The captivity of the Ammonites (Ezek 25:3-25:4)

“Say to the Ammonites!

Hear

The word of Yahweh God!

Thus says Yahweh God!

‘You said.

‘Aha!’

Over my sanctuary

When it was profaned.

You said.

‘Aha!’

Over the land of Israel

When it was made desolate.

You said.

‘Aha!’

Over the house of Judah

When it went into exile.

Therefore

I am handing you over

To the people of the East

For a possession.

They shall set

Their encampments

Among you.

They shall pitch

Their tents

In your midst.

They shall eat

Your fruit.

They shall drink

Your milk.’”

Yahweh wanted Ezekiel to tell the Ammonites to listen to the word of Yahweh, their God. However, they had their own gods. Apparently the Ammonites had profaned the sanctuary in Jerusalem. They had laughed when the northern kingdom of Israel was destroyed. They had even laughed at the exile of the people from Judah. Their punishment would be that they would be handed over to the people of the East, who would set up encampments and tents in their territory. These invaders would even eat their fruit and drink their milk. This probably was an allusion to the Assyrians, whom the Ammonites were dependent upon.

The Assyrian conquerors (Ezek 23:8-23:10)

“She did not give up
Her prostitution activities.
She had practiced them
Since her days
In Egypt.
In her youth,
Men had lain
With her.
They had fondled
Her virgin bosom.
They had poured out
Their lust
Upon her.
Therefore I delivered her
Into the hands
Of her lovers,
Into the hands
Of the Assyrians.
She had lusted
After them.
These Assyrians
Uncovered her nakedness.
They seized her sons.
They seized her daughters.
They killed her
With the sword.
Judgment was executed
Upon her.
She became a byword
Among women.”
Yahweh, via Ezekiel, told the story of Samaria, Oholah. She had practiced prostitution since her youth, when she had played the whore with Egypt. She slept and had sex with the Egyptians. She let them fondle her virgin breasts, so that they poured out their lust on her. Thus Yahweh decided to deliver Oholah into the hand of her Assyrian lovers, since she had lusted after them. Thus Assyria uncovered her nakedness. Then they seized her sons and daughters. Finally, they killed her with the sword, as judgment was executed upon her. She became a byword among women. This is obviously an allusion to the end of the northern kingdom of Israel at Samaria in 724, when the Assyrian King Shalmaneser V conquered and took over northern Israel. Thus the kingdom of Israel at Samaria came to an end.

Jerusalem’s sisters (Ezek 16:46-16:47)

“Your elder sister

Is Samaria.

She lived

With her daughters

To the north of you.

Your younger sister

Is Sodom.

She lived

With her daughters

To the south of you.

You not only

Followed their ways,

But you acted according

To their abominations.

Within a very little time

You were more corrupt

Than they

In all your ways.”

Jerusalem had an elder sister to the north with her children in Samaria. She also had a younger sister to the south with her children in Sodom. Samaria was the ruined people and capital of the old northern kingdom of Israel. Sodom was the place of infamy in Genesis. Not only did Jerusalem follow their terrible ways, she was even worse. She became more corrupt than they were.

Desolate country (Isa 1:7-1:7)

“Your country lies desolate.

Your cities are burned

With fire.

In your very presence

Aliens devour your land.

It is desolate.

It is overthrown by foreigners.”

Now we have the question as to what country is Yahweh, via Isaiah talking about. Is it Jerusalem and Judah, or the northern kingdom of Israel? In 721 BCE, the Assyrians took over the Kingdom of Israel at Samaria, as outlined in 2 Kings, chapter 17. However, Isaiah was considered a prophet of Judah. Was he implying that the Assyrians were attacking Judah about 10 years later, as in 2 Kings, chapter 18? In chapter 19, King Hezekiah consulted with this prophet Isaiah son of Amoz. That would put his oracle sometime between 721 BCE and 710 BCE. There was no doubt that the country was desolate. The cities had been burned down. Aliens were in this desolate land because these foreigners had taken over. This certainly sounds like the defeated northern kingdom of Israel that had been at Samaria.

King Jeroboam (Sir 47:23-44:25)

“Then Jeroboam son of Nebat

Led Israel into sin.

He started Ephraim

On its sinful ways.

Their sins increased

More and more,

Until they were exiled

From their land.

They sought out

Every kind of wickedness,

Until vengeance came upon them.”

Interesting enough, Sirach talked about the king who led the Israelite northern kingdom, who was not in the Davidic line of kings. Sirach was very harsh in his judgment about the northern rebels. Their kingdom was in fact called Israel, while the southern kingdom was called Judah. Jeroboam the son of Nebat was from Ephraim, just north of Judah and Benjamin. He actually had worked for Solomon in his administration, as indicated in 1 Kings, chapters 11-14. A prophet told Jeroboam that he would be king. After a meeting with Rehoboam, Jeroboam set up a new kingdom at Shechem. His great sin was that he did not want the people to go to Jerusalem to worship. Thus he setup his own worship places. This false worship led to the downfall of the northern Kingdom of Israel (721 BCE) before that of the Kingdom of Judah (587 BCE).  The wickedness of this kingdom deserved the vengeance that came to it.