Edom will disappear
God tags Edom to die1
Earth, listen to me.
Everyone with ears
He has scheduled it for slaughter
Nations crowded with people.
They’re doomed and damned to die.
3They’ll die and rot where they fall.
The stink of their death will thicken the air.
Mountains will swim in their blood.
4Heaven goes dark as the sky disappears
like someone rolling up like a scroll.
Everything withers and dies,
Like leaves on a vine
Or figs on a tree.
5When my sword has finished the sky
It’s coming to Edom next.
Those people are tagged for destruction.
6The LORD has a sword slobbered in blood,
Laced in trails of fat,
Blood of lambs and goats and rams,
From the sacrifice in Bozrah,
From the slaughter in Edom.
7Wild oxen fall,
With young steers beside them,
As the land swallows their blood,
Feeds on their fat,
And grows richer from nourishment it takes.
God gets justice for Jerusalem8
This is the day the LORD settles the score,
Giving Jerusalem the justice it’s due.
When its streams fill with tar,
Its dirt stinks of sulfur,
And its fields go up in flame.
10Edom’s fire will burn day and night,
The smoldering smoke will never stop.
From one generation to the next,
No one will come to this land.
11Owls and ravens will claim the land.
Birds will make it their homes.
God will scatter Edom in a ruin of rocks,
As a portrait of utter confusion.
12Nobles are gone.
Princes are gone.
The kingdom of Edom has vanished.
13Thorns grow on its walls.
Bushes fill its towers.
Jackals and ostriches
Haunt its streets.
Demons of the dark14 15Owls build nests and hatch their broods
In shadows of what used to be Edom,
While vultures gather for a meal
And sit with their mates and wait.
16Look it up in the LORD’s scroll.
There’s nothing missing. It’s all there.
Everything he ordered,
His Spirit made it happen.
17The LORD gave Edom to these animals.
They’ll live there for as long as time.
For generation after generation
These animals will make themselves at home.
This is what you do with a scroll when you’re done with it. Roll it up and put it away. This word picture shows up in only one other Bible passage: Revelation 6:14, after the four horsemen of the apocalypse arrive. “The sky disappeared, like someone rolling up a scroll. Every mountain and island disappeared, too.”
Edom was Judah’s neighbor east of the Dead Sea, in what is now the country of Jordan. Edom and Judah competed for the copper mines in the long valley south of the Dead Sea, stretching to the northern tip of the Red Sea, at the Gulf of Aqaba. When Babylon levelled Jerusalem in 586 BC, the prophet Obadiah said Edom supported the invaders and later joined in robbing conquered Judah of whatever the Babylonians failed to take.
Destruction” is a word loaded with powerful Jewish history. The Hebrew word is herem. When Joshua and the Israelites invaded Canaan, the Promised Land that became ancient Israel and Judah, the soldiers took a vow to dedicate themselves to herem, the annihilation of the Canaanites. In today’s culture, that might qualify as genocide. This kind of vow in ancient times was considered irrevocable and irredeemable. You couldn’t take it back. And nothing of the enemy was allowed to live. Everything in the city was devoted to God, much like sacrificial animals that are slaughtered and burned. “It’s a vow of devotion. If something is devoted to the LORD—whether human, animal, or land—you can’t have it back. If you devote something in this unique way, it’s holy and it stays holy because it belongs to the LORD…You can’t reverse that. You can’t buy back that person’s life. That person is doomed to die” (Leviticus 27:28-29).
Though animals die in war, these animals apparently represent the common people. Their leaders die in verse 7.
Bozrah may have been the capital of Edom at one time. The name means an impenetrable fortress. Some archaeologists associate it with Busaira, about 30 miles (50 km) north of Petra. Petra itself was an easily defended city people entered through a long, narrow trail between two sheer cliffs.
Some words in this verse are rare, leaving scholars guessing. That’s why there is so much discrepancy between Bible translations and paraphrases. Some scholars say demons and ghosts probably belong on this list because many people in ancient times said demons lived in the desert badlands. That’s where Satan tempted Jesus, in the Judean desert (Matthew 4:1-11; Mark 1:12-13; Luke 4:1-13).
Literally Lilith, demon of the night. In myths during Bible times, Lilith referred to a group of female demons who seduced and killed young men. There’s another myth, which scholars say was written after the Genesis story about Adam and Eve. This myth says a woman named Lilith was Adam’s first wife. They did not part politely. Lilith took to killing children afterward.
Scholars say this suggests God didn’t give the job to someone else. He did it himself.
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