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Isaiah chapter 16

English Standard Version

1Send the lamb to the ruler of the land, from Sela, by way of the desert, to the mount of the daughter of Zion. 2Like fleeing birds, like a scattered nest, so are the daughters of Moab at the fords of the Arnon. 3“Give counsel; grant justice; make your shade like night at the height of noon; shelter the outcasts; do not reveal the fugitive; 4let the outcasts of Moab sojourn among you; be a shelter to them from the destroyer. When the oppressor is no more, and destruction has ceased, and he who tramples underfoot has vanished from the land, 5then a throne will be established in steadfast love, and on it will sit in faithfulness in the tent of David one who judges and seeks justice and is swift to do righteousness.” 6We have heard of the pride of Moab— how proud he is!— of his arrogance, his pride, and his insolence; in his idle boasting he is not right. 7Therefore let Moab wail for Moab, let everyone wail. Mourn, utterly stricken, for the raisin cakes of Kir-hareseth. 8For the fields of Heshbon languish, and the vine of Sibmah; the lords of the nations have struck down its branches, which reached to Jazer and strayed to the desert; its shoots spread abroad and passed over the sea. 9Therefore I weep with the weeping of Jazer for the vine of Sibmah; I drench you with my tears, O Heshbon and Elealeh; for over your summer fruit and your harvest the shout has ceased. 10And joy and gladness are taken away from the fruitful field, and in the vineyards no songs are sung, no cheers are raised; no treader treads out wine in the presses; I have put an end to the shouting. 11Therefore my inner parts moan like a lyre for Moab, and my inmost self for Kir-hareseth. 12And when Moab presents himself, when he wearies himself on the high place, when he comes to his sanctuary to pray, he will not prevail.
New International Version

New American Standard Bible

1Send the tribute lamb to the ruler of the land, From Sela by way of the wilderness to the mountain of the daughter of Zion. 2Then, like fluttering birds or scattered nestlings, The daughters of Moab will be at the crossing places of the Arnon. 3'Give us advice, make a decision; Cast your shadow like night at high noon; Hide the outcasts, do not betray the fugitive. 4Let the outcasts of Moab stay with you; Be a hiding place to them from the destroyer.' For the oppressor has come to an end, destruction has ceased, Oppressors have been removed from the land. 5A throne will be established in faithfulness, And a judge will sit on it in trustworthiness in the tent of David; Moreover, he will seek justice, And be prompt in righteousness. 6We have heard of the pride of Moab, an excessive pride; Even of his arrogance, pride, and fury; His idle boasts are false. 7Therefore Moab will wail; everyone of Moab will wail. You will moan for the raisin cakes of Kir-hareseth As those who are utterly stricken. 8For the fields of Heshbon have withered, the vines of Sibmah as well; The lords of the nations have trampled down its choice clusters Which reached as far as Jazer and wandered to the deserts; Its tendrils spread themselves out and passed over the sea. 9Therefore I will weep bitterly for Jazer, for the vine of Sibmah; I will drench you with my tears, Heshbon and Elealeh; For the shouting over your summer fruits and your harvest has fallen away. 10Gladness and joy are taken away from the fruitful field; In the vineyards also there will be no cries of joy or jubilant shouting, No treader treads out wine in the presses, For I have made the shouting to cease. 11Therefore my inner being sounds like a harp for Moab. And my heart for Kir-hareseth.
Christian Standard Bible

New Living Translation

King James Version

6We 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. 7Therefore shall Moab howl for Moab, every one shall howl: for the foundations of Kirhareseth shall ye mourn; surely they are stricken. 8For 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. 9Therefore 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. 10And 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. 11Wherefore my bowels shall sound like an harp for Moab, and mine inward parts for Kirharesh. 12And 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. 13This is the word that the LORD hath spoken concerning Moab since that time. 14But 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.

What does Isaiah chapter 16 mean?

Isaiah's "oracle," meaning a prophecy, from the Lord against Moab continues and concludes in this chapter. He has described a time coming soon when powerful armies will invade Moab. The marauders will lay waste to the major cities of the nation. Many will die in this invasion, but those who survive will head south to seek safety as refugees. Chapter 15 ended with these fleeing stragglers reaching the border between Moab and Edom. This chapter opens with Moab sending a request to the leaders of Judah to allow refugees fleeing from Moab to shelter in their nation.

Someone suggests that the Moabite refugees send a "landlord's lamb" to Jerusalem. A landlord's lamb is a tribute paid to an overlord for his protection and provision. Mesha, the most famous of Moab's kings, once sent tributes of lambs to Israel's King Ahab. The Moabites describe their situation to Judah by explaining how the women of Moab had to run for their lives for the fords of the Arnon River. The speaker is comparing this to birds shooting out of a nest when it is disturbed. Not all commentators interpret the text in the same way, but Isaiah seems to show the Moabites asking the leaders of Judah to give counsel and grant justice to them by allowing them to shelter in Judah. They ask Judah to provide shelter from the oppression in their own land and to not to reveal their location to their enemy (Isaiah 16:1–3).

Moab continues by asking for permission to shelter in Judah from their enemy. Not all commentators agree on who is supposed to be speaking these words. The one asking for shelter appears to say that when the oppressor is no more, the throne of Israel will be established in love. A new king will sit in the tent of David, and He will seek justice and righteousness. The speaker clearly echoes Isaiah's prophecies about the coming of the Messiah written in chapters 2, 9, and 11 (Isaiah 16:4–5).

Isaiah describes the pride, arrogance, and insolence of Moab. The Moabites' boasting about their wealth and abundance is all empty words since it can be taken away in a night. He calls for Moab to wail and howl at their losses and everyone else to join in He includes mourning at the loss of the raisin cakes produced in Moab (Isaiah 16:6–7).

The prophet describes the fields of Heshbon in northern Moab and the productive vine of nearby Sibmah. Using metaphor, Isaiah relates how the vine reached farther north to Jazer and east to the desert. Going as far as west across the Dead Sea. In short, the products from that vine—raisin cakes and likely wine—were shipped off around the region. That will all end when the invading army that will soon come strikes down the vines' branches (Isaiah 16:8).

The prophet himself mourns along with Jazer for what is happening. The joyful shouting of the grape harvest will come to an end. No more harvest songs. No more happy shouts. Isaiah says that his insides moan like a lyre for these losses (Isaiah 16:9–11).

With the oracle concluded, Isaiah mentions that Moab's prayers to their god will not prevail. No matter how much they tire themselves out in the effort, the false god will remain silent. He adds that this prophecy has existed for a time, but now the Lord has revealed it will happen in three years (Isaiah 16:12–14).
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