Jeremiah 48:40
For thus said the LORD; Behold, he shall fly as an eagle, and shall spread his wings over Moab.
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(40) He shall fly as an eagle . . .—The image, as in Deuteronomy 28:49; Isaiah 46:11; Ezekiel 17:3, was the natural symbol of a fierce invader, probably, in this case, of Nebuchadnezzar. Here it receives a fresh vividness from the previous comparison of Moab to the dove that had its nest in the clefts of the rock. The verse is reproduced in Jeremiah 49:22, in reference to Edom.

Jeremiah 48:40-44. Behold, he shall fly as an eagle — Conquerors are often compared to eagles and other birds of prey; and the encamping of their armies is represented by the spreading of the wings of such fowls. The mighty men’s hearts shall be as the heart of a woman in her pangs — They shall be dismayed at the apprehension of the evils that are coming upon them, and shall lose their wonted courage and resolution. Moab shall be destroyed from being a people — From being a nation or government, as it was before. Fear, and the pit, and the snare, &c. — These words, and those of the next verse, are taken from Isaiah 24:17-18, where see the notes.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.The rapid and irresistible attack of Nebuchadnezzar is compared to the impetuous dash of the eagle on its prey Deuteronomy 28:49. 40. he—Nebuzara-dan, the captain of Nebuchadnezzar.

as … eagle—not to bear them "on eagles' wings" (Ex 19:4; De 32:11, 12), as God does His people, but to pounce on them as a prey (Jer 49:22; De 28:49; Hab 1:8).

Nebuchadnezzar shall come upon Moab swiftly; and as an eagle covereth the prey which he hath taken with his wings, so Nebuchadnezzar shall spread himself over Moab. For thus saith the Lord, behold, he shall fly as an eagle,.... The enemy, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, with his army; who is compared to an eagle for his strength, swiftness, and greediness after the prey:

and shall spread his wings over Moab; as an eagle spreads its wings, which are very large, over the little birds it seizes upon as its prey; so the king of Babylon would bring a numerous army against Moab, and spread it over his country. The Targum is,

"behold, as all eagle which flies, so a king shall come up with his army, and encamp against Moab.''

For thus saith the LORD; Behold, {x} he shall fly as an eagle, and shall spread his wings over Moab.

(x) That is, Nebuchadnezzar, as in Jer 49:22.

40. he shall fly as an eagle] Cp. on Jeremiah 4:13. The simile seems taken from Deuteronomy 28:49, but is used elsewhere (see Isaiah 46:11; Ezekiel 17:3). It well represented the Babylonian empire, which “seemed to those who witnessed it like the rising of a mighty eagle, spreading out his vast wings, feathered with the innumerable colours of the variegated masses which composed the Chaldean host, sweeping over the different countries, and striking fear in his rapid flight:” Stanley, J. Ch. II. 451.

40, 41. The LXX omit “Behold … Moab” (Jeremiah 48:40) and “and the heart … pangs” (Jeremiah 48:41). Both are probably glosses in MT. supplied from Jeremiah 49:22, with change of names.Verses 40, 41. - The Septuagint has a shorter form (see introduction to chapter). Verse 40. - He shall fly as an eagle; rather, he shall swoop (same word and figure in Deuteronomy 28:49). The subject is not named, but (as in ch. 46:18) is Nebuchadnezzar. Jeremiah 48:34 is based on Isaiah 15:4-6. "From the cry of Heshbon is heard the echo as far as Elealeh and Jahaz," or "from Heshbon to Elealeh and Jahaz is heard a cry, and from Zoar to Horonaim." Heshbon and Elealeh are only about two miles distant from each other; their ruins are still visible under the names of Hesbn (Husban, see on Jeremiah 48:2) and El Al (see on Numbers 32:37). They were both built on hills; Elealeh in particular was situated on the summit of a hill whence the whole of the southern Belka may be seen (Burckhardt, p. 365), so that a shout thence emitted could be heard at a great distance, even as far as Jahaz, which is pretty far off to the south-west from Heshbon (see on Jeremiah 48:21). The words "from Zoar to Horonaim" also depend on "they uttered their voice." Both places lay in the south of the land; see on Jeremiah 48:3 and Jeremiah 48:4. The wailing resounds not merely on the north, but also on the south of the Arnon. There is much dispute as to the meaning of עגלת שׁלישׁיּה, which is here mentioned after Horonaim, but in Isaiah 15:5 in connection with, or after Zoar. To take the expression as an appellative, juvenca tertii anni (lxx, Vulgate, Targum, Gesenius, etc.), would perhaps be suitable, if it were an apposition to Moab, in which case we might compare with it passages like Jeremiah 46:20; Jeremiah 50:11; but this does not accord with its position after Horonaim and Zoar, for we have no analogy for the comparison of cities or fortresses with a juvenca tertii anni, h. e. indomita jugoque non assueta; and it cannot even be proved that Zoar and Horonaim were fortresses of Moab. Hence we take 'עגלת שׁ as the proper name of a place, "the third Eglath;" this is the view of Rosenmller, Drechsler, and Dietrich (in Merx' Archiv. i. S. 342ff.). The main reason for this view, is, that there would be no use for an addition being made, by way of apposition, to a place which is mentioned as the limit of the Moabites' flight, or that reached by their wailing. The parallelism of the clauses argues in favour of its being a proper name; for, on this view of it, three towns are named in both members, the first one, as the starting-point of the cry of wailing, the other two as points up to which it is heard. The preposition עד, which is omitted, may be supplied from the parallel member, as in Isaiah 15:8. Regarding the position of Eglath Shelishijah, it is evident from the context of both passages that we must look for it on the southern frontier of Moab. It is implied in the epithet "the third" that there were three places (villages), not far from one another, all bearing the same name. Dietrich (S. 344f.) has adduced several analogous cases of towns in the country to the east of the Jordan, - two, and sometimes even three, towns of the same name, which are distinguished from each other by numerals. "The waters of Nimrim also shall become desolations," because the enemy fill up the springs with earth. Nimrim is not the place called נמרה or בּית נמרה mentioned in Numbers 32:3, Numbers 32:36; Joshua 13:27, whose ruins lie on the way from Szalt to Jericho, in the Wady Shaib, on the east side of the Jordan (see on Numbers 32:36), for this lies much too far to the north to be the place mentioned here. The context points to a place in the south, in Moab proper. where Burckhardt (p. 355), Seetzen (Reisen, ii. S. 354), and de Saulcy (Voyage, i. 283, ii. 52) have indicated a stream fed by a spring, called Moiet Numre (i.e., brook Nimrah), in the country at the south end of the Dead Sea, and in that wady a mass of ruins called Numre (the Nimmery of Seetzen, iii. 18).
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