JEREMIAH CHAPTER 48
The judgment of Moab, Jeremiah 48:1-6, for their pride, Jeremiah 48:7-10; for their security and human confidence, Jeremiah 48:11-25; especially for their contempt of God, and insolence towards his people, Jeremiah 48:26-46. Their restoration, Jeremiah 48:47.
The prophet having, Jer 46; denounced God’s judgment against Egypt, and against the Philistines, Jer 47, in this chapter he cometh to do the like against the Moabites. Moab, the father of these Moabites, was the son of Lot, Genesis 19:37. the Moabites’ country lay in the way the Israelites went to Canaan, Numbers 21:11,13, near the country of the Ammonites. Balak was king of it when the Israelites passed by it, who sent for the sorcerer Balaam to curse them, Numbers 22:5, who, Numbers 24:5, &c., blessed them. They seduced the Israelites to adultery and idolatry, Numbers 25:1.
Moab was a large country, and had many cities; we shall have divers of them named in this chapter; the first that we read of Nebo in holy writ is Numbers 32:3,38. Reuben built both that and Kirathaim, as may be read there, Numbers 32:38,39. It was also the name of a mountain, Deuteronomy 34:1. It should seem that in Jeremiah’s time, the Moabites had got both the possession of Nebo, and Kiriathaim, and
Misgab, of which we read no more in Scripture. It seems to be a city built upon some hill or high place. The prophet threateneth ruin to all these three cities.
Heshbon was formerly the city of Sihon, Numbers 21:26; it became afterward one of the principal cities of the Moabites, as appeareth from Isaiah 15:4; which maketh 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 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 threateneth ruin and destruction by the sword.
Another city of Moab, mentioned only in this place, and in Isaiah 15:5. Some think it the same with Horon, where Sanballat was born, Nehemiah 2:10 13:28. The prophet threatens also ruin and destruction to this city.
Moab was both the name of the whole country, and of a principal city in it. Some by it here understand the city; by her
little ones some understand little children; others, inferior magistrates, or the common people.
Luhith we read only in this place, and Isaiah 15:5; it was a city of Moab, and situated upon a hill, as appears both here and where it is mentioned in Isaiah. Some think that to this city the Moabites fled for sanctuary from the Chaldeans, and fleeing made so great an outcry that their enemies who pursued them heard their cry.
It is of no great moment whether we understand these as the words of the Moabites, calling one to another to flee, and save their lives, though they lost all they had, and left themselves as bare as a naked tree; or as the words of the prophets speaking to the Moabites to the same sense.
Whether by works in this place he meant their riches, got by the labour of their hands, or their idols, which often are called, by way of defamation, the works of their own hands, or their fortifications, is not much considerable; a confidence in creatures, opposed to a confidence in God, is doubtless the sin here intended, whatever the ground of it was, whether their idols, or riches, or fortified places.
Chemosh was their principal idol, as appears by Numbers 21:29 Jude 11:24 1 Kings 11:7,33 2 Kings 23:13. God showeth them the vanity of this idolatry, by telling them that this idol should go into captivity, and be so far from being able to protect them, that he should not be able to protect himself or his own priests, or the princes that favoured him.
That is, all the parts of the country of Moab, and all the cities, as well those that stood upon hills and mountainous places, as those that stood in valleys; because or for the Lord had said it (for so the particle we translate as is bettea translated).
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 be all brought to desolation, so as no inhabitants shall be left in them.
These words seem like the words of the prophet to the Chaldeans, inciting them to go on valiantly against the Moabites, calling it
the work of the Lord, which he would have done, and to which he had called them. There is a time to withhold our hands from shedding blood, and that is always when we have not a special authority and call from God to it; and there is a time when God will curse those that do so withhold their hands, that time is when God doth require the shedding of it.
Moab hath been at ease from his youth; the Moabites ever since they began to be a people have been a quiet people, not exercised with wars, and enemies making inroads upon them.
He hath settled on his lees; like to a cask of wine, that hath not been racked, but hath continued in the same state.
And hath not been emptied from vessel to vessel; he follows the metaphor of wine, which is drawn out from vessel to vessel, when it is drawn off the lees. It is expounded by the next words,
neither hath he gone into captivity. And this is the reason why they retain their old sins, pride, presumption, luxury, and old wickednesses, as wine while it remaineth in the lees retains more its nature, strength, and colour than when it is once racked.
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, travellers, removers, &c., 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.
It is a natural and a penal shame which is here spoken of; we are naturally ashamed when we have reposed a great confidence in, and made great boasts of, a thing which, when it comes to be tried, proveth of no use, but mischievous to us.
Chemosh was their great idol, in which the Moabites had great confidence, and of which they boasted; the prophet tells them they should be ashamed of this idol, or for this idol; as the Israelites, that is, the ten tribes, were ashamed of or for the golden calves, which Jeroboam set up at Dan and Beth-el, which were the cause of ruin to those tribes. Confidences in any thing but in God alone in a time of danger will bring both natural and penal shame.
How can ye justify what you say, or why say you so, or to what purpose do you brag of your valour?
Moab is spoiled; 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, and alerted in, 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 effect what he saith.
Josephus tells us this destruction came upon the Moabites five years after the siege of Jerusalem; but if it were longer, we must consider that he who speaketh is that God to whom a thousand years is but as one day.
All ye that are about him, bemoan him: the prophet having spoken of Moab’s calamity as already come upon him, or at least very near, calls to his friends to come and condole with him, as is usually done in case of some calamity befallen to a friend.
All ye that know his name, say, How is the strong staff broken, and the beautiful rod! All ye that know how terrible Moab hath been to others, and how famous for mighty and strong men, say, How is this potent nation, and this people that hath been such a rod against others, or hath ruled over so many others, broken! for both a staff and a rod are as well ensigns of power and government, as instruments to punish offenders.
Dibon we read Numbers 21:30. It was a land for cattle, Numbers 32:3. Both Dibon, and Aroer, and Ataroth were built by-the children of Gad, to whose lot it fell, Numbers 32:34, as also to the Reubenites in part, Jos 13 17. It should seem that the Moabites were now come into the possession of it, either by conquest, or upon the Assyrians taking the ten tribes.
Sit in thirst; it was a place well watered (otherwise it had not been fit for cattle); God threateneth that she should be
in thirst, that is, driven into some dry, barren countries.
For the spoiler of Moab shall come upon thee, and he shall destroy thy strong holds; for the king of Babylon, whom God had appointed to spoil all Moab, shall destroy thee also, and thy strong holds shall not secure thee.
Aroer was a city in the lot of Gad and Reuben, Numbers 32:34. In David’s time it was in the hand of the Jews, 1 Samuel 30:28, but in Isaiah’s time it belonged to Syria, Isaiah 17:2, and here it is reckoned to the Moabites. The inhabitants of it are called to
stand by the way, and seeing the Moabites fleeing, to ask what news. Others think that Aroer was at this time a city of the Ammonites, and here called unto to see their neighbours the Moabites fleeing before their enemies.
Arnon was the name of a river, Numbers 21:14 Deuteronomy 2:36 Joshua 12:1. It was the border of Moab, whither Balak went to meet Balaam, Numbers 22:36; probably the adjacent country or city might take its name from the river.
God threateneth vengeance to come upon all Moab, which had great plains, Numbers 31:12 33:48. For the names of these cities, and those mentioned Jeremiah 48:22-24, some of them we read of in other places of holy writ; others we read not of, neither is it material for us to know their situation; they are not at this day to be known by their old names: they are all here mentioned as cities at this time belonging to the Moabites, to whom this vengeance is threatened, and not to them only, but to all other cities of the land of Moab wherever situate.
That is, the beauty and the strength of Moab. So these two terms often signify in holy writ, the horn being much the beauty of some beasts, and that part of their bodies by which they both do injury to others, and defend themselves from the assaults of others. God here declares that Moab should both lose its glory and beauty, and also all the power it formerly had to defend itself, or offend others.
Make ye him drunken; 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 ont 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 vaunts come to, and what vengeance they have pulled upon themselves.
For was not Israel a derision unto thee? 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 nearly related to Abraham the father of the Jews, and ought not to have mocked at them, but to have pitied their neighbours and kindred: they either mocked at the ten tribes when they were carried into captivity by Shalmaneser, or at Judah captivated by the king of Babylon. God threateneth the Ammonites, Ezekiel 25:6, and the Edomites, by Obadiah, for the same misdemeanour.
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 compassionating the Jews in their calamity, thou never spakest of them but with joy and triumph. Others make a quite other sense, viz. for those words against him thou thyself shalt wander. But the learned author of the English Annotations observes well, that the word in the form here used will not so well bear it, though the verb doth in its primary sense signify to wander.
Still the prophet speaks of the Moabites as a people whose armies were routed, and calls to them to leave their houses in cities, not promising themselves any security, either to or from their houses, or from the walls of their cities, but to get them to rocks, which are naturally fortified, and from whence (if from any place) security might be promised. And he commends to them the natural sagacity of a dove, which being a feeble creature, and not able to encounter a hawk or eagle, makes herself a nest in the sides of some rock where she may be at safety.
There is a passage, Isaiah 16:6, &c., concerning Moab, very little differing from this: Isaiah lived some years before this prophet, who yet complaineth of them for the same sins, so as they were not at all reformed. God saith he had heard of their pride and arrogancy; a vice which commonly attendeth ease and prosperity, and is exceeding odious in the sight of God, so as a wicked man is often in Scripture set out under the notion of a proud man.
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 effect his designs.
Though wicked men rejoice and triumph in the ruin of good men, yet their charity suffereth them not to do the like, but engageth them to mourn for them in the day of their affliction. Jeremiah declareth his compassion toward these Moabites, though they derided the Jews when they were carried into captivity. nay, he mourns upon the prospect of their misery at some distance; when the sight of the Jews’ present calamity would not affect the Moabites with any compassion at all. We find the like compassion in another prophet, Isaiah 16:11 Jeremiah 48:7 there it is called Kir-hareseth, which was a city of Moab, as we read, 2 Kings 3:25.
We read of this
vine of Sibmah also Isaiah 16:8,9. Both Sibmah and Jahaza were places in the portion of Reuben, Joshua 13:18,19. Sibmah was doubtless a place famous in those days for vines and vineyards. This Jahaza or
Jazer was, as it should seem, first taken and carried into captivity, which caused a great lamentation. The prophet foretells such a weeping for Sibmah as was for Jazer. By plants he means the inhabitants of Sibmah, which he prophesieth should be carried into captivity over the Dead Sea. As an aggravation of the judgment that should come upon them, God, by his prophet, tells them that the spoiler should come upon them in their vintage and harvest time.
The time of harvest and vintage being times when the husbandmen were wont to reap the fruit of all their labours 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.
An heifer of three years old. See Isaiah 15:5.
Horonaim, were all cities of Moab, who are here all threatened with ruin; with the country about Nimrim; which Nimrim is mentioned no where in Scripture but here, and in Isaiah 15:6; nor are interpreters well agreed, whether in this place it be the name of a river, or a lake, or a city. The sense is, the whole country of Moab shall be destroyed, the cry shall reach from one part of the country to another, either the cry of the inhabitants, or of their enemies pursuing them with a great noise.
That is, every one, or some of all orders, for the Moabites generally were idolaters; though the expressing it under this notion may hint to us also one great cause of this judgment coming upon them, viz. their idolatry.
The prophet means such pipes as they were wont to use at funerals, and other sad occasions, to play doleful lessons upon; see Isaiah 15:5; because of the great change in the state of this poor people, which had got together a great deal of wealth, which is all perished.
These phrases are expounded in the beginning of the following verse, There shall be lamentation generally upon all the house-tops of Moab. Shaving of the hair, and clipping the beards, and cutting themselves, were rites and ceremonies of mourning used by these heathens.
We met with the same phrase applied to Coniah, Jeremiah 22:28. The meaning is, I have broken Moab all to pieces, as people use to do vessels they care not for; they never go about to mend such a vessel, but dash it in pieces against some stones or walls.
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.
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.
Kerioth here be the proper name of a city, as it is Jeremiah 48:24, or an appellative noun signifying cities, is doubtful. The latter seems best to agree to this place: The cities and the strong holds are all taken; and though Moab hath in it many mighty and valiant men, yet their hearts will be full of fear, or ready to fail them, like a woman’s who is in her travail and hath great and sore pains.
That is, for a time; see Jeremiah 48:47; or being such a people as it hath been, so full of splendour and glory. The reason given is the same with that Jeremiah 48:26.
These three words,
fear, pit, snare, signify no more than a variety of dangers that should be on all sides of them, so as if any escaped one danger, he should presently meet with another, for this was the time when the Lord was resolved to punish all the inhabitants of the land of Moab.
Heshbon was a great city, and, as it should seem, a place of some force; the war being in the country, they made Heshbon the place of their sanctuary. But the prophet, applying to the Chaldeans what was said in Moses’s time, Numbers 21:28, prophesieth that Heshbon also should be destroyed, and the fire should devour the crown of the head, that is, the glory of the brave rebelling gallants, called hi the Hebrew the children of noise.
The prophet, closing the threatening part of his prophecy against Moab, repeateth the same thing which he had often said, that the Moabites should be carried into captivity by the king of Babylon, and denounceth a woe unto them upon that account.
Some think this prophecy was fulfilled upon the return of the Jews out of Babylon, when the Jews inhabited the land of Moab, Zephaniah 2:9; but this doth not seem to be the bringing again the captivity of Moab, but of Judah; besides, in that place it is said that Moab should be as Sodom, and the children of Ammon as Gomorrah, even the breeding of nettles, and salt-pits, and a perpetual desolation. It is therefore rather to be understood of a spiritual reduction of them, by calling some of them under the kingdom of the Messiah, as the Jewish doctors themselves interpret it. Some think this a promise rather respecting the Jews than the Moabites; it is said, Jeremiah 48:9, that the remnant of the Lord’s people should possess Moab; and, Jeremiah 48:11, that all the isles of the heathen should worship God.
Thus far is the judgment of Moab: these last words are doubtless to be interpreted rather as a conclusion of this prophecy against Moab, than (as some would have it) as a limitation of the time how long this judgment on Moab should endure, as if thus far were as much as thus long.
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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Jeremiah 48". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://beta.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26