Bible Commentary: Jeremiah 48

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Jeremiah 48

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Prophecy Against Moab

Recall from the previous reading that when Jehoiakim rebelled against Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar sent Chaldean troops and mercenary forces from Syria, Moab and Ammon into Judah. This was actually according to God's will, to punish Jehoiakim and Judah for their rebellion against Him (2 Kings 24:1-5 2 Kings 24:1-5 [1] In his days Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up, and Jehoiakim became his servant three years: then he turned and rebelled against him. [2] And the LORD sent against him bands of the Chaldees, and bands of the Syrians, and bands of the Moabites, and bands of the children of Ammon, and sent them against Judah to destroy it, according to the word of the LORD, which he spoke by his servants the prophets. [3] Surely at the commandment of the LORD came this on Judah, to remove them out of his sight, for the sins of Manasseh, according to all that he did; [4] And also for the innocent blood that he shed: for he filled Jerusalem with innocent blood; which the LORD would not pardon. [5] Now the rest of the acts of Jehoiakim, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?
American King James Version×
). But these nations, though guilty of their own great sins, exulted in their part in Judah's downfall—full of arrogance and pride. They did not acknowledge God. And their hatred of God's people was completely unjustified. So they, too, would be punished. Jeremiah prophesies against them in Jeremiah 48 and 49—and against Israel's age-old enemy, Edom, along with other adjacent peoples. This parallels end-time events, when God punishes modern Israel and Judah through other nations—nations that God then punishes as well for their own pride, arrogance and wrongdoing.

The Moabites and Ammonites are descendants of Lot's sons, Moab and Ben-Ammi (Genesis 19:36-38 Genesis 19:36-38 [36] Thus were both the daughters of Lot with child by their father. [37] And the first born bore a son, and called his name Moab: the same is the father of the Moabites to this day. [38] And the younger, she also bore a son, and called his name Benammi: the same is the father of the children of Ammon to this day.
American King James Version×
). These peoples, along with the Edomites, lived on the east side of the Jordan River and Dead Sea, where the nation of Jordan is now situated—Ammon on the north, Moab in the middle and Edom in the south. The hammer of Babylon would fall on them too—not just Judah (see Jeremiah 27:1-11 Jeremiah 27:1-11 [1] In the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah came this word to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying, [2] Thus said the LORD to me; Make you bonds and yokes, and put them on your neck, [3] And send them to the king of Edom, and to the king of Moab, and to the king of the Ammonites, and to the king of Tyrus, and to the king of Zidon, by the hand of the messengers which come to Jerusalem to Zedekiah king of Judah; [4] And command them to say to their masters, Thus said the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Thus shall you say to your masters; [5] I have made the earth, the man and the beast that are on the ground, by my great power and by my outstretched arm, and have given it to whom it seemed meet to me. [6] And now have I given all these lands into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, my servant; and the beasts of the field have I given him also to serve him. [7] And all nations shall serve him, and his son, and his son's son, until the very time of his land come: and then many nations and great kings shall serve themselves of him. [8] And it shall come to pass, that the nation and kingdom which will not serve the same Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, and that will not put their neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon, that nation will I punish, said the LORD, with the sword, and with the famine, and with the pestilence, until I have consumed them by his hand. [9] Therefore listen not you to your prophets, nor to your diviners, nor to your dreamers, nor to your enchanters, nor to your sorcerers, which speak to you, saying, You shall not serve the king of Babylon: [10] For they prophesy a lie to you, to remove you far from your land; and that I should drive you out, and you should perish. [11] But the nations that bring their neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon, and serve him, those will I let remain still in their own land, said the LORD; and they shall till it, and dwell therein.
American King James Version×
). But while the prophecies in chapters 48 and 49 probably applied to the people of Jeremiah's day in part, it is evident that their ultimate application was for the end time—the Day of the Lord, the cataclysmic period immediately preceding the return of Jesus Christ, which appears to be a year in length. Note Jeremiah 48:12 Jeremiah 48:12Therefore, behold, the days come, said the LORD, that I will send to him wanderers, that shall cause him to wander, and shall empty his vessels, and break their bottles.
American King James Version×
("behold, the days are coming"), verse 41 ("on that day"), verse 44 ("the year of their punishment") and verse 47 ("in the latter days"). And we will see further proof as we examine the chapter.

As has been mentioned previously in the Beyond Today Bible Commentary, the descendants of the people of ancient Ammon and Moab are evidently still concentrated in Jordan (with its capital named Amman after Ammon) and surrounding areas. Today's Palestinians of Jordan and Israel are probably a mixture of Edomites, Ammonites, Moabites, Arabs and other ancient Middle Eastern elements. In reading Jeremiah 48 and 49, consider the attitudes of these people today toward the Jewish state of Israel. As the old saying goes, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Some of the wording in Jeremiah 48 is quite similar to that of the prophecy against Moab in Isaiah 15-16. Indeed, Jeremiah appears to have been led by God to actually use portions of Isaiah's prophecy himself. (That being so, you will probably find it helpful to reread Isaiah 15-16 at this point and review the Beyond Today Bible Commentary for those chapters.)

Let's look at some of the specifics of the prophecy in Jeremiah 48. Nebo (verse 1) was a town of Moab located at Mount Nebo, from where Moses surveyed the Promised Land. Kirjathaim (verse 1) and Heshbon (verse 2) were Moabite cities—Heshbon being the chief one. "Heshbon was midway between the rivers Arnon and Jabbok; it was the residence of Sihon, king of the Amorites [in Moses' day], and afterwards a Levitical city in Gad (Numbers 21:26 Numbers 21:26For Heshbon was the city of Sihon the king of the Amorites, who had fought against the former king of Moab, and taken all his land out of his hand, even to Arnon.
American King James Version×
)" (Jamieson, Fausset & Brown's Commentary, note on verse Jeremiah 48:2 Jeremiah 48:2There shall be no more praise of Moab: in Heshbon they have devised evil against it; come, and let us cut it off from being a nation. Also you shall be cut down, O Madmen; the sword shall pursue you.
American King James Version×
). Of course, Gad and the other Israelite tribes east of the Jordan had been carried away captive by the Assyrians and this territory reverted back to the Moabites (and even before that the land had changed hands numerous times because of frequent wars). It is interesting to notice that many of the Ammonite and Moabite cities were built by the Israelites: "And the children of Gad built Dibon and Ataroth and Aroer, Atroth and Shophan and Jazer and Jogbehan, Beth Nimrah and Beth Haran, fortified cities, and folds for sheep. And the children of Reuben built Heshbon and Elealeh and Kirjathaim, Nebo and Baal Meon (their names being changed) and Shibmah" (Numbers 32:34-38 Numbers 32:34-38 [34] And the children of Gad built Dibon, and Ataroth, and Aroer, [35] And Atroth, Shophan, and Jaazer, and Jogbehah, [36] And Bethnimrah, and Bethharan, fenced cities: and folds for sheep. [37] And the children of Reuben built Heshbon, and Elealeh, and Kirjathaim, [38] And Nebo, and Baalmeon, (their names being changed,) and Shibmah: and gave other names to the cities which they built.
American King James Version×
).

Madmen (Jeremiah 48:2 Jeremiah 48:2There shall be no more praise of Moab: in Heshbon they have devised evil against it; come, and let us cut it off from being a nation. Also you shall be cut down, O Madmen; the sword shall pursue you.
American King James Version×
) was another town in Moab, its name meaning "Dunghill." Horonaim (verse 3), meaning "Two Caves," was located in a "descent" or low place—in contrast to the "ascent of Luhith" (verse 5). "Horonaim lay in a plain, Luhith on a height. To the latter, therefore, the Moabites would flee with 'continual weeping,' as a place of safety from the Chaldeans" (note on verse 5).

Chemosh, the tutelary god of the Moabites, was to go into captivity—apparently signifying that the idols representing him would be plundered by the enemy or would simply accompany the people into captivity, as with the priests and princes (verse 7). However, there may be an end-time application here. Consider that the world religion known today as Christianity is actually a false Christianity that is in many ways a modern form of Baal worship—and that Baal and Chemosh are often identified as one and the same. In many ways, Islam—the religion of today's Moabites and virtually all Middle Eastern peoples other than the Jews—arose out of a blend of Judaism and this false Christianity mixed with Arab mythology. In spite of the fact that there are numerous sects within these three major religions, which provide hundreds of minor variations in practices, their roots are remarkably similar to each other, as well as to the ancient Canaanite and Babylonian religions.

Verse 9 in the New King James Version says, "Give wings to Moab, that she may flee and get away; for her cities shall be desolate, without any to dwell in them" (compare KJV). If the translation of the first part of this verse is accurate, the prophecy itself would seem to be the wings of escape—if the Moabites would heed it. However, other versions translate the verse differently. For example: "Oh, for wings for Moab that she could fly away [implying that she can't], for her cities shall be left without a living soul" (Living Bible). Still other translations are even more different: "Put salt on Moab, for she will be laid waste; her towns will become desolate, with no one to live in them" (NIV, compare NRSV). This seems to make the most sense, considering that God appears to be speaking to the forces of Moab's destruction in verses 9-10.

Verse 10 is apparently mistranslated in the King James and New King James Versions. In context, the word rendered "deceitfully" actually has to do with being slack or negligent. "To represent how entirely this is God's will, a curse is pronounced on the Chaldeans, the instrument, if they do it negligently (Margin) or by halves" (note on verse 10). Notice the NIV rendering: "A curse on him who is lax in doing the LORD's work! A curse on him who keeps his sword from bloodshed!" (compare NRSV, which translates the verse similarly).

Verse 11 declares that Moab is "settled on his dregs" (or "lees" in the King James Version), not having been "emptied from vessel to vessel." The JFB Commentary states: "As wine left to settle on its own lees retains its flavor and strength (which it would lose by being poured from one vessel into another), so Moab, owing to its never having been dislodged from its settlements, retains its pride of strength unimpaired" (note on verse 11). But this was going to change (verse 12). "The image was clear to Jeremiah's first readers. Wine was poured gently from the storage jar to serving jars so as not to disturb the dregs, impurities which had settled at the bottom. Similarly, God had treated Moab gently. But now the nation's experience will be like that of jars violently shaken and smashed" (Bible Reader's Companion, 1991, note on verse 11).

Dibon (verse 18) was the Moabite capital from which King Mesha had ruled (2 Kings 3:4-27 2 Kings 3:4-27 [4] And Mesha king of Moab was a sheep master, and rendered to the king of Israel an hundred thousand lambs, and an hundred thousand rams, with the wool. [5] But it came to pass, when Ahab was dead, that the king of Moab rebelled against the king of Israel. [6] And king Jehoram went out of Samaria the same time, and numbered all Israel. [7] And he went and sent to Jehoshaphat the king of Judah, saying, The king of Moab has rebelled against me: will you go with me against Moab to battle? And he said, I will go up: I am as you are, my people as your people, and my horses as your horses. [8] And he said, Which way shall we go up? And he answered, The way through the wilderness of Edom. [9] So the king of Israel went, and the king of Judah, and the king of Edom: and they fetched a compass of seven days' journey: and there was no water for the host, and for the cattle that followed them. [10] And the king of Israel said, Alas! that the LORD has called these three kings together, to deliver them into the hand of Moab! [11] But Jehoshaphat said, Is there not here a prophet of the LORD, that we may inquire of the LORD by him? And one of the king of Israel's servants answered and said, Here is Elisha the son of Shaphat, which poured water on the hands of Elijah. [12] And Jehoshaphat said, The word of the LORD is with him. So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat and the king of Edom went down to him. [13] And Elisha said to the king of Israel, What have I to do with you? get you to the prophets of your father, and to the prophets of your mother. And the king of Israel said to him, No: for the LORD has called these three kings together, to deliver them into the hand of Moab. [14] And Elisha said, As the LORD of hosts lives, before whom I stand, surely, were it not that I regard the presence of Jehoshaphat the king of Judah, I would not look toward you, nor see you. [15] But now bring me a minstrel. And it came to pass, when the minstrel played, that the hand of the LORD came on him. [16] And he said, Thus said the LORD, Make this valley full of ditches. [17] For thus said the LORD, You shall not see wind, neither shall you see rain; yet that valley shall be filled with water, that you may drink, both you, and your cattle, and your beasts. [18] And this is but a light thing in the sight of the LORD: he will deliver the Moabites also into your hand. [19] And you shall smite every fenced city, and every choice city, and shall fell every good tree, and stop all wells of water, and mar every good piece of land with stones. [20] And it came to pass in the morning, when the meat offering was offered, that, behold, there came water by the way of Edom, and the country was filled with water. [21] And when all the Moabites heard that the kings were come up to fight against them, they gathered all that were able to put on armor, and upward, and stood in the border. [22] And they rose up early in the morning, and the sun shone on the water, and the Moabites saw the water on the other side as red as blood: [23] And they said, This is blood: the kings are surely slain, and they have smitten one another: now therefore, Moab, to the spoil. [24] And when they came to the camp of Israel, the Israelites rose up and smote the Moabites, so that they fled before them: but they went forward smiting the Moabites, even in their country. [25] And they beat down the cities, and on every good piece of land cast every man his stone, and filled it; and they stopped all the wells of water, and felled all the good trees: only in Kirharaseth left they the stones thereof; however, the slingers went about it, and smote it. [26] And when the king of Moab saw that the battle was too sore for him, he took with him seven hundred men that drew swords, to break through even to the king of Edom: but they could not. [27] Then he took his oldest son that should have reigned in his stead, and offered him for a burnt offering on the wall. And there was great indignation against Israel: and they departed from him, and returned to their own land.
American King James Version×
). It is clear that all of Moab's strongholds are being destroyed—utterly humiliating this haughty people.

In verse 19 of Jeremiah 48, Aroer, "on the north bank of the Arnon [the river between Moab and Ammon], [is] a city of Ammon (Deuteronomy 2:36; Deuteronomy 3:12 Deuteronomy 3:12And this land, which we possessed at that time, from Aroer, which is by the river Arnon, and half mount Gilead, and the cities thereof, gave I to the Reubenites and to the Gadites.
American King James Version×
). As it was on 'the way' of the Moabites who fled into the desert, its inhabitants 'ask' what is the occasion of Moab's flight, and so learn the lot that awaits themselves" (JFB, note on Jeremiah 48:19 Jeremiah 48:19O inhabitant of Aroer, stand by the way, and espy; ask him that flees, and her that escapes, and say, What is done?
American King James Version×
). Indeed, Ammon was next on the list for destruction, as chapter 49 shows.

Verses 20-25 of Jeremiah 48 give the answer to the question of what happened in verse 19—and that answer is from God (verse 25). Judgment is to come on the countryside (verse 21) and on "all the cities of the land of Moab, far or near" (verse 24). "He enumerates the Moabite cities at length.... Many of them were assigned to the Levites, while Israel stood" (note on verse 20). Bozrah in verse 24 "refers not to the capital of Edom, but to Bezer, one of the cities of refuge (see Joshua 20:8 Joshua 20:8And on the other side Jordan by Jericho eastward, they assigned Bezer in the wilderness on the plain out of the tribe of Reuben, and Ramoth in Gilead out of the tribe of Gad, and Golan in Bashan out of the tribe of Manasseh.
American King James Version×
)" (Nelson Study Bible, note on Jeremiah 48:21-25 Jeremiah 48:21-25 [21] And judgment is come on the plain country; on Holon, and on Jahazah, and on Mephaath, [22] And on Dibon, and on Nebo, and on Bethdiblathaim, [23] And on Kiriathaim, and on Bethgamul, and on Bethmeon, [24] And on Kerioth, and on Bozrah, and on all the cities of the land of Moab, far or near. [25] The horn of Moab is cut off, and his arm is broken, said the LORD.
American King James Version×
). "The piling up of name after name is designed to drive home the message of total judgment" (New Bible Commentary, note on verses 21-24). The "horn" and "arm" of Moab—symbols of power and strength—are to be broken.

The Moabites are to be made "drunk"—that is, "intoxicated with the cup of divine wrath, so as to be in helpless distraction" (JFB, note on verse 26). They are to be objects of scorn, just as they scorned the Israelites. God asks Moab, "Was she [Israel] caught among thieves, that you shake your head in scorn whenever you speak of her?" (verse 27, NIV). This is "proverbial. What did Israel do to deserve such derision? Was he detected in theft, that thou didst so exult over him in speaking of him? Though guilty before God, Israel was guiltless toward thee" (note on verse 27). No doubt, the Palestinians of today would disagree—wrongly. Of course, it should be understood that the retribution on Moab is not mere "payback" for mistreating God's favored nation, but rather God's fair and equal treatment of all nations. No peoples will remain stiff-necked or arrogant before Him when He intervenes to judge the nations.

Verse 28 is a directive for those who "dwell in Moab" to leave the cities and dwell in "the rock." Is this referring only to Moabites, or is it referring to non-Moabites in the region, possibly some of God's people in the end time? Perhaps it refers to both—the directive being aimed at whoever will respond. The mention of "rock," or sela in Hebrew, is no surprise since the nation of Jordan is certainly rocky terrain. And in the southern part of Jordan, in the area once occupied by Edomites, is the ancient abandoned city of Sela. Its Greek name Petra, by which it is still known, means the same thing—"Rock"—since dwellings, tombs and temples were carved out of the rock cliffs. Some have speculated, based on an interpretation of certain scriptures, about the possibility of Petra being the place of safety in the end time prophesied in Revelation 12:6 Revelation 12:6And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and three score days.
American King James Version×
. Yet at this time we can't know for sure. Some possible interpretations and scenarios were covered in the commentary with Isaiah 16, where it appears to say that Moab will refuse to give refuge to God's outcasts (though, as noted before, the wording there is somewhat ambiguous). In any case, God will undoubtedly show those of His people whom He intends to protect in the end time the way to safety at the right time.

The downside of even mentioning a place of future temporary refuge is that God's people can be tempted to trust in getting to the place. The trust should only be in God, who, by His supernatural protection and provision, makes one place safer than others for a particular period of time. And a Christian's focus should not be on physically saving his own neck, but on doing the work of God—"for in doing this you will [spiritually] save both yourself and those who hear you" (1 Timothy 4:11-16 1 Timothy 4:11-16 [11] These things command and teach. [12] Let no man despise your youth; but be you an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. [13] Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. [14] Neglect not the gift that is in you, which was given you by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. [15] Meditate on these things; give yourself wholly to them; that your profiting may appear to all. [16] Take heed to yourself, and to the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this you shall both save yourself, and them that hear you.
American King James Version×
; compare Matthew 16:24-27 Matthew 16:24-27 [24] Then said Jesus to his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. [25] For whoever will save his life shall lose it: and whoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. [26] For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? [27] For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.
American King James Version×
).

Returning to Jeremiah 48, we see the pride of Moab addressed in strong terms in verse 29—six times in this one verse. In verse 30, God speaks of Moab's unjust wrath—and even lies. Therefore punishment must come. But this is no pleasure for God—He mourns over having to take such action (verse 31).

Kir Heres, "also called Kir Haraseth, (see 2 Kings 3:25; Isaiah 16:11), may be a name for the capital city of Moab (Kir of Moab; see Isaiah 15:1)" (note on Jeremiah 48:30-33 Jeremiah 48:30-33 [30] I know his wrath, said the LORD; but it shall not be so; his lies shall not so effect it. [31] Therefore will I howl for Moab, and I will cry out for all Moab; my heart shall mourn for the men of Kirheres. [32] O vine of Sibmah, I will weep for you with the weeping of Jazer: your plants are gone over the sea, they reach even to the sea of Jazer: the spoiler is fallen on your summer fruits and on your vintage. [33] And joy and gladness is taken from the plentiful field, and from the land of Moab, and I have caused wine to fail from the winepresses: none shall tread with shouting; their shouting shall be no shouting.
American King James Version×
). Sibmah and Jazer (verse 32) are other Moabite cities built by the Israelites, as mentioned earlier. Verse 32 has been translated and interpreted in various ways, some seeing Jazer as a literal sea, perhaps the Dead Sea or Mediterranean, and some seeing it as a figurative sea of tears formed from the great weeping mentioned.

The cry from Heshbon to Elealeh and Jahaz (Jeremiah 48:34 Jeremiah 48:34From the cry of Heshbon even to Elealeh, and even to Jahaz, have they uttered their voice, from Zoar even to Horonaim, as an heifer of three years old: for the waters also of Nimrim shall be desolate.
American King James Version×
) is mentioned in Isaiah 15:4 Isaiah 15:4And Heshbon shall cry, and Elealeh: their voice shall be heard even to Jahaz: therefore the armed soldiers of Moab shall cry out; his life shall be grievous to him.
American King James Version×
. The three-year-old heifer is mentioned in verse 5 (see Beyond Today Bible Commentary on Isaiah 14:28-16:14). "My heart shall wail like flutes for Moab...for the men of Kir Heres" (Jeremiah 48:35 Jeremiah 48:35Moreover I will cause to cease in Moab, said the LORD, him that offers in the high places, and him that burns incense to his gods.
American King James Version×
) parallels "my heart shall resound like a harp for Moab...for Kir Heres" (Isaiah 16:11 Isaiah 16:11Why my bowels shall sound like an harp for Moab, and my inward parts for Kirharesh.
American King James Version×
).

In Jeremiah 48:40 Jeremiah 48:40For thus said the LORD; Behold, he shall fly as an eagle, and shall spread his wings over Moab.
American King James Version×
we see one flying like an eagle to overspread Moab—"not to bear them 'on eagles' wings' (Exodus 19:4; Deuteronomy 32:11-12), as God does His people, but to pounce on them as a prey ([Jeremiah] 49:22; Deuteronomy 28:49; Habakkuk 1:8)" (note on Jeremiah 48:40 Jeremiah 48:40For thus said the LORD; Behold, he shall fly as an eagle, and shall spread his wings over Moab.
American King James Version×
).

Verse 44 mentions "the year of their punishment." Considering the related punishments of Ammon, Moab and Edom, this seems to tie very clearly to "the day of the LORD's vengeance, the year of recompense for the cause of Zion" (Isaiah 34:8 Isaiah 34:8For it is the day of the LORD's vengeance, and the year of recompenses for the controversy of Zion.
American King James Version×
; compare Isaiah 63:4 Isaiah 63:4For the day of vengeance is in my heart, and the year of my redeemed is come.
American King James Version×
). As already mentioned, this year of punishment is a reference to the end-time Day of the Lord, which culminates in the return of Jesus Christ to the earth.

"In the shadow of Heshbon, the [Moabite] fugitives stand helpless" (Jeremiah 48:45 Jeremiah 48:45They that fled stood under the shadow of Heshbon because of the force: but a fire shall come forth out of Heshbon, and a flame from the middle of Sihon, and shall devour the corner of Moab, and the crown of the head of the tumultuous ones.
American King James Version×
, NIV). Indeed, it is all to no avail. The land will be devoured by fire. Again, while this may have had some application to the ancient Babylonian invasion, it is primarily speaking of the end time. Yet it should be noted that the end-time invader of Moab is not the final Babylon—for Ammon, Moab and Edom will escape from the hands of that imperialistic power (see Daniel 11:41 Daniel 11:41He shall enter also into the glorious land, and many countries shall be overthrown: but these shall escape out of his hand, even Edom, and Moab, and the chief of the children of Ammon.
American King James Version×
).

Rather, the eagle who will pounce on Moab and destroy it is the returning Jesus Christ and a resurgent Israel. The "fire out of Heshbon" and "flame from the midst of Sihon" (Jeremiah 48:45 Jeremiah 48:45They that fled stood under the shadow of Heshbon because of the force: but a fire shall come forth out of Heshbon, and a flame from the middle of Sihon, and shall devour the corner of Moab, and the crown of the head of the tumultuous ones.
American King James Version×
) is a quote from Numbers 21:28 Numbers 21:28For there is a fire gone out of Heshbon, a flame from the city of Sihon: it has consumed Ar of Moab, and the lords of the high places of Arnon.
American King James Version×
concerning the ancient Israelite destruction of Moab. Verse 46 of Jeremiah 48 is quoted from Numbers 21:29 Numbers 21:29Woe to you, Moab! you are undone, O people of Chemosh: he has given his sons that escaped, and his daughters, into captivity to Sihon king of the Amorites.
American King James Version×
, regarding Israel's ancient subjugation of Moab. Yet in Jeremiah these things are prophesied to happen in the future (compare also Isaiah 11:11-14 Isaiah 11:11-14 [11] And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea. [12] And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth. [13] The envy also of Ephraim shall depart, and the adversaries of Judah shall be cut off: Ephraim shall not envy Judah, and Judah shall not vex Ephraim. [14] But they shall fly on the shoulders of the Philistines toward the west; they shall spoil them of the east together: they shall lay their hand on Edom and Moab; and the children of Ammon shall obey them.
American King James Version×
). Making it even clearer, the devouring of the "brow of Moab, the crown of the head of the sons of tumult" (verse 45) is essentially quoted from the messianic prophecy God gave through Balaam: "A Star shall come out of Jacob; a Scepter shall rise out of Israel, and batter the brow of Moab, and destroy all the sons of tumult" (Numbers 24:17 Numbers 24:17I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not near: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Scepter shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth.
American King James Version×
). This unmistakably refers to the coming of the Messiah in mighty power—and provides a clear marker that these prophecies extend to the time of Christ's return.

But that is not the ultimate end for Moab. While there is a seeming contradiction between verse 42 and verse 47, it is easily resolved. "Moab shall be destroyed as a people" (verse 42), "yet I [God] will bring back the captives of Moab in the latter days" (verse 47). Verse 42 must mean "a people" as a whole—a nation—and not every last person. Otherwise there would be no one to take into captivity (see verse 46). It is thus evident that when Moab is destroyed, there will be some survivors. This is consistent with what we have sometimes witnessed in modern warfare. Even in the horrific "ethnic cleansing" wars of late, some people survive.

Besides Isaiah 15-16, other prophecies concerning Moab may be found in Amos 2:1-3 Amos 2:1-3 [1] Thus said the LORD; For three transgressions of Moab, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because he burned the bones of the king of Edom into lime: [2] But I will send a fire on Moab, and it shall devour the palaces of Kirioth: and Moab shall die with tumult, with shouting, and with the sound of the trumpet: [3] And I will cut off the judge from the middle thereof, and will slay all the princes thereof with him, said the LORD.
American King James Version×
, Zephaniah 2:8-11 Zephaniah 2:8-11 [8] I have heard the reproach of Moab, and the revilings of the children of Ammon, whereby they have reproached my people, and magnified themselves against their border. [9] Therefore as I live, said the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, Surely Moab shall be as Sodom, and the children of Ammon as Gomorrah, even the breeding of nettles, and salt pits, and a perpetual desolation: the residue of my people shall spoil them, and the remnant of my people shall possess them. [10] This shall they have for their pride, because they have reproached and magnified themselves against the people of the LORD of hosts. [11] The LORD will be terrible to them: for he will famish all the gods of the earth; and men shall worship him, every one from his place, even all the isles of the heathen.
American King James Version×
, Isaiah 25:10-12 Isaiah 25:10-12 [10] For in this mountain shall the hand of the LORD rest, and Moab shall be trodden down under him, even as straw is trodden down for the dunghill. [11] And he shall spread forth his hands in the middle of them, as he that swims spreads forth his hands to swim: and he shall bring down their pride together with the spoils of their hands. [12] And the fortress of the high fort of your walls shall he bring down, lay low, and bring to the ground, even to the dust.
American King James Version×
and Ezekiel 25:8-11 Ezekiel 25:8-11 [8] Thus said the Lord GOD; Because that Moab and Seir do say, Behold, the house of Judah is like to all the heathen; [9] Therefore, behold, I will open the side of Moab from the cities, from his cities which are on his frontiers, the glory of the country, Bethjeshimoth, Baalmeon, and Kiriathaim, [10] To the men of the east with the Ammonites, and will give them in possession, that the Ammonites may not be remembered among the nations. [11] And I will execute judgments on Moab; and they shall know that I am the LORD.
American King James Version×
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