Isaiah 15 – The Burden Against Moab
A. A night invasion of Moab.
1. (1a) The burden against Moab.
The burden against Moab.
a. Moab: The founder of the people of Moab was the son born of the incestuous relationship between Lot and one of his daughters, when his daughters made Lot drunk, after the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19:30-38). The Moabites settled in the plains to the south-east of Israel, in what is modern-day Jordan.
b. Moab: At times, the Moabites were great enemies of Israel.
· It was Balak, king of Moab, who hired Balaam the prophet, hoping that he could curse Israel (Numbers 22-25).
· It was Eglon, king of Moab, who oppressed Israel in the days of the Judges (Judges 3:12-30).
i. During the time of Saul and David, Israel established a firm control over Moab, but later kings of Israel were not always able to keep them under Israeli dominance.
c. Moab: At the same time, there was a Moabite connection with Israel.
· First, they were related to Israel because Lot was Abraham’s nephew. Because of this, God told Israel in Deuteronomy 2:9 that they were not to destroy Moab and take their land.
· As well, David, Israel’s greatest king, was one-quarter Moabite. His paternal grandmother Ruth was from Moab, and David entrusted his father and mother to the protection of the king of Moab when he was a fugitive from Saul (1 Samuel 22:3-4).
i. For these reasons, there is a great deal of sadness and empathy on Isaiah’s part as he describes the coming judgment on Moab.
2. (1b-4) The cities and soldiers of Moab fall under a night attack.
Because in the night Ar of Moab is laid waste
Because in the night Kir of Moab is laid waste
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.
In their streets they will clothe themselves with sackcloth;
On the tops of their houses
And in their streets
Everyone will wail, weeping bitterly.
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.
a. Because in the night Ar of Moab is laid waste and destroyed…Kir of Moab…Heshbon and Elealeh: God announced coming judgment on Moab, against these cities.
i. “Most of these sites were originally part of Israel’s territory when Moses and Joshua defeated Sihon, King of the Amorites. All the cities north of the Arnon River…once belonged to the tribe of Reuben. Throughout the years, however, the Moabites had persistently pushed the Israelites out of these regions.” (Wolf)
b. He has gone up to the temple: The picture is of a Moabite man fleeing the destruction of his city, running to his temple and his pagan gods for protection and mourning (To the high places to weep).
c. They will clothe themselves with sackcloth…everyone will wail, weeping bitterly: At this invasion, and as a result of it, there will be great distress and mourning in Moab.
i. Jeremiah 48 also prophesies the judgment of Moab, and also gives the reason why. “Moab has been at ease from his youth; he has settled on his dregs, and has not been emptied from vessel to vessel, nor has he gone into captivity. Therefore his taste remained in him, and his scent has not changed. Therefore behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord, “That I shall send him wine-workers who will tip him over and empty his vessels and break the bottles.” (Jeremiah 48:11-12) When we are at ease and are never “poured” from vessel to vessel, we “settle on the dregs” and are never refined. God uses the “pouring” process to refine us.
B. Refugees flee Moab.
1. (5-7) The flight of the refugees from Moab.
“My heart will cry out for Moab;
His fugitives shall flee to Zoar,
Like a three-year-old heifer.
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,
For the waters of Nimrim will be desolate,
For the green grass has withered away;
The grass fails, there is nothing green.
Therefore the abundance they have gained,
And what they have laid up,
They will carry away to the Brook of the Willows.”
a. His fugitives shall flee to Zoar: The connection is interesting because Zoar was the city Lot and his daughters escaped from, hiding in the mountains, before Lot’s daughters committed incest with their father, and gave birth to the child Moab, the father of the Moabites.
i. Bultema on Zoar: “This town is called a heifer of three years old, apparently to indicate that it had never been under the yoke of strangers.”
b. The green grass has withered away: The beautiful plains of Moab were wonderful grazing land. But now, under the hand of God’s judgment, the green grass has withered away.
c. Therefore the abundance they have gained…they will carry away to the Brook of the Willows: The picture is of fleeing refugees, carrying all their possessions with them.
2. (8-9) The cry of the refugees from Moab.
“For the cry has gone all around the borders of Moab,
Its wailing to Eglaim
And its wailing to Beer Elim.
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.”
a. The cry has gone all around the borders of Moab: Their pain in the midst of judgment would be evident to all. Everyone around the borders of Moab would see God’s judgment against them.
b. Lions upon him who escapes from Moab: If the judgment of the night attack did not complete the work of judgment, God would send lions upon him who escapes. God will finish His work of judgment.
(c) 2021 The Enduring Word Bible Commentary by David Guzik – firstname.lastname@example.org