Jeremiah 49:7-22

Concerning Edom:

This is what the Lord Almighty says:

“Is there no longer wisdom in Teman?
    Has counsel perished from the prudent?
    Has their wisdom decayed?
Turn and flee, hide in deep caves,
    you who live in Dedan,
for I will bring disaster on Esau
    at the time when I punish him.
If grape pickers came to you,
    would they not leave a few grapes?
If thieves came during the night,
    would they not steal only as much as they wanted?
10 But I will strip Esau bare;
    I will uncover his hiding places,
    so that he cannot conceal himself.
His armed men are destroyed,
    also his allies and neighbors,
    so there is no one to say,
11 ‘Leave your fatherless children; I will keep them alive.
    Your widows too can depend on me.’”

12 This is what the Lord says: “If those who do not deserve to drink the cup must drink it, why should you go unpunished? You will not go unpunished, but must drink it. 13 I swear by myself,” declares the Lord, “that Bozrah will become a ruin and a curse, an object of horror and reproach; and all its towns will be in ruins forever.”

14 I have heard a message from the Lord;
    an envoy was sent to the nations to say,
“Assemble yourselves to attack it!
    Rise up for battle!”

15 “Now I will make you small among the nations,
    despised by mankind.
16 The terror you inspire
    and the pride of your heart have deceived you,
you who live in the clefts of the rocks,
    who occupy the heights of the hill.
Though you build your nest as high as the eagle’s,
    from there I will bring you down,”
declares the Lord.
17 “Edom will become an object of horror;
    all who pass by will be appalled and will scoff
    because of all its wounds.
18 As Sodom and Gomorrah were overthrown,
    along with their neighboring towns,”
says the Lord,
“so no one will live there;
    no people will dwell in it.

19 “Like a lion coming up from Jordan’s thickets
    to a rich pastureland,
I will chase Edom from its land in an instant.
    Who is the chosen one I will appoint for this?
Who is like me and who can challenge me?
    And what shepherd can stand against me?”

20 Therefore, hear what the Lord has planned against Edom,
    what he has purposed against those who live in Teman:
The young of the flock will be dragged away;
    their pasture will be appalled at their fate.
21 At the sound of their fall the earth will tremble;
    their cry will resound to the Red Sea.
22 Look! An eagle will soar and swoop down,
    spreading its wings over Bozrah.
In that day the hearts of Edom’s warriors
    will be like the heart of a woman in labor.
(Jeremiah 49:7-22 NIV)

The text for today is jam-packed with God’s riches.  However, much of those riches must be unlocked via the historical context of ancient times.  I will only share the highlights from my research; otherwise, we would spend several days here.

Today’s passage addresses yet another distant relative of God’s people – Edom.  The nation of Edom is related to Judah through Esau (Genesis 36).  Verses 8 and 10 use Edom and Esau as synonymous terms.

Geographically, Edom lay south of Judah, Moab, and the Dead Sea (see the map here).  This area is high in the hill country of modern-day Jordan.

Edom and God’s people had been bitter enemies since the days of Jacob’s and Esau’s sibling rivalry and hatred toward one another.  This bitterness carried over to Jeremiah’s day when the Edomites rejoiced in Jerusalem’s fall (Psalm 137:7) and looted Jerusalem after the city fell (Obadiah 10-11). Edom had also cut off God’s people from passage through their land in the days of Moses (Numbers 20:14-21).

The Edomites were known for their wisdom (v. 7) and for their seemingly impenetrable cities located high in the mountains.  Bozrah (v. 13 and 22) was its capital city, and Petra (v. 16) was its prime example as a fortress city.  The Edomites’ pride and arrogance were their ultimate downfall.

Today’s passage has a lot of parallels with the short prophetic book of Obadiah.  The prophet Obadiah was a contemporary of Jeremiah.  The Lord gave Obadiah the message of prophecy against and judgment upon Edom.  While neither Jeremiah nor Obadiah records the fall of Edom, other historical documents record the fall of Edom to Arabian raiders approximately 100 years after the fall of Jerusalem.

The Dedanites (v. 8) were neighbors of the Edomites and were warned to take cover so as not to be subject to the same judgment as the Lord was about to hand out to the Edomites.  Edom was going to be stripped bare (verses 9-10) like a grape vine; nothing would remain.  Even Edom’s valiant warriors would be helpless and in fear, like a woman in labor (v. 22).

Unlike the prophecies about Moab and Ammon, Jeremiah’s prophetic word from the Lord makes no reference to Edom’s eventual restoration.  However, the prophet Amos indicates at least part of the land of Edom will again come under Judah’s domain  (Amos 9:11-12).

Today’s passage is a reminder that nothing is too hard for God.  even fortress cities in the mountains are no match for His rule and reign.  While evil may prosper for a season, it will not ultimately prevail.

May we remember to live in humility toward the Lord and each other, as Peter reminds us:

In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because,

“God opposes the proud
    but shows favor to the humble.”

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
(1 Peter 5:5-7 NIV)