The actions of the Chaldeans (Hab 1:9-1:11)

“The Chaldeans all come

For violence,

With faces pressing forward.

They gather captives

Like sand.

They scoff

At kings.

They make sport

Of rulers.

They laugh

At every fortress.

They heap up earth

To take it.

Then they sweep by

Like the wind.

They transgress.

They become guilty men.

Their own might

Is their god!”

These Chaldeans were all about violence.  They set out to gather and capture people, as if they were like the sands of the sea.  They would scoff at kings and ridicule rulers.  They laughed at fortresses, as they swept them away like a wind piling up heaps of dirt.  They were guilty transgressors.  Their god was their own strength.  They were mega maniacs, yet Yahweh was going to use them.

War will come to Israel (Hos 10:13-10:15)

“You have plowed wickedness.

You have reaped injustice,

You have eaten

The fruit of lies.

Because you have trusted

In your power,

You have trusted

In the multitude

Of your warriors.

Therefore,

The tumult of war

Shall arise

Against your people.

All your fortresses

Shall be destroyed.

As Shalman destroyed

Beth-arbel

On the day of battle.

Mothers were dashed

In pieces,

With their children.

Thus,

It shall be done to you!

O Bethel!

O house of Israel!

Because of your great wickedness.

At dawn,

The king of Israel

Shall be utterly cut off.”

Israel had plowed in wickedness, so that now they were going to reap injustice. They had eaten the fruit of their lies. They had trusted in their own power and their many warriors. Thus, the fury of war was going to come upon them and their people. All their fortresses would be destroyed, like Shalman destroyed Beth-arbel. Although it is difficult to find the exact battle, there is conjecture that this was the 8th century Moabite Shalman who invaded Beth-arbel or Irbid, that was west of the Sea of Galilee. In that battle, mothers with children were destroyed. Thus, the same was going to happen to Israel and Bethel because of their wickedness.  The king of Israel would be wiped out also.

Yahweh has brought destruction (Lam 2:5-2:5)

He

“Yahweh has become

Like an enemy.

He has destroyed

Israel.

He has destroyed

All its palaces.

He has laid in ruins

Its strongholds.

He has multiplied

Mourning

In daughter Judah.

He has multiplied

Lamentations.”

Yahweh has become the enemy of Israel. He has destroyed it, with all its palaces, with all its fortresses. Among Judah and Judeans, he has multiplied mourning and lamentations. It is as if Yahweh was fighting against Israel. This verse starts with the Hebrew consonant letter He. Each verse after this will use the next letter of the Hebrew alphabet in this acrostic poem.

The fierce successful attack on Babylon (Jer 50:14-50:16)

“Take up your positions

Around Babylon!

All you that bend the bow!

Shoot at her!

Spare no arrows!

She has sinned

Against Yahweh.

Raise a shout

Against her

From all sides!

She has surrendered!

Her bulwarks have fallen!

Her walls are thrown down!

This is the vengeance

Of Yahweh.

Take vengeance on her!

Do to her

As she has done!

Cut off from Babylon

The sower with

The wielder of the sickle

In the time of harvest.

Because of the destroying sword,

All of them shall return

To their own people.

All of them shall flee

To their own land.”

The attack on Babylon would be successful. The archers with their great arrows would take their positions and shoot at the Babylonians. They would raise great shouts of joy from all sides. Babylon had sinned against Yahweh. Finally, Babylon would surrender. The fortresses and the walls would come tumbling down, because this was the vengeance of Yahweh at work. Babylon was done. There would be nobody to plant. No one would be there to cut down the harvest, since there would be no harvest. Everyone would return and flee to their own lands. Thus the destruction of Babylon in 539 BCE was described here some 60 years previous to the event. Is that an indication of a later composition?

Against Hazor (Jer 49:30-49:33)

“‘Flee!

Wander far away!

Hide in deep places!

O inhabitants of Hazor!’

Says Yahweh.

‘King Nebuchadnezzar

Of Babylon

Has made a plan

Against you.

He has formed a purpose

Against you.

‘Rise up!

Advance

Against a nation at ease,

That dwells securely.’

Says Yahweh.

‘They have no gates.

They have no bars.

They live alone.

Their camels

Shall become booty.

Their herds of cattle

Shall become a spoil.

I will scatter to every wind

Those who have shaven temples.

I will bring calamity

Against them

From every side.’

Says Yahweh.

‘Hazor shall become

A liar of jackals,

An everlasting waste.

No one shall live there.

No one shall settle in it.’”

The kingdom of Hazor was the more sedentary northwestern Arab tribes in the Arabian Desert, east of the Jordan River, in present day Saudi Arabia, not the Israelite town of Hazor. Yahweh warned them to flee and get out of there, because King Nebuchadnezzar had a plan against them. Even though they were at ease and secure, they had no gates, bars or fortresses, since they lived alone. The king of Babylon was going to take their flocks of cattle and their camels as the spoils of war. These shaven temple Hazor people would be scattered all over the place with all kinds of trouble on every side. These oasis tent towns would become a wasteland, as if they were not already. No one would want to live and settle there. This is like the previous warnings to other places, earlier in this chapter.

 

 

 

Against Kedar (Jer 49:28-49:29)

“Concerning Kedar

With the kingdoms of Hazor

That King Nebuchadnezzar

Of Babylon

Defeated.

Thus says Yahweh.

‘Rise up!

Advance against Kedar!

Destroy the people of the east!

Take their tents!

Take their flocks!

Take their curtains!

Take all their goods!

Carry off their camels

For yourselves!

A cry shall go up.

‘Terror is all around!’”

Kedar was the second son of Ishmael, the step brother of Isaac. However, this biblical term was applied to a group of nomadic tribes in the northwest Arabian desert, east of the Jordan River and Ammon, in what is today Saudi Arabia. They were considered to be the people of the east, the Arabs. King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon was going to defeat them. He was going to take their possessions since they had no buildings to burn. They were going to lose their tents, flocks, curtains, and most importantly their camels. They would cry out that terror was all around them. They had no fortresses to defend themselves. Both Kedar and Hazor were not restored, but left as wastelands.

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.