Jeremiah 47-49

Jeremiah 47-49
Jeremiah 47:1 The word of the Lord… against the Philistines, before that Pharaoh smote Gaza
The Philistines had been the enemies of the Jews since before David slew the most famous of all Philistines—Goliath.  Chapter 47 is a pronouncement of the judgments of God against the Philistine cities of the coast.  First on the list is Gaza.  We are familiar with “the Gaza Strip”—a rectangle area on the Mediterranean south and west of Jerusalem.
gaza map.jpg
But for purposes of chapter 47, we should consider Gaza as a city not a strip of land. In 601 BC, Nebuchadnezzar made an expedition against Egypt.  His forces successfully pushed the Egyptians back to the borders of their territory before they were pushed back. 
“[After the battle at Carchemish], Necho was unable to recover any significant part of his lost territories.  For example, when Ashkalon rose in revolt, despite repeated pleas the Egyptians sent no help, and were barely able to repel a Babylonian attack on their eastern border in 601 BC.  When he did repel the Babylonian attack, Necho managed to capture Gaza while pursuing the enemy.” (Wikipedia, “Necho II”)
Jeremiah 47:2 Behold waters rise up out of the north…
Although Pharaoh Necho II captured the city of Gaza after he repelled the Babylonian onslaught, the judgment pronounced is not to come at the hand of the Egyptians; it is to come out of the north, as the “waters rise up out of the north,” which must mean Babylon.  Egypt may have taken Gaza, but the destruction mentioned is to come at the hand of Nebuchadnezzar.
Tyre_and_Sidon map.jpg
Jeremiah 47:4 to spoil all the Philistines, and to cut off from Tyrus and Zidon every helper that remaineth
The land of Palestine in that day extended all the way north to Tyre and Sidon—see map. The cities mentioned for destruction include Gaza, Tyrus, Zidon, the country of Caphtor, and Ashkelon.  They all belong to the Philistines.  They are all along the coast. They all are subjected by Nebuchadnezzar. “Traditional Hebrew sources place Caphtor in the region of Pelusium.” (  Josephus wrote, “So the king of Babylon passed over Euphrates, and took all Syria as far as Pelusium, excepting Judea.” (Antiquities of the Jews, Book X, 6:1)
Some scholars place Pelusium at the eastern edge of the Nile delta which would make sense if the coastal cities were Nebuchadnezzar’s path.  Josephus is describing conquests that occurred before Jerusalem was destroyed in 587 BC.  Whether or not these are the destructions referenced by Jeremiah, is debatable.  Ezekiel also prophesied of destruction to Palestine, including Tyre and Sidon (Ezek. 25:15-17; 26-28).  While neither Jeremiah nor Ezekiel identifies the conqueror as Nebuchadnezzar, that conclusion makes the most sense given the available historical evidence.
Jeremiah 47:6 O thou sword of the Lord, how long will it be ere thou be quiet?
Gaza and Ashkelon continue to be plagued with violence.  It would seem that even today, the sword of the Lord is not still.
“The Gaza Strip has been separated from Israel by the Israel-Gaza barrier since 1996, which has helped to reduce infiltration into Israel…
The Second Intifada, also known as the al-Aqsa Intifada, began in September 2000. Many Palestinians consider the Infitada to be a struggle of national liberation against Israeli occupation imposed on them following the 1967 War, whereas many Israelis consider it to be a terrorist campaign… The death toll, both military and civilian, over the entire period in question (2000-2007) is estimated to be over 4,300 Palestinians and over 1,000 Israelis…
"The Gaza War started when Israel launched a large military campaign in the Gaza Strip on 27 December, 2008, codenamed Operation ‘Cast Lead’, with the stated aim of stopping Hamas rocket attacks on southern Israel and arms smuggling into Gaza.  The conflict has also been called the Gaza massacre in the Arab world.  A fragile six-month truce between Hamas and Israel expired on 19 December 2008.  The Israeli operation began with an intense bombardment of the Gaza Strip, targeting Hamas bases, police training camps, police headquarters, and offices.  Civilian infrastructure, including mosques, houses medical facilities and schools, were also attacked as Israel stated that many of them were used by combatants, and as storage spaces for weapons and rockets.  Hamas intensified its rocket and mortar attacks against targets in Israel throughout the conflict hitting previously untargeted cities such as Beersheba and Ashdod. On 3 January 2009, the Israeli ground invasion began.  Human rights groups and aid organizations have accused Hamas and Israel of war crimes.  An estimated 1,166-1417 Palestinians and 13 Israelis died in the conflict.  The conflict came to an end on 18 January after first Israel and then Hamas announced unilateral ceasefires." (
“Tuesday 20 November 2012
“In the Israeli seaside city of Ashkelon, nine miles north of Gaza, empty buses trundle past deserted playgrounds.  Beachfront cafes and restaurants are shuttered.  The marina is full of boats, but none are manned.
“The roads are clear, and car parks empty. All schools and kindergartens in the city have been closed for a week.  Israeli gunboats are visible out at sea.  Assaf Sade… views the war on his doorstep with weary resignation imbued with cynicism.  ‘We’re used to this. We’re just waiting for the end of this round. They’ll find a way to stop the violence, but then it will come again.  History tells us we’re stuck in an endless cycle.’
“More than 1,200 rockets have been fired from Gaza since Operation Pillar of Defense began last Wednesday.  In Ashkelon, sirens are activated day or night when a missile is detected heading for the city.” (
It would seem that the tone in Gaza and Ashkelon are perfectly captured by Jeremiah’s mournful question:
   O thou sword of the Lord, how long will it be ere thou be quiet? Put up thyself into thy scabbard, rest, and be still.
   How can it be quiet, seeing the Lord hath given it a charge against Ashkelon, and against the sea shore?  There hath he appointed it. (Jer. 47:6-7)
Jeremiah 48:1 Against Moab thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel
The Moabites were long time enemies of the Jews. Remember the story of Balaam and Balak, how Balak asked the prophet Balaam to curse the Israelites for him?  Well, Balak was from Moab (Numb. 22-24).  He was concerned with the military strength of the Israelite refugees.  The Moabites refused food or drink for the Israelites when they travelled through their lands (Deut. 23:1-4).  The tensions never really disappeared in subsequent years, as skirmishes between Israel and Moab dot the timeline of Jewish history.  At one point, the Jews were subjected to Moab, “So the children of Israel served Eglon the king of Moab eighteen years” (Judges 3:14).
In Genesis, the Jewish scribes make sure to remind the reader that Moab was the illegitimate son of Lot and his daughter, when Lot’s daughters got their father drunk and then slept with him so that they could have posterity (Gen. 19:37). What’s the point of the story?  The point is to say, “the Moabites are the product of an incestuous relationship unworthy of the Israelites whose lineage is both pure and favored by God.”    The Jews were quick to judge other nations and would have agreed with any pronouncements against the inhabitants of Moab.  Unfortunately, in Jeremiah’s day, God’s punishments were just as harsh on Jerusalem.
Jeremiah 48:2-9  Pronouncement against the cities of Moab
The land of Moab lay east of the Dead Sea.  The names of these cities are foreign to us.  “Woe unto Nebo!... Kiriathaim is confounded… Misgab is confounded… in Heshbon… from Horonaim… in Luhith ‘continual weeping.’”  Jeremiah declares, “the spoiler (probably Nebuchadnezzar) shall come upon every city, and no city shall escape… the cities thereof shall be desolate.”
Ancient Israel Map.jpg
The list of Moabite cities is extensive in chapter 48:  Nebo, Kiriathaim, Misgab, Heshbon, Horonaim, Luhith, Dibon, Aroer, Arnon, Holon, Jahazah, Mephaath, Beth-diblathaim, Beth-gamul, Beth-meon, Kerioth, Bozrah, Sibmah, Elealeh, Jahaz, Zoar, Kir-Heres, Sion, Chemosh.
Jeremiah 48:13 Moab shall be ashamed of Chemosh
Chemosh was both a town and the name of one of the predominant Moabite gods.  A sun god and a war god, it was the idol in which Moab relied for success.  The corollary for the Jews was the town of Bethel.  Beth-el means literally, “house of God”:
“Bethel… [was] one of the most sacred spots in Israel.  Here Abraham built his altar on his first arrival in Canaan (Gen. 12:8; 13:3); here Jacob had his dream, set up a pillar, and gave the place its name (28:19). It was a sanctuary in the days of Samuel (1 Sam. 7:16; 10:3).” (Bible Dictionary, “Bethel”)
Bethel and the neighboring town of Shiloh, which held the ark of the covenant after the Israelites settled in Canaan, were destroyed because the Israelites weren’t faithful (the record of this is so embarrassing to the Jews that they never really give a good history of the event.  It may have occurred in the days of Eli and Samuel, 1 Sam. 4:3-4).  Jeremiah reminded the Jews, “go ye now unto my place which was in Shiloh, where I set my name at the first, and see what I did to it for the wickedness of my people Israel.” (Jer. 7:12)
Bethel represented the home of God and the God who would deliver Israel, but it had been destroyed.  Chemosh represented the Moabite God but Chemosh the god would no longer deliver Moab, and Chemosh the city would be destroyed like Bethel.
Jeremiah 48:25 the horn of Moab is cut off, and his arm is broken
In Daniel’s prophetic imagery, the horn usually refers to a king (Dan. 8:20).  We can see how the arm could refer to the strength of the nation or the army.  So if “the horn of Moab is cut off,” it means the king is deposed.  If Moab’s “arm is broken,” it means the army has lost its strength.
Jeremiah 48:29-36  Isaiah Parallels Jeremiah regarding Moab
Isaiah chapter 16 is similar to Jeremiah 48.  Both prophets prophesy of the destruction of Moab.  The ideas, and even the wording, are very similar.
Isaiah 16
Jeremiah 48
Moabites caused to wander
“as a wandering bird cast out of the nest, so the daughters of Moab shall be” (Isa. 16:2)
“I will send unto him wanderers, that shall cause him to wander” (Jer. 48:12)
“We have heard of the pride of Moab; he is very proud” (Isa. 16:6)
“We have heard the pride of Moab, (he is exceeding proud)” (Jer. 48:29)
Howling and Mourning
“Therefore shall Moab howl for Moab, every one shall howl” (Isa 16:8)
“Therefore will I howl for Moab, and I will cry out for all Moab” (Jer. 48:31)
The vine of Sibmah fails
“For the fields of Heshbon languish, and the vine of Sibmah… I will bewail with the weeping of Jazer the vine of Sibmah” (Isa. 16:8-9)
“O vine of Sibmah, I will weep for thee with the weeping of Jazer” (Jer. 48:32)
Harvest fails
“for the shouting for thy summer fruits and for thy harvest is fallen” (Isa. 16:9)
“the spoiler is fallen upon thy summer fruits and upon thy vintage” (Jer. 48:32)
Musical sounds mark mourning for lost riches
“Wherefore my bowels shall sound like an harp for Moab, and mine inward parts for Kir-haresh” (Isa. 16:11)
“Therefore mine heart shall sound for Moab like pipes, and mine heart shall sound like pipes for the men of Kir-heres” (Jer. 48:36)
3-year limit
“Within three years, as the years of an hireling, and the glory of Moab shall be contemned” (Isa. 16:14)
“From the cry of Heshbon… have they uttered their voice… as an heifer of three years old” (Jer 48:34)
Jeremiah 48:42  Moab shall be destroyed from being a people, because he hath magnified himself against the Lord
What was the sin of Moab?  What was the cause of their great destruction?  Pride goeth before the fall, but that was not all.
  • Because thou hast trusted in thy works and in thy treasures (still a problem today?)—v. 7
  • Moab hath been at ease from his youth, i.e. laziness and apathy—v. 11
  • Pride, loftiness, arrogancy, haughtiness—v. 29
  • Idolatry—v. 35
  • Moab magnified himself against the Lord—v. 42
Jeremiah 49:1 Concerning the Ammonites
Like the Moabites, the Ammonites were longtime enemies of Israel.  They too were descendants of Lot’s daughters, who by tradition had seduced their drunken father in order to get pregnant (Gen. 19:30-38).  For the ethnocentric Jews, this meant that the entire race of Ammonites were inferior products of an incestuous ancestry.
In the days of the Judges, a deliverer named Jephthah defended Israel against the Ammonites who were upset about the loss of their lands, “Because Israel took away my land, when they came up out of Egypt, from Arnon even unto Jabbok, and unto Jordan: now therefore restore those lands again peaceably” (Judges 11:13).  Through Jeremiah, the Lord’s response is, “Israel will inhabit your cities.”  “Israel has sons and an heir to inhabit the lands of Ammon and dwell in her cities.”
Jeremiah 49:2-6 Rabbah… shall be a desolate heap… afterward I will bring again the captivity of the children of Ammon
The key city of the Ammonites is to be destroyed, the king of the city of Ai and his princes are taken captive, the people are taken with fear, and scattered by the enemy.  Sound familiar?  Isn’t that what happened to the Jews? But “afterward I will I bring again the captivity of the children of Ammon.”  The destruction, scattering, and gathering of Ammon are exactly what happens to the Jews.  The pattern is surprisingly repeated for Israel’s neighbors.  Not of the covenant, but the plan is the same: destruction, scattering, and gathering.  Again, presumably this is coming at the hands of Nebuchadnezzar.  The land of the Ammonites was subjected by the Babylonians first and the Persians second.
Consider the non-Israelite nations that are scattered and gathered.  It is really remarkable:  Moab (Jer. 48:47), Ammon, and Elam (Jer. 49:36-39).  The Lord’s pattern is the same with these peoples.  They are a type for the children of Israel, nations whom the Lord will not completely destroy.  Remnants shall be preserved, and redemptive gathering cometh in the end.
Jeremiah 49:7 Concerning Edom
Isaac’s two sons were Jacob and Esau.  The Edomites are Esau’s descendents. Though Esau squandered his birthright (Gen. 25:31-34) and lost his blessing (Gen. 27), his descendents are still entitled to the blessings of the Abrahamic covenant.  One would hope that the kinship with the House of Israel would earn the Edomites special blessings or at least encourage a less violent relationship.  The Bible Dictionary states, “In spite of the kinship there seems to have been great mutual hatred, and wars were of constant occurrence (Num. 20:14 ff.; 21:4; Judg. 11:17; 1 Sam. 14:47; 2 Sam. 8:13-14; Jer. 27:3; 49:7-22)”
Obadiah and Ezekiel give the reasons for the destruction of Edom:
  • For thy violence against thy brother Jacob shame shall cover thee (Obad. 1:10)
  • Because thou hast a perpetual hatred, and hast shed the blood of the children of Israel (Ezek. 35:5)
  • Thou shouldest not have… rejoiced over the children of Judah in the day of their destruction (Obad. 1:12)
  • Because thou hast said, These two nations and these two countries shall be mine (Ezek. 35:10)
  • Thou shouldest not have entered into the gate of my people… nor have laid hands on their substance in the day of their calamity (Obad. 1:13)
  • Thus with your mouth ye have boasted against me (Ezek. 35:13)
  • Neither shouldest thou have stood in the crossway, to cut off those of his that did escape (Obad. 1:14)
Jeremiah 49:7-22 Destruction of Edom prophesied by Obadiah
A section of Jeremiah 48 seems to parallel the prophecy of Isaiah regarding Moab (see Jeremiah 48:29-36).  In places the prophecy is similar enough to prompt speculation whether Jeremiah received it anew or copied Isaiah’s.  We find a similar pattern in the prophecy against Edom.  In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established, so Jeremiah can’t be the only prophet who prophesied against Edom.  Obadiah probably lived before Jeremiah’s day so again, the prophecies of Obadiah may have been available to him as were the prophecies of Isaiah.  Still, it would seem that Jeremiah is receiving a distinct and complimentary revelation.  
Obadiah 1
Jeremiah 49
An ambassador calls for a battle
An ambassador is sent among the heathen (1:1)
An ambassador is sent unto the heathen (49:14)
Small and despised
I have made thee small among the heathen: thou art greatly despised (1:2)
I will make thee small among the heathen, and despised among men (49:15)
Dwells in the rocks
Thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock, whose habitation is high (1:3)
O thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock, that holdest the height of the hill (49:16)
The Lord will humble
Thence will I bring thee down, saith the Lord (1:4)
I will bring thee down from thence, saith the Lord (49:16)
Thieves and grapegatherers
If thieves came to thee… if the grapegatherers came to thee, would they not leave some grapes? (1:5)
If grapegatherers come to thee… if thieves by night (49:9)
Secrets revealed
How are his hidden things sought up (1:6)
I have made Esau bare, I have uncovered his secret places (49:10)
No wisdom nor understanding
Shall I not… destroy the wise men out of Edom (1:8)
Is counsel perished from the prudent? is their wisdom vanished? (49:7)
Jeremiah 49:9 If grape gatherers come to thee, would they not leave some gleaning?
At the time of harvest, the workers leave some of the grape on the vine or some of the fruit on the tree.  But Edom will be stripped completely bare so there is not even one grape left.
Jeremiah 49:11 Leave thy fatherless children… and let thy widows trust in me
Orphans and widows are always the responsibility of the priesthood.  The Lord tells the orphans and widows to trust in God because Edom will be so weak that it will not be able to take care of them—a sign of embarrassing weakness.
Jeremiah 49:14 Gather ye together, and come against her and rise up to the battle
Obadiah helps us to understand that the destroyer of Edom comes from the south (Egypt or tribes from Arabia) not the north (which usually means Babylon)
   And the house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau for stubble, and they shall kindle in them and devour them; and there shall not be any remaining of the house of Esau for the Lord hath spoken it.
   And they of the south shall possess the mount of Esau…
   And saviours shall come up on mount Zion to judge the mount of Esau; and the kingdom shall be the Lord’s. (Obad. 1:18-21)
Jeremiah 49:16 O thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock
The single most famous archeological site in all of Jordan is the site of Petra. It’s location is the southern end of the land of Edom in modern day Jordan.
“Petra (Arabic: البتراء, Al-Batrāʾ; Ancient Greek: Πέτρα) is a historical and archaeological city in the southern Jordanian governorate of Ma'an that is famous for its rock-cut architecture and water conduit system. Another name for Petra is the Rose City due to the color of the stone out of which it is carved.
“Established possibly as early as 312 BC as the capital city of the Nabataeans, it is a symbol of Jordan, as well as Jordan's most-visited tourist attraction.  It lies on the slope of Jebel al-Madhbah (identified by some as the biblical Mount Hor) in a basin among the mountains which form the eastern flank of Arabah (Wadi Araba), the large valley running from the Dead Sea to the Gulf of Aqaba. Petra has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1985.” (
Jeremiah 49:17-18 Edom shall be a desolation… no man shall abide there
The land of Edom was south of Moab on the southeast of the Dead Sea.  Probably not the most fertile of lands back then, it is deserted and despised today. The archeological site of Petra and the crusades-era castle in Kerak (Karak) are the only attractions.
Jeremiah 49:23 Concerning Damascus. Hamath is confounded, and Arpad
Damascus is one of the few ancient cities that has survived to this day.  It is the second largest city and the capital of Syria.
“It was conquered by Tiglath-pileser and its inhabitants carried captive about 733 B.C. (2 Kgs. 16:9; Isa. 8:4; 17:1-3; Jer. 49:23-27; Amos 1:3-5). It was rebuilt and became an important place during the Persian supremacy.  Later on it was conquered b the Greeks and afterwards by the Romans.  In N.T. times it was connected with the history of Paul (Acts 9:1-27; 22:5-16; 26:12, 20; Gal. 1:17; 2 Cor. 11:32).” (Bible Dictionary)
Jeremiah 49:24-27  all the men of war shall be cut off in that day… and I will kindle a fire in the wall of Damascus
A seemingly obscure prophecy of destruction for Damascus tucked away in the end of the book of Jeremiah, but just as we have seen with the other prophecies of these chapters, Jeremiah’s voice was not the only one.  Isaiah 16 mirrors Jeremiah 48.  Obadiah 1 corresponds to Jeremiah 49:7-16. The destructions of God are foretold by more than one prophet, that by the mouth of two or three witnesses, every word may be established.  So we find that Amos starts his record with some bad news for Damascus:
   Thus saith the Lord; For three transgressions of Damascus, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they have threshed Gilead with threshing instruments of iron:
   But I will send a fire into the house of Hazael, which shall devour the palaces of Beh-hadad. (Amos 1:3-4)
Jeremiah 49:27 it shall consume the palaces of Ben-hadad
“BEN-HADAD (son of Hadad), the name of three kings of Damascus. BENHADAD I., King of Damascus, which in his time was supreme in Syria. He made an alliance with Asa, and conquered a great part of the north of Israel. (1 Kings 15:18) His date is B.C. 950. BEN-HADAD II., son of the preceding, and also king of Damascus. Long wars with Israel characterized his reign. Some time after the death of Ahab, Benhadad renewed the war with Israel, attacked Samaria a second time, and pressed the siege so closely that there was a terrible famine in the city. But the Syrians broke up in the night in consequence of a sudden panic. Soon after Ben-hadad fell sick, and sent Hazael to consult Elisha as to the issue of his malady. On the day after Hazael's return Ben-hadad was murdered, probably by some of his own servants. (2 Kings 8:7-15) Ben-hadad's death was about B.C. 890, and he must have reigned some 30 years. BEN-HADAD III., son of Hazael, and his successor on the throne of Syria. When he succeeded to the throne, Jehoash recovered the cities which Jehoahaz had lost to the Syrians, and beat him in Aphek. (2 Kings 13:17,25) The date of Ben-hadad III is B.C. 840.” (
Jeremiah 49:28 Concerning Kedar… Arise ye, go up to Kedar and spoil the men of the east
“The descendants of Abraham and Hagar are called Ishmaelites, after Ishmael, their firstborn, and the Qedarites are named for his second son, Qedar. The Bible refers to both the Qedarites and Qedar frequently. Old Testament references include Genesis (25:13), Isaiah (21:16-17, 42:11, 60:7), Jeremiah (2:10, 49:28-33), Ezekiel (27:21), and Chronicles (1:29). Twice, Qedar is used to refer to the actual son of Ishmael, as in the books of Genesis and Chronicles, while remaining references are to his descendants, referring either to his most prominent North Arabian sons, or to the Arabs and Bedouins as a more general collective. The ‘tents of Kedar’ equated with ‘the peace-hating Meshech’ mentioned in the Book of Psalms (120:5) were likely a Qedarite sub-group…
“Biblical descriptions indicate there were two major types of Qedarites: nomads (Arabic: wabariya) living in tents and sedentary people (Arabic:ḥaḍariya) living in villages.  Jeremiah describes them as ‘a nation at ease, that dwells securely’ (49:31) and notes that they engage in the pagan practice of shaving their temples.  Isaiah recalls their warrior activities and skill with the bow. (21:16f)  Ezekiel associates, ‘Arabia and all the princes of Kedar,’ and indicates that they engaged in sheep/goat trading with the Phoenicians.  The three books list the flocks of the Qedarites as including lambs, rams, goats and camels.
“Jeremiah also tells of a campaign by Nebuchadnezzar (630–562 BC) against the Qedarites during the Babylonian period.”(
Jeremiah 49:33 Hazor shall be a dwelling for dragons, and a desolation for ever
It’s hard to find Hazor on a map.  Perhaps because it is destroyed according to the prophecy.  “Hazor, one of the towns devastated by Nabu-Kudurri-User, described by the Book of Jeremiah as being in the vicinity of Kedar. The text refers to kingdoms of Hazor, which suggests the possibility that this Hazor was the name of a region in the Arab desert (the land east of the Jordan River).” (
Jeremiah 49:34 The word… against Elam in the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah king of Judah
After all these prophecies of destruction, we get a little chronological clue.  It may have been that Jeremiah received the other prophecies earlier, but we now find out that Zedekiah has begun to reign.  That means Lehi has begun to prophecy and Jerusalem is in a pressure cooker.
Jeremiah 49:39 I will bring again the captivity of Elam
The destruction, scattering, and gathering of Elam are exactly what happens to the Jews.  The pattern is surprisingly repeated for Israel’s neighbors.  Not of the covenant, but the plan is the same: destruction, scattering, and gathering.  Again, presumably this is coming at the hands of Nebuchadnezzar. 
Consider the non-Israelite nations that are scattered and gathered.  It is really remarkable:  Moab (Jer. 48:47), Ammon (Jer. 49:2-6), and Elam (Jer. 49:36-39).  The Lord’s pattern is the same with these peoples.  They are a type for the children of Israel, nations whom the Lord will not completely destroy.  Remnants shall be preserved, and redemptive gathering cometh in the end.