When Moab loses its pride
Moab, nation of refugees1
Send an ambassador from Sela to Jerusalem.
Take a lamb as a gift,
On your trip through the desert.
Flutter like birds pushed out of their nests
As they flee to the shallows,
Of Arnon River.
3“Help us. Do the right thing.
Cover us and shield us
like a shadow dark as night,
protection in the heat of noon.
We’re refugees. Hide us.
Don’t turn us over to the enemy.
4We’ve lost our homes in Moab.
Let us make our homes near you.
We’re refugees needing refuge.
The killer that wants us dead.”
When the violence is over
And the raiding has stopped
And invaders have been driven away,
Hoping for a savior of a king5
A new king will take the throne,
A good king from David’s family.
He’ll be someone to trust,
A king insisting on justice,
With equal treatment for all people.
These are proud people, we’ve heard.
Beyond proud. Conceited, arrogant, mean.
What good is their bragging now?
7Everyone’s crying in Moab.
May everyone cry along.
Sob and groan for all that’s lost,
Sweet raisin cakes of comfort food
No longer found in Kir-hareseth.
Abandoned farms, empty fields8
Fields and farms, abandoned in Heshbon.
Vineyards, deserted in Sibmah.
Invaders are to blame.
They’ve spread destruction
All the way to Jazer,
Into the desert
And across the Dead Sea.
My cheeks are drenched in tears
For people of Heshbon and Elealeh.
They’ll be no harvest of fruit and grain.
10They’ve been robbed of their harvest
And the joy it brings.
No one sings in the vineyards this fall.
No one shouts for joy.
No one stomps grapes to press out wine.
The winepress waits empty and silent.
I feel pain in my soul11
I feel Moab’s pain
In my heart and my bones.
My soul aches for Kir-haraseth
When people of Moab eventually figure out they’re wasting their time praying at the hilltop shrines, they’ll go to their temples to pray. That won’t work, either.13All of this is what the LORD said earlier about Moab. 14Here’s what the LORD says now. Mark this day to three years. Set the date like it’s a contract with a hired worker. Within that time, Moab’s pride and glory will crash and burn and emerge as shame and disgrace. Moab has a lot of people now. They won’t be around in three years. Those who survive will barely make it, and they’ll come through it in bad shape.
Sela’s location is unknown. It’s presumably in Moab, east of the Dead Sea, in what is now the country of Jordan,
A lamb doesn’t seem like much of a gift. But it would be if it symbolized Moab’s willingness to live under Israel’s shadow of protection, which Moab would have to pay for in taxes and tribute.
The Arnon River was the natural boundary between Moab in the north and Edom in the south. The ford across the river may have been along the trail that leads south from Dibon and into Edom on the south side of the river.
It’s unclear who the villain is. Perhaps it’s the continuing effects of a natural disaster, such as an earthquake with aftershocks. It could be neighbors wanting to take advantage of Moab’s weakness. There’s a report from this era about invaders attacking Moab. They came from an unknown place called Gidir. These raiders may have been desert nomads.
Israel’s golden years with King David and his son and successor King Solomon were more than half a millennium past, in Isaiah’s day. Short lived and long gone. Israelites lived as servant nations feeding tax money to Assyria, then later to Babylon. Israelites, later called Jews, wanted a king strong enough and good enough to take them back to glory. Never happened. Until Jesus came. And the leaders didn’t recognize him. And they didn’t understand his teaching about God’s kingdom as the kingdom people should focus on instead of the plug of ground between the desert and the deep blue sea. In God’s kingdom, as Jesus taught it, a king wasn’t nearly as important as the King, and sometimes less important than a pea picker.
Also known as Kir (15:1).
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