This chapter, and that which follows it, are the burden of Moab--a
prophecy of some great desolation that was coming upon that country,
which bordered upon this land of Israel, and had often been injurious
and vexatious to it, though the Moabites were descended from Lot,
Abraham's kinsman and companion, and though the Israelites, by the
appointment of God, had spared them when they might both easily and
justly have cut them off with their neighbours. In this chapter we
I. Great lamentation made by the Moabites, and by the prophet himself
II. The great calamities which should occasion that lamentation and
|The Burden of Moab.
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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;
2 He is gone up to Bajith, and to Dibon, the high places, to
weep: Moab shall howl over Nebo, and over Medeba: on all their
heads shall be baldness, and every beard cut off.
3 In their streets they shall gird themselves with sackcloth:
on the tops of their houses, and in their streets, every one
shall howl, weeping abundantly.
4 And Heshbon shall cry, and Elealeh: their voice shall be
heard even unto Jahaz: therefore the armed soldiers of Moab
shall cry out; his life shall be grievous unto him.
5 My heart shall cry out for Moab; his fugitives shall flee
unto Zoar, a heifer of three years old: for by the mounting up
of Luhith with weeping shall they go it up; for in the way of
Horonaim they shall raise up a cry of destruction.
The country of Moab was of small extent, but very fruitful. It bordered
upon the lot of Reuben on the other side Jordan and upon the Dead Sea.
Naomi went to sojourn there when there was a famine in Canaan. This is
the country which (it is here foretold) should be wasted and grievously
harassed, not quite ruined, for we find another prophecy of its ruin
which was accomplished by Nebuchadnezzar. This prophecy here
was to be fulfilled within three years
and therefore was fulfilled in the devastations made of that country by
the army of the Assyrians, which for many years ravaged those parts,
enriching themselves with spoil and plunder. It was done either by the
army of Shalmaneser, about the time of the taking of Samaria, in the
fourth year of Hezekiah (as is most probable), or by the army of
Sennacherib, which, ten years after, invaded Judah. We cannot suppose
that the prophet went among the Moabites to preach to them this sermon;
but he delivered it to his own people,
1. To show them that, though judgment begins at the house of God, it
shall not end there,--that there is a providence which governs the
world and all the nations of it,--and that to the God of Israel the
worshippers of false gods were accountable, and liable to his
2. To give them a proof of God's care of them and jealousy for them,
and to convince them that God was an enemy to their enemies, for such
the Moabites had often been.
3. That the accomplishment of this prophecy now shortly (within
three years) might be a confirmation of the prophet's mission and
of the truth of all his other prophecies, and might encourage the
faithful to depend upon them.
Now concerning Moab it is here foretold,
I. That their chief cities should be surprised and taken in a night by
the enemy, probably because the inhabitants, as the men of Laish,
indulged themselves in ease and luxury, and dwelt securely
Therefore there shall be great grief, because in the night Air of
Moab is laid waste and Kir of Moab, the two principal cities of
that kingdom. In the night that they were taken, or sacked,
Moab was cut off. The seizing of them laid the whole country
open, and made all the wealth of it an easy prey to the victorious
1. Great changes and very dismal ones may be made in a very little
time. Here are two cities lost in a night, though that is the time of
quietness. Let us therefore lie down as those that know not what a
night may bring forth.
2. As the country feeds the cities, so the cities protect the country,
and neither can say to the other, I have no need of thee.
II. That the Moabites, being hereby put into the utmost consternation
imaginable, should have recourse to their idols for relief, and pour
out their tears before them
He (that is, Moab, especially the king of Moab) has gone up
to Bajith (or rather to the house or temple of Chemosh), and
Dibon, the inhabitants of Dibon, have gone up to the high
places, where they worshipped their idols, there to make their
complaints. Note, It becomes a people in distress to seek to their God;
and shall not we then thus walk in the name of the Lord our God,
and call upon him in the time of trouble, before whom we shall not shed
such useless profitless tears as they did before their gods?
III. That there should be the voice of universal grief all the country
over. It is described here elegantly and very affectingly. Moab shall
be a vale of tears--a little map of this world,
The Moabites shall lament the loss of Nebo and Medeba, two considerable
cities, which, it is likely, were plundered and burnt. They shall tear
their hair for grief to such a degree that on all their heads shall
be baldness, and they shall cut off their beards, according to the
customary expressions of mourning in those times and countries. When
they go abroad they shall be so far from coveting to appear handsome
that in the streets they shall gird themselves with sackcloth
and perhaps being forced to use that poor clothing, the enemy having
stripped them, and rifled their houses, and left them no other
clothing. When they come home, instead of applying themselves to their
business, they shall go up to the tops of their houses which
were flat-roofed, and there they shall weep abundantly, nay,
they shall howl, in crying to their gods. Those that cry not
to God with their hearts do but howl upon their beds,
They shall come down with weeping (so the margin reads it); they
shall come down from their high places and the tops of their houses
weeping as much as they did when they went up. Prayer to the true God
is heart's ease
(1 Samuel 1:18),
but prayers to false gods are not. Divers places are here named that
should be full of lamentation
and it is but a poor relief to have so many fellow-sufferers,
fellow-mourners; to a public spirit it is rather an aggravation
socios habuisse doloris--to have associates in woe.
IV. That the courage of their militia should fail them. Though they
were bred soldiers, and were well armed, yet they shall cry out
and shriek for fear, and every one of them shall have his life
become grievous to him, though it is characteristic of a military
life to delight in danger,
See how easily God can dispirit the stoutest of men, and deprive a
nation of benefit by those whom it most depended upon for strength and
defence. The Moabites shall generally be so overwhelmed with grief that
life itself shall be a burden to them. God can easily make weary of
life those that are fondest of it.
V. That the outcry for these calamities should propagate grief to all
the adjacent parts,
1. The prophet himself has very sensible impressions made upon his
spirit by the prediction of it: "My heart shall cry out for
Moab; though they are enemies to Israel, they are our
fellow-creatures, of the same rank with us, and therefore it should
grieve us to see them in such distress, the rather because we know not
how soon it may be our own turn to drink of the same cup of trembling."
Note, It becomes God's ministers to be of a tender spirit, not to
desire the woeful day, but to be like their master, who wept over
Jerusalem even when he gave her up to ruin, like their God, who
desires not the death of sinners.
2. All the neighbouring cities shall echo to the lamentations of Moab.
The fugitives, who are making the best of their way to shift for
their own safety, shall carry the cry to Zoar, the city to which
their ancestor Lot fled for shelter from Sodom's flames and which was
spared for his sake. They shall make as great a noise with their cry
as a heifer of three years old does when she goes lowing
for her calf, as
1 Samuel 6:12.
They shall go up the hill of Luhith (as David went up the ascent
of Mount Olivet, many a weary step and all in tears,
2 Samuel 15:30),
and in the way of Horonaim (a dual termination), the way that
leads to the two Beth-horons, the upper and the nether, which we read
Thither the cry shall be carried, there it shall be raised, even at
that great distance: A cry of destruction; that shall be the
cry, like, "Fire, fire! we are all undone." Grief is catching, so is
fear, and justly, for trouble is spreading and when it begins who knows
where it will end?
|The Burden of Moab.
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6 For the waters of Nimrim shall be desolate: for the hay is
withered away, the grass faileth, there is no green thing.
7 Therefore the abundance they have gotten, and that which they
have laid up, shall they carry away to the brook of the willows.
8 For the cry is gone round about the borders of Moab; the
howling thereof unto Eglaim, and the howling thereof unto
9 For the waters of Dimon shall be full of blood: for I will
bring more upon Dimon, lions upon him that escapeth of Moab, and
upon the remnant of the land.
Here the prophet further describes the woeful and piteous lamentations
that should be heard throughout all the country of Moab when it should
become a prey to the Assyrian army. "By this time the cry has gone
round about all the borders of Moab,"
Every corner of the country has received the alarm, and is in the
utmost confusion upon it. It has reached to Eglaim, a city at
one end of the country, and to Beer-elim, a city as far the
other way. Where sin has been general, and all flesh have corrupted
their way, what can be expected but a general desolation? Two things
are here spoken of as causes of this lamentation:--
I. The waters of Nimrim are desolate
that is, the country is plundered and impoverished, and all the wealth
and substance of it swept away by the victorious army. Famine is
usually the sad effect of war. Look into the fields that were well
watered, the fruitful meadows that yielded delightful prospects and
more delightful products, and there all is eaten up, or carried off by
the enemy's foragers, and the remainder trodden to dirt by their
horses. If an army encamp upon green fields, their greenness is soon
gone. Look into the houses, and they are stripped too
The abundance of wealth that they had gotten with a great
deal of art and industry, and that which they had laid up with a
great deal of care and confidence, shall they carry away to the
brook of the willows. Either the owners shall carry it thither to
hide it or the enemies shall carry it thither to pack it up and send it
home, by water perhaps, to their own country. Note,
1. Those that are eager to get abundance of this world, and solicitous
to lay up what they have gotten, little consider what may become of it
and in how short a time it may be all taken from them. Great abundance,
by tempting the robbers, exposes the owners; and those who depend upon
it to protect them often find it does but betray them.
2. In times of distress great riches are often great burdens, and do
but increase the owner's care or the enemies' strength. Cantabit
vacuus coram latrone viator--The penniless traveller will exult, when
accosted by a robber, in having nothing about him.
II. The waters of Dimon are turned into blood
that is, the inhabitants of the country are slain in great numbers, so
that the waters adjoining to the cities, whether rivers or pools, are
discoloured with human gore, inhumanly shed like water. Dimon
signifies bloody; the place shall answer to its name. Perhaps it
was that place in the country of Moab where the waters seemed to the
Moabites as blood
(2 Kings 3:22,23),
which occasioned their overthrow. But now, says God, I will bring
more upon Dimon, more blood than was shed, or thought to be seen,
at that time. I will bring additions upon Dimon (so the word
is), additional plagues; I have yet more judgments in reserve for them.
For all this, God's anger is not turned away. When he judges he
will overcome; and to the roll of curses shall be added many like
See here what is the yet more evil to be brought upon Dimon,
upon Moab, which is now to be made a land of blood. Some flee, and
make their escape, others sit still, and are overlooked, and are as a
remnant of the land; but upon both God will bring lions, beasts
of prey (which are reckoned one of God's four judgments,
and these shall glean up those that have escaped the sword of the
enemy. Those that continue impenitent in sin, when they are preserved
from one judgment, are but reserved for another.