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Jeremiah 48:45

45. They 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 midst of Sihon, and shall devour the corner of Moab, and the crown of the head of the tumultuous ones.

45. In umbra Hesbon steterunt a fortitudine (aut, violentia) fugientes; quia ignis egressus est ex Hesbon, et flamma e medio Sion, et vorabit angulum Moab, et extremitatem et verticem filiorum tumultus.


He confirms what is said in the last verse, that the Moabites would in vain resort to their strongest cities, even Heshbon and Sihon; because a flame would thence break forth, which would consume the whole land. We hence see that God took away from the Moabites all their vain confidences, and showed that no defences could stand against his power, when once he rose up for judgment.

The fleers, he says, shall stand under the shadow of Heshbon, thinking that there would be a safe refuge in that city, and in others. 2525     The word “strength” is here omitted. Calvin’s version is, “Under the shadow of Heshbon stood they who had fled from strength,” or violence, i.e., of their enemies. Some connect it with “stood,” the fugitives “stood for strength,” or, “without strength,” which, perhaps, is preferable: they stood under the shadow or protection of Heshbon, and obtained no help; so far was this from being the case, that from Heshbon would go forth fire, that is, “the spoiler,” or, destroyer, before often mentioned. Then כי would have its usual meaning, for, as giving a reason why the fugitives remained without strength or help, under the protection of Heshbon. — Ed But the particle כי, ki, seems not to me to be here causal, but rather an affirmative, or even an adversative; but, or surely a fire has gone forth from Heshbon, and a flame from Sihon The Prophet, I doubt not, borrowed these words from Moses, for he says in Numbers 21:28, that a fire had gone forth from Heshbon; and there the expression is given as an old proverb. There is no doubt but that enemies had triumphed over that city when it was taken; for that whole song spoken by Moses is ironical, and in saying that fire had gone forth, he referred to their counsels, for they thought that city sufficiently strong against enemies. Now the Prophet says, that what had been formerly said of Heshbon would be again fulfilled, that it would be, as it were, the beginning of the fire. The meaning then, as I think, is, that the Moabites indeed thought, that they would have a quiet and agreeable shadow under the protection of the city Heshbon, and of the city Sihon; but what was to be? even that these two cities would become, as it were, the beginnings of the fire. How, or in what way? even because the probability is, that there those counsels were taken which provoked the Chaldeans. We indeed know that riches and power always produce haughtiness and false confidence in men; for in villages and small towns wars are not contrived; but the great cities gather the wood and kindle the fire; and the fire afterwards spreads and pervades the whole land. 2626     Most give a different explanation of this fire, that it designated “the spoiler” that was to come on Moab. That fire has often this meaning is evident. See Judges 9:20. — Ed.

This, then, is what our Prophet means, when he says, that fire went forth from Heshbon, even contrary to the expectation of the people, for they thought that were all things to go to ruin, there yet would be safety for them in that city: go forth, he says, shall fire from the city Heshbon, and a flame from the midst of Sihon, and it shall consume the corner of Moab, and all his extremities; for by קרקר, kadkad, he means all parts. Extremity is elsewhere taken for a part; but he does not mean that fire would come to all parts or extreme corners, only as it were to touch them slightly: but he intimates that the whole land would be consumed by this fire; it would thus spread itself to its very extremities. 2727     The last clause is evidently a quotation from Numbers 24:17: it is not literally the same, but the meaning is so. It is “corner”’ here and not “corners,” as in Numbers; and the word there is קרקר, and not קדקד as here, only there are some copies which have the former word here. In that case, the passage would read thus, —
   And it shall devour the corner of Moab, And destroy the sons (or children) of tumult.

   שת in Numbers is probably for שאת, which means the same as the word here used, coming from the same root, and properly rendered “tumult.”

   This passage is omitted in the Sept.; the Vulg. renders קדקד, “verticem,” the crown or top of the head; but the Syr. and Targ. drop the metaphor, and render it “chiefs” or nobles. — Ed

But as I have already said, the Prophet alludes to that old saying mentioned by Moses, (Numbers 21:27, 28.) Further, there is no doubt but that Heshbon and Sihon were then in the possession of that nation; for they had taken away many cities from the Israelites, and thus the children of Israel had been reduced to narrower limits. At length the tribe of Judah alone remained after the overthrow of the kingdom of Israel. When they were driven into Chaldea, it was an easy thing for the Moabites to make that their own which belonged to no one. Besides, as they had helped the Chaldeans and betrayed that miserable people, and had thus acted perfidiously towards their brethren, a reward was given to them. But when at length they themselves dreaded the power of the Babylonian monarchy, they began to change their minds, and endeavored to obstruct the farther progress of the Chaldeans. Hence then a war was contemplated, and the occasion was given. He then speaks of Heshbon and Sihon as chief cities; and there is no doubt but that Sihon derived its name from a king who ruled there. For we know that there was a king bearing this name; but as he speaks here of a place, it is probable, that the king’s name was given to the city in order to commemorate it.

He at length adds, that this fire and flame would devour the top of the head of the sons of Saon, or tumult. But he calls the Moabites tumultuous, because they before made a great noise, and were dreaded by their neighbors. As then all their neighbors had been frightened, in a manner, by their voice alone, he calls them sons of tumult, or tumultuous men, from the effect produced. It follows —

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