Jeremiah 48:39
They shall howl, saying, How is it broken down! how has Moab turned the back with shame! so shall Moab be a derision and a dismaying to all them about him.
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(39) They shall howl, saying, How is it broken down!—Better, taking the words in the Hebrew order, How is she broken down! How do they howl! In the word “derision” we have the emphatic iteration of the term that had been pointedly used in Jeremiah 48:26; Jeremiah 48:2. At this stage the parallelism with Isaiah 15, 16 ceases, and the prediction has a more independent character.

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.Literally, "How is it broken down! they wail! How hath Moab tutored the back in shame! Yea, Moab is become a laughter and a terror Jeremiah 17:17 to all who are round about him." 39. it—Moab.

How … how—prodigious, yet sure to happen.

turned the back—not daring to show her face.

derision … dismaying to all—a derision to some; a dismaying to others in beholding such a judgment of God, fearing a like fate for themselves.

Those that formerly lived in Moab, when it was in its glory, shall lament to see how the case is altered with it, that all its glory is broken down, and they that were wont to conquer their enemies turn their backs with shame upon their enemies. And Moab, that was wont to be the praise and admiration of all people, was become an astonishment, and an object of derision and scoffing to them. They shall howl, saying, how is it broken down?.... Or, "how is it broken" or "thrown into consternation (p)? they howl"; that is, they howl out these words, or, while they are howling, say, how is Kirheres or Moab broken all to pieces; their strength, power, and glory; their cities, and their mighty men; and are in the utmost fright and confusion? Jarchi takes it to be an imperative, and paraphrases it,

"howl ye over her (q), and say, how is it broken!''

Kimchi says it may be taken either as in the past or in the imperative;

how hath Moab turned the back with shame? not being able to look their enemies in the face, but obliged to flee before them;

so shall Moab be a derision and a dismaying to all them about him; a derision to some, to their enemies, as Israel had been to them, and so they are paid in their own coin; and a consternation to others, their friends, who would fear sharing the same fate, at the hands of the Chaldeans.

(p) "quomodo consternata est", Piscator, Schmidt. (q) "ululate", Munster, Piscator; "ejulate", Junius & Tremellius.

They shall howl, saying, How is it broken down! how hath Moab turned the back with shame! so shall Moab be a derision and a dismaying to all them about him.
39. broken down] See on Jeremiah 48:1.Verse 39. - They shall howl, saying etc.; rather, How is it dismayed! (how) they wail! How hath Moab turned the back ashamed! Yea, Moab becometh, etc. מבּכי יעזר, "more than the weeping of Jazer," may signify, "More than Jazer weeps do I weep over thee;" or, "More than over Jazer weeps do I weep over thee;" or, "More than over Jazer do I weep over thee." However, the former interpretation is the more obvious, and is confirmed by the reading in Isaiah 16:9. According to the Onomasticon, Jazer was fifteen Roman miles north from Heshbon. Seetzen recognises it in the ruins called es Szir at the source of the Nahr Szir; see on Numbers 21:32. According to Jerome, on Isaiah 16:8, Sibmah was only five hundred paces from Heshbon; see on Numbers 32:38. Judging from the verse now before us, and from Isa. l.c., the vines of Sibmah must have been famed for the strength and excellence of their clusters. Even now, that region produces excellent grapes in abundance. From Szalt, which lies only ten miles north from Szir, raisins and grapes are carried to Jerusalem, and these of excellent quality (Seetzen, i. S. 399; Burckhardt, p. 350). In what follows, "his tendrils crossed the sea," etc., the extensive cultivation of the grape is set forth under the figure of a vine whose tendrils stretch out on all sides. "They have crossed over the sea" has reference in Isaiah (Isaiah 16:8) to the Dead Sea (ים, as in Psalm 68:23; 2 Chronicles 20:2); not merely, however, in the sense of the shoots reaching close to the Dead Sea, but also over it, for Engedi was famed for its vines (Sol 1:14). Jeremiah also has reproduced the words taken from Isaiah in this sense. From the following clause, "they reached to the sea of Jazer," it does not follow that he has specified "the sea" by "Jazer." What tells rather the other way is the fact that עבר, which means to cross over, cannot possibly be used as equivalent to נגע עד, "to reach to." "They crossed over the sea" shows extension towards the west, while "they reached to the sea of Jazer" indicates extension towards the north. This latter statement also is an imitation of what we find in Isaiah 16:8; and "Jazer" is merely further specified as "the sea of Jazer." In spite of the most diligent inquiries, Seetzen (i. S. 406) could learn nothing from the people of that region regarding an inland lake; but in the beautiful green vale in the vicinity of Szr (i.e., Jazer) there were several ponds, which he supposes may possibly be the mare Jazer, since this valley lying among the mountains is somewhat depressed, and in ancient times was probably filled with water. The "sea" (ים) of Solomon's temple further shows that ים does not necessarily denote only a large lake, but might also be applied to a large artificial basin of water. So also, at the present day, the artificial water-basins on the streets of Damascus are called baharat, "seas;" cf. Wetzstein in Delitzsch on Isaiah 16:8. This cultivation of the vine is at an end; for the destroyer has fallen upon the fruit-harvest and the vintage. Jeremiah, by "the destroyer has fallen," explains the words of Isaiah (Isaiah 16:9), "shouting has fallen." - In Jeremiah 48:33, Isaiah 16:10 is reproduced. "Joy and gladness are taken away from the gardens, and from the whole land of Moab." כּרמל is not here a proper name, for Mount Carmel does not at all suit the present context; it is an appellative, fruit-land, i.e., the fruitful wine-country near Jazer. Jeremiah adds, "and from the land (i.e., the whole land) of Moab." The pressing of the grapes comes to an end; there is no wine in the vat; no longer is the wine pressed with "Hedad." הידד is an adverbial accusative. This is further specified by the oxymoron: a "Hedad, and yet not a Hedad." This word generally signifies any loud shout, - not merely the shout of the wine-pressers as they tread the grapes (see on Jeremiah 25:30), but also a battle-cry; cf. Jeremiah 51:14. Hence the meaning is, "Hedad is heard, but not a merry shout of the wine-pressers."
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