Study of Jeremiah, Chapters 47-48 Destruction

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Why do we do things in life that head us directly into a path of destruction?  For example, we get involved in a bad relationship, or we might accept a job that we know in our heart will not have a good outcome.  In either case, we know that the end result will be a destruction of either our personal life or our professional life.

Jeremiah 47:1-7Jeremiah 47:1-7
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

47 1 The word of the LORD that came to Jeremiah the prophet against the Philistines, before that Pharaoh smote Gaza. Gaza: Heb. Azzah 2 Thus saith the LORD; Behold, waters rise up out of the north, and shall be an overflowing flood, and shall overflow the land, and all that is therein; the city, and them that dwell therein: then the men shall cry, and all the inhabitants of the land shall howl. all that...: Heb. the fulness thereof 3 At the noise of the stamping of the hoofs of his strong horses, at the rushing of his chariots, and at the rumbling of his wheels, the fathers shall not look back to their children for feebleness of hands; 4 Because of the day that cometh to spoil all the Philistines, and to cut off from Tyrus and Zidon every helper that remaineth: for the LORD will spoil the Philistines, the remnant of the country of Caphtor. the country: Heb. the isle 5 Baldness is come upon Gaza; Ashkelon is cut off with the remnant of their valley: how long wilt thou cut thyself? 6 O thou sword of the LORD, how long will it be ere thou be quiet? put up thyself into thy scabbard, rest, and be still. put...: Heb. gather thyself 7 How can it be quiet, seeing the LORD hath given it a charge against Ashkelon, and against the sea shore? there hath he appointed it. How...: Heb. How canst thou  

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1 This is the LORD’S message to the prophet Jeremiah concerning the Philistines of Gaza, before it was captured by the Egyptian army.  2 This is what the LORD says:
“A flood is coming from the north
to overflow the land.
It will destroy the land and everything in it –
cities and people alike.
People will scream in terror,
and everyone in the land will wail.
3 Hear the clatter of stallions’ hooves
and the rumble of wheels as the chariots rush by.
Terrified fathers run madly,
without a backward glance at their helpless children.
4 “The time has come for the Philistines to be destroyed,
along with their allies from Tyre and Sidon.
Yes, the LORD is destroying the remnant of the Philistines,
those colonists from the island of Crete.
5 Gaza will be humiliated, its head shaved bald;
Ashkelon will lie silent.
You remnant from the Mediterranean coast,
how long will you lament and mourn?
6 “Now, O sword of the LORD,
when will you be at rest again?
Go back into your sheath;
rest and be still.
7 “But how can it be still
when the LORD has sent it on a mission?
For the city of Ashkelon
and the people living along the sea
must be destroyed.”

Note here that we begin to see Jeremiah referred to as a prophet in these writings.  Once Jeremiah is taken to Egypt against his will, we no longer read anything about him.

Philistia was located on the coastal plain next to Judah.  With the two nations battling on a constant basis, Philistia was a burden to Judah.  Prophets, other than Jeremiah, that spoke out against Philistia were Isaiah, Ezekiel, Amos, and Zephaniah.

In reading these verses, we hear the same tone of speech as in Chapter 46; a somewhat sarcastic tone.  The reference to waters out of the north is probably in relation to the Babylonians.  Not only will Philistia be destroyed, but her allies will also be among those in the destruction.  Shaving one’s head and being silent is a reflection of mourning.  Lastly, we see that even attempts to quiet the sword of the LORD will be futile, because all must fall to ruin.


right and wrong

As a people, we know the difference between right and wrong.  We spend our life learning from adult figures how we should act, and what we should and shouldn’t say.  But, sometimes we fall under an influence of someone, or something, that guides us down the wrong path.  Even when we realize that we are headed in a direction that we really don’t want to be going in, we may ignore our teachings and   pride steps in, making us believe that we are able to ‘handle it’ without being hurt or affected in a bad way.

Jeremiah 48:1-7Jeremiah 48:1-7
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

48 1 Against Moab thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Woe unto Nebo! for it is spoiled: Kiriathaim is confounded and taken: Misgab is confounded and dismayed. Misgab: or, the high place 2 There shall be no more praise of Moab: in Heshbon they have devised evil against it; come, and let us cut it off from being a nation. Also thou shalt be cut down, O Madmen; the sword shall pursue thee. be cut...: or, be brought to silence pursue...: Heb. go after thee 3 A voice of crying shall be from Horonaim, spoiling and great destruction. 4 Moab is destroyed; her little ones have caused a cry to be heard. 5 For in the going up of Luhith continual weeping shall go up; for in the going down of Horonaim the enemies have heard a cry of destruction. continual...: Heb. weeping with weeping 6 Flee, save your lives, and be like the heath in the wilderness. the heath: or, a naked tree 7 For because thou hast trusted in thy works and in thy treasures, thou shalt also be taken: and Chemosh shall go forth into captivity with his priests and his princes together.  

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1 This message was given concerning Moab.  This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says:

“What sorrow awaits the city of Nebo;

it will soon lie in ruins.

The city of Kiriathaim will be humiliated and captured;

the fortress will be humiliate and broken down.

2 No one will ever brag about Moab again,

for in Heshbon there is a plot to destroy her.

Come,’ they say, ‘we will cut her off from being a nation.’

The town of Madmen, too, will be silence;

the sword will follow you there.

3 Listen to the cries from Horonaim,

cries of devastation and great destruction.

4 All Moab is destroyed.

Her little ones will cry out.

5 Her refugees weep bitterly,

climbing the slope to Luhith.

They cry out in terror,

descending the slope to Horonaim.

6 Flee for your lives!

Hide in the wilderness!

7 Because you have trusted in your wealth and skill,

you will be taken captive.

Your god Chemosh, with his priests and officials,

will be hauled off to distant lands!

In Genesis 19:30-37Genesis 19:30-37
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

30 And Lot went up out of Zoar, and dwelt in the mountain, and his two daughters with him; for he feared to dwell in Zoar: and he dwelt in a cave, he and his two daughters. 31 And the firstborn said unto the younger, Our father is old, and there is not a man in the earth to come in unto us after the manner of all the earth: 32 Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, that we may preserve seed of our father. 33 And they made their father drink wine that night: and the firstborn went in, and lay with her father; and he perceived not when she lay down, nor when she arose. 34 And it came to pass on the morrow, that the firstborn said unto the younger, Behold, I lay yesternight with my father: let us make him drink wine this night also; and go thou in, and lie with him, that we may preserve seed of our father. 35 And they made their father drink wine that night also: and the younger arose, and lay with him; and he perceived not when she lay down, nor when she arose. 36 Thus were both the daughters of Lot with child by their father. 37 And the firstborn bare a son, and called his name Moab: the same is the father of the Moabites unto this day.  

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, we see that a daughter of Lot had an incestuous relationship that produced the Moabites.  They were responsible for leading the Israelites into idolatry [Numbers 25:1-3Numbers 25:1-3
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

25 1 And Israel abode in Shittim, and the people began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab. 2 And they called the people unto the sacrifices of their gods: and the people did eat, and bowed down to their gods. 3 And Israel joined himself unto Baalpeor: and the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel.  

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].  This message is directly related to the Moabs trusting too much in their own achievements, and their god Chemosh, the priests, and officials, will suffer in response.  Chemosh was the primary god of the Moab [Numbers 21:29Numbers 21:29
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

29 Woe to thee, Moab! thou art undone, O people of Chemosh: he hath given his sons that escaped, and his daughters, into captivity unto Sihon king of the Amorites.  

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].  Child sacrifice, as we have seen throughout the Bible with other man-made gods; idols, were a big part of worship [2 Kings 3:26-272 Kings 3:26-27
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

26 And when the king of Moab saw that the battle was too sore for him, he took with him seven hundred men that drew swords, to break through even unto the king of Edom: but they could not. 27 Then he took his eldest son that should have reigned in his stead, and offered him for a burnt offering upon the wall. And there was great indignation against Israel: and they departed from him, and returned to their own land.  

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].  Regardless what false god one put their faith in, they are no match for the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.

Jeremiah 48:8-10Jeremiah 48:8-10
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

8 And the spoiler shall come upon every city, and no city shall escape: the valley also shall perish, and the plain shall be destroyed, as the LORD hath spoken. 9 Give wings unto Moab, that it may flee and get away: for the cities thereof shall be desolate, without any to dwell therein. 10 Cursed be he that doeth the work of the LORD deceitfully, and cursed be he that keepeth back his sword from blood. deceitfully: or, negligently  

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8 “All the towns will be destroyed,

and no one will escape –

either on the plateaus or in the valleys,

for the LORD has spoken.

9 Oh, that Moab had wings

so she could fly away,

for her towns will be left empty,

with no one living in them.

10 Cursed are those who refuse to do the LORD’S work,

who hold back their swords from shedding blood!

No one will remain in this land.  They will either be killed or taken captive.  God is diligent in outlining the sins of each nation, but in verse 10, God is motivating His instrument of destruction:  the Babylonians.

Jeremiah 48:11-13Jeremiah 48:11-13
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

11 Moab hath been at ease from his youth, and he hath settled on his lees, and hath not been emptied from vessel to vessel, neither hath he gone into captivity: therefore his taste remained in him, and his scent is not changed. remained: Heb. stood 12 Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will send unto him wanderers, that shall cause him to wander, and shall empty his vessels, and break their bottles. 13 And Moab shall be ashamed of Chemosh, as the house of Israel was ashamed of Bethel their confidence.  

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“From his earliest history, Moab has lived in peace,

never going into exile.

He is like wine that has been allowed to settle.

He has not been poured from flask to flask,

and he is now fragrant and smooth.

12 But the time is coming soon,” says the LORD,

“when I will send men to pour him from his jar.

They will pour him out,

then shatter the jar!

13 At last Moab will be ashamed of his idol Chemosh,

as the people of Israel were ashamed of their gold calf at Bethel.


Jerusalem was the capital of the southern kingdom of Israel, and was the place of worship for the people of Israel.  The northern kingdom erected gold calf idols in Bethel and Dan to prevent people from traveling to Jerusalem for worship [1 Kings 12:25-291 Kings 12:25-29
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

25 Then Jeroboam built Shechem in mount Ephraim, and dwelt therein; and went out from thence, and built Penuel. 26 And Jeroboam said in his heart, Now shall the kingdom return to the house of David: 27 If this people go up to do sacrifice in the house of the LORD at Jerusalem, then shall the heart of this people turn again unto their lord, even unto Rehoboam king of Judah, and they shall kill me, and go again to Rehoboam king of Judah. 28 Whereupon the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold, and said unto them, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. 29 And he set the one in Bethel, and the other put he in Dan.  

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Jeremiah 48:14-17Jeremiah 48:14-17
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

14 How say ye, We are mighty and strong men for the war? 15 Moab is spoiled, and gone up out of her cities, and his chosen young men are gone down to the slaughter, saith the King, whose name is the LORD of hosts. his...: Heb. the choice of 16 The calamity of Moab is near to come, and his affliction hasteth fast. 17 All ye that are about him, bemoan him; and all ye that know his name, say, How is the strong staff broken, and the beautiful rod!  

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14 “You used to boast, ‘We are heroes,

mighty men of war.’

15 But now Moab and his towns will be destroyed.

His most promising youth are doomed to slaughter,”

says the King, whose name is the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.

16 “Destruction is coming fast for Moab;

calamity threatens ominously.

17 You friends of Moab,

weep for him and cry!

See how the strong scepter is broken,

how the beautiful staff is shattered!

For Moab to think that they will be able to defend against the King, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, is ludicrous.  When God delivers His judgment on Moab, there will be total destruction; a time of mourning.

Jeremiah 48:18-19Jeremiah 48:18-19
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

18 Thou daughter that dost inhabit Dibon, come down from thy glory, and sit in thirst; for the spoiler of Moab shall come upon thee, and he shall destroy thy strong holds. 19 O inhabitant of Aroer, stand by the way, and espy; ask him that fleeth, and her that escapeth, and say, What is done? inhabitant: Heb. inhabitress  

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18 “Come down from your glory

and sit in the dust, you people of Dibon,

for those who destroy Moab will shatter Dibon, too.

They will tear down all your towers.

19 You People of Aroer,

stand beside the road and watch.

Shout to those who flee from Moab,

‘What has happened there?’

When a battle occurs within a city, towns and cities that are on the hills are often able to avoid destruction.  In this case, God calls those in Dibon, who avoided the original destruction, to come down and experience the destruction first hand because they will be next.  God then turns to the Aroer, and addresses the people of that city.

Jeremiah 48:20-31Jeremiah 48:20-31
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

20 Moab is confounded; for it is broken down: howl and cry; tell ye it in Arnon, that Moab is spoiled, 21 And judgment is come upon the plain country; upon Holon, and upon Jahazah, and upon Mephaath, 22 And upon Dibon, and upon Nebo, and upon Bethdiblathaim, 23 And upon Kiriathaim, and upon Bethgamul, and upon Bethmeon, 24 And upon Kerioth, and upon Bozrah, and upon all the cities of the land of Moab, far or near. 25 The horn of Moab is cut off, and his arm is broken, saith the LORD. 26 Make ye him drunken: for he magnified himself against the LORD: Moab also shall wallow in his vomit, and he also shall be in derision. 27 For was not Israel a derision unto thee? was he found among thieves? for since thou spakest of him, thou skippedst for joy. skippedst...: or, movedst thyself 28 O ye that dwell in Moab, leave the cities, and dwell in the rock, and be like the dove that maketh her nest in the sides of the hole's mouth. 29 We have heard the pride of Moab, his loftiness, and his arrogancy, and his pride, and the haughtiness of his heart. 30 I know his wrath, saith the LORD; but it shall not be so; his lies shall not so effect it. his lies...: or, those on whom he stayeth do not right 31 Therefore will I howl for Moab, and I will cry out for all Moab; mine heart shall mourn for the men of Kirheres.  

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20 “And the reply comes back

‘Moab lies in ruins, disgrace;

weep and wail!

Tell it by the banks of the Arnon River:

Moab has been destroyed!’

21 Judgment has been poured out on the towns of the plateau –

on Holon and Jahaz and Mephaath,

22 on Dibon and Nebo and Beth-diblathaim,

23 on Kiriathaim and Beth-gamul and Beth-meon,

24 on Kerioth and Bozrah –

all the towns of Moab, far and near.

25 “The strength of Moab has ended.

His arm has been broken,” says the LORD.

26 “Let him stagger and fall like a drunkard,

for he has rebelled against the LORD.

Moab will wallow in his own vomit,

ridiculed by all.

27 Did you not ridicule the people of Israel?

Were they caught in the company of thieves

that you should despise them as you do?

28 “You people of Moab,

flee from your towns and live in the caves.

Hide like doves that nest

in the clefts of the rocks.

29 We have all heard of the pride of Moab,

for his pride is very great.

We know of his lofty pride,

his arrogance, and his haughty heart.

30 I know about his insolence,”

says the LORD,

“but his boasts are empty –

as empty as his deeds.

31 So now I wail for Moab;

yes, I will mourn for Moab.

My heart is broken for the men of Kir-hareseth.

Once God’s judgment has been dispensed, He lists that towns and communities of Moab that will be destroyed.  The analogy of a ‘broken arm’ describes the crippling effect Moab will suffer.  The Moabs laughed at Israel [Zephaniah 2:8Zephaniah 2:8
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

8 I have heard the reproach of Moab, and the revilings of the children of Ammon, whereby they have reproached my people, and magnified themselves against their border.  

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], and didn’t approve of their mockery.  When Israel was weak, Moab took advantage of that weakness.  Now, God instructs them to leave their cities and go to caves in the rocks to live like animals.  God also addresses Moabs pride and arrogance, but also notes that both are empty and worthless.  Even though God delivers punishment to the people in Moab, He is also saddened.  God is heart-broken any time He has to cause destruction, and is even extended to His enemies.  Kir-hareseth was a stronghold city in Moab.

Jeremiah 48:32-39Jeremiah 48:32-39
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

32 O vine of Sibmah, I will weep for thee with the weeping of Jazer: thy plants are gone over the sea, they reach even to the sea of Jazer: the spoiler is fallen upon thy summer fruits and upon thy vintage. 33 And joy and gladness is taken from the plentiful field, and from the land of Moab; and I have caused wine to fail from the winepresses: none shall tread with shouting; their shouting shall be no shouting. 34 From the cry of Heshbon even unto Elealeh, and even unto Jahaz, have they uttered their voice, from Zoar even unto Horonaim, as an heifer of three years old: for the waters also of Nimrim shall be desolate. desolate: Heb. desolations 35 Moreover I will cause to cease in Moab, saith the LORD, him that offereth in the high places, and him that burneth incense to his gods. 36 Therefore mine heart shall sound for Moab like pipes, and mine heart shall sound like pipes for the men of Kirheres: because the riches that he hath gotten are perished. 37 For every head shall be bald, and every beard clipped: upon all the hands shall be cuttings, and upon the loins sackcloth. clipped: Heb. diminished 38 There shall be lamentation generally upon all the housetops of Moab, and in the streets thereof: for I have broken Moab like a vessel wherein is no pleasure, saith the LORD. 39 They shall howl, saying, How is it broken down! how hath Moab turned the back with shame! so shall Moab be a derision and a dismaying to all them about him. back: Heb. neck  

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32 “You people of Sibmah, rich in vineyards,

I will weep for you even more than I did for Jazer.

Your spreading vines once reached as far as the Dead Sea,

but the destroyer has stripped you bare!

He has harvested your grapes and summer fruits.

33 Joy and gladness are gone from fruitful Moab.

The presses yield no wine.

No one treads the grapes with shouts of joy.

There is shouting, yes, but not of joy.

34 “Instead, their awful cries of terror can be heard from Heshbon clear across to Elealeh and Jahaz; from Zoar all the way to Horonaim and Eglath-shelishiyah.  Even the waters of Nimrim are dried up now.

35 “I will put an end to Moab,” Says the LORD, “for the people offer sacrifices at the pagan shrines and burn incense to their false gods.  36 My heart moans like a flute for Moab and Kirhareseth, for all their wealth has disappeared.  37 The people shave their heads and beards in mourning.  They slash their hands and put on clothes made of burlap.  38 There is crying and sorrow in every Moabite home and on every street.  For I have smashed Moab like an old unwanted jar.  39 How it is shattered!  Hear the wailing!  See the shame of Moab!  It has become an object of ridicule, and example of ruin to all its neighbors.”

The winepresses in Moab promised great prosperity, but once destroyed, there would be no income.  This devastation would reach far into the nearby regions.  Imagine the domino effect of one household losing their income.  Now, imagine an entire nation.

Jeremiah 48:40-47Jeremiah 48:40-47
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

40 For thus saith the LORD; Behold, he shall fly as an eagle, and shall spread his wings over Moab. 41 Kerioth is taken, and the strong holds are surprised, and the mighty men's hearts in Moab at that day shall be as the heart of a woman in her pangs. Kerioth: or, The cities 42 And Moab shall be destroyed from being a people, because he hath magnified himself against the LORD. 43 Fear, and the pit, and the snare, shall be upon thee, O inhabitant of Moab, saith the LORD. 44 He that fleeth from the fear shall fall into the pit; and he that getteth up out of the pit shall be taken in the snare: for I will bring upon it, even upon Moab, the year of their visitation, saith the LORD. 45 They that fled stood under the shadow of Heshbon because of the force: but a fire shall come forth out of Heshbon, and a flame from the midst of Sihon, and shall devour the corner of Moab, and the crown of the head of the tumultuous ones. tumultuous...: Heb. children of noise 46 Woe be unto thee, O Moab! the people of Chemosh perisheth: for thy sons are taken captives, and thy daughters captives. captives, and: Heb. in captivity, etc 47 Yet will I bring again the captivity of Moab in the latter days, saith the LORD. Thus far is the judgment of Moab.  

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40 This is what the LORD says:

“Look!  The enemy swoops down like an eagle,

spreading his wings over Moab.

41 Its cities will fall,

and its strongholds will be seized.

Even the mightiest warriors will be in anguish

like a woman in labor.

42 Moab will no longer be a nation,

for it has boasted against the LORD.

43 “Terror and traps and snares will be your lot,

O Moab,” says the LORD.

44 “Those who flee in terror will fall into a trap,

and those who escape the trap will step into a snare.

I will see to it that you do not get away,

for the time of your judgment has come,”

says the LORD.

45 “The people flee as far as Heshbon

but are unable to go on.

For a fire comes from Heshbon,

King Sihon’s ancient home,

to devour the entire land

with all its rebellious people.

46 “O Moab, they weep for you!

The people of the god Chemosh are destroyed!

Your sons and your daughters

have been taken away as captives.

47 But I will restore the fortunes of Moab

in days to come.

I, the LORD, have spoken!”

This is the end of Jeremiah’s prophecy concerning Moab.

Throughout the Bible, the eagle is used to represent swiftness, and is often seen as an image of destruction.  The Moab have been arrogant towards the LORD, and they will suffer much pain, as compared to a woman in labor.  There will be no escape, for those who are able to sneak past one part of destruction will fall into another ruination.  The destruction will move from city to city throughout the country and will be intense and total.

In order for an invasion by an enemy army to be totally destructive, there must be no living member remaining.  In this case, the sons and daughters were taken captive, but all of the people and their culture were destroyed.  Over history, the Moab people meshed with other cultures, never to have a genetic identity again.

Written by Mary Hudak-Collins

Mary Hudak-Collins

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