A lesson from the other countries (Zeph 3:6-3:7)

“I have cut off nations.

Their battlements

Are in ruins.

I have laid waste

Their streets,

So that no one walks

In them.

Their cities have been made

Desolate,

Without people,

Without inhabitants.

I said.

‘Surely

This city

Will fear me.

She will accept correction.

She will not lose sight

Of all that I have brought

Upon her.

But they were more eager

To make all their deeds

Corrupt.’”

Yahweh, via Zephaniah, warned Jerusalem about what Yahweh had done to other countries.  He had ruined their fortresses and battlement stations.  He had destroyed their streets, so that people could not walk on them.  He had reduced their cities to rubble, so that nobody lived there anymore.  Why didn’t Jerusalem fear him?  Yahweh thought that Jerusalem would take corrections, since she had seen all the things that he had done for them.  However, they were more eager to continue with their corrupt activities, rather than follow Yahweh.

Yahweh will punish the city (Am 6:8-6:8)

“Yahweh God

Has sworn by himself.

Says Yahweh!

The God of hosts!

‘I abhor the pride

Of Jacob!

I hate his strongholds!

I will deliver up

The city

With all that is in it.’”

Yahweh was going to punish the city of Samaria. Yahweh had sworn to himself in this oracle of Yahweh, the God of heavenly hosts. Yahweh said that he abhorred the pride of Jacob, that is Israel. He also hated their fortresses. He was going to deliver up the city of Samaria with everything in it.

The assembly at Samaria (Am 3:9-3:11)

“Proclaim to the strongholds

In Ashdod!

Proclaim to the strongholds

In the land of Egypt!

Say!

‘Assemble yourselves

On Mount Samaria!

See what great tumults

Are within her!

See what oppressions

Are within her midst!’

‘They do not know

How to do right.’

Says Yahweh.

‘They store up violence

In their strongholds.

They store up robbery

In their strongholds.’

Therefore,

Thus says Yahweh God!

‘An adversary

Shall surround the land.

He shall strip you

Of your defense.

Your strongholds

Shall be plundered.’”

Amos wanted the enemies of Samaria, the Philistines and the Egyptians, to gather at Mount Samaria to see what was going on there. There was a great uproar and oppression there. Yahweh said that they did not know how to do what was right. They stored up violence and robbery in their fortresses. Thus, Yahweh said that an adversary was going to surround their land, strip them of their defenses, and plunder their fortresses.

Against Moab (Am 2:1-2:3)

“Thus says Yahweh.

‘For three transgressions

Of Moab,

And for four,

I will not revoke

The punishment.

Because he burned to lime

The bones

Of the king of Edom.

So,

I will send a fire

On Moab.

It shall devour

The strongholds

Of Kerioth.

Moab shall die

Amid uproar,

Amid shouting,

Amid the sound

Of the trumpet.

I will cut off

The ruler

From its midst.

I will kill

All its officials with him.’

Says Yahweh.”

Moab was the ancient enemy of Israel on the southeast side of the Jordan River. According to Genesis, chapter 19, the Moabites 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, Edom, and Ammon. He also used the same non-forgiving numeric formula of 3 and 4, as in Proverbs, chapter 30. The Moabites apparently burned the bones of the king of Edom in lime. Edom was their southern neighbors, so that this was a terrible insulting crime. Thus, Yahweh was going to punish the people of Moab by devouring their fortresses at Kerioth. Moab was going to die in a great tumult, with uproars, shouts, and trumpets. Yahweh would kill their ruler and all their officials. This clearly was an oracle of Yahweh, via Amos.

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.

The soldiers of Babylon stop fighting (Jer 51:30-51:33)

“The warriors of Babylon

Have given up fighting.

They remain

In their strongholds.

Their strength has failed.

They have become women.

Her buildings are on fire.

Her bars are broken.

One runner runs

To meet another.

One messenger runs

To meet another.

They tell

The king of Babylon

That his city is taken

From end to end.

The fords have been seized.

The marshes have been burned

With fire.

The soldiers are in panic.

Thus says Yahweh of hosts,

The God of Israel.

‘Daughter Babylon is

Like a threshing floor

At the time

When it is trodden.

Yet a little while

The time of her harvest

Will come.’”

Yahweh, via Jeremiah, notes that the Babylonian warriors have stopped fighting. They stay in their fortresses. Their strength has left them so that they are like women. Their buildings are on fire. The bars to their gates are broken. Messengers are running to meet other messengers on their way to tell the king that the city is lost from end to end. The fords or the shallow parts of the river areas have been seized, while the wet marshes have been set on fire. All the soldiers are in a state of panic. Thus the God of Israel compares Babylon to a barren threshing floor that is waiting for a harvest that will never come.