“‘Why do I see them terrified?
They have fallen back.
Their warriors are beaten down.
They have fled in haste.
They do look not back.
Terror is all around!’
The swift cannot flee away.
The warrior cannot escape.
In the north,
By the Euphrates River,
They have stumbled.
They have fallen.”
How quickly things turn. Jeremiah explains what happens when defeat occurs. These strong warriors were terrified and fell back. They were beaten down and fled in haste, without looking back. Terror was all around them. Yahweh has issued this oracle for Jeremiah. The swift cannot go fast enough to escape. Finally, in the north, by the Euphrates River, they stumbled and fell.
A psalm of Asaph
The nations have come into your inheritance.
They have defiled your holy temple.
They have laid Jerusalem in ruins.
They have given the bodies of your servants
To the birds of the air for food.
The flesh of your faithful has been given
To the wild animals of the earth.
They have poured out their blood like water,
All around Jerusalem.
There was no one to bury them.
We have become a taunt to our neighbors.
We are mocked.
We are derided
By those around us.”
Psalm 79 is another psalm of Asaph. This national lamentation deplores the defeat and ruin of Jerusalem and its Temple, probably at the time of the captivity around 587 BCE. The bodies of the faithful were given over to the birds of the air and the wild animals. Their blood was all around Jerusalem. No one was there to bury them. The Israelites had become a taunt to their neighbors. They were mocked and derided by everybody around them.
“Glorious are you!
You are more majestic
Than the everlasting mountains!
The stouthearted were stripped
Of their spoil.
They sank into sleep.
None of the troops
Were able to life a hand.
At your rebuke!
O God of Jacob!
Both rider and horse lay stunned.”
This great victory is probably a reference to the defeat of the Assyrians under King Sennacherib when he tried to attack Jerusalem under King Hezekiah in 2 Kings, chapter 19. This was the time that the angel of Yahweh struck down 185,000 Assyrians in one night. Obviously this made a big impression upon the Israelites. God was glorious and more majestic than the so-called everlasting mountains. The enemy was stripped of their spoils as they sank into a sleep that they never recovered from. Both riders and horses were unable to do battle. Perhaps, the extremely high number of causalities made it difficult to repeat. Clearly the God of Jacob had brought them victory.