Isaiah 15, 16:  A Lamentation for Moab – Judgment and Hope

In mercy the throne will be established; And One will sit on it in truth, in the tabernacle of David, Judging and seeking justice and hastening righteousness.” Isaiah 16:5

There will be no green thing.

Moab is an ancient mountainous country situated in the Southern Levant, presently found in Jordan. Its capital city was Kir of Moab, now standing at Kerak. It was also the heart of the country’s government administration.

Isaiah utters a soon-to-be fulfilled prophecy of destruction against Moab (cf. 16:13).  The tone of sadness at the fate of this neighbor is in stark contrast to the note of triumph over Babylon’s fall.  Moab’s judgment is deserved, but God takes no pleasure in it.

The oracle against Moab has five parts: 1. An editorial superscript, 2. The sudden, devastating destruction of Moab 3. a plea from Moab for shelter in Zion 4. A reflection contrasting Moab’s former pride with its fallen state, 5. A postscript.

15:1 For the origin of the people of Moab, see the story of Lot and his daughters in Gen. 18:30-38.

15:2 He refers collectively to Moab.  High places were sites of pagan worship (16:12).

16:2 Wandering bird is a sad description of the hopeless condition of the daughters of Moab, the women of the nation.

16:3 Take counsel may also be translated “make plans.”  Moab would find salvation in the showdown of Zion.

16:4, 5 Moab’s salvation ultimately lies in the coming One, Jesus the Messiah, whose throne will be established.

16:8 Vine is a figure of speech for Moab (compare Israel’s description as a vine in 5:1-7).  Sea may refer to the Dead Sea because it is the nearest large body of water to Moab.

16:11 Isaiah the prophet expresses his determination to one day rejoice over Moab.  This is a promise of its future restoration.

16:12 high place… sanctuary As long as the people worshiped false gods, they would be doomed to pain, judgment, and recurring trouble.

16:13, 14 A former prophecy (see 15:1) against Moab would be realized within three years, perhaps referring to the quelling of a rebellion against Sargon in 715 B.C.  However, a remnant would remain (15:9).  Moab had far more hope for salvation than did either Babylon or Philistia.


The Oracle concerning Moab

15 1  The burden against Moab. Because in the night Ar of Moab is laid waste And destroyed, Because in the night Kir of Moab is laid waste And destroyed, 2  He has gone up to the temple and Dibon, To the high places to weep. Moab will wail over Nebo and over Medeba; On all their heads will be baldness, And every beard cut off. 3  In their streets they will clothe themselves with sackcloth; On the tops of their houses And in their streets Everyone will wail, weeping bitterly. 4  Heshbon and Elealeh will cry out, Their voice shall be heard as far as Jahaz; Therefore the armed soldiers of Moab will cry out; His life will be burdensome to him. 5  “My heart will cry out for Moab; His fugitives shall flee to Zoar, Like a three-year-old heifer. For by the Ascent of Luhith They will go up with weeping; For in the way of Horonaim They will raise up a cry of destruction,

6  For the waters of Nimrim will be desolate, For the green grass has withered away; The grass fails, there is nothing green. 7  Therefore the abundance they have gained, And what they have laid up, They will carry away to the Brook of the Willows. 8  For the cry has gone all around the borders of Moab, Its wailing to Eglaim And its wailing to Beer Elim. 9  For the waters of Dimon will be full of blood; Because I will bring more upon Dimon, Lions upon him who escapes from Moab, And on the remnant of the land.”

16 1  Send the lamb to the ruler of the land, From Sela to the wilderness, To the mount of the daughter of Zion. 2  For it shall be as a wandering bird thrown out of the nest; So shall be the daughters of Moab at the fords of the Arnon. 3  “Take counsel, execute judgment; Make your shadow like the night in the middle of the day; Hide the outcasts, Do not betray him who escapes. 4  Let My outcasts dwell with you, O Moab; Be a shelter to them from the face of the spoiler. For the extortioner is at an end, Devastation ceases, The oppressors are consumed out of the land. 5  In mercy the throne will be established; And One will sit on it in truth, in the tabernacle of David, Judging and seeking justice and hastening righteousness.”

6  We have heard of the pride of Moab– He is very proud– Of his haughtiness and his pride and his wrath; But his lies shall not be so. 7  Therefore Moab shall wail for Moab; Everyone shall wail. For the foundations of Kir Hareseth you shall mourn; Surely they are stricken. 8  For the fields of Heshbon languish, And the vine of Sibmah; The lords of the nations have broken down its choice plants, Which have reached to Jazer And wandered through the wilderness. Her branches are stretched out, They are gone over the sea. 9  Therefore I will bewail the vine of Sibmah, With the weeping of Jazer; I will drench you with my tears, O Heshbon and Elealeh; For battle cries have fallen Over your summer fruits and your harvest. 10  Gladness is taken away, And joy from the plentiful field; In the vineyards there will be no singing, Nor will there be shouting; No treaders will tread out wine in the presses; I have made their shouting cease. 11  Therefore my heart shall resound like a harp for Moab, And my inner being for Kir Heres. 12  And it shall come to pass, When it is seen that Moab is weary on the high place, That he will come to his sanctuary to pray; But he will not prevail. 13  This is the word which the Lord has spoken concerning Moab since that time. 14  But now the Lord has spoken, saying, “Within three years, as the years of a hired man, the glory of Moab will be despised with all that great multitude, and the remnant will be very small and feeble.”