Jeremiah 48 – The Prophecy Against Moab & Hophra, King of Egypt

I have to admit, Hophra wasn’t that interesting or exciting, but I had to know about him because Amasis had been his general and his palace had been excavated at Memphis.

New Old Libya
For decades Libyans lived under a dictator who twisted their past. Now they must imagine their future.

Amasis was considered to be the last Pharaoh of Egypt before Alexander the Great stopped by for a visit and ruined all his fun.

So now I want to know a bit about…

Jeremiah 48
The Prophecy Against Moab

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.

Josephus (Antiquities, 10.9.7) implies that Jeremiah’s prophecy concerning the future destruction of Moab was fulfilled in the “twenty-third year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign” (582 B.C.).

“Nebo” – a town originally allotted to the tribe of Reuben.

Capital of Moab
Known in the Bible as Kir, Kir Moab, Kir-Heres(eth), and Hereseth, this site (modern Kerak) was the capital city of Moab.

It is situated on an isolated hilltop, with a view in all directions. The Crusaders recognized the defensible aspect of the site and in AD 1140 they made Kerak one of their strongest fortresses in the Middle East. The remains of the Crusader castle are shown here.

“Kiriathaim” – an ancient town, it too was allotted to Reuben.  Nebo, Kiriathaim and several other towns referred to in this chapter and mentioned also in an important Moabite inscription written by Mesha King of Moab and discovered in 1868.

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.

“Heshbon” – originally allotted to Reuben, it was later reassigned to Gad as a Levitical town.

“Madmen” – location unknown; perhaps a longer spelling of “Dimon” (Isa 15:9).  In Isa 25:10, the feminine form of the Hebrew word madmen is translated “dunghill.”

3 A voice of crying shall be from Horonaim, spoiling and great destruction.

“Horonaim” – location unknown.

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.

“Luhith” – location unknown.

6 Flee, save your lives, and be like the heath in the wilderness.

Moloch was one of the false gods that Israel would worship during its periods of apostasy.

This false deity is associated with Ammon in 1 Kings 11:7, “Then Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the detestable idol of Moab, on the mountain which is east of Jerusalem, and for Molech the detestable idol of the sons of Ammon.”

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.

“Chemosh” the national god of Moab.  The Hebrew text here implies the alternate spelling Chemish, as in “Carchemish.”

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.

“Give wings unto Moab” – or “Put salt on Moab” – to make its farmland unproductive and barren.

10 Cursed be he that doeth the work of the LORD deceitfully, and cursed be he that keepeth back his sword from blood.

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.

A copy of the Hebrew text of this verse has been found inscribed on a large clay seal, dating to the early Christian era and apparently used for stamping the bitumen with which the mouths of wine jars were sealed.

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 Beth-el their confidence.

“House of Israel” – the northern kingdom, destroyed and exiled in 722-721 B.C.

“Beth-el” – either (1) the well-known town where one of Jeroboam’s golden calves was placed (see 1 Kgs 12:28-30) or (2) in parallelism with Chemosh, the West Semitic deity known from contemporary Babylonian inscriptions as well as from the Elephantine papyri a century later.

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.

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!

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?

20 Moab is confounded; for it is broken down: howl and cry; tell ye it in Arnon, that Moab is spoiled,

“Arnon” – Moab’s most important river.

The Mesha Stele in its current location. The brown fragments are pieces of the original stele, whereas the smoother black material is Ganneau’s reconstruction from the 1870s.

21 And judgment is come upon the plain country; upon Holon, and upon Jahazah, and upon Mephaath,

“Holon” – not the same as the town mentioned in Josh 15:51, 21:15.  Its location is unknown.

22 And upon Dibon, and upon Nebo, and upon Beth-diblathaim,

23 And upon Kiriathaim, and upon Beth-gamul, and upon Beth-meon,

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.

Kingdom of Ammon – c. 10th century – 332 B.C.
Capital Rabbath Ammon (Amman)
Languages: Ammonite, Moabite
Religion: Milkomite
Government: Monarchy
King
Around 1000 BC Hanun
– 740-720 BC Sanipu
– 680–640 BC Amminadab I
Historical era Iron Age
Kingdom of Ammon flourishes 10th century BC
– Battle of Qarqar against the Assyrians 853 BC
– Invasion by Alexander the Great 332 BC
– Rabbath Ammon renamed to Philadelphia 248-282 BC
Today part of Jordan

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, (he is exceeding proud) 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 affect it.

31 Therefore will I howl for Moab, and I will cry out for all Moab; mine heart shall mourn for the men of Kir-heres.

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.

“Spoiler” – probably Nebuchadnezzar.

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.

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 Kir-heres: because the riches that he hath gotten are perished.

1. Mount Ararat The traditional site where Noah’s ark landed (Gen. 8:4). The exact location is unknown.

2. Ur First residence of Abraham, where he was almost a victim of human sacrifice, saw the angel of Jehovah, and received the Urim and Thummim (Gen. 11:28-12:1; Abr. 1; 3:1). (Note also a possible alternate site for Ur in northern Mesopotamia.)

3. Babylon, Babel (Shinar) First settled by Cush, the son of Ham, and by Nimrod. Area of origin of Jaredites at the time of the Tower of Babel in the plains of Shinar. Later provincial capital of Babylonia and residence of Babylonian kings, including Nebuchadnezzar who carried many Jews captive to this city following the destruction of Jerusalem (587 B.C.).
The Jews remained in captivity in Babylon for 70 years until the time of King Cyrus, who permitted the Jews to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple. Daniel the prophet also resided here under Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar, and Darius I (Gen. 10:10; 11:1-9; 2 Kgs. 24-25; Jer. 27:1-29:10; Ezek. 1:1; Dan. 1-12; Omni 1:22; Ether 1:33-43).

4. Shushan (Susa) Capital city of the Persian Empire under the reigns of Darius I (Darius the Great), Xerxes (Ahasuerus), and Artaxerxes. Residence of Queen Esther, whose courage and faith saved the Jews. Daniel and later Nehemiah served here (Neh. 1:1; 2:1; Esth. 1:1; Dan. 8:2).

5. Plain of Dura Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego were cast into a fiery furnace when they refused to worship a golden image created by Nebuchad-nezzar; the Son of God preserved them, and they emerged from the furnace unharmed (Dan. 3).

6. Assyria Asshur was Assyria’s first capital, followed by Nineveh. Assyrian rulers Shalmaneser V and Sargon II conquered the Northern Kingdom of Israel and carried away the 10 tribes captive in 721 B.C. (2 Kgs. 14-15, 17-19). Assyria was a threat to Judah until 612 B.C., when Assyria was conquered by Babylon.

7. Nineveh The capital of Assyria. Assyria attacked Judah during the reign of Hezekiah and the ministry of the prophet Isaiah. Judah was delivered when an angel smote 185,000 Assyrian soldiers (2 Kgs. 19:32-37). The Lord told the prophet Jonah to call this city to repentance (Jonah 1:2; 3:1-4).

8. Haran Abraham settled here for a time before going to Canaan. Abraham’s father and brother remained here. Rebekah (Isaac’s wife), and Rachel, Leah, Bilhah, and Zilpah (Jacob’s wives), came from this area (Gen. 11:31-32; 24:10; 29:4-6; Abr. 2:4-5).

9. Carchemish Pharaoh Necho was defeated here by Nebuchadnezzar II, which ended Egyptian power in Canaan (2 Chr. 35:20-36:6).

10. Sidon This city was founded by Sidon, a grandson of Ham, and is the northernmost Canaanite city (Gen. 10:15-20). It was the home of Jezebel, who introduced Baal worship into Israel (1 Kgs. 16:30-33).

11. Tyre This was an important commercial and seaport town in Syria. Hiram of Tyre sent cedar and brass and workmen to aid Solomon in building his temple (1 Kgs. 5:1-10, 18; 9:11).

12. Damascus Abraham rescued Lot near here. It became the chief city of Syria. During King David’s reign, the Israelites conquered the city. Elisha anointed Hazael to be king over Damascus (Gen. 14:14-15; 2 Sam. 8:5-6; 1 Kgs. 19:15).

13. Canaan Abraham and his children were given this land for an everlasting possession (Gen. 17:8).

14. Mount Sinai (Horeb) The Lord spoke to Moses from a burning bush (Ex. 3:1-2). Moses was given the Law and the Ten Commandments (Ex. 19-20). The Lord spoke to Elijah in a still, small voice (1 Kgs. 19:8-12).

15. Ezion-geber King Solomon built a “navy of ships” in Ezion-geber (1 Kgs. 9:26). Probably at this port the queen of Sheba, after hearing of the fame of Solomon, landed to see him (1 Kgs. 10:1-13).

16. Egypt Abraham traveled here because of a great famine in Ur (Abr. 2:1, 21). The Lord told Abraham to teach the Egyptians what He had revealed to him (Abr. 3:15). Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery (Gen. 37:28). Joseph became a ruler of Potiphar’s house here.
He was cast into prison. He interpreted Pharaoh’s dream and was given a position of authority in Egypt. Joseph and his brothers were brought together. Jacob and his family moved here (Gen. 39-46). The children of Israel dwelt in Goshen during their 430-year sojourn in Egypt (Gen. 47:6).

The Israelites multiplied “and waxed exceeding mighty”; they were then placed in bondage by the Egyptians (Ex. 1:7-14). After a series of plagues Pharaoh allowed Israel to leave Egypt after Israel had sojourned there (Ex. 12:31-41). Jeremiah was taken to Egypt (Jer. 43:4-7).

17. Caphtor (Crete) The ancient land of the Minoans.

37 For every head shall be bald, and every beard clipped: upon all the hands shall be cuttings, and upon the loin’s sackcloth.

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.

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.

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.

“Heshbon” – apparently at this time it was controlled by the Ammonites.

“Sihon” – refers to the associates of Sihon king of the Amorites, whose chief city was Heshbon during the time of the exodus.

46 Woe be unto thee, O Moab! the people of Chemosh perisheth: for thy sons are taken captives, and thy daughter’s captives.

47 Yet will I bring again the captivity of Moab in the latter days, saith the LORD. Thus far is the judgment of Moab.

Hophra, King of Egypt

Hophra (known to Egyptologists by the Greekform of his name, Apries), the fourth king of the 26th (Saite) Dynasty, ruled by Egypt from 589 to 570 B.C.  His palace has been excavated at Memphis.

Nebuchadnezzar invaded Judah in 588 B.C., Zedekiah requested help from Egypt and Hophra responded by sending troops.  This resulted in Nebuchadnezzar lifting the siege of Jerusalem to deal with the Egyptian threat.

The relief was short-lived because Nebuchadnezzar quickly drove off the Egyptians and returned to capture Jerusalem.

After Gedaliah, the new governor of Judah, was assassinated in 586 B.C., the remaining Judean leadership fled to Egypt, taking Jeremiah with them.  While in Egypt the prophet declared that God would hand over Hophra to his enemies.

Indeed, Jeremiah’s words reflect a disdain for Hophra.  In 46:17 he declared,

There they will exclaim, “Pharaoh, king of Egypt is only a loud noise; he has missed his opportunity.”

The Hebrew for “he has missed” in this verse sounds like the name Hophra.

Hophra’s downfall does suggest a degree of ineptitude.  In 570 B.C. he sent a force of Egyptians against a Greek colony in Cyrene in eastern Libya.  The Egyptian army was badly defeated, leading to a soldier’s revolt against Hophra’s leadership.

Hophra sent his general, Amasis, to quell the rebellion, but Amasis jointed instead.  Forced by Amasis into exile, Hophra made his way to the Babylonian court of Nebuchadnezzar II.

He returned three years later with the Babylonian army in an attempt to regain the throne but was defeated and lost his life in the process.  Nevertheless, Amasis buried him with full honors in the royal cemetery at Sais in Egypt’s western delta.

…the life of Alexander the Great?  Did he walk with you or did he worship false gods too?