Jeremiah 48 (NLT)
A Message about Moab
In the series of judgments of nations surrounding Judah, Jeremiah now turned his attention to Israel’s neighbor to the east, on the other side of the Jordan. The ancestor of Moab came from the incestuous pairing of Lot and his daughter (read about it HERE in Genesis 19).
Moab was something of a cousin to Israel. They feared Israel as they came from Egypt towards Canaan (Numbers 22:3-4) and Balak king of Moab hired Balaam to curse Israel (Numbers 22:5-8). When Israel came into Canaan sometimes Moab attacked and ruled over them (Judges 3:12-14).
Later Ruth the Moabite was the great-grandmother of King David, and David sent his parents to Moab for their protection when Saul hunted him (1 Samuel 22:3-4). When he was king David fought against and defeated Moab (2 Samuel 8:2) and they became a vassal kingdom to Israel, sometimes rebelling (2 Kings 1:1, 2 Kings 3:4-5).
“There was little love lost between the two nations, a fact which is attested by foreign judgments directed against Moab by the prophets Isaiah (15-16), Amos (2:1-3), Zephaniah (2:9), Jeremiah, and Ezekiel (25:8-11).”
–J. A. Thompson
This message was given concerning Moab. This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says:
“What sorrow awaits the city of Nebo;
it will soon lie in ruins.
The city of Kiriathaim will be humiliated and captured;
the fortress will be humiliated and broken down.
2 No one will ever brag about Moab again,
for in Heshbon there is a plot to destroy her.
‘Come,’ they say, ‘we will cut her off from being a nation.’
The town of Madmen, too, will be silenced;
the sword will follow you there.
3 Listen to the cries from Horonaim,
cries of devastation and great destruction.
4 All Moab is destroyed.
Her little ones will cry out.
5 Her refugees weep bitterly,
climbing the slope to Luhith.
They cry out in terror,
descending the slope to Horonaim.
6 Flee for your lives!
Hide in the wilderness!
7 Because you have trusted in your wealth and skill,
you will be taken captive.
Your god Chemosh, with his priests and officials,
will be hauled off to distant lands!
Chemosh was the national god of Moab (see 1 Kings 11:7, 33). Images of pagan deities were often carried about from place to place (see Jeremiah 43:12). (The Archaeological Study Bible)
2 Kings 3:27 tells us that the sacrificing of children to Chemosh was an important part of the cultic worship.
8 “All the towns will be destroyed,
and no one will escape—
either on the plateaus or in the valleys,
for the Lord has spoken.
9 Oh, that Moab had wings
so she could fly away,
for her towns will be left empty,
with no one living in them.
10 Cursed are those who refuse to do the Lord’s work,
who hold back their swords from shedding blood!
11 “From his earliest history, Moab has lived in peace,
never going into exile.
“Geographically, Moab was more isolated than Israel and Judah, which were on the main trade-routs and were also surrounded by other kingdoms. Moab’s isolation enabled her to escape many of the international upheavals which weakened her neighbours, and she was often able to strengthen herself at their expense.”
–Arthur E. Cundall
“For defense, Moab had towering cliffs, and for wealth, her enormous flocks of sheep, riches that were self-renewing. But the shelter of these things had bred more complacency than character.”
He is like wine that has been allowed to settle.
He has not been poured from flask to flask,
and he is now fragrant and smooth.
12 But the time is coming soon,” says the Lord,
“when I will send men to pour him from his jar.
They will pour him out,
then shatter the jar!
The wine left to age represents Moab’s complacency. Their ease and security will vanish as quickly as a bottle empties when overturned. (The Reformation Bible)
Wine was an apt figure for Moab, since this nation was noted for her vineyards. The best wine was aged while being “left on its dregs,” a reference to thickening and congealing at the bottom of a container. The implication is that the people were complacent, indifferent and unmoved by prophetic warnings—like thick, syrupy wine. (The Archaeological Study Bible)
13 At last Moab will be ashamed of his idol Chemosh,
as the people of Israel were ashamed of their gold calf at Bethel.
14 “You used to boast, ‘We are heroes,
mighty men of war.’
15 But now Moab and his towns will be destroyed.
His most promising youth are doomed to slaughter,”
says the King, whose name is the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
16 “Destruction is coming fast for Moab;
calamity threatens ominously.
17 You friends of Moab,
weep for him and cry!
See how the strong scepter is broken,
how the beautiful staff is shattered!
18 “Come down from your glory
and sit in the dust, you people of Dibon,
for those who destroy Moab will shatter Dibon, too.
They will tear down all your towers.
Dibon was a city east of the Dead Sea and about 4 miles north of the Arnon River. It was an important Moabite town. Dibon has been identified as modern Dhiban, Jordan, where the famous Moabite Stone of King Mesha was discovered in 1868. In its inscription, both Yahweh, the God of Israel, and Chemosh are mentioned. (The Archaeological Study Bible)
You can see the Moabite Stone for yourself at the Louvre in Paris!
19 You people of Aroer,
stand beside the road and watch.
Shout to those who flee from Moab,
‘What has happened there?’
20 “And the reply comes back,
‘Moab lies in ruins, disgraced;
weep and wail!
Tell it by the banks of the Arnon River:
Moab has been destroyed!’
The Arnon, Moab’s most important river, served as the border between Moab and the region of the Amorites. It flows west into the midpoint of the Dead Sea. (The Archaeological Study Bible)
21 Judgment has been poured out on the towns of the plateau—
on Holon and Jahaz and Mephaath,
22 on Dibon and Nebo and Beth-diblathaim,
23 on Kiriathaim and Beth-gamul and Beth-meon,
24 on Kerioth and Bozrah—
all the towns of Moab, far and near.
25 “The strength of Moab has ended.
His arm has been broken,” says the Lord.
26 “Let him stagger and fall like a drunkard,
for he has rebelled against the Lord.
Moab will wallow in his own vomit,
ridiculed by all.
27 Did you not ridicule the people of Israel?
Were they caught in the company of thieves
that you should despise them as you do?
28 “You people of Moab,
flee from your towns and live in the caves.
Hide like doves that nest
in the clefts of the rocks.
Isaiah 2:10 (NIV)
Go into the rocks, hide in the ground
from the fearful presence of the Lord
and the splendor of his majesty!
29 We have all heard of the pride of Moab,
for his pride is very great.
We know of his lofty pride,
his arrogance, and his haughty heart.
30 I know about his insolence,”
says the Lord,
“but his boasts are empty—
as empty as his deeds.
31 So now I wail for Moab;
yes, I will mourn for Moab.
My heart is broken for the men of Kir-hareseth.
32 “You people of Sibmah, rich in vineyards,
I will weep for you even more than I did for Jazer.
Your spreading vines once reached as far as the Dead Sea,
but the destroyer has stripped you bare!
He has harvested your grapes and summer fruits.
33 Joy and gladness are gone from fruitful Moab.
The presses yield no wine.
No one treads the grapes with shouts of joy.
There is shouting, yes, but not of joy.
Joel 1:12 (NIV)
The vine is dried up
and the fig tree is withered;
the pomegranate, the palm and the apple tree—
all the trees of the field—are dried up.
Surely the people’s joy
is withered away.
34 “Instead, their awful cries of terror can be heard from Heshbon clear across to Elealeh and Jahaz; from Zoar all the way to Horonaim and Eglath-shelishiyah. Even the waters of Nimrim are dried up now.
35 “I will put an end to Moab,” says the Lord, “for the people offer sacrifices at the pagan shrines and burn incense to their false gods. 36 My heart moans like a flute for Moab and Kir-hareseth, for all their wealth has disappeared. 37 The people shave their heads and beards in mourning. They slash their hands and put on clothes made of burlap. 38 There is crying and sorrow in every Moabite home and on every street. For I have smashed Moab like an old, unwanted jar. 39 How it is shattered! Hear the wailing! See the shame of Moab! It has become an object of ridicule, an example of ruin to all its neighbors.”
40 This is what the Lord says:
“Look! The enemy swoops down like an eagle,
spreading his wings over Moab.
41 Its cities will fall,
and its strongholds will be seized.
Even the mightiest warriors will be in anguish
like a woman in labor.
42 Moab will no longer be a nation,
for it has boasted against the Lord.
“The end of Moab as an independent nation seems to have come in 582 b.c. when Nebuchadnezzar, no doubt because of a rebellion, marched against Moab and Ammon. …Not long after this the small states in Transjordan were overwhelmed by an Arab invasion and ceased to exist as a nation.”
–J. A. Thompson
43 “Terror and traps and snares will be your lot,
O Moab,” says the Lord.
44 “Those who flee in terror will fall into a trap,
and those who escape the trap will step into a snare.
I will see to it that you do not get away,
for the time of your judgment has come,”
says the Lord.
Isaiah 24:18 (NIV)
Whoever flees at the sound of terror
will fall into a pit;
whoever climbs out of the pit
will be caught in a snare.
The floodgates of the heavens are opened,
the foundations of the earth shake.
45 “The people flee as far as Heshbon
but are unable to go on.
For a fire comes from Heshbon,
King Sihon’s ancient home,
to devour the entire land
with all its rebellious people.
46 “O Moab, they weep for you!
The people of the god Chemosh are destroyed!
Your sons and your daughters
have been taken away as captives.
47 But I will restore the fortunes of Moab
in days to come.
I, the Lord, have spoken!”
This is the end of Jeremiah’s prophecy concerning Moab.
We worship the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Jesus. His is the power of life and death, of creation and destruction. And his love endures forever. Just ask the Moabite woman Ruth! HERE is Kristian Stanfill and “Forever Reign.”
New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.