Isaiah 16:12
And it shall come to pass, when it is seen that Moab is weary on the high place, that he shall come to his sanctuary to pray; but he shall not prevail.
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(12) When it is seen . . .—Better thus: When Moab appeareth (sc., as a worshipper), when he wearies himself on the high place (the scene of Chemosh-worship), though he enter into the sanctuary to pray, yet shall he not prevail. The prophet draws a picture of the unavailing litanies which Moab, like the priests of Baal in 1Kings 18:26, shall offer to his gods.

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.When it is seen - When it occurs; that is, when Moab actually "becomes" weary.

Is weary on the high place - The "high place" denotes the place of idolatrous worship, and here means the same as the temple of Chemosh or his sanctuary. Temples and altars were usually constructed on such places, and especially the temples of the pagan gods. Moab is represented here as looking to her gods for protection. Weary, exhausted, worn down with calamities, she is represented as fleeing from the desolate towns and cities, and taking refuge at the altar, and seeking assistance there. This, says Jerome, is the final misery. She is now forsaken of those aids to which she had always trusted, and on which she had relied. Her people slain; her towns destroyed; her strong places broken down; her once fertile fields languishing and desolate, she flees to the shrine of her god, and finds even her god unable to aid and defend her.

Shall come to his sanctuary - To his "principle" sanctuary; or to the temple of the principal god which they worshipped - the god "Chemosh" 1 Kings 11:7. This does not mean the temple at Jerusalem, though Kimchi so understands it; but the temple of the chief divinity of Moab. Jerome says that this temple was on mount Nebo.

Shall not prevail - That is, her prayer shall not be heard.

12. when it is seen that—rather, "When Moab shall have appeared (before his gods; compare Ex 23:15), when he is weary (that is, when he shall have fatigued himself with observing burdensome rites; 1Ki 18:26, &c.), on the high place (compare Isa 15:2), and shall come to his sanctuary (of the idol Chemosh on Mount Nebo) to pray, he shall not prevail"; he shall effect nothing by his prayers [Maurer]. When it is seen that Moab is weary on the high place; when it shall appear to them and others that all their other devotions are vain and ineffectual.

To his sanctuary; to the temple of his great god, Chemosh, Numbers 21:29 1 Kings 11:7 Jeremiah 48:46, from whom he shall seek and expect succour.

He shall not prevail; his god can neither hear nor help him. And it shall come to pass, when it is seen that Moab is weary on the high place,.... With weeping there, Isaiah 15:2 or with frequent sacrifices, and going from one high place to another, as Balak king of Moab did; and by comparing places together, it looks as if this was the way of the Moabites in their distress, to offer up a multitude of sacrifices in different places; now, when it should be seen by others, and appear to themselves, that they wearied themselves in vain, and all their cries and sacrifices were to no purpose, they should then be ashamed of them, leave off, and betake themselves to some other method; though Jarchi interprets it of their being weary of fighting on the high places of their towers, which when observed, they would take another course, and apply to devotion:

that he shall come to his sanctuary to pray; to the temple of Chemosh, and to pray to that idol to help him, 1 Kings 11:7,

but he shall not prevail; his prayers shall be ineffectual; his suit will be fruitless, and without success; or "he cannot", that is, his idol cannot help him. So Kimchi interprets his sanctuary of the house of his God; and the Targum, of the house of his idolatry; yet since the house or temple of an idol is never called a sanctuary, it may be understood of God's sanctuary, the temple at Jerusalem; and the sense be, that when Moab shall see that his praying and sacrificing to idols are in vain, and he has tired himself with his superstition and idolatry, without having any redress, he shall think and express his desire of going up to the temple of Jerusalem, and of praying to the God of Israel; but he shall not be able to do it, because of the enemy; and could he get thither, he would not prevail with God, for the decree was gone forth, which could not be frustrated, as follows. Ben Melech interprets it of the palace of the king.

And it shall come to pass, when it is seen that Moab is weary on the high place, that he shall come to his {n} sanctuary to pray; but he shall not prevail.

(n) They will use all means to seek help for their idols, and all in vain: for Chemosh their great god will not be able to help them.

12. The failure of Moab’s religious confidence. The verse reproduces the thought of Isaiah 15:2, at the beginning of the elegy. It reads thus: and when Moab appears, when he wearies himself, upon the high place, and enters his sanctuary to pray, he shall prevail nothing. Ewald however turns the verse into a promise of the conversion of Moab, by continuing the protasis to the end of the present text, and completing the sense as follows (guided by Jeremiah 48:13): … “and prevails nothing, then he shall be ashamed of Chemosh, and turn to Jehovah.”Verse 12. - When it is seen that Moab is weary; rather, when Moab shows himself, and has wearied himself. The heathen "thought to be heard for their much speaking" (Matthew 6:7). They endeavored to weary their gods into granting their prayers (1 Kings 18:26), and frequently succeeded in wearying themselves. On the high place. "High places" (bamoth) were common to the Moabites, with the other nations of Syria and Palestine. Mesha, in his inscription, speaks of having rebuilt a city called "Beth-Bamoth" (1:27), which must have been a "city of high places;" and he even calls the stele which he dedicates to Chemosh, whereon his inscription is written, a bamah, or "high place." That he shall come to his sanctuary... but he shall not, etc.; rather, and has come into his sanctuary, that he shall not prevail. But if Moab does this, and the law of the history of Israel, which is that "a remnant shall return," is thus reflected in the history of Moab; Isaiah 16:6 cannot possibly contain the answer which Moab receives from Zion, as the more modern commentators assume according to an error that has almost become traditional. On the contrary, the prophecy enters here upon a new stage, commencing with Moab's sin, and depicting the fate of Moab in still more elegiac strains. "We have heard of the pride of Moab, the very haughty (pride), his haughtiness, and his pride, and his wrath, the falsehood of his speech." The future self-humiliation of Moab, which would be the fruit of its sufferings, is here contrasted with the previous self-exaltation, of which these sufferings were the fruit. "We have heard," says the prophet, identifying himself with his people. Boasting pompousness has hitherto been the distinguishing characteristic of Moab in relation to the latter (see Isaiah 25:11). The heaping up of words of the same verbal stem (cf., Isaiah 3:1) is here intended to indicate how thoroughly haughty was their haughtiness (cf., Romans 7:13, "that sin might become exceeding sinful"), and how completely it had taken possession of Moab. It boasted and was full of rage towards Israel, to which, so far as it retained its consciousness of the truth of Jehovah, the talk of Moab (בדיו from בדד equals בדא, בטא, to talk at random) must necessarily appear as לא־כן, not-right, i.e., at variance with fact. These expressions of opinion had been heard by the people of God, and, as Jeremiah adds in Jeremiah 48:29-30, by Israel's God as well.
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