The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Isaiah 15

Isa 15:1

The word "oracle" or "burden" (Isa 13:1; 15:1; 17:1; 19:1; 21:1; 22:1; 23:1) is from the Heb "to lift up", in foreboding or expectation; it implies something that God has planned for another. More often than not, it speaks of a coming punishment; but at times it simply means an important event involving a particular people. The distinction must be determined by the context. Often, the "burden" begins with warnings of judgments to come, and then proceeds with prophecies of something beneficial arising out of the dark times. Zec 12 illustrates this: it begins with a "burden... for Israel... in the siege", but then quickly speaks of a time of blessing succeeding the time of affliction: Jerusalem inhabited again in her own place (Zec 12:6,7). The burdens of Isaiah generally follow this same pattern, with special ref to the LD of Gentile times and the establishment of "Israel in their own land" (Isa 14:1) and Christ as the "ruler of the land... upon the mount of the daughter of Zion" (Isa 16:1). Also the roles of various Gentile powers, esp in relation to Israel and God's plans for the LD, are outlined. What might first appear to be a dry and unrewarding study becomes in reality a promise of God's deliverance for His people (in typical prophecies) and a glorious assurance (in initial fulfillments) that God's purpose stands firm (Isa 14:26,27).

MOAB: Sig "seed of a father". Son of Lot and his oldest daughter (Gen 19:37). In Moses' time, a numerous people (Exo 15:15) living east of Dead Sea. Moab refused Moses passage (Jdg 11:17; Num 20:14), and sent Balaam to curse Jews (Num 22-24). Moabite women seduced them (Num 25). Later, Eglon of Moab oppressed Israel for 18 years until Ehud slew him (Jdg 3:12-30). Later still, Jephthah had to remove Moabitish abominations (Jdg 10:14). Saul warred with Moab (1Sa 14:47), and David prevailed against them (2Sa 8:2-12; Psa 60:8). Solomon was enticed by Moabite wives (1Ki 11), and built a temple to Moab's god Chemosh (1Ki 11:7). Omri and Ahab of Israel subdued Moab, but lost it (2Ki 1; 3). Moab was defeated by Tiglathpileser and Sennacherib and Nebuchadnezzar (Jer 27:3-6), and Maccabees (175-163 BC) -- then fell into ruins (Jer 48:12,28,42). See Amo 2:1-3; Zep 2:8-11.

"A remarkable feature of these two chs [Isa 15;16] is the close relationship that there is with Jer 48, also about Moab. There seem to be two main possibilities: either Jeremiah is quoting from his copy of Isaiah, or else from the original prophecy (by some unnamed prophet) which Isaiah has also used very copiously. It is undeniably true that Jeremiah refers quite extensively to Isaiah's prophecies, so this makes the first suggestion perfectly feasible. But on the other hand, there is so little direct quotation and so much variation of phrase in the parallel passages as to suggest the other possibility, or even that Jeremiah was quoting from memory, or making variations to suit the circumstances of his own time. With Isa 15:2-7 cp Jer 48:34-37, and with Isa 16:6-11 cp Jer 48:29-33,36" (WIsa 218).

Isa 15:2

TEMPLE: Heb "bayith", taken as proper noun in KJV. But prob means the temple of Chemosh.

HIGH PLACES: Prob intensive plural, meaning the "great high place" of Moab (cp idea, Jos 13:17).

Isa 15:5

AS FAR AS EGLATH SHELISHIYAH: KJV actually translates: "an heifer of three years old", or "the third heifer".

"Mine own heart, for Moab continueth to make outcry, Her fugitive, as far as Zoar, is like a heifer of three years" (Roth): That is, (the people of) Moab cry out... like a 3-year-old heifer... bawling as it is slaughtered! Or, alternatively, "like the third heifer", ref to Lot's wife -- the 2 daughters (mothers of Ammon and Moab) being the first and second. A poss ref to the destruction poured down upon Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen 19), and the symbolic fate of Lot's wife (Luk 17:32).

HER FUGITIVES FLEE AS FAR AS ZOAR... THEY LAMENT THEIR DESTRUCTION: The downfall of Sodom and Gomorrah, while Lot and his daughters flee toward Zoar (Gen 19:22).

Isa 15:6

NIMRIM: Its waters are said to be fed by 7 springs, and therefore a specially lush area important for Moab's main industry: sheep-rearing.

Isa 15:7

THE RAVINE OF THE POPLARS: Prob // the willows by the waters of Babylon (Psa 137:2), where captives lament their fate.

Isa 15:8

BEER-ELIM: Heb "the well of the rulers", may be the place on Moab's eastern border where the princes of Israel made a formal ceremony of digging a well (Num 21:16-18), sig the beginning of their possession of their inheritance.

Isa 15:9

DIMON: Poss a deliberate perversion of "Dibon" (v 2), so as to suggest the Heb wd "blood" -- see later in v.

LION: One of the prominent symbols of Assyria: winged lions are found in their bas-reliefs.

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