Mysterious disaster strikes Moab
Multiple cities wiped out1 2People of Dibon went up to their shrines.
They cried there on the hilltops.
They’re crying everywhere in Moab,
Over what happened in Nebo and Medeba.
Everyone is dressed for mourning,
Heads shaved, beards trimmed.
3They’re dressed in scratchy fabric
The texture of a feed sack.
They cry and wail
From housetops to city square.
4Folks are crying so hard
In Heshbon and Elealeh,
You can hear them in Jahaz.
Even Moab’s elite troops are trembling.
They’re shaking with fear.
5My heart breaks for Moab,
As their refugees escape south to Zoar,
And rush on to Eglath-shelishiya.
They cry as they climb to Luhith.
They sob on the trail to Horonaim,
Screaming about the destruction they saw.
One stream dry, one stream blood6
Look at that.
Nimrim’s water is gone.
There’s nothing there.
Old grass is withered
New plants lay dead.
Green has gone brown.
Everything they can carry.
They haul it across Willows Dry Creek.
8Look at that.
Moab is now a nation in mourning.
A cry echoes through the land.
There’s wailing in Eglaim.
There’s sobbing in Beer-elim.
9Blood pours down Dibon Stream,
But Dibon’s disaster isn’t done.
A lion waits for fleeing refugees
And for those who stay behind.
This is either history or a prophecy. Scholars debate which. Moab was a nation east of the Dead Sea, in what is now Jordan. Moabites fought with the Israelite people for centuries, beginning with Moses, during the Exodus out of Egypt. King Balak of Moab hired a seer named Balaam to put a hex on the crowd of refugees passing through his land on the way to what became Israel. The seer blessed the Hebrew refugees, instead.
Ar was sometimes apparently used as a nickname for Moab, much like Zion is for Jerusalem. But some scholars say that at other times, as in Deuteronomy 2:18, it’s the name of a city in Moab, perhaps near the Arnon river canyon, in what is now the country of Jordan.
What was the disaster? Scholars are left guessing. A few popular guesses: A natural disaster such as an earthquake. Assyrian invasion. Desert tribes on a raiding mission to stockpile supplies without paying. A nationwide revolt of slaves.
Why would Israel feel bad about an enemy’s misery? They weren’t always enemies. Remember Ruth and her mother-in-law Naomi? Ruth lived in Moab. Naomi’s family lived in Bethlehem. When a drought hit the Israelite homeland, Naomi’s family moved to Moab. After her husband and sons died, the two women returned to Bethlehem. The community seemed to respect Ruth for her devotion to her mother-in-law. Not all Moabites were treated like bug bites.
Literally “Wadi of Willows” or maybe “Wadi of Poplar.” Apparently, there were trees along a creekbank. A wadi is a normally dry pathway that can become a river during a flash flood or in the rainy season of winter in what is now Israel and Palestinian Territories. When it’s dry, which is most of the time, people often use it as a route to travel.
- Sorry, there are currently no questions for this chapter.