Jeremiah 48:20
Moab is confounded; for it is broken down: howl and cry; tell you it in Arnon, that Moab is spoiled,
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(20) Tell ye it in Arnon.—The name, which means a rushing stream, belonged to the chief river of Moab, now the Mugab, which rises in the Arabian mountains and flows into the Dead Sea. It appears in the war-song quoted, in Numbers 21:14, from the “Book of the Wars of the Lord,” and the “high places” on either side its course were crowned with the castles of the lords of Moab (Numbers 21:28). The verse contains the answer to the question that precedes it—“This is what has come to pass, Moab is confounded and spoiled.” For the “plain country” see Note on Jeremiah 48:8.

(20) Make ye him drunken . . .—The image is suggested by the wine-cup of Jehovah’s fury in Jeremiah 25:15, and was familiar in the symbolic language of the prophets (Isaiah 51:17; Job 21:20; Ezekiel 23:32; Revelation 14:10). The words that follow paint the image in its strongest colours. As men looked with scorn on the drunkard wallowing in his shame, so should they look on Moab, that had been so boastful in its pride, when it was brought low.

48:14-47. The destruction of Moab is further prophesied, to awaken them by national repentance and reformation to prevent the trouble, or by a personal repentance and reformation to prepare for it. In reading this long roll of threatenings, and mediating on the terror, it will be of more use to us to keep in view the power of God's anger and the terror of his judgments, and to have our hearts possessed with a holy awe of God and of his wrath, than to search into all the figures and expressions here used. Yet it is not perpetual destruction. The chapter ends with a promise of their return out of captivity in the latter days. Even with Moabites God will not contend for ever, nor be always wroth. The Jews refer it to the days of the Messiah; then the captives of the Gentiles, under the yoke of sin and Satan, shall be brought back by Divine grace, which shall make them free indeed.Or, "Moab is ashamed, because she (Dibon) is broken" by her fortifications being battered down. 20. Answer of the fleeing Moabites to the Ammonite inquirers (Jer 48:19; Isa 16:2). He enumerates the Moabite cities at length, as it seemed so incredible that all should be so utterly ruined. Many of them were assigned to the Levites, while Israel stood.

in Arnon—the north boundary between Moab and Ammon (Jer 48:19; Nu 21:13).

Arnon was the name of a river, Numbers 21:14 Deu 2:36 Joshua 12:1. It was the border of Moab, whither Balak went to meet Balaam, Numbers 22:36; probably the adjacent country or city might take its name from the river. Moab is confounded, for it is broken down,.... This is the answer returned, by those that had escaped and were fleeing, to those who inquired of them; who report that the whole country of Moab was in the utmost confusion and consternation; not being able to stand before the enemy, who broke down and destroyed all that was in his way: and therefore calls upon them to

howl and cry; because of the general ruin at the nation, and who must expect themselves to share the same fate; and therefore should prepare themselves and their neighbours for it, as follows:

tell ye it in Arnon, that Moab is spoiled; the country of Arnon, so called from a river of that name, on the banks of which Aroer was situated; the inhabitants of which are desired to spread it all over that part of the country, that Moab was utterly ruined by the Chaldean army; the particulars of which follow:

{m} Moab is confounded; for it is broken down: wail and cry; tell ye it in Arnon, that Moab is laid waste,

(m) Thus they who flee will answer.

20. broken down] See on Jeremiah 48:1.

in Arnon] rather, by the Arnon, i.e. on its banks.

20–24. The metrical arrangement begun in Jeremiah 48:17 ends in the middle of Jeremiah 48:20. From “tell ye it” onwards to the end of Jeremiah 48:24 is in all probability a later addition. Of the places not already mentioned in the ch. the position of some is quite unknown.

20–28. See introd. summary to the ch.Verse 20. - The answer of the fugitives begins in the latter part of this verse, and, continues to ver. 24. Confounded ought, as usual, to be brought to shame. The address, howl and cry, which is in the feminine, refers to Moab, which has just before been spoken of in the feminine ("It is broken down," or rather, "she is dismayed," refers to Moab, not to Dibon). In Arnon; i.e. in the region of the Amen; better, beside Arnon (comp. Jeremiah 13:5, "by Euphrates"). In this way Moab will come to dishonour through his god Chemosh, i.e., experience his powerlessness and nothingness, and perish with him, just as Israel (the ten tribes) came to dishonour through Bethel, i.e., through their golden calf at Bethel. As to the form מבטחם, with Segol in the pretone, cf. Ewald, 70, a; Olshausen, Gram. S. 377. Moab will then be no longer able to boast of his valour; this is the meaning of the question in 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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