Against the Philistine cities (Zech 9:5-9:7)

“Ashkelon shall see it.

They shall be afraid.

Gaza too,

Shall writhe in anguish.

Ekron also,

Because its hopes are withered.

The king shall perish

From Gaza.

Ashkelon shall be uninhabited.

A mongrel people

Shall dwell in Ashdod.

I will make an end

Of the pride of Philistia.

I will take away

Its blood

From its mouth.

I will take away

Its abominations

From between its teeth.

It too shall be a remnant

For our God.

It shall be

Like a clan in Judah.

Ekron shall be

Like the Jebusites.”

Once again, there is a diatribe against the Philistine cities on the Mediterranean coast.  Only 3 of the 5 cities are mentioned here.  Ashkelon and Gaza would be afraid.  Ekron would have its hope crushed.  There would no longer be a king in Gaza.  No one would live in Ashkelon.  Only a mongrel or mixed race would live in Ashdod.  The pride of the Philistines would be crushed.  Yahweh was going to end their unclean practices of eating their meat with blood in their mouths, since they would follow the Israelite dietary laws.  These Philistines would become a small remnant just like Judah had become.  Ekron would become like the decimated Canaanite Jebusites, who had formerly inhabited Jerusalem, before the time of David.

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Against the Philistine cities (Zeph 2:4-2:4)

“Gaza shall be deserted.

Ashkelon shall become

A desolation.

Ashdod’s people

Shall be driven out

At noon.

Ekron shall be uprooted.”

Like the other prophets, Zephaniah rallied against the neighboring countries of Israel.  He started with the Philistine cities along the Mediterranean coast.  Although there were 5 major cities, Zephaniah did not mention Gath that was probably destroyed in the 8th century BCE.  Here there is a mention of 4 Philistine cities from south to north, the coastal towns of Gaza, Ashkelon, Ashdod, and Ekron, the farthest north and a little inland.  Gaza would be deserted, while Ashkelon would become desolate.  Ashdod had its people driven out at noon.  Nevertheless, all 3 cities still exist today.  Ekron was simply uprooted, something that actually took place around 604 BCE under the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar II.

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.

Against the Philistines (Am 1:6-1:8)

“Thus says Yahweh.

‘For three transgressions

Of Gaza,

And for four,

I will not revoke

The punishment.

Because they carried

Into exile

Entire communities,

To hand them over

To Edom.

So,

I will send a fire

On the wall of Gaza.

It shall devour

Its strongholds.

I will cut off

The inhabitants

From Ashdod.

I will cut off

The one who holds

The scepter

From Ashkelon.

I will turn my hand

Against Ekron.

The remnant

Of the Philistines

Shall perish.’

Says Yahweh

God.”

The Philistines had 5 major cities along the Mediterranean coast, west of Judah. The only city not mentioned here was Gath that had been wiped out by the Syrian King Hazael. Otherwise, Yahweh was going to punish the other 4 cities. Gaza was cited as the worst, since the numbering iniquities were about 3 and 4 things, just like the numerical Proverbs, chapter 30. Yahweh was not going to revoke his punishment against them. They were involved in the slave trade with Edom that sent whole communities into exile. Although fire would come to Gaza, Yahweh reminded them that Ashdod, Ashkelon, and Ekron would also suffer. All the remaining Philistines would perish or die. This was clearly an oracle of Yahweh.