Against the cities of Ammon (Jer 49:2-49:3)

“Says Yahweh.

‘Therefore,

The time is surely coming,

When I will sound

The battle alarm

Against Rabbah

Of the Ammonites.

It shall become

A desolate mound.

Its villages

Shall be burned

With fire.

Then Israel shall dispossess

Those who dispossessed him.’

Says Yahweh.

‘Wail!

O Heshbon!

Ai is laid waste!

Cry out!

O daughters of Rabbah!

Put on sackcloth!

Lament!

Slash yourselves

With whips!

Milcom shall go

Into exile,

With his priests,

With his attendants.’”

Yahweh spoke about the destruction of the major cities in Ammon. Rabbah was the capital city of Ammon that would become a desolate mound with its various villages around it. They would be burned to the ground. Thus the dispossessed Israelites would be able to re-possess it. However, it is not the Israelites who are invading, but the Babylonians. Heshbon was the ancient city of King Sihon that had been captured by the Israelites. It was part of the Reuben territory and then Gad territory, since it was almost on the border between Moab and Ammon. The city of Ai was near Bethel in the Benjamin territory on the west side of the Jordan River. However, here this is another otherwise unknown city named Ai near Heshbon. All of these cities were going to lament their situation with mourning and sack cloth. Their god Milcom with his priests and attendants would also go into exile.

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Desolate Moab towns (Jer 48:34-48:34)

“Heshbon cries out.

Elealeh cries out.

As far as Jahaz,

They utter their voice,

From Zoar

To Horonaim,

To Eglath-shelishiyah.

Even the waters of Nimrim

Have become desolate.”

This continues with the same ideas as in Isaiah, chapter 15. Everybody was crying out from the towns of Heshbon and Elealeh, in the Israelite Reuben territory, upper Moab. This crying could be heard 25 miles away north in Jahaz, a Levitical city near Gilead that was given to Gad in Joshua, chapter 21. These Moabite fugitives fled south to the tip of the Dead Sea near Zoar, which is on the southeast end of the Dead Sea. They also fled to the surrounding towns of Eglath-shelishiyah and Horonaim, near the ascent of the Luhith hills, in southern Moab near Zoar. The cries of the Moabites could be heard everywhere. The waters of Nimrim were desolate with nothing growing beside it. Only Jeremiah and Isaiah make any reference to these waters of Nimrim.

Drunken Moab (Jer 48:26-48:27)

“Make him drunk!

Because he magnified himself

Against Yahweh.

Let Moab wallow

In his vomit.

He too shall become

A laughing stock.

Israel was

A laughing stock

For you.

He was not caught

Among thieves.

Whenever you spoke of him

You shook your head.”

Yahweh, via Jeremiah, wanted Moab to get drunk since Moab had made himself a big shot, magnifying himself against Yahweh. Now he would wallow in his vomit and become a laughing stock for others, because he had made Israel a laughing stock. This was an allusion to the fact that Moab was in Reuben territory that was always in dispute. Although Moab was not a thief, he did make fun of Israel. Thus when Israel spoke, they simply shook their heads.

The Moabites seek refuge in Judah (Isa 16:1-16:2)

“Send lambs

To the ruler of the land,

From Sela,

By way of the desert,

To the mount

Of the daughter of Zion.

Like fluttering birds,

Like scattered nestlings,

So are the daughters of Moab

At the fords of the Arnon.”

The Moabites were going to send lambs to the ruler of Judah at Mount Zion. They were going to send these lambs from Sela, the capital of Edom, another country south of Moab that was supposedly descended from Lot’s daughters. These lambs would go via the desert. Meanwhile, the daughters or women of Moab were at the banks of the Arnon River that was on the borders between Moab and the Reuben territory. There they were like fluttering birds or young nestling birds waiting for help or a place to land. The Moabites were appealing to Judah and Jerusalem.

The results of the attack on Moab (Isa 15:4-15:6)

“Heshbon cries out.

Elealeh cries out.

Their voices are heard

As far as Jahaz.

Therefore the loins of Moab quiver.

His soul trembles.

My heart cries out for Moab.

His fugitives flee to Zoar,

To Eglath-shelishiyah.

At the ascent of Luhith,

They go up weeping.

On the road to Horonaim,

They raise a cry of destruction.

The waters of Nimrim

Are a desolation.

The grass is withered.

The new growth fails.

The verdure is no more.”

As far as we can tell, everybody was crying out from the towns of Heshbon (mentioned 37 times in the biblical literature) and Elealeh (mentioned 10 times in the biblical literature). They were towns in the Israelite Reuben territory, but Isaiah seems to indicate here that they were part of upper Moab. This crying could be heard 25 miles away north in Jahaz (mentioned 8 times in the biblical literature) which was in the Israelite Gad territory. The Moab people were frightened. They were trembling. In fact, Isaiah says that even his heart cried out for them. These Moabites fugitives fled south to the tip of the Dead Sea near Zoar, which is on southeast end of the Dead Sea. There was a story about Lot in Genesis about this city (chapters 13-19). They also fled to the surrounding towns of Eglath-shelishiyah and Horonaim, near the ascent of the Luhith hills. Isaiah is the only one to mention any of these towns, but they seem to be in southern Moab near Zoar. The waters of Nimrim were desolate with grass withering and nothing growing. Only Jeremiah and Isaiah make any reference to these waters of Nimrim. Anyway, everybody was crying and upset.