Against Tyre (Ezek 26:1-26:2)

“In the eleventh year,

On the first day

Of the month,

The word of Yahweh

Came to me.

‘Son of man!

Tyre said

Concerning Jerusalem.

‘Aha!

Broken is

The gateway

Of the people.

It has swung open

To me.

I shall be replenished,

Now that is wasted.’”

The time for this oracle to Ezekiel, the son of man, was the 11th year of King Zedekiah, which would have been 587 BCE. The Greek translation has a mention of a month that would put it into 586 BCE. Tyre was a Phoenician costal island city that still exists in southern Lebanon, well known for its maritime trade. Actually, it would have been part of the old Israelite territory of Asher. Here, the people of Tyre seemed to have laughed at Jerusalem when the gates of that city fell. Instead of being an ally of Jerusalem, they turned against them. They took advantage of the bad situation in Jerusalem. Isaiah, also, had a long diatribe against both Tyre and Sidon in chapter 23.

 

Against Edom (Ezek 25:12-25:12)

“Thus says Yahweh God!

‘Edom acted revengefully

Against the house of Judah.

They have grievously offended

In taking vengeance

Upon them.’”

Edom was south of the Dead Sea, south of Moab and south of Judah. Its biblical origin was the place where Esau, the twin brother of Jacob, went to live in Genesis, chapter 36. This section is similar to Jeremiah, chapter 49, and Isaiah, chapter 34, on Edom. Apparently, when King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon attacked Jerusalem, the Edomites from south of Judah helped the Babylonians in their plundering of Jerusalem and Judah.

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.

The fall of the Babylonian gods (Jer 50:2-50:2)

“Declare!

Among the nations!

Proclaim!

Set up a banner!

Proclaim!

Do not conceal it!

Say!

‘Babylon is taken!

Bel is put to shame!

Merodach is dismayed!

Her images are put to shame!

Her idols are dismayed!’”

This oracle of Yahweh says that Jeremiah should proclaim to the various nations and not conceal the fact that Babylon was taken. However, Jeremiah died in 582 BCE and Babylon was defeated in 539 BCE, over forty years after the death of Jeremiah. Previously, Jeremiah had been very favorable to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. Here he was told to set up a banner that said that Babylon with its false idol gods was put to shame and dismayed, especially two Babylonian gods, Bel and Merodach. Bel was another encompassing word for master or lord as some of the Hebrew words used about Yahweh. It also had some connection to Baal in the Mesopotamian area. Merodach or Marduk was the principal god or patron of the city of Babylon. Thus these two major Babylonian gods would be put to shame and dismayed. Much the same can be found in Isaiah, chapter 46.

The terror in Moab (Jer 48:43-48:46)

“‘Terror!

Pit!

Trap!

They are before you!

O inhabitants of Moab!’

Says Yahweh.

‘Everyone

Who flees from the terror

Shall fall into the pit.

Everyone who climbs

Out of the pit

Shall be caught in the trap.

I will bring these things

Upon Moab,

In the year of their punishment.’

Says Yahweh.

In the shadow of Heshbon,

Fugitives stop exhausted.

A fire has gone out

From Heshbon,

A flame from

The house of Sihon.

It has destroyed

The forehead of Moab,

The scalp of the people

Of tumult.

Woe to you!

O Moab!

The people of Chemosh

Have perished.

Your sons

Have been taken captive.

Your daughters

Have been taken into captivity.”

There would be terror to hit Moab, like the terror of the apocalypse judgment day of Isaiah, chapter 24. Terror was all around with pits and snares to catch people. If they fled, they would fall into a pit. Even if they crawled out of the pit, they would be caught in a trap. There was no escape. They tried to flee to Heshbon, the capital of Ammon, the country north of Moab. However, they were surprised to learn that Heshbon was also on fire. This was the capital city of King Sihon, or house of Sihon, dating back to the days of Joshua, chapter 21. The Moabites would have problems with their foreheads and scalps. They would be cursed, and then perish. The people with their god Chemosh would lose their sons and daughters to captivity.

Desolate Moab towns (Jer 48:34-48:34)

“Heshbon cries out.

Elealeh cries out.

As far as Jahaz,

They utter their voice,

From Zoar

To Horonaim,

To Eglath-shelishiyah.

Even the waters of Nimrim

Have become desolate.”

This continues with the same ideas as in Isaiah, chapter 15. Everybody was crying out from the towns of Heshbon and Elealeh, in the Israelite Reuben territory, upper Moab. This crying could be heard 25 miles away north in Jahaz, a Levitical city near Gilead that was given to Gad in Joshua, chapter 21. These Moabite fugitives fled south to the tip of the Dead Sea near Zoar, which is on the southeast end of the Dead Sea. They also fled to the surrounding towns of Eglath-shelishiyah and Horonaim, near the ascent of the Luhith hills, in southern Moab near Zoar. The cries of the Moabites could be heard everywhere. The waters of Nimrim were desolate with nothing growing beside it. Only Jeremiah and Isaiah make any reference to these waters of Nimrim.

Crying for Moab and its vineyard (Jer 48:31-48:33)

“Therefore I wail for Moab!

I cry out for all Moab!

I mourn for

The people of Kir-heres.

More than for Jazer,

I weep for you!

O vine of Sibmah!

Your branches

Crossed over the sea,

Reached as far as Jazer.

The destroyed has fallen

Upon your summer fruits,

Upon your vintage.

Gladness has been taken away.

Joy has been taken away,

From the fruitful land

Of Moab.

I have stopped the wine

From the wine presses.

No one treads them

With shouts of joy.

The shouting is

Not the shout of joy.”

Yahweh seems to have great pity for Moab, like in Isaiah, chapter 16. He seemed very concerned about the summer fruits and the wine in Moab. Both Isaiah and Jeremiah mention the town of Kir-heres that is on the main road about 10 miles from the Dead Sea. Of particular interest to both of them was the vineyard of Sibmah, since their descriptions are almost the same. The vines of Sibmah were about 5 miles east of Heshbon, also part of Moab and Reuben. The wonderful vine shoots that had strayed into the desert and even across waters were now languishing. Jeremiah, like Isaiah, has Yahweh crying, because there would no longer be any shouting in the fields at the grape harvest time, because there were no more summer fruits. There would be no joy, gladness, shouting, or singing since there was no one to tread the wine presses. There were no more grapes. Yahweh had stopped the wine presses. The shouts that you now heard were not shouts of joy.