Isaiah 15 (NKJV)
The burden against Moab.
Because in the night Ar of Moab is laid waste And destroyed, Because in the night Kir of Moab is laid waste And destroyed,
He has gone up to the temple and Dibon, To the high places to weep. Moab will wail over Nebo and over Medeba; On all their heads will be baldness, And every beard cut off.
In their streets they will clothe themselves with sackcloth; On the tops of their houses And in their streets Everyone will wail, weeping bitterly.
Heshbon and Elealeh will cry out, Their voice shall be heard as far as Jahaz; Therefore the armed soldiers of Moab will cry out; His life will be burdensome to him.
“My heart will cry out for Moab; His fugitives shall flee to Zoar, Like a three-year-old heifer. For by the Ascent of Luhith They will go up with weeping; For in the way of Horonaim They will raise up a cry of destruction,
For the waters of Nimrim will be desolate, For the green grass has withered away; The grass fails, there is nothing green.
Therefore the abundance they have gained, And what they have laid up, They will carry away to the Brook of the Willows.
For the cry has gone all around the borders of Moab, Its wailing to Eglaim And its wailing to Beer Elim.
For the waters of Dimon will be full of blood; Because I will bring more upon Dimon, Lions upon him who escapes from Moab, And on the remnant of the land.”
Today, we will look at the proclamation against Moab.
After addressing the nations of Babylon, Assyria and Philistia, Isaiah continues to proclaim against other countries in the region. These countries may not have directly attacked Israel, but they had in the past influenced Israel by seeping in idolatry and carnal practices. A key suspect of this would definitely be Moab, whose culture was largely frowned upon by God (Ruth aside).
For backstory, Moab was founded from the son of Lot and one of his daughters. The nation arose from the incestuous relationship after the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. From time to time, the Moabites were great enemies of Israel (especially in the early years), such as when the Moabite king ordered Balaam to curse the nation. Saul and David were able to hold control over the relationship with Moab but later kings sometimes struggled. Finally, there was a link between Moab and Israel. Lot was Abraham's nephew, and therefore the Moabites were related at least in part to Israel. Second, David himself was a quarter Moabite because his grandmother Ruth was a Moabitess.
The opening verses regarding Ar and Kir, the temple and Dibon, as well as Nebo and Medeba were important parts of Moab's territory. Kir and Ar specifically were the main strongholds of Moab. That they should fall meant that Moab itself had little chance of succeeding in pushing back the invasion. In the night, both strongholds are “laid waste and destroyed”. It is a simultaneous attack on both sides, with enough force to bring down both strongholds in a single night.
Isaiah represents the sorrow of the Moabites through baldness. Back then, shaving oneself bald was a symbol of grieving. Men only shaved their hair/facial hair on special occasions such as grieving. Those in the streets would “clothe themselves with sackcloth”, once again due to grieving. All those in Moab would cry out because of the destruction that would take Moab.
Interestingly, Isaiah states “my heart will cry out for Moab”. There is still some sentimentality there despite the bad relations that Israel and Moab had. There was still something to be said about the relationship between the two. The fugitives would flee to Zoar; Zoar being the city that Lot and his daughters fled to after the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and eventually fled from due to problems in the city. From there, the incest occurred and Moab was born.
Isaiah continues to write about the Moabites raising a cry as they traverse seemingly well known roads such as the Ascent of Luhith or way (or descent) of Horonaim. The two seem to be synonymous, meaning that Luhith is the way up and Horonaim the way down. The waters and the grass will become desolate; even the wilderness would become dry and barren in the face of the destruction. The fate of the Moabites is bloody and wretched; those who remain and escape will be torn asunder even if they were not destroyed in the siege.
Daniel is currently and forevermore will be a student and a learner, trying to delve into the deep conundrums of life and seeing where the path leads. He enjoys linking different things in life back to God through strange and seemingly random connections. Daniel is in the Young Professionals ministry of the Central Christian Church.