Jeremiah 48
Clarke's Commentary
The following prophecy concerning the Moabites is supposed to have had its accomplishment during the long siege of Tyre in the reign of Nebuchadnezzar. The whole of this chapter is poetry of the first order. The distress of the cities of Moab, with which it opens, is finely described. The cries of one ruined city resound to those of another, Jeremiah 48:1-3. The doleful helpless cry of the children is heard, Jeremiah 48:4; the highways, on either hand, resound with the voice of weeping, Jeremiah 48:5; and the few that remain resemble a blasted tree in the wide howling waste, Jeremiah 48:6. Chemosh, the chief god of the Moabites, and the capital figure in the triumph, is represented as carried off in chains, with all his trumpery of priests and officers, Jeremiah 48:7. The desolation of the country shall be so general and sudden that, by a strong figure, it is intimated that there shall be no possibility of escape, except it be in the speediest flight, Jeremiah 48:8, Jeremiah 48:9. And some idea may be formed of the dreadful wickedness of this people from the consideration that the prophet, under the immediate inspiration of the Almighty, pronounces a curse on those who do the work of the Lord negligently, in not proceeding to their utter extermination, Jeremiah 48:10. The subject is then diversified by an elegant and well-supported comparison, importing that the Moabites increased in insolence and pride in proportion to the duration of their prosperity, Jeremiah 48:11; but this prosperity is declared to be nearly at an end; the destroyer is already commissioned against Moab, and his neighbors called to sing the usual lamentation at his funeral, Jeremiah 48:13-18. The prophet then represents some of the women of Aroer and Ammon, (the extreme borders of Moab), standing in the highways, and asking the fugitives of Moab, What intelligence? They inform him of the complete discomfiture of Moab, Jeremiah 48:19-24, and of the total annihilation of its political existence, Jeremiah 48:25. The Divine judgments about to fall upon Moab are farther represented under the expressive metaphor of a cup of intoxicating liquor, by which he should become an object of derision because of his intolerable pride, his magnifying himself against Jehovah, and his great contempt for the children of Israel in the day of their calamity, Jeremiah 48:26, Jeremiah 48:27. The prophet then points out the great distress of Moab by a variety of striking figures, viz., by the failure of the customary rejoicings at the end of harvest, by the mournful sort of music used at funerals, by the signs which were expressive among the ancients of deep mourning, as shaving the head, clipping the beard, cutting the flesh, and wearing sackcloth; and by the methods of catching wild beasts in toils, and by the terror and pitfall, vv. 28-46. In the close of the chapter it is intimated that a remnant shall be preserved from this general calamity whose descendants shall be prosperous in the latter days, Jeremiah 48:47.

Against Moab thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Woe unto Nebo! for it is spoiled: Kiriathaim is confounded and taken: Misgab is confounded and dismayed.
Against Moab - This was delivered some time after the destruction of Jerusalem. The Moabites were in the neighborhood of the Ammonites, and whatever evils fell on the one would naturally involve the other. See Isaiah 15:1-9 and Isaiah 16:1-14 on this same subject.

Wo unto Nebo! for it is spoiled - This was a city in the tribe of Reuben, afterwards possessed by the Moabites. It probably had its name from Nebo, one of the principal idols of the Moabites.

Kiriathaim - Another city of the Moabites.

Misgab is confounded - There is no place of this name known, and therefore several learned men translate המשגב hammisgab, literally, The high tower, or fortress, which may apply to Kiriathaim, or any other high and well-fortified place.

There shall be no more praise of Moab: in Heshbon they have devised evil against it; come, and let us cut it off from being a nation. Also thou shalt be cut down, O Madmen; the sword shall pursue thee.
No more praise of Moab - "The glory of Moab, that it had never been conquered," (Dahler), is now at an end. Dr. Blayney translates: -

"Moab shall have no more glorying in Heshbon; They have devised evil against her (saying.)"

And this most certainly is the best translation of the original. He has marked also a double paronomasia in this and the next verse, a figure in which the prophets delight; בחשבון חשבו becheshbon chashebu "in Cheshbon they have devised," and מדמן תדמי madmen tiddommi, "Madmena, thou shalt be dumb."

A voice of crying shall be from Horonaim, spoiling and great destruction.
Horonaim - Another city of Moab, near to Luhith. At this latter place the hill country of Moab commenced. "It is a place," says Dahler, "situated upon a height between Areopolis and Zoar."

Moab is destroyed; her little ones have caused a cry to be heard.
For in the going up of Luhith continual weeping shall go up; for in the going down of Horonaim the enemies have heard a cry of destruction.
Flee, save your lives, and be like the heath in the wilderness.
Flee, save your lives - The enemy is in full pursuit of you.

Be like the heath - כערוער caaroer, "like Aroer;" which some take for a city, others for a blasted or withered tree. It is supposed that a place of this name lay towards the north, in the land of the Ammonites, on a branch of the river Jabbok; surrounded by deserts. Save yourselves by getting into the wilderness, where the pursuing foe will scarcely think it worth his while to follow you, as the wilderness itself must soon destroy you.

For because thou hast trusted in thy works and in thy treasures, thou shalt also be taken: and Chemosh shall go forth into captivity with his priests and his princes together.
Chemosh shall go forth into captivity - The grand national idol of the Moabites, Numbers 21:29; Judges 11:24. Ancient idolaters used to take their gods with them to the field of battle. This was probably in imitation of the Israelites, who took the ark with them in such cases.

And the spoiler shall come upon every city, and no city shall escape: the valley also shall perish, and the plain shall be destroyed, as the LORD hath spoken.
Give wings unto Moab, that it may flee and get away: for the cities thereof shall be desolate, without any to dwell therein.
Give wings unto Moab - There is no hope in resistance, and to escape requires the speediest flight. I cannot conceive how Dahler came to translate thus: Tirez Moab par les chevaux, "Drag Moab away by the hair of the head."

Cursed be he that doeth the work of the LORD deceitfully, and cursed be he that keepeth back his sword from blood.
Cursed be he that doeth the work of the Lord deceitfully - Moab is doomed to destruction, and the Lord pronounces a curse on their enemies if they do not proceed to utter extirpation. God is the Author of life, and has a sovereign right to dispose of it as he pleases; and these had forfeited theirs long ago by their idolatry and other crimes.

Moab hath been at ease from his youth, and he hath settled on his lees, and hath not been emptied from vessel to vessel, neither hath he gone into captivity: therefore his taste remained in him, and his scent is not changed.
Moab hath been at ease - The metaphor here is taken from the mode of preserving wines. They let them rest upon their lees for a considerable time, as this improves them both in strength and flavour; and when this is sufficiently done, they rack, or pour them off into other vessels. Moab had been very little molested by war since he was a nation; he had never gone out of his own land. Though some had been carried away by Shalmaneser forty years before this, he has had neither wars nor captivity.

Therefore his taste remained in him - Still carrying on the allusion to the curing of wines; by resting long upon the lees, the taste and smell are both improved. See the note on Isaiah 25:6.

Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will send unto him wanderers, that shall cause him to wander, and shall empty his vessels, and break their bottles.
I will send unto him wanderers that shall cause him to wander - Dr. Blayney renders צעים tsaim, tilters; those who elevate one end of the wine cask when nearly run out that the remains of the liquor may be the more effectually drawn off at the cock. And this seems to be well supported by the following words, -

And shall empty his vessels - I will send such as will carry the whole nation into captivity.

And Moab shall be ashamed of Chemosh, as the house of Israel was ashamed of Bethel their confidence.
Beth-el their confidence - Alluding to the golden calves which Jeroboam had there set up, and commanded all the Israelites to worship.

How say ye, We are mighty and strong men for the war?
Moab is spoiled, and gone up out of her cities, and his chosen young men are gone down to the slaughter, saith the King, whose name is the LORD of hosts.
The calamity of Moab is near to come, and his affliction hasteth fast.
All ye that are about him, bemoan him; and all ye that know his name, say, How is the strong staff broken, and the beautiful rod!
How is the strong staff broken - The scepter. The sovereignty of Moab is destroyed.

Thou daughter that dost inhabit Dibon, come down from thy glory, and sit in thirst; for the spoiler of Moab shall come upon thee, and he shall destroy thy strong holds.
That dost inhabit Dibon - This was anciently a city of the Reubenites, afterwards inhabited by the Moabites, about two leagues north of the river Arnon, and about six to the east of the Dead Sea. - Dahler.

O inhabitant of Aroer, stand by the way, and espy; ask him that fleeth, and her that escapeth, and say, What is done?
O inhabitant of Aroer - See the note on Jeremiah 48:6 (note). This place, being at a greater distance, is counselled to watch for its own safety, and inquire of every passenger, What is done? that it may know when to pack up and be gone.

Moab is confounded; for it is broken down: howl and cry; tell ye it in Arnon, that Moab is spoiled,
Tell ye it in Arnon - Apprize the inhabitants there that the territories of Moab are invaded, and the country about to be destroyed, that they may provide for their own safety.

And judgment is come upon the plain country; upon Holon, and upon Jahazah, and upon Mephaath,
Upon Holon, etc. - All these were cities of the Moabites, but several of them are mentioned in no other place.

And upon Dibon, and upon Nebo, and upon Bethdiblathaim,
And upon Kiriathaim, and upon Bethgamul, and upon Bethmeon,
And upon Kerioth, and upon Bozrah, and upon all the cities of the land of Moab, far or near.
The horn of Moab is cut off, and his arm is broken, saith the LORD.
The horn of Moab is cut off, and his arm is broken - His political and physical powers are no more.

Make ye him drunken: for he magnified himself against the LORD: Moab also shall wallow in his vomit, and he also shall be in derision.
For was not Israel a derision unto thee? was he found among thieves? for since thou spakest of him, thou skippedst for joy.
Was not Israel a derision unto thee? - Didst thou not mock my people, and say their God was no better than the gods of other nations? See Ezekiel 25:8.

Was he found among thieves? - Did the Israelites come to rob and plunder you? Why then mock them, and rejoice at their desolation, when their enemies prevailed over them? This the Lord particularly resents.

O ye that dwell in Moab, leave the cities, and dwell in the rock, and be like the dove that maketh her nest in the sides of the hole's mouth.
Dwell in the rock - Go to the most inaccessible places in the mountains.

The hole's mouth - And into the most secret eaves and holes of the earth.

We have heard the pride of Moab, (he is exceeding proud) his loftiness, and his arrogancy, and his pride, and the haughtiness of his heart.
The pride of Moab - See on Isaiah 16:1 (note).

I know his wrath, saith the LORD; but it shall not be so; his lies shall not so effect it.
Therefore will I howl for Moab, and I will cry out for all Moab; mine heart shall mourn for the men of Kirheres.
O vine of Sibmah, I will weep for thee with the weeping of Jazer: thy plants are gone over the sea, they reach even to the sea of Jazer: the spoiler is fallen upon thy summer fruits and upon thy vintage.
O vine of Sibmah - See on Isaiah 16:8 (note).

And joy and gladness is taken from the plentiful field, and from the land of Moab; and I have caused wine to fail from the winepresses: none shall tread with shouting; their shouting shall be no shouting.
From the cry of Heshbon even unto Elealeh, and even unto Jahaz, have they uttered their voice, from Zoar even unto Horonaim, as an heifer of three years old: for the waters also of Nimrim shall be desolate.
As a heifer of three years old - Which runs lowing from place to place in search of her calf, which is lost or taken from her.

Moreover I will cause to cease in Moab, saith the LORD, him that offereth in the high places, and him that burneth incense to his gods.
Therefore mine heart shall sound for Moab like pipes, and mine heart shall sound like pipes for the men of Kirheres: because the riches that he hath gotten are perished.
For every head shall be bald, and every beard clipped: upon all the hands shall be cuttings, and upon the loins sackcloth.
For every head shall be bald - These, as we have seen before, were signs of the deepest distress and desolation.

There shall be lamentation generally upon all the housetops of Moab, and in the streets thereof: for I have broken Moab like a vessel wherein is no pleasure, saith the LORD.
They shall howl, saying, How is it broken down! how hath Moab turned the back with shame! so shall Moab be a derision and a dismaying to all them about him.
For thus saith the LORD; Behold, he shall fly as an eagle, and shall spread his wings over Moab.
He shall fly as an eagle - The enemy will pounce upon him, carry him off, and tear him to pieces.

Kerioth is taken, and the strong holds are surprised, and the mighty men's hearts in Moab at that day shall be as the heart of a woman in her pangs.
And Moab shall be destroyed from being a people, because he hath magnified himself against the LORD.
Moab shall be destroyed from being a people - They shall not have a king or civil governor: and I doubt whether there be any evidence that they were ever reinstated in their national character. They were captivated by the Chaldeans; and probably many returned with the Jews on the edict of Cyrus: but as to their being an independent nation after this, where is the positive proof?

Fear, and the pit, and the snare, shall be upon thee, O inhabitant of Moab, saith the LORD.
Fear, and the pit, and the snare - See the note on Isaiah 24:17, Isaiah 24:18.

He that fleeth from the fear shall fall into the pit; and he that getteth up out of the pit shall be taken in the snare: for I will bring upon it, even upon Moab, the year of their visitation, saith the LORD.
They that fled stood under the shadow of Heshbon because of the force: but a fire shall come forth out of Heshbon, and a flame from the midst of Sihon, and shall devour the corner of Moab, and the crown of the head of the tumultuous ones.
They that fled stood under the shadow of Heshbon - Heshbon being a fortified place, they who were worsted in the fight fled to it, and rallied under its walls; but, instead of safety, they found themselves disappointed, betrayed, and ruined. See Jeremiah 48:2 (note), and the note there.

But a fire shall come forth out of Heshbon - Jeremiah has borrowed this part of his discourse from an ancient poet quoted by Moses, Numbers 21:28 (note); where see the notes.

The crown of the head - The choicest persons of the whole nation.

Woe be unto thee, O Moab! the people of Chemosh perisheth: for thy sons are taken captives, and thy daughters captives.
The people of Chemosh - The Moabites, who worshipped Chemosh as their supreme god.

Yet will I bring again the captivity of Moab in the latter days, saith the LORD. Thus far is the judgment of Moab.
Will I bring again the captivity of Moab in the latter days - I have already expressed doubts (see Jeremiah 48:42) whether the Moabites were ever restored to their national distinction. The expressions in this chapter, relative to their total destruction as a people, are so strong and so frequent, that they leave little room for a limited interpretation. That many of them returned on the edict of Cyrus by virtue of which the Jews were restored, I doubt not; but neither the Ammonites, Moabites, Philistines, nor even the Jews themselves were ever restored to their national consequence. Perhaps the restoration spoken of here which was to take place in the latter days, may mean the conversion of these people, in their existing remnants, to the faith of the Gospel. Several judicious interpreters are of this opinion. The Moabites were partially restored; but never, as far as I have been able to learn, to their national consequence. Their conversion to the Christian faith must be the main end designed by this prophecy.

Commentary on the Bible, by Adam Clarke [1831].
Text Courtesy of Internet Sacred Texts Archive.

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