The scattered sheep (Ezek 34:5-34:6)

“The sheep

Were scattered,

Because there was

No shepherd.

Thus,

They became food

For all the wild animals.

My sheep

Were scattered.

They wandered

Over all the mountains.

They wandered

On every high hill.

My sheep

Were scattered

Over all the face

Of the earth.

There was no one

To search

For them.

There was no one

To seek

For them.”

Yahweh, via Ezekiel, said that his sheep were scattered, because there was no shepherd to lead them. Thus, these sheep became food for all the wild animals, perhaps an allusion to the attacks of the Assyrians and the Babylonians. The sheep of Israel and Judah were scattered, so that they wandered into the mountains and the high hills, perhaps an allusion to the high places of idol worship. His sheep were scattered all over all the face of the earth, perhaps an allusion to the captivity. Finally, there was no leader or shepherd to go out to search and look for them. They were the lost sheep of Israel.

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 attackers of Jerusalem (Ezek 23:23-23:24)

“The Babylonians,

All the Chaldeans,

With Pekod,

Shoa,

Koa,

Will come.

All the Assyrians

Will be with them.

The handsome young men,

The governors,

The commanders

All of them,

Officers,

Warriors,

All of them

Riding on horses

Will come.

They shall come

Against you

From the north

With chariots,

With wagons,

With a host of people.

They shall set themselves

Against you

On every side

With buckler,

With shield,

With helmet.

I will commit

The judgment

To them.

They shall judge you

According to their ordinances.”

The Babylonians, all the Chaldeans, including their mercenaries from Pekod, Shoa, and Koa would come against Jerusalem. All the Assyrians would be with them, including those handsome young men, the governors, and the commanders. All the officers, warriors, and those riding on horses would come against Jerusalem from the north with their chariots, wagons, and a whole army of people. They would be on every side of Jerusalem with their hand shields or bucklers, large shields, and helmets. Yahweh was going to leave the judgment of Jerusalem up to them. They would judge Jerusalem according to their own laws.

Against Damascus (Jer 49:23-49:27)

“Concerning Damascus.

‘Hamath is confounded.

Arpad is confounded.

They have heard bad news.

They melt in fear.

They are troubled

Like the sea

That cannot be quiet.

Damascus has become feeble.

She turned to flee.

Panic seized her.

Anguish has taken hold of her.

Sorrows have taken hold of her,

As a woman in labor.

How the famous city is forsaken!

The joyful town!

Therefore her young men

Shall fall

In her squares.

All her soldiers

Shall be destroyed,

On that day.’

Says Yahweh of hosts!

‘I will kindle a fire

At the wall of Damascus.

It shall devour

The strongholds of Ben-hadad.’”

Damascus had been under the control of the Assyrians since around 740 BCE, before the fall of the northern Israelites to Assyria in 724 BCE. Now the Babylonians were taking over for the Assyrians. The two other cities mentioned with Damascus, were Hamath and Arpad. Hamath was in upper Syria with Arpad nearly a 100 miles further north. These northern towns were upset and troubled over the news about southern Damascus. They felt like they were on troubled waters and could not be quiet. Damascus itself was weak and in panic. This former joyful town saw people fleeing with panic. Once again they had become weak like women in labor. Their young men were dying in the squares since the soldiers had been killed. The soldiers also died. There was a huge fire that destroyed the walls and royal buildings of Ben-hadad. King Ben-hadad was a 9th century BCE king of Damascus who had some battles with King Asa of Judah and King Omri of Israel, in 1 Kings, chapter 20. However, there were 2 other kings with the same name, so that it clearly referred to the royal palaces or fortresses in Damascus. Once again there is no mention of a restoration for Damascus.

King Shallum (Jer 22:11-22:12)

“Thus says Yahweh

Concerning King Shallum

The son of King Josiah

Of Judah.

He succeeded his father,

King Josiah.

He went away from this place.

He shall never return here.

But in the place

Where they have carried him captive,

There he shall die.

He shall never

See this land again.”

King Shallum or King Jehoahaz (609-609 BCE) was the son of King Josiah (640-609 BCE). At the age of 23 he succeeded his father who had died in battle. As you can see, he lasted less than a year, only 3 months, before he was banished to Egypt by King Necho II of Egypt (610-595 BCE), where he died in prison. His brother King Eliakim or King Jehoiakim (609-598 BCE) succeeded him with the blessings of King Necho II of Egypt. Jeremiah recounts that Yahweh had him succeed his father. Then he was sent away to Egypt from which he never returned. He never saw his homeland again. There is a good deal of historical artifacts about this time, showing the problems of the Egyptians, the Assyrians, and the Babylonians with the king of Judah in the middle.

Oracle about the captivity (Isa 52:3-53:6)

“Thus says Yahweh.

‘You were sold for nothing.

You shall be redeemed without money.’

Thus says Yahweh God.

‘Long ago,

My people went down into Egypt

To reside there as aliens.

The Assyrian also

Has oppressed them without cause.

Now therefore what am I doing here?’

Says Yahweh.

‘Why are my people taken away

Without cause?

Their rulers howl.’

Says Yahweh.

‘Continually,

All day long,

My name is despised.

Therefore my people shall know

My name.

Therefore in that day,

They shall know

That it is I who speak.

Here am I.’”

Second Isaiah has a series of oracles from Yahweh about the captivity. First, there was no money exchange in the capture of the Israelites. Thus there will be no ransom paid either. The Israelites were oppressed as aliens in Egypt a long time ago. Now they are oppressed by the Assyrians without any good cause. Continually all day long, the name of Yahweh is despised. They ought to know the name of Yahweh. They ought to know who is speaking to them. Clearly it is Yahweh.   He is there, as he says “Here am I.”

Yahweh speaks (Isa 28:11-28:13)

“Truly,

With stammering lips,

With an alien tongue,

Yahweh will speak to this people.

He has said to them.

This is rest.

Give rest to the weary.

This is repose.’

Yet they would not hear.

Therefore the word of Yahweh

Will be to them.

‘Precept upon precept,

Precept upon precept.

Line upon line,

Line upon line,

Here a little,

There a little.’

Thus they may go.

They will fall backward.

They will be broken.

They will be snared.

They will be taken.’”

Since they have rejected Isaiah, Yahweh would send other people, the Assyrians, who would speak to the Israelites with stammering tongues in a foreign language. However, it is still the word of Yahweh. The weary were to get some rest, but they could not hear or understand what was going on. Once again we have Yahweh speaking to them via the Isaiah onomatopoeia saying about precepts, lines, and presence. However, the Assyrians would come, as they fell backwards, broken, and taken captive.