The diminishing numbers (Am 5:3-5:3)

“Thus says Yahweh God!

‘The city that marched out

A thousand

Shall have a hundred left.

That which marched out

A hundred

Shall have ten left.’”

Amos has an oracle of Yahweh that talked about the diminishing numbers of Israelites. If a city had a 1,000 go out to fight, they might have 100 left. If they had 100 go out to fight, they will be lucky to have 10 left.

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The punishment of Gibeah (Hos 10:9-10:10)

“Since the days of Gibeah,

You have sinned!

O Israel!

There they have continued.

Shall not war overtake them

In Gibeah?

I will come

Against the wayward people

To punish them.

Nations shall be gathered

Against them,

When they are punished

For their double iniquity.”

Gibeah was just north of Jerusalem in the territory of Benjamin. The first battle of Gibeah was at the time of the Judges, chapters 19-21. The men of Gibeah raped the wife of an Ephraim Levite. However, he got the other tribes of Israel to attack the people of Benjamin. Finally, the Israelites were successful in defeating the people of Gibeah, in the territory of Benjamin. Clearly, the men of Gibeah had sinned. So, had Israel. Thus, the Israelites were successful. Now it looks like there would be another fight against Gibeah that was once destroyed. They would be punished again for their double iniquity, since they had raped 2 women. They also would not turn over the men who did this.

The Egyptian campaign (Dan 11:25-11:28)

“He shall stir up

His power,

His determination,

Against the king of the south,

With a great army.

The king of the south

Shall wage war

With a much greater,

Stronger army.

But he shall not stand.

Plots shall be devised

Against him,

By those who eat

Of the royal rations.

They shall break him.

His army shall be swept away.

Many shall fall slain.

The two kings,

Their minds bent

On evil,

Shall sit

At one table.

They shall exchange lies.

But it shall not succeed.

There remains an end

At the time appointed.

He shall return

To his land

With great wealth.

But his heart shall be set

Against the holy covenant.

He shall work his will.

He shall return

To his own land.

King Antiochus IV determined to fight against the king of the south, in Egypt with a great army around 169 BCE. However, the king of the south, King Ptolemy VI (186-145 BCE), had a better stronger army. Nevertheless, King Antiochus IV prevailed, because there was some failure among the troops of King Ptolemy VI, as plots were devised by those who ate his royal rations. Many were killed. They seem to have come to some sort of agreement, but each was too devious to make it work. King Antiochus IV returned with great wealth. He apparently stopped off in Jerusalem and sacked it in 169 BCE, since his heart was against the holy covenant. There he worked his will before he returned to his own land.

The explanation (Dan 10:20-10:21)

“Then he said.

‘Do you know

Why I have come to you?

Now I must return

To fight

Against the prince of Persia.

When I am

Through with him,

The prince of Greece

Will come.

But I will tell you

What is inscribed

In the book of truth.

There is no one

Who contends

Against these,

Except Michael,

Your prince.’”

Then this angel told Daniel why he was there. He had come to fight against the prince of Persia. However, he had to go to fight against the prince of Greece, after he had finished with the prince of Persia. Nevertheless, this angel was going to tell Daniel what was written in the book of truth. No one could contend with these great empires in Persia and Greece except for him and the prince Michael, the archangel Michael. Thus, this chapter ends with no real solution to the situation.

The attack of Gog (Ezek 38:15-38:16)

“‘Come from your place!

Come out

Of the uttermost parts

Of the north!

You!

Many people

With you!

All of them

Will be riding on horses,

With a great multitude,

With a mighty army.

You will come up

Against my people

Israel,

Like a cloud

Covering the earth.

In the latter days,

I will bring you

Against my land.

Thus,

The nations

May know me,

When through you,

O Gog!

I vindicate

My holiness

Before their eyes.’”

Yahweh, via Ezekiel, exhorted Gog to attack Israel. Gog was to come out of his home in the far north, along with many people. His whole army would be riding on horses. They would come up against Yahweh’s people Israel. Gog would be like a cloud covering the earth with a great army. This was going to happen later. Yahweh wanted Gog to fight against Israel, so that all the various nations and countries would know about Yahweh. He was going to vindicate his holiness in front of everyone.

Gog and his allies will advance on the unsuspecting land (Ezek 38:8-38:9)

“After many days,

You shall be mustered.

In the latter years,

You shall go

Against a land

Restored

From the war.

This is a land

Where people

Were gathered

From many nations

On the mountains

Of Israel.

This land

Had long laid waste.

Its people were

Brought out

From the nations.

They now live securely,

All of them.

You shall advance,

Coming on,

Like a storm.

You shall be

Like a cloud

Covering the land.

It will be you,

With all your troops.

Many people shall be

With you.”

Yahweh, via Ezekiel, was trying to tell Gog that after many days, he should gather or muster up his troops to prepare for a battle to come years later. They were going to fight against a land that had been restored from a war situation. These people had been gathered from many countries to go to this former wasteland of Israel. Now, however, they were living securely and peacefully. Yet Gog and his troops should advance on them like a storm or a cloud covering the land. Gog should bring all his large army of troops with him.

The nations prepare for war against Babylon (Jer 51:27-51:28)

“Raise a standard

In the land!

Blow the trumpet

Among the nations!

Prepare the nations

For war

Against her!

Summon

Against her

The kingdoms,

Of Ararat,

Of Minni,

Of Ashkenaz!

Appoint a marshal

Against her!

Bring up horses

Like bristling locusts!

Prepare the nations

For war

Against her!

The kings

Of the Medes,

With their governors,

Their deputies,

With every land

Under their dominion

Shall come!”

Yahweh via Jeremiah wants to call various nations to fight against Babylon. The standard and the trumpet of war should sound to prepare nations to attack her. In particular 3 countries are named. Ararat was considered the place where Noah’s ark landed in Genesis, chapter 8. The assumption is that this mountain was in southern Turkey, what today is in Kurdish land, near the Russian and Iranian borders. Minni may be a reference to the Mannaeans who lived in what is now northwestern Iran or Armenia. Ashkenaz was a son of Noah and a land around Asia Minor near Armenia. Jewish people from the Rhineland area were called Ashkenazi, and this term was later adapted for all eastern European Jews. These countries would have joined with the Persians to attack Babylon. They would have so many horses that they would seem like swarms of locusts. Joining them would be the kings of Medes with all their officials and deputies, plus all the people from the land that they dominated. These were the ancient Persian people in what is now northwestern Iran. There was no specific mention of the Persians here.