Jeremiah Chapter 48
Verses 1-47: The Moabites were descendants of Lot who lived east of the Jordan River, and they had opposed Israel’s efforts to enter the Promised Land in the days of Moses (Gen. 19:37; Num. chapters 22-25). The recurring theme in this message is that the LORD would Judge Moab’s excessive pride (48:7, 26, 29-30, 42).
Jeremiah 48:1 “Against Moab thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Woe unto Nebo! for it is spoiled: Kiriathaim is confounded [and] taken: Misgab is confounded and dismayed.”
“Against Moab”: Various sites of unknown location in Moab are to be destroyed (verses 1-5). The judgment is framed in similar words or some of the same words as in other passages (Isa. 15:1-9; 16:6-14; 25:10-12; Ezek. 25:8-11; Amos 2:1-3; Zeph. 2:8-11). Desolation overtook different parts of Moab at various times, but Babylon (in 588-586 B.C. or 582-581 B.C.), is likely the main destroyer (compare 48:40). The Moabites were Lot’s descendants (compare Gen. 19:37), who lived east of the Dead Sea and often fought against Israel.
For the Moabites (see the note on Judges 3:12-13). For the importance of the Moabite Stone (see the notes on 1 Kings 16:27 and 2 Kings 3:5, 27).
Moab is a Gentile city or state. “Moab” was the name of Lot’s eldest daughter’s son that she had from committing incest with her father, Lot. He was the founder of the Moabites. They had an evil beginning, and their morals were no better at the time of this prophecy. Nebo was a place in the mountains where the false god “Nebo” was worshipped. This woe is against the false god and against the area where he was worshipped. Kiriathaim was known as the city of the terrible. Misgab here could mean fortress. A fortress will not hold back God.
Jeremiah 48:2 “[There shall be] no more praise of Moab: in Heshbon they have devised evil against it; come, and let us cut it off from [being] a nation. Also thou shalt be cut down, O Madmen; the sword shall pursue thee.”
It shall be no more commended for a rich, populous, and fruitful country, being now laid waste. Though the next phrase,
“Heshbon”: Was formerly the city of Sihon (Num. 21:26). It became afterward one of the principal cities of the Moabites, as appears from (Isa. 15:4); which makes the learned author of our English Annotations think our translation not so good. For why should they devise evil in Heshbon against Moab, unless the enemies sat there in council, when they had taken it, against the other parts of the country? But possibly the sense is, they shall no more in Heshbon magnify Moab, or Moab shall no more be the glory of Heshbon, for the enemies had contrived the ruin of it.
“Madmen”: Was another city in the country of Moab. Some think the same with Ptolemy’s Madiama. To that city also, the prophet threatened ruin and destruction by the sword.
Their destruction was great physically, but they were humiliated as well.
Jeremiah 48:3 “A voice of crying [shall be] from Horonaim, spoiling and great destruction.”
Another city of Moab. The word is of the dual number; and according to Kimchi and Ben Melech, there were two cities named Horon. The upper and the lower; of this place (see Isa. 15:5), this also should be destroyed. And so, a cry of the inhabitants of it should be heard out of it.
Spoiling, and great destruction”: Because the city was spoiled, and a great destruction made in the inhabitants and riches of it.
Horonaim is a city of Moab near the border of Edom.
Jeremiah 48:4 “Moab is destroyed; her little ones have caused a cry to be heard.”
Either the whole nation in general; so the Targum states, “the kingdom of Moab is broken;” and so Abarbinel; or a city so called, which some take to be the city Areopolis. Jerom says, that Moab is a city of Arabia, now called Areopolis. And which also has the name of Rabbath-moab, or “grand Moab”.
“Her little ones have caused a cry to be heard”: Some understand little children. Others, inferior magistrates, or the common people. The Targum interprets it, her governors; and so Jarchi, who thinks they are so called, because they are lesser than kings.
I believe this is speaking of the entire land of Moab being destroyed. The crying of the “little ones”, just shows the magnitude of the destruction.
Jeremiah 48:5 “For in the going up of Luhith continual weeping shall go up; for in the going down of Horonaim the enemies have heard a cry of destruction.”
This is another city, which was built on a high hill, which had a considerable ascent to it. Where those that escaped from Horonaim might flee for safety. But as they went up the hill they would weep bitterly. And all the way they went, because of the loss of friends and sustenance, and the danger they themselves were still in, (of this place see Isa. 15:5).
“For in the going down of Horonaim the enemies have heard a cry of destruction”: A place before mentioned, which lay low, in the descent of which the enemies, the Chaldeans, heard the cries of those that fled from Horonaim. And went up from there to Luhith, which cry was as follows:
This shows that the destruction is widespread.
Jeremiah 48:6 “Flee, save your lives, and be like the heath in the wilderness.”
“Be like the heath in the wilderness”: Here (as in Jer. 17:6), the stunted solitary shrub in the desert is taken as the type of desolation. The LXX, which adopts the meaning (in Jer. 17:6), here strangely enough gives “as a wild ass in the wilderness.” (Psalm 11:1), gives us an example of a like comparison. Here probably there is, as before, a play on words for the name of the Moabite city Aroer, which closely resembles the Hebrew word for “heath.” In thus finding an ominous significance in the names of cities, Jeremiah follows in the wake of (Micah 1).
Their only chance of survival is to flee to the wilderness. Heath is speaking of the destitute. We are all destitute until we reach out to God for His help. Our help is in the LORD.
Jeremiah 48:7 “For because thou hast trusted in thy works and in thy treasures, thou shalt also be taken: and Chemosh shall go forth into captivity [with] his priests and his princes together.”
“Chemosh”: He was the leading god of Moab (compare Num. 21:29; Judges 11:24; 1 Kings 11:7; 2 Kings 23:13).
The works are probably the same as the works of their hands. This could be speaking of their idols they worshipped. They worshipped idols and trusted in their money as well. This sounds very familiar doesn’t it?
Jeremiah 48:8 “And the spoiler shall come upon every city, and no city shall escape: the valley also shall perish, and the plain shall be destroyed, as the LORD hath spoken.”
That is, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and his army. The Targum says, the spoilers, who came against and took every city of Moab, and wasted them. Josephus makes particular mention of Nebuchadnezzar’s subduing the Ammonites and Moabites.
“And no city shall escape”: the spoiler, and destruction by him.
“The valley also shall perish, and the plain shall be destroyed, as the LORD hath spoken. Not only the cities, and the inhabitants of them; but the inhabitants of the valleys and plains, as the Targum paraphrases it, should be destroyed. And also the corn that grew upon them, and the flocks and herds that grazed there, exactly as the LORD had foretold.
This needs no explanation as this is total destruction.
Jeremiah 48:9 “Give wings unto Moab, that it may flee and get away: for the cities thereof shall be desolate, without any to dwell therein.”
That is, the Moabites had need of wings like a bird to escape that ruin which is coming upon them. Yea, if they had wings, they should not escape, for the LORD is resolved that the cities of Moab shall all be brought to desolation, so as no inhabitants shall be left in them.
Moab is spoken of here as a bird that flies away. The problem is, there is no safe place to land. The whole land is desolate.
Jeremiah 48:10 “Cursed [be] he that doeth the work of the LORD deceitfully, and cursed [be] he that keepeth back his sword from blood.”
“Cursed be he”: God’s aim to judge Moab was so intense that He pronounced a curse on whatever instrument (army), He would use should they carry it out “negligently”, i.e., “carelessly”, or “with slackness”.
This is not just Moab, but anyone who deals deceitfully with the Word of God.
2 Timothy 2:15 “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
Verses 11-12: Like wine that had been allowed to settle on its sediments, in order that it might gain strength and flavor before being strained and poured into a new wineskin (compare Isa. 25:6; Zeph. 1:12), so “Moab” had been allowed to remain in its land. However, the “vessel” of Moab would soon be poured out and be broken by invaders. The Moabite kingdom ceased with the conquest of Nebuchadrezzar. Centuries later the area was occupied by the famed Nabateans, under whom the land flourished once again, perhaps a harbinger of God’s gracious restoration of the area in the end times (compare verse 47).
Moab was not taken from suffering to suffering so that her bitter dregs would be removed through the purging of pain. Instead, the nation was settled into the thickness and bitterness of its own sin. Judgment from God was coming to smash them.
Jeremiah 48:11 “Moab hath been at ease from his youth, and he hath settled on his lees, and hath not been emptied from vessel to vessel, neither hath he gone into captivity: therefore his taste remained in him, and his scent is not changed.”
The Chaldeans are to destroy the Moabites. We should be thankful that we are required to seek the salvation of men’s lives, and the salvation of their souls, not to shed their blood. But we shall be the more without excuse if we do this pleasant work deceitfully. The cities shall be laid in ruins, and the country shall be wasted. There will be great sorrow. There will be great hurry. If any could give wings to sinners, still they could not fly out of the reach of Divine indignation. There are many who persist in unrepented sin, yet long enjoy outward prosperity. They had been long corrupt and unreformed, secure and sensual in prosperity. They have no changes of their peace and prosperity, therefore their hearts and lives are unchanged (Psalm 55:19).
Another way of explaining this is that God has not chastised them before. They have lived as they pleased. Their sins have not been pointed out to them for them to change the smell. God here is chastening His children, not the world.
Jeremiah 48:12 “Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will send unto him wanderers, that shall cause him to wander, and shall empty his vessels, and break their bottles.”
“Wanderers”: Here mentioned, the Chaldeans are most certainly understood, who wandered from their own country to conquer other people. The word is variously translated, vagrants, travelers, removers, etc., who shall conquer the Moabites, and carry them into captivity.
“And shall empty his vessels, and break their bottles”: He had before compared the Moabites to wine settled upon the lees. Here he saith that God would send those that should not only disturb and roll them, but ruin and destroy them.
Moab is sometimes spoken of as a wine jar. This jar would have a flat side. The person drinking could tilt it to the side and not get trash from the bottom. If these bottles were broken, the new ones would not have this special side.
Jeremiah 48:13 “And Moab shall be ashamed of Chemosh, as the house of Israel was ashamed of Beth-el their confidence.”
“Chemosh” was the national deity of the Moabites, and their worship practices included human sacrifice (2 Kings 3:27). The Moabites would be “ashamed”, because this false god would not be able to save them from defeat and exile (48:35, 46).
There had been an alternate place of worship set up at Beth-el. The part they were ashamed of was the golden calf used in the worship services. This was idolatry.
Jeremiah 48:14 “How say ye, We [are] mighty and strong men for the war?”
The Moabites were proud, haughty, and arrogant. And they boasted much of their strength and valor. Of the strength of their bodies, and fitness for war, and skill in it. And of the strength of their fortified cities; and thought themselves a match for the enemy, and secure from all danger. For this their pride, vanity, and self-confidence, they are here reproved, since their destruction was at hand.
Jeremiah 48:15 “Moab is spoiled, and gone up [out of] her cities, and his chosen young men are gone down to the slaughter, saith the King, whose name [is] the LORD of hosts.”
Your country will be wasted and spoiled.
“And gone up out of her cities”: The inhabitants of it shall be all driven out of their cities. The Hebrew is, and her cities, it, or he, is gone up. So the sense may be, Moab and her cities are all spoiled, and he, that is, the enemy, is gone up.
“And his chosen young men are gone down to the slaughter”: And the strong and mighty men she boasted of, are gone to the battle, as oxen or sheep to a slaughter-house.
“Saith the King, whose name is the LORD of hosts”: I do not speak this of Myself, I cannot of Myself tell things that shall come to pass hereafter, but the words I say are the words of Him who is the LORD of all the armies of heaven and earth. Who both knoweth what shall be, and is able to do what He says.
They might have been strong in the past, but now their young, strong men had been killed in battle. There were no strong men left to fight.
Jeremiah 48:16 “The calamity of Moab [is] near to come, and his affliction hasteth fast.”
As it did come within five years after the destruction of Jerusalem, as observed on (Jer. 48:12).
“And his affliction hasteth fast”: Or, “his evil”, the evil of punishment for his sin; his utter destruction.
Jeremiah 48:17 “All ye that are about him, bemoan him; and all ye that know his name, say, How is the strong staff broken, [and] the beautiful rod!”
The neighboring nations, such as the Ammonites, and others, are called upon to condole the sad case of Moab. All upon the borders of the country of Moab, either within them or without.
“And all ye that know his name”: Not only that had heard of his fame and glory, but knew in what grandeur and splendor he lived. These have a form of condolence for Moab.
“Say, how is the strong staff broken, and the beautiful rod!” The mighty men of war, the staff of the nation, in which they trusted, was destroyed. Their fortified cities demolished. The powerful kingdom, which swayed the scepter, and ruled in great glory, and was terrible and troublesome to others, now pulled down. The Targum says, “how is the king broken that did evil, the oppressing ruler!”
The lamenting would be great, because of all the destruction in Moab.
Verses 18-20: “Dibon … Aroer”: These places were on the Arnon River, but would be thirsty.
Jeremiah 48:18 “Thou daughter that dost inhabit Dibon, come down from [thy] glory, and sit in thirst; for the spoiler of Moab shall come upon thee, [and] he shall destroy thy strong holds.”
“Thou daughter that dost inhabit Dibon”, but this was not a kingdom of itself, though a principal city in the kingdom of Moab: “come down from thy glory, and sit in thirst”; in a dry and thirsty land; in want of all the necessaries of life; in captivity; who before abounded with all good things, inhabiting a well-watered and fruitful soil; see (Isaiah 15:9); but now called to quit all their former glory and happiness, their fulness and felicity, and submit to the greatest straits and difficulties:
“For the spoiler of Moab shall come upon thee, and he shall destroy thy strong holds”; the king of Babylon and his army, who spoiled the other cities of Moab; he should come against this also, and take it, and demolish its fortifications, by reason of which it thought itself secure; but these should not be able to protect it.
Jeremiah 48:19 “O inhabitant of Aroer, stand by the way, and espy; ask him that fleeth, and her that escapeth, [and] say, What is done?”
Another city that belonged to Moab, situated on the border of it towards Ammon, near the river Arnon (see Isa. 17:2).
“Stand by the way, and espy”: Get to the road side where travelers pass, and look out for them.
“Ask him that fleeth, and her that escapeth”: Whether man or woman you see fleeing, having escaped the army of the Chaldeans.
“And say, what is done?” By the Chaldeans. Ask what cities they have taken; what progress they have made; what is done to their cities, and that they flee from them? Tell all the particulars of things.
Aroer would have been on the edge of the country on the way of their flight out. “Espy” means to peer into the distance. They looked down the road and saw them fleeing and asked them why they were fleeing?
Jeremiah 48:20 “Moab is confounded; for it is broken down: howl and cry; tell ye it in Arnon, that Moab is spoiled,”
This is the answer returned, by those that had escaped and were fleeing, to those who inquired of them. Who report that the whole country of Moab was in the utmost confusion and consternation. Not being able to stand before the enemy, who broke down and destroyed all that was in his way. And therefore, calls upon them to:
“Howl and cry”: Because of the general ruin at the nation, and who must expect themselves to share the same fate. And therefore, should prepare themselves and their neighbors for it, as follows:
“Tell ye it in Arnon, that Moab is spoiled”: The country of Arnon, so called from a river of that name, on the banks of which Aroer was situated. The inhabitants of which are desired to spread it all over that part of the country, that Moab was utterly ruined by the Chaldean army. The particulars of which follow in the next verse.
They are fleeing because they have been defeated.
Jeremiah 48:21 “And judgment is come upon the plain country; upon Holon, and upon Jahazah, and upon Mephaath,”
Of Moab, which was for the most part such, especially that which lay near Arnon. The judgment of God’s vengeance, punishment for sin by the hand of the Chaldeans. The Targum says, “they that execute vengeance are come:”
“Upon Holon”: A city of Moab; of which see (Joshua 15:51). It had its name perhaps from the sandy ground on which it stood. Grotius takes it to be the Alabana of Ptolemy.
“And upon Jahazah”: The same with Jahaz (see Isa. 15:4). Reckoned by Grotius to be the Jadu of Ptolemy (see Joshua 13:18).
“And upon Mephaath”: Of which (see Joshua 13:18). Said by Grotius to be the Maipha of Ptolemy.
Jeremiah 48:22 “And upon Dibon, and upon Nebo, and upon Beth-diblathaim,”
Whose destruction by this time was come upon it, as suggested (Jer. 48:18).
“And upon Nebo” (of which see Jer. 48:1).
“And upon Beth-diblathaim”: The same with Almon-diblathaim (in Num. 33:46) and Dib-lath in (Ezek. 6:14).
Jeremiah 48:23 “And upon Kiriathaim, and upon Beth-gamul, and upon Beth-meon,”
(Of which see Jer. 48:1).
“And upon Beth-gamul”: This is nowhere else mentioned in Scripture. Supposed by Grotius to be the Maccala of Ptolemy, put for Camala.
“And upon Beth-meon” (of which see Isa. 15:2).
Jeremiah 48:24 “And upon Kerioth, and upon Bozrah, and upon all the cities of the land of Moab, far or near.”
Which once belonged to the tribe of Judah (Joshua 15:25). From this place Judas Iscariot is by some thought to have his name; as if it was “Ish Kerioth”, “a man of Kerioth”. Grotius takes it to be the Goiratha of Ptolemy.
“And upon Bozrah; not in Idumea, but in Moab. The same with Bezer (Joshua 21:36).
“And upon all the cities of the land of Moab, far or near”: All the rest of the cities not named, whether nearer or farther off from Aroer.
The Scriptures above are a listing of the destroyed cities of Moab.
Jeremiah 48:25 “The horn of Moab is cut off, and his arm is broken, saith the LORD.”
“Horn … is cut off”: An example of the Old Testament use of “horn” as a symbol of military power, as an animal uses horns to hook, gouge, or ram. Moab is to be dehorned.
The “horn”, throughout the Bible, symbolizes strength. This is saying, their strength is gone. The arm is an instrument of ability to do the things necessary. The arm can no more do these tasks.
Jeremiah 48:26 “Make ye him drunken: for he magnified [himself] against the LORD: Moab also shall wallow in his vomit, and he also shall be in derision.”
Either make ye him to stagger like a drunken man, (the cause being put for the effect). Or fill him with the intoxicating wine cup of God’s vengeance, with the effects of God’s wrath. For he magnified himself against the LORD. Because of his pride, and exalting himself against the LORD, as if he had been stronger than he, and so out of the reach of God’s power.
“Moab also shall wallow in his vomit, and he also shall be in derision”: As drunken men vomit, and stagger, and fall, and wallow in their vomit. So let the Moabites fall by the sword, wallow in their blood, and like drunken men be mocked at and had in derision by all those who see what their boastful actions come to. And what vengeance they have piled upon themselves.
This is just showing the extent of the despair throughout Moab. He is drunk and wallowing in the vomit, because he cannot face the reality surrounding him.
Jeremiah 48:27 “For was not Israel a derision unto thee? was he found among thieves? for since thou spakest of him, thou skippedst for joy.”
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 related to Abraham the father of the Jews. And ought not to have mocked them, but to have pitied their neighbors and kindred. They either mocked the ten tribes when they were carried into captivity by Shalmaneser, or Judah captivated by the king of Babylon. God threatened the Ammonites (Ezek. 25:6), and the Edomites, by Obadiah, for the same misdemeanor.
“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 sympathizing with the Jews in their calamity, you never spoke of them but with joy and triumph. In other words, for those words against him thou thyself shalt wander.
“Derision” means the use of ridicule or scorn to show contempt. They had spoken disrespectfully of Israel. They were happy over Israel’s problems. Now they have problems of their own.
Jeremiah 48:28 “O ye that dwell in Moab, leave the cities, and dwell in the rock, and be like the dove [that] maketh her nest in the sides of the hole’s mouth.”
Signifying hereby that they would not be in safety in their strongest and most fortified cities, which would be besieged by the enemy and taken. And therefore, are advised to leave them, and flee to the rocks and mountains, that if possible they might be safe there.
“And be like the dove that maketh her nest in the sides of the hole’s mouth”: Which, for fear of birds of prey, makes her nest in the side of a hole or cleft of a rock, that she and her young may be safe from them. And which being pursued by the hawk, flies into a hollow rock or cavern, as Homer observes. But here it intends the place where it makes its nest. Which is for the most part in deserts and rocky places, where great numbers of doves live, and make their nests.
This is just saying, Moab will not be a safe place to be. The dove hides her little ones to keep them safe.
Jeremiah 48:29 “We have heard the pride of Moab, (he is exceeding proud) his loftiness, and his arrogancy, and his pride, and the haughtiness of his heart.”
Suffering didn’t come to humble Moab (see note on verses 11-12), so she remained proud.
Pride goeth before a fall. All of this will fade away when the judgement of God falls upon Moab.
Jeremiah 48:30 “I know his wrath, saith the LORD; but [it shall] not [be] so; his lies shall not so effect [it].”
I know his rage, either against Israel or other people; but he shall never execute it or bring to pass what he thinks to do. There is no trusting to what he saith, his boastings and his confidence are but lies and shall never affect his plans.
Moab will lie no more. They have been rendered helpless.
Jeremiah 48:31 “Therefore will I howl for Moab, and I will cry out for all Moab; [mine heart] shall mourn for the men of Kir-heres.”
The prophet, being as a man affected with the miseries of a people very wicked, and so deserving of them. Though indeed by this he does not so much design to express the affections of his own heart, as to show what reason the Moabites would have to howl for the calamities of their country. For, as Kimchi observes, the prophet here speaks in the person of the people of Moab (see Isa. 16:7).
“And I will cry out for all Moab”: The whole country of Moab, which should become desolate.
“Mine heart shall mourn for the men of Kir-heres”: The same with Kir-hareseth, a city of Moab (Isa. 16:7). Whose foundations should be sapped, the city taken, and the men of it put to the sword, or caused to flee. And their case being deplorable, the prophet says his heart should mourn for them like a dove, as Kimchi and Jarchi observe. Though it may be rendered, “he shall mourn”; that is, Moab. For the destruction of such a principal city, and the men of it. The Targum renders it, “for the men of the city of their strength.”
All of Moab is destroyed, and the prophet Jeremiah cries out in anguish at the terrible destruction.
Jeremiah 48:32 “O vine of Sibmah, I will weep for thee with the weeping of Jazer: thy plants are gone over the sea, they reach [even] to the sea of Jazer: the spoiler is fallen upon thy summer fruits and upon thy vintage.”
Sibmah was a city in the land of Moab abounding with vines, but now should be destroyed. And Jazer another city in the same country, which was destroyed before the other. And therefore, its destruction should be lamented and wept over, as that had been: or “from”, or “after the weeping of Jazer”.
“Thy plants are gone over the sea”: The Dead Sea; meaning the inhabitants of Sibmah, the governors and common people. Who were gone over sea into captivity, as it is generally understood.
“They reach even to the sea of Jazer”: A lake or confluence of water near to Jazer, called a sea. As it was usual with the Jews to call such seas; as the sea of Tiberias, and the like. This spread of the plants seems to refer to the multitudes of those that belonged to Sibmah, and the villages of it, which extended beyond the Dead Sea, even to the sea of Jazer. But as fruitful as this vine was, and extensive as its branches were, they should come to destruction.
“The spoiler is fallen upon thy summer fruits, and upon thy vintage”: The king of Babylon, who came upon them with his army in the summer season. And at the time of their vintage, and devoured the fruits of their vines and fig trees, with which this country abounded. And so impoverished and ruined them. The Targum of the whole is, “therefore as I have brought an army against Jazer, so I will bring slayers against Sibmah; they that carry them captive and have waded. They have passed through the sea; they are come to the sea of Jazer; upon thy harvest, and upon thy vintage, the spoilers are fallen.”
The wonderful vineyards are all gone.
Jeremiah 48:33 “And joy and gladness is taken from the plentiful field, and from the land of Moab; and I have caused wine to fail from the winepresses: none shall tread with shouting; [their] shouting [shall be] no shouting.”
The time of harvest and vintage being times when the husbandmen were accustomed to reap the fruit of all their labors the preceding year, were times of great joy ordinarily. But the prophet foretells them of a year when there should be no such rejoicing, for they should have no wine from the winepresses. There should be no shouting as used to be in the time of harvest and of vintage.
Without the fruit of the vineyard there can be no wine made. Sometimes wine, joy, and gladness are thought of as all part of each other. Wine perhaps gives a false sense of joy and gladness.
Jeremiah 48:34 “From the cry of Heshbon [even] unto Elealeh, [and even] unto Jahaz, have they uttered their voice, from Zoar [even] unto Horonaim, [as] a heifer of three years old: for the waters also of Nimrim shall be desolate.”
Those who fly from Heshbon on its capture shall continue the cry even as far as Elealeh. There will be continued cries in all quarters, from one end to the other, everywhere slaughter and wasting.
“As a heifer of three years old”: Moab heretofore not having known foreign yoke, and in its full strength, is compared to a heifer of three years old. Never yet yoked, nor as yet worn out with many birth-givings (see Isa 15:5).
“For the waters also of Nimrim shall be desolate”: That is, the well-watered and therefore luxuriant pastures of Nimrim. The Hebrew is stronger: not merely shall be “desolate,” but desolation itself multiplied: plural, “desolations.” The most fertile tracts shall be dried up.
Again we see the extent of the widespread desolation. The cry of a heifer three years old is speaking of when she has her first calf. The cry of one city goes to another, and so on.
Jeremiah 48:35 “Moreover I will cause to cease in Moab, saith the LORD, him that offereth in the high places, and him that burneth incense to his gods.”
A burnt offering there; that is the priest, who shall be taken and carried captive (Jer. 48:7). Even every one of them; so that there will not be one left to offer sacrifice.
“And him that burneth incense to his gods”: Chemosh, and others that the Moabites worshipped. This suggests that idolatry was one of the sins for which they were punished. And as all places and all sorts of persons should suffer in this calamity. So likewise, idolatrous places, priests, and worshippers.
Now we see the reason for the widespread destruction. They worship false gods. The burning of incense to a false god was an abomination to God. The LORD stopped them Himself.
Jeremiah 48:36 “Therefore mine heart shall sound for Moab like pipes, and mine heart shall sound like pipes for the men of Kir-heres: because the riches [that] he hath gotten are perished.”
The LORD grieved over the destruction of the Moabites, just as He had for His own people.
These pipes were used at funerals. This gives off a very mournful sound. Jeremiah mourns, even though he knows God’s judgement is just.
Jeremiah 48:37 “For every head [shall be] bald, and every beard clipped: upon all the hands [shall be] cuttings, and upon the loins sackcloth.”
Men, in times of mourning, used to pluck off the hairs of their head till they made them bald, and shaved their beards. Which, as Kimchi says, were the glory of their faces (see Isa. 15:2).
“Upon all the hands shall be cuttings”: It was usual with the Heathens to make incisions in the several parts of their bodies, particularly in their hands and arms, with their nails, or with knives, in token of mourning. Which are forbidden the Israelites (Deut. 14:1).
“And upon the loins sackcloth”: This is a well-known custom for mourners, to put off their clothes, and put on sackcloth. All these things are mentioned, to show how great the mourning of Moab for the calamities of it was.
All of these things are outward signs of mourning.
Jeremiah 48:38 “[There shall be] lamentation generally upon all the housetops of Moab, and in the streets thereof: for I have broken Moab like a vessel wherein [is] no pleasure, saith the LORD.”
Or, “all of it is mourning”. The whole country of Moab is in mourning; or all is full of mourning. All persons, places, and things, express nothing but mourning. Go where you will, it is to be seen:
“Upon all the housetops of Moab”: The flat roof of Eastern houses was the natural gathering place of men in a time of panic and distress. As it was, in a time of peace, for prayer or meditation, or even for festive meetings. So (in Isa. 22:1), the city described as “the valley of vision” (Samaria or Jerusalem), is represented as “gone up to the house tops.”
“I have broken Moab like a vessel wherein is no pleasure”: The image is one with which the prophet had made men familiar by his symbolic act (in Jer. 19:10). So Coniah was “a vessel wherein is no pleasure” (Jer. 22:28).
These housetops are where they burned their incense to the false gods, so it would be correct for them to be places of mourning now.
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.”
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 accustomed to conquer their enemies now turn their backs with shame upon their enemies. And Moab, that was accustomed to be the praise and admiration of all people, was become an astonishment, and an object of derision and scoffing to them.
Not only was Moab defeated, but they were humiliated as well. They could not understand how this could happen to so strong a land.
Jeremiah 48:40 “For thus saith the LORD; Behold, he shall fly as an eagle, and shall spread his wings over Moab.”
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 an eagle which flies, so a king shall come up with his army, and encamp against Moab.”
This is speaking of the leader of their oppressor, possibly Nebuchadnezzar, who swoops down like an eagle and takes his prey.
Jeremiah 48:41 “Kerioth is taken, and the strong holds are surprised, and the mighty men’s hearts in Moab at that day shall be as the heart of a woman in her pangs.”
The name of a city in Moab (as in Jer. 48:24); so Jarchi, and others state. But Kimchi and Abarbinel observe, that it may be taken for the giving of a name, and be rendered “the cities”; every one of the cities of Moab, which were as easily and quickly taken as one city. These may intend the cities in the plain, as the strong holds of those in high places.
“And the strong holds are surprised”: Every one of them; so that there was not a city, or a fortified place, but that which came into the enemies’ hands.
“And the mighty men’s hearts in Moab at that day shall be as the heart of a woman in her pangs”: Even the hearts of the soldiers, and the most courageous generals, shall sink within them. And they be not only as suffering from fear as women in common. But as low spirited as a woman when she finds her pains are coming upon her, and the time of her delivery is at hand.
This is speaking of fear and pain that comes upon these men, as a woman giving birth.
Jeremiah 48:42 “And Moab shall be destroyed from [being] a people, because he hath magnified [himself] against the LORD.”
For some time, not always. Since the captivity of Moab is promised to be returned (Jer. 48:47). Or from being such a people as they had been, enjoying so much ease, wealth, power, and prosperity. Abarbinel takes it to be a comparative, and renders it, “more than a people”; that is, shall be destroyed more than any other people; but the former sense is best.
“Because he hath magnified himself against the LORD “: The Targum states, against the people of the LORD. This is the cause of his destruction (see Jer. 48:26).
Lucifer found out that you do not magnify yourself against the LORD. This is just punishment for such a horrendous sin.
Jeremiah 48:43 “Fear, and the pit, and the snare, [shall be] upon thee, O inhabitant of Moab, saith the LORD.”
A proverbial expression, showing, that if they escaped one danger, or sore judgment, they should fall into another and greater. The words seem to be taken from (Isa. 24:17).
“O inhabitant of Moab, saith the LORD”: What in the prophecy of Isaiah is said of the inhabitants of the earth in general, is here applied to the inhabitants of Moab in particular.
All of these things happen when a people are doomed. There is no escape. Unchecked sin brings this type of doom whether you are Moab or anyone else.
Jeremiah 48:44 “He that fleeth from the fear shall fall into the pit; and he that getteth up out of the pit shall be taken in the snare: for I will bring upon it, [even] upon Moab, the year of their visitation, saith the LORD.”
The year of their visitation speaks of their death. This judgement is of God, and there is no escape.
Jeremiah 48:45 “They that fled stood under the shadow of Heshbon because of the force: but a fire shall come forth out of Heshbon, and a flame from the midst of Sihon, and shall devour the corner of Moab, and the crown of the head of the tumultuous ones.”
Heshbon was a strong city in the land of Moab, to which many of the Moabites took themselves in this time of their calamity. Thinking they should be sheltered, under the protection of it, from the fury of the Chaldean army. Here they fled, and here they stood, imagining they were safe, “because of the force”.
“But a fire shall come forth out of Heshbon, and a flame from the midst of Sihon”: The same with Heshbon; so called from Sihon, an ancient king of it. The meaning is, that the Chaldeans should make themselves masters of Heshbon, this strong city, in which the Moabites trusted. And from there should go out like a flame of fire, and spread themselves all over the country, and destroy it. What was formerly said of the Amorites, who took the land of Moab out of the hands of the king of it, and it became afterwards a proverbial expression, is here applied to the Chaldeans (see Num. 21:26). So the Targum says, by a flame of fire, understands warriors:
“And shall devour the corner of Moab”: The whole country, even to the borders of it. The Targum states, “and shall slay the princes of Moab;” so great men are sometimes called corners (see Zech. 10:4).
“And the crown of the head of the tumultuous ones”: Not of the common people that were tumultuous and riotous, but of the great ones, who swaggered and boasted, and made a noise about their strength and riches. But now should have their heads broke, and their pride and glory laid in the dust. So the Targum says, “and the nobles, the children of noise.”
They may escape imprisonment, but if they do the fire will destroy them. There is no escaping the wrath of God.
Jeremiah 48:46 “Woe be unto thee, O Moab! the people of Chemosh perisheth: for thy sons are taken captives, and thy daughters captives.”
The inhabitants of Moab, who worshipped the idol Chemosh (of which see Jer. 48:7). And so, called his people, as Israel were called the people of the LORD. Now these, notwithstanding their idol, whom they worshipped, and in whom they trusted, should perish. And sad and deplorable would be their condition and circumstances.
“For thy sons are taken captives, and thy daughters captives”: This explains the woe that should come upon them, and in what sense they should perish. Since their sons and daughters, who they hoped would have continued their name and nation, were taken, and would be carried captives into Babylon (see Num. 21:29).
Jeremiah 48:47 “Yet will I bring again the captivity of Moab in the latter days, saith the LORD. Thus far [is] the judgment of Moab.”
“I will bring again”: God will allow a remnant of Moab to return to the land (compare 12:14-17; 46:26; 48:47; 49:6, 39), through their descendants in the messianic era (“the latter days”).
Some are killed, and the others are taken captive. In the end times (latter days), God will bring Moab back to its land.
Jeremiah Chapter 48 Questions
- Why should they stop the mourning?
- When will the war stop?
- Who was “Moab”?
- Who was “Nebo”?
- Kiriathaim was known as the city of the _________.
- Their destruction was great physically, but they were ________________, as well.
- How could they save their lives?
- What had they trusted in, instead of in God?
- In verse 9, Moab is spoken of as what?
- Who besides Moab is cursed if they deceitfully use the Word of God?
- What is another way of explaining verse 11?
- Moab is sometimes spoken of as a _______ jar.
- Why was the house of Israel ashamed about Beth-el?
- What had happened to the young strong men?
- What does “espy” mean?
- Why is Moab fleeing?
- What verses give a list of the destroyed cities?
- What does the “horn” symbolize in the Bible?
- Why are they drunk in verse 26?
- What does “derision” in verse 27 mean?
- What has happened to the vineyards?
- Wine gives a false sense of ________ and ____________.
- What was the reason for the widespread destruction?
- What are the pipes in verse 36 used for?
- Where were the lamentations given?
- What are some of the outward signs of mourning?
- Who is flying like an eagle in verse 40?
- _________ found out you do not magnify yourself against the LORD.
- What will happen to them, if they escape imprisonment?
- When are the latter days?
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