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.

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.

Lot (Wis 10:6-10:8)

“Wisdom rescued a righteous man

When the ungodly were perishing.

He escaped the fire

That descended on the Five Cities.

Evidence of their wickedness still remains.

It is a continually smoking wasteland.

Plants bear fruit that does not ripen.

A pillar of salt is standing

As a monument to an unbelieving soul.

Because they passed wisdom by,

They not only were hindered

From recognizing the good,

But also left for mankind

A reminder of their folly.

Thus their failures could never go unnoticed.”

Next we have the story of Lot and the town of Sodom, without mentioning his name, as found in Genesis, chapter 19. Once again, it is wisdom that rescues Lot, who is described as a righteous man (δίκαιον) among ungodly men (ἀσεβῶν), from the destruction of the 5 cities (Πενταπόλεως). Only 3 cities are mentioned in the Genesis story, Sodom, Gomorrah, and Zoar, but their names are not here. However, the Genesis story says that the cities of the valley were destroyed. This became a smoking wasteland so that plants did not ripen in this valley, probably someplace near the Dead Sea. Then there is famous story of the unbelieving wife of Lot who turned into a pillar of salt. So you can see that these stories in this abbreviated history had a big impact on the people. They were not only foolish people, but this smoking valley and salt monument remained as a reminder of their failures. They had passed on wisdom (σοφίαν) and did not recognize the good.

The origins of the Ammonites and Moabites (Gen 19:30-19:38)

“Now Lot went up out of Zoar, and settled in the hills with his two daughters, for he was afraid to dwell in Zoar.  So he lived in a cave with his two daughters. The first-born said to the younger, ‘Our father is old, and there is not a man on earth to come in to us after the manner of all the earth. Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, so that we may preserve offspring through our father.’  So they made their father drink wine that night.  The first-born went in, and lay with her father.  He did not know when she lay down or when she arose.  On the next day, the first-born said to the younger, ‘Look, I lay last night with my father.  Let us make him drink wine tonight also.  Then you go in and lie with him, so that we may preserve offspring through our father.’   So they made their father drink wine that night also.  The younger rose, and lay with him.  He did not know when she lay down or when she rose.  Thus both the daughters of Lot became pregnant by their father.  The first-born bore a son, and named him Moab.  He is the ancestor father of the Moabites to this day.  The younger also bore a son, and named him Benammi.  He is the ancestor father of the Ammonites to this day.”

Lot left Zoar and went into the hills to live in a cave with his two daughters because he was afraid.  He apparently lost all his possessions in the fire in Sodom.  The oldest daughter said to the younger daughter, our father is old and no man will come to us here.  Let us make our father drunk with wine so that we can have offspring, which is what they did.  The first night the older daughter and then the second night the younger sister went in and lay with their father, although Lot did not know what happened.

Here we have a case of incest, but the man is never at fault, since the devious daughters are to blame.  Also drink and drunkenness is used as an excuse.. The son of the oldest daughter was named Moab, who became the ancestor of the Moabites.  The son of the youngest daughter was named Benammi, the ancestor of the Ammonites.  Now we know why the biblical authors disliked those people.  Once again we have an attempt to explain why people dislike each other.