Jeremiah 48:39
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.
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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. Jeremiah 48:39No escape from destruction. - Jeremiah 48:39. "How it is broken! they howl. How hath Moab turned the back, for shame! And Moab becomes a laughing-stock and a terror to all his neighbours. Jeremiah 48:40. For thus saith Jahveh: Behold, he shall fly like the eagle, and spread his wings over Moab. Jeremiah 48:41. Kerioth is taken, and the strongholds are seized, and the heart of the heroes of Moab on that day become like the heart of a travailing woman. Jeremiah 48:42. And Moab is destroyed from being a people, because he hath boasted against Jahveh. Jeremiah 48:43. Fear, and a pit, and a snare, are against thee, O inhabitants of Moab, saith Jahveh. Jeremiah 48:44. He who flees from the fear shall fall into the pit, and he who goes up out of the pit shall be taken in the snare; for I will bring against it, against Moab, the year of their recompense, saith Jahveh."

The subject of חתּה in Jeremiah 48:39 is Moab viewed as a nation. הילילוּ might be imperative, but in this case we would be obliged to take בּושׁ also as an imperative (as Hitzig and Graf do). It is simpler to take both forms as perfects: "they howl...Moab turns the back, is ashamed" ( equals for shame). On היה לשׂחק, cf. Jeremiah 48:26. מחתּה, object of terror, as in Jeremiah 17:17. "All who are round about him," as in Jeremiah 48:17. "For (Jeremiah 48:40) the enemy rushes down upon Moab like an eagle, and seizes Kerioth and all his strongholds." The subject is left unnamed, as in Jeremiah 46:18, but it is Nebuchadnezzar. The figure of the eagle, darting down in flight on its prey, is founded on Deuteronomy 28:49 (on אל- for על, cf. Jeremiah 49:22). Kerioth, the capital, is taken (see on Jeremiah 48:24); so are the other strongholds or fastnesses of the country. The mere fact that קריּות has the article does not justify any one in taking it as an appellative, "the cities;" this appears from a comparison of Amos 2:2 with this verse. No plural of קריה occurs anywhere. Then the fear of death falls on the heroes of Moab like a woman in labour. מצרה, partic. Hiphil from צרר, uterum comprimens, is found only here and in Jeremiah 49:22, where the figure is repeated. Moab is annihilated, so that it is no longer a nation (cf. Jeremiah 48:2), because it has risen up in pride against the God of Israel; cf. Jeremiah 48:26. He who flees from one danger falls into the other. The play on the words פּחד, fear, horror, פּחת, pit, and פּח, spring-trap, as well as the mode in which it is carried out, is taken from Isaiah 24:17., - a prophecy of the judgment on the world; see a similar idea presented in Amos 5:19, but somewhat differently expressed. The Kethib הניס, perfect Hiphil, "he flees," is less suitable than the Qeri הנּס (after Isaiah). The last clause, "for I will bring," etc., is quite in Jeremiah's peculiar style; cf. Jeremiah 4:23; Jeremiah 23:12. אליה belongs to אל־מואב: the noun is anticipated by the pronoun, as frequently occurs; cf. Jeremiah 9:14; Jeremiah 41:3; Jeremiah 43:11.

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