Is. 15:1 The burden of Moab. Because in the night Ar of Moab is laid waste, and brought to silence; because in the night Kir of Moab is laid waste, and brought to silence;
Is. 15:2 He is gone up to Bajith, and to Dibon, the high places, to weep: Moab shall howl over Nebo, and over Medeba: on all their heads shall be baldness, and every beard cut off.
Is. 15:3 In their streets they shall gird themselves with sackcloth: on the tops of their houses, and in their streets, every one shall howl, weeping abundantly.
Is. 15:4 And Heshbon shall cry, and Elealeh: their voice shall be heard even unto Jahaz: therefore the armed soldiers of Moab shall cry out; his life shall be grievous unto him.
Isaiah now pronounces a burden on Moab. The Moabites were descended from Lot through his daughter and therefore related to Israel since Lot was Abraham’s nephew. It was located in the area of Jordan of today and was bordered by Ammon (descended from Lot’s other daughter) on the north, Edom (descendants of Esau) on the south, the Dead Sea on the west, and the Arabian desert on the east. The book of Ruth tells the story of one of the most famous Moabites who was King David’s great-grandmother.
Jeremiah tells us why Moab was to be judged:
Š Trusting self/pride
Š Dishonored God and mocked Israel
Š Worship of false gods
Jeremiah 48:7 “For because thou hast trusted in thy works and in thy treasures, thou shalt also be taken….”
Jeremiah 48:25–27 The horn of Moab is cut off, and his arm is broken, saith the LORD. Make ye him drunken: for he magnified himself against the LORD: Moab also shall wallow in his vomit, and he also shall be in derision. For was not Israel a derision unto thee?
Jeremiah 48:35 Moreover I will cause to cease in Moab, saith the LORD, him that offereth in the high places, and him that burneth incense to his gods.
Isaiah is speaking of a great destruction that would come as a surprise (in the night) to the great cities of Moab. Verses 2-3 emphasize the sorrow that will be felt by the people of Moab as expressed through weeping, howling (wailing), and mourning as expressed through baldness, the cutting off of beards, and the wearing of sackcloth.
I would think the expression of grief of the soldier would include the added weight of not having been able to defend his loved ones and his country; he just wasn’t prepared.
Is. 15:5 My heart shall cry out for Moab; his fugitives shall flee unto Zoar, an heifer of three years old: for by the mounting up of Luhith with weeping shall they go it up; for in the way of Horonaim they shall raise up a cry of destruction.
Even Isaiah is distraught at the destruction to come to Moab. Moabites will try to find safety in Zoar (at the southern end of the Dead Sea, the same place that Lot first found refuge after leaving Sodom). Zoar is evidently a stronger and thriving city since it is being compared to a three-year-old heifer. No matter where they try to go, mourning and destruction will follow.
Is. 15:6 For the waters of Nimrim shall be desolate: for the hay is withered away, the grass faileth, there is no green thing.
Is. 15:7 Therefore the abundance they have gotten, and that which they have laid up, shall they carry away to the brook of the willows.
Nimrim is identified as a place of lush vegetation and many water sources, but even there they will find that the waters are dried up and vegetation is dried and withered. The safest place they will be able to think of to protect their treasures will be among the willows of a brook. (Sort of makes me think of Moses’ parents as they tried to hide him in the bulrushes.)
Is. 15:8 For the cry is gone round about the borders of Moab; the howling thereof unto Eglaim, and the howling thereof unto Beerelim.
Is. 15:9 For the waters of Dimon shall be full of blood: for I will bring more upon Dimon, lions upon him that escapeth of Moab, and upon the remnant of the land.
These verses seem to emphasize the completeness of Moab’s coming destruction. The crying (shrieking) and howling (wailing) will be heard in the land from its borders. The Dimon is evidently a major river in Moab (some equate it with the Arnon) and is depicted as “full of blood.” The picture of lions attacking those that try to flee seems to be describing the violence and aggressiveness with which the attackers will pursue the people of Moab.