Isaiah 15:4
And Heshbon shall cry, and Elealeh: their voice shall be heard even unto Jahaz: therefore the armed soldiers of Moab shall cry out; his life shall be grievous unto him.
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(4) And Heshbon shall cry, and Elealeh . . .—Of the places thus named (1) Heshbon (now Heshan) was twenty miles east of the Jordan, on a line from the northern extremity of the Dead Sea. It is first mentioned as in the power of Sihon king of the Amorites (Numbers 21:26). On his overthrow it was assigned to the tribe of Reuben (Numbers 32:37), and became a city of the Levites (Joshua 21:39). It had probably fallen into the hands of the Moabites, to whom it had originally belonged (Numbers 21:26). Its ruins exhibit architecture of various periods, Jewish, Roman, and Saracenic; (2) Elealeh, obviously near Heshbon, had shared its fate (Numbers 32:3; Numbers 32:37). The ancient name still attaches to its ruins in the form El-A’al; (3) Jahaz was the scene of the battle between Sihon and the Israelites (Numbers 21:23; Deuteronomy 2:32; Judges 11:20), and was also within the region assigned to Reuben (Joshua 13:10) north of the Arnon. The language of Isaiah implies that it was at some distance from the other two cities. Their cry was to be heard even there. In the Moabite inscription it appears as annexed to Dibon (Records of the Past, xi. 167). Eusebius (Onomast.) names it as between Medeba and Debus, the latter name being probably identical with Dibon. The panic is intensified by the fact that even the “armed soldiers” of Moab are powerless to help, and can only join in the ineffectual wailing.

Isaiah 15:4. And Heshbon shall cry, and Elealeh — Two other Moabitish cities; of which see Numbers 21:25-26; Numbers 32:3; Numbers 32:37. Their voice shall be heard unto Jahaz — Another city in the utmost borders of Moab. The armed soldiers shall cry out — Even the warriors themselves, who should defend the state, shall lose all their spirit and courage, and join in the general lamentation and dismay: see Jeremiah 48:34; Jeremiah 48:41. His life shall be grievous unto him — The Moabites shall generally long for death, to free them from those dreadful calamities which they perceive unavoidably coming upon them.

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.And Heshbon shall cry - This was a celebrated city of the Amorites, twenty miles east of the Jordan Joshua 13:17. It was formerly conquered from the Moabiltes by Sihon, and became his capital, and was taken by the Israelites a little before the death of Moses Numbers 21:25. After the carrying away of the ten tribes it was recovered by the Moabites. Jeremiah Jer 48:2 calls it 'the pride of Moab.' The town still subsists under the same name, and is described by Burckhardt. He says, it is situated on a hill, southwest from El Aal (Elealeh). 'Here are the ruins of an ancient town, together with the remains of some edifices built with small stones; a few broken shafts of columns are still standing, a number of deep wells cut in the rock, and a large reservoir of water for the summer supply the inhabitants.' ("Travels in Syria," p. 365.)

And Elealeh - This was a town of Reuben about a mile from Heshbon Numbers 32:37. Burckhardt visited this place. Its present name is El Aal. 'It stands on the summit of a hill, and takes its name from its situation - Aal, meaning "the high." It commands the whole plain, and the view from the top of the hill is very extensive, comprehending the whole of the southern Belka. El Aal was surrounded by a well built wall, of which some parts yet remain. Among the ruins are a number of large cisterns, fragments of walls, and the foundations of houses, but nothing worthy of notice. The plain around it is alternately chalk and flint.' ("Travels in Syria," p. 365.)

Even unto Jahaz - This was a city east of Jordan, near to which Moses defeated Sihon. It was given to Reuben Deuteronomy 2:32, and was situated a short distance north of Ar, the capital of Moab.

The armed soldiers of Moab - The consternation shall reach the very army. They shall lose their courage, and instead of defending the nation, they shall join in the general weeping and lamentation.

His life shall be grievous - As we say of a person who is overwhelmed with calamities, that his life is wearisome, so, says the prophet, shall it be with the whole nation of Moab.

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].

Heshbon and Elealeh; two other Moabitish cities; of which see Numbers 21:25,26 32:3,37.

Jahaz another city in the utmost borders of Moab, Numbers 21:23, called also Jahazah, Joshua 21:36.

The armed soldiers, who should be, and use to be, the most courageous.

His life shall be grievous unto him; the Moabites shall generally long for death, to free themselves from those dreadful calamities which they perceive unavoidably coming upon them.

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.

And Heshbon shall cry, and Elealeh: their voice shall be heard even unto Jahaz: therefore the armed soldiers of Moab shall cry out; his life shall be grievous unto him.
4. (Cf. Jeremiah 48:34.) Heshbon and Elealeh (often mentioned together) are respectively about 4 and 6 miles N.E. of Nebo. Heshbon, once the capital of the Amorites (Numbers 21:26) and afterwards an Israelitish city (Numbers 32:37; Joshua 13:17; Joshua 21:39), is at the time of the prophecy in the possession of Moab. The site of Jahaz, where Sihon gave battle to the Israelites (Numbers 21:23), has not been discovered; probably it was some distance south from Heshbon.

the armed soldiers of Moab shall cry out] omit “shall” with R.V. Cf. ch. Isaiah 33:7. The “heroes of Moab” are mentioned in a similar plight in Jeremiah 48:41.

his life shall be grievous unto him] Rather, as in R.V., his soul trembleth within him (ethical dative).

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). Isaiah 15:4But 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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