Jeremiah 48:17
All you that are about him, bemoan him; and all you that know his name, say, How is the strong staff broken, and the beautiful rod!
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48:14-47. The destruction of Moab is further prophesied, to awaken them by national repentance and reformation to prevent the trouble, or by a personal repentance and reformation to prepare for it. In reading this long roll of threatenings, and mediating on the terror, it will be of more use to us to keep in view the power of God's anger and the terror of his judgments, and to have our hearts possessed with a holy awe of God and of his wrath, than to search into all the figures and expressions here used. Yet it is not perpetual destruction. The chapter ends with a promise of their return out of captivity in the latter days. Even with Moabites God will not contend for ever, nor be always wroth. The Jews refer it to the days of the Messiah; then the captives of the Gentiles, under the yoke of sin and Satan, shall be brought back by Divine grace, which shall make them free indeed.The lamentation over Moab uttered by those "round about him," i. e., the neighboring nations, and those "that know his name," nations more remote, who know little more than that, there is such a people, takes the form of an elegy. The metaphorical expressions, "staff of strength," and "rod" or "scepter of beauty," indicate the union of power and splendor in the Moabite kingdom. 17. bemoan—Not that Moab deserves pity, but this mode of expression pictures more vividly the grievousness of Moab's calamities.

all ye that know his name—those at a greater distance whom the fame of Moab's "name" had reached, as distinguished from those "about him," that is, near.

strong staff … rod—Moab is so called as striking terror into and oppressing other peoples (Isa 9:4; 14:4, 5); also because of its dignity and power (Ps 110:2; Zec 11:7).

All ye that are about him, bemoan him: the prophet having spoken of Moab’s calamity as already come upon him, or at least very near, calls to his friends to come and condole with him, as is usually done in case of some calamity befallen to a friend.

All ye that know his name, say, How is the strong staff broken, and the beautiful rod! All ye that know how terrible Moab hath been to others, and how famous for mighty and strong men, say, How is this potent nation, and this people that hath been such a rod against others, or hath ruled over so many others, broken! for both a staff and a rod are as well ensigns of power and government, as instruments to punish offenders. All ye that are about him, bemoan him,.... The neighbouring nations, such as the Ammonites, and others, are called upon to condole the sad case of Moab; all upon the borders of the country of Moab, either within them or without them:

and all ye that know his name; not only that had heard of his fame and glory, but knew in what grandeur and splendour he lived; these have a form of condolence given them:

say, how is the strong staff broken, and the beautiful rod! the mighty men of war, the staff of the nation, in which they trusted, destroyed; their fortified cities demolished; the powerful kingdom, which swayed the sceptre, and ruled in great glory, and was terrible and troublesome to others, now pulled down. The Targum is,

"how is the king broken that did evil, the oppressing ruler!''

All ye that are about him, bemoan him; and all ye that know his name, say, {l} How is the strong staff broken, and the beautiful rod!

(l) How are they destroyed that put their trust in their strength and riches?

17. For the use of “How” introducing a lament, cp. Lamentations 1:1; Lamentations 2:1; Lamentations 4:1.

the strong staff (mg. sceptre) … the beautiful rod] For these expressions, as implying national glory and power over others, cp. Psalm 110:2; Isaiah 14:29; Ezekiel 19:11-12; Ezekiel 19:14.Verses 17-25. - How lamentable that such a glorious sceptre should be broken! But there is no remedy. Even Dibon, that highly honoured town, is disgraced. There is no hiding the sad fate of the Moabites; the crowds of fugitives sufficiently proclaim it. Judgment has been passed upon all the cities of Moab, a long roll of whose names is recited. Verse 17. - All ye that are about him; i.e. the neighbouring nations (setup. on Jeremiah 46:14). The invitation to condolence is not ironical, but in the deepest spirit of human sympathy, as in the parallel prophecy in Isaiah (see on Isaiah 15:5). The strong staff; i.e. the sceptre as an image of royal authority (comp. Ezekiel 19:11-14). Rod; as in Psalm 110:2. The devastation is a work of the Lord, and those who execute it must carry out the divine decree, so that they may not bring the curse upon themselves. The first clause is taken quite generally: the more exact specification of the work of the Lord follows in the second clause; it is the employment of the sword against Moab. "His sword" does not mean Jahveh's, but the sword carried by the devastator. רמיּה is used adverbially, but not in the sense of "deceitfully," rather "carelessly, negligently;" cf. כּף רמיּה, Proverbs 10:4; Proverbs 12:24. In Jeremiah 48:11 follows the reason why the judgment has necessarily come on Moab. Moab is compared to old wine that has lain long on its lees, and thereby preserved its flavour and smell unchanged. The taste and odour of Moab signify his disposition towards other nations, particularly towards Israel, the people of God. Good wine becomes stronger and more juicy by lying pretty long on its lees (see on Isaiah 25:6); inferior wine, however, becomes thereby more harsh and thick. The figure is used here in the latter sense, after Zephaniah 1:12. Moab's disposition towards Israel was harsh and bitter; the people were arrogant and proud (Jeremiah 48:29.; Isaiah 16:6), and so hostile towards Israel, that they sought every opportunity of injuring them (see above, p. 385f., and the comments on 2 Samuel 8:2). From his youth, i.e., from the time when Moab, after subduing the Emims (Deuteronomy 2:10), had established himself in his own land, or had become enrolled among the nations of history, - from that time forward had he remained undisturbed in his own land, i.e., without being driven out of it, had not gone into captivity (as is shown by the figure of the wine poured from one vessel into another). In this way there is a qualification made of the general statement that he remains at rest on his lees, and undisturbed. For Moab has often carried on wars, and even suffered many defeats, but has never yet been driven from his own land; nor had the temporary dependence on Israel exercised any transforming influence on the ordinary life of the people, for they were simply made tributary. This quiet continuance in the country is to cease. The God of Israel "will send to them cellarmen (Germ. Schrter), who shall bring them out of the cellar" (Germ. ausschroten), as Luther translates Jeremiah 48:12. "Schrter" are men who bring the wine-casks out of the cellar; for "schroten" means to bring out heavy burdens, especially full casks on a strong kind of hand-barrow (Germ. Hebewerkzeug), like a ladder in appearance. צעים (from צעה, to bend, incline) are those who incline a barrel or vessel for the purpose or pouring out its contents. These will not merely empty the vessels, but also break the pitchers; i.e., not merely carry away the Moabites, but also break down their political organization, and destroy their social arrangements.
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