I have to admit, Hophra wasn’t that interesting or exciting, but I had to know about him because Amasis had been his general and his palace had been excavated at Memphis.
Amasis was considered to be the last Pharaoh of Egypt before Alexander the Great stopped by for a visit and ruined all his fun.
So now I want to know a bit about…
The Prophecy Against Moab
1 Against Moab thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Woe unto Nebo! for it is spoiled: Kiriathaim is confounded and taken: Misgab is confounded and dismayed.
Josephus (Antiquities, 10.9.7) implies that Jeremiah’s prophecy concerning the future destruction of Moab was fulfilled in the “twenty-third year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign” (582 B.C.).
“Nebo” – a town originally allotted to the tribe of Reuben.
“Kiriathaim” – an ancient town, it too was allotted to Reuben. Nebo, Kiriathaim and several other towns referred to in this chapter and mentioned also in an important Moabite inscription written by Mesha King of Moab and discovered in 1868.
2 There shall be no more praise of Moab: in Heshbon they have devised evil against it; come, and let us cut it off from being a nation. Also thou shalt be cut down, O Madmen; the sword shall pursue thee.
“Heshbon” – originally allotted to Reuben, it was later reassigned to Gad as a Levitical town.
“Madmen” – location unknown; perhaps a longer spelling of “Dimon” (Isa 15:9). In Isa 25:10, the feminine form of the Hebrew word madmen is translated “dunghill.”
3 A voice of crying shall be from Horonaim, spoiling and great destruction.
“Horonaim” – location unknown.
4 Moab is destroyed; her little ones have caused a cry to be heard.
5 For in the going up of Luhith continual weeping shall go up; for in the going down of Horonaim the enemies have heard a cry of destruction.
“Luhith” – location unknown.
6 Flee, save your lives, and be like the heath in the wilderness.
7 For because thou hast trusted in thy works and in thy treasures, thou shalt also be taken: and Chemosh shall go forth into captivity with his priests and his princes together.
“Chemosh” the national god of Moab. The Hebrew text here implies the alternate spelling Chemish, as in “Carchemish.”
8 And the spoiler shall come upon every city, and no city shall escape: the valley also shall perish, and the plain shall be destroyed, as the LORD hath spoken.
9 Give wings unto Moab that it may flee and get away: for the cities thereof shall be desolate, without any to dwell therein.
“Give wings unto Moab” – or “Put salt on Moab” – to make its farmland unproductive and barren.
10 Cursed be he that doeth the work of the LORD deceitfully, and cursed be he that keepeth back his sword from blood.
11 Moab hath been at ease from his youth, and he hath settled on his lees, and hath not been emptied from vessel to vessel, neither hath he gone into captivity: therefore his taste remained in him, and his scent is not changed.
A copy of the Hebrew text of this verse has been found inscribed on a large clay seal, dating to the early Christian era and apparently used for stamping the bitumen with which the mouths of wine jars were sealed.
12 Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will send unto him wanderers, that shall cause him to wander, and shall empty his vessels, and break their bottles.
13 And Moab shall be ashamed of Chemosh, as the house of Israel was ashamed of Beth-el their confidence.
“House of Israel” – the northern kingdom, destroyed and exiled in 722-721 B.C.
“Beth-el” – either (1) the well-known town where one of Jeroboam’s golden calves was placed (see 1 Kgs 12:28-30) or (2) in parallelism with Chemosh, the West Semitic deity known from contemporary Babylonian inscriptions as well as from the Elephantine papyri a century later.
14 How say ye, We are mighty and strong men for the war?
15 Moab is spoiled, and gone up out of her cities, and his chosen young men are gone down to the slaughter, saith the King, whose name is the LORD of hosts.
16 The calamity of Moab is near to come, and his affliction hasteth fast.
17 All ye that are about him, bemoan him; and all ye that know his name, say, How is the strong staff broken, and the beautiful rod!
18 Thou daughter that dost inhabit Dibon, come down from thy glory, and sit in thirst; for the spoiler of Moab shall come upon thee, and he shall destroy thy strong holds.
19 O inhabitant of Aroer, stand by the way, and espy; ask him that fleeth, and her that escapeth, and say, What is done?
20 Moab is confounded; for it is broken down: howl and cry; tell ye it in Arnon, that Moab is spoiled,
“Arnon” – Moab’s most important river.
21 And judgment is come upon the plain country; upon Holon, and upon Jahazah, and upon Mephaath,
“Holon” – not the same as the town mentioned in Josh 15:51, 21:15. Its location is unknown.
22 And upon Dibon, and upon Nebo, and upon Beth-diblathaim,
23 And upon Kiriathaim, and upon Beth-gamul, and upon Beth-meon,
24 And upon Kerioth, and upon Bozrah, and upon all the cities of the land of Moab, far or near.
25 The horn of Moab is cut off, and his arm is broken, saith the LORD.
26 Make ye him drunken: for he magnified himself against the LORD: Moab also shall wallow in his vomit, and he also shall be in derision.
27 For was not Israel a derision unto thee? was he found among thieves? for since thou spakest of him, thou skippedst for joy.
28 O ye that dwell in Moab, leave the cities, and dwell in the rock, and be like the dove that maketh her nest in the sides of the hole’s mouth.
29 We have heard the pride of Moab, (he is exceeding proud) his loftiness, and his arrogancy, and his pride, and the haughtiness of his heart.
30 I know his wrath, saith the LORD; but it shall not be so; his lies shall not so affect it.
31 Therefore will I howl for Moab, and I will cry out for all Moab; mine heart shall mourn for the men of Kir-heres.
32 O vine of Sibmah, I will weep for thee with the weeping of Jazer: thy plants are gone over the sea, they reach even to the sea of Jazer: the spoiler is fallen upon thy summer fruits and upon thy vintage.
“Spoiler” – probably Nebuchadnezzar.
33 And joy and gladness is taken from the plentiful field, and from the land of Moab; and I have caused wine to fail from the winepresses: none shall tread with shouting; their shouting shall be no shouting.
34 From the cry of Heshbon even unto Elealeh, and even unto Jahaz, have they uttered their voice, from Zoar even unto Horonaim, as an heifer of three years old: for the waters also of Nimrim shall be desolate.
35 Moreover I will cause to cease in Moab, saith the LORD, him that offereth in the high places, and him that burneth incense to his gods.
36 Therefore mine heart shall sound for Moab like pipes, and mine heart shall sound like pipes for the men of Kir-heres: because the riches that he hath gotten are perished.
37 For every head shall be bald, and every beard clipped: upon all the hands shall be cuttings, and upon the loin’s sackcloth.
38 There shall be lamentation generally upon all the housetops of Moab, and in the streets thereof: for I have broken Moab like a vessel wherein is no pleasure, saith the LORD.
39 They shall howl, saying, How is it broken down! how hath Moab turned the back with shame! so shall Moab be a derision and a dismaying to all them about him.
40 For thus saith the LORD; Behold, he shall fly as an eagle, and shall spread his wings over Moab.
41 Kerioth is taken, and the strong holds are surprised, and the mighty men’s hearts in Moab at that day shall be as the heart of a woman in her pangs.
42 And Moab shall be destroyed from being a people, because he hath magnified himself against the LORD.
43 Fear, and the pit, and the snare, shall be upon thee, O inhabitant of Moab, saith the LORD.
44 He that fleeth from the fear shall fall into the pit; and he that getteth up out of the pit shall be taken in the snare: for I will bring upon it, even upon Moab, the year of their visitation, saith the LORD.
45 They that fled stood under the shadow of Heshbon because of the force: but a fire shall come forth out of Heshbon, and a flame from the midst of Sihon, and shall devour the corner of Moab, and the crown of the head of the tumultuous ones.
“Heshbon” – apparently at this time it was controlled by the Ammonites.
“Sihon” – refers to the associates of Sihon king of the Amorites, whose chief city was Heshbon during the time of the exodus.
46 Woe be unto thee, O Moab! the people of Chemosh perisheth: for thy sons are taken captives, and thy daughter’s captives.
47 Yet will I bring again the captivity of Moab in the latter days, saith the LORD. Thus far is the judgment of Moab.
Hophra, King of Egypt
Hophra (known to Egyptologists by the Greekform of his name, Apries), the fourth king of the 26th (Saite) Dynasty, ruled by Egypt from 589 to 570 B.C. His palace has been excavated at Memphis.
Nebuchadnezzar invaded Judah in 588 B.C., Zedekiah requested help from Egypt and Hophra responded by sending troops. This resulted in Nebuchadnezzar lifting the siege of Jerusalem to deal with the Egyptian threat.
The relief was short-lived because Nebuchadnezzar quickly drove off the Egyptians and returned to capture Jerusalem.
After Gedaliah, the new governor of Judah, was assassinated in 586 B.C., the remaining Judean leadership fled to Egypt, taking Jeremiah with them. While in Egypt the prophet declared that God would hand over Hophra to his enemies.
Indeed, Jeremiah’s words reflect a disdain for Hophra. In 46:17 he declared,
There they will exclaim, “Pharaoh, king of Egypt is only a loud noise; he has missed his opportunity.”
The Hebrew for “he has missed” in this verse sounds like the name Hophra.
Hophra’s downfall does suggest a degree of ineptitude. In 570 B.C. he sent a force of Egyptians against a Greek colony in Cyrene in eastern Libya. The Egyptian army was badly defeated, leading to a soldier’s revolt against Hophra’s leadership.
Hophra sent his general, Amasis, to quell the rebellion, but Amasis jointed instead. Forced by Amasis into exile, Hophra made his way to the Babylonian court of Nebuchadnezzar II.
He returned three years later with the Babylonian army in an attempt to regain the throne but was defeated and lost his life in the process. Nevertheless, Amasis buried him with full honors in the royal cemetery at Sais in Egypt’s western delta.
…the life of Alexander the Great? Did he walk with you or did he worship false gods too?