Isaiah 16:3
Take counsel, execute judgment; make your shadow as the night in the middle of the noonday; hide the outcasts; denude not him that wanders.
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(3) Make thy shadow as the night . . .—The whole verse is addressed, as the context shows, not by the prophet to Moab, but by Moab to the rulers of Judah. The fugitives call on those rulers to plead for them and act as umpires, to be to them “as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land” (Isaiah 32:2), black as night whilst the hot sun glares all around. Some critics, however, hold that the prophet still speaks to the Moabites and calls on them to protect the fugitives from Judah as they had done of old (Ruth 1:2; 1Samuel 22:3), and so to secure a return of like protection (Kay).

Isaiah 16:3-4. Take counsel, &c. — We have here the second counsel given to the Moabites, which “contains a complex of various offices, equity, justice, humanity, to be exercised toward those of the Israelites whom the Assyrian affliction had driven, or should drive, to their borders and cities, and who should seek refuge among them: which counsel is so given to the Moabites, by the prophet, as evidently to upbraid them for the fault of having neglected these offices; the pernicious consequences of which they were sure to feel in the ensuing calamities, if they altered not so bad a practice.” — Dodd, Execute judgment — Hebrew, עשׂי פלילה, make a distinction. The expression denotes that act of the mind whereby it “discriminates truth from falsehood, right from wrong;” as if he had said, “Consider what becomes you, what is your duty in this case; what you owe to exiles and outcasts, both by the laws of equity and reason, of humanity and brotherly love.” Make thy shadow as the night — Or, as the shadow of the night, large and dark, as the shadow of the earth is in the night-season. “Afford my exiled and afflicted people, who shall flee to you for safety, a safe retreat, defence, and succour against the extreme, the noon-day heat of the sharp persecution which so heavily oppresses them.” The idea is taken from the comfort of a shady situation in those hot countries; and the metaphor is fully explained in what follows. Vitringa is of opinion that the prophet here refers to the distress of the Reubenites, Gadites, and Manassites under Tiglath-pileser. But it is more probable that he refers to the distress which should be caused in Judah by Pekah and Rezin, in the days of Ahaz, (Isaiah 9:1,) or that by the Assyrians? when Sennacherib came up against the defenced cities of Judah, and took them, Isaiah 36:1; during which distresses, undoubtedly, many of the Jews sought shelter among the Moabites and other neighbouring nations. For the extortioner is at an end — Hebrew, אפס המצ, the presser, wringer, or oppressor hath left off, or, as Bishop Lowth translates it, is no more; that is, shall shortly be destroyed, and my people shall ere long be restored, and then thou wilt not lose the fruit of thy kindness. The bishop renders the next two clauses, “The destroyer ceaseth, he that trampled under foot is perished from the land.” The present tense is put for the future, as it often is in prophecies. Thus “the prophet supports his counsel by a reason, the sum of which is, that oppression should cease, the spoilers of the earth be cut off, and the throne of clemency and grace established, on which a king of righteousness and equity should sit.”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.Take counsel - Hebrew, 'Bring counsel;' or cause it to come (הבאו hâbı̂'ı̂û, or as it is in the keri הביאי). The Vulgate, renders this in the singular number, and so is the keri, and so many manuscripts J. D. Michaelis, Lowth, Etchhorn, Gesenius, and Noyes, regard Isaiah 16:3-5 as a supplicatory address of the fugitive Moabites to the Jews to take them under their protection, and as imploring a blessing on the Jewish people if they would do it; and Isaiah 16:6 as the negative answer of the Jews, or as a refusal to protect them on account of their pride. But most commentators regard it as addressed to the Moabites by the prophet, or by the Jews, calling upon the Moabites to afford such protection to the Jews who might be driven from their homes as to secure their favor, and confirm the alliance between them; and Isaiah 16:6 as an intimation of the prophet, that the pride of Moab is such that there is no reason to suppose the advice will be followed. It makes no difference in the sense here, whether the verb 'give counsel' be in the singular or the plural number.

If singular, it may be understood as addressed to "Moab" itself; if plural, to the "inhabitants" of Moab. Vitringa supposes that this an additional advice given to the Moabites by the prophet, or by a chorus of the Jews, to exercise the offices of kindness and humanity toward the Jews, that thus they might avoid the calamities which were impending. The "first" counsel was Isaiah 16:1, to pay the proper tribute to the Jewish nation; "this" is Isaiah 16:3-5 to show to those Jews who might be driven from their land kindness and protection, and thus preserve the friendship of the Jewish nation. This is, probably, the correct interpretation, as if he had said, 'ake counsel; seek advice in your circumstances; be not hasty, rash, impetuous, unwise; do not cast off the friendship of the Jews; do not deal unkindly with those who may seek a refuge in your land, and thus provoke the nation to enmity; but let your land be an asylum, and thus conciliate and secure the friendship of the Jewish nation, and thus mercy shall be reciprocated and shown to you by him who shall occupy the throne of David' Isaiah 16:5. The "design" is, to induce the Moabites to show kindness to the fugitive Jews who might seek a refuge there, that thus, in turn, the Jews might show them kindness. But the prophet foresaw Isaiah 16:6 that Moab was so proud that he would neither pay the accustomed tribute to the Jews, nor afford them protection; and, therefore, the judgment is threatened against them which is finally to overthrow them.

Execute judgment - That is, do that which is equitable and right; which you would desire to be done in like circumstances.

Make thy shadow - A "shadow or shade," is often in the Scriptures an emblem of protection from the burning heat of the sun, and thence, of these burning, consuming judgments, which are represented by the intense heat of the sun (note, Isaiah 4:6; compare Isaiah 25:4; Isaiah 32:2; Lamentations 4:20).

As the night - That is, a deep, dense shade, such as the night is, compared with the intense heat of noon. This idea was one that was very striking in the East. Nothing, to travelers crossing the burning deserts, could be more refreshing than the shade of a far-projecting rock, or of a grove, or of the night. Thus Isaiah counsels the Moabites to be to the Jews - to furnish protection to them which may be like the grateful shade furnished to the traveler by the rock in the desert. The figure used here is common in the East. Thus it is said in praise of a nobleman: 'Like the sun, he warmed in the cold; and when Sirius shone, then was he coolness and shade.' In the "Sunna" it is said: 'Seven classes of people will the Lord overshadow with his shade, when no shade will be like his; the upright Imam, the youth,' etc.

Hide the outcasts - The outcasts of Judah - those of the Jews who may be driven away from their own homes, and who may seek protection in your land. Moab is often represented as a place of refuge to the outcast Hebrews (see the Analysis to Isaiah 15:1-9.)

Bewray not him that wandereth - Reveal not (תגלי tegalı̂y), do not show them to their pursuer; that is, give them concealment and protection.

3-5. Gesenius, Maurer, &c., regard these verses as an address of the fugitive Moabites to the Jews for protection; they translate Isa 16:4, "Let mine outcasts of Moab dwell with thee, Judah"; the protection will be refused by the Jews, for the pride of Moab (Isa 16:6). Vitringa makes it an additional advice to Moab, besides paying tribute. Give shelter to the Jewish outcasts who take refuge in thy land (Isa 16:3, 4); so "mercy" will be shown thee in turn by whatever king sits on the "throne" of "David" (Isa 16:5). Isaiah foresees that Moab will be too proud to pay the tribute, or conciliate Judah by sheltering its outcasts (Isa 16:6); therefore judgment shall be executed. However, as Moab just before is represented as itself an outcast in Idumea, it seems incongruous that it should be called on to shelter Jewish outcasts. So that it seems rather to foretell the ruined state of Moab when its people should beg the Jews for shelter, but be refused for their pride.

make … shadow as … night … in … noonday—emblem of a thick shelter from the glaring noonday heat (Isa 4:6; 25:4; 32:2).

bewray … wandereth—Betray not the fugitive to his pursuer.

Take counsel; consider seriously among yourselves what course to take to prevent your utter ruin.

Execute judgment; do those things which are just and right, as to all men, so particularly to my people, to whom you have been most unrighteous and unmerciful.

As the night; or, as the shadow of the night, large and dark, as the shadow of the earth is in the night season. The meaning is, Conceal and protect my people in the time of their distress and danger, as this metaphor is explained in the rest of this and in the following verse.

The outcasts; mine outcasts, as it follows, Isaiah 16:4, those of my people which are driven out of their land.

Bewray not him that wandereth unto their enemies, as thou hast treacherously done in former times. Take counsel, execute judgment,.... This refers either to what goes before, that they would take the counsel given, and do that which was just and right, by paying tribute to the king of Judah; or to what follows, that they would enter into a consultation, the king of Moab with his nobles, and resolve upon what was right, and do it, by protecting and harbouring the distressed Jews, who would flee unto them from the enemy:

make thy shadow as the night in the midst of the noonday; a time of the greatest heat, to which the Assyrian army, for its force and fury, and the mischief done by it, is compared: and the Moabites they are advised to make a shadow, as large and as strong as the dark night, that is, to protect the Jews in their distress, and to refresh and comfort them under it; see Isaiah 4:6,

hide the outcasts; such as were driven out of their land through the fury and persecution of the enemy, receive and conceal, as Rahab did the spies:

bewray not him that wandereth; from his native place, as a bird from its nest, being forced to it; such an one, or as many as may be, in such a case, do not discover them where they are, or betray them, and deliver them up into the hands of their enemy.

Take counsel, execute judgment; {c} make thy shadow as the night in the midst of the noonday; hide the outcasts; discover not him that wandereth.

(c) He shows what Moab would have done, when Israel their neighbour was in affliction, to whom because they would give no shadow or comfort, they are now left comfortless.

3. Take counsel, execute judgment] Or, apply counsel, perform arbitration; i.e. “adopt wise and effectual measures to defend us from our enemies.”

make thy shadow as the night …] Be to us as “the shadow of a great rock in a weary land” (ch. Isaiah 32:2).

bewray not] lit. “uncover not.”

3–5. The address of Moab, through its ambassadors, to the court of Judah. Most of the older commentators took a different view of these verses, holding that here the prophet points out to the Moabites the way of national salvation through the practice of righteousness, and exhorts them in particular to shew kindness to any Israelitish refugees who might seek a home in that country. This interpretation appears to be followed by the A.V. (see on Isaiah 16:4). But such an exhortation is altogether out of keeping with the tone of the prophecy, and would be very ill-timed in the circumstances to which Moab was then reduced. The continuity of thought is far better maintained on the view given above, which is that of most recent scholars.Verse 3. - Take counsel, execute judgment, etc. According to most critics, these are the words of the Moabites, or of a Moabite ambassador at Jerusalem, and are a call on Judaea to give shelter to the fugitives from Moab. Some, however, as Dr. Kay, maintain that the words are the prophet's, addressed to Moab, calling on her to treat kindly fugitives from Judaea. Make thy shadow as the night (comp. Isaiah 4:6). In the hot land of Moab the sun is an enemy, and "the shadow of a great rock" a welcome refuge. 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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