Against the Ammonites (Ezek 25:1-25:2)

“The word of Yahweh

Came to me.

‘Son of man!

Set your face

Toward the Ammonites,

Prophesy against them.’”

Now there are a series of oracles against the various countries around Israel and Judah. As usual, the word of Yahweh came to Ezekiel, the son of man. He was to set his face against the Ammonites and prophesy against them. Who are the Ammonites? In the biblical sense, they are the descendants of Ammon, the son of Lot from the incest incident with his daughter in Genesis, chapter 19. They seem to have been east of the Jordan and north of Moab, but south of Assyria. The country of Ammon existed from about the 10th century to the 4th century BCE in what would have been the Gad territory as outlined in Joshua, chapter 13. Today it is part of the country of Jordan. Jeremiah, chapter 49, had also spoken out against them. They along with the Moabites were the constant enemies of Judah and Israel. At some point, they became part of the Assyrian empire and eventually ceased to exist. They certainly were related to Canaan and spoke a Semitic language.

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The sword towards the Ammonites (Ezek 21:28-21:28)

“‘You!

Son of man!

Prophesy!

Say!

Thus says Yahweh God

Concerning the Ammonites!

Concerning their reproach!

Say!

‘A sword!

A sword!

Drawn for slaughter!

Polished

To consume!

Polished

To flash

Like lightning!’”

Yahweh turned to Ezekiel, the son of man. He was to prophesy concerning the Ammonites and what was to happen to them. There would be a polished sword drawn for slaughter in order to consume them. This would be a flashing sword like lightning. The Ammonites would not get away free.

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.

The restoration of Ammon (Jer 49:6-49:6)

“‘But afterward

I will restore

The fortunes

Of the Ammonites.’

Says Yahweh.”

Just like with the Moabites, Yahweh was going to restore the Ammonites to the fortunes that they had. Yahweh always seems to be merciful after strongly criticizing a group of people. Thus this short section about the Ammonites comes to an end with a future restoration.

The Judeans return (Jer 40:11:40:12)

“Likewise,

All the Judeans,

Who were in Moab,

Or among the Ammonites,

Or in Edom,

As well as in other lands,

Heard that

The king of Babylon

Had left a remnant

In Judah.

They heard

That he had appointed

Gedaliah,

The son of Ahikam,

The son of Shaphan,

As governor over them.

Then all the Judeans returned

From all the places

To which they had been scattered.

They came

To the land of Judah,

To Gedaliah,

At Mizpah.

They gathered wine

They gathered summer fruits

In great abundance.”

Jeremiah presents a mini-post exilic time. This was particularly true of those Judeans who had migrated to the southeastern neighboring countries on the other side of the Jordan River and the Dead Sea, living among the Moabites, the Edomites, and the Ammonites. They heard the news that the war with Babylon was over. They then decided to return, when they heard that Gedaliah, the son of Ahikam and grandson of Shaphan, was the new governor appointed by the king of Babylon. Thus they returned to Judah, more precisely to the Benjamin area that had not been destroyed. Mizpah became the new capital city of this remnant left In Judah. They were going to have wine and summer fruits in abundance. This seems like a happy time with a lot of returning Judeans from the devastated Judah area and the area east of the Jordan River in Moab, Edom, and Ammon.

Jeremiah was to send messages to neighboring countries (Jer 27:3-27:3)

“Send word to

The king of Edom,

The king of Moab,

The king of the Ammonites,

The king of Tyre,

The king of Sidon

By the hand of the envoys

Who have come

To King Zedekiah of Judah.”

Yahweh wanted Jeremiah to send messages to the neighboring countries of Judah, not just Judah itself. There apparently may have been an attempted rebellion against King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon (605-562 BCE) around 595-594 BCE by these Israelite neighbors that included the southeastern countries of the Edomites, the Moabites, and the Ammonites, as well as the northwestern cities of Tyre and Sidon on the Mediterranean seacoast. They were to get this message when they sent envoys to King Zedekiah (598-587 BCE) in Jerusalem.

General Holofernes sets the plan in action (Jdt 7:16-7:18)

“These words pleased General Holofernes and all his servants. He gave orders to do as they had said. So the army of the Ammonites moved forward, together with five thousand Assyrians. They encamped in the valley. They seized the water supply and the springs of the Israelites. The Edomites and the Ammonites went up and encamped in the hill country opposite Dothan. They sent some of their men toward the south and the east, toward Egrebeh, which is near Chusi beside the Wadi Mochmur. The rest of the Assyrian army encamped in the plain. They covered the whole face of the land. Their tents and supply trains spread out in great number. They formed a vast multitude.”

General Holofernes thought that seizing the water supply was a good idea. He gave orders to his army. The Ammonites with 5,000 Assyrian troops seized the water supply and the water springs. The Edomites and Ammonites encamped in the in the hill country opposite Dothan. Some went south and east to Egrebeh, Chusi, and Mochmur. All of these places are near Shechem, which would put this place further north in Manasseh territory. Meanwhile, the Assyrian army camped in the valley plain area so that they nearly covered the whole face of the earth. They had lots of tents and supplies spread out like a great large blanket.