JEREMIAH CHAPTER 49 PART 2 (49:7-22): Is there no more wisdom among people? What happened to the wise men’s counsel of our generations? Has EDOM lost her wisdom?
Edomites were descendants of Esau, Jacob’s elder brother. Remember, Abraham had a son called Isaac, who later had two sons with Rebekah, Jacob and Esau (Gen 25:19-20). Later in life, Isaac was tricked by Jacob and a blessing meant for Esau was given to him (Gen. 27). However, Jacob later made up with God and was even named Israel (Gen 32:22-32). Esau’s family is the origin of Edomites (Genesis 36). The edomites were not so friendly to Israelites but during the times of King Zedekiah of Judah and the advancement of their major enemy, Babylon (Nebuchadnezzar), they collaborated with Judah in matters to defend themselves against Babylon (see; Jerusalem summit in Jeremiahv27:3). However, for some reasons, the unification did not work and Edomites later worked with Nabuchadnezzar II of Babylon to plunder and destroy Jelusalem (Isaiah 34: 8, Obadiah 1). This is the whole reason for their judgment.
According to the writers of ‘got questions’ website, Edom in Hebrew means Red a reference to Esau who was born red all over (I personally think the best explanations could be the red soup that Esau later took in exchange for his blessings to Jacob). It was in the South of Judea. Anyway, the Edomites remained enemies of Israelites from the start and they are among the nations that refused the Israelites to cross through their land during Exodus (Numbers 20:17). According to Deuteronomy 23:7, God forbids Israelites from fighting with Edomites simply because they are close relatives. However, the continued attack on Israelites by Edomites provoked Israel into some wars (See King Saul’s and David’s wars). They were again relieved during King Solomon’s regime and later conquered again by Maccabeans (Jews). King Herod, one of their descendants became the King of Judea during the rise of Roman Empire over Judea. This man’s hatred led to the massacre of baby boys in times of Jesus Christ (Matthew 2:16-18). However, after the death of Herod, the Idumaeans (Edomites) decreased gradually (God’s prophecy; Ezekiel 35:15 and Genesis 25:25), Israel ruled. Edom is partly covered by Israel and Jordan countries.
Our today’s reading starts with questions: Is there no more wisdom in the town of Teman? Can the wise men of Edom no longer give good advice? Have they lost their wisdom? Historically, Edom was blessed with wise men. Actually, men like Eliphaz were direct descendants of Esau and among the wise men. When we read the story of a wise man called Job, 3 wise men (friends) visited him when he had troubles and among them was Eliphaz (Genesis 36:4, Job 2:11). Eliphaz came from one of the principal towns of Edom, Teman (a name for Esau’s grandson). The city was famous for wise men, schools of philosophy and all sorts of learning. In times of wars or peace, this was a centre for advice and strategies for the success of Edomites (See John Gill’s writings). Yeah, a city blessed with wisdom was now a cursed one, sinners who never listened to God’s instruction and God was wondering how come such wise people can’t fathom the best life!! (7).
While thieves and common enemies usually leave us with something after destruction, God would destroy Edom completely sparing nothing. Israelites had been instructed to always leave something behind during harvesting so the poor and orphans can take it up (Lev 19:10, and Deut 24:21), but the same mercy would not befall Edomites (8-10). Verse 11 seems contradictory, let us examine it. While some believe these words to mean God’s mercy and love that could even lead to salvation of Edomite remnants in Gospel times, it is better and understandable to understand the verse as a terrible punishment to Edom that will leave fatherless orphans and widows not taken care of. According to John Gill’s expositions, to have someone take care, provide and protect your children or widow after your death could be so relieving and this Edom did not deserve. Also, reading from the verses 8-10, it is clear God’s plunder of Edom would even be worse than a thief plundering someone’s house.
Therefore Targum and the writers of commentator Matthew Henry cite this verse as an irony signifying how God would not take care of orphans and widows left behind (And I think they could not be there since everything was to be wiped). Instead, this verse is better seen as a paraphrase of words addressed to Israelites, "But you, O house of Israel! You shall not leave your orphans; I will secure them, and let your widows rest on my word”. Yeah, God’s children are far better and different from the rest even when all have sinned. While no hope shall be left for a sinful generation, God’s children always have that hope to hold on following the calamity, “Those who believe in me shall live even after dying” (John 11:25-26). Yeah, comparably some people like Israelites or other nations that had not directly mistreated Judah or Israel deserved no punishment, but Justice prevails and they too face it. But then, if such people can face God’s punishment, then how about the Edomites? If God’s judgment starts with his own house or children, how about those not attached to him? (12-13)
Historically and geographically, Edom was a strong nation with wise men, riches and lived in caves that proved security. All these achievements set them up for pride and plunder of other nations. The Lord said that even though their nests were too high to be reached (compare with self-exaltation), their cliffs and defenses too strong to be penetrated, God would reach them. Like the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19:23-29), Edom would be destroyed. God would shoot himself as a lion from the bushes around Jordan River or as a swift eagle and plunder down the pride of a sinful nation. And no one would come for Edom’s rescue. While its soldiers were marvelous, its riches so splendid, its pride soaring high, Edom would fall and people would laugh at her life (13-22, I suggest you read this same account in Obadiah). The exactness of Prophet Jeremiah and Obadiah’s message, written 200 years apart is a good indication of God speaking. Edom was later smashed by Babylonians shortly after the fall of Jerusalem to the same Babylonians.
Our today’s lesson is at verse 7, “Is there no more wisdom? What happened to the wise men of the city? Do they still give good advice?” I have taken little time to ponder on these words and I am guilty as well. The bible says that the respect of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and looks like the more we study, and technology and life becomes better, the more we lose that wisdom. Our society is now darkened with homosexuality, drug abuse, and murder, theft, pornography and disrespect all in the names of knowledge and modernization. And I am sure that as God looks at us, He is wondering how such a beautiful and wise society can drown!!! But the answer is simple: Our success brings pride. Our security, our great families, our great education, our great technology brings us pride and we forget that we live because He does. A country like Edom that was center for knowledge, philosophy and wisdom had turned away from GOD and mocked the fall of Israelites and we are doing the same!!! However, God’s news is that for the Israelites’ orphans and widows, God will take care of them. That simply means that when we become God’s children through our belief in Jesus, we cannot be swallowed completely (The righteous may fall, but they will stand again).
I am really sorry I have been drawn away so many times by my success, I am simply happy that the mercy and favors of God rest upon me. I hope it is the same with you. I can never end without inviting you to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and savior. Say this prayer with me: “Oh God, I am sorry I have wronged you. I now see you sent your only son to die for me so I can live forever in happiness. I am a sinner and I regret it all. Please, forgive me Jesus and receive me in your family as your child. Thank you for loving me. In the name of Jesus Christ I pray. Amen”. If you have prayed this prayer, we believe you have been saved. Find a true church near and be part of it.