Chambers for the priests (Ezek 40:45-40:46)

“He said to me.

‘This chamber

That faces south is

For the priests

Who are in charge

Of the temple.

The chamber

That faces north

Is for the priests

Who are in charge

Of the altar.

These are the descendants

Of Zadok.

They alone,

Among the descendants

Of Levi,

May come near

To Yahweh,

To minister to him.’”

The bronze man told Ezekiel how these two chambers worked. The chamber that faced south was for the priests who were in charge of the Temple. The chamber facing north was for the priests who were in charge of the altar. Those in charge of the altar were descendants of Zadok. Who was he? Zadok was a descended from Eleazar, the son of Aaron. He helped both King David and King Solomon in 1 Kings, chapters 1-3. Because he was the first high priest for the Solomon Temple, his descendants had a higher rank than the rest of the Levi priests. Thus, these Zadok priests could come near to Yahweh to minister to him.

 

Arabia (Ezek 27:21-27:21)

“Arabia,

With all the princes

Of Kedar,

Were your favored dealers

In lambs,

Rams,

Goats.

They did business

With you

In these things.”

The princes of the Arabian Peninsula were the favorite trading partners of Tyre as regards livestock, especially lambs, rams, and goats. The princes of Kedar referred to those dark skinned Arabs who were descendants of Ishmael that lived in the northwestern section of the Arabian Peninsula.

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 the Ammonites (Ezek 25:1-25:2)

“The word of Yahweh

Came to me.

‘Son of man!

Set your face

Toward the Ammonites,

Prophesy against them.’”

Now there are a series of oracles against the various countries around Israel and Judah. As usual, the word of Yahweh came to Ezekiel, the son of man. He was to set his face against the Ammonites and prophesy against them. Who are the Ammonites? In the biblical sense, they are the descendants of Ammon, the son of Lot from the incest incident with his daughter in Genesis, chapter 19. They seem to have been east of the Jordan and north of Moab, but south of Assyria. The country of Ammon existed from about the 10th century to the 4th century BCE in what would have been the Gad territory as outlined in Joshua, chapter 13. Today it is part of the country of Jordan. Jeremiah, chapter 49, had also spoken out against them. They along with the Moabites were the constant enemies of Judah and Israel. At some point, they became part of the Assyrian empire and eventually ceased to exist. They certainly were related to Canaan and spoke a Semitic language.

The symbolic history of Jerusalem (Ezek 16:1-16:3)

“The word of Yahweh

Came to me.

‘Son of man!

Make known

To Jerusalem

Her abominations!

Say!

Thus says Yahweh God

To Jerusalem.

Your origin,

Your birth

Were in the land

Of the Canaanites.

Your father was

An Amorite.

Your mother was

A Hittite.’”

Once again, Yahweh came to Ezekiel, the son of man. This time, it was about the origins and symbolic history of Jerusalem. The context was a berating of Jerusalem and her abominations. Unlike most stories of Israel that talk about Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob or the Egyptian experience under Moses, this history of Jerusalem starts with the Canaanites. This has led many to believe that there may be some validity to this history. Of course, this is specifically aimed at the inhabitants of Jerusalem. They were Canaanites whose mother was a Hittite with their father an Amorite. The Amorites were an ancient Syrian tribe with a Semitic language that also lived in Canaan from about 1700 BCE. From a biblical perspective based on Genesis, chapter 10, they were the descendants of Canaan and Ham. Amorite and Canaanite were interchangeable. They were definitely there before the Moses-Joshua experience. The Hittites were another Canaanite group that seemed to be friendly in many of the Genesis stories.

The lack of knowledge (Bar 3:20-3:23)

“Later generations

Have seen

The light of day.

They have lived

Upon this earth.

But they have

Not learned

The way to knowledge.

They have not

Understood her paths.

They have not

Laid hold of her.

Their descendants

Have strayed far

From her way.

She has not been heard of

In Canaan.

She has not been seen

In Teman.

The descendants of Hagar

Seek for understanding

On the earth.

The merchants of Merran,

With the merchants of Teman

Have not learned

The way to wisdom.

The story-tellers,

The seekers for understanding

Have not given thought

To her paths.”

The people living today on this earth have not learned the way to knowledge. They have not understood the various paths to get there. They are unable to grab knowledge. Their descendants have wandered far off the beaten path towards knowledge. Thus they cannot hear or see of knowledge in Canaan or Teman. Canaan was the old name for the land of Israel, while Teman was a city in Edom, south of Israel that was well known for its wisdom. The descendants of Hagar, the concubine of Abraham, or the Ishmaelites, were also seeking understanding. However, the merchants of Midian or Merran with the merchants of Teman in Edom have not learned the various paths to wisdom. The story-tellers and even those seeking understanding have not learned the way or path to wisdom. In fact, they have given little thought to this question.

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.