Jeremiah 49: Oracles Against Ammon, Edom, Aram-Damascus, Kedar, and Elam

scatter wind seed blowing in the windHebrew-English Text

I. Summary

Yahweh will destroy and exile the inhabitants of Ammon, Edom, Aram-Damascus, Kedar, and Elam.

II. Photo

Yahweh will scatter Elam: “And I shall bring four winds against Elam from the four quarters of heaven, and scatter them to all those winds. There shall not be a nation to which the fugitives from Elam do not come.” (v. 36)

III. Select Verses

1-2: Concerning the Ammonites.  Thus said the LORD: Has Israel no sons, Has he no heir? Then why has Milcom dispossessed Gad, And why have his people settled in Gad’s towns? Assuredly, days are coming — declares the LORD —  When I will sound the alarm of war Against Rabbah of the Ammonites; It shall become a desolate mound, And its villages shall be set on fire. And Israel shall dispossess Those who dispossessed him — said the LORD.

17-18: And Edom shall be a cause of appallment; whoever passes by will be appalled and will hiss at all its wounds. It shall be like the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah and their neighbors — said the LORD: no man shall live there, no human shall sojourn there.

19:  It shall be as when a lion comes up out of the jungle of the Jordan against a secure pasture: in a moment I can harry him out of it and appoint over it anyone I choose. Then who is like Me? Who can summon Me? Who is the shepherd that can stand up against Me?

27: I will set fire to the wall of Damascus, And it shall consume the fortresses of Ben-hadad.

32-33: Their camels shall become booty, And their abundant flocks a spoil; And I will scatter to every quarter Those who have their hair clipped; And from every direction I will bring Disaster upon them — says the LORD. Hazor shall become a lair of jackals, A desolation for all time. No man shall live there, No human shall sojourn there.

36: And I shall bring four winds against Elam from the four quarters of heaven, and scatter them to all those winds. There shall not be a nation to which the fugitives from Elam do not come.

IV. Outline

1-6. Oracle against Ammon

    1a. Introduction

    1b. Ammon has taken Gad’s land

    2. Rabbah will be destroyed and the Israelites will possess the land

    3. Call to flee and lament Milcom’s exile

    4-5. Yahweh will disperse the haughty Ammon

    6. Ammon’s fortunes will be restored

7-22. Oracle against Edom

    7a. Introduction

    7b. Wisdom has vanished 

    8. Call to flee

    9-10. Edom will be completely ravaged

    11. Yahweh will take Edom’s orphans

    12-13. Edom cannot escape destruction

    14. Call to battle

    15. Edom will be the lowest nation

    16. Edom will be lowered from its haughtiness

    17. Those who see Edom will be appalled

    18. Edom will be like Sodom and Gomorrah

    19. No one can stop Yahweh, who is like a lion from the brush

    20-21. All will hear of Edom’s destruction 

    22. Yahweh will destroy like an eagle, and Edom will be fearful

23-27. Oracle against Aram-Damascus

    23a. Introduction

    23b-24. The cities are in fear

    25-26. The warriors will be killed

    27. Ben Hadad’s Damascus will be destroyed

28-33. Oracle against Kedar

    28a. Introduction

    28b. Call to battle

    29. The tents will be spoiled

    30. Call to flee from Nebuchadnezzar 

    31. Call to battle

    32. Yahweh will bring disaster

    33. Hazor (of the desert?) will be destroyed

34-39. Oracle against Elam

    34. Introduction

    35. Elam’s strength will be broken

    36. Exiles throughout the world

    37. Elam will fall to its enemies

    38. Yahweh will vacate Elam’s throne

    39. Elam’s fortunes will be restored


V. Comment

In addition to the oracles against Ammon, Edom, Aram-Damascus, and Elam, this chapter contains an oracle against Kedar (vv. 28-33). Not much is said about Kedar in the Bible appears to have been a nomadic tribe in the eastern portion of Transjordan. The Hazor mentioned in this chapter is probably not the Hazor of the Galilee, though one cannot know for sure. Gerald Lynwood Keown, Pamela J Scalise, and Thomas G Smothers make the following insightful comment regarding why an oracle against Kedar was included in the book of Jeremiah (p. 340): “The inclusion of this oracle concerning Qedar among the oracles concerning the nations in the book of Jeremiah may seem strange. Israel knew about the Arab tribes and their way of life, but there is little evidence of sustained close contact with them of a political nature. This is not a hate oracle; there is no cry for vengeance because Qedar has harmed Israel.

“The presence of this oracle may be seen to be appropriate when it is put in the context of the position reflected in Jeremiah that the LORD had a world-changing plan in motion that involved Babylon. Jeremiah preached consistently that those who opposed Nebuchadrezzar were opposing the LORD. The nations included in Jer 46–49 are addressed with oracles of calamity and devastation, not because they have harmed Israel but because they have opposed, or threaten to oppose, the power of Babylon. There is in place here an inclusive view of the LORD’s power over the world that includes a plan in which Israel is simply included as another nation to be judged (Jer 25).

“This oracle once again focuses on the power of the LORD to act decisively in an international arena. However one may decide the redactional question of v 30 (whether “Nebuchadrezzar” and/or “king of Babylon” are redactor’s additions), v 32 makes it clear that all power is in the hands of the LORD and that the plan to be executed is the LORD’s plan.”

VI. Works Used

(see “Commentaries” page)

Gerald Lynwood Keown, Pamela J Scalise, and Thomas G Smothers. Jeremiah 26-52. Waco: Word Books, 1995.

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