The Israelites will possess the neighboring lands (Ob 1:19-1:21)

“Those of the Negeb

Shall possess

Mount Esau.

Those of the Shephelah,

The land of the Philistines,

Shall possess

The land of Ephraim

With the land of Samaria.

Benjamin

Shall possess Gilead.

The exiles

Of the Israelites

Who are in Halah,

Shall possess

Phoenicia

As far as Zarephath.

The exiles of Jerusalem

Who are in Sepharad

Shall possess

The towns

Of the Negeb.

Those who have been saved

Shall go up

To Mount Zion

To rule Mount Esau.

The kingdom

Shall be Yahweh’s.”

This short chapter and book ends and a new larger Israel, as their long standing enemy neighbors will no longer exist.  Israel shall rule them.  The area of the Negeb was the arid southern land that would change from the land of Edom or Mount Esau into Israel.  Israel was going to possess the Shephelah, the western area along the Mediterranean coast where the Philistines lived.  They were also going to have the land of Samaria and the territory of Ephraim, north of Judah.  The territory of Benjamin would include land on the east side of the Jordan River, the Gilead.  The exiled Israelites in Halah in the upper Mesopotamia region and those in the Phoenician town of Zarephath, as well as the exiles in Asia Minor in Shephard would all return to live in the arid southern Negeb region.  All the saved Israelites would return to Mount Zion, as Mount Esau and all of Edom would go away and be under the Israelites.

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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.

Elijah (Sir 48:1-48:3)

“Then Elijah arose.

He was a prophet,

Like a fire.

His word burned

Like a torch.

He brought a famine

Upon them.

By his zeal

He made them

Few in number.

By the word of the Lord

He shut up the heavens.

Three times also

He brought down fire.”

Sirach seems to be relying on the Elijah cycle of stories from 1 Kings, chapters 17-18. This 9th century BCE northern prophet, Elijah, from the east side of the Jordan River in the town of Tishbe, the Gilead, went to the king of Northern Israel, King Ahab (874-853 BCE). Elijah was like a fire as his words were like a flaming torch. He foretold the famine that reduced the number of people in Israel. He foretold this famine, not brought as Sirach said. Elijah was able to control the heavens with his prayers, so that he could bring an end to this drought. He also had a faceoff with the 450 Baal priests or Jezebel’s prophets when he confronted the practices of King Ahab and his wife. Elijah then had Yahweh send down fire on his wet wood. Although the original story did not mention how many times the fire came down, Sirach mentions that it was 3 times.