Against Damascus (Jer 49:23-49:27)

“Concerning Damascus.

‘Hamath is confounded.

Arpad is confounded.

They have heard bad news.

They melt in fear.

They are troubled

Like the sea

That cannot be quiet.

Damascus has become feeble.

She turned to flee.

Panic seized her.

Anguish has taken hold of her.

Sorrows have taken hold of her,

As a woman in labor.

How the famous city is forsaken!

The joyful town!

Therefore her young men

Shall fall

In her squares.

All her soldiers

Shall be destroyed,

On that day.’

Says Yahweh of hosts!

‘I will kindle a fire

At the wall of Damascus.

It shall devour

The strongholds of Ben-hadad.’”

Damascus had been under the control of the Assyrians since around 740 BCE, before the fall of the northern Israelites to Assyria in 724 BCE. Now the Babylonians were taking over for the Assyrians. The two other cities mentioned with Damascus, were Hamath and Arpad. Hamath was in upper Syria with Arpad nearly a 100 miles further north. These northern towns were upset and troubled over the news about southern Damascus. They felt like they were on troubled waters and could not be quiet. Damascus itself was weak and in panic. This former joyful town saw people fleeing with panic. Once again they had become weak like women in labor. Their young men were dying in the squares since the soldiers had been killed. The soldiers also died. There was a huge fire that destroyed the walls and royal buildings of Ben-hadad. King Ben-hadad was a 9th century BCE king of Damascus who had some battles with King Asa of Judah and King Omri of Israel, in 1 Kings, chapter 20. However, there were 2 other kings with the same name, so that it clearly referred to the royal palaces or fortresses in Damascus. Once again there is no mention of a restoration for Damascus.

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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.

The defeat of the kings (Ps 48:4-48:8)

“Then the kings assembled.

They came on together.

As soon as they saw it,

They were astounded.

They were in panic.

They took to flight.

Trembling took hold of them there.

They had pains like a woman in labor.

They were like

When the east wind shatters

The ships of Tarshish.

As we have heard,

So have we seen.

In the city of Yahweh of hosts,

In the city of our God,

God is established forever.”

Selah

Many kings assembled to attack Jerusalem. However, they were astonished and fled in panic when they saw the Temple and the palace on Mount Zion. They began to tremble with pain as if they were women in labor. This might be a reference to the defeat of foreign kings attacking Jerusalem. The reference to the ships of Tarshish can be found in 1 Kings, chapter 10, where this fleet, with the silver, gold, ivory, apes, and peacocks, came every 4 years.   Not only did they hear about these things, but they actually saw them in the city of David, the city of Yahweh, the city of God, that was established forever. Then there is the usually musical interlude pause, the Selah.