John T. Willis

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Oracles concerning Moab, Ammon, Edom, Syria, Hazor, and Elam--Jeremiah 48-49

There are six oracles concerning foreign nations in Jeremiah 48-49, which are part of the oracles concerning foreign nations in Jeremiah 46-51. Each oracle is very much like oracles concerning Judah and Israel. Each is primarily a doom oracle, but contains some hope affirmations. These oracles contain familiar figures and metaphors about punishment and destruction, just as we have already discussed concerning Judah and Israel.

I. Oracle concerning Moab. Jeremiah 48:1-47.
a. Yahweh declares that he is about to punish Moab. Specifically he names the sites of Nebo, Kiriathaim, Heshbon, and Horonaim. Yahweh cries out to Moab: "Desolation and great destruction." The people of Moab will weep bitterly and be in distress with a cry of anguish. 48:1-6.
b. Moab had trusted in her strongholds and treasures, but this is of no avail. Moab trusted in her god Chemosh, but Chemosh with his priests and attendants can do nothing. 48:7-10.
c. Moab had been at ease, "settled like wine on its dregs" (a figure of naive security--cf. Zephaniah 1:12). Moab will be ashamed of her god Chemosh just as Israel was ashamed of her god Bethel her confidence. 48:11-13.
d. The true KING Yahweh will overthrow Moab, who assumed she was mighty and glorious. Yahweh will sweep through the land of Moab and destroy Dibon, Aroer, and the Arnon River. "The horn of Moab is cut off and his arm is broken." Moab magnified herself against Yahweh, and Yahweh will make her drunk and make her a laughingstock. 48:14-27.
e. Moab has been arrogant, haughty, proud, insolent. Now Yahweh will overpower Moab and wails and cry out and mourns and weeps over the destroyed Moab. Yahweh will change joy into mourning for Moab. The Moabites offer sacrifice at the high place and make offerings to their gods, but this is all in vain. Yahweh will prevail. 48:28-36.
f. As symbols of mourning and defeat and perhaps repentance, the Moabites shave their head and their beards, gash their hands, and put sackcloth on their loins. These symbols appear in Micah 1:8-9, 16. Yahweh will swoop down on Moab like an eagle, and the Moabites will be like the heart of a woman in labor. This figure is common throughout the book of Jeremiah--see 4:30-31; 6:24; 13:21; 22:23; 30:6; Micah 4:9-10; 5:3. 48:37-46.
g. But, as a God of mercy and grace and steadfast love, Yahweh declares that after he punishes Moab, he will "restore the fortunes of Moab." This will happen "in the latter days." The term "in the latter days" means the distant future. This does not mean the end of the world or the second coming of Jesus Christ. 48:47.

II. Oracle concerning Ammon. Jeremiah 49:1-6.
a. Yahweh declares that he is about to punish Ammon because Ammon invaded Israel and dispossessed Israel's resources. The text specifically names Rabbah, Heshbon, and Ai. Yahweh will overthrow the god of the Ammonites--Milcom or Molech. 49:1-5.
b. After Yahweh punishes Ammon, he will "restore the fortunes of Ammon," because he is a God of grace and mercy. 49:6.

III. Oracle concerning Edom. Jeremiah 49:7-22.
a. Much of this oracle appears in the Book of Obadiah. One should compare these two texts.
b. Yahweh is about to punish Edom because of her pride. This text specifically names the sites of Teman, Dedan, and Bozrah. The composer uses the figure of drinking the wine of Yahweh's wrath as in 48:26 concerning Moab. Yahweh says that Edom made her nest as high as the eagle's, but Yahweh will bring her down to the ground. 49:7-16.
c. Yahweh declares that Edom will be like Sodom and Gomorrah in the days of Abraham. Yahweh will attack Edom like a lion attacks a prey. Yahweh will swoop down on Edom like an eagle. The heart of Edom will be like the heart of a woman in labor, the same figure as in 48:41. 49:17-22.

IV. Oracle concerning Syria. Jeremiah 49:23-27.
Yahweh declares he will destroy Syria, naming specifically Hamath, Arpad, and Damascus. Syria will be "like a woman in labor," the same figure as in 48:41; 49:22

V. Oracle concerning Hazor and Kedar. Jeremiah 49:28-33.
Yahweh through Nebuchadrezzar overthrows Kedar and Hazor. "Terror is all around." The Hebrew term is "Magor-missabib," which appears also in 6:25; 20:5-6, 11; 46:5.

VI. Oracle concerning Elam. Jeremiah 49:34-39.
a. This oracle dates from the time of the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah, thus approximately 598-594 BCE. Yahweh will destroy Edom. 49:34-38.
b. After destroying Elam, Yahweh announces that he will "restore the fortunes of Elam" "in the latter days." 49:39.

Yahweh message is very consistent. When people and nations sin against Yahweh, Yahweh will punish them eventually. But, as a God of steadfast love and mercy, he will redeem a penitent remnant.

Share YOUR insights with others. Let me hear from YOU.

As a sidelight, I will be gone in Thailand for ten days.

John Willis


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