The attack of the south (Dan 11:11-11:13)

“Then the king of the south,

Moved with rage,

Shall go out.

He shall do battle

Against

The king of the north.

He mustered

A great multitude,

That was defeated

By his enemy.

When the multitude

Has been carried off,

His heart shall be exalted.

He shall overthrow

Tens of thousands.

But he shall not prevail.

The king of the north

Shall again raise a multitude,

Larger than the former.

After some years,

He shall advance

With a great army,

With abundant supplies.”

The king of the south was King Ptolemy IV (221-204 BCE). He had a number of battles with the northern King Antiochus III (222-187 BCE). King Ptolemy IV won at Raphia (217 BCE), when he took over the Palestine Judean area. However, he lost other battles. The northern King Antiochus III enlarged his empire on all sides. later. He gathered together a great army with a lot of supplies, as he also made a pact with Philip V of Macedonia (221-179 BCE).

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Against Moab (Ezek 25:8-25:8)

“Thus says Yahweh God!

‘Moab said.

‘The house of Judah is

Like all the other nations.’”

Instead of a very long diatribe against Moab, as in Jeremiah, chapter 48, and Isaiah, chapters 15 and 16, Ezekiel has only a few short comments. Moab was the country directly east of the Dead Sea on the other side of the Jordan River. The Moabites, like the Ammonites, had been involved in many quarrels and battles with the Israelites, since they had a strange biblical relationship. The Moabite kingdom lasted from around the 13th century BCE to around the 4th century BCE, where today it is also the country of Jordan, like Ammon. The Moabites were the descendants of Lot’s incest with his oldest daughter as in Genesis, chapter 19. In the Book of Ruth, chapter 4, the Moabites were friendly, as Ruth, a Moabite, had a son named Obed, who turned out to be the grandfather of King David via his son Jesse.   For a while, Moab was part of the Kingdom of Israel, until they revolted. Here the complaint against Moab was that they said that Judah was like the other countries and not unique.

Against Damascus (Jer 49:23-49:27)

“Concerning Damascus.

‘Hamath is confounded.

Arpad is confounded.

They have heard bad news.

They melt in fear.

They are troubled

Like the sea

That cannot be quiet.

Damascus has become feeble.

She turned to flee.

Panic seized her.

Anguish has taken hold of her.

Sorrows have taken hold of her,

As a woman in labor.

How the famous city is forsaken!

The joyful town!

Therefore her young men

Shall fall

In her squares.

All her soldiers

Shall be destroyed,

On that day.’

Says Yahweh of hosts!

‘I will kindle a fire

At the wall of Damascus.

It shall devour

The strongholds of Ben-hadad.’”

Damascus had been under the control of the Assyrians since around 740 BCE, before the fall of the northern Israelites to Assyria in 724 BCE. Now the Babylonians were taking over for the Assyrians. The two other cities mentioned with Damascus, were Hamath and Arpad. Hamath was in upper Syria with Arpad nearly a 100 miles further north. These northern towns were upset and troubled over the news about southern Damascus. They felt like they were on troubled waters and could not be quiet. Damascus itself was weak and in panic. This former joyful town saw people fleeing with panic. Once again they had become weak like women in labor. Their young men were dying in the squares since the soldiers had been killed. The soldiers also died. There was a huge fire that destroyed the walls and royal buildings of Ben-hadad. King Ben-hadad was a 9th century BCE king of Damascus who had some battles with King Asa of Judah and King Omri of Israel, in 1 Kings, chapter 20. However, there were 2 other kings with the same name, so that it clearly referred to the royal palaces or fortresses in Damascus. Once again there is no mention of a restoration for Damascus.

The defeat of Moab (Jer 48:1-48:2)

“Concerning Moab.

Thus says Yahweh of hosts!

The God of Israel!

‘Woe for Nebo!

It is laid waste!

Kiriathaim is put

To shame!

It is taken!

The fortress is put

To shame!

It is broken down.

The renown of Moab

Is no more.

In Heshbon,

They planned evil

Against her.

‘Come!

Let us cut her off

From being a nation!’

You also!

O Madmen!

Shall be brought

To silence.

The sword shall

Pursue you.”

Strangely enough, this is a very long chapter on Moab, the country directly east of the Dead Sea on the other side of the Jordan River. Isaiah also had 2 chapters on Moab, chapters 15 and 16. The Moabites and Israelites had been involved in many quarrels and battles, since they had a strange biblical relationship. The Moabite kingdom lasted from around the 13th century BCE to around the 4th century BCE, where today it is the country of Jordan. The Moabites were the descendants of Lot’s incest with his oldest daughter in Genesis, chapter 19. Thus the Moabites had an on again, off again, relationship with the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah. In the Book of Ruth, chapter 4, the Moabites were friendly, as Ruth, a Moabite, had a son named Obed, who turned out to be the grandfather of King David via his son Jesse.   For a while, Moab was part of the Kingdom of Israel, until they revolted. Mount Nebo, the place where Moses died, had been laid waste. The powerful fortress and famous Kiriathaim was put to shame. It is not clear whether this is the same city as Kir, mentioned in Isaiah, chapter 15. Heshbon was a city in Ammon, north of Moab, where the madmen were looking to plan evil against the Moabites. In the Septuagint Greek translation, this is chapter 31, not chapter 48 as here.

Oracle about Arabia (Isa 21:13-21:15)

“The oracle concerning the desert plain.

In the scrub of the desert plain

You will lodge.

O caravans of Dedanites!

Bring water to the thirsty!

Meet the fugitive with bread!

O inhabitants of the land of Tema!

They have fled

From the swords,

From the drawn sword,

From the bent bow,

From the stress of battle.”

This oracle is about the wandering Arab tribes in the desert of Arabia, currently known as Saudi Arabia. They lived among the scrubs of the desert. They lodged in caravans. These people were called Dedanites, as a reference to northern Arabs. However, they seem to be very peaceful people. They brought water to the thirsty and gave bread to the people fleeing. Tema was an oasis in northwest Arabia that was mentioned 4 other times in the Bible. This also was a peaceful place, since people went there to get away from drawn swords, bent bows, and the stress of battles itself.

A message for everyone (Isa 18:3-18:6)

“All you inhabitants of the world!

You who live on the earth!

When a signal is raised

On the mountains!

Look!

When a trumpet is blown!

Hear!

Thus Yahweh said to me.

‘I will quietly look

From my dwelling

Like clear heat in sunshine,

Like a cloud of dew

In the heat of harvest.

Before the harvest,

When the blossom is over,

The flower becomes

A ripening grape.

He will then cut off the shoots

With pruning hooks.

He will hew away

The spreading branches.

They shall all be left

To the birds of prey

Of the mountains.

They shall all be left

To the animals

Of the earth.

The birds of prey

Will summer on them.

All the animals of the earth

Will winter on them.”

Now Isaiah delivers a more universal message since this is for everyone living on earth, not just the Israelites. Yahweh had spoken to him. The example that he used was the harvest of vineyards, a fairly common biblical theme. Yahweh looked out from his dwelling, as on a clear sunny day or an overcast day at harvest time. He explained that the vine first had a blossom, a flower. Finally the ripened grape was ready for harvest. Along the way, he used pruning shears to cut back shoots and wandering branches. He left these for the birds and animals to use as food, sometimes storing them up for winter or summer. It is not clear whether this is an allusion to battles between the Assyrians and the Egyptians and Ethiopians. However, it is the story of the growth of a grape, if nothing else.

The oracle about Moab (Isa 15:1-15:1)

“An oracle concerning Moab.”

The kingdom of Moab was east of the Dead Sea, in what is today the country of Jordan. The Moabites and Israelites had been involved in many quarrels and battles since they had a strange biblical relationship. The Moabites were the descendents of Lot’s incest with his daughter in Genesis, chapter 19. Thus the Moabites had an on again, off again, relationships with the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah. In the Book of Ruth, chapter 4, the Moabites are friendly, as Ruth, a Moabite, had a son named Obed, who turned out to be the grandfather of King David via his son Jesse.   For a while, Moab was part of the Kingdom of Israel, until they revolted.