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Bible Commentaries

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Isaiah 15

 

 

Introduction

CHAP. XV.

The lamentable state of Moab.

Before Christ 712.


Verse 1

Isaiah 15:1. The burden of Moab In this and the next chapter, which contain the third discourse, the prophet, in a most lively manner, foretels the fate of the Moabites; wherein we have, first, the title prefixed to it, Isaiah 15:1. Secondly, the context, or body of the prophecy, Isaiah 15:1 to Isaiah 16:12. Thirdly, the conclusion, chap. Isaiah 16:13-14. The context, or body of the prophecy is two-fold: the first part sets forth at large the calamity impending over Moab—in this chapter; the second relates the causes of these evils, by way of counsel suggested to the Moabites; and, after giving the Jews hopes of a more prosperous state of their nation, repeats the same prediction, chap. Isaiah 16:1-12. The first part is comprehended in three sentences of similar argument, which unfold both the evils coming upon the Moabites, and the consequence of them; lamentation, mourning, and distress; the first in Isaiah 15:1-4 the second, Isaiah 15:5-7 the third, Isaiah 15:8-9. There can be no doubt that this prophesy literally refers to the Moabites, and Vitringa thinks it unquestionable from the last verse of the 14th chapter, that it was completed by the destruction brought upon the Moabites by Salmanezer, three years after its delivery. For the history of the Moabites, see Vitringa and the Univ. Hist. vol. 2: p. 125.

Because in the night Ar of Moab From this to the fourth verse, we have the first sentence of the first part of this prophesy: wherein are an antecedent and consequent: the antecedent—the devastation of the principal cities of Moab, which should involve the whole nation in destruction: Isaiah 15:1 the consequence— the distress and common lamentation of the Moabites under this calamity. The prophet so orders his discourse in this prophecy, as if, being placed on a high mountain, he beheld the army of the Assyrians, suddenly, and contrary to all expectation, directing their course towards Moab; and in this unforeseen attack ravaging and plundering, rather than besieging the principal cities and fortifications of this country; while the Moabites, astonished at the report of this event, burst forth into weeping and lamentation, and hasten to the temples and altars of their god Chemosh, to implore his aid, making bare their heads, cutting off their hair, and filling all places with howling and lamentation, like desperate men; while some of them fall by the sword of the enemy, some of them fly towards Arabia; their goods, land, vineyards, &c. being left a spoil to the enemy and avenger. The article כי ki, because, prefixed to this prophesy, may be rendered, truly, certainly; or it may be taken in its proper sense. Because in the night Ar of Moab is laid waste, he (namely Moab, Isaiah 15:2.) is gone up, &c. But Vitringa thinks it more elegant and emphatical to render it affirmatively; Truly in the night, &c. Genesis 4:24. 1 Samuel 14:39. Instead of, and brought to silence, Bishop Lowth reads is undone. Ar and Kir were two of the principal and best fortified cities of Moab: see chap. Isaiah 16:7-11 where the latter is called Kir-hareseth,—the city of the sun, as they worshipped there the sun under the appellation of Chemosh. This destruction of Moab is said to have been in the night, which seems a metaphorical expression to denote the sudden and unexpected ruin. which should come upon them like a thief in the night. See Job 27:20; Job 34:25. The towns mentioned in the following verses belong to the Moabites; some of them have been mentioned in the preceding parts of the scripture; it is probable that they were remarkably famous for their high places, temples, and altars. The prophet closes the fourth verse with telling us that even the armed soldiers themselves, the warriors, and those who should defend the state, should lose all their spirit and courage, and join in the general lamentation and dismay. See Jeremiah 48:34; Jeremiah 48:41. The last clause, His life, &c. might be rendered, The soul of every one of them shall be in distress.


Verses 5-7

Isaiah 15:5-7. My heart shall cry out for Moab Hitherto the prophet had set forth the lamentation of the Moabites; but seeing these future evils as it were present to his own mind, he compassionates their griefs, and declares his own participation of their sorrows: the meaning of the next clause is, "His fugitives wander even unto Zoar, an heifer of three years old;" that is to say, sending forth their cries by weeping and lamenting, like a heifer, &c." Three years old is mentioned only to denote a full-grown heifer; the lowing of which, naturalists have remarked, is deeper and more affecting than that of the male: but Jeremiah, in the 34th verse of his 48th chapter, has given us the true exposition. It is not certain what place Luhith was; but we may hence collect, clearly enough, that it was some elevated tract or ascent in the extremity of Moab. Bishop Lowth reads it, yea, to the ascent of Luith with weeping shall they ascend: and instead of my heart shall cry out, &c. in the first clause, The heart of Moab crieth within her. Horonaim was also a city of Moab, situated probably in the descent from Luhith. The prophet in the next verses sets forth the causes of lamentation among the inhabitants of this southern part of Moab. The first is the desolation of their fruitful fields, Isaiah 15:6. (See Numbers 32:3-36.) Nimrim seems to have been celebrated for its fine fountains and waters. The other cause of grief is set forth in the 7th verse; which should be rendered, Because the remnant which they had made and laid up, shall they [the Assyrians] carry away to, or beyond, the valley of willows, or the Arabians. Vitringa thinks that the just rendering is, The valley of the willows, and that Babylon is hereby denoted, the banks of the Euphrates abounding with willows. See Psalms 137:2 and Bochart Hieroz. p. 1. lib. viii. c. 7.


Verse 8-9

Isaiah 15:8-9. For the cry is gone round, &c.— The prophet contemplating, with the most lively imagination, the motion and consternation of all Moab, as if present to his view, scarcely satisfies himself in painting the scene: he repeats again in this place the proposition, and supplies by a general declaration what he might seem not to have expressed with sufficient perfection before: he therefore declares, that this lamentation of which he speaks shall not be private, and peculiar to one place, or to a few, but common to all; and that the tempest should not break upon this or that part of the country only, but should afflict all Moab, every corner and boundary of it; for this cry, this sorrowful howling, is said to go round, to encompass all the borders and extreme boundaries of Moab, and to take in the whole from Eglaim to Beer-elim, two cities in the extremities of Moab. He adds in the 9th verse some additional reasons for this lamentation; the first of which is, the great slaughter of the people, which the enemy should make in Moab, expressed in these words, The waters of Dimon shall be full of blood, for I will bring more upon, or add accessions to, Dimon; that is to say, the waters of Dimon should be increased by the rivers of the blood of the slain which should flow into them, and so should add accessions, or increase to them. Those waters should increase, and become even a torrent, from the blood of the slain. The expression is strong and elegant. It is uncertain where this river was, which is thought to have had its name from דם dam, blood, and there is an elegance in this allusion. See 2 Kings 3:19; 2 Kings 3:22. The other evil, the completion of all the rest, and the severest cause of their lamentation, is, that God would not even spare a remnant to restore hereafter, and renew this fallen state. God should find a lion upon them that escaped out of Moab, and upon the remnant of the land: by which is commonly understood, that God would not spare any of them, but would pursue them with his judgments to the last extremity, and send upon them, and on their desolate country, lions and wild beasts to destroy entirely all that remained. Yet I am persuaded, says Vitringa, that something farther is here intended, and that Nebuchadnezzar is manifestly pointed out, who, after the Moabites, reduced extremely low by the Assyrians, began to recruit themselves, should give the remnant of the nation to destruction, and complete the judgment which the Assyrian had begun. Compare what Jeremiah says of Nebuchadnezzar, Jeremiah 4:7 and this will appear more probable. Our prophet also himself has used this figure. See ch. Isaiah 5:26-27 and compare Jeremiah 5:6; Jeremiah 48:40. The Chaldee paraphrast certainly so understood it, translating the word which we read lion by king: A king with his army to destroy the Moabites. See Vitringa.

REFLECTIONS.—1st, This prophesy is either the same with that of chap. Isaiah 16:14 and was to be quickly accomplished, within three years, when Salmanezer ravaged the country; or distinct from that, and relative to the final destruction of Moab by Nebuchadnezzar, Jeremiah 48 or, as observed in my critical annotations, inclusive of both.

We have here a picture of the most affecting distress.

1. Sudden and terrible would be the stroke: some of their cities surprised in the night, sacked, and demolished; others, in terror at the expectation of the same fate, with tokens of the bitterest anguish upon them, disfigured with baldness, and girt with sackcloth, and every place full of weeping and tears, loud as the heifer bellows, and reaching to the distant cities, whither they fly for shelter from the approaching ruin. Note; (1.) Death often seizes the sinner in the night with terrible surprise. (2.) When we lie down on our beds, our bed may be quickly made our grave by some unexpected stroke: let us therefore be always ready. (3.) It will be too late for those to cry, when God's wrath overtakes them, who before never cried to avert it.

2. All help should fail them: their mighty warriors should faint under their fears, and their life be a burden to them. Or it will bear to be read, His soul shall cry out for himself each bemoaning his wretched case; nor shall their idols afford them relief. Though they go up to their high places to weep, no answer shall be given them, and weeping they shall descend. Note; Creature-confidences, like idol-gods, will utterly fail us in time of trouble.

3. The prophet himself in pity drops a tear over their desolations, though enemies. Such tender and compassionate hearts should ministers possess, and, like their divine Lord, weep over those sinners that will not be warned.

2nd, From one corner to the other of the land, the cry of Moab should be heard; and no wonder, when her desolations were so great.

1. The country should be devoured and wasted by drought, or eat up as forage by these invaders; so that not a blade of grass should remain; and their abundance, with so much care collected and laid up, be carried away to the brook of the willows; either by themselves to hide it, or rather by their enemies to Babylon, so called from its marshy situation. Note; This world's riches are often a short-lived possession, so soon do they make themselves wings and fly away.

2. The waters of Dimon shall be full of blood; the numbers of the slain so great, that her streams should be died thereby: and more, or additions, of trouble be brought upon them; the lions shall glean those who escape from the sword. Note; When God in just vengeance begins with sinners, he will make an end; and while they continue hardened, he will not be weary in smiting them.

 


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Bibliography Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Isaiah 15:4". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/isaiah-15.html. 1801-1803.

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