Bible: What Does Jeremiah 47-49 Teach Us About God's Judgment Upon Israel's Neighbors?
Jeremiah received this prophecy before Egypt attacked the Philistines (v. 1).
Like a flood, northern armies sweep over and destroy Gaza, causing widespread weeping and cowardice (vv. 2-3).
As Yahweh uses Pharaoh as His instrument of judgment to plunder the Philistines (v. 4), Gaza becomes desolate; the sword of the LORD does not rest until it finishes its destruction of Ashkelon (vv. 5-7).
Vain Trust in Riches
Next, the word of the LORD opposes another of Israel's ancient enemies, Moab.
Two of Moab's major cities, Nebo and Kirjathaim, endure defeat and plundering (v. 1).
Enemies from Heshbon plan the war strategy against Madmen (v. 2) and Horonaim (v. 3).
Weeping ascends throughout Moab (vv. 4-5).
Jeremiah exhorts the inhabitants to flee their cities destined for destruction (vv. 6-9).
Their vain trust in riches and participation in false worship have brought about this anticipated fall (vv. 7-8).
They have done God's work deceitfully; that is, pretentiously, and have kept back their sword “from blood" (v. 10).
[Perhaps this latter phrase means that they did not execute justice swiftly and properly].
Moab has also been a complacent country [“settled on his dregs”] (v. 11), but Yahweh promises to unsettle these people (v. 12).
To show this nation (described as undisturbed wine) its destiny, Jeremiah employs the imagery of stewards who empty and break wine bottles (v. 12).
[Why does the prophet use this particular analogy?]
The nation's idol, Chemosh, will bring the people shame (v. 13), in the same way Bethel (the place associated with the idolatrous sin of the house of Jeroboam) destroyed the house of Israel, [1 Kings 12-13]; still, Moab remains optimistic and puts up a confident façade.
The LORD, the King, however, shows him his true state (vv. 14-15).
Because Moab will soon fall, He orders his "associates" to lament (vv. 16-17), Dibon to humble herself (v. 18), and Aroer to show concern for the dispersed (v. 19).
Lamentation should ensue wherever news of Moab's destruction travels (v. 20).
Yahweh then recites the various cities where judgment had already fallen (vv. 21-25).
The LORD pictures Moab, once arrogant enemies of God, as drunkards worthy of derision (v. 26).
[Perhaps Jeremiah's references in this chapter to wine and drunkenness mean to shed light on one of the Moabites’ primary vices].
They will be punished for their hatred of Israel and her God (vv. 26-27).
The LORD exhorts them, "Go into exile, and dwell in caves" (v. 28).
Moab's Chief Sin
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He excoriates Moab's pride; notice this emphasis in the four terms that He employs (v. 29).
Yet even while denouncing their wrath—possibly the result of their arrogant hatred of God and Israel—Yahweh still laments their destruction (vv. 30-32a) and plundering (vv. 32b-33).
Verse 34 records the names of other desolated cities.
Though God will cut off all heathen sacrifices (v. 35), He will continue to wail (v. 36).
[Note that Yahweh takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked].
In addition to describing the outward signs of lamentation throughout Moab, Jeremiah records the actual words of woe that the people would utter (vv. 37-39).
In their defeat, Moab's men lack strength of will; their pride before God brings about their destruction (vv. 40-42).
No escape exists for them; their capture is inevitable (vv. 43-44).
Those who flee to Heshbon will meet their end as they rest (v. 45).
Now their children are captive, and Yahweh cries out one final woe to Moab (v. 46).
Yet amazingly, He ends His message on a note of hope for this land, too (v. 47; cf. 46:26).
Prophecies Against Ammon
Yahweh begins a message of judgment against Ammon with three questions, the last of which recognizes the nation's wrongful repossession of Israel's land, or more specifically, God's "inheritance" (v. 1).
The LORD previews a future day when Ammon will lose a war and Israel will recover his land (v. 2).
He instructs this nation to wail and lament the exile of their god as well as their rulers (v. 3), and rebukes them for "trusting in their treasures" (v. 4).
Feeling secure in the valleys of their homeland, they fear no invader; however, God promises to use their neighbors to drive them out (v. 5).
Again, though, He leaves the vanquished Ammonites with a promise of restoration (v. 6; cf. 46:26; 48:47).
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Edom, Damascus and Elam
Next, the LORD speaks with Edom.
Once more, God introduces His message with three rhetorical questions, lamenting the absence of true wisdom among the wise (v. 7).
It is time for Edom to hide in shame away from their punishment (v. 8), which will leave them nothing (v. 10).
The comparison/contrast of the grape-gatherers is especially effective, demonstrating the extent of Edom's plundering (v. 9; Obadiah gives another account of the rifling of Esau [Obad. 5, 6]).
The LORD desires them to put their orphans and widows in His care (v. 11).
Innocents have died because of the sins of others; nevertheless, Yahweh will surely and justly punish all transgressors; here, Bozrah and its cities (vv. 12-13).
Jeremiah hears word of the sending of a messenger to nations surrounding Edom, commanding them to attack her (v. 14; see Obad. 1-4).
Edom's pride will cause her to fall into obscurity and insignificance; her self-assurance and feelings of impregnability will not prevent God from demoting her (vv. 15-16).
Desolate and uninhabited, she will draw jeers from passersby (vv. 17-18).
[Who is this one like a lion whom the LORD will chase away from Edom? Nebuchadnezzar?
God is in control of “who does what to whom,” and no one will successfully overrule His decisions (v. 19)].
Yahweh chooses the “least of the flock” to humble Edom (v. 20)—Edom, whose fall will be earthshaking.
When judgment visits Bozrah, God will cause fear and trembling among the mighty (vv. 21-22).
Next comes a prophecy against the capital of Syria: Damascus (vv. 23-27).
Hamath (Israel’s northern border) and Arpad tremble because destruction is coming; Damascus also fears, but no one leaves it (vv. 24-25).
Both her youth and her seasoned warriors will perish in her midst, and the city itself will be burned down (vv. 26-27).
Kedar and Hazor follow on God's list; upon His word Nebuchadnezzar will strike these places (v. 28).
He will take flocks, vessels, and camels as booty from both lands (vv. 29-32)—
[Is Israel this “wealthy nation that dwells securely”?]—
scatter their inhabitants (v. 32), and make Hazor a desolate place (v. 33).
[Kedar and Hazor are regions in the northern Arabian Desert, lying east of Palestine. Nebuchadnezzar’s army uses the familiar term magor missabib (cf. 46:5)].
At the beginning of Zedekiah's reign (v. 34; cf. Jer. 28), a final word of judgment comes against Elam (vv. 34-39).
[Zedekiah is Mattaniah: the uncle of Jehoiachin (Jeconiah/Coniah; cf. 22:24; 2 Kings. 24:17).
Elam is a land east of Babylonia].
God assures its inhabitants that they will visit far away lands while in exile (vv. 35-36).
They will suffer defeat in battle, and Yahweh will "consume" them (v. 37).
He will destroy their leaders (v. 38); but, as with other nations, the latter days will see their restoration to their own land (v. 39)
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