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III. ORACLES AGAINST FOREIGN NATIONS CHS. 25-32
It is appropriate that this section appears at this point in Ezekiel, between the messages announcing judgment on Judah and Jerusalem for sin (chs. 4-24) and the messages announcing future blessings for Israel (chs. 33-48). It heightens dramatic tension as the reader wonders what will be the fate of Israel now in view of God’s promises. Ezekiel had anticipated and announced the judgment of Judah. The destruction of Jerusalem caused Judah’s hateful neighbors to rejoice at her downfall. However, God announced through Ezekiel that they should not gloat because He would judge them for their attitude toward and treatment of His chosen people. All nations will answer for their sins, not just Israel. This whole section is a testimony to the faithfulness of God to His promise to curse nations that cursed Israel (Genesis 12:3). Other reasons that God would judge these nations also receive attention in some of these oracles, such as pride and oppression of other people, but all of them contain references to these nations’ hostile treatment of Israel.
"Oracles against foreign nations are an aspect of God’s covenantal restoration promises to Israel (centrally located in Leviticus 26:40-45 and Deuteronomy 30:1-10). The reason for them is fairly simple: Israel’s foes must decrease if Israel is to increase. The promise of power over enemies is a reversal of the curses of subjugation by enemies, as Deuteronomy 30:7 says: ’The Lord your God will put all these curses on your enemies.’ Such oracles, then, gave great reassurance to righteous Israelites that no matter how severe their own circumstances might be at the moment, the time was coming when the nation-in whatever future generation it might occur-would experience deliverance from exile and oppression and exaltation to God’s favor and blessing. From the point of view of orthodox Israelites, the oracles against foreign nations were oracles of hope." [Note: Stuart, p. 205.]
|Major Oracles against Foreign Nations|
|Ammon||Jeremiah 49:1-6||Ezekiel 25:1-7||Amos 1:13-15||Zephaniah 2:8-11|
|Moab||Isaiah 15-16||Jeremiah 48||Ezekiel 25:8-11||Amos 2:1-3||Zephaniah 2:8-11|
|Edom||Isaiah 21:11-12; Isaiah 34:5-17||Jeremiah 49:7-22||Ezekiel 25:12-14; Ezekiel 35||Amos 1:11-12||Obadiah 1:1-21|
|Philistia||Isaiah 14:29-32||Jeremiah 47||Ezekiel 25:15-17||Amos 1:6-8||Zephaniah 2:4-7|
|Tyre and Sidon||Isaiah 23||Ezekiel 26:1 to Ezekiel 28:19|
|Egypt||Isaiah 19||Jeremiah 46:1-26||Ezekiel 29-32|
|Damascus||Isaiah 17||Jeremiah 49:23-27||Amos 1:3-5|
|Babylon||Isaiah 13:1 to Isaiah 14:23||Jeremiah 50-51|
In addition to the major oracles against foreign nations in these prophetic books, Jonah and Nahum spoke to the situation in Assyria, and Daniel foretold the fate of Babylon and other nations. All the prophetic books in the Old Testament, except Hosea, contain some references to the future of the nations.
It is probably significant that Ezekiel mentioned seven nations, as did Jeremiah and Amos. Amos, who ministered in the Northern Kingdom of Israel, dealt with the Southern Kingdom of Judah as a foreign nation (Amos 2:4-5). The Jews regarded seven of anything as a divine work and or a complete number, dating back to God’s creation of the cosmos in seven days. Thus these seven nations and city-states would have signified to the Jews that God would judge all such hostile pagan nations, not just these seven. [Note: See the maps at the end of these notes for the locations of places referred to in these oracles.]
Ezekiel did not record an oracle against Babylon. The commentators offer various explanations, but the one that appeals to me most is that God did not give him one, perhaps because for him to denounce Babylon in Babylon would have been very dangerous for the Jews. Daniel denounced Babylon in Babylon because God led him to do so and protected him and his people from danger. Another possible explanation follows.
"This absence may undoubtedly be attributed to the prophet’s pro-Babylonian stance in political matters." [Note: Daniel I. Block, The Book of Ezekiel: Chapters 25-48, p. 4.]
A. Oracles against Judah’s closest neighbors ch. 25
This chapter ties in very closely with the preceding one. Evidently all the messages in these two chapters date from the beginning of the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem (24:1-2). Even though this chapter begins a series of messages that all deal with God’s judgment on the nations, the messages in this chapter followed on the heels of the announcement of the siege. It is as though God was warning Israel’s closest neighbors not to gloat over her fate or to hope to profit from it since they too would undergo divine wrath in the form of Babylonian invasion. They would not triumph over Israel. Ezekiel had referred to their judgment earlier (21:20, 28-32) as had Jeremiah (Jeremiah 9:25-26; Jeremiah 25:1-26; Jeremiah 27:1-11; Jeremiah 48:1 to Jeremiah 49:22). Their captivity would also last 70 years (Jeremiah 25:11), but their larger judgment would continue, as Israel’s would, from the time of their defeat by Nebuchadnezzar until the second coming of Christ (i.e., the times of the Gentiles, Luke 21:24; cf. Isaiah 11:14; Daniel 11:41; Joel 3:1-4). The description of the first four nations proceeds in an essentially clockwise direction from east to west whereas the remaining three judgments deal with Tyre, Sidon, and Egypt north to south.
"The amount of space dedicated to each nation does not necessarily correspond to its importance in the ancient Near East of the sixth century B.C. Rather, by concentrating at length on two nations, mentioning at more-average length several others, and touching only briefly on yet others, this section of prophecies gives a realistic over-all impression of both thoroughness and variety." [Note: Stuart, p. 248.]
The four messages in this chapter each have four parts: an introduction, an indictment, a punishment, and an outcome.
The Lord directed His servant Ezekiel to set his face toward the nation of Ammon and to deliver a message of judgment from Him.
1. Judgment on Ammon 25:1-7
The first oracle against Ammon consists of two messages and consequently contains a double indictment and punishment. Ezekiel previously recorded an oracle against Ammon (21:28-32). Its placement there was evidently due to the presence of "sword of the Lord" terminology in that oracle, which the other prophecies in that chapter also contain, and the sequence of prophecies there.
The Ammonites had rejoiced (cf. 26:2; 36:2) over the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem (cf. 24:21), the desolation of the land of Israel, and the exile of the Judahites (cf. 2 Kings 24:2; Jeremiah 49:1; Zephaniah 2:8-10).
Therefore the sovereign Lord would turn them over to the eastern invaders, the Babylonians, who would take over their country and settle in their land. The capital city, Rabbah (modern Amman), as well as the rest of the land, would become a desolation inhabited mainly by camels and flocks of sheep and goats. Nebuchadnezzar brought Ammon and Moab into subjection in the fifth year after Jerusalem fell (about 581 B.C.). [Note: Josephus, Antiquities of . . ., 10:9:7.]
Because the Ammonites had rejoiced over Israel’s misfortune the Lord would punish them and give them as the spoils of war to other nations. He would end their existence as a separate nation and destroy them as a people. Ammon no longer existed as a nation after Nebuchadnezzar destroyed it and Bedouins from the east plundered it. [Note: Davidson, p. 180.] This judgment would teach them that Yahweh is God.
"Oracles against foreign nations are always implicitly oracles of encouragement for God’s people." [Note: Stuart, p. 250.]
Jeremiah predicted that Yahweh would restore the fortunes of the Ammonites (Jeremiah 49:6). This occurred briefly after the Exile. Tobiah was a Persian governor of Ammon during the postexilic period (cf. Nehemiah 2:10; Nehemiah 2:19; Nehemiah 4:7). But restoration of this region will also take place in the Millennium (cf. Jeremiah 46:26-28; Jeremiah 48:47).
The residents of Moab and Seir (Edom) had regarded Judah as just one of the other nations even though the Judahites were blood relatives of theirs (cf. Jeremiah 48:27; Zephaniah 2:8-9). This attitude reflected disrespect for Yahweh. They viewed Israel’s God as no better than other pagan deities since Judah had fallen to the Babylonians.
2. Judgment on Moab 25:8-11
Consequently the Lord promised to destroy the frontier cities in which the Moabites took much pride. Beth-jeshimoth lay in the Jordan Valley and guarded the eastern ascent to the Medeba Plateau. Baal-meon stood farther to the east and south in northern Moab, and Kiriathaim was another northern town on the Medeba Plateau. Its name means "the glory of the land," a play on words with the same phrase that appears earlier in Ezekiel 25:9. Yahweh would give the whole country over to the control of the eastern invaders along with Ammon, and Moab would cease to exist as a nation (cf. Ezekiel 25:7; Jeremiah 48:7-9).
Yahweh would judge Moab, and the Moabites would come to realize that He is God. This nation also passed out of existence during the Exile. [Note: Wevers, p. 197.] Yet Yahweh promised to restore the fortunes of Moab in the distant future (Jeremiah 48:47; cf. Jeremiah 46:26; Jeremiah 49:6; Jeremiah 49:39). This happened in a limited way after the Exile, but it will happen in the eschaton when modern residents of Moab’s territory will stream to Jerusalem to worship Messiah in the Millennium.
The Edomites had taken vengeance on the Judahites rather than helping them (cf. 36:1-7; Genesis 25:30; Genesis 27:41-46; Genesis 32:4; Lamentations 4:21-22; Amos 1:11-12).
3. Judgment on Edom 25:12-14
For this reason the Lord promised to send judgment on them. He would cause both man and beast to perish from their land, a picture of complete devastation (cf. 35:1-36:15). He would make the land a desolate waste from Teman to Dedan, throughout the country, as a result of an army invasion (cf. Joel 3:19; Obad.). Teman was a town in central Edom not far from Sela (Petra), and Dedan was a region southeast of Edom where Edomites evidently lived. Jeremiah revealed that this punishment would come through Nebuchadnezzar (Jeremiah 9:26; Jeremiah 25:21; Jeremiah 27:1-11). Edomites occupied southern Judah after the Exile. [Note: Taylor, p. 188. Cf. 1 Esdras 4:50.]
The Israelites would play a part in Edom’s judgment acting as the Lord’s agents of His anger (cf. 35:1-36:15; Isaiah 11:14; Daniel 11:41; Amos 9:12; Obadiah 1:18). The Edomites too would come to acknowledge Yahweh as the true God.
Today the residents of the territory formerly occupied by Ammon, Moab, and Edom all go by the name "Arab."
The Philistines to Judah’s west had also scorned the Israelites and had sought to destroy them (cf. Judges 13-16; 1 Samuel 4; 1 Samuel 13; 1 Samuel 31; 2 Samuel 5:17-25; 2 Kings 18:8; 2 Chronicles 21:16-17; 2 Chronicles 28:18). Therefore the Lord would stretch out His strong hand in judgment against them and cut off the Cherethites, a group of Philistines who originated in Crete (ancient Caphtor; cf. 1 Samuel 30:14; Zephaniah 2:5), and the rest of the Philistines who lived by the Mediterranean seacoast. This is a play on words in Hebrew. The Lord said He would cut off the cutters off (i.e., the Cherethites).
4. Judgment on Philistia 25:15-17
He would take vengeance on them for their treatment of His chosen people. He would do so by these rebukes executed in His wrath (cf. Isaiah 11:14; Jeremiah 25:20; Jeremiah 47:1-7; Joel 3:1-4; Obadiah 1:19; Zephaniah 2:4-7). There is no record of the Philistines’ existence after the second century B.C., though the name of their cities remained. They would know that Yahweh was God when they experienced His judgment.
These judgments should be a warning to any nation that spitefully treats the Chosen People of God (i.e., Israel, the physical descendants of Jacob) and that sins against the sovereign God in other ways. He will punish sin and those who abuse His people.
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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Ezekiel 25". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 22 / Ordinary 27