Reading through the Bible together
Jeremiah has many prophecies. This chapter is for five people groups that had relations with the people of Judah.
The first section is the prophecy against the capital city of the Ammonites, who were the descendants of Ben-Ammi, Lot’s younger daughter’s son. They lived in the eastern side of the river Jordan. The Ammonites had their own god Milcom which means “Divine King.” In the time of the Judges the Ammonites were hostile against the Israelites (Judges 3:13). They ridiculed Israel saying, “Israel lost their hold on the tribe of Gad and now our god Milcom dwells there” (Jeremiah 49:1). This was because the Ammonites, the descendants of Lot’s younger daughter’s son had “backslidden” from the worship of the true God (Jeremiah 49:4).
The second section of this chapter is the prophecy against Edom. The Edomites were the descendants of Esau. When the Israelites were in Egypt, the city of Teman in Edom was famous for its wisdom. God through His Spirit was able to work with the people at Teman while the Israelites were worshipping idols in Egypt (Joshua 24:14). Unfortunately, Edom would eventually become “like Sodom and Gomorrah” (Jeremiah 49:18) because their “pride” and “fearlessness” would deceive them (49:16).
The third section is the prophecy against Damascus. It was an old Aramean city on the edge of the desert and thrived because of the fertile oasis that was there. This city had true worshipers of God, such as Naaman and Hazael, in the past. However, as they forsook the true God, this “city of praise” and God’s joy would be forsaken.
The fourth section is the prophecy against Kedar and Hazor. Kedar was a son of Ishmael (Genesis 25:14). The tribe of Kedar was famous for its flocks (Jeremiah 49:29) and skilled archers (Isaiah 21:17). In the time of the judges Israel was not able to conquer the strong Canaanite city of Hazor. Later Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, conquered both these cities.
The fifth prophecy is against Elam. This prophecy was fulfilled when Elam took the side of the Babylonians who later were defeated by the Assyrians. If the Elamites had repented, God would have restored them and blessed them with prosperity.
All the prophecies mentioned above were conditional. Back then, God wanted people—individually and collectively—to repent and return to Him. God has the same desire for us today.Yoshitaka Kobayashi, Ph.D., Japan