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Judgment on Moab


Concerning Moab.


Thus says the L ord of hosts, the God of Israel:

Alas for Nebo, it is laid waste!

Kiriathaim is put to shame, it is taken;

the fortress is put to shame and broken down;


the renown of Moab is no more.

In Heshbon they planned evil against her:

“Come, let us cut her off from being a nation!”

You also, O Madmen, shall be brought to silence;

the sword shall pursue you.



Hark! a cry from Horonaim,

“Desolation and great destruction!”


“Moab is destroyed!”

her little ones cry out.


For at the ascent of Luhith

they go up weeping bitterly;

for at the descent of Horonaim

they have heard the distressing cry of anguish.


Flee! Save yourselves!

Be like a wild ass in the desert!



Surely, because you trusted in your strongholds and your treasures,

you also shall be taken;

Chemosh shall go out into exile,

with his priests and his attendants.


The destroyer shall come upon every town,

and no town shall escape;

the valley shall perish,

and the plain shall be destroyed,

as the L ord has spoken.



Set aside salt for Moab,

for she will surely fall;

her towns shall become a desolation,

with no inhabitant in them.


10 Accursed is the one who is slack in doing the work of the L ord; and accursed is the one who keeps back the sword from bloodshed.



Moab has been at ease from his youth,

settled like wine on its dregs;

he has not been emptied from vessel to vessel,

nor has he gone into exile;

therefore his flavor has remained

and his aroma is unspoiled.

12 Therefore, the time is surely coming, says the L ord, when I shall send to him decanters to decant him, and empty his vessels, and break his jars in pieces. 13Then Moab shall be ashamed of Chemosh, as the house of Israel was ashamed of Bethel, their confidence.



How can you say, “We are heroes

and mighty warriors”?


The destroyer of Moab and his towns has come up,

and the choicest of his young men have gone down to slaughter,

says the King, whose name is the L ord of hosts.


The calamity of Moab is near at hand

and his doom approaches swiftly.


Mourn over him, all you his neighbors,

and all who know his name;

say, “How the mighty scepter is broken,

the glorious staff!”



Come down from glory,

and sit on the parched ground,

enthroned daughter Dibon!

For the destroyer of Moab has come up against you;

he has destroyed your strongholds.


Stand by the road and watch,

you inhabitant of Aroer!

Ask the man fleeing and the woman escaping;

say, “What has happened?”


Moab is put to shame, for it is broken down;

wail and cry!

Tell it by the Arnon,

that Moab is laid waste.


21 Judgment has come upon the tableland, upon Holon, and Jahzah, and Mephaath, 22and Dibon, and Nebo, and Beth-diblathaim, 23and Kiriathaim, and Beth-gamul, and Beth-meon, 24and Kerioth, and Bozrah, and all the towns of the land of Moab, far and near. 25The horn of Moab is cut off, and his arm is broken, says the L ord.

26 Make him drunk, because he magnified himself against the L ord; let Moab wallow in his vomit; he too shall become a laughingstock. 27Israel was a laughingstock for you, though he was not caught among thieves; but whenever you spoke of him you shook your head!



Leave the towns, and live on the rock,

O inhabitants of Moab!

Be like the dove that nests

on the sides of the mouth of a gorge.


We have heard of the pride of Moab—

he is very proud—

of his loftiness, his pride, and his arrogance,

and the haughtiness of his heart.


I myself know his insolence, says the L ord;

his boasts are false,

his deeds are false.


Therefore I wail for Moab;

I cry out for all Moab;

for the people of Kir-heres I mourn.


More than for Jazer I weep for you,

O vine of Sibmah!

Your branches crossed over the sea,

reached as far as Jazer;

upon your summer fruits and your vintage

the destroyer has fallen.


Gladness and joy have been taken away

from the fruitful land of Moab;

I have stopped the wine from the wine presses;

no one treads them with shouts of joy;

the shouting is not the shout of joy.


34 Heshbon and Elealeh cry out; as far as Jahaz they utter their voice, from Zoar to Horonaim and Eglath-shelishiyah. For even the waters of Nimrim have become desolate. 35And I will bring to an end in Moab, says the L ord, those who offer sacrifice at a high place and make offerings to their gods. 36Therefore my heart moans for Moab like a flute, and my heart moans like a flute for the people of Kir-heres; for the riches they gained have perished.

37 For every head is shaved and every beard cut off; on all the hands there are gashes, and on the loins sackcloth. 38On all the housetops of Moab and in the squares there is nothing but lamentation; for I have broken Moab like a vessel that no one wants, says the L ord. 39How it is broken! How they wail! How Moab has turned his back in shame! So Moab has become a derision and a horror to all his neighbors.


For thus says the L ord:

Look, he shall swoop down like an eagle,

and spread his wings against Moab;


the towns shall be taken

and the strongholds seized.

The hearts of the warriors of Moab, on that day,

shall be like the heart of a woman in labor.


Moab shall be destroyed as a people,

because he magnified himself against the L ord.


Terror, pit, and trap

are before you, O inhabitants of Moab!

says the L ord.


Everyone who flees from the terror

shall fall into the pit,

and everyone who climbs out of the pit

shall be caught in the trap.

For I will bring these things upon Moab

in the year of their punishment,

says the L ord.



In the shadow of Heshbon

fugitives stop exhausted;

for a fire has gone out from Heshbon,

a flame from the house of Sihon;

it has destroyed the forehead of Moab,

the scalp of the people of tumult.


Woe to you, O Moab!

The people of Chemosh have perished,

for your sons have been taken captive,

and your daughters into captivity.


Yet I will restore the fortunes of Moab

in the latter days, says the L ord.

Thus far is the judgment on Moab.


He confirms what is said in the last verse, that the Moabites would in vain resort to their strongest cities, even Heshbon and Sihon; because a flame would thence break forth, which would consume the whole land. We hence see that God took away from the Moabites all their vain confidences, and showed that no defences could stand against his power, when once he rose up for judgment.

The fleers, he says, shall stand under the shadow of Heshbon, thinking that there would be a safe refuge in that city, and in others. 2525     The word “strength” is here omitted. Calvin’s version is, “Under the shadow of Heshbon stood they who had fled from strength,” or violence, i.e., of their enemies. Some connect it with “stood,” the fugitives “stood for strength,” or, “without strength,” which, perhaps, is preferable: they stood under the shadow or protection of Heshbon, and obtained no help; so far was this from being the case, that from Heshbon would go forth fire, that is, “the spoiler,” or, destroyer, before often mentioned. Then כי would have its usual meaning, for, as giving a reason why the fugitives remained without strength or help, under the protection of Heshbon. — Ed But the particle כי, ki, seems not to me to be here causal, but rather an affirmative, or even an adversative; but, or surely a fire has gone forth from Heshbon, and a flame from Sihon The Prophet, I doubt not, borrowed these words from Moses, for he says in Numbers 21:28, that a fire had gone forth from Heshbon; and there the expression is given as an old proverb. There is no doubt but that enemies had triumphed over that city when it was taken; for that whole song spoken by Moses is ironical, and in saying that fire had gone forth, he referred to their counsels, for they thought that city sufficiently strong against enemies. Now the Prophet says, that what had been formerly said of Heshbon would be again fulfilled, that it would be, as it were, the beginning of the fire. The meaning then, as I think, is, that the Moabites indeed thought, that they would have a quiet and agreeable shadow under the protection of the city Heshbon, and of the city Sihon; but what was to be? even that these two cities would become, as it were, the beginnings of the fire. How, or in what way? even because the probability is, that there those counsels were taken which provoked the Chaldeans. We indeed know that riches and power always produce haughtiness and false confidence in men; for in villages and small towns wars are not contrived; but the great cities gather the wood and kindle the fire; and the fire afterwards spreads and pervades the whole land. 2626     Most give a different explanation of this fire, that it designated “the spoiler” that was to come on Moab. That fire has often this meaning is evident. See Judges 9:20. — Ed.

This, then, is what our Prophet means, when he says, that fire went forth from Heshbon, even contrary to the expectation of the people, for they thought that were all things to go to ruin, there yet would be safety for them in that city: go forth, he says, shall fire from the city Heshbon, and a flame from the midst of Sihon, and it shall consume the corner of Moab, and all his extremities; for by קרקר, kadkad, he means all parts. Extremity is elsewhere taken for a part; but he does not mean that fire would come to all parts or extreme corners, only as it were to touch them slightly: but he intimates that the whole land would be consumed by this fire; it would thus spread itself to its very extremities. 2727     The last clause is evidently a quotation from Numbers 24:17: it is not literally the same, but the meaning is so. It is “corner”’ here and not “corners,” as in Numbers; and the word there is קרקר, and not קדקד as here, only there are some copies which have the former word here. In that case, the passage would read thus, —
   And it shall devour the corner of Moab, And destroy the sons (or children) of tumult.

   שת in Numbers is probably for שאת, which means the same as the word here used, coming from the same root, and properly rendered “tumult.”

   This passage is omitted in the Sept.; the Vulg. renders קדקד, “verticem,” the crown or top of the head; but the Syr. and Targ. drop the metaphor, and render it “chiefs” or nobles. — Ed

But as I have already said, the Prophet alludes to that old saying mentioned by Moses, (Numbers 21:27, 28.) Further, there is no doubt but that Heshbon and Sihon were then in the possession of that nation; for they had taken away many cities from the Israelites, and thus the children of Israel had been reduced to narrower limits. At length the tribe of Judah alone remained after the overthrow of the kingdom of Israel. When they were driven into Chaldea, it was an easy thing for the Moabites to make that their own which belonged to no one. Besides, as they had helped the Chaldeans and betrayed that miserable people, and had thus acted perfidiously towards their brethren, a reward was given to them. But when at length they themselves dreaded the power of the Babylonian monarchy, they began to change their minds, and endeavored to obstruct the farther progress of the Chaldeans. Hence then a war was contemplated, and the occasion was given. He then speaks of Heshbon and Sihon as chief cities; and there is no doubt but that Sihon derived its name from a king who ruled there. For we know that there was a king bearing this name; but as he speaks here of a place, it is probable, that the king’s name was given to the city in order to commemorate it.

He at length adds, that this fire and flame would devour the top of the head of the sons of Saon, or tumult. But he calls the Moabites tumultuous, because they before made a great noise, and were dreaded by their neighbors. As then all their neighbors had been frightened, in a manner, by their voice alone, he calls them sons of tumult, or tumultuous men, from the effect produced. It follows —

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