Jeremiah 49


Let me say something more than what I briefly mentioned in the last chapter, in relation to Moab. Ammon and Moab were born as a result of the sexual association with their father, Lot, Genesis 19. The original home of the Ammonites was from an area east of the Jordan, north of the Moabites. The Ammonites lost some of their territory as a result of an invasion from the Amorites, Numbers 21:21-31.

During the days of the Judges, and the reigns of Saul and David, they often fought against the Israelites, 2 Samuel 10. Amos prophesied against Ammon, especially so in Amos 1:13, when he talked about the pregnant women being ripped open. His prophecy opens with the question, ‘Why has Molech taken possession of Gad? Why do its people live in its towns?

The message is, that God will throw Ammon out of the land that they took from the Israelites.

‘Concerning the Ammonites: This is what the LORD says: ‘Has Israel no sons? Has Israel no heir? Why then has Molek taken possession of Gad? Why do his people live in its towns? But the days are coming,’ declares the LORD, ‘when I will sound the battle cry against Rabbah of the Ammonites; it will become a mound of ruins, and its surrounding villages will be set on fire. Then Israel will drive out those who drove her out,’ says the LORD. ‘Wail, Heshbon, for Ai is destroyed! Cry out, you inhabitants of Rabbah! Put on sackcloth and mourn; rush here and there inside the walls, for Molek will go into exile, together with his priests and officials. Why do you boast of your valleys, boast of your valleys so fruitful? Unfaithful Daughter Ammon, you trust in your riches and say, ‘Who will attack me?’ I will bring terror on you from all those around you,’ declares the Lord, the LORD Almighty. ‘Every one of you will be driven away, and no one will gather the fugitives. ‘Yet afterward, I will restore the fortunes of the Ammonites,’ declares the LORD.’ Jeremiah 49:1-6

The Ammonites were land grabbers. They had stolen the land that had been given by God to Gad as a possession. Since Israel had heirs to all the land possessions, then the Ammonites had no right to take the land that had been given to Israel as an inheritance.

When the northern kingdom of Israel was taken into Assyrian captivity in 722/721 B.C., the Ammonites grabbed the land of Gad that was on the eastern side of the Jordan River, land that the Israelites were awarded before they crossed the Jordan to possess the land during the days of Joshua.

The Ammonites trusted in the productivity of their land, and thus took pride in their wealth as a nation. Their fertile valleys and fortified cities were a thing of pride. They thus deceived themselves into thinking that no one would attack them.

Though they thought that they would not be attacked, Rabbah, the capital, and all the daughter cities would be burned with fire. The people would flee in confusion, running to and from within the walls of their fortified cities that were to be destroyed.

Molek, the national god of the Ammonites, would be taken into captivity in the minds of the priests who would go into captivity. There would be no one who would come to the rescue of the Ammonites. No one would make an effort to save her.

Though Heshbon was actually in Moab, Ammon was evidently attacked first, with Ammonite refugees fleeing to her relative city of Heshbon. Genesis 19:37-38.

‘Concerning Edom: This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘Is there no longer wisdom in Teman? Has counsel perished from the prudent? Has their wisdom decayed? Turn and flee, hide in deep caves, you who live in Dedan, for I will bring disaster on Esau at the time when I punish him. If grape pickers came to you, would they not leave a few grapes? If thieves came during the night, would they not steal only as much as they wanted? But I will strip Esau bare; I will uncover his hiding places, so that he cannot conceal himself. His armed men are destroyed, also his allies and neighbours, so there is no one to say, ‘Leave your fatherless children; I will keep them alive. Your widows too can depend on me.’ This is what the LORD says: ‘If those who do not deserve to drink the cup must drink it, why should you go unpunished? You will not go unpunished, but must drink it. I swear by myself,’ declares the LORD, ‘that Bozrah will become a ruin and a curse, an object of horror and reproach; and all its towns will be in ruins forever.’ Jeremiah 49:7-13

Edom was probably the best-protected nation on earth when Jeremiah prophesied against it. It was located on the rocky vastness of Mount Seir. I have never seen it, but I am told that even today it is a truly majestic view. It didn’t seem possible that any nation could conquer it, it was such a good stronghold. But no nation can protect itself against the power of God.

The little book of Obadiah talks about Edom. Obadiah wrote in the 9th century, about 200 years before Jeremiah prophesied, so Jeremiah would have been familiar with what Obadiah had written.

‘Like a lion coming up from Jordan’s thickets,’ Babylon is coming to get you, Edom. They are coming with the strength of a lion.

Some scholars question whether Nebuchadnezzar ever came against the Edomites.

Josephus says, ‘In the fifth year after the destruction of Jerusalem, which was the twenty-third of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, he made an expedition against Celesyria, and when he had possessed himself of it, he made war against the Ammonites and the Moabites, and when he had brought all these nations under subjection, he fell upon Egypt and overthrew it, slew their king, and set up another in his place, and took those Jews that were there (the ones who were led away after the death of Gedaliah) captive.’

Ah, you say, Edom isn’t mentioned by Josephus. That is true, but he also says, ‘he had brought all these nations under subjection’.

‘All these nations’ would have included Edom. The complete fulfilment of the prophecy against Edom wasn’t completed at that time. It may have begun about five years after the fall of Jerusalem, but their destruction continued with Alexander the Great, and that would have been in the 4th century B.C.

Remember that Herod was an Edomite and it was the dynasty of that Herod that:

1. Slaughtered the children.

2. Mocked Jesus.

3. Murdered John the Baptist.

4. Murdered James the apostle.

5. Imprisoned Peter etc.

Coffman says, ‘The Herods precipitated the final and total judgment against Edom in the Jewish war that resulted in their being exterminated by Vespasian and Titus in 70 A.D. following the sack of Jerusalem.’

As the descendants of Esau, the Edomites were the perpetual enemies of the Israelites since the days they came out of Egyptian captivity. The Edomites were not wise because they dared to afflict the people of God.

God warns the Dedanites to flee from the surrounding area of Edom, lest His destruction that He is bringing on Edom affect them. There would also be a warning in this message that the Dedanites not become involved in the affairs of Edom, especially in making an alliance against them.

Since the fathers would be killed in battle, God would take care of their children by raising up a new generation that respected the one true and living God. Bozrah, the capital of Edom would be destroyed, and subsequently, all the cities of Edom would be laid waste and not be rebuilt.

‘I have heard a message from the LORD; an envoy was sent to the nations to say, ‘Assemble yourselves to attack it! Rise up for battle!’ ‘Now I will make you small among the nations, despised by mankind. The terror you inspire, and the pride of your heart have deceived you, you who live in the clefts of the rocks, who occupy the heights of the hill. Though you build your nest as high as the eagle’s, from there I will bring you down,’ declares the LORD. ‘Edom will become an object of horror; all who pass by will be appalled and will scoff because of all its wounds. As Sodom and Gomorrah were overthrown, along with their neighbouring towns,’ says the LORD, ‘so no one will live there; no people will dwell in it. ‘Like a lion coming up from Jordan’s thickets to a rich pastureland, I will chase Edom from its land in an instant. Who is the chosen one I will appoint for this? Who is like me and who can challenge me? And what shepherd can stand against me?’ Therefore, hear what the LORD has planned against Edom, what he has purposed against those who live in Teman: The young of the flock will be dragged away; their pasture will be appalled at their fate. At the sound of their fall the earth will tremble; their cry will resound to the Red Sea. Look! An eagle will soar and swoop down, spreading its wings over Bozrah. In that day the hearts of Edom’s warriors will be like the heart of a woman in labour.’ Jeremiah 49:14-22

See Obadiah 1-4. The Edomites took pride in the fact that they were a fierce people. But they had deceived themselves into thinking that they were invincible. The city of Petra was built in a gorge of mountains and thus was easily defended. It was almost impenetrable.

Though Edom thought that no army could penetrate her natural defences, God would bring her down. Her overconfidence in her natural defences would lead her to be unprepared, and thus vulnerable to destruction.

God makes no promise of a surviving remnant of the Edomites. As an independent nation, she would go out of existence. The nation would be laid waste as Sodom and Gomorrah. Jeremiah’s picture of the fall of Edom is a horrific description of a proud and arrogant nation coming to a close.

The more the nation had exalted herself, the greater the judgment that God would bring down upon the people. The outcry of the inhabitants would be so great that it would be heard as far west as the Red Sea, her border with Egypt. Her mighty warriors would cry out in pain like a woman giving birth.

‘Concerning Damascus: ‘Hamath and Arpad are dismayed, for they have heard bad news. They are disheartened, troubled like the restless sea. Damascus has become feeble, she has turned to flee, and panic has gripped her; anguish and pain have seized her, pain like that of a woman in labour. Why has the city of renown not been abandoned, the town in which I delight? Surely, her young men will fall in the streets; all her soldiers will be silenced in that day,’ declares the LORD Almighty. ‘I will set fire to the walls of Damascus; it will consume the fortresses of Ben-Hadad.’ Jeremiah 49:23-27

There is nothing in this prophecy that says that Damascus will be laid waste, or without any inhabitants. Even today Damascus is a throbbing city. It has a population of thousands. This is marvellous evidence that these are the words of God and not the words of men. Ah, you might say, Damascus was on a river, true, but so were Nineveh and Babylon.

The capital city of Damascus is used by Jeremiah to refer to the nation of Syria. These were the Armenian people. Syria fell to the Assyrian invasion in 732 B.C. Before this date, the nation was a continual threat against the people of God, 1 Kings 15:18-21 / 1 Kings 20:1-21 / 1 Kings 22:3 / 2 Kings 16:5-6 / Isaiah 7:1-16.

Damascus was a famous city of the Near East, but unfortunately, it was located as the northern gateway for the Assyrian, Babylonian and Medo-Persian empires as they moved to control the Fertile Crescent, Palestine and Egypt.

The message here announces the fall of her young men who have died in her streets. She was made to drink from the cup of God’s wrath. Ben-Hadad was the name of several of her kings, 1 Kings 15:18-20 / 2 Kings 13:24.

‘Concerning Kedar and the kingdoms of Hazor, which Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon attacked: This is what the LORD says: ‘Arise, and attack Kedar and destroy the people of the East. Their tents and their flocks will be taken; their shelters will be carried off with all their goods and camels. People will shout to them, ‘Terror on every side!’ ‘Flee quickly away! Stay in deep caves, you who live in Hazor,’ declares the LORD. ‘Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon has plotted against you; he has devised a plan against you. ‘Arise and attack a nation at ease, which lives in confidence,’ declares the LORD, ‘a nation that has neither gates nor bars; its people live far from danger. Their camels will become plunder, and their large herds will be spoils of war. I will scatter to the winds those who are in distant places and will bring disaster on them from every side,’ declares the LORD. ‘Hazor will become a haunt of jackals, a desolate place forever. No one will live there; no people will dwell in it.’ Jeremiah 49:28-33

Little is known about Kedar and Hazor. It talks about their tents, camels, flocks, so presumably, they lived in the desert. This prophecy is believed to have taken place about 599 B.C. when the king of Babylon sent out various companies to scour the desert. They also took much plunder from them, as verse 29 says will happen they took their possessions, their animals and their gods.

These two cities probably represent the Arabian tribes to the east of Palestine and Edom, Genesis 25:13 / Isaiah 21:16-17 / Ezekiel 27:21. The one who would destroy and control this area would be Nebuchadnezzar who would be expanding the Babylonian Empire.

Since the people of these areas were primarily nomadic, the cities that they had constructed were not fortified against invasions. They were thus easily defeated, and the people scattered.

In this message of judgment, it is stated that Nebuchadnezzar plundered their herds and flocks in order to maintain his army in his continued conquest of the Near East.

Instead of representing a specific city or town, this reference to Hazor is possibly to a seminomadic people of wealth in the desert. Their wealth was in their herds and flocks, and thus their devastation was the plundering of their herds and flocks by the Babylonian army.

‘This is the word of the LORD that came to Jeremiah the prophet concerning Elam, early in the reign of Zedekiah king of Judah: This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘See, I will break the bow of Elam, the mainstay of their might. I will bring against Elam the four winds from the four quarters of heaven; I will scatter them to the four winds, and there will not be a nation where Elam’s exiles do not go. I will shatter Elam before their foes, before those who want to kill them; I will bring disaster on them, even my fierce anger,’ declares the LORD. ‘I will pursue them with the sword until I have made an end of them. I will set my throne in Elam and destroy her king and officials,’ declares the LORD. ‘Yet I will restore the fortunes of Elam in days to come,’ declares the LORD.’ Jeremiah 49:34-39

Elam was an old kingdom that was mentioned way back in Genesis, Genesis 14:1. It was believed to be about 200 miles east of Babylon. Verse 34 tells us that this prophecy was made in the early years of Zedekiah the king, which would be around 598 B.C.

Some scholars believe that at the time of this prophecy the Elamites were threatening Babylon, and the Jews were hoping that the Elamites would overthrow the Babylonians. There is no way of knowing, but, if it were true, this prophecy could have been made to show that there was no power, at that time, that could overthrow the Babylonians.

‘I will set my throne in Elam.’ This would have happened when Nebuchadnezzar set up his throne in Media, which Elam is a part of. Look at Jeremiah 43:10 for an example of how Nebuchadnezzar set up his throne in a country that he had conquered. Here is a similar thing to what happened then.

Go To Jeremiah 50



"But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed."