Isaiah 16:11
Why my bowels shall sound like an harp for Moab, and my inward parts for Kirharesh.
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(11) My bowels shall sound like an harp . . .—The context leaves it uncertain whether the speaker is the prophet as in Isaiah 16:9, or Jehovah as in Isaiah 16:10. The former seems, perhaps, the most natural. On the other hand, the very phrase is used of the compassion of Jehovah in Isaiah 63:15. The “bowels,” as in modern language the “heart,” were looked on as the seat of the emotions, and as such they vibrate, like the chords of the harp or lyre (kinnûr) used at funerals, with the thrills of pity.

Isaiah 16:11-12. Wherefore my bowels shall sound as a harp — Through compassion. In excessive grief, the bowels are sometimes rolled together, so as to make an audible noise. Hereby he signifies the greatness of their approaching calamity, which, being so grievous to him, must needs be intolerable to them. And when it is seen that Moab is weary, &c. — When it shall appear to them and others, that all their other devotions are vain and ineffectual; he shall come to his sanctuary to pray — To the temple of his great god Chemosh; but he shall not prevail — His god can neither hear nor help him. In other words, the Moabites, “as their last efforts, shall go to their altars, there to perform their sacred rites to appease the anger of their deity: but, wearied herewith, they shall enter into some more sacred and celebrated sanctuary of their god, to pour forth their earnest supplications and prayers, but shall obtain nothing; thus proving the vanity of their superstition, and the imbecility of those false deities on whom they trusted.”16:6-14 Those who will not be counselled, cannot be helped. More souls are ruined by pride than by any other sin whatever. Also, the very proud are commonly very passionate. With lies many seek to gain the gratification of pride and passion, but they shall not compass proud and angry projects. Moab was famous for fields and vineyards; but they shall be laid waste by the invading army. God can soon turn laughter into mourning, and joy into heaviness. In God let us always rejoice with holy triumph; in earthly things let us always rejoice with holy trembling. The prophet looks with concern on the desolations of such a pleasant country; it causes inward grief. The false gods of Moab are unable to help; and the God of Israel, the only true God, can and will make good what he has spoken. Let Moab know her ruin is very near, and prepare. The most awful declarations of Divine wrath, discover the way of escape to those who take warning. There is no escape, but by submission to the Son of David, and devoting ourselves to him. And, at length, when the appointed time comes, all the glory, prosperity, and multitude of the wicked shall perish.Wherefore my bowels - This is also an expression of the deep grief of the prophet in view of the calamities which were coming upon Moab. The "bowels" in the Scriptures are everywhere represented as the seat of compassion, pity, commiseration, and tender mercy Genesis 43:30 : 'His bowels did yearn upon his brother' - he deeply felt for him, he greatly pitied him 1 Kings 3:26; Psalm 25:6; Proverbs 12:10; Sol 5:4; Isaiah 63:15; Jeremiah 4:19; Jeremiah 31:20; Philippians 1:8; Philippians 2:1. In classic writers, the word 'bowels' denotes the "upper" viscera of victims - the heart, the lungs, the liver, which were eaten during or after the sacrifice (Robinson, "Lex.," on the word σπλάγχνον splangchnon). In the Scriptures, it denotes the "inward parts" - evidently also the upper viscera, regarded as the seat of the emotions and passions. The word as we use it - denoting the lower "viscera" - by no means expresses the sense of the word in the Scriptures, and it is this change in the signification which renders the use of the very language of the Bible unpleasant or inappropriate. We express the idea by the use of the word "heart" - the seat of the affections.

Shall sound like an harp - The "bowels" are represented in the Scriptures as affected in various modes in the exercise of pity or compassion. Thus, in Lamentations 1:20, Jeremiah says, 'My bowels are troubled' (see Lamentations 2:1; Jeremiah 31:20). Job JObadiah 30:27, says, 'My bowels boiled, and rested not;' there was great agitation; deep feeling. Thus, Jeremiah 4:19 :

My bowels! My bowels! I am pained at my very heart.

My heart "maketh a noise" in me.

So Isaiah 63:15 : 'Where is the sounding of thy bowels and mercies?' The word 'sound' here means to make a tumultuous noise; and the whole expression here denotes that his heart was affected with the calamities of Moab as the strings of the harp vibrate when beaten with the plectrum or the band. His heart was deeply pained and affected by the calamities of Moab, and responded to those calamities, as the strings of the harp did to the blow of the plectrum.

Mine inward parts - The expressions used here are somewhat analogous to ours of the "beating of the heart," to denote deep emotion. Forster says of the savages of the South Sea that they call compassion "a barking of the bowels."

For Kirharesh - (See the note at Isaiah 16:7.)

11. bowels—in Scripture the seat of yearning compassion. It means the inward seat of emotion, the heart, &c. (Isa 63:15; compare Isa 15:5; Jer 48:36).

sound … harp—as its strings vibrate when beaten with the plectrum or hand.

Shall sound, through compassion to them; of which See Poole "Isaiah 15:5". In excessive griefs the bowels are sometimes rolled and tumbled together, so as to make an audible noise. Hereby he signifies the greatness of their approaching calamity, which being so grievous to him, must needs be intolerable to them. Wherefore my bowels shall sound like a harp for Moab,.... Making a noise as the harp does, and a mournful one as that, when used at funerals; which it makes when it is stricken or played on with the hand, as these were, through the afflictive and punitive hand of God; and which, when stricken, causes a quavering of the strings, to which the inward trembling of the bowels is compared, and is very expressive of the prophet's sympathy, or those he personates; for, when one string of the harp is touched, the rest sound. For these words, as Kimchi says, are spoken in the language of the Moabites; those that survived lamenting the desolate state of their country, which must be very great and affecting; and to show that it was so is the design of the prophet's expressing himself after this manner; for if it was painful to him, it must be much more so to them; so the Targum,

"wherefore the bowels of the Moabites shall sound as a harp;''

of the sounding of the bowels, see Isaiah 63:15,

and mine inward parts for Kirharesh: the same with Kirhareseth, Isaiah 16:7 which being a principal city, the destruction of it was greatly laid to heart. The Targum is,

"and their heart shall grieve for the men of the city of their strength;''

it being a strong city, in which they placed their confidence; but being destroyed, and the inhabitants of it, it was very affecting, to which agrees Jeremiah 48:31.

Wherefore my {m} heart shall sound like an harp for Moab, and my inward parts for Kirharesh.

(m) For sorrow and compassion.

11. (Jeremiah 48:36) my bowels shall sound like a harp] omit “shall” with R.V. The poet’s emotion flows forth spontaneously in the strains of the elegy. The bowels are the seat of the more intense emotions (Job 30:27), especially of compassion (Jeremiah 4:19; Jeremiah 31:20; Song of Solomon 5:4). Kir-haresh] Kir-heres. See on Isaiah 16:7.Verse 11. - My bowels shall sound like an harp for Moab; i.e. they shall vibrate with thrills of grief (Kay). There they show themselves, on the spot to which their land once reached before it passed into the possession of Israel - there, on its farthest boundary in the direction towards Judah, which was seated above; and taking heart, address the following petitions to Zion, or to the Davidic court, on the other side. "Give counsel, form a decision, make thy shadow like night in the midst of noon; hide the outcasts, do not betray the wanderers. Let mine outcasts tarry in thee, Moab; be a covert to it from before the spoiler." In their extremity they appeal to Zion for counsel, and the once proud but now thoroughly humbled Moabites place the decision of their fate in the hands of the men of Judah (so according to the Keri), and stand before Zion praying most earnestly for shelter and protection. Their fear of the enemy is so great, that in the light of the noon-day sun they desire to be covered with the protecting shade of Zion as with the blackness of night, that they may not be seen by the foe. The short-sentences correspond to the anxious urgency of the prayer (cf., Isaiah 33:8). Pelilâh (cf., peililyyâh, Isaiah 28:7) is the decision of a judge (pâlil); just as in Isaiah 15:5 sheilshiyyâh is the age and standing of three years. The figure of the shadow is the same as in Isaiah 30:2-3; Isaiah 32:2, etc.; nōdēd is the same as in Isaiah 21:14; niddâchai as in Isaiah 11:12; sēther as in Isaiah 32:2, and other passages; shōdēd as in Isaiah 33:1; mippenē as in Isaiah 21:15. The whole is word for word Isaiah's. There is no necessity to read nidchē instead of niddâc Mo'âb in Isaiah 16:4; still less is ay a collective termination, as in Isaiah 20:4. Nor are the words to be rendered "my outcasts ... of Moab," and the expression to be taken as a syntaxis ornata (cf., Isaiah 17:6). On the contrary, such an expression is absolutely impossible here, where the speaker is alluding to himself. It is better to abide by the punctuation as we have it, with niddâchai (zakeph) closing the first clause of Isaiah 16:4, and Moab (tebir, which is subordinate to the following tiphchah, and with this to athnach) opening the second as an absolute noun. This is the way in which we have rendered it above: "Moab ... be a shield to it ... " (though without taking lâmō as equivalent to lō).

The question then arises, By what means has Zion awakened such reverence and confidence on the part of Moab? This question is answered in Isaiah 16:4, Isaiah 16:5 : "For the extortioner is at an end, desolation has disappeared, treaders down are away from the land. And a throne is established by grace, and there sits thereon in truth in the tent of David one judging, and zealous for right, and practised in righteousness." The imperial world-power, which pressed out both marrow and blood (mētz, a noun of the same form as lētz, like mı̄tz in Proverbs 30:33, pressure), and devastated and trod down everything (Isaiah 29:20; Isaiah 10:6; Isaiah 33:1, cf., Isaiah 16:8), is swept away from the land on this side of the Jordan; Jerusalem is not subject to it now, but has come forth more gloriously out of all her oppressions than ever she did before. And the throne of the kingdom of Judah has not fallen down, but by the manifestation of Jehovah's grace has been newly established. There no longer sits thereon a king who dishonours Him, and endangers His kingdom; but the tent-roof of the fallen and now re-erected hut of David (Amos 9:11) is spread over a King in whom the truth of the promise of Jehovah is verified, inasmuch as justice and righteousness are realized through all that He does. The Messianic times must therefore have dawned (so the Targum understands it), since grace and truth (chesed ve'emeth) and "justice and righteousness" (mishpât ūtzedâkâh) are the divino-human signs of those times, and as it were their kindred genii; and who can here fail to recall to mind the words of Isaiah 9:6 (cf., Isaiah 33:5-6)? The king depicted here is the same as "the lion out of Judah," threatened against Moab in Isaiah 15:9. Only by thus submitting to Him and imploring His grace will it escape the judgment.

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