Isaiah 16

The Word Made Fresh

1Send lambs as a tribute to the ruler of the land.
Send them from Sela by way of the desert    
Send them to the mountain of your daughter, Zion.
2The daughters of Moab are like fluttering birds,
and like scattered nestlings at the fords of the Arnon.
3Counsel us; give us justice.
Make your shadow fall like nighttime at high noon.
Protect those who are outcast and also the fugitives.
4Allow the outcasts of Moab to settle in your midst.
Be their refuge from destruction.

When the oppressor is gone, and destruction has ended;
when invaders have disappeared from the land,
5then a throne shall be lovingly established in David’s house.
And on the throne will be a faithful ruler
who desires justice and quickly does what is right.

6We have heard of the pride of Moab.
Moab’s arrogance and pride and insolence and boasts are nothing.
7So, let Moab weep, and let everyone weep for Moab.
Cry out in grief and lamentation for the people of Kir-Hareseth.

8The fields of Heshbon wither, and the vines of Sibmah.
Their clusters once provided drink for the leaders of the nations.
They reached to Jazer and spread into the desert.
Their sprigs once were spread abroad, crossing over the sea.
9That is why I weep with Jazer. I weep for the vines of Sibmah.
You will be drenched with my tears, Heshbon and Elealeh.
The celebration over your fruit harvest
  and your grain harvest has ended.
10Joy and happiness are removed from the fruitful fields.
No songs are sung in the vineyard, no celebrations are raised.
No one treads out wine in the wine presses.
  I have silenced the celebration for the vintage.
11My heart throbs like a harp for Moab.
My soul throbs also for Kir-Heres.

12When Moab comes to her sanctuary to pray until she is exhausted upon the altar; when she comes, it will be for nothing.

13This was what God said about Moab in the past. 14But now, the LORD says, in three years, as if Moab were nothing more than hired labor, their glory will be contemptible despite anything they can do. And those who survive will be very few and very weak.


1-4a: The prophet imagines representatives being sent from Moab (Sela) to “the ruler of the land,” that is, Zion/Jerusalem, to ask for permission to settle refugees from Moab.

4b-5: He envisions a “faithful ruler” to rise to the throne once occupied by David.

6-11: The reason given for Moab’s desperate state is its arrogance and pride. The rest of this section seems to imply that a natural calamity such as a drought or famine has caused the devastation, and not warfare or the invasion of an enemy.

12-14: We know that there were migrations back and forth between Moab and Judah as conditions changed from year to year. It was a famine in Judah that drove Elimelech and Naomi to seek better conditions in Moab (Ruth 1:1-2). Verses 13-14 imply that everything said in chapters 15 and 16 are about things that have happened in the past, and that God is angry that the Moabites called on their gods to save them (verse 12). As result, in a few years Moab will suffer more disasters.


Remember that Isaiah is prophesying about Israel and the nations around Israel. He is telling the people that all the hardships they have suffered at the hands of other nations will come to an end, and a new ruler will sit on the throne in Jerusalem. Look for indications that these things may actually not be off in the distant future but are already taking shape in the world around them. God is love. God is hope. God is always seeking the welfare of God’s people.