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.

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.

Judgment on the cities of Moab (Jer 48:21-48:25)

“‘Judgment has come

Upon the tableland,

Upon

Holon,

Jahzah,

Mephaath,

Dibon,

Nebo,

Beth-diblathaim,

Kiriathaim,

Beth-gamul,

Beth-meon,

Kerioth,

Bozrah,

And all the towns

Of the land

Of Moab,

Far and near.

The horn of Moab

Is cut off.

His arm is broken.’

Says Yahweh.”

Now Yahweh, via Jeremiah, issues his judgment against the Moab cities and towns. Interesting enough, the only other time two of these cities are named was in the book of Joshua, chapter 21,when they were assigned to the Levites living in the Reuben territory. Out of the four Levite towns mentioned there, two are mentioned here, Jahaz and Mephaath. In chapter 13 of Joshua, other cities were mentioned, Dibon, the capital city, Kiriathaim, and Beth-meon. Nebo was a Babylonian god, but could also be a place in Moab. Bozrah was in the southern part of Moab, while Beth-gamul was in eastern Moab. It is difficult to pin point the exact locations of Holon, Beth-diblathaim, and Kerioth. Actually this oracle proclaims that all the towns of Moab have been destroyed, since the horn of Moab and his arm have been broken and cut off. The towns are named explicitly here.

The defeat of the various Philistine cities (Jer 47:5-47:7)

“Baldness has come

Upon Gaza.

Ashkelon is silenced.

O remnant of their power!

How long

Will you gash yourselves?

O!

Sword of Yahweh!

How long

Until you are quiet?

Put yourself

Into your scabbard!

Rest!

Be still!

How can it be quiet?

Yahweh has given it

A charge

Against Ashkelon,

Against the seashore.

There he has appointed it.”

This short chapter on the Philistines ends with the mention of a couple of the five main Philistine cities, mentioned from the time of Joshua, chapter 13. Ashkelon and Gaza were still standing, but as defeated cities, as Jeremiah mentioned here. Gaza was bald and Ashkelon was silent, since they were only a remnant of their former power. How long would they be in mourning? Would Yahweh put his sword away? These seaside cities were in ruin. Gath and Ashdod were not mentioned here, because they were completely destroyed by the Egyptians in the 7th century BCE.