Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


Isaiah 16:11

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

Wherefore my bowels - This is also an expression of the deep grief of the prophet in view of the calamities which were coming upon Moab. The “bowels” in the Scriptures are everywhere represented as the seat of compassion, pity, commiseration, and tender mercy Genesis 43:30: ‹His bowels did yearn upon his brother‘ - he deeply felt for him, he greatly pitied him 1 Kings 3:26; Psalm 25:6; Proverbs 12:10; Isaiah 63:15; Jeremiah 4:19; Jeremiah 31:20; Philemon 1:8; Philemon 2:1. In classic writers, the word ‹bowels‘ denotes the “upper” viscera of victims - the heart, the lungs, the liver, which were eaten during or after the sacrifice (Robinson, “Lex.,” on the word σπλάγχνον splangchnon ). In the Scriptures, it denotes the “inward parts” - evidently also the upper viscera, regarded as the seat of the emotions and passions. The word as we use it - denoting the lower “viscera” - by no means expresses the sense of the word in the Scriptures, and it is this change in the signification which renders the use of the very language of the Bible unpleasant or inappropriate. We express the idea by the use of the word “heart” - the seat of the affections.

Shall sound like an harp - The “bowels” are represented in the Scriptures as affected in various modes in the exercise of pity or compassion. Thus, in Lamentations 1:20, Jeremiah says, ‹My bowels are troubled‘ (see Lamentations 2:1; Jeremiah 31:20). Job Job 30:27, says, ‹My bowels boiled, and rested not;‘ there was great agitation; deep feeling. Thus, Jeremiah 4:19:

My bowels! My bowels! I am pained at my very heart.

My heart “maketh a noise” in me.

So Isaiah 63:15: ‹Where is the sounding of thy bowels and mercies?‘ The word ‹sound‘ here means to make a tumultuous noise; and the whole expression here denotes that his heart was affected with the calamities of Moab as the strings of the harp vibrate when beaten with the plectrum or the band. His heart was deeply pained and affected by the calamities of Moab, and responded to those calamities, as the strings of the harp did to the blow of the plectrum.

Mine inward parts - The expressions used here are somewhat analogous to ours of the “beating of the heart,” to denote deep emotion. Forster says of the savages of the South Sea that they call compassion “a barking of the bowels.”

For Kirharesh - (See the note at Isaiah 16:7.)

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
Those who will not be counselled, cannot be helped. More souls are ruined by pride than by any other sin whatever. Also, the very proud are commonly very passionate. With lies many seek to gain the gratification of pride and passion, but they shall not compass proud and angry projects. Moab was famous for fields and vineyards; but they shall be laid waste by the invading army. God can soon turn laughter into mourning, and joy into heaviness. In God let us always rejoice with holy triumph; in earthly things let us always rejoice with holy trembling. The prophet looks with concern on the desolations of such a pleasant country; it causes inward grief. The false gods of Moab are unable to help; and the God of Israel, the only true God, can and will make good what he has spoken. Let Moab know her ruin is very near, and prepare. The most awful declarations of Divine wrath, discover the way of escape to those who take warning. There is no escape, but by submission to the Son of David, and devoting ourselves to him. And, at length, when the appointed time comes, all the glory, prosperity, and multitude of the wicked shall perish.
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