Against Ammon (Am 1:13-1:15)

“Thus says Yahweh.

‘For three transgressions,

Of the Ammonites,

And for four,

I will not revoke

The punishment.

Because they ripped open

Pregnant women

In the Gilead.

They wanted to enlarge

Their territory.

So,

I will kindle a fire

Against the wall of Rabbah.

Fire shall devour

Its strongholds,

With shouting

On the day of battle.

There will be a storm

On the day of the whirlwind.

Their king

Shall go into exile,

He with his officials together.’

Says Yahweh.”

Ammon was east of the Jordan River, between the Dead Sea and the Sea of Galilee in the old Gad territory. According to Genesis, chapter 19, the Ammonites were the descendants of Lot through the incest he had with his daughter. Yahweh, via Amos, invoked the same language as he had used against Damascus, the Philistines, Tyre, and Edom. He used the same numeric formula of 3 and 4, as found in Proverbs, chapter 30. These Ammonites had killed pregnant women in the Gilead, the Israelite territory on the east side of the Jordan River, because they wanted to take over that territory. Thus, Yahweh was going to send fire down on Rabbah, the capital city that is today the capital of Jordan, Amman. This fire would destroy all their fortresses, like a storm or whirlwind. The king and all its officials would go into exile.

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Rabbah (Ezek 25:5-25:5)

“I will make Rabbah

A pasture for camels.

Ammon shall be

A fold for flocks.

Then you will know

That I am Yahweh.”

Rabbah was the capital of Ammon. Thus the capital city would become a pasture for camels. The current capital of Jordan is Amman where Rabbah once was. Ammon would just become a place for animals to graze. They would learn that Yahweh was in charge.

 

The marker at the fork in the road (Ezek 21:18-21:20)

“The word of Yahweh

Came to me again.

‘Son of man!

Mark out two roads

For the sword

Of the king

Of Babylon

To come!                                           

Both of them

Shall issue

From the same land.

Make a signpost!

Make it for a fork

In the road

Leading to a city.

Mark out the road

For the sword

To come

To Rabbah

Of the Ammonites

Or to Judah,

To the fortified Jerusalem.”

Once again, the word of Yahweh came to Ezekiel, the son of man. He had to put a maker at a fork in the road. There would be two roads for the sword of the king of Babylon to take. Both roads came from the same place, Babylon. However, at this fork in the road, one led to the city of Rabbah, the home of the Ammonites. The other road led to a fortified Jerusalem in Judah.

Against the cities of Ammon (Jer 49:2-49:3)

“Says Yahweh.

‘Therefore,

The time is surely coming,

When I will sound

The battle alarm

Against Rabbah

Of the Ammonites.

It shall become

A desolate mound.

Its villages

Shall be burned

With fire.

Then Israel shall dispossess

Those who dispossessed him.’

Says Yahweh.

‘Wail!

O Heshbon!

Ai is laid waste!

Cry out!

O daughters of Rabbah!

Put on sackcloth!

Lament!

Slash yourselves

With whips!

Milcom shall go

Into exile,

With his priests,

With his attendants.’”

Yahweh spoke about the destruction of the major cities in Ammon. Rabbah was the capital city of Ammon that would become a desolate mound with its various villages around it. They would be burned to the ground. Thus the dispossessed Israelites would be able to re-possess it. However, it is not the Israelites who are invading, but the Babylonians. Heshbon was the ancient city of King Sihon that had been captured by the Israelites. It was part of the Reuben territory and then Gad territory, since it was almost on the border between Moab and Ammon. The city of Ai was near Bethel in the Benjamin territory on the west side of the Jordan River. However, here this is another otherwise unknown city named Ai near Heshbon. All of these cities were going to lament their situation with mourning and sack cloth. Their god Milcom with his priests and attendants would also go into exile.

King David returns to Jerusalem (1 Chr 20:1-20:3)

“In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle, Joab led out the army. He ravaged the country of the Ammonites. He came and besieged Rabbah. But King David remained at Jerusalem. Joab attacked Rabbah and overthrew it. King David took the crown of Milcom from the head of the king. He found that it weighed a talent of gold. In it was a precious stone. It was placed on King David’s head. He brought out the booty of the city, a very great amount. He brought out the people who were in it. He set them to work with saws, iron picks, and axes. This is what King David did to all the cities of the Ammonites. Then King David and all the people returned to Jerusalem.”

Here this biblical chronicler put together 2 chapters from 2 Samuel, chapters 11 and 12.   King David stayed in Jerusalem in the spring time when most kings went out to do battle. Instead Joab went to conquer the Ammonites, which he achieved. Remember that in the last chapter they had all fled before the battle. This time Joab took Rabbah, the major city. However, he was always careful to be subservient to his uncle King David. That whole exchange of messages between Joab and King David in 2 Samuel, chapter 12, is not here. Here King David just shows up at Rabbah. Milcom was the Ammonite god so that this king of the Ammonites had worn the Milcom crown. King David took the crown with its precious stone and put it on his head. Generally speaking, taking the stuff of other gods was forbidden. Nevertheless, David made all the Ammonites work in the various cities, but it is not clear what they were building. Here there was no mention of brickworks as in 2 Samuel. Then they all returned to Jerusalem as the saga of the Ammonites came to an end.