Jeremiah 48:27
For was not Israel a derision to you? was he found among thieves? for since you spoke of him, you skipped for joy.
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(27) Was not Israel a derision unto thee?—The “derision” had been shown at an earlier stage in the history of Judah (Zephaniah 2:8; comp. Ezekiel 25:6), but was, we may well believe, reproduced when the Moabites heard of the disasters that fell on Israel in the days of Josiah and his successors. The question that follows “Was he found among thieves?” implies an answer in the negative. Israel had not been among the lawless, aggressive nations, the robbers of the earth. Compare 2Samuel 3:33, where the question, “Died Abner as a fool dieth?” implies that he had not deserved his death as guilty of any crime. By some critics, however, the Hebrew interrogative is taken as meaning “when,” and so involving the admission that Israel had been guilty of unjust invasion, and been led to that guilt by her alliance with the robber nations of the heathen.

Thou skippedst for joy.—The gesture described. like the wagging of the head of Jeremiah 18:16, or the shrugging of the shoulders, is one of triumphant malice. The symbolism of Oriental gesture is, it may be noted, specially rich in expressions of this form of evil. (Comp. Isaiah 57:4; Psalm 22:7.)

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.Was he found ... - Or, "was he found among thieves that so often as thou speakest of him" thou waggest thy head? - in contempt for a fallen enemy. 27. (Zep 2:8).

a derision—The Hebrew has the article: referring to Jer 48:26, "Was not Israel (the whole nation) the object of derision to thee?" Therefore, Moab is to suffer as formerly for its exultation over the calamity (2Ki 17:6) of the ten tribes under the Assyrian Shalmaneser (Isa 15:1-16:14), so now for its exultation over the fall of Judah, under the Chaldean Nebuchadnezzar. God takes up His people's cause as His own (Ob 10-13).

was he … among thieves—(Jer 2:26). Proverbial. What did Israel do to deserve such derision? Was he detected in theft, that thou didst so exult over him in speaking of him? Though guilty before God, Israel was guiltless towards thee.

since—"since ever" thou didst begin speaking of him.

skippedst for joy—at Israel's calamity [Calvin]; or, "thou didst shake thy head" in "derision" [Maurer].

For was not Israel a derision unto thee? it is an ill thing to mock at the miseries of others, especially such as we have some relation to; the Moabites were descended from Lot, who was nearly related to Abraham the father of the Jews, and ought not to have mocked at them, but to have pitied their neighbours and kindred: they either mocked at the ten tribes when they were carried into captivity by Shalmaneser, or at Judah captivated by the king of Babylon. God threateneth the Ammonites, Ezekiel 25:6, and the Edomites, by Obadiah, for the same misdemeanour.

Was he found among thieves? why didst thou deal by Israel as men deal by thieves, when they are brought to shame? Ought not he to have been by thee accounted in a better rank than that of thieves?

For since thou spakest of him, thou skippedst for joy; instead of compassionating the Jews in their calamity, thou never spakest of them but with joy and triumph. Others make a quite other sense, viz. for those words against him thou thyself shalt wander. But the learned author of the English Annotations observes well, that the word in the form here used will not so well bear it, though the verb doth in its primary sense signify to wander. For was not Israel a derision unto thee?.... In the time of his calamity, when the ten tribes were carried captive by the Assyrians some years ago; and of late the two tribes of Judah and Benjamin by the Chaldeans; the Moabites rejoiced at this, which they ought not to have done, upon the common principles of humanity; and especially since they were not only neighbours, but akin; and therefore, according to the law of retaliation, it was but just that they should be had in derision themselves:

was he found among thieves? that is, Israel; that he should be a derision to any, as thieves are when they are taken; men rejoice at it, insult them, and deride them; but was this the case of Israel? had he robbed any? had he done any injury to Moab, or any other? no, verily: why this derision then?

for since thou spakest of him, thou skippedst for joy; or, "shookedst thyself" (c); whenever the Moabites spoke of the distresses and calamities of Israel, and of their captivity, they laughed till they shook themselves; not only shook their heads, but their whole bodies. The Vulgate Latin version is, "therefore, because of thy words which thou hast spoken against him, thou shall be carried captive"; and Jarchi mentions such a sense of the words, as given by some of their Rabbins; and to this agrees the Targum,

"and because ye have multiplied words against them, therefore ye shall go into captivity.''

(c) "commovisti te", Vatablus, Calvin; "commoves te", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; "motitas te", Schmidt.

For was not Israel a derision to thee? was he found among thieves? for since thou hast spoken of him, thou didst {p} leap for joy.

(p) You rejoiced to hear of his misery, Isa 16:6.

27. was he found among thieves?] i.e. Thou couldst not, O Moab, have treated him with more contempt, hadst thou caught him in the act of stealing. Cp. Jeremiah 2:26.

waggest the head] in scorn. Cp. Psalm 64:8; Matthew 27:39.Verse 27. - Was he found among thieves? for, etc.; rather,... that, as often as thou speakest of him, thou waggest thy head. What giveth thee the right to show such scorn and insolent triumph towards Israel, as if he were one who had been arrested in the very act of robbery (comp. Jeremiah 2:26)? In Jeremiah 48:21-24 the general idea of Moab's being laid waste is specialized by the enumeration of a long list of towns on which judgment has come. They are towns of ארץ המּישׁור, the table-land to the north of the Arnon, the names of which early all occur in the Pentateuch and Joshua as towns in the tribe of Reuben. But Holon is mentioned only here. According to Eusebius, in the Onomasticon, s.v. ̓Ιεσσά, Jahzah was situated between Μηδαβῶν (Medeba) and Δηβοῦς (Dibon); according to Jerome, between Medeba and Debus, or Deblathai; but from Numbers 21:23, we conclude that it lay in an easterly direction, on the border of the desert, near the commencement of the Wady Wale. Mophaath or Mephaath, where, according to the Onomasticon, a Roman garrison was placed, on account of the near proximity of the desert, is to be sought for in the neighbourhood of Jahzah; see on Joshua 13:18. As to Dibon, see on Jeremiah 48:18; for Nebo, see on Jeremiah 48:1. Beth-diblathaim is mentioned only in this passage. It is probably identical with Almon-diblathaim, Numbers 33:46, and to be sought for somewhere north from Dibon. For Kirjahthaim see Jeremiah 48:1. Beth-gamul is nowhere else mentioned; its site, too, is unknown. Eli Smith, in Robinson's Palestine, iii. App. p. 153, is inclined to recognise it in the ruins of Um-el-Jemel, lying on the southern boundary of the Hauran, about twenty miles south-west from Bozrah; but a consideration of the position shows that they cannot be the same. Beth-meon, or Baal-meon (Numbers 32:38), or more fully, Beth-baal-meon (Joshua 13:17), lay about three miles south from Heshbon, where Burckhardt (p. 365) found some ruins called Mi-n (Robinson, iii. App. p. 170, Ma-n); see on Numbers 32:38. Kerioth, Jeremiah 48:24 and Jeremiah 48:41, and Amos 2:2, is not to be identified with the ruins called Kereyath or Kreiyath, mentioned by Burckhardt (p. 367) and Seetzen (Reisen, ii. 342, iv. 384), as Ritter has assumed; for this Kereyath is more probably Kirjathaim (see on Jeremiah 48:1). Rather, as is pretty fully proved by Dietrich (in Merx' Archiv. i. 320ff.), it is a synonym of Ar, the old capital of Moab, Numbers 22:36; and the plural form is to be accounted for by supposing that Ar was made up of two or several large portions. We find two great arguments supporting this position: (1.) When Ar, the capital, occurs among the names of the towns of Moab, as in the list of those in Reuben, Joshua 13:16-21, and in the prophecy against Moab in Isaiah, Jeremiah 15 and 16, where so many Moabitic towns are named, we find no mention of Kerioth; and on the other hand, where Kerioth is named as an important town in Moab, Amos 2:2; Jeremiah 48:1, there is no mention of Ar. (2.) Kerioth is mentioned as an important place in the country in Amos 2:2, where, from the whole arrangement of the prophecy, it can only be the capital of Moab; in this present chapter also, Jeremiah 48:24, Kerioth and Bozrah are introduced as two very important towns which maintained the strength of Moab; and immediately afterwards it is added, "The horn of Moab is cut off," etc. Further, in Jeremiah 48:41 the capture of Kerioth is put on a level with the taking of the fortresses; while it is added, that the courage of the mighty men has failed, just as in Jeremiah 49:22 the capture of Bozrah is coupled with the loss of courage on the part of Edom's heroes. Bozrah is not to be confounded with Bozrah in Edom (Jeremiah 49:13), nor with the later flourishing city of Bostra in Hauran: it is the same with Bezer (בּצר), which, according to Deuteronomy 4:43 and Joshua 20:8, was situated in the Mishor of the tribe of Reuben, but has not yet been discovered; see on Deuteronomy 4:43. For the purpose of completing the enumeration, it is further added, "all the towns of the land of Moab, those which are far off (i.e., those which are situated towards the frontier) and those which are near" (i.e., the towns of the interior, as Kimchi has already explained). Thereby the horn of Moab is cut off, and his arm broken. Horn and arm are figures of power: the horn an emblem of power that boldly asserts itself, and pushes down all that opposes (cf. Psalm 75:5, 11); the arm being rather an emblem of dominion.
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