Isaiah 16:1
Send you the lamb to the ruler of the land from Sela to the wilderness, to the mount of the daughter of Zion.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
XVI.

(1) Send ye the lamb to the ruler of the land.—In the days of Ahab, Mesha, the then king of Moab, had paid a tribute of sheep and lambs to the king of Israel (2Kings 3:4). On his revolt (as recorded in the Moabite Inscription) that tribute had ceased. The prophet now calls on the Moabites to renew it, not to the northern kingdom, which was on the point of extinction, but to the king of Judah as the true “ruler of the land.” The name Sela (“a rock”) may refer either to the city so-called (better known by its Greek name of Petra), 2Kings 14:7, or to the rock-district of Edom and the confines of Moab generally. In either case the special direction implies that the presence of the invaders described in Isaiah 15 would make it impossible to send the tribute across the fords of the Jordan, and that it must accordingly be sent by the southern route, which passed through Sela and the desert country to the south of the Dead Sea (Cheyne). Possibly the words are a summons to Edom, which had attacked Judah in the reign of Ahaz (2Chronicles 28:17), to join in a like submission.

Isaiah 16:1-2. Send ye the lamb, &c. — The prophet continues his prophecy against Moab, and gives them counsel what to do to prevent, if possible, or at least to mitigate, the threatened judgment. First he advises them to be just to the house of David, and to pay the tribute they had formerly covenanted to pay to the kings of his line. David, it must be recollected, had subdued the Moabites, and made them tributaries to him, 2 Samuel 8:2. Afterward they paid their tribute to the kings of Israel, 2 Kings 3:4; which, it appears, was not less than 100,000 lambs annually. This it is likely had been discontinued, and neither paid to the kings of Israel nor those of Judah. Now it is thought the prophet here requires them to pay this tribute, or, at least, what they had covenanted with David to pay, to the king of Judah, who was now Hezekiah, that thereby they might at once do an act of neglected justice, and make him and the Jews their friends, which would be of great use to them in their calamity. These verses therefore are thus paraphrased by Vitringa: “Ye Moabites, who, subdued by David, and made tributary to his house and kingdom, have, with pride and arrogance, shaken off his yoke: placate in time, and render propitious to you, the Jews, and their king, by sending those lambs, which you owe to them as a tribute. Send them from Sela, or Petra, (which was most celebrated for its flocks, 2 Kings 14:7,) toward the desert, the desert near Jericho, a medium place between Sela and mount Zion, Joshua 5:10.” Or, as the words may be rendered, from Sela, of, or, in the wilderness. “Pay this tribute, for it shall most certainly come to pass, that the daughters of the Moabites, like a wandering bird from a deserted nest, driven from their seats, must somewhere seek a place of safety in the great calamity which shall befall their nation. It is therefore now time to solicit the friendship of the Jews, and to remember the duty owing to them, but so long omitted; that when expelled from your own habitations, you may be received kindly by them, and dwell hospitably in their land, and under the shadow of their kings.” Some, however, understand the prophet as advising them to send a lamb for a sacrifice unto God, the ruler of the land of the Moabites, as well as of that of the Jews; or the ruler of the earth, as ארצ is commonly rendered: to him who is the God of the whole earth, as he is called, Isaiah 54:5. Of all the kingdoms of the earth, Isaiah 37:16. As if he had said, Make your peace with God, by sacrifice, for all your injuries done to him and to his people. The fords of Arnon was the border of the land of Moab, where their daughters are supposed to be with a design to flee out of their own land, though they knew not whither.16:1-5 God tells sinners what they may do to prevent ruin; so he does to Moab. Let them send the tribute they formerly engaged to pay to Judah. Take it as good advice. Break off thy sins by righteousness, it may lengthen thy quiet. And this may be applied to the great gospel duty of submission to Christ. Send him the lamb, the best you have, yourselves a living sacrifice. When you come to God, the great Ruler, come in the name of the Lamb, the Lamb of God. Those who will not submit to Christ, shall be as a bird that wanders from her nest, which shall be snatched up by the next bird of prey. Those who will not yield to the fear of God, shall be made to yield to the fear of every thing else. He advises them to be kind to the seed of Israel. Those that expect to find favour when in trouble themselves, must show favour to those in trouble. What is here said concerning the throne of Hezekiah, also belongs, in a much higher sense, to the kingdom of Jesus Christ. Though by subjection to Him we may not enjoy worldly riches or honours, but may be exposed to poverty and contempt, we shall have peace of conscience and eternal life.Send ye the lamb - Lowth renders this, 'I will send forth the son from the ruler of the land;' meaning, as he supposes, that under the Assyrian invasion, even the young prince of Moab would be obliged to flee for his life through the desert, that he might escape to Judea; and "that" thus God says that "he" would send him. The only authority for this, however, is, that the Septuagint reads the word 'send' in the future tense (ἀποστελῶ apostelō) instead of the imperative; and that the Syraic reads בר bar instead of כר kar, "a lamb." But assuredly this is too slight an authority for making an alteration in the Hebrew text. This is one of the many instances in which Lowth has ventured to suggest a change in the text of Isaiah without sufficient authority. The Septuagint reads this: 'I will send reptiles (ἐρπετὰ herpeta) upon the land. Is not the mountain of the daughter of Zion a desolate rock?' The Chaldee renders it, 'Bear ye tribute to the Messiah, the anointed of Israel, who is powerful over you who were in the desert, to Mount Zion.' And this, understanding by the Messiah the anointed king of Israel, is probably the true rendering.

The word 'lamb' (כר kar) denotes, properly, a pasture lamb, a fat lamb, and is usually applied to the lamb which was slain in sacrifice. Here it probably means a lamb, or "lambs" collectively, as a tribute, or acknowledgment of subjection to Judah. Lambs were used in the daily sacrifice in the temple, and in the other sacrifices of the Jews. Large numbers of them would, therefore, be needed, and it is not improbable that the "tribute" of the nations subject to them was often required to be paid in animals for burnt-offering. Perhaps there might have been this additional reason for that - that the sending of such animals would be a sort of incidental acknowledgment of the truth of the Jewish religion, and an offering to the God of the Hebrews. At all events, the word here seems to be one that designates "tribute;" and the counsel of the prophet is, that they should send their "tribute" to the Jews.

To the ruler of the land - To the king of Judah. This is proved by the addition at the close of the verse, 'unto the mount of the daughter o Zion.' It is evident from 2 Samuel 8:2, that David subdued the Moabites, and laid them under tribute, so that the 'Moabites became David's servants, and brought gifts.' That "lambs" were the specific kind of tribute which the Moabites were to render to the Jews as a token of their subjection, is clearly proved in 2 Kings 3:4 : 'And Mesha, king of Moab, was a sheep-master, and rendered unto the king of Israel an hundred thousand rams, with the wool.' This was in the time of Ahab. But the Moabites after his death revolted from them, and rebelled 2 Kings 4:5. It is probable that as this tribute was laid by "David" before the separation of the kingdoms of Judah and Israel, and as the kings of Judah claimed to be the true successors of David and Solomon, they demanded that the tribute should be rendered to "them," and not to the kings of Israel, and this is the claim which Isaiah enforces in the passage before us. The command of the prophet is to regain the lost favor of Israel by the payment of the tribute that was due. The territory of Moab was in early times, and is still, rich in flocks of sheep. Seetzen made his journey with some inhabitants of Hebron and Jerusalem who had purchased sheep in that region. Lambs and sheep were often demanded in tribute. The Persians received fifty thousand sheep as a tribute annually from the Cappadocians, and one hundred thousand from the Medes (Strabo, ii.362).

From Sela in the wilderness - The word 'Sela' (סלע sela') means "a rock;" and by it here there can be no doubt that there is intended the city of that name which was the capital of "Arabia Petrea." The city was situated within the bounds of Arabia or Idumea, but was probably at this time in the possession of the Moabites. It was, therefore, the remotest part of their territory, and the sense may be, 'Send tribute even from the remotest pat of your land;' or it may be, that the region around that city was particularly favorable to pasturage, and for keeping flocks. To this place they had fled with their flocks on the invasion from the north (see the note at Isaiah 15:7). Vitringa says that that desert around Petra was regarded as a vast common, on which the Moabites and Arabians promiscuously fed their flocks. The situation of the city of Sela, or (πέτρα petra) Petra, meaning the same as Sela, a rock, was for a long time unknown, but it has lately been discovered.

It lies about a journey of a day and a ball southeast of the southern extremity of the Dead Sea. It derived its name from the fact that it was situated in a vast hollow in a rocky mountain, and consisted almost entirely of dwellings hewn out of the rock. It was the capital of the Edomites 2 Kings 19:7; but might have been at this time in the possession of the Moabites. Strabo describes it as the capital of the Nabatheans, and as situated in a vale well watered, but encompassed by insurmountable rocks (xvi. 4), at a distance of three or four days' journey from Jericho. Diodorus (19, 55) mentions it as a place of trade, with caves for dwellings, and strongly fortified by nature. Pliny, in the first century, says, 'The Nabatheans inhabit the city called Petra, in a valley less than two (Roman) miles in amplitude, surrounded by inaccessible mountains, with a stream flowing through it' ("Nat. Hist." vi. 28).

Adrian, the successor of Trajan, granted important privileges to that city, which led the inhabitants to give his name to it upon coins. Several of these are still extant. In the fourth century, Petra is several times mentioned by Eusebius and Jerome, and in the fifth and sixth centuries appears as the metropolitan see of the Third Palestine (see the article "Petra" in Reland's "Palestine"). From that time, Petra disappeared from the pages of history, and the metropolitan see was transferred to Rabbah. In what way Petra was destroyed is unknown. Whether it was by the Mahometan conquerors, or whether by the incursions of the hordes of the desert, it is impossible now to ascertain. All Arabian writers of that period are silent as to Petra. The name became changed to that which it bears at present - Wady Musa, and it was not until the travels of Seetzen, in 1807, that it attracted the attention of the world. During his excursion from Hebron to the hill Madurah, his Arab guide described the place, exclaiming, 'Ah! how I weep when I behold the ruins of Wady Musa.' Seetzen did not visit it, but Burckhardt passed a short time there, and described it. Since his time it has been repeatedly visited (see Robinson's "Bib. Researches," vol. ii. pp. 573-580).

This city was formerly celebrated as a place of great commercial importance, from its central position and its being so securely defended. Dr. Vincent (in his "Commerce of the Ancients," vol. xi. p. 263, quoted in Laborde's "Journey to Arabia Petrea," p. 17) describes Petra as the capital of Edom or Sin, the Idumea or Arabia Petrea of the Greeks, the Nabatea considered both by geographers, historians, and poets, as the source of all the precious commodities of the East. The caravans in all ages, from Minea in the interior of Arabia, and from Gerka on the gulf of Persia, from Hadramont on the ocean, and some even from Sabea in Yemen, appear to have pointed to Petra as a common center; and from Petra the trade seems to have branched out into every direction - to Egypt, Palestine, and Syria, through Arsinoe, Gaza, Tyre, Jerusalem, Damascus, and a variety of intermediate roads that all terminated on the Mediterranean. Strabo relates, that the merchandise of India and Arabia was transported on camels from Leuke Kome to Petra, and thence, to Rhinocolura and other places (xvi. 4, 18, 23, 24).

Under the Romans the trade was still more prosperous. The country was rendered more accessible, and the passage of merchants facilitated by military ways, and by the establishment of military posts to keep in check the predatory hordes of the neighboring deserts. One great road, of which traces still remain, went from Petra to Damascus; another went off from this road west of the Dead Sea to Jerusalem, Askelon, and other parts of the Mediterranean (Laborde, p. 213; Burckhardt, 374, 419). At a period subsequent to the Christian era there always reigned at Petra, according to Strabo, a king of the royal lineage, with whom a prince was associated in the government (Strabo, p. 779). The very situation of this city, once so celebrated, as has been remarked above, was long unknown. Burckhardt, under the assumed name of Sheikh Ibrahim, in the year 1811, made an attempt to reach Petra under the pretext that he had made a vow to sacrifice a goat in honor of Aaron on the summit of Mount Hor near to Petra. He was permitted to enter the city, and to remain there a short time, and to "look" upon the wonders of that remarkable place, but was permitted to make no notes or drawings on the spot.

His object was supposed to be to obtain treasures, which the Arabs believe to have been deposited there in great abundance, as all who visit the ruins of ancient cities and towns in that region are regarded as having come there solely for that purpose. If assured that they have no such design, and if the Arabs are reminded that they have no means to remove them, it is replied 'that, although they may not remove them in their presence, yet when they return to their own land, they will have the power of "commanding" the treasures to be conveyed to them, and it will be done by magic.' (Burckhardt's "Travels in Syria," pp. 428, 429.)

Burckhardt's description of this city, as it is brief, may be here given "verbatim:" 'Two long days' journey northeast from Akaba (a town at the extremity of the Elanitic branch of the Red Sea, near the site of the ancient Ezion-geber), is a brook called Wady Musa, and a valley of the same name. This place is very remarkable for its antiquities, and the remains of an ancient city, which I take to be Petra, the capital of Arabia Petrea, a place which, so far as I know, no European traveler has ever explored. In the red sandstone of which the vale consists, there are found more than two hundred and fifty sepulchres, which are entirely hewn out of the rock, generally with architectural ornaments in the Grecian style. There is found there a mausoleum in the form of a temple (obviously the same which Legh and Laborde call the temple of victory) on a colossal scale, which is likewise hewn out of the rock, with all its apartments, portico, peristylum, etc. It is an extremely fine monument of Grecian architecture, and in a fine state of preservation. In the same place there are yet other mausoleums with obelisks, apparently in the Egyptian style; a whole amphitheater hewn out of the solid rock, and the remains of a palace and many temples.'

Mr. Bankes, in company of Mr. Legh, and Captains Irby and Mangles, have the merit of being the first persons who, as Europeans, succeeded to any extent in making researches in Petra. Captains Irby and Mangles spent two days among its temples, tombs, and ruins, and have furnished a description of what they saw. But the most full and satisfactory investigation which has been made of these ruins, was made by M. de Laborde, who visited the city in 1829, and was permitted to remain there eight days, and to examine it at leisure. An account of his journey, with splendid plates, was published in Paris in 1830, and a translation in London 1836. To this interesting account the reader must be referred. It can only be remarked here, that Petra, or Sela, was a city entirely encompassed with lofty rocks, except in a single place, where was a deep ravine between the rocks which constituted the principal entrance.

On the east and west it was enclosed with lofty rocks, of from three to five hundred feet in height; on the north and south the ascent was gradual from the city to the adjacent hills. The ordinary entrance was through a deep ravine, which has been, until lately, supposed to have been the only way of access to the city. This ravine approaches it from the east, and is about a mile in length. In the narrowest part it is twelve feet in width, and the rocks are on each side about three hundred feet in height. On the northern side, there are tombs excavated in the rocks nearly the entire distance. The stream which watered Petra runs along in the bottom of the ravine, going through the city, and descending through a ravine to the west (see Robinson's "Bib. Researches," vol. ii. 514, 538.) The city is wholly uninhabited, except when the wandering Arab makes use of an excavated tomb or palace in which to pass the night, or a caravan pauses there.

The rock which encompasses it is a soft freestone. The tombs, with which almost the entire city was encompassed, are cut in the solid rock, and are adorned in the various modes of Grecian and Egyptian architecture. The surface of the solid rock was first made smooth, and then a plan of the tomb or temple was drawn on the smoothed surface, and the workmen began at the top and cut the various pillars, entablatures, and capitals. The tomb was then excavated from the rock, and was usually entered by a single door. Burckhardt counted two hundred and fifty of these tombs, and Laborde has described minutely a large number of them. For a description of these splendid monuments, the reader must be referred to the work of Laborde, pp. 152-193. Lend. Ed.

continued...

CHAPTER 16

Isa 16:1-14. Continuation of the Prophecy as to Moab.

1. lamb—advice of the prophet to the Moabites who had fled southwards to Idumea, to send to the king of Judah the tribute of lambs, which they had formerly paid to Israel, but which they had given up (2Ki 3:4, 5). David probably imposed this tribute before the severance of Judah and Israel (2Sa 8:2). Therefore Moab is recommended to gain the favor and protection of Judah, by paying it to the Jewish king. Type of the need of submitting to Messiah (Ps 2:10-12; Ro 12:1).

from Sela to—rather, "from Petra through (literally, 'towards') the wilderness" [Maurer]. "Sela" means "a rock," Petra in Greek; the capital of Idumea and Arabia-Petræa; the dwellings are mostly hewn out of the rock. The country around was a vast common ("wilderness") or open pasturage, to which the Moabites had fled on the invasion from the west (Isa 15:7).

ruler of the land—namely, of Idumea, that is, the king of Judah; Amaziah had become master of Idumea and Sela (2Ki 14:7).The Moabites exhorted to entertain kindly the banished Jews, Isaiah 16:1-5. They are threatened for their pride and arrogance, Isaiah 16:6-8. The prophet bewaileth them, Isaiah 16:9-11. Their judgment, Isaiah 16:12-14.

The prophet continues his prophecy against Moab in this chapter, and here turneth his speech to them, and gives them counsel what to do, to prevent, if possible, the threatened desolation. In these first words he adviseth them to the practice either,

1. Of justice; Pay that tribute of lambs and goats which you obliged yourselves to pay unto David, and to his posterity, 2 Samuel 8:2, and pay it not unto Israel, as you have done, 2 Kings 3:4, but unto the king of Judah, who is the rightful heir of David, and king of the land. Or,

2. Of piety; Send a lamb, for a sacrifice, unto God, who is

Ruler of the land, to wit, of your land, no less than of ours; or, of the earth, as the word is commonly rendered, who is the God of the whole earth, as he is called, Isaiah 54:5, the God of all the kingdoms of the earth, Isaiah 37:16. Make your peace with God, by sacrifice, for all your injuries done to him, and to his people. These words may be understood ironically, and the design of them may be to represent their miserable and desperate condition; as if he had said, You have tried all other ways, and sought to your idols, Isaiah 16:2, and all in vain; now seek to the God of Israel, who alone can help you. But, alas! he is highly incensed against you, and coming to destroy you. But this seems rather to be a serious advice, by comparing these words with Isaiah 16:3,4. Sela; an eminent city of Moab, seated upon a rock, which is here named, either because the king and his court at this time resided there, or for some other reason then evident, though now unknown.

To the wilderness; to the wilderness of Moab, of which we read Numbers 21:11; Dent. ii. 8, and so onward to Zion, as it follows. Or this may be added as a description of the place called Sela. Hence some render the words, Sela of the wilderness; and others, Sela which lieth or looketh towards the wilderness. And this limitation might be the more necessary, to distinguish this from other places of Moab called by the same name, which, signifying a rock, might be common to several places in that rocky country.

Unto the mount of the daughter of Zion; unto the temple upon Mount Zion.

Send ye the lamb to the ruler of the land,.... Or tribute, as the Targum rightly interprets it. The Moabites, being conquered by David, paid tribute to him, 2 Samuel 8:2 and when the kingdom was divided in Rehoboam's time, the tribute was paid to the kings of Israel, which continued till the times of Ahab, when the Moabites rebelled, and refused to pay it, 2 Kings 3:4 and this tribute, as appears from the passage now referred to, was paid in lambs and rams; which now they are bid to pay to the king of Judah, David's lawful heir and successor in his kingdom; who is supposed to be meant by the ruler of the land, that is, of the land of Judah, whose reigning king at this time was Hezekiah; but rather by "the ruler of the land" is meant the king of Moab, for the words may be rendered, more agreeably to the language and the accents, "send ye the lamb" (or lambs, the singular for the plural), "O ruler of the land" (t); though others, "send ye the lamb of the ruler of the land" (u); that is either, O king of Moab send the tribute that is due; or ye people of the land send the tribute which your ruler owes to the king of Judah; so Jarchi understands it of the king of Moab: some indeed expound the ruler of the land of God himself, who is the Governor of the world; and take the sense to be, that the Moabites are bid to send a lamb, or lambs, for sacrifice, to the God of the whole earth, in order to appease him, and atone for their sins; which is said either seriously, as some think, this being to answer a good purpose, or ironically, as other's, it being now too late; but the sense given is the best: in the Talmud (w) it is applied to Nebuchadnezzar, ruler of the land, who came to the mount of the daughter of Zion, by the way of rocks and mountains. The Targum applies it to the Messiah, paraphrasing it thus,

"they shall be bringing tributes to the Christ of Israel, who is strong over them.''

Jerom interprets it of Christ, the Lamb of God, the ruler of the world, or who was to be sacrificed to the ruler of the world; who descended from Ruth, the Moabitess, who he supposes is meant by the rock of the wilderness, as he renders the next clause:

from Sela to the wilderness, unto the mount the daughter of Zion: according to Kimchi, and others, Sela was the chief city of the kingdom of Moab. The word signifies a rock; it is the same with Petra (x), the chief city of Arabia, and from whence Arabia Petraea had its name. Some take it to be Selah, the chief city of Edom, afterwards called Joktheel, 2 Kings 14:7 it was a frontier city, and lay upon the borders of Moab and Edom to the south; as the wilderness of Jordan was on the border of Moab to the north, and is thought to be here meant; or, according to Vitringa, the plains of Jericho, the same with the wilderness of Judea, where John the Baptist came preaching; which lay in the way from Sela or Petra, the chief city in Moab, unto Jerusalem. Strabo (y) says of Petra, the metropolis of the Nabataeans, that it lies in a plain, surrounded with rocks and precipices, and within it fountains and gardens, and without it a large country, for the most part desert, especially towards Judea, and from hence it is a journey of three or four days to Jericho; and so the sense is, send the lambs, or the tribute, from Sela or Petra, the chief city of Moab; send them, I say, to the wilderness of Judea, or by the way of that, even to Mount Zion or Jerusalem, the metropolis of Judea, and the seat of the king of it.

(t) "mittite agnum, dominator terrae", Montanus; so Luther; which is approved by Reinbeck de Accent. Heb. p. 395. (u) "Mittite agnum dominatoris terrae", Pagninus, Vatablus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator. (w) T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 96. 2. & Gloss. in ib. (x) Joseph. Antiqu. l. 4. c. 4. sect. 7. Ptolem. Geogr. l. 5. c. 17. Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 6. c. 28. (y) Geograph. l. 16. p. 536. Ed. Casaub.

Send {a} ye the lamb to the ruler of the land from Sela to the wilderness, to the mount of the daughter of Zion.

(a) That is, offer a sacrifice, by which he derides their long delay, who would not repent when the Lord called them, showing them that it is now too late seeing the vengeance of God is on them.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
1. Send ye the lamb] R.V. the lambs. The imper. expresses dramatically the result of the deliberations of the Moabites. The word “lamb” is to be taken collectively; it denotes the tribute in kind which the Moabites had been accustomed to pay to the kings of Israel (2 Kings 3:4), but which they now propose to send to the king of Judah, the “ruler of the land” (of Edom).

from Sela to the wilderness] R.V. less appropriately “which is toward the wilderness.” The wilderness is the desert tract between Sela and Jerusalem which would have to be traversed by the messengers of Moab. Sela (“rock”), a city of Edom (2 Kings 14:7), is commonly supposed from the identity of the designations to be the later Petra. There is, however, no positive evidence in support of the identification; and Jdg 1:36 seems to point to a locality near the southern end of the Dead Sea (See Moore, Commentary on Judges, pp. 56 f.).

the mount … Zion] ch. Isaiah 10:32.

1–6. Arrived in Edom, the Moabitish refugees are within the sphere of Judah’s political influence (see Introd. Note). Their first anxiety, therefore, is to secure protection and the right of asylum by sending an embassy to Jerusalem.Verses 1-14. - THE BURDEN OF MOAB (CONTINUED). This portion of the "burden" is divided into three sections. In section 1 (from ver. 1 to the end of ver. 5) an offer of mercy is made to Moab on certain conditions, viz. that she return to her allegiance to the house of David, and show kindness to fugitive Israelites. In section 2 (vers. 6-12) she is supposed to have rejected this offer, and is threatened (as in Isaiah 15.) with severe punishment. In section 3 (which consists of vers. 13 and 14) the time is fixed for the main visitation to fall upon her. Verse 1. - Send ye the lamb to the ruler of the land; rather, the lamb of the ruler of the land - the lamb (or lambs, kar being used collectively) due to the ruler as a mark of subjection. In the time of Ahab Mesha had paid a tribute to Israel of a hundred thousand lambs and a hundred thousand rams annually (2 Kings 3:4). The prophet recommends that this, or some similar, tribute should now be paid to the King of Judah instead. Israel having been absorbed into Assyria. From Sela. Either Moab is regarded as having taken refuge in Edom, and is therefore bidden to send her tribute from the Edomite capital, Sela (equivalent to "Petra"), or "Sela," here is not a proper name, but a collective used to designate the rocky parts of Moab, to which she had betaken herself (as in Jeremiah 48:28). The latter supposition is, on the whole, the more probable. To the wilderness; literally, wildernesswards; i.e. by the way of the wilderness. The enemy being regarded as in possession of the northern end of the Dead Sea, Moab is recommended to send her tribute round the southern end, and so by way of "the wilderness of Judah," to Jerusalem. But just as horror, when once it begins to reflect, is dissolved in tears, the thunder-claps in Isaiah 15:1 are followed by universal weeping and lamentation. "They go up to the temple-house and Dibon, up to the heights to weep: upon Nebo and upon Medebah of Moab there is weeping: on all heads baldness, every beard is mutilated. In the markets of Moab they gird themselves with sackcloth; on the roofs of the land, and in its streets, everything wails, melting into tears. Heshbon cries, and 'Elle; even to Jahaz they hear their howling; even the armed men of Moab break out into mourning thereat; its soul trembles within it." The people (the subject to עלה) ascend the mountain with the temple of Chemosh, the central sanctuary of the land. This temple is called hab-baith, though not that there was a Moabitish town or village with some such name as Bth-Diblathaim (Jeremiah 48:22), as Knobel supposes. Dibon, which lay above the Arnon (Wady Mujib), like all the places mentioned in Isaiah 15:2-4, at present a heap of ruins, a short hour to the north of the central Arnon, in the splendid plain of el-Chura, had consecrated heights in the neighbourhood (cf., Joshua 13:17; Numbers 22:41), and therefore would turn to them. Moab mourns upon Nebo and Medebah; ייליל, for which we find יהיליל in Isaiah 52:5, is written intentionally for a double preformative, instead of ייליל (compare the similar forms in Job 24:21; Psalm 138:6, and Ges. 70, Anm.). על is to be taken in a local sense, as Hendewerk, Drechsler, and Knobel have rendered it. For Nebo was probably a place situated upon a height on the mountain of that name, towards the south-east of Heshbon (the ruins of Nabo, Nabau, mentioned in the Onom.); and Medebah (still a heap of ruins bearing the same name) stood upon a round hill about two hours to the south-east of Heshbon. According to Jerome, there was an image of Chemosh in Nebo; and among the ruins of Madeba, Seetzen discovered the foundations of a strange temple. There follows here a description of the expressions of pain. Instead of the usual ראשיו, we read ראשיו here. And instead of gedu‛âh (abscissae), Jeremiah (Jeremiah 48:37) has, according to his usual style, geru'âh (decurtatae), with the simple alteration of a single letter.

(Note: At the same time, the Masora on this passage before us is for geru‛ah with Resh, and we also find this reading in Nissel, Clodius, Jablonsky, and in earlier editions; whilst Sonc. 1486, Ven. 1521, and others, have gedu‛ah, with Daleth.)

All runs down with weeping (culloh, written as in Isaiah 16:7; in Isaiah 9:8, Isaiah 9:16, we have cullo instead). In other cases it is the eyes that are said to run down in tears, streams, or water-brooks; but here, by a still bolder metonymy, the whole man is said to flow down to the ground, as if melting in a stream of tears. Heshbon and Elale are still visible in their ruins, which lie only half an hour apart upon their separate hills and are still called by the names Husban and el-Al. They were both situated upon hills which commanded an extensive prospect. And there the cry of woe created an echo which was audible as far as Jahaz (Jahza), the city where the king of Heshbon offered battle to Israel in the time of Moses (Deuteronomy 2:32). The general mourning was so great, that even the armed men, i.e., the heroes (Jeremiah 48:41) of Moab, were seized with despair, and cried out in their anguish (the same figure as in Isaiah 33:7). על־כן(, thereat, namely on account of this universal lamentation. Thus the lamentation was universal, without exception. Naphsho (his soul) refers to Moab as a whole nation. The soul of Moab trembles in all the limbs of the national body; ירעה (forming a play upon the sound with יריעוּ), an Arabic word, and in יריעה a Hebrew word also, signifies tremere, huc illuc agitari - an explanation which we prefer, with Rosenmller and Gesenius, to the idea that ירע is a secondary verb to רעע, fut. ירע. לו is an ethical dative (as in Psalm 120:6 and Psalm 123:4), throwing the action or the pathos inwardly (see Psychology, p. 152). The heart of the prophet participates in this pain with which Moab is agitated throughout; for, as Rashi observes, it is just in this that the prophets of Israel were distinguished from heathen prophets, such as Balaam for example, viz., that the calamities which they announced to the nations went to their own heart (compare Isaiah 21:3-4, with Isaiah 22:4).

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