|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
15:1-9 The Divine judgments about to come upon the Moabites. - This prophecy coming to pass within three years, would confirm the prophet's mission, and the belief in all his other prophecies. Concerning Moab it is foretold, 1. That their chief cities should be surprised by the enemy. Great changes, and very dismal ones, may be made in a very little time. 2. The Moabites would have recourse to their idols for relief. Ungodly men, when in trouble, have no comforter. But they are seldom brought by their terrors to approach our forgiving God with true sorrow and believing prayer. 3. There should be the cries of grief through the land. It is poor relief to have many fellow-sufferers, fellow-mourners. 4. The courage of their soldiers should fail. God can easily deprive a nation of that on which it most depended for strength and defence. 5. These calamities should cause grief in the neighbouring parts. Though enemies to Israel, yet as our fellow-creatures, it should be grievous to see them in such distress. In ver. 6-9, the prophet describes the woful lamentations heard through the country of Moab, when it became a prey to the Assyrian army. The country should be plundered. And famine is usually the sad effect of war. Those who are eager to get abundance of this world, and to lay up what they have gotten, little consider how soon it may be all taken from them. While we warn our enemies to escape from ruin, let us pray for them, that they may seek and find forgiveness of their sins.
Verse 4. - Heshbon shall cry. Heshbon, now Hesban, lay about twenty miles east of the Jordan, nearly on the parallel of its embouchure into the Dead Sea. It was the capital city of Sihon (Numbers 21:21), who took it from the Moabites. On the partition of Palestine among the tribes of Israel, it was assigned to Reuben (Numbers 32:37; Joshua 13:17); but at a later time we find it reckoned to Gad (1 Chronicles 6:81). We do not know at what time Moab recovered Heshbon, but may conjecture that it was one of the conquests of Mesha, though it is not mentioned on the Moabite Stone. And Elealeh. Elealch is commonly united with Heshbon (Numbers 32:3, 37; Isaiah 16:9; Jeremiah 48:34). It is probably identical with the modern El-A'al, a ruined town on the top of a rounded hill, little more than a mile north of Hesban. Even unto Jahaz. Jahaz lay considerably to the south of Hesh-ben, probably not very far north of the Arnon. It must have been in the vicinity of Dibon, since Mesha, on taking it from the Israelites, annexed it to the territory of that city (Moabite Stone, II. 19-21). It was the scene of the great battle between Sihon and the Israelites under Moses (Numbers 21:23). His life shall be grievous unto him; rather, his soul shall be grieved within him. The Moabite people is personified (Cheyne).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And Heshbon shall cry, and Elealeh,.... Two other cities in the land of Moab. The first of these was the city of Sihon king of the Amorites, who took it from the Moabites, Numbers 21:25 it came into the hands of the Reubenites, Numbers 32:3 and afterwards was again possessed by the Moabites, Jeremiah 48:2. Josephus (t) calls it Essebon, and mentions it among the cities of Moab; it goes by the name of Esbuta in Ptolemy (u); and is called Esbus by Jerom (w), who says it was a famous city of Arabia in his time, in the mountains over against Jericho, twenty miles distant from Jordan; hence we read of the Arabian Esbonites in Pliny (x). Elealeh was another city of Moab, very near to Heshbon and frequently mentioned with it, Isaiah 16:9. Jerom says (y) that in his time it was a large village, a mile from Esbus, or Heshbon. By these two places are meant the inhabitants of them, as the Targum paraphrases it, who cried for and lamented the desolation that was coming, or was come upon them:
their voice shall be heard even unto Jahaz; sometimes called Jahazah, Joshua 13:18 it was a frontier town, at the utmost borders of the land, Numbers 21:23 hence the cry of the inhabitants of the above cities is said to reach to it, which expresses the utter destruction that should be made; see Jeremiah 48:34 this is thought to be the same place Ptolemy (z) calls Ziza. Jerom (a) calls it Jazza, as it is in the Septuagint here, and says that in his time it was shown between Medaba and Deblathai.
Therefore the armed soldiers of Moab shall cry out; not as when they go to battle, with courage and cheerfulness, as some have thought; but through fear, and as in great terror and distress; and so it signifies, that not only the weak and unarmed inhabitants, men and women, should be in the utmost confusion and consternation, but the soldiers that should fight for them, and defend them; who were accoutred, or "harnessed", as the word signifies, and were "girt" and prepared for war, as the Targum renders it; even these would be dispirited, and have no heart to fight, but lament their sad case:
his life shall be grievous to everyone; the life of every Moabite would be a burden to him; he would choose death rather than life; so great the calamity: or the life of every soldier; or "his soul shall cry out", grieve or mourn for "himself" (b); for his own unhappy case; he shall only be concerned for himself, how to save himself, or make his escape; having none for others, for whose defence he was set, and for whom he was to fight; but would have no concern for his king or country, only for himself.
(t) Antiqu. l. 13. c. 15. sect. 4. (u) Geograph. l. 5. c. 17. P. 137. (w) De locis Hebraicis, fol. 90. M. (x) Nat. Hist. l. 5. c. 11. (y) De locis Hebraicis, fol. 90. M. (z) Geograph. l. 5. c. 17. p. 137. (a) De locis Hebraicis, fol. 92. F. (b) "anima ejus vociferabit sibi", Pagninus & Montanus.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
4. Heshbon—an Amorite city, twenty miles east of Jordan; taken by Moab after the carrying away of Israel (compare Jer 48:1-47).
Elealeh—near Heshbon, in Reuben.
Jahaz—east of Jordan, in Reuben. Near it Moses defeated Sihon.
therefore—because of the sudden overthrow of their cities. Even the armed men, instead of fighting in defense of their land, shall join in the general cry.
life, &c.—rather, "his soul is grieved" (1Sa 1:8) [Maurer].
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