Against Moab (Am 2:1-2:3)

“Thus says Yahweh.

‘For three transgressions

Of Moab,

And for four,

I will not revoke

The punishment.

Because he burned to lime

The bones

Of the king of Edom.

So,

I will send a fire

On Moab.

It shall devour

The strongholds

Of Kerioth.

Moab shall die

Amid uproar,

Amid shouting,

Amid the sound

Of the trumpet.

I will cut off

The ruler

From its midst.

I will kill

All its officials with him.’

Says Yahweh.”

Moab was the ancient enemy of Israel on the southeast side of the Jordan River. According to Genesis, chapter 19, the Moabites were the descendants of Lot through the incest he had with his daughter. Yahweh, via Amos, invoked the same language as he had used against Damascus, the Philistines, Tyre, Edom, and Ammon. He also used the same non-forgiving numeric formula of 3 and 4, as in Proverbs, chapter 30. The Moabites apparently burned the bones of the king of Edom in lime. Edom was their southern neighbors, so that this was a terrible insulting crime. Thus, Yahweh was going to punish the people of Moab by devouring their fortresses at Kerioth. Moab was going to die in a great tumult, with uproars, shouts, and trumpets. Yahweh would kill their ruler and all their officials. This clearly was an oracle of Yahweh, via Amos.

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Against Ammon (Am 1:13-1:15)

“Thus says Yahweh.

‘For three transgressions,

Of the Ammonites,

And for four,

I will not revoke

The punishment.

Because they ripped open

Pregnant women

In the Gilead.

They wanted to enlarge

Their territory.

So,

I will kindle a fire

Against the wall of Rabbah.

Fire shall devour

Its strongholds,

With shouting

On the day of battle.

There will be a storm

On the day of the whirlwind.

Their king

Shall go into exile,

He with his officials together.’

Says Yahweh.”

Ammon was east of the Jordan River, between the Dead Sea and the Sea of Galilee in the old Gad territory. According to Genesis, chapter 19, the Ammonites were the descendants of Lot through the incest he had with his daughter. Yahweh, via Amos, invoked the same language as he had used against Damascus, the Philistines, Tyre, and Edom. He used the same numeric formula of 3 and 4, as found in Proverbs, chapter 30. These Ammonites had killed pregnant women in the Gilead, the Israelite territory on the east side of the Jordan River, because they wanted to take over that territory. Thus, Yahweh was going to send fire down on Rabbah, the capital city that is today the capital of Jordan, Amman. This fire would destroy all their fortresses, like a storm or whirlwind. The king and all its officials would go into exile.

The alliance of the kings of the north and the south (Dan 11:6-11:6)

“After some years,

They shall make an alliance.

The daughter

Of the king of the south

Shall come to

The king of the north

To ratify the agreement.

But she shall not retain

Her power.

Her offspring

Shall not endure.

She shall be given up.

She,

Her attendants,

Her child,

The one who supported her

Will all die.”

The sons of Ptolemy and Seleucus made an alliance. Apparently, this took place around 250 BCE when Ptolemy II (283-246 BCE) gave his daughter Bernice to Antiochus II (261-246 BCE) to be his wife. However, the first wife of Antiochus II, Laodice, plotted against her. She then killed Bernice, her child and everyone with her. Thus, this treaty did not last long.

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 hope for Zion (Isa 62:10-62:12)

“Go through!

Go through the gates!

Prepare the way for the people!

Build up!

Build up the highway!

Clear it of stones!

Lift up an ensign

Over the people!

Yahweh has proclaimed

To the ends of the earth.

Say to daughter Zion!

‘See!

Your salvation comes!

His reward is with him!

His recompense is before him.’

They shall be called.

‘The holy people!

The redeemed of Yahweh!’

You shall be called.

‘Sought out!

A city not forsaken.’”

Here we have a summary of all that had proceeded. The Israelites were to go through the gates in order to prepare a way for the others to come. They were to build up the highway and clear it of stones so that it would be a level road to walk on. They were to lift up a symbolic sign over the people. Yahweh has proclaimed to the ends of the earth that his daughter Zion will be saved. Zion was to receive their rewards and compensation. They were to be called the holy people, the people redeemed by Yahweh. They would be a city sought out and not forsaken. Jerusalem would be restored as a shining city on a hill.

The wedding of King Alexander I and Cleopatra (1 Macc 10:57-10:58)

“King Ptolemy set out from Egypt with his daughter Cleopatra. He came to Ptolemais in the one hundred sixty-second year. King Alexander met him. King Ptolemy gave him his daughter Cleopatra in marriage. They celebrated her wedding at Ptolemais with great pomp, as kings do.”

The wedding of Cleopatra, the daughter of King Ptolemy VI of Egypt, and King Alexander I of Syria took place in 150 BCE, the 167th year. So now we have Cleopatra III as part of biblical history. There were a number of women in the Egyptian Ptolemaic dynasty named Cleopatra. William Shakespeare’s play “Anthony and Cleopatra” was about Cleopatra VII, about a century later. King Ptolemy must have been pleased to go to a place named after his family, Ptolemais. He and his family were strong proponents of Greek so that the Septuagint, the Greek Old Testament, was translated in Alexandria, Egypt, a strong Hellenized town as can be seen by its very name. King Ptolemy VI and King Alexander I met. Then he gave his daughter to him in a great big wedding ceremony, as kings normally do.

The blessing of Raguel for Tobias and Sarah (Tob 10:11-10:12)

“Then Raguel saw them safely off. He embraced Tobias and said.

‘Farewell, my child!

Have a safe journey!

The Lord of heaven prosper you,

The Lord of heaven prosper your wife Sarah,

May I see children of yours before I die.’

Then he kissed his daughter, and said to her.

‘My daughter,

Honor your father-in-law.

Honor your mother-in-law.

From now on they are as much your parents

As those who gave you birth.

Go in peace, daughter!

May I have a good report of you as long as I live.’

Then he bade them farewell and let them go.”

Raguel blessed both Tobias and Sarah his daughter. This is a beautiful blessing. He wanted them to have a safe journey. He wanted them to prosper. He referred to God as the God of heaven, the Persian way of speaking of God. Then he had the wish of all parents, to see grandchildren before he died. For his daughter, he reminded her to honor her new father and mother in-law. She should respect her in-laws like her own parents. He wanted to hear a good report about her as long as he lived. Finally, he said good-bye in this touching farewell.