Isaiah 16:2
For it shall be, that, as a wandering bird cast out of the nest, so the daughters of Moab shall be at the fords of Arnon.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(2) As a wandering bird cast out of the nest.—Better as in the margin, a forsaken nest. The “daughters of Moab” either literally, the women driven from their homes, or figuratively (as in Isaiah 16:1) the whole population of its towns and villages, are represented as fluttering in terror, like birds whose nests are spoiled (comp. Isaiah 10:14), like the fledglings in the nest, on the fords of Arnon, uncertain whether to return to their old homes or to cross into a strange land. The imagery reminds us of Psalm 11:1, Proverbs 27:8, so also of Æsch. Agam. 49-52.

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.For it shall be - It shall happen in the time of the calamity that shall come upon Moab.

As a wandering bird - (See Isaiah 10:14.) The same idea is presented in Proverbs 27:8 :

As a bird that wanders from her nest,

So is a man that wandereth from his place.

The idea here is that of a bird driven away from her nest, where the nest is destroyed, and the young fly about without any home or place of rest. So would Moab be when the inhabitants were driven from their dwellings. The reason why this is introduced seems to be, to enforce what the prophet had said in the previous verse - the duty of paying the usual tribute to the Jews, and seeking their protection. The time is coming, says the prophet, when the Moabites shall be driven from their homes, and when they will need that protection which they can obtain by paying the usual tribute to the Jews.

The daughters of Moab - The females shall be driven from their homes, and shall wander about, and endeavor to flee from the invasion which has come upon the land. By the apprehension, therefore, that their wives and daughters would be exposed to this danger, the prophet calls upon the Moabites to secure the protection of the king of Judah.

At the fords of Arnon - Arnon was the northern boundary of the land of Moab. They would endeavor to cross that river, and thus flee from the land, and escape the desolations that were coming upon it. The river Arnon, now called Mujeb, flows in a deep, frightfully wild, and rocky vale of the same name Numbers 21:15; Deuteronomy 2:24; Deuteronomy 3:9, in a narrow bed, and forms at this time the boundary between the provinces of Belka and Karrak (Seetzen). Bridges were not common in the times here referred to; and, indeed, permanent bridges among the ancients were things almost unknown. Hence, they selected the places where the streams were most shallow and gentle, as the usual places of crossing.

2. cast out of … nest—rather, "as a brood cast out" (in apposition with "a wandering bird," or rather, wandering birds), namely, a brood just fledged and expelled from the nest in which they were hatched [Horsley]. Compare Isa 10:14; De 32:11.

daughters of Moab—that is, the inhabitants of Moab. So 2Ki 19:21; Ps 48:11; Jer 46:11; La 4:22 [Maurer].

at the fords—trying to cross the boundary river of Moab, in order to escape out of the land. Ewald and Maurer make "fords" a poetical expression for "the dwellers on Arnon," answering to the parallel clause of the same sense, "daughters of Moab."

For; or, otherwise, as this particle is sometimes used; if you do not follow my advice.

As a wandering bird cast out of the nest; which knows not whither to go, nor what to do.

At the fords of Arnon; which was the border of the land of Moab, where they were, either being carried that way into captivity, or rather with design to flee out of their own land, although they knew not whither, as the foregoing metaphor showeth. For it shall be,.... Or, "otherwise it shall be" (z); if ye do not pay this tribute:

that as a wandering bird cast out of the nest: or, "as a wandering bird, the nest sent out": that is, as a bird that has forsaken its nest, and wanders about, and its young ones are turned out of the nest, scarcely fledged, and unable to shift for themselves, but flutter about here and there, trembling and frightened, see Proverbs 26:2,

so the daughters of Moab shall be at the fords of Arnon: turned out of their houses, wandering up and down, not knowing where to go; unable to help themselves, and in the utmost fright and consternation, fleeing to the very borders of their land, as the fords of Arnon were, see Numbers 21:13.

(z) "alioqui", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator.

For it shall be, that, as a {b} wandering bird cast out of the nest, so the daughters of Moab shall be at the fords of Arnon.

(b) There is no remedy but that you must flee.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
2. The verse gives no good sense in its present position. Not only does it obscure the connexion between Isaiah 16:1 and Isaiah 16:3, but its language of prediction reveals an affinity with Isaiah 15:9. It has probably been misplaced (so Duhm), and the fact that the Moabites are represented as at “the fords of Arnon,” instead of in Edom, confirms the impression that we have here an addition to the original prophecy. The images of the wandering birds and the scattered nest (render as in R.V.) remind us of Isaiah (ch. Isaiah 10:14, Isaiah 31:5). The daughters of Moab are the provincial towns of Moab, or their inhabitants (cf. Psalm 48:11).Verse 2. - For it shall be; rather, and it shall be. The tribute having been paid, Moab will regain some confidence. Her fluttered population will return, and collect at the fords of the Amen, ready to recross it. As a wandering bird cast out of the nest; rather, as a wandering bird (or, wandering birds) - "as a scattered nest" (or, "brood of nestlings"). The daughters of Moab. The population of Moab generally, as "the daughter of Zion" (ver. 1) is the population of Jerusalem generally. The difficult words in which the prophet expresses this sympathy we render as follows: "My heart, towards Moab it crieth out; its bolts reached to Zoar, the three-year-old heifer." The Lamed in l'Moab is the same both here and in Isaiah 16:11 as in Isaiah 14:8-9, viz., "turned toward Moab." Moab, which was masculine in Isaiah 15:4, is feminine here. We may infer from this that עד־צער בריחה is a statement which concerns Moab as a land. Now, berichim signifies the bolts in every other passage in which it occurs; and it is possible to speak of the bolts of a land with just as much propriety as in Lamentations 2:9 and Jeremiah 51:30 (cf., Jonah 2:7) of the bolts of a city. And the statement that the bolts of this land went to Zoar is also a very appropriate one, for Kir Moab and Zoar formed the southern fortified girdle of the land; and Zoar, on the south-western tongue of land which runs into the Dead Sea, was the uttermost fortress of Moab, looking over towards Judah; and in its depressed situation below the level of the sea it formed, as it were, the opposite pole of Kir Moab, the highest point in the high land itself. Hence we agree with Jerome, who adopts the rendering vectes ejus usque ad Segor, whereas all the modern translators have taken the word in the sense of fugitives. ‛Eglath sheilshiyyâh, which Rosenmller, Knobel, Drechsler, Meier, and others have taken quite unnecessarily as a proper name, is either in apposition to Zoar or to Moab. In the former case it is a distinguishing epithet. An ox of the three years, or more literally of the third year (cf., meshullesheth, Genesis 15:9), i.e., a three-year-old ox, is one that is still in all the freshness and fulness of its strength, and that has not yet been exhausted by the length of time that it has worn the yoke. The application of the term to the Moabitish nation is favoured by Jeremiah 46:20, where Egypt is called "a very fair heifer" (‛eglâh yephēh-phiyyâh), whilst Babylon is called the same in Jeremiah 50:11 (cf., Hosea 4:16; Hosea 10:11). And in the same way, according to the lxx, Vulg., Targum, and Gesenius, Moab is called juvenca tertii anni, h. e. indomita jugoque non assueta, as a nation that was still in the vigour of youth, and if it had hitherto borne the yoke, had always shaken it off again. But the application of it to Zoar is favoured (1.) by Jeremiah 48:34, where this epithet is applied to another Moabitish city; (2.) by the accentuation; and (3.) by the fact that in the other case we should expect berı̄châh (the three-year-old heifer, i.e., Moab, is a fugitive to Zoar: vid., Luzzatto). Thus Zoar, the fine, strong, and hitherto unconquered city, is now the destination of the wildest flight before the foe that is coming from the north. A blow has fallen upon Joab, that is more terrible than any that has preceded it.

In a few co-ordinate clauses the prophet now sets before us the several scenes of mourning and desolation. "for the mountain slope of Luhith they ascend with weeping; for on the road to Horonayim they lift up a cry of despair. For the waters of Nimrim are waste places from this time forth: for the grass is dried up, the vegetation wasteth away, the green is gone." The road to Luhith (according to the Onom. between Ar-Moab and Zoar, and therefore in the centre of Moabitis proper) led up a height, and the road to Horonayim (according to Jeremiah 48:5) down a slope. Weeping, they ran up to the mountain city to hide themselves there (bo, as in Psalm 24:3; in Jeremiah 48:5 it is written incorrectly בּכי). Raising loud cries of despair, they stand in front of Horonayim, which lay below, and was more exposed to the enemy. יעערוּ is softened from יערערוּ (possibly to increase the resemblance to an echo), like כּוכב from כּבכּב. The Septuagint renders it very well, κραυγὴν συντριμμοῦ ἐξαναγεροῦσιν - an unaccustomed expression of intense and ever renewed cries at the threatening danger of utter destruction, and with the hope of procuring relief and assistance (sheber, as in Isaiah 1:28; Isaiah 30:26). From the farthest south the scene would suddenly be transferred to the extreme north of the territory of Moab, if Nimrim were the Nimra (Beth-Nimra, Talm. nimrin) which was situated near to the Jordan in Gilead, and therefore farther north than any of the places previously mentioned, and the ruins of which lie a little to the south of Salt, and are still called Nimrin. But the name itself, which is derived from the vicinity of fresh water (Arab. nemir, nemı̄r, clear, pure, sound), is one of frequent occurrence; and even to the south of Moabitis proper there is a Wadi Numere, and a brook called Moyet Numere (two diminutives: "dear little stream of Nimra"), which flows through stony tracks, and which formerly watered the country (Burckhardt, Seetzen, and De Saulcy). In all probability the ruins of Numere by the side of this wady are the Nimrim referred to here, and the waters of the brook the "waters of Nimrim" (me Nimrim). The waters that flowed fresh from the spring had been filled up with rubbish by the enemy, and would now probably lie waste for ever (a similar expression to that in Isaiah 17:2). He had gone through the land scorching and burning, so that all the vegetation had vanished. On the miniature-like short sentences, see Isaiah 29:20; Isaiah 33:8-9; Isaiah 32:10; and on היה לא ("it is not in existence," or "it has become not," i.e., annihilated), vid., Ezekiel 21:32.

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