Isaiah 16:1

(1) Send ye the lamb to the ruler of the land.--In the days of Ahab, Mesha, the then king of Moab, had paid a tribute of sheep and lambs to the king of Israel (2Kings 3:4). On his revolt (as recorded in the Moabite Inscription) that tribute had ceased. The prophet now calls on the Moabites to renew it, not to the northern kingdom, which was on the point of extinction, but to the king of Judah as the true "ruler of the land." The name Sela ("a rock") may refer either to the city so-called (better known by its Greek name of Petra), 2Kings 14:7, or to the rock-district of Edom and the confines of Moab generally. In either case the special direction implies that the presence of the invaders described in Isaiah 15 would make it impossible to send the tribute across the fords of the Jordan, and that it must accordingly be sent by the southern route, which passed through Sela and the desert country to the south of the Dead Sea (Cheyne). Possibly the words are a summons to Edom, which had attacked Judah in the reign of Ahaz (2Chronicles 28:17), to join in a like submission.

Verses 1-14. - THE BURDEN OF MOAB (CONTINUED). This portion of the "burden" is divided into three sections. In section 1 (from ver. 1 to the end of ver. 5) an offer of mercy is made to Moab on certain conditions, viz. that she return to her allegiance to the house of David, and show kindness to fugitive Israelites. In section 2 (vers. 6-12) she is supposed to have rejected this offer, and is threatened (as in Isaiah 15.) with severe punishment. In section 3 (which consists of vers. 13 and 14) the time is fixed for the main visitation to fall upon her. Verse 1. - Send ye the lamb to the ruler of the land; rather, the lamb of the ruler of the land - the lamb (or lambs, kar being used collectively) due to the ruler as a mark of subjection. In the time of Ahab Mesha had paid a tribute to Israel of a hundred thousand lambs and a hundred thousand rams annually (2 Kings 3:4). The prophet recommends that this, or some similar, tribute should now be paid to the King of Judah instead. Israel having been absorbed into Assyria. From Sela. Either Moab is regarded as having taken refuge in Edom, and is therefore bidden to send her tribute from the Edomite capital, Sela (equivalent to "Petra"), or "Sela," here is not a proper name, but a collective used to designate the rocky parts of Moab, to which she had betaken herself (as in Jeremiah 48:28). The latter supposition is, on the whole, the more probable. To the wilderness; literally, wildernesswards; i.e. by the way of the wilderness. The enemy being regarded as in possession of the northern end of the Dead Sea, Moab is recommended to send her tribute round the southern end, and so by way of "the wilderness of Judah," to Jerusalem.

16:1-5 God tells sinners what they may do to prevent ruin; so he does to Moab. Let them send the tribute they formerly engaged to pay to Judah. Take it as good advice. Break off thy sins by righteousness, it may lengthen thy quiet. And this may be applied to the great gospel duty of submission to Christ. Send him the lamb, the best you have, yourselves a living sacrifice. When you come to God, the great Ruler, come in the name of the Lamb, the Lamb of God. Those who will not submit to Christ, shall be as a bird that wanders from her nest, which shall be snatched up by the next bird of prey. Those who will not yield to the fear of God, shall be made to yield to the fear of every thing else. He advises them to be kind to the seed of Israel. Those that expect to find favour when in trouble themselves, must show favour to those in trouble. What is here said concerning the throne of Hezekiah, also belongs, in a much higher sense, to the kingdom of Jesus Christ. Though by subjection to Him we may not enjoy worldly riches or honours, but may be exposed to poverty and contempt, we shall have peace of conscience and eternal life.Send ye the lamb to the ruler of the land,.... Or tribute, as the Targum rightly interprets it. The Moabites, being conquered by David, paid tribute to him, 2 Samuel 8:2 and when the kingdom was divided in Rehoboam's time, the tribute was paid to the kings of Israel, which continued till the times of Ahab, when the Moabites rebelled, and refused to pay it, 2 Kings 3:4 and this tribute, as appears from the passage now referred to, was paid in lambs and rams; which now they are bid to pay to the king of Judah, David's lawful heir and successor in his kingdom; who is supposed to be meant by the ruler of the land, that is, of the land of Judah, whose reigning king at this time was Hezekiah; but rather by "the ruler of the land" is meant the king of Moab, for the words may be rendered, more agreeably to the language and the accents, "send ye the lamb" (or lambs, the singular for the plural), "O ruler of the land" (t); though others, "send ye the lamb of the ruler of the land" (u); that is either, O king of Moab send the tribute that is due; or ye people of the land send the tribute which your ruler owes to the king of Judah; so Jarchi understands it of the king of Moab: some indeed expound the ruler of the land of God himself, who is the Governor of the world; and take the sense to be, that the Moabites are bid to send a lamb, or lambs, for sacrifice, to the God of the whole earth, in order to appease him, and atone for their sins; which is said either seriously, as some think, this being to answer a good purpose, or ironically, as other's, it being now too late; but the sense given is the best: in the Talmud (w) it is applied to Nebuchadnezzar, ruler of the land, who came to the mount of the daughter of Zion, by the way of rocks and mountains. The Targum applies it to the Messiah, paraphrasing it thus,

"they shall be bringing tributes to the Christ of Israel, who is strong over them.''

Jerom interprets it of Christ, the Lamb of God, the ruler of the world, or who was to be sacrificed to the ruler of the world; who descended from Ruth, the Moabitess, who he supposes is meant by the rock of the wilderness, as he renders the next clause:

from Sela to the wilderness, unto the mount the daughter of Zion: according to Kimchi, and others, Sela was the chief city of the kingdom of Moab. The word signifies a rock; it is the same with Petra (x), the chief city of Arabia, and from whence Arabia Petraea had its name. Some take it to be Selah, the chief city of Edom, afterwards called Joktheel, 2 Kings 14:7 it was a frontier city, and lay upon the borders of Moab and Edom to the south; as the wilderness of Jordan was on the border of Moab to the north, and is thought to be here meant; or, according to Vitringa, the plains of Jericho, the same with the wilderness of Judea, where John the Baptist came preaching; which lay in the way from Sela or Petra, the chief city in Moab, unto Jerusalem. Strabo (y) says of Petra, the metropolis of the Nabataeans, that it lies in a plain, surrounded with rocks and precipices, and within it fountains and gardens, and without it a large country, for the most part desert, especially towards Judea, and from hence it is a journey of three or four days to Jericho; and so the sense is, send the lambs, or the tribute, from Sela or Petra, the chief city of Moab; send them, I say, to the wilderness of Judea, or by the way of that, even to Mount Zion or Jerusalem, the metropolis of Judea, and the seat of the king of it.

(t) "mittite agnum, dominator terrae", Montanus; so Luther; which is approved by Reinbeck de Accent. Heb. p. 395. (u) "Mittite agnum dominatoris terrae", Pagninus, Vatablus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator. (w) T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 96. 2. & Gloss. in ib. (x) Joseph. Antiqu. l. 4. c. 4. sect. 7. Ptolem. Geogr. l. 5. c. 17. Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 6. c. 28. (y) Geograph. l. 16. p. 536. Ed. Casaub.

Isaiah 15:9
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