“This is the word
That came to Jeremiah
Concerning all the people of Judah,
In the fourth year of King Jehoiakim,
The son of King Josiah,
This was the first year
Of King Nebuchadnezzar
This oracle of Yahweh to Jeremiah about Judah is set in a very specific time frame. This was the 4th year of the rule of King Jehoiakim or King Eliakim, around 605 BCE. This was also the first year of the reign of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, after his victory of Pharaoh Neco of Egypt during the same year, 605 BCE. Thus, this preceded any of the exiles from Judah.
“In the year that King Ahaz died
This oracle came.
‘Do not rejoice!
All you Philistines!
The rod that struck you is broken.
From the snake’s root
Will come forth an adder.
Its fruit will be a flying fiery serpent.
The firstborn of the poor will graze.
The needy will lie down in safety.
But I will make your root
Die of famine.
I will kill.
Melt in fear!
All of you!
Smoke comes out of the north.
There is no straggler in his ranks.’”
Next Isaiah turned to the coastal Philistines. This oracle has a specific time frame, the year that King Ahaz died, which would have been about 716 BCE. The Philistines had been a common enemy of the Israelites, especially during the time of King Saul and King David in 1 Samuel and I Chronicles. The Philistine southwestern coastal 5 cities had been captured by the Assyrians. Thus with the destruction of Assyria, they should be free. However, another foe from the north would come to attack them. Yahweh reminded them that a small adder snake can come from the fallen snake like a fiery flying serpent. Although it will seem okay because there will be food to eat and the needy will be safe, Yahweh was going to send them a famine to kill those left over. The Philistines would cry and wail. They would melt with fear because a great army from the north was coming. The Philistines actually seemed to disappear after the Assyrian takeover.