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xlix. 7-22.

"Bozrah shall become an astonishment, a reproach, a waste, and a curse."—Jer. xlix. 13.

The prophecy concerning Edom is not formulated along the same line as those which deal with the twin children of Lot, Moab and Ammon. Edom was not merely the cousin, but the brother of Israel. His history, his character and conduct, had marked peculiarities, which received special treatment. Edom had not only intimate relations with Israel as a whole, but was also bound by exceptionally close ties to the Southern Kingdom. The Edomite clan Kenaz had been incorporated in the tribe of Judah;227227   Cf. the designation of Caleb "ben Jephunneh the Kenizzite," Num. xxxii. 12, etc., with the genealogies which trace the descent of Kenaz to Esau, Gen. xxxvi. 11, etc. Cf. also Expositor's Bible, Chronicles. and when Israel broke up into two states, Edom was the one tributary which was retained or reconquered by the House of David, and continued subject to Judah till the reign of Jehoram ben Jehoshaphat.228228   Cf. 1 Kings xxii. 47 with 2 Kings viii. 20.

Much virtuous indignation is often expressed at the wickedness of Irishmen in contemplating rebellion against the dominion of England: we cannot therefore be surprised that the Jews resented the successful revolt244 of Edom, and regarded the hostility of Mount Seir to its former masters as ingratitude and treachery. In moments of hot indignation against the manifold sins of Judah Jeremiah might have announced with great vehemence that Judah should be made a "reproach and a proverb"; but when, as Obadiah tells us, the Edomites stood gazing with eager curiosity on the destruction of Jerusalem, and rejoiced and exulted in the distress of the Jews, and even laid hands on their substance in the day of their calamity, and occupied the roads to catch fugitives and deliver them up to the Chaldeans,229229   Obadiah 11-15. The difference between A.V. and R.V. is more apparent than real. The prohibition which R.V. gives must have been based on experience. The short prophecy of Obadiah has very much in common with this section of Jeremiah: Obad. 1-6, 8, are almost identical with Jer. xlix. 14-16, 9, 10a, 7. The relation of the two passages is a matter of controversy, but probably both use a common original. Cf. Driver's Introduction on Obadiah. then the patriotic fervour of the prophet broke out against Edom. Like Moab and Ammon, he was puffed up with pride, and deluded by baseless confidence into a false security. These hardy mountaineers trusted in their reckless courage and in the strength of their inaccessible mountain fastnesses.

"Men shall shudder at thy fate,230230   Lit. "thy terror," i.e. the terror inspired by thy fate. A.V., R.V., "thy terribleness," suggests that Edom trusted in the terror felt for him by his enemies, but we can scarcely suppose that even the fiercest highlanders expected Nebuchadnezzar to be terrified at them. the pride of thy heart hath deceived thee,

O thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock, that holdest the height of the hill:

Though thou shouldest make thy nest as high as the eagle,231231   Obad. 4: "Though thou set thy nest among the stars."

I will bring thee down from thence—it is the utterance of Jehovah."

Pliny speaks of the Edomite capital as "oppidum245 circumdatum montibus inaccessis,"232232   Hist. Nat., vi. 28. Orelli. and doubtless the children of Esau had often watched from their eyrie Assyrian and Chaldean armies on the march to plunder more defenceless victims, and trusted that their strength, their good fortune, and their ancient and proverbial wisdom would still hold them scatheless. Their neighbours—the Jews amongst the rest—might be plundered, massacred, and carried away captive, but Edom could look on in careless security, and find its account in the calamities of kindred tribes. If Jerusalem was shattered by the Chaldean tempest, the Edomites would play the part of wreckers. But all this shrewdness was mere folly: how could these Solons of Mount Seir prove so unworthy of their reputation?

"Is wisdom no more in Teman?

Has counsel perished from the prudent?

Has their wisdom vanished?"

They thought that Jehovah would punish Jacob whom He loved, and yet spare Esau whom He hated. But:—

"Thus saith Jehovah:

Behold, they to whom it pertained not to drink of the cup shall assuredly drink.

Art thou he that shall go altogether unpunished?

Thou shalt not go unpunished, but thou shalt assuredly drink" (12).

Ay, and drink to the dregs:—

"If grape-gatherers come to thee, would they not leave gleanings?

If thieves came by night, they would only destroy till they had enough.

But I have made Esau bare, I have stripped him stark naked; he shall not be able to hide himself.

His children, and his brethren, and his neighbours are given up to plunder, and there is an end of him" (9, 10).

"I have sworn by Myself—is the utterance of Jehovah—246

That Bozrah shall become an astonishment, a reproach, a desolation, and a curse;

All her cities shall become perpetual wastes.

I have heard tidings from Jehovah, and an ambassador is sent among the nations, saying,

Gather yourselves together and come against her, arise to battle" (13, 14).

There was obviously but one leader who could lead the nations to achieve the overthrow of Edom and lead her little ones away captive, who could come up like a lion from the thickets of Jordan, or "flying like an eagle and spreading his wings against Bozrah" (22)—Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, who had come up against Judah with all the kingdoms and peoples of his dominions.233233   xxxiv. 1.

In this picture of chastisement and calamity, there is one apparent touch of pitifulness:—

"Leave thine orphans, I will preserve their lives;

Let thy widows put their trust in Me" (11).

At first sight, at any rate, these seem to be the words of Jehovah. All the adult males of Edom would perish, yet the helpless widows and orphans would not be without a protector. The God of Israel would watch over the lambs of Edom,234234   Verse 20. when they were dragged away into captivity. We are reluctant to surrender this beautiful and touching description of a God, who, though He may visit the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation, yet even in such judgment ever remembers mercy. It is impossible, however, to ignore the fact that such ideas are widely different from the tone and sentiment of the rest of the section. These words may be an immediate sequel to the previous verse, "No Edomite survives to say to his dying brethren, Leave thine orphans to me," or possibly they may be quoted, in247 bitter irony, from some message from Edom to Jerusalem, inviting the Jews to send their wives and children for safety to Mount Seir. Edom, ungrateful and treacherous Edom, shall utterly perish—Edom that offered an asylum to Jewish refugees, and yet shared the plunder of Jerusalem and betrayed her fugitives to the Chaldeans.

There is no word of restoration. Moab and Ammon and Elam might revive and flourish again, but for Esau, as of old, there should be no place of repentance. For Edom, in the days of the Captivity, trespassed upon the inheritance of Israel more grievously than Ammon and Moab upon Reuben and Gad. The Edomites possessed themselves of the rich pastures of the south of Judah, and the land was thenceforth called Idumea. Thus they earned the undying hatred of the Jews, in whose mouths Edom became a curse and a reproach, a term of opprobrium. Like Babylon, Edom was used as a secret name for Rome, and later on for the Christian Church.

Nevertheless, even in this prophecy, there is a hint that these predictions of utter ruin must not be taken too literally:—

"For, behold, I will make thee small among the nations,

Despised among men" (15).

These words are scarcely consistent with the other verses, which imply that, as a people, Edom would utterly perish from off the face of the earth. As a matter of fact, Edom flourished in her new territory till the time of the Maccabees, and when the Messiah came to establish the Kingdom of God, instead of "saviours standing on Mount Zion to judge the Mount of Esau,"235235   Obadiah 21. an Edomite dynasty was reigning in Jerusalem.

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