Again YHWH’s “word” or message came to Ezekiel. In the Targum, this message is identified as a “word of prophecy from before the Lord.” (25:1) As at other times, Ezekiel was addressed as “son of man,” reminding him that he was a mortal in the service of the eternal God YHWH. He was directed to set his “face” toward, or direct his attention to, the “sons of Ammon” (the Ammonites) and to “prophesy against them.” (25:2)
“Say to the sons of Ammon [the Ammonites],” Ezekiel was told, “Thus says the Lord YHWH, Because you said Aha! [in expression of malicious glee] over my sanctuary when it was profaned [by the victorious warriors who destroyed the temple], and over the land of Israel when it was desolated [by the troops under the command of King Nebuchadnezzar], and over the house [or people] of Judah when it went into exile [to the land of Chaldea or Babylonia] [25:3], therefore, look, I am giving you to the sons [or people] of the East for a possession, and they will set up their encampments in you [in your land] and situate their dwellings [or tents] in you [in your land]. They will eat your fruit, and they will drink your milk.” These words indicated that the Ammonites would be conquered and their land would be devastated. Nomadic people from the east would then enter the land and partake of its produce and the milk of cows and goats. The word “look” served to focus attention on these developments. (25:4; see the Notes section.)
YHWH determined to transform Rabbah (the “city of Ammon” [LXX], an ancient location linked to modern Amman, Jordan) into a place where camels would pasture and the “sons of Ammon,” or the territory where the Ammonites resided, into a region where flocks could rest. According to the ancient Jewish historian Josephus (Antiquities, X, ix, 7), King Nebuchadnezzar warred against the Ammonites five years after he devastated Jerusalem. At that time the Ammonites would have come to “know” or have been forced to recognize that YHWH was the God who, through his prophets, had made known in advance what would happen to them. (25:5)
The word of YHWH, conveyed through Ezekiel, censured the Ammonites for having clapped their “hand” (“hands [P967]), stamped their “foot,” and rejoiced with “all contempt [or malicious glee] in [their] soul [or in their whole being] over the land of Israel” (or over the devastation of the land, the military defeat of the kingdom of Judah, and the exile of the surviving people). (25:6) “Therefore,” the word of YHWH through his prophet continued, “Look, I have stretched out my hand [directed my power] against you and will hand you over as spoil to the nations [that will conquer Ammon], and I will cut you off from the peoples [cause you to cease existing as a people], and will make you perish from the lands. I will destroy you, and you will know that I am YHWH.” The word “look” directed attention to what YHWH would do. Upon the fulfillment of his word, the Ammonites would “know” or be forced to recognize that YHWH was the God who had expressed his punitive judgment against them, for he announced their downfall in advance. (25:7)
“Moab and Seir,” the Moabites and Edomites, had expressed the thought that the “house” [or people] of Judah” was “like all the [other] nations,” nations that had been conquered. These words implied that there was nothing different about the people of Judah, for their God had not acted to prevent the conquest of the land and the exile of the surviving people. (25:8; see the Notes section.) In view of what the Moabites said, YHWH is quoted as declaring that he would be “opening the shoulder [slope or flank] of Moab with its cities, with its cities on its frontier, the glory of the land — Beth-jeshimoth, Baal-meon, and Kiriathaim.” To focus attention on this development, the words are introduced with the verb “look.” The reference appears to be to exposing the eastern part of Moab to invasion. As the desert stretched eastward from this frontier, it likely was not heavily fortified. The three cities, Beth-jeshimoth, Baal-meon, and Kiriathaim, must have been significant in view of their being identified as the “glory of the land.” (25:9; see the Notes section.)
To the “sons of the East [Kedem (LXX)]” or the nomadic peoples residing east of Moab, YHWH determined to give Moab along with the “sons of Ammon” (the Ammonites and their land) as a possession. At that time, the “sons of Ammon” would no longer be remembered among the nations, suggesting that they would cease to exist as a distinct people. (25:10; see the Notes section.) By means of the agency of his choosing, YHWH would execute punitive judgments upon Moab. Upon the fulfillment of these judgments, the people would know or be forced to recognize YHWH as the God who had acted against them. According to the ancient Jewish historian Josephus (Antiquities, X, ix, 7), King Nebuchadnezzar engaged in a military campaign against the Moabites five years after he devastated Jerusalem. (25:11)
The Lord YHWH censured Edom (Idumea [LXX] or the Edomites) for having taken vengeance “against the house of Judah,” making themselves guilty of a serious offense when taking vengeance against the people. This happened when the Edomites sided with the enemies of the people of Judah and took advantage of their defeat. (25:12; see Obadiah 10-14 and the Notes section.) “Therefore,” the Lord YHWH is quoted as saying, “I will stretch out my hand [or direct my power] against Edom [Idumea (LXX)] and cut off from it man and beast, and I will make it a ruin from Teman [an Edomite city or district] even to Dedan [a prominent Edomite city a considerable distance away]. By the sword they [the Edomites] will fall.” According to the Septuagint, the people who were pursued from Thaiman [Teman] would “fall by the sword.” (25:13)
YHWH determined to take vengeance against Edom (Idumea [LXX]) “by the hand [or agency] of [his] people Israel.” The Israelites would be acting in keeping with divine wrath against the Edomites. In the second century BCE, “Hyrcanus,” according to Josephus (Antiquities, XIII, ix, 1), “subdued all the Idumeans,” permitting them to stay in the country if they submitted to circumcision and made use of the “laws of the Jews.” “They were so desirous of living in the country of their forefathers that they submitted to the use of circumcision.” Whether this or an earlier campaign of warfare should be regarded as the fulfillment of the prophetic word cannot be determined for a certainty. Upon the execution of vengeance against them, the Edomites would know that the Lord YHWH had taken action against them through his people. (25:14)
The Lord YHWH is quoted as referring to the Philistines (“allophyles [those of another tribe], LXX) as acting vengefully in taking vengeance with “contempt [rejoicing (LXX), probably a malicious glee] in the soul,” or with a hateful inclination in their very being, against the Israelites, with the aim of destroying them. Their objective respecting the Israelites originated from age-old hostility. (25:15) “Therefore,” the Lord YHWH declared that he would stretch out his hand or use his power against the Philistines (“allophyles [those of another tribe], LXX). He would “cut off the Cherethites [Cretans (LXX)] and destroy the rest of the seacoast.” The close association with the Philistines suggests that the Cherethites were Philistines or related to them. As for the “rest of the seacoast,” this could designate the survivors of military action against the Philistines along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. (25:16) Upon letting the Philistines experience “great vengeance [plural in Hebrew, indicating either many or severe acts of vengeance] along with wrathful punitive discipline, YHWH would come to be known by the Philistines as having executed vengeance against them. (25:17)
In verse 4, the Septuagint says that the “sons of Kedem” (a transliteration of the Hebrew word for “east”) would encamp “with their belongings [your belongings (P967); those of the Ammonites].” According to the oldest extant Greek manuscript (P967), the “sons of Kedem” would dismantle their tents in the territory of the Ammonites. The Septuagint, including P967, says that the “sons of Kedem” would drink the “fat” or the fatness of the Ammonites. This may mean that they would partake of the rich liquid products.
The Septuagint rendering of verse 8 does not include any reference to Seir. Instead of “house of Judah,” the Septuagint says “house of Israel and Judah.”
The wording of verse 9 in the Septuagint differs significantly from the reading of the extant Hebrew text. “Therefore, look, I will lame the shoulder of Moab from the cities at its extremities, a choice land, the house of Asimouth above the spring of the city by the sea.” The reading of the oldest extant Greek manuscript (P967) could be understood to indicate that God would take away choice land from the border cities of Moab.
The noun “Kedem” in verse 10 of the Septuagint is a transliteration of the Hebrew word for “east.”
The Septuagint rendering of verse 12 adds the thought that the Edomites resented, or bore a grudge against, the people of Judah.