Yahweh was going to use the Chaldeans (Hab 1:6-1:7)

“I am rousing the Chaldeans.

They are

A fierce impetuous nation.

They march through

The breadth of the earth.

They seize dwellings,

Not their own.

They are terribly dreadful.

Their justice

Proceeds from themselves.

Their dignity

Proceeds from themselves.”

Who are these Chaldeans?  For nearly a hundred years (612-539 BCE), they ruled the ancient near eastern territory of Mesopotamia as the neo-Babylonian empire.  They basically took over from the Assyrians in 612 BCE, but were eventually defeated by the Persians in 539 BCE.  The Chaldeans were originally from southern Babylon, but were integrated into the Babylonian society.  These Chaldeans were a Semitic people who probably spoke Aramaic.  Yahweh was going to use them, even though they were a fierce impetuous country.  They went all over the place seizing homes and territories.  Thus, they were terrible dreadful people.  They even had their own kind of justice and dignity that they declared for themselves.

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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.

Other eastern trading partners (Ezek 27:23-27:24)

“Haran,

Canneh,

Eden,

The merchants

Of Asshur,

The merchants

Of Chilmad

All traded with you.

These traded

With you

In choice garments,

In clothes of blue.

In embroidered work.

These traded

With you

In carpets

Of colored material,

Bound with cords,

Made secure.

These all traded

With you.”

There was no doubt that Tyre was a world class trading center. Here there is a list of its other trading partners. Haran was in Mesopotamia on the Euphrates River, while Canneh was southwest of Haran. Eden was in Assyria. Asshur was in Babylon, and Chilmad was also in Mesopotamia. These trading merchants had very good garments, especially blue and embroidered clothes. They also traded in colorful securely bound carpets that did not fall apart. Thus, Tyre also had these eastern trading partners, as well as their coastal trader town associates.

The second message to King Hezekiah (Isa 37:9-37:13)

“When King Sennacherib heard it,

He sent messengers

To King Hezekiah.

‘Thus shall you speak

To King Hezekiah of Judah.

Do not let your God,

On whom you rely,

Deceive you

By promising

That Jerusalem will not be given

Into the hand of the king of Assyria.

See!

You have heard

What the kings of Assyria

Have done to all lands,

Destroying them utterly.

Shall you be delivered?

Have the gods of the other nations delivered them?

My predecessors destroyed these nations,

Gozan,

Haran,

Rezeph,

Also the people of Eden

Who were in Telassar.

Where is the king of Hamath?

Where is the king of Arpad?

Where is the king of the city of Sepharvaim?

Where is the king of Hena?

Where is the king of Ivvah?’”

Once again, this is almost word for word from 2 Kings, chapter 19, almost repeating the speech of Rabshakeh in the preceding chapter. These messengers of King Sennacherib of Assyria were to present almost the same message. Do not rely on your God. See what has happened to those places that relied on their gods, since the various kings of Assyria have destroyed them. How have their gods defended them? He repeated what had happened to the kings of Hamath, Arpad, Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivvah. Most of these towns were in Babylon or Syria. He also added the cities of Gozan, Haran, Rezeph, and Eden.   Gozan was where the northern Israelites were sent in their captivity. Haran was in Mesopotamia, a town where Abraham had stopped. Rezeph was near Hamath. Eden in Telassar probably refers to some place in Mesopotamia, thus giving further credence to Mesopotamia as the original place of the Garden of Eden. At least at this time, nearly 2700 years ago, this place was called Eden, which might have also influenced the biblical writers.

The deserted land (Isa 17:9-17:9)

“On that day,

Their strong cities will be

Like the deserted places of the Hivites,

Like the deserted places of the Amorites.

They deserted them

Because of the children of Israel.

Now there will be desolation.”

On this day of destruction, the strong cities of the north would be deserted like the former places of the Hivites and the Amorites. The Hivites were one of the northern tribes that lived in Canaan, supposedly the Semitic descendants of Ham, the son of Noah. The Amorites were southern Canaanites, before Judah took over. However, the Amorites were more spread out into Mesopotamia and into Syria. Within the biblical literature Amorites and Canaanites are sometimes interchangeable. Anyway, after the takeover of Canaan at the time of Joshua, their cities were deserted because the children of Israel left them in ruins. The same thing was now going to happen to the northern Israelites.

Achior the Ammonite explains the history of Israel (Jdt 5:5-5:9)

“Then Achior, the leader of all the Ammonites, said to him.

‘May my lord please listen to a report

From the mouth of your servant.

I will tell you the truth about these people

Who live in the mountain district near you.

No falsehood shall come from your servant’s mouth.

These people are descended from the Chaldeans.

At one time, they lived in Mesopotamia,

Because they did not wish to follow the gods of their ancestors

Who were in Chaldea.

They had abandoned the ways of their ancestors.

They worshiped the God of heaven, the God they had come to know. Their ancestors drove them out from the presence of their gods.

They fled to Mesopotamia.

They lived there for a long time.

Then their God commanded them to leave the place

Where they were living

And go to the land of Canaan.

There they settled.

They grew very prosperous in gold

And silver with very much livestock.’”

Achior, the leader of the Ammonites, told the story of how the Israelites came to be in Canaan. In one sense, he seems to know a lot about Israelite history, yet he had been an enemy to them. He maintained that he was not lying. He started with the adventures of Abraham rather than Moses. Achior maintained that the Israelites are Chaldeans. Chaldea was the name of Babylonia, so that the Israelites were originally Babylonians. Thus the Babylonian exile meant that they were actually going home. They were kicked out of Mesopotamia because of their religious beliefs. They eventually settled in Canaan and became prosperous there. However, he did not mention Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but it is along the general outlines of the story of Abraham.

The exploits of Holofernes (Jdt 2:21-2:28)

“They marched for three days from Nineveh to the plain of Bectileth. There they camped opposite Bectileth, near the mountain that is to the north of Upper Cilicia. From there Holofernes took his whole army, his infantry, cavalry, and chariots, and went up into the hill country. He ravaged Put and Lud. He plundered all the Rassisites and the Ishmaelites on the border of the desert, south of the country of the Chelleans. Then he followed the Euphrates River and passed through Mesopotamia. He destroyed all the hilltop cities along the brook Abron, as far as the sea. He also seized the territory of Cilicia. He killed every one who resisted him. Then he came to the southern borders of Japheth, fronting toward Arabia. He surrounded all the Midianites. He burned their tents and plundered their sheepfolds. Then he went down into the plain of Damascus during the wheat harvest. He burned all their fields. He destroyed their flocks and herds. He sacked their towns. He ravaged their lands. He put to death all their young men with the edge of the sword. Fear and dread of him fell upon all the people who lived along the seacoast. This included those at Sidon and Tyre, as well as those who lived in Sur, Ocina, and all who lived in Jamnia. Those who lived in Azotus and Ascalon feared him greatly.”

The geography here is a little muddled. It is about 600 miles from Nineveh to Damascus, but here it seems like just a few days. No one seems to know where this Bectileth was. Cilicia was on the Mediterranean Sea in Asia Minor, part of modern day Turkey. It, too, was about 500-600 miles from Nineveh, a difficult trip in 3 days, even in our modern times. Lud maybe the Syrian Lydia, but it is difficult to find Put. It is also difficult to know much about the Rassisites, the Ishmaelites, or the Chelleans. Generally, Ishmaelites usually referred to Arabs.   It is also difficult to pinpoint the Abron brook. Obviously, he traveled south along the Euphrates River, which is about 300 miles east of the seacoast. Japheth was near Arabia, which would be south of where he was. He also attacked the Midianites, on his way to Damascus. Holofernes burned down the wheat fields, destroyed the flocks and herds, sacked and ravaged the land. He killed their young men. He then turned further south towards the coast. Thus there was great fear in Sidon and Tyre, as well as all along the coastal towns of   Sur, Ocina, Jamnia, Azotus, and Ascalon near Tyre, in the Asher tribe territory.