The fall of Edom (Jer 49:21-49:22)

“At the sound of their fall,

The earth shall tremble.

The sound of their cry

Shall be heard

At the Red Sea.

Look!

He shall mount up.

He shall swoop down

Like an eagle.

He shall spread his wings

Against Bozrah.

The heart of the warriors

Of Edom,

On that day,

Shall be

Like the heart

Of a woman in labor.”

The fall of the Edomites would be so loud that the earth would tremble like an earthquake. The sounds of the cries from Edom could be heard as far away as the Red Sea in Egypt. As in the preceding chapter about Moab, the king of Babylon would swoop down like a spread eagle upon the major capital city of Bozrah. Then, just like in the preceding chapter again, the Edomite warriors, like the Moabite warriors, would become like women in labor. However, there is no mention of a restoration of Edom, like earlier for Moab and Ammon.

Yahweh had protected them in the past (Isa 10:25-10:27)

“In a very little while,

My indignation

Will come to an end.

My anger will be directed

To their destruction.

Yahweh of hosts

Will wield a whip against them,

As when he smote Midian

At the rock of Oreb.

His staff will be over the sea.

He will lift it

As he did in Egypt.

In that day,

His burden will be removed

From your shoulder.

His yoke will be destroyed

From your neck.’”

Yahweh speaks directly via Isaiah about his love for Israel. His indignation at them will be short lived. In his anger, he will destroy the Assyrians with a whip. He will do this, just as he had helped the Israelites under Gideon against Oreb and the Midian people at the rock of Oreb in Judges, chapters 6-7. Then there is also an allusion to Yahweh’s staff at the parting of the Red Sea when the Israelites escaped from Egypt in Exodus, chapter 14. At that point, the burden on their shoulders and the yoke on their necks will be lifted.

The upside down side of nature (Wis 19:18-19:21)

“The elements changed places with one another.

As on a harp

The notes vary the nature of the rhythm,

While each note remains the same.

This may be clearly inferred

From the sight of what took place.

The land animals were transformed into water creatures.

The creatures that swim moved over to the land.

Fire even in water retained its normal power.

Water forgot its fire-quenching nature.

On the contrary,

Flames failed to consume

The flesh of perishable creatures

That walked among them.

Nor did they melt the crystalline,

Quick melting kind of heavenly food.”

Now we see what happened in the desert on the way to the Promised Land. Nature was turned upside down. Somehow the rhythm of life had changed. Just like notes on a harp, there was a new sound. The land animals became water creatures, while the water creatures moved to the land. What is this author talking about? Probably this is a reference to some cattle that might have crossed the Red Sea. The water frogs, however, were on land. Water did not quench fire as the fire blazed even in water. The use of water and fire at various times on this journey points to their unique powers. Finally the manna from heaven did not melt. Most of this can be found in chapter 16 of this book.

The marvelous Red Sea experience (Wis 19:6-19:9)

“The whole creation

In its nature

Was fashioned anew.

It complies with your commands.

Thus your children might be kept unharmed.

The cloud was seen overshadowing the camp.

Dry land emerged

Where water had stood before.

There was an unhindered way

Out of the Red Sea.

There was a grassy plain

Out of the raging waves.

Those protected by your hand

They passed through as one nation.

After gazing on marvelous wonders.

They ranged like horses.

They leaped like lambs.

They praised you.

O Lord!

You delivered them.”

Creation itself helped the righteous Israelites as they complied with the commands of God to help his children (σοὶ παῖδες). There was a cloud (παρεμβολὴν) over the camp. Dry land emerged from the Red Sea (ἐρυθρᾶς θαλάσσης) as in Exodus, chapter 13. Here there is an explicit mention of the Red Sea as they passed through a grassy plain in the middle of the raging waters. God’s hand (χειρί) protected them as they passed through the Red Sea together like horses and lambs. They praised the Lord (Κύριε) for their deliverance.

The ambiguity of water (Wis 11:5-11:8)

“Through the very things

By which their enemies were punished,

They received benefit in their need.

Instead of the fountain

Of an ever-flowing river

Stirred up with blood,

Defiled with blood,

You gave them abundant water unexpectedly.

Instead of a rebuke for the decree

To kill the infants,

You gave them abundant water unexpectedly.

They showed by their thirst at that time

How you punished their enemies.”

We have here a reflection on the role of water. Just as water punished the Egyptians, it saved the Israelites in the wilderness. Water destroyed the Egyptians as they crossed the Red Sea that was stirred up and defiled with blood. Their infants were killed. However, the Israelites received water (ὕδωρ) unexpectedly. In their thirst, they saw how their enemies had been punished.

Sinners in revolt in the wilderness (Ps 106:13-106:18)

“However they soon forgot his works.

They did not wait for his counsel.

But they had a wanton craving in the wilderness.

They put God to the test in the desert.

He gave them what they asked.

But he sent a wasting disease among them.

They were jealous of Moses in the camp.

They were jealous of Aaron,

The holy one of Yahweh.

The earth opened.

It swallowed up Dathan.

It covered the faction of Abiram.

Fire also broke out in their company.

The flame burned up the wicked.”

This psalmist points out that they soon forgot about Yahweh’s works in Egypt and the Red Sea. They did not wait for his counsel. Instead they had a wanton carving while in the wilderness. They put God to the test. Nevertheless, he gave them what they asked for, food and drink. However, after the revolt against Moses and Aaron, he also sent a disease among them. This story and the one about Dathan and Abiram can be found in Numbers, chapter 16. They were jealous of Moses and Aaron who believed that they were becoming holier than the others. They had a test with censors that favored Moses and Aaron. The punishment for the 250 rebellious men was death. The earth opened up and swallowed Dathan. Then a fire burned the people with Abiram. This ended this unhappy tale of the revolt in the desert.

Sinners in Egypt (Ps 106:6-106:12)

“Both we with our ancestors have sinned.

We have committed iniquity.

We have done wickedly.

Our ancestors,

When they were in Egypt,

Did not consider

Your wonderful works.

They did not remember

The abundance of your steadfast love.

But they rebelled

Against the Most High

At the Red Sea.

Yet Yahweh saved them for his name’s sake.

Thus he would make known his mighty power.

He rebuked the Red Sea.

Then it became dry.

He led them through the deep

As through a desert.

He saved them from the hand of the foe.

He delivered them from the hand of the enemy.

The waters covered their adversaries.

Not one of them was left.

Then they believed his words.

They sang his praise.”

The psalmist associates himself with his ancestors in Egypt who doubted Yahweh with iniquity and wickedness. His ancestors did not realize the wonderful work that Yahweh was doing. They never understood the steadfast love of Yahweh. Thus they rebelled against the Most High God before crossing the Red Sea. However, Yahweh saved them so that they could go forth and proclaim his name. Yahweh made the Red Sea dry. Then they passed through it like it was a desert instead of a sea. They were saved from the hands of their foes and enemies. In fact, their adversaries were covered in water so that no was left. After this the Israelites believed in his words and sang praising his name.