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Isaiah 16 New English Translation (NET Bible)

16 Send rams as tribute to the ruler of the land,[a]
from Sela in the wilderness[b]
to the hill of Daughter Zion.
At the fords of the Arnon[c]
the Moabite women are like a bird
that flies about when forced from its nest.[d]
“Bring a plan, make a decision.[e]
Provide some shade in the middle of the day.[f]
Hide the fugitives! Do not betray[g] the one who tries to escape.
Please let the Moabite fugitives live[h] among you.
Hide them[i] from the destroyer!”
Certainly[j] the one who applies pressure will cease;[k]
the destroyer will come to an end;
those who trample will disappear[l] from the earth.
Then a trustworthy king will be established;
he will rule in a reliable manner,
this one from David’s family.[m]
He will be sure to make just decisions
and will be experienced in executing justice.[n]
We have heard about Moab’s pride—
their great arrogance—
their boasting, pride, and excess.[o]
But their boastful claims are empty.[p]
So Moab wails over its demise[q]
they all wail!
Completely devastated, they moan
about what has happened to the raisin cakes of Kir Hareseth.[r]
For the fields of Heshbon are dried up,
as well as the vines of Sibmah.
The rulers of the nations trample all over its vines,
which reach Jazer and spread to the wilderness;
their shoots spread out and cross the sea.
So I weep along with Jazer[s]
over the vines of Sibmah.
I will saturate you[t] with my tears, Heshbon and Elealeh,
for the conquering invaders shout triumphantly
over your fruit and crops.[u]
10 Joy and happiness disappear from the orchards,
and in the vineyards no one rejoices or shouts;
no one treads out juice in the wine vats[v]
I have brought the joyful shouts to an end.[w]
11 So my heart constantly sighs for Moab, like the strumming of a harp,[x]
my inner being sighs[y] for Kir Hareseth.[z]
12 When the Moabites plead with all their might at their high places,[aa]
and enter their temples to pray, their prayers will be ineffective.[ab]

13 This is the message the Lord previously announced about Moab. 14 Now the Lord makes this announcement: “Within exactly three years[ac] Moab’s splendor will disappear, along with all her many people; there will be only a few insignificant survivors left.”[ad]


  1. Isaiah 16:1 tc The Hebrew text reads literally, “Send [a plural imperatival form is used] a ram [to] the ruler of the land.” The term כַּר (kar, “ram”) should be emended to the plural כָּרִים (karim). The singular form in the text is probably the result of haplography; note that the next word begins with a mem (מ).
  2. Isaiah 16:1 tn The Hebrew text has “toward [across?] the desert.”
  3. Isaiah 16:2 tn The verb that introduces this verse serves as a discourse particle and is untranslated; see note on “in the future” in 2:2.
  4. Isaiah 16:2 tn Heb “like a bird fleeing, thrust away [from] a nest, the daughters of Moab are [at] the fords of Arnon.”
  5. Isaiah 16:3 sn It is unclear who is being addressed in this verse. Perhaps the prophet, playing the role of a panic-stricken Moabite refugee, requests the leaders of Judah (the imperatives are plural) to take pity on the fugitives.
  6. Isaiah 16:3 tn Heb “Make your shade like night in the midst of noonday.” “Shade” here symbolizes shelter, while the heat of noonday represents the intense suffering of the Moabites. By comparing the desired shade to night, the speaker visualizes a huge, dark shadow cast by a large tree that would provide relief from the sun’s heat.
  7. Isaiah 16:3 tn Heb “disclose, uncover.”
  8. Isaiah 16:4 tn That is, “live as resident foreigners.”
  9. Isaiah 16:4 tn Heb “Be a hiding place for them.”
  10. Isaiah 16:4 tn The present translation understands כִּי (ki) as asseverative, but one could take it as explanatory (“for,” KJV, NASB) or temporal (“when,” NAB, NRSV). In the latter case, v. 4b would be logically connected to v. 5.
  11. Isaiah 16:4 tn A perfect verbal form is used here and in the next two lines for rhetorical effect; the demise of the oppressor(s) is described as if it had already occurred.
  12. Isaiah 16:4 tc The Hebrew text has, “they will be finished, the one who tramples, from the earth.” The plural verb form תַּמּוּ, (tammu, “disappear”) could be emended to agree with the singular subject רֹמֵס (romes, “the one who tramples”) or the participle can be emended to a plural (רֹמֵסִם, romesim) to agree with the verb. The translation assumes the latter. Haplography of mem (ם) seems likely; note that the word after רֹמֵס begins with a mem.
  13. Isaiah 16:5 tn Heb “and a throne will be established in faithfulness, and he will sit on it in reliability, in the tent of David.”
  14. Isaiah 16:5 tn Heb “one who judges and seeks justice, and one experienced in fairness.” Many understand מְהִר (mehir) to mean “quick, prompt” (see BDB 555 s.v. מָהִיר), but HALOT 552 s.v. מָהִיר offers the meaning “skillful, experienced,” and translates the phrase in v. 5 “zealous for what is right.”
  15. Isaiah 16:6 tn עֶבְרָה (ʿevrah) often means “anger, fury,” but here it appears to refer to boastful outbursts or excessive claims. See HALOT 782 s.v. עֶבְרָה.
  16. Isaiah 16:6 tn Heb “not so his boasting.”
  17. Isaiah 16:7 tn Heb “So Moab wails for Moab.”
  18. Isaiah 16:7 tn The Hebrew text has, “for the raisin cakes of Kir Hareseth you [masculine plural] moan, surely destroyed.” The “raisin cakes” could have cultic significance (see Hos 3:1), but the next verse focuses on agricultural disaster, so here the raisin cakes are mentioned as an example of the fine foods that are no longer available (see 2 Sam 6:19; Song 2:5) because the vines have been destroyed by the invader (see v. 8). Some prefer to take אֲשִׁישֵׁי (ʾashishe, “raisin cakes of”) as “men of” (see HALOT 95 s.v. *אָשִׁישׁ; cf. NIV). The verb form תֶהְגּוּ (tehgu, “you moan”) is probably the result of dittography (note that the preceding word ends in tav [ת]) and should be emended to הגו (a perfect, third plural form), “they moan.”
  19. Isaiah 16:9 tn Heb “So I weep with the weeping of Jazer.” Once more the speaker (the Lord?—see v. 10b) plays the role of a mourner (see 15:5).
  20. Isaiah 16:9 tc The form אֲרַיָּוֶךְ (ʾarayyavekh) should be emended to אֲרַוָּיֶךְ (ʾaravvayekh; the vav [ו] and yod [י] have been accidentally transposed) from רָוָה (ravah, “be saturated”).
  21. Isaiah 16:9 tn Heb “for over your fruit and over your harvest shouting has fallen.” The translation assumes that the shouting is that of the conqueror (Jer 51:14). Another possibility is that the shouting is that of the harvesters (see v. 10b, as well as Jer 25:30), in which case one might translate, “for the joyful shouting over the fruit and crops has fallen silent.”
  22. Isaiah 16:10 tn Heb “wine in the vats the treader does not tread.”
  23. Isaiah 16:10 sn The Lord appears to be the speaker here. See 15:9.
  24. Isaiah 16:11 tn Heb “so my intestines sigh for Moab like a harp.” The word מֵעַי (meʿay, “intestines”) is used here of the seat of the emotions. English idiom requires the word “heart.” The point of the comparison to a harp is not entirely clear. Perhaps his sighs of mourning resemble a harp in sound, or his constant sighing is like the repetitive strumming of a harp.
  25. Isaiah 16:11 tn The verb is supplied in the translation; “sighs” in the preceding line does double duty in the parallel structure.
  26. Isaiah 16:11 tn Heb “Kir Heres” (so ASV, NRSV, TEV, CEV), a variant name for “Kir Hareseth” (see v. 7).
  27. Isaiah 16:12 tn The verb that introduces this verse serves as a discourse particle and is untranslated; see note on “in the future” in 2:2.
  28. Isaiah 16:12 tn Heb “when he appears, when he grows tired, Moab on the high places, and enters his temple to pray, he will not prevail.” It is possible that “when he grows tired” is an explanatory gloss for the preceding “when he appears.”
  29. Isaiah 16:14 tn Heb “in three years, like the years of a hired worker.” The three years must be reckoned exactly, just as a hired worker would carefully keep track of the time he had agreed to work for an employer in exchange for a predetermined wage.
  30. Isaiah 16:14 tn Heb “and the splendor of Moab will be disgraced with all the great multitude, and a small little remnant will not be strong.”
New English Translation (NET)

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Isaiah 16 New International Version (NIV)

16 Send lambs as tribute
    to the ruler of the land,
from Sela, across the desert,
    to the mount of Daughter Zion.
Like fluttering birds
    pushed from the nest,
so are the women of Moab
    at the fords of the Arnon.

“Make up your mind,” Moab says.
    “Render a decision.
Make your shadow like night—
    at high noon.
Hide the fugitives,
    do not betray the refugees.
Let the Moabite fugitives stay with you;
    be their shelter from the destroyer.”

The oppressor will come to an end,
    and destruction will cease;
    the aggressor will vanish from the land.
In love a throne will be established;
    in faithfulness a man will sit on it—
    one from the house[a] of David
one who in judging seeks justice
    and speeds the cause of righteousness.

We have heard of Moab’s pride
    how great is her arrogance!—
of her conceit, her pride and her insolence;
    but her boasts are empty.
Therefore the Moabites wail,
    they wail together for Moab.
Lament and grieve
    for the raisin cakes of Kir Hareseth.
The fields of Heshbon wither,
    the vines of Sibmah also.
The rulers of the nations
    have trampled down the choicest vines,
which once reached Jazer
    and spread toward the desert.
Their shoots spread out
    and went as far as the sea.[b]
So I weep, as Jazer weeps,
    for the vines of Sibmah.
Heshbon and Elealeh,
    I drench you with tears!
The shouts of joy over your ripened fruit
    and over your harvests have been stilled.
10 Joy and gladness are taken away from the orchards;
    no one sings or shouts in the vineyards;
no one treads out wine at the presses,
    for I have put an end to the shouting.
11 My heart laments for Moab like a harp,
    my inmost being for Kir Hareseth.
12 When Moab appears at her high place,
    she only wears herself out;
when she goes to her shrine to pray,
    it is to no avail.

13 This is the word the Lord has already spoken concerning Moab. 14 But now the Lord says: “Within three years, as a servant bound by contract would count them, Moab’s splendor and all her many people will be despised, and her survivors will be very few and feeble.”


  1. Isaiah 16:5 Hebrew tent
  2. Isaiah 16:8 Probably the Dead Sea
New International Version (NIV)

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