The Babylonian god Bel (Dan 14:3-14:4)

“Now the Babylonians

Had an idol

Called Bel.

Every day,

They provided for it

Twelve bushels

Of choice flour,

Forty sheep,

Six measures

Of wine.

The king revered it.

He went every day

To worship it.

But Daniel worshiped

His own God.”

This god Bel was Bel Marduk, the great god of the Babylonians, mentioned by Jeremiah and Isaiah. Every day, the people provided this idol 12 bushels of choice flour, 40 sheep, and 6 measures or about 50 gallons of wine. The king Cyrus revered Bel, as he worshipped this god on a daily basis. Bel may have been popular in Persia also. However, Daniel worshipped his own God, but there is no indication where he did this.

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The division of the land by tribes (Ezek 47:21-47:21)

“Thus,

You shall divide

This land

Among you,

According

To the tribes

Of Israel.”

Now that the boundaries of the country of Israel were established, it remained to distribute the land to the various tribes of Israel. Like the boundaries of the country, it sounded easier in theory than in reality. Much of this had been laid out in Numbers, chapter 34, and Joshua, chapters 13-19.

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.