Isaiah 16, Part Two: Compassion and Condemnation
What's gone before...
Isaiah has urged Israel to offer compassion and support to the refugees from Moab as foreign armies overwhelm the region.
The tone of this chapter suddenly shifts from one of compassion to one of condemnation, as if Israel rejects the notion of caring for the Moabite refugees.
Isaiah 16:6-7 (ESV) We 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. Therefore let Moab wail for Moab, let everyone wail. Mourn, utterly stricken, for the raisin cakes of Kir-hareseth.
Kir-hareseth is literally, "a citadel of brick", the name of a Moabite city.
Now, Isaiah replies again with weeping at the sure demise of the Moabite people.
Isaiah 16:8-12 (ESV) For 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. Therefore 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. And 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. Therefore my inner parts moan like a lyre for Moab, and my inmost self for Kir-hareseth. And when Moab presents himself, when he wearies himself on the high place, when he comes to his sanctuary to pray, he will not prevail.
Heshbon, Sibmah and Jazer were cities and towns in Moab.
Isaiah ends the chapter with a specific time for the accomplishment of all that had been prophesied against Moab.
Isaiah 16:13-14 (ESV) This is the word that the LORD spoke concerning Moab in the past. But now the LORD has spoken, saying, "In three years, like the years of a hired worker, the glory of Moab will be brought into contempt, in spite of all his great multitude, and those who remain will be very few and feeble."