Isaiah 16:3
Take counsel, execute judgment; make thy shadow as the night in the midst of the noonday; hide the outcasts; bewray not him that wandereth.
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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. Isaiah 16:3There 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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