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Isaiah 16:1 Send the lambs for the ruler of the land from Selah to the wilderness, to the mountain of the daughter of Zion- Sela is Petra. This verse seems to be an appeal for Moab to repent and send an offering to Mount Zion, the temple, instead of sending lambs as a tribute to Israel as before (2 Kings 3:4). This was in order to avert the judgment coming upon them, which is spoken of as sure to come ("for it shall be...", :2). God's word was able to be fulfilled or not, according to human repentance. "The wilderness" would refer to the tract of desert between Sela and Jerusalem.

LXX "I will send as it were reptiles on the land: is not the mount of the daughter of Sion a desolate rock?". In this case the judgment of Moab and Judah, including the destruction of the temple, is envisaged as happening at the same time. This was part of the wide network of possible prophetic scenarios.

To the ruler of the land- Moab were to accept that they were living in the land promised to Abraham and were only allowed there in God's Kingdom by grace. Under David they had given him tribute (2 Sam. 8:2), and the tribute they paid to later kings of Israel was in lambs (2 Kings 3:4), so we can assume they sent their tribute to David in the form of lambs; they were being asked to accept that the throne of David had been re-established (see on :5). This tribute was to be given "from Selah to the wilderness", from the frontier city to the other side of the country. The whole of Moab was to accept from the heart that they were living by grace in the territory of God's Kingdom and to give tribute to the Messiah King of Israel, recognizing that Israel's God was ruler of the whole land / earth.

Isaiah 16:2 For it will be that as wandering birds, as a scattered nest, so will the daughters of Moab be at the fords of the Arnon-
The daughters of Moab could refer to the provincial towns of Moab. The idea may be that the scattered Moabites would be restored if they repented by worshipping Yahweh (:1); and their remnant would then be restored to their land. All this of course was a prophetic scenario that depended upon the repentance of both Judah and Moab in response to the judgments to come upon them at the hands of the Assyrians or Babylonians. But they didn't respond.

Isaiah 16:3 Give counsel! Execute justice! Make your shade like the night in the midst of the noonday! Hide the outcasts! Don’t betray the fugitive!-
This is an appeal for repentance, made clearer in the LXX: "take farther counsel, and continually make thou a shelter from grief: they flee in darkness at mid-day; they are amazed; be not thou led captive". As explained on :4, if they had accepted the refugees from Judah and turned to Yahweh, the intended judgment would have been averted, in line with the principles of Jer. 18:8-10. Or it could be that this verse is an exhortation to Judah to accept the repentant remnant of Moab into Zion; for the reestablished Kingdom was intended to be a place of refuge for the remnants of the surrounding nations (Is. 4:6).

Isaiah 16:4 Let My outcasts dwell with you! As for Moab, be a hiding place for him from the face of the destroyer. For the extortioner is brought to nothing. Destruction ceases, the oppressors are consumed out of the land-
As explained on :3, if they had accepted the refugees from Judah and turned to Yahweh, the intended judgment would have been averted, in line with the principles of Jer. 18:8-10. The LXX have: "The fugitives of Moab shall sojourn with thee [the change of one accent reverses the sense]; they shall be to you a shelter from the face of the pursuer: for thine alliance has been taken away, and the oppressing ruler has perished from off the earth". This then would be an address to Judah. They were to accept refugees from Moab and Moab would accept their refugees; perhaps that idea is reflected in the ambiguity of the text here. The "alliance" with Egypt would end, and Babylon would fall. In God's restored Kingdom which would then be established (:5), the remnants of Moab and Judah would then have an equal place by grace. But the refusal to repent meant that this possibility didn't happen, and so in essence the scene has been reapplied to events of the last days.

But the Hebrew is obscure, and we note the term 'outcasts' occurs in :3 also. The NIV, ESV and other versions suggest the idea is that the Moabite outcasts should be allowed to dwell in Israel, as if in expectation that some (the Moabite 'remnant' of :14?) would respond to the call of Moab to repentance and would want to become part of the covenant people- and they were to be accepted: "Let the outcasts of Moab sojourn among you" (ESV). This certainly makes most sense in the context. The prophecy is about Moab and the possibility of Moab's repentance at the time of Judah's restoration; to suddenly start talking about the outcasts of Israel would be out of context in the chapter. It was David who was famed for letting the outcasts come and dwell with him (s.w. 2 Sam. 14:13,14), so this could be another hint that Moab were to accept the grace of a Davidic king in Israel (see on 16:1). The double appeal for Israel to let the outcasts of Moab dwell amongst them was perhaps because God had earlier said that Moabites were not to enter into the Israelite congregation (Dt. 23:3). God emphasis that they are His outcasts. By grace, foreseeing Moab's awful judgment, He urges Israel to accept repentant Moab amongst them. This all goes to show that in wrath He remembers mercy, and at the time of judging others His dominant emotion is concern for them- and He truly has tried all possible ways to avert the tragedy.

"Let mine outcasts dwell with thee Moab”, God pleads in Is. 16:4. But the rest of Is. 16 is about the awful judgment that will fall upon Moab (Is. 16:12,14). The text doesn’t say so, but it’s apparent enough- that if Moab was not merciful to the Jews fleeing the Assyrian invasion, then they would face a like judgment. But that judgment was conditional upon Moab’s behaviour.

Isaiah 16:5 A throne will be established in grace, one will sit on it in truth, in the tent of David, judging, seeking justice, and swift to do righteousness-
It was possible, and envisaged by Isaiah, that a Messianic King would sit upon the re-established throne of David and would provide safety and salvation to the Gentile world who wished to accept Him. See on :4. The same words are used for the eternal establishment of the Messianic throne in the promise to David in 2 Sam. 7:13,16; and Isaiah also uses the phrase in this connection (Is. 9:6). This didn't happen in his time, but the potential was there- in the same way as his son of chapter 9 could have been a Messiah King with an eternal Kingdom in Israel.

"Grace" is also translated "mercy". This would then be seen to have been God's intention through all the judgments. David's enthusiasm for the coming of judgment reflected his understanding that it will be a day of the display of Divine mercy. Is. 16:5 speaks of it as "a throne shall be established in mercy, and one [the Lord Jesus] shall sit thereon judging in truth". It will be the ultimate moment of truth, and yet it will be established in mercy.


Isaiah 16:6 We have heard of the pride of Moab, that he is very proud; even of his arrogance, his pride, and his wrath-
This is juxtaposed next to the wonderful possibility of the restored Kingdom of God which they could have a part in (:5). It was their pride which precluded their repentance and the establishment of the Kingdom then.

His boastings are nothing- The ambiguity of the original is perhaps because we are dealing with various possible scenarios; the fulfilment of the prophetic word was conditional upon various scenarios of repentance. Hence LXX here: "thy prophecy shall not be thus, no not thus".


Isaiah 16:7 Therefore Moab will wail for Moab, all of them will wail-
It was Moab who would howl for Moab- but Isaiah, feeling for them so strongly, also howled for them; “my bowls shall sound like an harp for Moab” (Is. 16:11). And he felt the same for his own people, Israel. See on is. 15:4,5.

You will mourn for the raisin cakes of Kir Hareseth, utterly stricken- The mourning for the raisin cakes, part of the idol rituals (Hos. 3:1), may be mourning in repentance. Hence LXX: "but thou shalt care for them that dwell in Seth, and thou shalt not be ashamed". The ambiguity of the original is perhaps because we are dealing with various possible scenarios; the fulfilment of the prophetic word was conditional upon various scenarios of repentance.

Isaiah 16:8 For the fields of Heshbon languish like the vine of Sibmah. The lords of the nations have broken down its choice branches which reached even to Jazer, which wandered into the wilderness. Its shoots were spread abroad, they passed over the sea-
The vines of Moab were famous, known even "over the sea" (although this could refer to the vineyards spreading to the Dead Sea). They stretched from Sibmah, in the outskirts of Heshbon, all the way to Jazer and even to the desert; and even to the Dead Sea. This again is a feature of Divine judgment; all that secular man boasts and rejoices in will be brought down.

Isaiah 16:9 Therefore I will weep with the weeping of Jazer for the vine of Sibmah. I will water you with my tears, Heshbon, and Elealeh: for on your summer fruits and on your harvest the battle shout has fallen-
Isaiah was to weep for Moab, even though Moab wept for herself (:7). He so believed the prophecy about Moab and like God, took no pleasure in the death of the wicked. The same "I" who wept for Moab's judgment was to be the One who brought the judgments: "for I will trample on thy harvest and on thy vintages" (LXX), the classic language of Divine judgment. Through Isaiah, He wept for these Gentiles, so wishing their repentance.

Isaiah 16:10 Gladness is taken away, and joy out of the fruitful field; and in the vineyards there will be no singing, neither joyful noise. Nobody will tread out wine in the presses; I have made the shouting stop-
The context is of Isaiah speaking (:11). He realized the power of the words he was uttering. He was manifesting God here; as noted on :9, the same "I" who wept for Moab's judgment was to be the One who brought the judgments. "Shouting" is as AV "vintage shouting". Their joyful treading of the vintage was to be replaced by Yahweh treading them in the winepress of judgment; see on :9. The Hebrew noun is used for both the joyous shout of the grape-treaders and for a battle-cry (Jer. 25:30; 51:14).

Isaiah 16:11 Therefore my heart sounds like a harp for Moab, and my inward parts for Kir Heres-
The very core of Isaiah's being wept for his national enemies, so sure was he that the words flowing from his tongue and pen were true. And yet Isaiah was speaking on God's behalf, for it was God ultimately who brought the judgments (:10), and so Isaiah's weeping over Moab's impenitence was in fact God's weeping. He is not indifferent to the billions who have refused His offer of repentance and salvation.

Isaiah’s heart cried out for Moab like a young heifer about to be slaughtered, feeling for them in what would come upon them, and desperately appealing for their repentance. Because the Moabites would cry out and their voice would be heard, “my heart shall cry out for Moab” (Is. 15:4,5,8). As the Lord Jesus is a representative Saviour, we too must feel the judgment that is to come upon others, and in that sense cry out for them as they will cry out. “Therefore shall Moab howl for Moab” (Is. 16:7)- but Isaiah, feeling for them so strongly, also howled for them; “my bowls shall sound like an harp for Moab” (Is. 16:11).

Isaiah 16:12 It will happen that when Moab presents himself, when he wearies himself on the high place and comes to his sanctuary to pray, that he will not prevail-
Moab was intended to have realized that the gods of their high places would not save them; but they refused to perceive that, wearying themselves in endlessly begging the gods for help as in 1 Kings 18:26; and then still went to their sanctuary to pray to their idols. They thereby refused the possibility of their judgment being averted. The sanctuary sounds like the sanctuary Mesha writes about on the Moabite stone, Beth-Bamah. However there is again an ambiguity in the text which could hint at the possibility of their repentance; Ewald translates it: "...and prevails nothing, then he shall be ashamed of Chemosh, and turn to Jehovah".

Isaiah 16:13 This is the word that Yahweh spoke concerning Moab in time past-
AV "long ago". But surely not that long ago- the prophecy against Moab was in chapter 15. But the three years grace (:14), the gap between statement and fulfilment, was a relatively long time in the sense that God was allowing for repentance when repentance had already been refused by Moab. Or the 'long ago' prophecy could be Balaam's in Num. 24:17. All that time, Moab had had the opportunity to repent and make history work out a different way to that prophesied. But still they would not. But "in time past" can refer to the recent past (2 Sam. 15:34) and the distant past (Ps. 93:2).

Isaiah 16:14 But now Yahweh has spoken, saying, Within three years, as a worker bound by contract would count them, the glory of Moab shall be brought into contempt, with all his great multitude; and the remnant will be very small and feeble-
Perhaps the sense is that as a hired hand counts the days of required service exactly, so this calamity would happen within exactly three years. I noted on the prophecies of Isaiah's children in Is. 7:16; 8:1,18 that there was the potential of a very speedy fulfilment of the prophecies, before the newborn child could even speak; and we have a similar period in Is. 21:16. And out of all those judgments, a repentant "remnant" were envisaged as emerging, who could join with Judah in the reestablished Kingdom of God. But the complex network of possibilities alluded to be Isaiah were precluded by the lack of repentance by both Judah and Moab.