The tribe of Dan (Ezek 48:1-48:1)

“These are the names

Of the tribes.

You will begin

At the northern border,

On the Hethlon road,

From Lebo-hamath,

As far as Hazar-enon,

The border

Of Damascus

With Hamath

To the north.

This will extend

From the east side

To the westside.

This shall be

One portion

Of Dan.”

According to Joshua, chapter 19, Dan had a small territory between Ephraim, Benjamin, and Judah. However, it was wiped out, so that they ended up with a small territory between Manasseh and Naphtali near the Syrian border. Thus, the tribe of Dan here gets this northern territory, close to Damascus. It was not clear how many from the tribe of Dan were still around.

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.

The boundaries and division of the land (Ezek 47:13-47:14)

“Thus says Yahweh God!

‘These are the boundaries

By which

You shall divide

The land

For inheritance

Among the twelve tribes

Of Israel.

Joseph shall have two portions.

You shall divide it

Equally.

I swore to give it

To your ancestors.

This land shall fall

To you

As your inheritance.’”

Next Yahweh, via Ezekiel, took up the question of the boundaries of Israel and the division of the land among the tribes. Joshua, in chapters 13-22, first faced this problem. Here, it appears in a more summary fashion. Nevertheless, the problem of what to do with the people already there in this land was not even mentioned. Ezekiel was going to set up these ideal borders or boundaries of Israel. He also was going to lay out the inheritance distribution of the land between the 12 tribes. The tribe of Joseph was to be given 2 portions, one for Manasseh and one for Ephraim. Yahweh had already promised to give this land to their ancestors as their inheritance.

Against the Philistines (Ezek 25:15-25:15)

“Thus says Yahweh God!

‘With unending hostilities,

The Philistines

Acted in vengeance

With malice of heart.

They took revenge

In destruction.’”

The Philistines were often mentioned in the biblical literature, especially as the enemies of King David. They were perhaps originally from the island of Crete. They were the five main Philistine coastal cities mentioned from the time of Joshua, chapter 13, Ashkelon, Gaza, Ekron, Gath, and Ashdod, all on the Mediterranean coast line of present day Israel. Thus the mention of unending hostilities with the Philistines did not seem out of place. Jeremiah, chapter 47, had also spoken against them. These Philistines acted with vengeance and malice, as they brought revenge on the Israelites with their destruction.

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.

Against the Ammonites (Jer 49:1-49:2)

“Concerning the Ammonites!

Thus says Yahweh!

‘Has Israel no sons?

Has he no heir?

Why then has Milcom

Dispossessed Gad?

Why has he dispossessed

His people?

Why has he settled

In its cities?’”

The Ammonites, like the Moabites, were considered the descendants of the incest of Lot with his second daughter from the story in Genesis, chapter 19. The country of Ammon was north of Moab, but south of Aram and Damascus.  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. Yahweh seems upset at Ammon. Did not Israel have sons and heirs to live in this Gad territory? Milcom, the god of the Ammonites, was a lot like Molech, the god of the Moabites. Some believe it was the same god with slightly different spellings for each country. This god Milcom had dispossessed the people of Yahweh and settled in their cities. In the Septuagint Greek translation, this is chapter 30, not chapter 49 as here.

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.