The Israelites are not privileged (Am 9:7-9:8)

“‘Are you not

Like the Ethiopians

To me?

O people of Israel!’

Says Yahweh.

‘Did I not bring up

Israel

From the land of Egypt?

Did I not bring up

The Philistines

From Caphtor?

Did I not bring up

The Arameans

From Kir?

The eyes

Of Yahweh God

Are upon

The sinful kingdom.

I will destroy it

From the face

Of the earth.

However,

I will not utterly destroy

The house of Jacob.’

Says Yahweh.”

In this oracle of Yahweh, Amos pointed out that the Israelites were not privileged, since Yahweh had brought other countries from one place to another like Israel came from Egypt.  He had helped the Philistines come from Caphtor, also a part of Egypt.  Yahweh also helped the Arameans from Kir, an area in Mesopotamia.  The Israelites were no better than the Ethiopians.  They had become a sinful nation.  Thus, he was going to destroy them from the face of the earth.  However, Yahweh would not utterly destroy the house of Jacob.  He would leave a remnant.

Advertisements

Against Damascus (Am 1:3-1:5)

“Thus Says Yahweh.

For three transgressions

Of Damascus,

And for four,

I will not revoke

The punishment.

They have threshed Gilead

With threshing sledges

Of iron.

So,

I will send a fire

On the house of Hazael.

It shall devour

The strongholds of Ben-hadad.

I will break the gate bars

Of Damascus.

I will cut off

The inhabitants

From the Valley of Aven.

I will cut of

The one who holds

The scepter from Beth-eden.

The people of Syria

Shall go into exile

To Kir.’

Says Yahweh.”

In typical prophetic language, Amos said that that Yahweh had spoken to him about Damascus, one of the neighbors of the northern kingdom of Israel, the Syrian capital city, about 130 miles northeast of Jerusalem, fairly close to the older northeastern territory of Manasseh. Damascus was under Aramean rule from 950-732 BCE, so that it is often referred to in the Bible as Aram instead of Syria. However, the Assyrian people conquered them in 732 BCE. The idea of numbering iniquities could be found later in the numerical Proverbs, chapter 30, talking about 3 and 4 things. The fact that Amos ranted against the neighbors of Israel was like Isaiah in chapter 17. These people of the north had defeated Gilead in 2 Kings, chapter 10. Hazel and Ben-hadad III were rulers in Damascus. The Valley of Aven or On was near Lebanon. They would be exiled to Kir, the place of their origins.

The defeat of Moab (Jer 48:1-48:2)

“Concerning Moab.

Thus says Yahweh of hosts!

The God of Israel!

‘Woe for Nebo!

It is laid waste!

Kiriathaim is put

To shame!

It is taken!

The fortress is put

To shame!

It is broken down.

The renown of Moab

Is no more.

In Heshbon,

They planned evil

Against her.

‘Come!

Let us cut her off

From being a nation!’

You also!

O Madmen!

Shall be brought

To silence.

The sword shall

Pursue you.”

Strangely enough, this is a very long chapter on Moab, the country directly east of the Dead Sea on the other side of the Jordan River. Isaiah also had 2 chapters on Moab, chapters 15 and 16. The Moabites and Israelites had been involved in many quarrels and battles, 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 the country of Jordan. The Moabites were the descendants of Lot’s incest with his oldest daughter in Genesis, chapter 19. Thus the Moabites had an on again, off again, relationship with the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah. 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. Mount Nebo, the place where Moses died, had been laid waste. The powerful fortress and famous Kiriathaim was put to shame. It is not clear whether this is the same city as Kir, mentioned in Isaiah, chapter 15. Heshbon was a city in Ammon, north of Moab, where the madmen were looking to plan evil against the Moabites. In the Septuagint Greek translation, this is chapter 31, not chapter 48 as here.

The day of confusion (Isa 22:5-22:8)

Yahweh,

The God of hosts,

Has a day Of tumult,

Of trampling,

Of confusion

In the valley of Hinnom.

There is

A battering down of walls.

There is

A cry for help in the mountains.

Elam bore the quiver

With chariots,

With cavalry.

Kir uncovered the shield.

Your choicest valleys

Were full of chariots.

The cavalry

Took their stand

At the gates.

He has taken away

The covering of Judah.”

A lot of the action took place in the valley of Hinnom, outside the walls of Jerusalem on this invasion day, where there was tumult, trampling, and confusion. The walls of Jerusalem came tumbling down. There was a cry for help that went out from the mountains, but it was not good enough. Elam, the Assyrians, used their bows and arrows. They had chariots and cavalry, while the Moabite mercenary men from Kir had shields. The beautiful valleys of Judah were full of these foreign chariots. Meanwhile, the Assyrian cavalry stood at the gates as Judah was no longer protecting Jerusalem.

The languishing vines of Moab (Isa 16:8-16:11)

“The fields of Heshbon languish.

The vine of Sibmah languishes.

Those clusters once made drunk

The lords of the nations.

They reached to Jazer.

They strayed to the desert.

Their shoots once spread abroad.

They crossed over the sea.

Therefore I weep

With the weeping of Jazer

For the vines of Sibmah.

I drench you

With my tears.

O Heshbon!

O Elealeh!

The shout over your fruit harvest

Has ceased.

The shout over your grain harvest

Has ceased.

Joy is taken away,

Gladness is taken away

From the fruitful field.

In the vineyards,

No songs are sung.

No shouts are raised.

No one treads out wine

In the presses.

The vintage shout is hushed.

Therefore my soul throbs

Like a lyre for Moab.

My very soul throbs

For Kir-heres.”

Heshbon was in the northern part of Reuben or the northern part of Moab. The vines of Sibmah were about 5 miles east of Heshbon, also part of Moab and Reuben. Elealeh was a town about a mile outside of Heshbon, also part of Reuben and Moab. The grapes from this vine at Sibmah made many various great leaders drunk. There is a special mention of Jazer, a Levitical city near Gilead that was given to Gad in Joshua, chapter 21. The wonderful vine shoots that had strayed into the desert and even across waters were now languishing. Now Isaiah was also crying, because there would no longer be any shouting in the fields at the grape or grain harvest time. There would be no joy, gladness, shouting, or singing at harvest time, because there was no harvest. There was no one to tread the wine presses because there were no grapes. Therefore Isaiah was like a lyre or harp throbbing for Moab and the folks at Kir, on the main road, about 10 miles from the Dead Sea, as mentioned earlier.

The arrogance of Moab (Isa 16:6-16:7)

“We have heard

Of the pride of Moab.

How proud he is!

We have heard

Of his arrogance.

We have heard

Of his pride.

We have heard

Of his insolence.

His boasts are false.

Therefore let Moab wail!

Let everyone wail for Moab!

Mourn!

It is utterly stricken.

They cry for

The raisin-cakes of Kir-hareseth.”

Isaiah here assumes the first person plural “we,” instead of the first person singular, “I.” Now the tone is not as forgiving. They have heard of the pride, the arrogance, and insolence of Moab. Those Moabites make false boasts. Therefore, let them cry. Let everyone wail away, because they have been decimated. They cry out for their raisin cakes from Kir-hareseth. The raisin cakes were made from the grapes that dried up. These must have been some good bakery cakes from the town of Kir or Kerak in Moab, the probable names for Kir-hareseth.

The destruction of Moab (Isa 15:2-15:3)

“Because Ar is laid waste in a night,

Moab is undone.

Because Kir is laid waste in a night,

Moab is undone.

Dibon has gone up to the temple.

They have gone

To the high places to weep

Over Nebo,

Over Medeba.

Moab wails!

On every head is baldness.

Every beard is shorn.

In the streets

They bind on sackcloth.

On the housetops

Everyone wails.

In the squares

Everyone melts in tears.”

According to Isaiah, Moab was destroyed as it came undone, probably by the Assyrian army. Two towns were wiped out in one night, Ar and Kir. Ar was a town in Moab that was mentioned about 7 times in the Torah, while Kir was a town mentioned about 9 times, mostly by the prophets Jeremiah and Isaiah as well as 2 Kings. This might mean that Kir was a newer town. The people of Dibon, which was the capital and major city of Moab, mentioned about 12 times in the biblical literature, went to their temple to weep. Mount Nebo in Moab was mentioned about 10 times in the biblical literature. The Medeba plateau or plains near Dibon was mentioned about 5 times in the biblical literature. The country Moab was wailing over its destruction. They cut the hair on their heads and cut off their beards. They walked around in sackcloth. Everyone was wailing and crying in the city squares.