Jeremiah was sent to prophesy not only to Israel but also to all the surrounding nations. Without exception they had shown hostility to Israel throughout their history and gloated over their suffering and exile. Thus the raging fury that caused the destruction of Jerusalem swept across the entire region leaving none of the other nations unaffected. Jeremiah had already been commanded to make the nations "drink" from the "cup" of God's anger. "For thus says HaShem, the God of Israel, to me: Take this wine cup of fury from My hand and cause all the nations to whom I send you to drink it" (Jeremiah 25:15).

Following his prophesies in the previous chapter about the calamities that were to befall Egypt , Jeremiah now turns to the Philistines, who inhabited Gaza and the surrounding areas to the south of the Land of Israel as well as Tyre and Sidon and their environs to the north.

The Philistines appear to have suffered a double punishment in the time of Jeremiah. The first was at the hands of the Egyptians. When the Babylonians were besieging Jerusalem during the last years of King Tzedekiah, Pharaoh king of Egypt wanted to advance against them not so much to help Judah (whom he did not want to be too powerful) but rather in order to deliver a blow to Nebuchadnezzar, whom he perceived as being a severe threat to Egypt's aspirations to global dominion. When the Babylonians heard that the Egyptians were marching against them, they temporarily withdrew from Jerusalem (cf. Jer.37:5) and began to advance against the Egyptians. This caused Pharaoh to turn back, and on his way back to Egypt , his forces swept through and ravaged Gaza , as mentioned in the present chapter, Jer. 47:1. The second blow to Gaza came later on, when the "waters arising from the north" (v 2) - the Babylonians - swept through and destroyed all the Philistine habitations, as detailed in this chapter.


Moab too was ravaged by the whirlwind of fury that swept through the entire region. A number of reasons are given in our text for the suffering that afflicted the Moabites. "For because you have trusted in your works and in your treasures, you too shall be taken, and Kemosh [the god of Moab ] and his priests and his princes together." (v 7). The Moabites had enjoyed prosperity and peace throughout their history. As we learn in v 11, they had never suffered exile, and they believed that they were immune. They had rejoiced and gloated when they saw the calamity that overtook the Ten Tribes of Israel, laughing at them as people laugh at a thief caught in the act (v 27). It was the pride and arrogance of the Moabites that sealed their fate (v 29-30).

The prophet urges the enemies of the Moabite to exact God's vengeance from them with the utmost diligence. "Cursed be he who does the work of HaShem negligently, and cursed be he who keeps back his sword from blood" (v 10). Nothing similar was said by the prophet in the case of any of the other nations against whom he prophesied. The Moabites were singled out for this severe vengeance because they were cousins of Israel (Lot, the father of Moab , was Abraham's nephew) and Israel was commanded not to afflict the Moabites (Deut. 2:9) yet the Moabites persistently showed themselves to be implacable enemies of Israel (see RaDaK on v 10).

Nevertheless, "I will bring back the captivity of Moab at the end of days, says HaShem" (v 47). According to RaDaK (ad loc.), this will take place in the time of Mashiach, despite the fact that all the nations became intermingled and at present the identity and whereabouts of the Moabites are unknown. Nevertheless they will return at the end of days and will be subject to Israel , as prophesied in Isaiah 11:14.



By Rabbi Avraham Yehoshua Greenbaum
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