O inhabitant of Aroer, stand by the way, and espy; ask him that flees, and her that escapes, and say, What is done?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)O inhabitant of Aroer.—There seems to have been two cities of this name: one which had belonged first to the territory of Sihon, then to Reuben, then to Moab, on the north side of the Arnon (Deuteronomy 2:36; Deuteronomy 3:12; Deuteronomy 4:48; Joshua 12:2); another in the Ammonite territory belonging to Gad, near Rabbath-Ammon, in the valley of the Jabbok (Numbers 32:34; Joshua 13:25; Judges 11:33). Both are probably comprised under the “cities of Aroer” in Isaiah 17:2. The name exists in the modern Arair. As lying on the frontier, the inhabitants of the Northern Aroer are represented as seeing the fugitives, male and female, from Dibon, and asking what had happened to drive them from their city. Milton’s lines (Par. Lost, L 407) may be quoted as illustrating the topography :
“From Aroer to Nebo, and the wild
Of Southmost Abarim; in Hesebon
And Horonaim, Seon’s realm . . .”Aroer was a city in the lot of Gad and Reuben, Numbers 32:34. In David’s time it was in the hand of the Jews, 1 Samuel 30:28, but in Isaiah’s time it belonged to Syria, Isaiah 17:2, and here it is reckoned to the Moabites. The inhabitants of it are called to
stand by the way, and seeing the Moabites fleeing, to ask what news. Others think that Aroer was at this time a city of the Ammonites, and here called unto to see their neighbours the Moabites fleeing before their enemies. Isaiah 17:2;
stand by the way, and espy; get to the road side where travellers pass, and look out for them:
ask him that fleeth, and her that escapeth; whether man or woman you see fleeing, having escaped the army of the Chaldeans:O inhabitant of Aroer, stand by the way, and espy; ask him that fleeth, and her that escapeth, and say, What is done?
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)19. Aroer] now ‘Ara‘ir, not to be confounded with the Aroer of Numbers 32:34, a Gadite city, or with an Aroer belonging to Judah (1 Samuel 30:28). The Aroer of the text was a few miles S.W. of Dibon. Mesha records on the “Moabite stone” that he “built (i.e. restored) the city and made the road over the Arnon.”Verse 19. - The inhabitants of Aroer will come out in eager expectation to meet the fugitives, and ask, What hath happened? (so the question should be rendered). There were several Aroers (one belonged to the Ammonites, Joshua 13:25), but as the enemy is driving the Moabites southward, the Aroer here intended can only be the town by the Arnon, which separated Moab proper first of all from the kingdom of the Amorites (Deuteronomy 4:48; Joshua 12:2), and afterwards from the territory of the Israelites (Deuteronomy 2:36; Deuteronomy 3:12). The picture drawn in this verse is singularly appropriate to the site of Arnon, "just by the edge of the arterial highway of Moab," and commanding a complete view of the pass of the Arnon (Tristram, 'Land of Moab,' p. 132). There is the same variety of statement as to the Israetitish tribe to which Aroer belonged as in the case of Dibon (see ver. 18). Joshua 13:16 speaks in favour of Reuben; Numbers 32:34 in favour of Gad. Jeremiah 48:14 : on this term in the address, cf. Jeremiah 2:23; Jeremiah 8:8. In Jeremiah 48:15 it is further stated that the result will show this: "Moab is laid waste." ועריה עלה is variously interpreted. An explanation which has met with much acceptance, but which nevertheless is really untenable, is founded on Judges 20:40 ("The whole city went up towards heaven" i.e., in smoke and fire): "As for his cities, fire or smoke ascends;" but there is no mention here either of smoke or fire. Kimchi long ago came near the truth when he sought to find the subject שׁדד in shudad שׁדּד: "and the devastator comes against his cities." However, the contrast between עלה and ירדוּ is not fully brought out in this way: it is better to leave the subject indeterminate: "and his cities they climb" (Kueper), or: "they go up to his cities" (Bttcher, Neue Aehrenlese, ii. 163). The enemy who mounts the cities is evidently intended. The change שׁדּד into שׁדד is both unnecessary and unsuitable; but J. D. Michaelis, Ewald, Dahler, Graf, after making the alteration, translate, "The destroyer of Moab and of his cities draws near." Hitzig justly remarks, in opposition to this conjecture: "There is nothing to justify the mere placing of the subject at the head of the sentence (contrast Jeremiah 48:8, Jeremiah 48:18); besides, one does not see why the cities of Moab are distinguished from Moab itself; and cf. 20b." ירד לבּטח, "to sink down to the slaughter," cf. Jeremiah 50:27; and on this use of ירד, Isaiah 34:7. The enemy ascends into the cities, the young soldiers of Moab descend to the shambles. This threatening is enforced by the addition, "saith the King," etc. Jahveh is called the King, in contrast with the belief of the Moabites, that their god Chemosh was the king of his people (see on Jeremiah 48:7). The true King of the Moabites also is Jahveh, the God of hosts, i.e., the Ruler of the whole world.
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