Jeremiah Chapter 47: Prophecy Against the Philistines

Dec 26th, 2009 | By | Category: Jeremiah, Psalm 83 and Gog & Magog, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)

Jeremiah Chapter 47: Prophecy Against the Philistines

Jer. 47:1 The word of the LORD that came to Jeremiah the prophet against the Philistines, before that Pharaoh smote Gaza.

Jeremiah continued his prophecies against the Gentiles. These prophecies, which were appended to his previous prophecies about Israel and Judah, are summarized as follows:

Chapter 46 was against Egypt.

Chapter 47 was against the Philistines.

Chapter 48 was against Moab.

Chapter 49 was against Ammon, Edom, Damascus, Kedar, Hazor, and Elam.

Chapters 50 and 51 were against Babylon.

All of these Gentile nations, whose fate was prophesied, were near Israel. With one or two exceptions, the names of the cities in these nations are not meant to be spiritualized, that is, until we get to Babylon, which has a twofold application.

In chapter 25, Jeremiah made all the nations drink of the cup of Jehovah’s fury. In chapter 27, the prophet constructed wooden yokes for the Gentile kings of Edom, Moab, Ammon, Tyre, and Sidon. And Ezekiel prophesied in the days of Zedekiah against Ammon, Moab, Tyre, Egypt, the Philistines, Egypt, Ethiopia, Libya, Lydia, etc. (Ezekiel 25-32). All of these prophecies were given prior to Gedaliah’s assassination and the fleeing of the remnant of vinedressers to Egypt. In the meantime, Babylon besieged Tyre and Sidon, and because of strong resistance, it took Nebuchadnezzar more than ten years to defeat them. Thus there was a division of the Babylonian army, with one segment going to Jerusalem.

Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, and Zedekiah were all puppet kings in Judah. We focus on the end of Zedekiah’s reign when Jerusalem and the Temple were utterly destroyed, but a lot of activity took place in which Egypt and Babylon were the two superpowers. The peoples in between were threatened in one way or another.

Chapter 47 is a prophecy of the destruction of the Philistines. In verse 1, God told Jeremiah to prophesy against the Philistines before Pharaoh, king of Egypt, smote Gaza. Then, starting with verse 2, the account seems to radically change, for it talks about a flood coming down from the north with noise, chariots, and a wild commotion, whereas Egypt would attack Gaza from the south. However, the chapter talks about the destruction of the Philistines and not about Egypt.

Jer. 47:2 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.

A “flood” (King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon) would arise out of the north to overflow the land of Philistia and its inhabitants.

Jer. 47:3 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;

Verse 3 describes the coming of the Babylonian armies with the noise of stamping hooves, the rushing of chariots, and the rumbling of wheels. Imagine seeing an audiovisual presentation of all this activity! The Babylonians were famous for their chariots.

“The fathers shall not look back to their children for feebleness of hands.” The Philistine fathers would be so panic-stricken by the suddenness of the attack that they would even forsake their own children in wanting to escape.

Jer. 47:4 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.

Why did Jeremiah mention Tyre and Zidon (Sidon), which were identified with Phoenicia?

They were brought into the account because they were under siege at the same time that Nebuchadnezzar attacked the Philistines. Having cast in their lot with Tyre and Sidon, the Philistines were supplying weapons and goods. Because the Philistines were helpers, the Lord was against them as well, for it was God’s determination that Tyre and Sidon be utterly destroyed. The siege was long; it did not happen overnight. The Bible is seemingly quiet on the siege and related events unless we coordinate a clue here and a clue there, in which case we sense that a lot was happening at that time. However, to center attention too much on the siege would detract from the focal point of each prophecy. Here the concentration of energy and judgment was against Philistia, but others were in the picture in an indirect way, as shown in chapter 25 and here in chapters 46-49 of Jeremiah. And chapters 50 and 51 will treat the most important judgment of the Gentile nations: Babylon.

In regard to place names, Tyre and Sidon are well recognized today. Gaza (the Gaza Strip) and Ashkelon also exist at the present time (verse 5). But what about Caphtor? For “the country of Caphtor,” the RSV has “the coastland of Caphtor.” At one time in its history, Egypt sent a naval force against Crete, which is an island in the Mediterranean Sea. The economies of cities on the coast were based on a mercantile profession, but Phoenicia, up north, was the leading city with a worldwide trade. Philistia was in league with Phoenicia, so the Lord withdrew Philistia’s support by destroying it.

After the long, long siege of Tyre and Sidon and their destruction, no compensation was given to the Babylonians, who had come down as the Lord’s executioner. Hence the foot soldiers were promised a “salary” when they destroyed Egypt, for the wealth of that nation would more than compensate for whatever personal hardship and loss of goods they had experienced. Secular history is silent on this matter because historians have confused the Persians with the Babylonians; that is, they have given more credit to Persia than to the king of Babylon, but Nebuchadnezzar was the big power at that time.

Jer. 47:5 Baldness is come upon Gaza; Ashkelon is cut off with the remnant of their valley: how long wilt thou cut thyself?

“Baldness” meant the land of Gaza would be stripped of possessions. The inhabitants of Gaza and Ashkelon would “cut” themselves in trying to get their gods to answer and help.

Comment: For verse 5, the RSV reads, “Baldness has come upon Gaza, Ashkelon has perished. O remnant of the Anakim, how long will you gash yourselves?”

Jer. 47:6 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.

Jer. 47:7 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.

Verses 6 and 7 suggest this prophecy was dramatized like an ode. Traveling men went about with this message to help Jeremiah. To dramatize the slaughter, one of them would talk to an imaginary sword he held in his hand, and another would answer. And the slaughter was necessary—it had to be accomplished in the future. The message was that at some time in the future, a sudden overwhelming attack would come from the north. The sword could not rest and be put in its “scabbard,” or sheath, until it had fully accomplished the destruction of Ashkelon and the “sea shore” (Caphtor), as appointed by the Lord.

Q: The judgment was against nations that are Israel’s immediate Arab neighbors today. Is the antitype the Psalm 83 setting prior to the destruction of mystic Babylon?

A: We are inclined to think along those lines, for the forces of Gog in Jacob’s Trouble will come from the north. However, in one way, Christendom is like a subliminal picture in the background.

In 606 BC, the Moabites and the Ammonites looked down from the hills and gloated over the destruction of Jerusalem. In addition, they pointed out fleeing Jews to the Babylonians. Their desire was to see the Jews exterminated, and that same deep-seated spirit exists today with the Palestinians. How can a treaty be made with such people? The cancer has to be cured and disciplined supernaturally.

(1981-1983 and 1998-2004 Studies)

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