Isaiah 16 - Outline of Isaiah (Book Notes menu page)
This chapter continues the Burden of Moab, which started in Isa 15:1.
1. Send ye the lamb to the ruler of the land from Sela to the wilderness,
unto the mount of the daughter of Zion.
2 For it shall be, [that], as a wandering bird cast out of the nest,
[so] the daughters of Moab shall be at the fords of Arnon.
send ye the lamb to the ruler of the land... unto the mount... Zion.-
More than 100 years prior to the reign of king Ahaz in Jerusalem, Moab had paid tribute to king Ahab (of the northern kingdom of Israel) in the form of 100,000 lambs (2Kin 3:4).
     In the near view, relative to the destruction of the northern kingdom of Israel by the Assyrians, Moab is counselled to send their tribute to Jerusalem, in order to establish a relationship with the true God and His people. This would be wise counsel, since Jerusalem would remain after the northern kingdom of Israel was taken captive by Assyria.
from Sela to {or, by way of} the wilderness, unto the mount of... Zion -
Sela (probably an old name for Petra) was a city of Edom (south of Moab and the Dead Sea). The flight of Moab's refugees would continue, beyond Zoar (cp. Isa 15:5), to this place. In normal times, Moab would have communicated with Jerusalem, by sending messengers across the Jordan river, north of the Dead Sea. But, with their enemy occupying Moab's land, their messengers must be sent from their place of refuge, via the wilderness south and west of the Dead Sea.
as a wandering bird cast out of the nest... Moab at the fords of Arnon.
The Arnon River, which empties into the east side of the Dead Sea, was near the center of Moab's territory. Moab's displaced people would feel lost and out of place to leave this landmark behind, as they fled southward.
the daughters of Zion... the daughters of Moab...-
In the far view, again dislodged and fleeing from their own land, Moab has something in common with "the daughter of Zion," who has been displaced from her "mount" (ie., Jerusalem), on multiple historic occasions. During the Tribulation period, both people groups will have reason to flee, but at somewhat different times.
3 Take counsel, execute judgment;
make thy shadow as the night in the midst of the noonday;
hide the outcasts; bewray
{ie., betray} not him that wandereth.
4 Let mine outcasts dwell with thee, Moab;
be thou a covert to them from the face of the spoiler:
for the extortioner is at an end, the spoiler ceaseth,
the oppressors are consumed out of the land.
5 And in mercy shall the throne be established:
and he shall sit upon it in truth in the tabernacle of David, judging,
and seeking judgment, and hasting righteousness.
take counsel, execute judgment...- ie., 'give advice, render a decision...'
Verses 3-4 can be read in two very different ways (due to ambiguity in the HB text):
  1. As the Lord's command to the people of Moab, to shelter His people (v.4), as they flee from an invasion of Israel (eg., by the Babylonians, or during the Tribulation period). (This is the sense of the KJV.)
  2. As the appeal of Moab's refugees to the ruler of Zion, to shelter them, from their distress (v.2). (This sense is favored by several other Bible translations.)
Apparently, either or both readings apply to the far view, at the end of the Tribulation, since that is when v.5 will be fulfilled. We will consider each view in that light.
Reading #1 - The LORD's command to Moab to shelter His people.-
hide the outcasts {ie., those driven away}, betray not him that wandereth {ie., that flees}.-
Moab is instructed to hide and shelter the refugees fleeing from Jerusalem, in that place that they themselves have taken refuge.
let mine outcasts dwell with thee...- During the last half of the Tribulation period,
the Antichrist will seek to rid Jerusalem of its Jewish residents (cp. Mat 24:15-22). The Lord charges Moab to hide those, of His people, who flee in her direction.
the extortioner is at an end, the spoiler ceaseth - ie., the Antichrist will soon be deposed.
The inconvenience of sheltering the Jews will end when their enemy is removed.
The Antichrist is referred to as 'the oppressor' in Isa 14:4, and as 'the spoiler' in Isa 33:1 (in the far view of both passages).
in mercy shall the throne be established...-
The Antichrist's blasphemous reign of terror in Jerusalem, will begin 42 months before his judgment at the end of the Tribulation (eg., Rev 13:5).
     From that point, a set number of days will elapse, before the return of Jesus Christ, to establish His reign on David's throne.
He will bring in everlasting righteousness and peace (Isa 9:6,7).
He will reward the nations (including Moab) according to their treatment of His 'brethren' (Mat 25:31-46).
Reading #2 - Moab's refugees appeal to the ruler of Zion to shelter them in His mercy (v.5).-
The alternate reading of v.3-4 is followed by several other translations,
where these words are an appeal by Moab to the "ruler of the land" (v.1), who reigns in Jerusalem, on mount Zion.
For example, the NASB reads:
3. "Give us advice, make a decision;
Cast your shadow like night at high noon;
Hide the outcasts, do not betray the fugitive.
4. "Let the outcasts of Moab stay with you;
Be a hiding place to them from the destroyer.
For the extortioner has come to an end, destruction has ceased,
Oppressors have completely disappeared from the land."
Such an appeal, for mercy, would be made to Christ near the beginning of His earthly Kingdom. He Himself is the protection and peace which they need. cp. Isa 4:6; 32:1,2
     To be acceptable, their appeal must be through "the lamb" (v.1; cp. Joh 1:29). Note that "lamb" (in v.1) is singular, rather than plural. If the application was to the near view, we would expect them to send multiple lambs to the king in Jerusalem, as they had previously sent to the northern kingdom. But their appeal must rest upon one Lamb (cp. Heb 10:12-14; Isa 53:6).
Yet, proud Moab, for the most part, will look elsewhere for help...
6. We have heard of the pride of Moab; [he is] very proud:
[even] of his haughtiness, and his pride, and his wrath:
[but] his lies [shall] not [be] so.
cp. Jer 48:29,30, 42
Moab's empty confidences (in themselves and in their false gods) will not be effective for them.
7 Therefore shall Moab howl for Moab, every one shall howl:
for the foundations of Kirhareseth shall ye mourn; surely [they are] stricken.
8 For the fields of Heshbon languish, [and] the vine of Sibmah:
the lords of the heathen have broken down the principal plants thereof,
they are come [even] unto Jazer, they wandered [through] the wilderness:
her branches are stretched out, they are gone over the sea.
9 Therefore I will bewail with the weeping of Jazer the vine of Sibmah:
I will water thee with my tears, O Heshbon, and Elealeh:
for the shouting for thy summer fruits and for thy harvest is fallen.
10 And gladness is taken away, and joy out of the plentiful field;
and in the vineyards there shall be no singing, neither shall there be shouting:
the treaders shall tread out no wine in [their] presses;
I have made [their vintage] shouting to cease.
11 Wherefore my bowels shall sound like an harp for Moab,
and mine inward parts for Kirharesh.
12 And it shall come to pass,
when it is seen that Moab is weary on the high place,
that he shall come to his sanctuary to pray; but he shall not prevail.
...Moab is weary on the high place... but he shall not prevail.-
Like the prophets of Baal upon mount Carmel (1Kin 18:25-29), the people of Moab weary themselves in appeals to their false gods, which cannot deliver them. Despite their empty prayer, the destruction that befalls them is nearly complete. Yet, the Lord will redeem a small remnant of Moab in the latter days (v.14; Jer 48:47).
"Moab had a shameful birth; he became an idolater; and lived outside of God's pleasant land. Calamities and miseries marked the history of the nation. But a new birth, with glory, is here offered in relationship with Israel, and in subjection to Messiah (Isa 16:1-5).
     "Thus Moab illustrates the sinner. His natural birth is in shame; his manner of life impure; his religious position outside the Kingdom of God; and his experience suffering and misery. But a new birth, with glory, is promised him on condition of submission to the Lord Jesus Christ." [GWms]
13 This [is] the word that the LORD hath spoken concerning Moab since that time.
...since that time - Can be rendered as "earlier" or "from that time" (cp. Isa 44:7,8).
That is, the preceding verses have a future application, having been spoken earlier (prophetically) of a yet future time.
The following verse returns to the near view.
14 But now the LORD hath spoken, saying,
Within three years, as the years of an hireling,
and the glory of Moab shall be contemned, with all that great multitude;
and the remnant [shall be] very small [and] feeble.
within three years...- ie., From the time that Isaiah delivered the message,
less than three years would elapse before Moab would fall to the Assyrians (cp. Isa 8:4).
as the years of a hireling...- "i.e., exactly at the time predicted;
for a hireling does not exceed his period of labor, and his employer will not allow him to leave earlier." [in quotes from WEVine]

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