan of  Babylon, and was later an encouragement to Hezekiah to rebel against Sennacherib,  who finally crushed the Ethiopian-Egyptian forces at Eltekeh in 701.  So's nephew,  Tirhakah,  led a new Egyptian effort,  but was finally crushed by Ashurbanipal in 667. 7.

2 Kings 17:4
And the king of Assyria uncovered a conspiracy by Hoshea; for he had sent messengers to So, king of Egypt, and brought no tribute to the king of Assyria, as he had done year by year. Therefore the king of Assyria shut him up, and bound him in prison.
Here the Ethiopians are identified as coming from the land where the Blue Nile joins the White Nile - whose land the rivers divide (ASV) - and as being tall of stature and smooth of skin. They would be pruned away like branches, the prophet says, and their carcasses would fall in battle, to be consumed by the vultures. Yet some day the Ethiopians would pay tribute to God and come to Zion as true believers.
(from The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1962 by Moody Press)

Isaiah 18:4-6
From the Tanakh From the  LXX From the Targum
(4)  For thus the Lord said to me:
“I rest calm and confident in My habitation –
There shall be security in my city,  
Like a scorching heat upon sprouts, As the light of noonday heat, Clear heat in the sunshine,
Like a rain-cloud in the heat of
reaping time.”
As a cloud of dew in the day of harvest.  
(5)  For before the harvest, g yet
after the budding,
Before the reaping time, when the flower  
When the blossom has hardened
into berries,
Has been completely formed, and the unripe grape flowers  
He will trim away the twigs with
pruning hooks,
Take away the little clusters Slay rulers,
And lop off the trailing branches.   And take away their mighty men.
(6)  They shall all be left
To the kites of the hills
The birds of the sky,  
And to the beasts of the earth;
The kites shall summer on them
And all the beasts of the earth shall winter on them.

From the NKJV

(4)  For so the LORD said to me,  "I will take My rest, and I will look from My dwelling place like clear heat in sunshine, like a cloud of dew in the heat of harvest."
(5)  For before the harvest, when the bud is perfect and the sour grape is ripening in the flower, He will both cut off the sprigs with pruning hooks and take away and cut down the branches.
(6)  They will be left together for the mountain birds of prey and for the beasts of the earth; the birds of prey will summer on them, and all the beasts of the earth will winter on them.

The prophet knows for certain that the messengers may be home and announce this act of  Jehovah to their own people and to the entire world.

The prophecy explains itself  here,  as is very frequently the case,  especially with Isaiah;  for the literal words of  verse 6 show us unquestionably what it is that Jehovah will allow to develop itself so prosperously under favorable circumstances,  and without any interposition on His part,  until He suddenly and violently puts an end to the whole, as it is approaching perfect maturity.

Jehovah quietly looks on from the heavenly seat of  His glorious presence,  without disturbing the course of  the thing intended.  This quietness,  however,  is not negligence,  but a well-considered resolution.
The two Caphs in verse 4 are not comparative,  but indicate the time.  He remains quiet while there is clear weather with sunshine (`aleey  indicating continuance),  and while there is a dew-cloud in the midst of  that warmth,  which is so favorable for the harvest,  by causing the plants that have been thoroughly heated in the day and refreshed at night by the dew,  to shoot up and ripen with rapidity and luxuriance.

The plant thought of,  as verse 5 clearly shows,  is the vine.
By liphnee kâtzir  (before the harvest)  we are either to understand

the period just before the wheat-harvest,  which coincides with the flowering of  the grape;
or, since Isaiah uses kâtzir for bâzri in Isa 16:9,  the time at the close of the summer,  immediately preceding the vintage.
Here again the Caph indicates the time.
When the blossoming is over,  so that the flower fades away,  and the fruit that has set becomes a ripening grape.  He cuts off  the branches upon which the nearly ripened grapes are hanging,  and removes or nips off.

The words of Jehovah concerning Himself  have here passed imperceptibly into words of  the prophet concerning Jehovah.
(From Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament: New Updated Edition, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1996 by Hendrickson Publishers, Inc.)

Will summer on them
Shall pass the summer,  that is,  they shall continue to be unburied.

Will winter on them
They shall be unburied through the winter;  probably indicating that they would furnish food for the fowls and the wild beasts for a long time.  On the multitude of  carcasses these animals will find nourishment for a whole year,  that is,  they will spend the summer and the winter with them.  When this was fulfilled,  it is,  perhaps, not possible to tell,  as we are so little acquainted with the circumstances of  the people in relation to whom it was spoken.  If it related,  as I suppose,  to the people of  Nubia or Ethiopia forming an alliance with the Assyrians for the purpose of  invading Judea,  it was fulfilled probably when Sennacherib and his assembled hosts were destroyed.  Whenever it was fulfilled,  it is quite evident that the design of  the prophecy was to give comfort to the Jews,  alarmed and agitated as they were at the prospect of  the preparations which were made,  by the assurance that those plans would fail,  and all the efforts of their enemies be foiled and disconcerted.
(from Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft)

Isaiah 18:7
From the Tanakh From the  LXX From the Targum
(7)  In that time, tribute shall be
brought to the Lord of Hosts
[From] a people far and remote, A people afflicted and peeled,  
From a people thrust forth and away From a people great from henceforth and for ever;  
A nation of gibber and chatter, A nation hoping and yet trodden down,  
Whose land is cut off by streams Which is in a part of a river of his land,  
At the place where the name of the
Lord of Hosts abides, at Mount Zion.
  Whose Shekinah is in the mountain of Zion.

From the NKJV

(7)  In that time a present will be brought to the LORD of hosts from a people tall and smooth of skin, and from a people terrible from their beginning onward, a nation powerful and treading down, whose land the rivers divide — to the place of the name of the LORD of hosts, to Mount Zion.

What effect this act of Jehovah would have upon the Ethiopian kingdom,  if it should now take place,  is described.

`am (OT:5971)  (a people),  at the commencement,  cannot possibly be equivalent to mee`am (OT:5971) (from a people).  Consequently 'am and goi (people and nation) must be rendered as subjects.
Ethiopia is offered,  i.e.,  offers itself,  as a free-will offering to Jehovah,  impelled irresistibly by the force of  the impression made by the mighty act of  Jehovah,  or,  as it is expressed in  "the Titan among the Psalms"  (Ps 68:32,  probably a Davidic psalm of  the time of Hezekiah),  "there come kingdoms of splendor out of Egypt; Cush rapidly stretches out its hands to Elohim."  In order that the greatness of  this spiritual conquest might be fully appreciated,  the description of  this strangely glorious people is repeated here;  and with this poetical rounding,  the prophecy itself,  which was placed as a kind of overture before the following Massa Mitzraim when the prophet collected the whole of  his prophecies together,  is brought to a close.
(From Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament: New Updated Edition, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1996 by Hendrickson Publishers, Inc.)

It is undoubtedly clear and evident that most prophecies are given in images,  for this is the characteristic of  the imaginative faculty,  the organ of  prophecy.  They would create strange ideas if  we were to take them literally without noticing the exaggeration that they contain,  or if we were to understand them in accordance with the original meaning of  the terms,  ignoring the fact that these are used figuratively.
Our Sages (Teachers or Scholars of the Jews) say distinctly Scripture uses hyperbolic or exaggerated language;  and quote as an instance,  “cities walled and fortified, rising up to heaven” (Deuteronomy 1:28).  As a hyperbole our Sages quote,  “For the bird of heaven carries the voice” (Eccles. 10:20);
in the same sense it is said,  “Whose height is like that of cedar trees” (Amos 2:9).
Instances of this kind are frequent in the language of all prophets.
I think that Moses Maimonides who is also a Sage to the Jews should be listened to concerning how the Jews see Prophecy. Paul the Learner

The place of the name of the Lord
The place where Yahweh is worshipped,  that is,  Jerusalem.
We have no means of knowing with certainty when or how this prophecy was fulfilled.
That the Jewish religion spread into Upper Egypt,  and that the Christian religion was afterward established there,  there can be no doubt.  The Jews were scattered into nearly every nation,  and probably many of this people became proselytes,  and went with them to Jerusalem to worship (see Acts 2:10; 8:27).

Acts 2:8-11
And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born? ... Egypt and the parts of Libya ... both Jews and proselytes.

'The Abyssinian annals represent the country as converted to Judaism several centuries before the Christian era;  and it certainly retains many appearances bearing the stamp of  that faith.  In the fourth century,  the nation was converted to Christianity by the efforts of  Frumentius,  an Egyptian,  who raised himself  to high favor at court.  Abyssinia remained impenetrable to the arms or the creed of the followers of  Mahomet,  and,  affording shelter to the refugees from Egypt and Arabia,  it became more decidedly Christian.'
'The Abyssinians profess the same form of  Christianity with the Copts of  Egypt,  and even own the supremacy of  the patriarch at Cairo.  They combine with their Christian profession many Judaical observances,  such as circumcision,  abstinence from meats,  and the observance of  Saturday as well as Sunday as a Sabbath.' ("Encyc. of Geography," vol. ii. pp. 585, 588.) in these facts - in the prevalence of  the true religion there in former periods,  the prophecy may be regarded as having been in part fulfilled.  Still,  as is the case with a large portion of  the prophecies of  Isaiah,  we must regard this as having reference to a period of  greater light and truth than has yet existed there;  and as destined to receive a more complete fulfillment when all lands shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord.
(from Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft)


Previous Section

Isaiah 15:1-18:7 - from the Amplified Version

15:1  THE MOURNFUL,  inspired prediction (a burden to be lifted up) concerning Moab: Because in a night Ar of Moab is laid waste and brought to silence! Because in a night Kir of Moab is laid waste and brought to silence!
(2)   They are gone up to Bayith and to Dibon, to the high places to weep. Moab wails over Nebo and over Medeba; on all their heads is baldness, and every beard is cut off [as a sign of deep sorrow and humiliation]. [Jer 48:37.]
(3)   In their streets they gird themselves with sackcloth; on the tops of their houses and in their broad places everyone wails, weeping abundantly.
(4)   And Heshbon and Elealeh [cities in possession of Moab] cry out; their voice is heard even to Jahaz. Therefore the armed soldiers of Moab cry out; [Moab's] life is grievous and trembles within him.
(5)   My heart cries out for Moab; his nobles and other fugitives flee to Zoar, to Eglath-shelishiyah [like a heifer three years old]. For with weeping they go up the ascent of Luhith; for on the road to Horonaim they raise a cry of destruction. [Jer 48:5.]
(6)   For the waters of Nimrim are desolations, for the grass is withered away and the new growth fails; there is no green thing.
(7)   Therefore the abundance [of possessions] they have acquired and stored away they [now] carry over the willow brook and to the valley of the Arabians.
(8)   For the cry [of distress] has gone round the borders of Moab; the wailing has reached to Eglaim, and the prolonged and mournful cry to Beer-elim.
(9)   For the waters of Dimon are full of blood; yet I [the Lord] will bring even more on Dimon — a lion upon those of Moab who escape and upon the remnant of the land.

16:1  YOU  [Moabites, now fugitives in Edom, which is ruled by the king of Judah] send lambs to the ruler of the land, from Sela or Petra through the desert and wilderness to the mountain of the Daughter of Zion [Jerusalem]. [2 Kings 3:4,5.]
(2)   For like wandering birds, like a brood cast out and a scattered nest, so shall the daughters of Moab be at the fords of the [river] Arnon.
(3)   [Say to the ruler] Give counsel, execute justice [for Moab, O king of Judah]; make your shade [over us] like night in the midst of noonday; hide the outcasts, betray not the fugitive to his pursuer.
(4)   Let our outcasts of Moab dwell among you; be a sheltered hiding place to them from the destroyer. When the extortion and the extortioner have been brought to nought, and destruction has ceased, and the oppressors and they who trample men are consumed and have vanished out of the land,
(5)   Then in mercy and loving-kindness shall a throne be established, and One shall sit upon it in truth and faithfulness in the tent of David, judging and seeking justice and being swift to do righteousness. [Ps 96:13; Jer 48:47.]
(6)   We have heard of the pride of Moab, that he is very proud — even of his arrogance, his conceit, his wrath, his untruthful boasting.
(7)   Moab therefore shall wail for Moab; everyone shall wail. For the ruins, flagons of wine, and the raisin cakes of Kir-hareseth you shall sigh and mourn, utterly stricken and discouraged.
(8)   For the fields of Heshbon languish and wither, and the vines of Sibmah; the lords of the nations have broken down [Moab's] choice vine branches, which reached even to Jazer, wandering into the wilderness; its shoots stretched out abroad, they passed over [the shores of] the [Dead] Sea.
(9)   Therefore I [Isaiah] will weep with the weeping of Jazer for the vines of Sibmah. I will drench you with my tears, O Heshbon and Elealeh; for upon your summer fruits and your harvest the shout [of alarm and the cry of the enemy] has fallen.
(10)  And gladness is taken away, and joy out of the plentiful field; and in the vineyards there is no singing, nor is there joyful sound; the treaders tread out no wine in the presses, for the shout of joy has been made to cease.
(11)  Wherefore my heart sounds like a harp [in mournful compassion] for Moab, and my inner being [goes out] for Kir-hareseth [for those brick-walled citadels of his].
(12)  It shall be that when Moab presents himself, when he wearies himself [worshiping] on the high place [of idolatry], he will come to his sanctuary [of Chemosh, god of Moab], but he will not prevail. [Then will he be ashamed of his god.] [Jer 48:13.]
(13)  This is the word that the Lord has spoken concerning Moab since that time [when Moab's pride and resistance to God were first known].
(14)  But now the Lord has spoken, saying, Within three years, as the years of a hireling [who will not serve longer than the allotted time], the glory of Moab shall be brought into contempt, in spite of all his mighty multitudes of people; and the remnant that survives will be very small, feeble, and of no account.

17:1  THE MOURNFUL,  inspired prediction (a burden to be lifted up) concerning Damascus [capital of Syria, and Israel's bulwark against Assyria]. Behold, Damascus will cease to be a city and will become a heap of ruins.
(2)   The cities of Aroer [east of the Jordan] are forsaken; they shall be for flocks, which shall lie down, and none shall make them afraid.
(3)   His bulwark [Syria] and the fortress shall disappear from Ephraim, and the kingdom from Damascus; and the remnant of Syria will be like the [departed] glory of the children of Israel [her ally], says the Lord of hosts.
(4)   And in that day the former glory of Jacob [Israel — his might, his population, his prosperity] shall be enfeebled, and the fat of his flesh shall become lean.
(5)   And it shall be as when the reaper gathers the standing grain and his arm harvests the ears; yes, it shall be as when one gathers the ears of grain in the fertile Valley of Rephaim.
(6)   Yet gleanings [of grapes] shall be left in it [the land of Israel], as after the beating of an olive tree [with a stick], two or three berries in the top of the uppermost bough, four or five in the outermost branches of the fruitful tree, says the Lord, the God of Israel.
(7)   In that day will men look to their Maker, and their eyes shall regard the Holy One of Israel.
(8)   And they will not look to the [idolatrous] altars, the work of their hands, neither will they have respect for what their fingers have made — either the Asherim [symbols of the goddess Asherah] or the sun-images.
(9)   In that day will their [Syria's and Israel's] strong cities be like the forsaken places in the wood and on the mountaintop, as they [the Amorites and the Hivites] forsook their [cities] because of the children of Israel; and there will be desolation.
(10)  Because you have forgotten the God of your salvation [O Judah] and have not been mindful of the Rock of your strength, your Stronghold — therefore, you have planted pleasant nursery grounds and plantings [to Adonis, pots of quickly withered flowers used to set by their doors or in the courts of temples], and have set [the grounds] with vine slips of a strange [God],
(11)  And in the day of your planting you hedge it in, and in the morning you make your seed to blossom, yet [promising as it is] the harvest shall be a heap of ruins and flee away in the day of expected possession and of desperate sorrow and sickening, incurable pain.
(12)  Hark, the uproar of a multitude of peoples! They roar and thunder like the noise of the seas! Ah, the roar of nations! They roar like the roaring of rushing and mighty waters!
(13)  The nations will rush and roar like the rushing and roaring of many waters — but [God] will rebuke them, and they will flee far off and will be chased like chaff on the mountains before the wind, and like rolling thistledown or whirling dust of the stubble before the storm.
(14)  At evening time, behold, terror! And before the morning, they [the terrorizing Assyrians] are not. This is the portion of those who strip us [the Jews] of what belongs to us, and the lot of those who rob us. [Fulfilled in Isa 37:36.]

18:1  WOE TO the land whirring with wings which is beyond the rivers of Cush or Ethiopia,
(2)   That sends ambassadors by the Nile, even in vessels of papyrus upon the waters! Go, you swift messengers, to a nation tall and polished, to a people terrible from their beginning [feared and dreaded near and far], a nation strong and victorious, whose land the rivers divide!
(3)   All you inhabitants of the world, you who dwell on the earth, when a signal is raised on the mountains — look! When a trumpet is blown — hear!
(4)   For thus the Lord has said to me: I will be still and I will look on from My dwelling place, like clear and glowing heat in sunshine, like a fine cloud of mist in the heat of harvest.
(5)   For before the harvest, when the blossom is over and the flower becomes a ripening grape, He will cut off the sprigs with pruning hooks, and the spreading branches He will remove and cut away.
(6)   They [the dead bodies of the slain warriors] shall be left together to the ravenous birds of the mountains and to the beasts of the earth; and the ravenous birds will summer upon them, and all the beasts of the earth will winter upon them.
(7)   At that time shall a present be brought to the Lord of hosts from a people tall and polished, from a people terrible from their beginning and feared and dreaded near and far, a nation strong and victorious, whose land the rivers or great channels divide — to the place [of worship] of the Name of the Lord of hosts, to Mount Zion [in Jerusalem]. [Deut 12:5; 2 Chron 32:23; Isa 16:1; 45:14; Zeph 3:10.]

(End of  Lesson 8)




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