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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Isaiah 15:1



The oracle concerning Moab. Surely in a night Ar of Moab is devastated and ruined; Surely in a night Kir of Moab is devastated and ruined.

Adam Clarke Commentary

Because in the night - בליל beleil . That both these cities should be taken in the night is a circumstance somewhat unusual; but not so material as to deserve to be so strongly insisted upon. Vitringa, by his remark on this word, shows that he was dissatisfied with it in its plain and obvious meaning, and is forced to have recourse to a very hard metaphorical interpretation of it. Noctu vel nocturno impetu; vel metaphorice, repente, subito, inexpectata destructione: placet posterius. Calmet conjectures, and I think it probable, that the true reading is כליל keleil, as the night. There are many mistakes in the Hebrew text arising from the very great similitude of the letters ב beth, and כ caph, which in many MSS., and some printed editions, are hardly distinguishable.

Admitting this reading, the translation will be, -

"Because Ar is utterly destroyed, Moab is undone!

Because Kir is utterly destroyed, Moab is undone!"

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Isaiah 15:1". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

The burden of Moab - (see the note at Isaiah 13:1). This is the title of the prophecy. The Chaldee renders this, ‹The burden of the cup of malediction which is to come upon Moab.‘

Because in the night - The fact that this was to be done in the night denotes the suddenness with which the calamity would come upon them. Thus the expression is used in Job to denote the suddenness and surprise with which calamities come:

Terrors take hold on him as waters,

A tempest stealeth him away in the night.

Job 27:20

So a thief is represented as coming in the night - in a sudden and unexpected manner Job 24:14:

The murderer in the night is as a thief.

See also Matthew 24:43; 1 Thessalonians 5:2; 2 Peter 3:10; Revelation 3:3; Revelation 16:15.

Ar of Moab - This was the capital of Moab. it was situated on the south of the river Arnon. It was sometimes called “Rabbath Moab.” Isaiah Isaiah 16:7-11 calls it the city ‹with walls of burnt brick.‘ Under the name of Areopolis it occurs in Eusebius and Stephen of Byzantium, and in the acts of many Synods of the fifth and sixth centuries, when it was the seat of a bishop (Reland‘s “Palestine,” pp. 577,578). Abulfeda says that in his time it was a small town. Jerome says that the city was destroyed by an earthquake when he was young, probably about 315 a.d. Burckhardt found a place called Rabba about twenty miles south of the river Arnon, which he supposed to be the ancient Ar. Seetsen found there ruins of considerable compass; especially the ruins of an old palace or temple, of which portions of the wall and some pillars are still standing. Legh says, ‹There are no traces of fortifications to be seen; but, upon an eminence, were a dilapidated Roman temple and some tanks.‘

Is laid waste - That is, is about to be laid waste. This passed before the mind of Isaiah in a vision, and he represents it as it appeared to him, as already a scene of desolation.

And brought to silence - Margin, ‹Cut off.‘ The word may mean either. The sense is, that the city was to be destroyed, for so the word דמה dâmâh often means Hosea 4:5-6; Hosea 10:7, Hosea 10:15; Jeremiah 6:2; Jeremiah 47:5; Zephaniah 1:11.

Kir of Moab - Probably this city was the modern Kerek or Karak. The Chaldee renders it by the name כרכא kerakā' or ‹fortress,‘ hence, the name Kerek or Karak. According to Burckhardt, it lies about three hours, and according to Abulfeda twelve Arabic miles, south of Ar Moab, upon a very high and steep rocky hill, from which the prospect extends even to Jerusalem, and which, formed by nature for a fortress, overlooks the whole surrounding country. In the wars of the Maccabees (2 Maccabees 12:17) it is mentioned under the name of Κάρακα Karaka and it is now known by the name of “Kerek” or “Karak.” In the time of the crusades, a pagan prince built there under king Fulco (in the year 1131) a very important castle, which was very serviceable to the Franks, and in 1183 it held out successfully against a formidable siege of a month by Saladin. Abulfeda speaks of it as so strong a fortress that one must abandon even the wish to take it. It has been visited in modern times by Seetsen, Burckhardt, and the company of English travelers referred to above. The place has still a castle, into which the whole surrounding country brings its grain for safe keeping. The small and poor town is built upon the remains of once important edifices, and is inhabited by Moslems and Christians. It is the seat of a bishop, though the bishop resides at Jerusalem (see Gesenius, “Commentary in loc.”)

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Isaiah 15:1". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". 1870.

Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible

We shall treat Isaiah 15 and Isaiah 16 together, both of them being devoted entirely to the "Burden of Moab." All of the commentators speak of the difficulties connected with interpreting this prophecy, but despite many questions that remain without certain answers, the overall picture is clear enough. The doom of Moab is announced, first by quoting a prophecy that Isaiah (perhaps) had already written, and then pinpointing the fulfillment of it within an exact period of only three years time.

Cheyne divided the prophecy (both chapters) into three divisions:[1] (1) Isaiah 15:1-9; (2) Isaiah 16:1-5; and (3) Isaiah 16:6-14.

The time prophesied here for the fulfillment of the doom of Moab is nearly impossible to decide. As Hailey said, "If we knew the date of this prophecy, we could determine whether it was fulfilled by Shalmanezar, Sargon, or Sennacherib";[2] but Lowth is one of the few who assign a date. He wrote: "The most probable dating is that it was delivered in the first year of Hezekiah's reign, and that the fulfillment was accomplished in Hezekiah's fourth year, when Shalmanezar invaded Israel."[3] Lowth's guess is as good as anyone's.

One feature of this prophecy is the number of place-names, some twenty-three in all, only about ten of them being identified as to their exact location.

The Moabites, of course, were kinsmen of Israel. Lot was a nephew of Abraham who lived in Sodom when the city was destroyed. His wife was lost in the destruction of Sodom; and, while living in a cave with his two daughters, Lot fathered a child by each of them; and from that incestuous union came the two nations of Ammonites and the Moabites (See Genesis 19).

Despite this kinship, the nation of Moab developed as an enemy, both of Israel, and of Israel's God. The arrogant pride of the people is mentioned in this prophecy. It will be remembered from Numbers 26, that the daughters of Moab seduced Israel in the orgy associated with the pagan god Baal-Peor, entitling them thus to having been one of the very worst influences upon Israel.

Scholars have had a field day trying to figure out who wrote the prophecy which Isaiah here says was given "in time past" (Isaiah 16:13). Some think Isaiah wrote it; others believe it is quoted from an earlier prophet, etc., etc. "But speculations of this kind are in the highest degree uncertain, and moreover lead to no results of the slightest importance."[4]


Isaiah 15:1-9

"The burden of Moab. For in a night Ar of Moab is laid waste, and brought to naught; for in a night Kir of Moab is laid waste, and brought to nought. They are gone up to Bayith, and to Dibon, to the high places, to weep: Moab waileth over Nebo, and over Meleba; on all their heads is baldness, every beard is cut off. On their streets they gird themselves with sackcloth; from their housetops, and everyone waileth, weeping abundantly. And Heshbon crieth out, and Elealeh; their voice is heard even unto Jahaz; therefore the armed men of Moab cry aloud; for his soul trembleth within him. My heart crieth out for Moab; her nobles flee unto Zoar, to Eglathshe-lishi-yah: for by the ascent of Luhith with weeping they go up; for in the way of Horonaim they raise up a cry of destruction. For the waters of Nimrim shall be desolate; for the grass is withered away, the tender grass faileth, there is no green thing. Therefore the abundance they have gotten, and that which they have laid up, shall they carry away over the brook of the willows. For the cry is gone round about the borders of Moab; the wailing thereof unto Eglai, and the wailing thereof to Beerelim. For the waters of Dimon are full of blood; for I will bring yet more upon Dimon, a lion upon them of Moab that escape, and upon the remnant of the land."

What a scene of desolation and destruction, of helpless flight before the forces of an invader, of a whole population shaving off their hair and their beards as a sign of national mourning, of citizens salvaging whatever they can carry away from their homes in their flight for refuge, of the pitiful confusion of the people when no safe refuge appears, of the weeping, wailing, sorrow and distress that rose like a dismal cloud over all of Moab!

What a sad picture of the mined people of Moab! Note their going up to the high places of Moab's false gods, where all the cries and supplications of suffering peoples are poured out in vain. No wonder, Isaiah said, "My heart crieth out for Moab" (Isaiah 15:5). Moabites were kin to Israel; but not even one's closest of kin can intervene against the judgment of God. Incidentally, this line in which the first person singular is used indicates that Isaiah himself is the author of this prophecy given in "time past" (Isaiah 16:13).

There are seventeen place-names in this brief little chapter referring to places literally all over Moab. Eerdmans New Bible Dictionary (1962) does not even mention six of these, but here is that source's information on most of the others:

Ar........Chief city of Moab, location unknown.

Kir.......Fortified city at elevation 3,370 feet, 11 miles east of the Dead Sea, and 15 miles north of the Arnon River.

Dibon.....The modern Dhiban east of the Dead Sea and 4 miles north of the Arnon River.

Nebo......The mountain from which Moses saw the Holy Land, one of the Moabite gods, and a small city of Moab (perhaps a local shrine of Nebo).

Heshbon...The capital of Sihon, king of the Ammonites, which fell to Moses (Numbers 21:24), and was later allotted to Reuben (Numbers 32:37).

Elealeh...Small town east of Jordan, always mentioned in connection with Heshbon. It is identified as modern el-Al, 1 mile north of Heshbon.

Zoar......City near the Dead Sea (southern extremity) from which Lot and his two daughters fled to a cave in the mountains (Genesis 19).

Luhith....Eusebius placed it between Zoar and Areopolis, but it has not yet been surely identified.

Nimrim....A place in south Moab some ten miles from the southern tip of the Dead Sea.

Some of these cities, however, have proved to be important historically. For example, Kir was the site where, "A heathen prince built a strong castle in the year 1131 A.D. (in the times of the crusades), which was very serviceable to the Franks, who in the year 1183 A.D. held it successfully against a very formidable siege of a month by Saladin."[5]

"The brook of willows ..." (Isaiah 15:7). This was apparently a boundary between Moab and Edom, the Wadi el-Hesy.[6]

"Waileth ..." (Isaiah 15:3). Older versions translated this word as "shall howl" ... In earlier times in the United States, such loud howling often took place at funerals. Barnes noted that, "In times of calamity in the East, it is common to raise an unnatural and forced howl, or long continued shriek. Persons were often hired for this purpose."[7]

"Unto Beer-elim ..." "This word literally means, `the well of the princes'; and it is perhaps the same as that mentioned in Numbers 21:14-18, as being in the land of Moab."[8]

The most delightful thing in this chapter is the compassion that seems to well up in the heart of Isaiah as he contemplates the massive sorrow and distress that always result from people's disobedience of the Lord. The reason for Isaiah's repeating this prophecy here is for the sake of confirming the truth of it and of setting a specific frame of reference in time when the complete fulfillment of it would take place.

"A lion upon them of Moab that escape ..." (Isaiah 15:9). "Perhaps this should be understood literally (2 Kings 17:25), or it may stand metaphorically for invading foes (Jeremiah 4:7 and Jeremiah 5.6)."[9] Some have suggested that "the lion" here was such an invader as Nebuchadnezzar, or Ashurbanipal."[10]

Severe as this prophecy is, there are other prophecies in God's word just as devastating. For example, Amos has this:

"Thus saith Jehovah: for three transgression of Moab, yea, for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because he burned the bones of the king of Edom into lime. But I will send a fire upon Moab, and it shall devour the palaces of Kerioth; and Moab shall die with tumult, with shouting, and with the sound of the trumpet; and I will cut off the judge from the midst thereof, and will slay all the princes thereof with him, saith Jehovah" (Amos 2:1-3).

Other prophecies of similar import are to be found in Isaiah 11:14; 25:10; Jeremiah 48; Ezekiel 25:8-11; and Zephaniah 2:8-11. The first part of the next chapter states the reason for God's judgment of Moab.

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James Burton Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.

Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Isaiah 15:1". "Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament". Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

The burden of Moab,.... A heavy, grievous prophecy, concerning the destruction of Moab. The Targum is,

"the burden of the cup of cursing, to give Moab to drink.'

This seems to respect the destruction of it by Nebuchadnezzar, which is prophesied of in Jeremiah 48:1 for that which was to be within three years, Isaiah 16:14 looks like another and distinct prophecy from this; though some think this was accomplished before the times of Nebuchadnezzar, either by Shalmaneser king of Assyria, some time before the captivity of the ten tribes, as Vitringa and others; or by Sennacherib, after the invasion of Judea, so Jarchi.

Because in the night Ar of Moab is laid waste, and brought to silence; this was a chief city in Moab, perhaps the metropolis of it; see Numbers 21:28. Kimchi conjectures it to be the same with Aroer, which was by the brink of the river Arnon, Deuteronomy 2:36, Deuteronomy 3:12 and is mentioned with Dibon, as this, in Numbers 32:34 of which notice is taken, and not of Ar, in Jeremiah 48:19. Some versions take Ar to signify a "city", and render it, "the city of Moab", without naming what city it was; and the Targum calls it by another name, Lahajath; but, be it what city it will, it was destroyed in the night; in such a night, as Kimchi interprets it; in the space of a night, very suddenly, when the inhabitants of it were asleep and secure, and had no notice of danger; and so the Targum adds,

"and they were asleep.'

Some have thought this circumstance is mentioned with a view to the night work, that work of darkness of Lot and his daughter, which gave rise to Moab; however, in a night this city became desolate, being taken and plundered, and its inhabitants put to the sword, and so reduced to silence; though the last word may as well be rendered "cut off"F14נדמה "succisus", Pagninus, Montanus; "excisa", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator. So Ben Melech interprets it by נכרת. , utterly destroyed, being burnt or pulled down; two words are made use of, to denote the utter destruction of it:

because in the night Kir of Moab is laid waste, and brought to silence; either in the same night, or rather in another. Kir, another city of Moab, met with the same fate as Ar. This is called Kirhareseth, and Kirharesh, in Isaiah 16:7 and so Kirheres in Jeremiah 48:31 called Kir of Moab, to distinguish it from Kir in Assyria, Amos 1:5 and Kir in Media, Isaiah 22:6.

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Gill, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 15:1". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

The a burden of Moab. Because in the night b Ar of Moab is laid waste, [and] brought to silence; because in the night Kir of Moab is laid waste, [and] brought to silence;

(a) {See (Isaiah 13:1) }

(b) The chief city by which the whole country was meant.

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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Isaiah 15:1". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

Isaiah 15:1-9. The fifteenth and sixteenth chapters form one prophecy on Moab.

Lowth thinks it was delivered in the first years of Hezekiah‘s reign and fulfilled in the fourth when Shalmaneser, on his way to invade Israel, may have seized on the strongholds of Moab. Moab probably had made common cause with Israel and Syria in a league against Assyria. Hence it incurred the vengeance of Assyria. Jeremiah has introduced much of this prophecy into his forty-eighth chapter.

Because — rather, “Surely”; literally, “(I affirm) that” [Maurer].

night — the time best suited for a hostile incursion (Isaiah 21:4; Jeremiah 39:4).

Ar — meaning in Hebrew, “the city”; the metropolis of Moab, on the south of the river Arnon.

Kir — literally, “a citadel”; not far from Ar, towards the south.

He — Moab personified.

Bajith — rather, “to the temple” [Maurer]; answering to the “sanctuary” (Isaiah 16:12), in a similar context.

to Dibon — Rather, as Dibon was in a plain north of the Arnon, “Dibon (is gone up) to the high places,” the usual places of sacrifice in the East. Same town as Dimon (Isaiah 15:9).

to weep — at the sudden calamity.

over Nebo — rather “in Nebo”; not “on account of” Nebo (compare Isaiah 15:3) [Maurer]. The town Nebo was adjacent to the mountain, not far from the northern shore of the Dead Sea. There it was that Chemosh, the idol of Moab, was worshipped (compare Deuteronomy 34:1).

Medeba — south of Heshbon, on a hill east of Jordan.

baldness … beard cut off — The Orientals regarded the beard with peculiar veneration. To cut one‘s beard off is the greatest mark of sorrow and mortification (compare Jeremiah 48:37).

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This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.

Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Isaiah 15:1". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". 1871-8.

Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament

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. He commences with an utterance of amazement. “Oracle concerning Moab! for in a night 'Ar-Moab is laid waste, destroyed; for in a night Kir-Moab is laid waste, destroyed.” The ci (for) is explanatory in both instances, and not simply affirmative, or, as Knobel maintains, recitative, and therefore unmeaning. 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, as in Isaiah 17:1; Isaiah 23:1. 'Ar Moab (in which 'Ar is Moabitish for 'Ir ; cf., Jeremiah 49:3, where we find 'Ai written instead of 'Ar , which we should naturally expect) is 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 Moab (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 identity of Kir and Kerek is unquestionable, but that of Ar and Rabba has been disputed; and on the ground of Numbers 22:36, where it seems to be placed nearer the Arnon, it has been transposed to the ruins on the pasture land at the confluence of the Lejûm and Mujib (= “the city that is by the river” in Deuteronomy 2:36 and Joshua 13:9, Joshua 13:16 : see Comm. on Numbers 21:15) - a conjecture which has this against it, that the name Areopolis , which has been formed from Ar , is attached to the “ metropolis civitas Ar ,” which was called Rabba as the metropolis, and of which Jerome relates (on the passage before us), as an event associated with his own childhood, that it was then destroyed by an earthquake (probably in 342). The two names of the cities are used as masculine here, like Dammesek in Isaiah 17:1, and Tzor in Isaiah 23:1, though it cannot therefore be said, as at Micah 5:1, that the city stands for the inhabitants (Ges. Lehrgebäude , p. 469). “ In a night ” ( ליל absolute, as in Isaiah 21:11, not construct, which would give an illogical assertion, as shuddad and nidmâh are almost coincident, so far as the sense is concerned) the two pillars of the strength of Moab are overthrown. In the space of a night, and therefore very suddenly (Isaiah 17:14), Moab is destroyed. 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 (on the asyndeton , see at Isaiah 33:9; and on the anadiplosis , Isaiah 15:8; Isaiah 8:9; Isaiah 21:11; Isaiah 17:12-13). His first sensation is that of horror.

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Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on Isaiah 15:1". 1854-1889.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

The burden of Moab. Because in the night Ar of Moab is laid waste, and brought to silence; because in the night Kir of Moab is laid waste, and brought to silence;

The burden — A prophecy of the destruction of the Moabites, the inveterate enemies of the Jews, begun by the Assyrian, and finished by the Babylonian emperors.

In a night — Suddenly and unexpectedly.

Ar — The chief city of Moab.

Kir — Another eminent city of Moab.

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Wesley, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 15:1". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". 1765.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

1.The burden of Moab. Here the Prophet prophesies against the Moabites, who were neighbors to the Jews and related to them by blood; for we know that the Moabites were descended from Lot, who was Abraham’s nephew. (Genesis 11:31.) Those nations being so closely related, humanity at least demanded that they should maintain some friendly intercourse with each other. But no relationship prevented the Moabites from cherishing hostility towards the Jews, or even from harassing them whenever it was in their power; which is an evidence of a savage and barbarous disposition. To them also, on account of their cruelty towards the people of God, to whom they ought to have conducted themselves with brotherly love, the Prophet therefore threatens destruction.

We ought to remember the design of these predictions. It cannot be believed that they were of any advantage to the Moabites, even though they had heard from the mouth of the Prophet himself the words which we read; but he neither addressed them with his voice, nor sent to them a written communication. It was therefore to believers, rather than to them, that the Prophet looked, and for two reasons. The first reason was, that when they saw so many changes taking place, cities overturned, kingdoms destroyed and succeeding one another, they might not think that this world is governed by the blind violence of fortune, but might acknowledge the providence of God. If nothing had been foretold, the minds of men, having a strong tendency to foolishness, and being strangely blind to the works of God, might have been disposed to attribute all this to chance; but when they had been forewarned by the Prophets, they beheld the judgments of God as from a lofty watch-tower. To us also in the present day Isaiah has, as it were, pointed out with the finger what was then hidden. In his predictions we behold God sitting on his judgment-seat, and regulating everything according to his pleasure; and although the wicked in various ways vented their mad rage, still the Lord made use of their agency to execute his judgments. The second design which the prophets had in view was, that while the whole world was shaken, the Jews might know that God took care of their safety, and that he testified the warmth of his affection for the Church, by taking vengeance on her enemies by whom she had been barbarously treated.

Ar-Moab. The Hebrew word ער (Ar) means a city; as קיר (kir) means a wall; but as ער מואב (Ar-Moab) was one of the chief cities of the Moabites, it is supposed to be here a proper name. We might indeed explain both words as appellatives, to convey a threatening of the overthrow of the fortified towns of which the Moabites are proud; but I rather adopt the ordinary interpretation. Here therefore Isaiah has given a description, that we may behold in it the overthrow of the Moabites, when their chief cities are destroyed.

In the night. By the night he means a sudden and unexpected occurrence, which the Moabites did not dread. Night being appropriated to rest, if anything happen at that time, it is viewed as sudden and unlooked for, and therefore excites violent alarm. Besides, he intended to rebuke the Moabites for being free from anxiety, considering themselves to be fortified by defences on every hand, and placed beyond the reach of all danger.

Is brought to silence. That is, is destroyed, and hence also Silence sometimes means Death. Others disregard the metaphor, and choose to render it, She is cut off; but I leave that point undecided. What Isaiah declares as to the Moabites, Scripture pronounces as to the reprobate, that destruction is at hand, and, when they are looking for nothing of that kind, will fearfully overwhelm them. (Jeremiah 23:19.)

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Calvin, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 15:1". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". 1840-57.

Scofield's Reference Notes


This "burden" had a precursive fulfilment in Sennacherib's invasion, B.C. 704, three years after the prediction Isaiah 16:14 but the words have a breadth of meaning which includes also the final world-battle. (See Scofield "Revelation 19:17"), Isaiah 16:1-5 which is a continuation of this "burden," shows the "tabernacle of David" set up, the next event in order after the destruction of the Beast and his armies. Cf. the order in; Isaiah 10:28-34; Isaiah 11:1-10; Acts 15:14-17; Revelation 19:17-21; Revelation 20:1-4.

burden See note 1; (See Scofield "Isaiah 13:1").

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Scofield, C. I. "Scofield Reference Notes on Isaiah 15:1". "Scofield Reference Notes (1917 Edition)". 1917.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Isaiah 15:1 The burden of Moab. Because in the night Ar of Moab is laid waste, [and] brought to silence; because in the night Kir of Moab is laid waste, [and] brought to silence;

Ver. 1. The burden of Moab.] A "burden," saith Jerome, ever betokeneth sad things to follow. A "vision" doth joyful, at last howsoever. The Chaldee paraphraseth thus: The burden of a cup of cursing for Moab to drink off. Moab was the brat of an incestuous birth, as his name also, De Patre, declareth. There is now no such nation; their very name is rooted out, ever since they were destroyed, first by Shalmaneser, as is here forethreatened, and then by Nebuchadnezzar {as Jeremiah 48:1-47} - where we meet with many like passages as here - so that they live but by fame only, as they are mentioned in Holy Scripture, but never for any good. Their destruction is foretold for a comfort to the poor afflicted Jews, to whom they were near allied, but very ill-affected.

Because in the night.] Nocte intempesta, (a) the night is dark and dreadful; or in the night, i.e., subito, derepente, praeter opinionem, suddenly, unexpectedly. These Moabites dwelt in a fruitful country, near to those five cities of the plain, and giving themselves up to loose and luxurious living, saith Jerome, they worshipped Chemosh or Bacchus; (b) as they had been incestuously begotten by Lot in his drink, so they proved accordingly. Ebrius te Pater genuit, said one to a desperate drunkard. Some think they are threatened with wasting in the night, in allusion to that dismal night work, and that deed of darkness, the begetting of their father and founder Moab. [Genesis 19:36-37] Whence other nations were wont to reproach the Moabites as children of the night, saith Jerome.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 15:1". John Trapp Complete Commentary. 1865-1868.

Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary


The prophet here enters upon the subject of history: and a woeful account it is. Not a word of comfort through the whole.

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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Isaiah 15:1". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". 1828.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

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.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Isaiah 15:1". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. 1801-1803.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible


The destruction of Moab.

The burden of Moab; a prophecy of the destruction of the Moabites, the inveterate and implacable enemies of the Jews, begun by the Assyrian, and finished by the Babylonian emperors.

In the night; or, in a night; suddenly and unexpectedly; for men sleep securely in the night, and therefore the evils which then overtake them are most terrible to them.

Ar; the chief city of Moab, Numbers 21:28 Deuteronomy 2:9.

Brought to silence; or rather, is cut off, as the word oft signifies, as Jeremiah 47:5 Hosea 10:7,15, and elsewhere. Kir; another eminent city of Moab, called more largely and fully Kir-heres, and Kir-hareseth, Isaiah 16:7,11 Jer 48:31,36.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Isaiah 15:1". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

1. The burden of Moab — “Burden,” here, may indicate “prophecy,” at first orally uttered, afterward written up. If an old prophecy has been a basis of utterance, it is now modified and adopted as Isaiah’s. See same case in Jeremiah 47, and a similar case in Isaiah 2:1-5.

Because — Hebrew, כי, (ki,) elliptically, “it is that.” Gesenius renders it, verily.

In the night… in the night — Poetic repetition here possibly indicates a fact of frequent occurrence. As in these times in that country, so then, no doubt, towns and great encampments were occasionally overthrown in a single night by earthquakes or invading hordes.


Ar of Moab — The city of Moab, the only city of account Moab proper had, situated south of the Arnon, not on it, though Numbers 21:15 speaks of it as if it were at the northern border on the Arnon: this, because no other city intervened. See TRISTRAM, Land of Moab, p. 120.

Kir of Moab — Now Kir-Hareseth, Isaiah 16:7, some two miles south of Ar, according to present ruins.

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Isaiah 15:1". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". 1874-1909.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

Isaiah began by announcing Moab"s certain ruin. The two main cities, Ar on the Arnon and Kir in central Moab, would fall quickly.

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Isaiah 15:1". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". 2012.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Isaiah 15:1. The burden of Moab — A prophecy of the destruction of the Moabites, the inveterate and implacable enemies of the Jews, begun by the Assyrian, and finished by the Babylonian monarchs. This prophecy, which occupies this and the next chapter, very improperly separated from each other, makes the third discourse of this second part. The time of the delivery, and consequently of the completion of it, (which was to be in three years after,) is uncertain, neither of them being marked in the prophecy, nor recorded in history. “But the most probable account is, that it was delivered soon after the foregoing, in the first year of Hezekiah; and that it was accomplished in his fourth year, when Shalmaneser invaded the kingdom of Israel. He might probably march through Moab; and, to secure every thing behind him, possess himself of the whole country, by taking the principal strong places, Ar and Kir-haresh. Jeremiah has introduced much of this prophecy of Isaiah into his own larger prophecy against the same people, (chap. 48.,) denouncing God’s judgments on Moab, subsequent to the calamity here foretold, to be executed by Nebuchadnezzar.” Bishop Lowth. In the night — Or, in a night, suddenly and unexpectedly, Ar of Moab is laid waste — The chief city of Moab, Numbers 21:28. Kir of Moab is laid waste — Another eminent city of Moab, called more largely and fully, Kir-hareseth and Kir-haresh, Isaiah 16:7; Isaiah 16:11; Jeremiah 48:31; Jeremiah 48:36.

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Isaiah 15:1". Joseph Benson's Commentary. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Moab. Which would be visited in three years' time (chap. xvi. 14.) either by Ezechias, or by Sennacherib, though history be silent on this head. The Moabites had been very cruel, Amos i. and ii. --- Night. Suddenly. (Calmet) --- Their misery was so much the greater. (Worthington) --- Ar. The capital. (Calmet)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Isaiah 15:1". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

burden. The first of the seven burdens.

Because = Surely.

Moab. Had been subdued by Saul (1 Samuel 14:47) and David (2 Samuel 8:2); and paid tribute to Ahab (2 Kings 1:1; 2 Kings 3:4, 2 Kings 3:5). Ar = Rabbah (Numbers 21:28; Deuteronomy 2:9, Deuteronomy 2:18, Deuteronomy 2:29).

brought to silence = cut off or destroyed.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Isaiah 15:1". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

The burden of Moab. Because in the night Ar of Moab is laid waste, and brought to silence; because in the night Kir of Moab is laid waste, and brought to silence;

Lowth thinks it was delivered in the first years of Hezekiah's reign, and fulfilled in the fourth, when Shalmaneser, on his way to invade Israel, may have seized on the strongholds of Moab. Moab probably had made common cause with Israel and Syria, in a league against Assyria. Hence, it incurred the vengeance of Assyria. Jeremiah has introduced much of this prophecy into his 48th chapter.

Because , [ kiy (Hebrew #3588)] - rather, 'To wit.' 'The burden of Moab-to wit, that Moab is (to be) laid waste.' 'I say that Moab shall be laid waste' (Grotius).

In the night - the time best suited for an hostile incursion (Isaiah 21:4; Jeremiah 39:4).

Ar - meaning in Hebrew the city; the metropolis of Moab, on the south of the river Arnon.

Kir - literally, a citadel, not far from Ar, toward the south.

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Isaiah 15:1". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers


(1) The burden of Moab.—The oracle which fills the next two chapters deals with the coming history of Moab. The comparative obscurity of that history, the names of towns and villages which it is difficult to identify, present a striking contrast to the evolution of the great world-drama which is brought before us in the “burden” of Babylon. What light can be thrown on that obscurity must be gathered from what we can learn of the contemporary history of Moab and its relation to Israel. This we know partly from the record of 2 Kings 3, partly from the inscription of the Moabite stone found at Diban, in 1860, by Mr. Klein, and translated by Dr. Ginsburg in Records of the Past, xi. 163. Combining the information from these two sources, we find that Omri and Ahab had subdued Moab when that nation was governed by Chemosh-Gad of Dibon, and had compelled him to pay a sheep tribute reckoned by hundreds of thousands. When Jehoram succeeded Ahab, Mesha, the son of Chemosh-Gad, revolted, and the Moabite inscription records the successful issue of the campaign. Jehoram entered into an alliance with Jehoshaphat and the king of Edom. The Moabites were defeated. Their trees were cut down, their wells stopped, and their land made barren. The king of Moab in his despair offered up his son as a sacrifice to Chemosh in the sight of both armies. With that sacrifice apparently the tide of victory turned. Mesha, in his inscription, records how he took Nebo from Israel and slew seven thousand men, and built or restored fortified towns, and offered the vessels of Jehovah, taken probably from the sanctuaries of the “high places” of Nebo. Exulting in the memory of this victory, Moab became “exceeding proud” (Isaiah 16:6), and in a psalm, probably contemporary with Isaiah (see the mention of Assur, or Assyria, in Psalms 83:8), they are named as among the enemies of Judah, joined with the Philistines and Assyrians. It is probable enough that, having been kept in check-by the prosperous rule of Uzziah, they took advantage of the weakness of Ahaz to renew hostilities, and were looking, half with dread, half with hope, to the Assyrian power. It may be noted here that the following cities named in these chapters—Dibon, Medeba, Nebo, Horonaim—occur also in the Moabite stone, which thus renders a striking testimony to their antiquity, and, so far, to their authenticity. (Comp. Jeremiah 48, which is, to a large extent, a reproduction of Isaiah’s language.)

Ar of Moab is laid waste.—This was apparently the older capital (Numbers 21:28; Deuteronomy 2:9), sometimes known as Rabbath Moab. In Jerome’s time it was known as Areopolis, the Greeks catching, probably, at the resemblance between the name Ar and that of their god, Ares. Probably Ar was a Moabite form of the Hebrew Ir, a city. One of the names survives in the modern Rabba; but the ruins are comparatively insignificant. The prophet begins with words of threatening. Both that city and Kir (here again the word means “city,” and if we identify it, as most experts do, with Kerek, the castle on a hill, which rises to 1,000 feet above the Dead Sea, it must have been the strongest of the Moabite fortresses) were to be attacked at night, when resistance was most hopeless. So Mesha boasts (Records of the Past, xi. 66) that he had taken Nebo by a night attack. We note the emphasis of iteration in the words “laid waste and brought to silence.” The latter clause would be more accurately rendered cut off, or destroyed.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Isaiah 15:1". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

The burden of Moab. Because in the night Ar of Moab is laid waste, and brought to silence; because in the night Kir of Moab is laid waste, and brought to silence;
This and the following chapter form one entire prophecy; which was most probably delivered, as Bp. Lowth supposes, soon after the foregoing, (ch. 14:28-32,) in the first year of Hezekiah, and accomplished in his fourth year when Shalmaneser invaded Israel.
13:1; 14:28
11:14; 25:10; Jeremiah 9:26; 48:1-47; Ezekiel 25:8-11; Amos 2:1-3; Zephaniah 2:8-11
in the
Exodus 12:29,30; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3
Numbers 21:28; Deuteronomy 2:9,18
brought to silence
or, cut off. Kir.
2 Kings 3:25
Jeremiah 48:31,36

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Isaiah 15:1". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge".

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