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PART II; ORACLES AGAINST THE NATIONS
ORACLES AGAINST AMMON; MOAB; EDOM; AND PHILISTIA
In our commentaries upon four dozen Biblical books, we have already commented upon the Divine Oracles against these four nations. For those who are interested in a more detailed study of these, reference is here made to: (1) the prophecies against Ammon: (Vol. 1 of Minor Prophets, pp. 92-94, Vol. 3 of Minor Prophets, p. 151, and Vol. 2, Major prophets, pp. 511-514); (2) the prophecies against Moab: (Vol. 1, Minor Prophets, pp. 97-99); (3) the prophecies against Edom: (Vol. 1 of Major Prophets, all of Isaiah 34, pp. 309-314, Vol. 2, Major Prophets, pp. 514-519, Vol. 2, Minor Prophets, the whole Book of Obadiah, pp. 247-263); and (4) the prophecies against Philistia: (Vol. 4, Minor Prophets, pp. 134,135, Vol. 1, Minor Prophets, pp. 87-90, and Vol. 2, Major Prophets, all of chapter 47, pp. 491-495).
Because of extensive comments we have already made on oracles against these nations, our treatment of the subject here will be somewhat abbreviated.
"And the word of Jehovah came unto me, saying, Son of man, set thy face toward the children of Ammon, and prophesy against them: and say unto the children of Ammon. Hear the word of the Lord Jehovah, Because thou saidest, Aha, against my sanctuary, when it was profaned; and against the land of Israel, when it was made desolate, and against the house of Judah, when they went into captivity: therefore, behold, I will deliver thee to the children of the east for a possession, and they shall set their encampments in thee, and make their dwellings in thee; they shall eat thy fruit, and they shall drink thy milk. And I will make Rabbah a stable for camels, and the children of Ammon a couching-place for flocks: and ye shall know that I am Jehovah. For thus saith the Lord Jehovah: because thou hast clapped with thy hands, and stamped with thy feet, and rejoiced with all the despite of thy soul against the land of Israel; therefore, behold, 1have stretched out my hand upon thee, and will deliver thee for a spoil to the nations; and I will cut thee off from the peoples, and will cause thee to perish out of the countries: I will destroy thee, and thou shalt know that I am Jehovah."
PROPHECY AGAINST AMMON
The history of Ammon began with the drunken and incestuous conduct of Lot; and the entire record of the Ammonites and Moabites, both of which began on that same occasion (Genesis 19), was one of rebellion against God and hatred of their kinsmen, the posterity of Abraham. The most recent example of their perfidy is recorded in Jeremiah, where the Ammonites arranged for the murder of Gedaliah the Jew, whom Nebuchadnezzar had appointed governor of Judah.
Some have misunderstood the reasons that God gave here for his judgment of Ammon, namely, because Ammon had said "Aha!" and had rejoiced over the ruin of Judah and Jerusalem, and the profanation of God's sanctuary. Serious as such offenses indeed were, Bruce pointed out that there was something else behind their conduct. "The Ammonites, along with the other nations, imagined that the collapse of the Judean monarchy also meant the eclipse of the God of Israel."
It was no doubt this very result of God's severe punishment of Israel which had delayed God's actions for such a long time. now, that God had done it, or was in the process of doing it, the mistaken notion that God was no longer able to protect Israel, on the part of the surrounding nations, absolutely necessitated the destruction of those nations. After all, they were guilty of the very sins that had mined Israel; and it was absolutely impossible for God to have allowed them to escape. We believe this is the reason for the inclusion here of the prophecies against the seven nations (four of them in this chapter). Furthermore, as Keil pointed out, "These seven nations selected for the oracles here may be understood as representative of all the heathen nations, indicating thereby that the judgments predicted will be executed and completed upon the whole heathen world." The omission of Babylon from the list gives weight to Keil's understanding of the chapter.
"I will make Rabbah a stable for camels ..." (Ezekiel 25:5). This infamous stronghold is now the modern Amman. In Roman times, Ptolemy rebuilt the place and called it Philadelphia (after himself); and in the times of David, it was remembered as the fortress where David contrived the brutal murder of Uriah, the husband of Bathsheba.
Both Cooke and May have written of the radical differences in style between this chapter and the following, suggesting that perhaps this chapter was not written by Ezekiel; and although Cooke admitted that the differences may be explained otherwise, it remained for Thompson to demonstrate convincingly that this chapter, no less than the others, is absolutely in keeping with Ezekiel's style.
"Because thou hast clapped thy hands ... and rejoiced ..." (Ezekiel 25:6). "Because Ammon has rejoiced at the grief of others, she herself shall be brought to grief. In such actions, God reveals that behind all human events, there stands the Author and Finisher of history, who is the judge of all men and nations."
Regarding the date of this chapter, McFadyen believed that none of it was written until after the fall of Jerusalem; but some disagree with this. It seems to us that the question demands little, if any priority. Of course, the "captivity" is mentioned in this oracle as an event already accomplished; but there were three phases of the captivity; and therefore the mention of it can have no weight at all in determining the date.
"Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Because that Moab and Seir do say, Behold, the house of Judah is like unto all the nations; therefore, behold, I will open the side of Moab from the cities, from his cities which are on his frontiers, the glory of the country, Bethjeshimoth, Baalmeon, and Kiriathaim, unto the children of the east, to go against the children of Ammon; and I will give them for a possession, that the children of Ammon may not be remembered among the nations: and I will execute judgments upon Moab; and they shall know that I am Jehovah."
PROPHECY AGAINST MOAB
Some seem surprised that the prophecy against Ammon spills over into these words regarding Moab; but, in view of the long association of the two wicked peoples, and their common enmity against God and the children of Israel, it is not at all inappropriate that their judgments should have occurred simultaneously. The long hatred on the part of Moab came to a crisis in the later chapters of Numbers, where the evil prophet Balaam cooperated with Balak, king of Moab, in their devices against Israel. It was finally the "daughters of Moab" who seduced practically the whole nation of Israel, including a thousand of its leaders in the shameful orgy of Numbers 25 at Baal-Peor.
"Not long after Ezekiel wrote this, both Ammon and Moab were overran by Nabatean tribesmen and ceased to have any independent existence as nations."
Bruce, on the testimony of Josephus, fixed the date of Nebuchadnezzar's conquest of Moab and Ammon in 583 B.C.
As a further corroboration of the view expressed above that the heathen nations all thought that the ruin of Israel was the end of Jehovah's power, we cite the inscription on the Moabite Stone, "Which quotes the boast of the king of Moab that his god Chemosh had vanquished Israel." This was precisely the development that called forth these prophecies from Jehovah and resulted in the execution of God's wrath upon all the pagan nations of antiquity. Such actions alone could have preserved and perpetuated the knowledge of God's integrity.
"Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Because that Edom hath dealt against the house of Judah by taking vengeance, and hath greatly offended, and avenged himself upon them; therefore, thus saith the Lord Jehovah, I will stretch out my hand upon Edom, and will cut off man and beast from it; and I will make it desolate from Teman; even unto Dedan shall they fall by the sword. And I will lay my vengeance upon Edom by the hand of my people Israel; and they shall do in Edom according to mine anger and according to my wrath; and they shall know my vengeance, saith the Lord Jehovah."
The prophecy in Amos especially mentioned the "anger and hatred of Edom" which did "tear perpetually," indicating the implacable hatred of the Edomites for God's people. Although Israel did indeed punish them; and under Hyrcanus, the Edomites were captured and somewhat forcibly taken into Judaism; nevertheless, the perpetual evil of the Edomites was sufficiently strong to be chosen by God Himself as the symbol of the totality of human wickedness, the final judgment itself being depicted in Isaiah 34th chapter as the "judgment of Edom." The Edomites were featured as enemies of God and of the spread of the gospel of Christ in the Book of Acts, where Herod Agrippa I (an Edomite) attempted to kill all of the apostles, for which intention God executed him (Acts 12).
"Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Because the Philistines have dealt by revenge, and have taken vengeance with despite of soul to destroy with perpetual enmity; therefore thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Behold, I will stretch out my hand upon the Philistine, and I will cut off the Cherothites, and destroy the remnant of the sea coast. And I will execute great vengeance upon them with wrathful rebukes; and they shall know that I am Jehovah, when I shall lay my vengeance upon them."
PROPHECY AGAINST THE PHILISTINES
It is amazing that these ancient enemies of Israel finally gave their name to the Holy Land itself, Palestine!
"I will cut off the Cherothites ..." (Ezekiel 25:16). These are supposed to be the Cretans, ancient ancestors of the Philistines.
The teaching of the series of oracles here is that God will judge and destroy wicked mankind, a sentence that has been hanging over the head of the human race, like the sword of Damocles, since the sentence in Eden, "In the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die." The tragic judgments prophesied here were far earlier than the Final Judgment, of course, but they were necessitated by the situation in which the pagan nations were deceived into believing that Jehovah was not God of all gods. It is repeated throughout these passages that the reason for God's actions was primarily this: "And thou shalt know that I am Jehovah, when I shall lay my vengeance upon them."
Coffman's Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Ezekiel 25". "Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany