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Jeremiah 48


(The parentheses represent poetic literary units)

Prophecy Against Moab Judgment On Moab Against Moab The Destruction of Moab Prophecies Against Moab
48:1a 48:1-13
    (3-6)   48:3-9
      The Cities of Moab Are Destroyed 48:10
48:11 48:11
  (12-13)   48:12-13 48:12-13
  (14-15) 48:14-20
  (18-20) (18-20)   48:18-20
48:21-35 (21-25) 48:21-25 48:21-25 48:21-24
      Moab Will Be Humbled 48:25
48:26-27 48:26-27 48:26-27
(28-33)   48:28-33
48:28-33 48:28
    48:34-36 48:34-35 48:34
  (35-36)     48:35
48:36-39     48:36-39 48:36-39
  (37-39) 48:37-44 No Escape For Moab  
(40-44) 48:40-46 48:40-43
      48:47 48:47

READING CYCLE THREE (see introductory section)


This is a study guide commentary,which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.



A. This is a lengthy condemnation of Moab (cf. Isaiah 15-16) made up of several different poems and comments about their judgment. Moab, Ammon, and Edom were relatives of the Israelites.

1. Moab - judged in chapter 48

2. Ammon - judged in 49:1-6

3. Edom - judged in 49:7-22


B. There are many (17 or 18) imperatives in this chapter. Several of them are involved in Kethiv, (in MT text) Qere (suggested reading in the margin) issues. The Masoretic scholars recognized about one thousand places in the OT where one form is in the text but another is suggested in the margin. There are five of these in this chapter and three are related to the gender of the imperatives.

1. v. 18, "sit" (BDB 442, KB 444)

a. Qal participle masculine plural (Kethiv)

b. Qal imperative feminine singular (Qere)

2. v. 20, "wail" (BDB 410, KB 413)

a. Hiphil imperative feminine singular (Kethiv)

b. Hophol imperative masculine plural (Qere)

3. v. 20, "cry out" (BDB 277, KB 277)

a. Qal imperative feminine singular (Kethiv)

b. Qal imperative masculine plural (Qere)

This same "feminine" vs. "masculine" issue is also involved in v. 27.

1. Niphal perfect feminine singular (Kethiv)

2. Niphal perfect masculine plural (Qere)

The issue involves the proper gender when addressing a nation or inhabitants of a city.


C. Notice how many cities are listed in this chapter.

1. Nebo, vv. 1, 22 (cf. Isa. 15:2)

2. Kiriathaim, vv. 1, 23 (cf. Ezek. 25:9)

3. Heshbon, vv. 2,34, 45 (cf. Isa. 15:4; 16:8,9)

4. Dimon/Dibon ("Madmen"), vv. 2, 18, 22 (cf. Isa. 15:2,9)

5. Horonaim, vv. 3, 5, 34 (cf. Isa. 15:5)

6. Luhith, v. 5 (cf. Isa. 15:5)

7. Aroer, v. 19 (possibly v. 6, cf Deut. 2:36; 3:12; 4:48)

8. Holon, v. 21 (possibly Horon, cf. Isa. 15:5 and same as #5)

9. Jahzah, vv. 21, 34 (cf. Isa. 15:4)

10. Mephaath, v. 21 (cf. Josh. 13:18; 21:37)

11. Beth-diblathaim, v. 22

12. Beth-gamul, v. 23

13. Beth-meor, v. 23

14. Kerioth, vv. 24, 41 (cf. Amos 2:2)

15. Bozrah, v. 24

16. Kir-heres, vv. 31, 36 (one of Moab's capitals, cf. Isa. 16:7, 11)

17. Sibmah, v. 32 (cf. Isa. 16:8,9)

18. Jazer, v. 32 (cf. Isa. 16:8,9)

19. Elealeh, v. 34 (cf. Isa. 15:4; 16:9)

20. Zoar, v. 34 (cf. Isa. 15:5, RSV and NEB have it in v. 4)

21. Eglath-shelishiyah, v. 34 (cf. Isa. 15:5)

22. Sihon, v. 45 (name of an Amorite king who lived in Heshbon, #3)



1Concerning Moab. Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel,
"Woe to Nebo, for it has been destroyed;
Kiriathaim has been put to shame, it has been captured;
The lofty stronghold has been put to shame and shattered.
2There is praise for Moab no longer;
In Heshbon they have devised calamity against her:
'Come and let us cut her off from being a nation!'
You too, Madmen, will be silenced;
The sword will follow after you.
3The sound of an outcry from Horonaim,
'Devastation and great destruction!'
4Moab is broken,
Her little ones have sounded out a cry of distress.
5For by the ascent of Luhith
They will ascend with continual weeping;
For at the descent of Horonaim
They have heard the anguished cry of destruction.
6Flee, save your lives,
That you may be like a juniper in the wilderness.
7For because of your trust in your own achievements and treasures,
Even you yourself will be captured;
And Chemosh will go off into exile
Together with his priests and his princes.
8A destroyer will come to every city,
So that no city will escape;
The valley also will be ruined
And the plateau will be destroyed,
As the Lord has said.
9Give wings to Moab,
For she will flee away;
And her cities will become a desolation,
Without inhabitants in them.
10Cursed be the one who does the Lord's work negligently,
And cursed be the one who restrains his sword from blood."

48:1 "Moab" The etymology of the name is uncertain. Genesis 19:37 seems to connect it to Lot's daughter, linking the child to her father, "from my father" or "water of my father," but this is the type of popular etymology so common in the OT. Lot's incestuous child becomes the designation of a nation (as does the other daughter's son, Ammon (cf. Gen. 19:38). Their territory was between the Zered and Arnon Rivers on the eastern side of the Dead Sea.

▣ "Nebo" This term (BDB 612) has several biblical orientations.

1. a Babylonian deity (cf. Isa. 46:1), sometimes spelled "Nabu." He was the eldest son of Marduk.

 2. a mountain in Moab just east of the top of the Dead Sea, in the plains of Moab from which Moses was allowed to view (but not enter) the Promised Land (cf. Deut. 32:48-52). He died there and was buried by God (cf. Deuteronomy 34). The mountain was also known as Pisgah (cf. Deut. 34:1).

3. a city on the plains of Moab (cf. Num. 32:3,38; Isa. 15:2; Jer. 48:1,22)


▣ "Kiriathaim" This city (not to be confused with Kiriatharim) is located on the eastern side of the Jordan River on the plateau of Moab (cf. line 5) in the tribal allocation of Reuben (cf. Num. 32:37; Josh. 13:19; Jer. 48:1,23; Ezek. 25:9). The name itself (BDB 900) means "double city."

NASB"the lofty stronghold"
NKJV"the high stronghold"
NRSV, NET"the fortress"
TEV"its mighty fortress"
NJB"the citadel"
JPSOA"the stronghold"

This word (BDB 960, KB 640) basically means "high refuge" (cf. Isa. 33:16). However, it has the article which is unusual - "the fortress" - unless it is referring to all of the plateau of Moab (cf. v. 8d). Also, the noun for fortress is masculine in gender, but all the verbs used in 48:1 (except for the first one, "say") are third person feminine singular. There are two other cities listed in v. 1. These feminine forms fit a place name (cf. LXX and REB). Unfortunately this place name appears nowhere in ancient literature.

48:2 "Heshbon" This city (BDB 363 II) is in northern Moab but it was in an area contested by Ammon (cf. Num. 21:25). Apparently it is involved in a conspiracy against Moab, possibly by the Ammonites. However, it is probably better to see it as a reference to a campsite of the Babylonian army.

There is a word play between the name of Heshbon (BDB 363 II, חשׁבון) and the verb "devised calamity" (BDB 362, KB 359, Qal perfect, חשׁבו).

▣ "Madmen" There is considerable doubt about the meaning of this word (מדמן, BDB 199, KB 226-227). Do not confuse it with the English meaning.

1. a play on the verb (BDB 198 I, KB 226 I) "be silenced" (cf. LXX)

2. a play on dung hill (BDB 199 I, KB 226, ןמד, cf. Isa. 25:10)

3. a city's name (BDB 199), found only in Jer. 48:2

4. a play on "Dimon" (BDB 192, דימון, cf. Isa. 15:9), a variant of Dibon (BDB 192, cf. Isa. 15:2)


48:3 "Horonaim" The term (BDB 357) means "two hollows," "two caves," or "two ravines." This city's name is found only in Isa. 15:5 and Jer. 48:5,34 although RSV translates II Sam. 13:34 as a form of this word.

48:4 "Her little ones" The RSV and NRSV think this word (צעוריה [translated "servants" in 14:3], BDB 859) should be translated by a city's name, Zoar (צער, BDB 858, cf. v. 34 and Isa. 15:5). The LXX also has a place name here (i.e., Zogora).

The UBS Text Project gives the Qere reading, "her little ones," a "B" rating. In this way the grammar of the Hebrew verse fits better.

48:5 "Luhith" This Moabite city (BDB 532) is linked to Horonaim as a place of ascent and descent, probably close to the Dead Sea.

48:6 The cities of Moab are doomed. They are commanded to

1. flee - Qal imperative

2. save your lives - Piel imperative

3. give wings - Qal imperative


NASB, NKJV"like a juniper"
NRSV, LXX"like a wild ass"
TEV, NJB"like a wild donkey"
JPSOA"like Aroer"
REB"like one destitute"
Pehsitta"like a plant"

The MT is uncertain, as the various options show. Aroer (cf. v. 19b) is the name of a city in Moab (BDB 792 II) and the parallelism of other cities seems to favor this option.

However, a similar word "shrub" or "juniper" is used in Jer. 17:6 (BDB 792 I),

"Aroer" - כערוער (BDB 792 II), as in v. 19

"wild ass" - כערוד (KB 882) in LXX and Aquila, cf. 2:24; 14:6 (different Hebrew word)

"juniper" - כערער (BDB 792 I, KB 883, cf. 17:6) in MT which UBS Text Project gives a "C" rating


48:7 "For because you trusted in. . ." Several things are mentioned that Moab trusted (BDB 105, KB 120, Qal infinitive construct).

1. NASB "our own achievements"

NKJV "works"

NRSV, LXX "strongholds"

TEV "strength"

NJB "deeds"

JPSOA "wealth"

REB "defenses"

The MT has "deeds" or "works" (BDB 795), which could refer to a number of things.

2. "treasures" JPSOA sees both #1 and #2 as parallel

3. they also trusted in their national idol Chemosh who would utterly fail them (cf. vv. 13,35)

The pride, arrogance, and idolatry of Moab is clearly seen in vv. 29-30,42.

▣ "Chemosh" This was the national deity of the Moabites (cf. Num. 21:29), where Moab is called "the people of Chemosh." In Jdgs. 11:24 this deity is linked to Ammon. Solomon brought this cult into Jerusalem in I Kgs. 11:7; II Kgs. 23:13, on behalf of his young Canaanite wives.

The etymology of the name itself (BDB 484) is uncertain. Some scholars assume "destroyer," or "subduer," while other scholars see it linked to a "fish god." Most of our information about this Canaanite deity comes from the Mesha Stele called "the Moabite Stone," discovered in 1868 at Dibon.

The text of II Kgs. 3:21-27 (esp. v. 27) strongly suggests that Chemosh was worshiped with child sacrifice, as were Molech and Ba'al, two other Canaanite fertility gods.

48:8 Moab's doom was by the word of YHWH (cf. v. 15c). His instrument was Babylon.


NJB, JPSOA"Give wings"
NRSV"Set aside salt"
TEV"Set up a tombstone"
LXX"give signs"
REB"give a warning signal"

There are several options on how to understand this line of poetry.

1. the MT has "wings" (BDB 851 II), a unique meaning from a supposed Aramiac root used only here

2. LXX, TEV, and REB see the verb as a road marker (BDB 846, cf. 33:21)

3. the NRSV assumes a Ugaritic root, "salt," which would fit the context of judgment (cf. Jdgs. 9:45)


48:10 Many English translations mark this as a parenthesis (cf. TEV, NJB, NET). It is addressed to the Babylonian invaders, admonishing them to fully execute YHWH's judgment on every city in Moab. Show no mercy!

11"Moab has been at ease since his youth;
He has also been undisturbed, like wine on its dregs,
And he has not been emptied from vessel to vessel,
Nor has he gone into exile.
Therefore he retains his flavor,
And his aroma has not changed.
12Therefore behold, the days are coming," declares the Lord, "when I will send to him those who tip vessels, and they will tip him over, and they will empty his vessels and shatter his jars. 13And Moab will be ashamed of Chemosh, as the house of Israel was ashamed of Bethel, their confidence.
14How can you say, 'We are mighty warriors,
And men valiant for battle'?
15Moab has been destroyed and men have gone up to his cities;
His choicest young men have also gone down to the slaughter,"
Declares the King, whose name is the Lord of hosts.
16"The disaster of Moab will soon come,
And his calamity has swiftly hastened.
17Mourn for him, all you who live around him,
Even all of you who know his name;
Say, 'How has the mighty scepter been broken,
A staff of splendor!'
18Come down from your glory
And sit on the parched ground,
O daughter dwelling in Dibon,
For the destroyer of Moab has come up against you,
He has ruined your strongholds.
19Stand by the road and keep watch,
O inhabitant of Aroer;
Ask him who flees and her who escapes
And say, 'What has happened?'
20Moab has been put to shame, for it has been shattered.
Wail and cry out;
Declare by the Arnon
That Moab has been destroyed."

48:11-20 Notice that all the English translations have different ways to divide this chapter into paragraphs/strophes. It is often difficult to distinguish between prose and poetry. Even though these divisions are not inspired (i.e., marked in the original text) they serve the hermeneutical purpose of determining the literary units and how they relate to each other. Every paragraph/strophe has one main truth. This information is crucial in trying to find and follow the original inspired author's intent. See Biblical Interpretation Seminar online at

48:11-12 This is imagery drawn from the wine industry (see Special Topic at 23:9). Notice how this is also seen in verses 26 and 33. Because of these allusions to wine making these poems may have been joined together in one context

48:13 Idol worship brought shame and humiliation, to Israel or to Moab (i.e., v. 35; Isa. 44:10-11; 45:16).

The allusion to Bethel: (1) a title for God used by the Jewish inhabitants of Elephantine, an island in the Nile River (lit. "House of God") or (2) a place name involving Jeroboam I setting up a rival temple site at Bethel where the symbol of YHWH (i.e., the golden calf, cf. Exodus 32) was turned into Canaanite fertility worship (cf. I Kgs. 12:25-33).

As fallen humans trust (BDB 105) in the power of manmade gods and reject or ignore the one true God, there is no hope, confidence, or security! Idols cannot affect reality!

48:17-20 This part of a larger poem addresses two groups.

1. those who live near Moab

2. those who have heard of it

These two groups are collectively personified and give advice to Moab.

1. mourn, v. 17 - Qal imperative

2. say, v. 17 - Qal imperative

3. come down, v. 18 - Qal imperative

4. sit, v. 18 - Qal imperative(Qere)

5. stand by, v. 19 - Qal imperative

6. keep watch, v. 19 - Piel imperative

7. ask, v. 19 - Qal imperative

8. say, v. 19 - Qal imperative

9. wail, v. 20 - Hiphil imperative

10. cry out, v. 20 - Qal imperative

11. declare, v. 20 - Hiphil imperative


48:17 "scepter. . .staff" These are both royal symbols of power.

1. scepter - BDB 641, a staff or rod

2. staff - BDB 596

They could refer to

1. a shepherd's staff (cf. Gen. 32:10)

2. a traveler's stick (cf. Exod. 12:11)

3. riding stick (cf. Num. 22:27)

4. weapon (cf. I Sam. 17:40; Ezek. 39:9)

5. diviner's rod (cf. Hos. 4:12)

6. kingly power (i.e., Messianic in Zechariah 11)

Here it refers to the kingdom of Moab.

48:18-28 The Jewish Study Bible (p. 1022) asserts that this poem/oracle is based on the imagery of a woman being raped (i.e., Moab by Babylon), possibly because there are so many feminine singular forms.


NJB, REB"sit on the parched ground"
NKJV, JPSOA"sit on the ground in the dust"
LXX"sit on moist ground"
Peshitta"sit in disgrace"
AB"sit in filth [?]"

The footnote in the AB (Anchor Bible Commentary by John Bright) lists the options as (p. 315):

1. basso'ah - filth/excrement

2. bassama - thirst (MT)

3. bassame - on parched ground (cf. Isa. 44:3)

The JPSOA footnote says "Meaning of the Heb. uncertain" (p. 1022). Often in poetry one must rely on

1. context (i.e., parallelism and strophe emphasis)

2. cognate roots in other Semitic languages

3. parallel passages (for Jeremiah 48 use Isaiah 15-16)

The Expositor's Bible Commentary (p. 662) has a chart that shows the relationship between Isaiah 15-16 and Jeremiah 48.

Isa. 15:2 - Jer. 48:1

Isa. 15:2-3 - Jer. 48:37

Isa. 15:3 - Jer. 48:38

Isa. 15:4 - Jer. 48:21,5

Isa. 15:4-6 - Jer. 48:5,34

Isa. 15:5 - Jer. 48:3

Isa. 15:5; 16:7,11 - Jer. 48:31

Isa. 15:7 - Jer. 48:36

Isa. 16:6 - Jer. 48:29

Isa. 16:8-9 - Jer. 48:32

Isa. 16:10 - Jer. 48:33

Isa. 16:11 - Jer. 48:36

Isa. 16:12 - Jer. 48:35


21"Judgment has also come upon the plain, upon Holon, Jahzah and against Mephaath, 22against Dibon, Nebo and Beth-diblathaim, 23against Kiriathaim, Beth-gamul and Beth-meon, 24against Kerioth, Bozrah and all the cities of the land of Moab, far and near. 25The horn of Moab has been cut off and his arm broken," declares the Lord. 26"Make him drunk, for he has become arrogant toward the Lord; so Moab will wallow in his vomit, and he also will become a laughingstock. 27Now was not Israel a laughingstock to you? Or was he caught among thieves? For each time you speak about him you shake your head in scorn.
28Leave the cities and dwell among the crags,
O inhabitants of Moab,
And be like a dove that nests
Beyond the mouth of the chasm.
29We have heard of the pride of Moab-he is very proud-
Of his haughtiness, his pride, his arrogance and his self-exaltation.
30I know his fury," declares the Lord,
"But it is futile;
His idle boasts have accomplished nothing.
31Therefore I will wail for Moab,
Even for all Moab will I cry out;
I will moan for the men of Kir-heres.
32More than the weeping for Jazer
I will weep for you, O vine of Sibmah!
Your tendrils stretched across the sea,
They reached to the sea of Jazer;
Upon your summer fruits and your grape harvest
The destroyer has fallen.
33So gladness and joy are taken away
From the fruitful field, even from the land of Moab.
And I have made the wine to cease from the wine presses;
No one will tread them with shouting,
The shouting will not be shouts of joy.
 34From the outcry at Heshbon even to Elealeh, even to Jahaz they have raised their voice, from Zoar even to Horonaim and to Eglath-shelishiyah; for even the waters of Nimrim will become desolate. 35I will make an end of Moab," declares the Lord, "the one who offers sacrifice on the high place and the one who burns incense to his gods."

48:21-24 The cities of Moab are listed.

48:25 Two ancient metaphors are used to describe Moab's total defeat.

1. her "horn" has been cut off (BDB 154, KB 180, Niphal perfect)

2. her arm broken (BDB 990, KB 1402, Niphal perfect)


48:26 The imagery from excessive wine drinking is used as a metaphor for judgment (cf. 52:27; Isa. 19:14).

1. make him drunk

2. wallow in his vomit (lit. "splash," see BDB 706, Qal #3, meaning used only here, usually the verb means to "clap" one's hands in joy or one's thigh in grief)

The reasons for YHWH's judgment of Moab:

1. he is arrogant toward YHWH, vv. 26, 42

2. he is prideful, v. 29 (cf. Isa. 16:6)

3. his idle boasts are futile, v. 30


NJB, JPSOA"laughingstock"

This word (BDB 966) denotes joyous laughter (Job 8:21; Ps. 126:2; Eccl. 2:2; 10:19), but when used in sarcasm it denotes derision (cf. Jer. 20:7; Lam. 3:14; Job 12:4).

48:27 What Moab did to Israel is now done to them (i.e., reversal)! For an example of this kind of derision see Lamentations 2:15-17!

48:28 This verse has three Qal imperatives. They use imagery involving the inhabitants of Moab, to seek safety in the uninhabited places (i.e., crags, caves, cf. 16:16; Jdgs. 6:2; I Sam. 13:6; Isa. 2:19).

48:29-39 The Jewish Study Bible (p. 1022) notes that these verses are written in a 3/2 beat, which characterized funeral songs. This is the lament form often used in prophetic literature in the sense of "woe."

48:29 This is similar to Isa. 16:6. Moab's judgment is discussed in Isaiah 15-16. There are many literary parallels and allusions between Jeremiah 48 and Isaiah 15-16. Isaiah wrote before Jeremiah.

The UBS A Handbook on Jeremiah (p. 888) mentions that there are several nouns used to describe the pride of Moab.

1. the pride of Moab (BDB 144)

2. he is very proud (BDB 144 and 547)

3. his haughtiness (BDB 147)

4. his pride (BDB 144)

5. his arrogance (BDB 144)

6. his self-exaltation (lit. "elevation of his heart," BDB 927 construct BDB 524)

This purposeful repetition is to powerfully communicate the prideful attitude of Moab (cf. v. 7).

48:31-32 The subject is YHWH (cf. vv. 33,36; 31:20; Isa. 16:11; Hosea 11:8-9). He continuously grieves over the necessity of judgment on Moab, part of the tribal inheritance of His people. Judgment is YHWH's strange work! He desires to bless, prosper, and restore!

Notice the powerful, remorseful parallel.

1. I wail - BDB 410, KB 413, Hiphil imperfect

2. I cry out - BDB 277, KB 277, Qal imperfect

3. I mourn - BDB 211, KB 237, Qal imperfect (form is 3rd person but parallelism is 1st person)

The NASB Study Bible (p. 1132) asserts that the first person pronoun should refer to the prophet and uses Isa. 15:5 and 16:9 as examples.

48:32 Lines 3 and 4 are repeated from Isa. 16:8. The MT has "sea" twice but the LXX does not. The "sea" would refer to the Dead Sea.

48:34 The geographical locations are uncertain, but the meaning is obvious-the outcry of judgment is heard far and wide!

 36"Therefore My heart wails for Moab like flutes; My heart also wails like flutes for the men of Kir-heres. Therefore they have lost the abundance it produced. 37For every head is bald and every beard cut short; there are gashes on all the hands and sackcloth on the loins. 38On all the housetops of Moab and in its streets there is lamentation everywhere; for I have broken Moab like an undesirable vessel," declares the Lord. 39"How shattered it is! How they have wailed! How Moab has turned his back-he is ashamed! So Moab will become a laughingstock and an object of terror to all around him."

48:37-38 These were signs of mourning (cf. 4:8, see Special Topic at 2:37). It is possible they were also denoting idol rituals (i.e., "gashes on their hands," cf. 16:6, or "on house tops," cf. 19:13; 32:29) or possibly even the corrupted worship of YHWH (cf. 41:5).

48:39 "turned back" This verb (BDB 815, KB 937, Hiphil perfect) can refer to

1. humiliation

2. retreat in battle


40For thus says the Lord:
"Behold, one will fly swiftly like an eagle
And spread out his wings against Moab.
41Kerioth has been capturedv
And the strongholds have been seized,
So the hearts of the mighty men of Moab in that day
Will be like the heart of a woman in labor.
42Moab will be destroyed from being a people
Because he has become arrogant toward the Lord.
43Terror, pit and snare are coming upon you,
O inhabitant of Moab," declares the Lord.
44"The one who flees from the terror
Will fall into the pit,
And the one who climbs up out of the pit
Will be caught in the snare;
For I shall bring upon her, even upon Moab,
The year of their punishment," declares the Lord.

48:40 This refers to Nebuchadnezzar's army (cf. 4:13; 49:22; Ezek. 17:3; Hos. 8:1).


NJB, REB"the towns"

The Hebrew root, קרת (BDB 900) means "city." The form in the text, תוירקה, is used of a proper name in Amos 2:2 (but a different Hebrew word for "strongholds") and also on the Moabite Stone.

▣ "like. . .a woman in labor" See note at 30:6.

48:43-44 This same terminology is used in Isa. 24:17-18, possibly a well known proverbial saying because it is a sound play on the three words (BDB 808, 809, 809 I). Imagery from hunting techniques are used of YHWH's judgment (cf. Amos 5:19). There is no escape, no help, no hope!

45"In the shadow of Heshbon
The fugitives stand without strength;
For a fire has gone forth from Heshbon
And a flame from the midst of Sihon,
And it has devoured the forehead of Moab
And the scalps of the riotous revelers.
46Woe to you, Moab!
The people of Chemosh have perished;
For your sons have been taken away captive
And your daughters into captivity.
47Yet I will restore the fortunes of Moab
In the latter days," declares the Lord.

48:45 "the forehead of Moab" This is an allusion to Num. 24:17, which is one of the prophecies of Balaam. "Forehead" (BDB 802), like "rod" and "staff" of v. 17, is a symbol of royal power.

It is also possible that "forehead" is parallel to "crown" (BDB 869), meaning the heads of the rebellious Moabites were crushed (i.e., killed in battle).

48:47 As YHWH grieves over His need to judge (cf. vv. 31,36), now He promises a future day of hope (cf. 12:14-17). It must be remembered that YHWH chose Abraham/Israel to choose the world (see Special Topic at 1:5).


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