Against the small towns in Judah (Mic 1:10-1:12)

“Tell it not in Gath!

Weep not at all

In Beth-leaphrah!

Roll yourselves in the dust!

Inhabitants of Shaphir!

Pass on your way

In nakedness and shame!

The inhabitants of Zaanan

Do not come forth

From their town.

Beth-ezel is wailing.

They shall remove its support

From you.

The inhabitants of Maroth

Wait anxiously

For good.

Yet disaster has come down

From Yahweh

To the gates of Jerusalem.”

In a play on words, Micah wailed against 10 small Judean towns near where he lived.  One of the largest towns mentioned was the old Philistine town of Gath that King Uzziah (781-740 BCE) had conquered.  Micah used the same terminology as in 2 Samuel, chapter 1, about Gath, since there should be no weeping for that town.  Then Micah turned to 5 small towns that are difficult to determine where they were.  Beth-leaphrah literally means rolling around in dust.  Shaphir literally means the fair one.  Thus, the good-looking people of this town of Shaphir should keep going in their naked shame.  On the other hand, the people of Zaanan did not come out to fight from their town.  Beth-ezel was mourning and not supporting Yahweh.  The people of Maroth were waiting anxiously for something good to happen.  Yet Yahweh sent a disaster that went as far as the gates of Jerusalem.

Against Damascus (Am 1:3-1:5)

“Thus Says Yahweh.

For three transgressions

Of Damascus,

And for four,

I will not revoke

The punishment.

They have threshed Gilead

With threshing sledges

Of iron.

So,

I will send a fire

On the house of Hazael.

It shall devour

The strongholds of Ben-hadad.

I will break the gate bars

Of Damascus.

I will cut off

The inhabitants

From the Valley of Aven.

I will cut of

The one who holds

The scepter from Beth-eden.

The people of Syria

Shall go into exile

To Kir.’

Says Yahweh.”

In typical prophetic language, Amos said that that Yahweh had spoken to him about Damascus, one of the neighbors of the northern kingdom of Israel, the Syrian capital city, about 130 miles northeast of Jerusalem, fairly close to the older northeastern territory of Manasseh. Damascus was under Aramean rule from 950-732 BCE, so that it is often referred to in the Bible as Aram instead of Syria. However, the Assyrian people conquered them in 732 BCE. The idea of numbering iniquities could be found later in the numerical Proverbs, chapter 30, talking about 3 and 4 things. The fact that Amos ranted against the neighbors of Israel was like Isaiah in chapter 17. These people of the north had defeated Gilead in 2 Kings, chapter 10. Hazel and Ben-hadad III were rulers in Damascus. The Valley of Aven or On was near Lebanon. They would be exiled to Kir, the place of their origins.

The little horn takes over the sanctuary (Dan 8:11-8:12)

“The little horn

Acted arrogantly,

Even against

The Prince

Of the host.

It took

Regular burnt offering

Away from him.

It overthrew

The place

Of his sanctuary.

Because of wickedness,

The host

Was given over

to it,

Together

With the regular burnt offering.

It cast truth

To the ground,

It kept prospering

In what it did.”

Thus, this King Antiochus IV Epiphanes, the little horn, conquered Palestine and violated the sanctuary of God, the Prince of the hosts around 167 BCE. He acted arrogantly against God, by taking away the regular burnt offerings from the sanctuary. This little horn was successful in taking over the host or people of the Temple as well as doing away with the regular offerings to God. He cast truth to the ground, while he continued to prosper and do whatever he wanted to do.

Darius the Mede takes over (Dan 5:31-5:31)

“Darius,

The Mede,

Received

The kingdom.

He was about

Sixty-two years old.”

There is a lot of conjecture about this Darius, the Mede. The Medes joined with the Babylonians to overthrow the Assyrians. They came under Persian power around 550 BCE. Cyrus of Persia was the real power that conquered Babylon in 539 BCE. This Darius appears to be based on Darius I (522-486 BCE), the third Persian Emperor, not a contemporary of Cyrus or Daniel. Nevertheless, this was the end of the great Babylonian empire. Thus, ends the story of the great dinner party that finished in a disaster for the king, because he had dared to drink wine from the sacred vessels of the Jerusalem Temple.

The Assyrian conquerors (Ezek 23:8-23:10)

“She did not give up
Her prostitution activities.
She had practiced them
Since her days
In Egypt.
In her youth,
Men had lain
With her.
They had fondled
Her virgin bosom.
They had poured out
Their lust
Upon her.
Therefore I delivered her
Into the hands
Of her lovers,
Into the hands
Of the Assyrians.
She had lusted
After them.
These Assyrians
Uncovered her nakedness.
They seized her sons.
They seized her daughters.
They killed her
With the sword.
Judgment was executed
Upon her.
She became a byword
Among women.”
Yahweh, via Ezekiel, told the story of Samaria, Oholah. She had practiced prostitution since her youth, when she had played the whore with Egypt. She slept and had sex with the Egyptians. She let them fondle her virgin breasts, so that they poured out their lust on her. Thus Yahweh decided to deliver Oholah into the hand of her Assyrian lovers, since she had lusted after them. Thus Assyria uncovered her nakedness. Then they seized her sons and daughters. Finally, they killed her with the sword, as judgment was executed upon her. She became a byword among women. This is obviously an allusion to the end of the northern kingdom of Israel at Samaria in 724, when the Assyrian King Shalmaneser V conquered and took over northern Israel. Thus the kingdom of Israel at Samaria came to an end.

The Babylonian officials in Jerusalem (Jer 39:3-39:3)

“When Jerusalem was taken,

All the officials

Of the king of Babylon

Came into Jerusalem.

They sat in the middle gate.

There was

Nergal-sharezer,

Samgar-nebo,

Sarsechim the Rabsaris,

Nergal-sharezer the Rabmag,

With all the rest

Of the officers

Of the king of Babylon.”

On this same day that the Babylonian officials took over Jerusalem, they sat at the Middle Gate. Although these officials and generals were not named in 2 Kings, chapter 25, they are mentioned here. Nergal-sharezer was some kind of hero general. There was also someone with the same name that had the title Rabmag that indicates that he was chief of the Assyrian priests. Samgar-nebo may have been the famous cup bearer for the king or the name of some Babylonian deity.   Sarsechim was the Rabsaris, the chief of the eunuchs. These are the only people mentioned, but there were other officials there, after they had conquered the lower part of Jerusalem.

The fight in the fortified cities of Judah (Jer 34:6-34:7)

“Then the prophet Jeremiah

Spoke all these words

To King Zedekiah

Of Judah,

In Jerusalem.

Meanwhile the army

Of the king of Babylon

Was fighting

Against Jerusalem.

They were also fighting

Against all the cities

Of Judah

That were left.

Lachish,

With Azekah

Were the only fortified cities

Of Judah

That remained.”

As usual, Jeremiah had done what Yahweh wanted him to do. He repeated all the words that Yahweh had told him to say to King Zedekiah. At the same time, that the Babylonian army was attacking Jerusalem, they were also fighting against the only two other remaining fortified cities in Judah, Lachish, about 23 miles southwest of Jerusalem, and Azekah, about 11 miles north of Lachish. Everything else had already been conquered by the Babylonians except for these two cities and Jerusalem.