Throughout Ezekiel, we find a number of curses called down upon various groups of people. Although this may seem odd in lieu of the text showing how God will pour his wrath upon Judah, it makes sense in the overall Old and New Testament narrative.
Anyone who messes with the people of God will reap the consequences.
This article will dive into the various cursed cities, what those cities did to hurt the people of God, and why this matters for us today.
Verse: Ezekiel 25:1-7
"Because you have clapped your hands and stamped your feet, rejoicing with all the malice of your heart against the land of Israel, therefore I will stretch out my hand against you and give you as plunder to the nations. I will wipe you out from among the nations and exterminate you from the countries. I will destroy you, and you will know that I am the LORD’ ” (Ezekiel 25:6-7).
From the incestuous relationship of Lot (Abraham’s nephew) and his youngest daughter came this group of people, the Ammonites (Genesis 19:37-38). When the Israelites escape Egypt, the Ammonites refused to give them bread or water when they passed by (Deuteronomy 23:3-4).
They have a lot of similarities to the Moabites listed below, particularly that the two of them liked to team up on the Israelites.
They were “predatory” and hostile toward the Israelite people.
As pagans, they worshipped Moloch, with practices such as child sacrifice (Leviticus 18:21). Worst of all, when the temple is destroyed the Ammonites mocked the Israelites (Ezekiel 25:3). Known for violence, they’d ripped open pregnant woman (Amos 1:13) and gouged out enemy eyes (1 Samuel 11:2).
Because of their hostility toward Israel and detestable practices, God, in Ezekiel, says he’ll give the Ammonites over to the people of the East to be captured. By the Roman period, all of their culture had been eradicated or absorbed, as indicated in the curse in Ezekiel.
Verse: Ezekiel 25:8-11
“This is what the Sovereign LORD says: ‘Because Moab and Seir said, “Look, Judah has become like all the other nations,” therefore I will expose the flank of Moab, beginning at its frontier towns—Beth Jeshimoth, Baal Meon and Kiriathaim—the glory of that land. I will give Moab along with the Ammonites to the people of the East as a possession, so that the Ammonites will not be remembered among the nations; and I will inflict punishment on Moab. Then they will know that I am the LORD.’ ”
Similar to the Ammonites, these people came from an incestuous relationship from Lot. Instead of being nomadic, they settled. However, like the Ammonites, they were malicious toward the Israelites.
They frequently fought Israel, including their King Eglon subjugating the kingdom of Israel for eighteen years during the time of the judges (Judges 3:12-20). A lefthanded judge by the name of Ehud slew the king and freed the Israelite people.
Moab also appears to mock Israel when they enter captivity (Ezekiel 25:8). Similar to the Ammonite curse, they’ll be absorbed into Arab culture, and their name and customs will not live throughout history.
Verse: Ezekiel 25:12-14
“This is what the Sovereign LORD says: ‘Because Edom took revenge on Judah and became very guilty by doing so, therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I will stretch out my hand against Edom and kill both man and beast. I will lay it waste, and from Teman to Dedan they will fall by the sword. I will take vengeance on Edom by the hand of my people Israel, and they will deal with Edom in accordance with my anger and my wrath; they will know my vengeance, declares the Sovereign LORD.’ ”
The Edomites, descendants of Esau (Genesis 36), like the former two kingdoms mentioned, attacked Israel throughout their history.
King David appears to subjugate this kingdom, but they manage to revolt after his rule (2 Chronicles 21:8). The Edomites and Israelites appear to have a hate-hate relationship throughout history as each attempt to subjugate the other.
Throughout their history, embittered by Jacob having the birthright of the kingdom of God instead of Esau, they:
- Refused to let the Israelites into their territory (Numbers 20)
- Joined Nebuchadnezzar and encouraged him to be more harsh in his dealings with Israel after Israel revolted
- Took possession of the land during the captivity of Israel and Judah
This, in some ways, was to get their revenge (Ezekiel 25:12) on Israel, since the younger child Jacob became the father of God’s nation.
Because of this, God prophesied he would kill both man and beast in Edom.
Verse: Ezekiel 25:15-17
“This is what the Sovereign LORD says: ‘Because the Philistines acted in vengeance and took revenge with malice in their hearts, and with ancient hostility sought to destroy Judah, therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am about to stretch out my hand against the Philistines, and I will wipe out the Kerethites and destroy those remaining along the coast. I will carry out great vengeance on them and punish them in my wrath. Then they will know that I am the LORD, when I take vengeance on them.’ ”
Many of us right away know the Philistines didn’t treat the Israelites right, from their attempt to quash the Israelites with Goliath (1 Samuel 17) to Samson being delivered to the Philistines (Judges 14:1).
No matter which specific case they “took revenges . . . and with ancient hostility sough to destroy Judah” (Ezekiel 25:15) they gave God plenty of reasons and instances to enact his judgment in Ezekiel.
God says he’ll wipe out the Philistines living on the southern coast (Ezekiel 25:16). Known as the “Sea Peoples,” by some historians, this would’ve devastated their economy.
Verse: Ezekiel 26:1-21
“Therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am against you, Tyre, and I will bring many nations against you, like the sea casting up its waves. 4 They will destroy the walls of Tyre and pull down her towers; I will scrape away her rubble and make her a bare rock. … “For this is what the Sovereign LORD says: From the north I am going to bring against Tyre Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, king of kings, with horses and chariots, with horsemen and a great army. 8 He will ravage your settlements on the mainland with the sword; he will set up siege works against you, build a ramp up to your walls and raise his shields against you” (Ezekiel 26:3-4, 7-8).
Tyre received a lot more breadth in Ezekiel than the other nations. They appear to have a couple offenses. They mock the Israelites and plunder the land, similar to the nations above (Ezekiel 26:1-2).
This Phoenician city receives a walloping when God sends many nations against it (Ezekiel 26:3). Since they wanted to plunder Israel, God would allow other nations to plunder them.
What’s more, Nebuchadnezzar would fight against them, devastating them to the point where all the ruins of their city would rest underneath the ocean waves, the very same waves they used to conquer.
This was particularly devastating because Tyre was a wealthy and prosperous city (Ezekiel 26:17). This goes to show a city can go from everything to nothing overnight if it goes against the Lord.
Verse: Ezekiel 28:20-26
I will send a plague upon you and make blood flow in your streets. The slain will fall within you, with the sword against you on every side. Then you will know that I am the LORD. “ ‘No longer will the people of Israel have malicious neighbors who are painful briers and sharp thorns. Then they will know that I am the Sovereign LORD” (Ezekiel 28:23-24).
A port city, like Tyre, Sidon had been “thorns” in the Israelites sides for a number of years (Ezekiel 28:24). They introduced the Israelites to their foreign gods (1 Kings 11) and Jezebel, one of the most renowned wicked queens of Israel, came from Sidon (1 Kings 16).
Because they drew the Israelites away from God and slaughtered their prophets (Jezebel), God vows to send the Persians, who will wipe out the land of Sidon, as was implemented by Artaxerxes conquering Sidon.
Verse: Ezekiel 29:1-21
“I will make the land of Egypt desolate among devastated lands, and her cities will lie desolate forty years among ruined cities. And I will disperse the Egyptians among the nations and scatter them through the countries. “ ‘Yet this is what the Sovereign LORD says: At the end of forty years I will gather the Egyptians from the nations where they were scattered. I will bring them back from captivity and return them to Upper Egypt, the land of their ancestry. There they will be a lowly kingdom. It will be the lowliest of kingdoms and will never again exalt itself above the other nations. I will make it so weak that it will never again rule over the nations” (Ezekiel 29:12-15).
Even though the Egyptians enslaved the Israelite people for 400 years, Israel turned to the Egyptians instead of God during their crises with Assyria and Babylon.
Since Egypt refused to acknowledge God’s power (Ezekiel 29:3), God vows the Egyptians will be captured. They Egyptians would lose their wealth, and a great number of them would die. God would scatter them, but he also promised to restore them “after 40 years.”
However, they never recovered or were as established as before these events took place.
What does this mean for us?
These curses and prophecies may appear to be reserved for one part of history, but we have to keep some things in mind.
God takes the subject of who he has chosen very seriously. Anyone who fought against Israel would receive a curse (or conversely, anyone who blessed them would recieve a blessing: Genesis 12:3).
We are adopted into God’s people. Although Christians may face persecution and trials now, we have to keep in mind, God will not let injustices prevail forever.
Finally, no nation who ignores or mocks God will last forever. Throughout history, we watched great nations like Tyre succumb to nothingness. The only kingdom that will last forever is God’s Kingdom.
Photo credit: Unsplash/Joanne Francis
Hope Bolinger is a literary agent at C.Y.L.E. and graduate of Taylor University's professional writing program. More than 450 of her works have been featured in various publications ranging from Writer's Digest to Keys for Kids. She has worked for various publishing companies, magazines, newspapers, and literary agencies and has edited the work of authors such as Jerry B. Jenkins and Michelle Medlock Adams. Her column "Hope's Hacks," tips and tricks to avoid writer's block, reaches 6,000+ readers weekly and is featured monthly on Cyle Young's blog, which receives 63,000+ monthly hits. Her modern-day Daniel, “Blaze,” (Illuminate YA) released in June, and the sequel “Den releases July 2020. Find out more about her here.