Isaiah 17:2
The cities of Aroer are forsaken: they shall be for flocks, which shall lie down, and none shall make them afraid.
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Isaiah 17:2. The cities of Aroer are forsaken — “What has Aroer,” says Bishop Lowth, “on the river Arnon, (see Deuteronomy 2:36,) to do with Damascus?” He therefore follows the LXX., (who, he supposes, for

ערער, Aroer, read עדי עד, εις τον αιωνα,) and renders the clause, The cities are deserted for ever. Grotius, however, thinks the present reading of the Hebrew text is right, and that this Aroer was a tract of ground in Syria, (a valley, say some, which lay between the mountains of Libanus and Anti-Libanus,) and not that Aroer which was on the confines of Moab and Ammon, and part of the possession of the Reubenites and Gadites. But as Tiglath-pileser carried the Reubenites and Gadites into captivity, (see 1 Chronicles 5:26,) and made the country, which they had possessed, desolate, why may not the very Aroer, which was on the confines of Moab, be meant, and mentioned here, as Ephraim is in the next verse, as being confederate with Syria against Judah? And none shall make them afraid — Because the land shall be desolate, and destitute of men who might disturb them.17:1-11 Sin desolates cities. It is strange that great conquerors should take pride in being enemies to mankind; but it is better that flocks should lie down there, than that they should harbour any in open rebellion against God and holiness. The strong holds of Israel, the kingdom of the ten tribes, will be brought to ruin. Those who are partakers in sin, are justly made partakers in ruin. The people had, by sins, made themselves ripe for ruin; and their glory was as quickly cut down and taken away by the enemy, as the corn is out of the field by the husbandman. Mercy is reserved in the midst of judgment, for a remnant. But very few shall be marked to be saved. Only here and there one was left behind. But they shall be a remnant made holy. The few that are saved were awakened to return to God. They shall acknowledge his hand in all events; they shall give him the glory due to his name. To bring us to this, is the design of his providence, as he is our Maker; and the work of his grace, as he is the Holy One of Israel. They shall look off from their idols, the creatures of their own fancy. We have reason to account those afflictions happy, which part between us and our sins. The God of our salvation is the Rock of our strength; and our forgetfulness and unmindfulness of him are at the bottom of all sin. The pleasant plants, and shoots from a foreign soil, are expressions for strange and idolatrous worship, and the vile practices connected therewith. Diligence would be used to promote the growth of these strange slips, but all in vain. See the evil and danger of sin, and its certain consequences.The cities of Aroer - By "Aroer" here seems to be meant a tract or region of country pertaining to Damascus, in which were situated several cities. Grotius supposes that it was a tract of country in Syria which is called by Ptolemy "Aueira" - Αὔειρα Aueira. Vitringa supposes that one part of Damascus is meant by this, as Damascus was divided by the river in the same manner that Babylon was. There were several cities of the name of "Aroer." One was on the river Arnon in the land of Moab Deuteronomy 2:36; Deuteronomy 3:12; Joshua 12:3. Burckhardt found this city under the name of Aroer. There was another city of this name further north, over against Rabbath-Ammon Joshua 13:25. There was a third city of this name in the tribe of Judah 1 Samuel 30:28. Of the city of Araayr which Burckhardt visited, nothing is now remarkable but its entire desolation. Gesenius supposes ("Commentary in loc.") that the phrase 'the cities of Aroer' means the cities round about Aroer, and that were connected with it, similar to the phrase 'daughters of a city.' This city he supposes was near the river Arnon, within the limits of Moab, and that the prediction here was fufilled by Tiglath-pileser, when he carried away the inhabitants of Galilee, Gilead, and other places mentioned in 2 Kings 15:29. There can be no doubt that it was under the jurisdiction of Damascus.

Are forsaken - Are desolate, and the inhabitants have fled.

They shall be for flocks ... - (See the note at Isaiah 5:17.)

2. cities of Aroer—that is, the cities round Aroer, and under its jurisdiction [Gesenius]. So "cities with their villages" (Jos 15:44); "Heshbon and all her cities" (Jos 13:17). Aroer was near Rabbahammon, at the river of Gad, an arm of the Jabbok (2Sa 24:5), founded by the Gadites (Nu 32:34).

for flocks—(Isa 5:17).

The cities of Aroer; of that part of Syria called Aroer, from a great city of that name; of which see Deu 2:36 3:12. These cities were possessed by the Reubenites and Gadites, whom Tiglath-pileser carried into captivity, 1 Chronicles 5:26. These he mentions here, as he doth Ephraim in the next verse, because they were confederate with Syria against Judah.

None shall make them afraid, because the land shall be desolate, and destitute of men who might disturb them. The cities of Aroer are forsaken,.... The inhabitants of them being slain, or carried captive, or obliged to flee. Aroer was a city by the river Arnon, on the borders of Moab and Ammon, Deuteronomy 2:36, Deuteronomy 3:12, it was originally in the hands of the Amorites, and sometimes in the hands of the Moabites and Ammonites: it was given by Moses to the Reubenites and, Gadites, from whom it was taken by the Syrians, and in whose possession it seems to have been at this time; see 2 Kings 10:33 though Jarchi thinks it was now in the hands of Pekah king of Israel, and said to be forsaken, because the Reubenites and Gadites were now carried captive. Jerom (m) says it was seen in his time, upon the top of the mountain. Here it seems to designs a country of this name, in which were many cities. Grotius thinks it was a tract of land in Syria, the same with the Aveira of Ptolemy (n). Vitringa is of opinion that Damascus itself is meant, which was a double city, like that divided by the river Chrysorrhoas, as this was by Arnon.

They shall be for flocks which shall lie down; instead of houses, there should be sheepcotes and shepherds' tents, and instead of men, sheep; and where streets were, grass would grow, and flocks feed and lie down; which is expressive of the utter desolation of these cities, or this tract of ground:

and none shall make them afraid; the flocks of sheep, timorous creatures, easily frightened; but so great should be the depopulation now, there would be no man upon the spot, or any pass by, to give them any disturbance.

(m) De locis. Heb. fol. 87. 1.((n) Geograph. l. 5. c. 15.

The cities of {c} Aroer are forsaken: they shall be for flocks, which shall lie down, and none shall make them afraid.

(c) It was a country of Syria by the river Arnon.

2. The cities of Aroer] Hardly, “the (two) cities Aroer” (gen. of appos.), as a name for the trans-Jordanic territory. If Aroer be really a proper name, the phrase must be explained by the analogy of Joshua 13:17 “the daughter cities of A.” But where was Aroer? The best-known town of the name, that on the Arnon (Numbers 32:34; Deuteronomy 2:36, &c.), is much too far south and belonged to Moab. There seems to have been another in Ammon (Joshua 13:25), but it too is outside the territory of Damascus and can scarcely have been important enough to give its name to a district. We must either assume an unknown Aroer in Syria, or take the word in an appellative sense (“the ruined cities are forsaken”) or else adopt the text of the LXX., which reads “(Damascus shall be) deserted for ever” (omitting “cities”).

shall be for flocks … afraid] cf. Isaiah 5:17, Isaiah 32:14, and Zephaniah 3:13; Job 11:19.Verse 2. - The cities of Aroer are forsaken. That the Aroer of this passage cannot be either that on the Arnon, or that facing Rabbath-Ammon (Joshua 13:25), has long been perceived and recognized (see Mr. Grove's article on "Aroer" in the 'Dict. of the Bible,' vol. 1. p. 115). It is evidently a city of the same name lying much further towards the north. Arid it is a city of far greater importance, having "cities" dependent on it. Now, Sargon's annals tell us of a "Gal'gar," a name well expressing the Hebrew ערער, which was united in a league with Damascus, Samaria, Arpad, and Simyra, in the second year of Sargon, and was the scene of a great battle and a great destruction. Sargon besieged it, took it, and reduced it to ashes ('Records of the Past,' 50.s.e.). There is every reason to recognize the "Aroer" of this verse in the "Gargar" of Sargon's inscriptions. They shall be for flocks (comp. Isaiah 5:17; Isaiah 7:25). It marked the very extreme of desolation, that cattle should be pastured on the sites of cities. None shall make them afraid; i.e. "there shall be no inhabitants to make any objection." The prophet, to whose favourite words and favourite figures Carmel belongs, both as the name of a place and as the name of a thing, now proceeds with his picture, and is plunged still more deeply into mourning. "And joy is taken away, and the rejoicing of the garden-land; and there is no exulting, no shouting in the vineyards: the treader treads out no wine in the presses; I put an end to the Hedad. Therefore my bowels sound for Moab like a harp, and my inside for Kir-heres." It is Jehovah who says "I put an end;" and consequently the words, "My bowels sound like a harp," or, as Jeremiah expresses it (Jeremiah 48:36), like flutes, might appear to be expressive of the feelings of Jehovah. And the Scriptures do not hesitate to attribute mē‛ayim (viscera) to God (e.g., Isaiah 63:15; Jeremiah 31:20). But as the prophet is the sympathizing subject throughout the whole of the prophecy, it is better, for the sake of unity, to take the words in this instance also as expressing the prophet's feelings. Just as the hand or plectrum touches the strings of the harp, so that they vibrate with sound; so did the terrible things that he had heard Jehovah say concerning Moab touch the strings of his inward parts, and cause them to resound with notes of pain. By the bowels, or rather entrails (viscera), the heart, liver, and kidneys are intended - the highest organs of the Psyche, and the sounding-board, as it were, of those "hidden sounds" which exist in every man. God conversed with the prophet "in the spirit;" but what passed there took the form of individual impressions in the domain of the soul, in which impressions the bodily organs of the psychical life sympathetically shared. Thus the prophet saw in the spirit the purpose of God concerning Moab, in which he could not and would not make any change; but it threw his soul into all the restlessness of pain.
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