The Oracle Concerning Edom (Dumah)

21: 11-12

    DIG: Edom, or Dumah, was invaded by the Assyrians when they came against Babylon. It was an oasis on a major trade route to Seir and an ally of Babylon. In calling to the watchman regarding theses events, what are the Edomites really asking? What’s behind their question? And Isaiah’s puzzling answer? Are their any Edomites who have become believers today?

    REFLECT: What can the nation of Edom teach you today? How do you feel about the LORD promise to Abram? Are you a blessing or a curse to Israel and her people? How do you feel about Edom’s ultimate destination? Is that fair? Is that mean? Are the consequences of God’s Word that real? Where does rebellion against ADONAI lead?

    An oracle concerning Dumah (21:11a). Isaiah plays games with words again. He takes the first “ah” sound in the Hebrew and transposes it to the end so that Edom is switched to Dumah. He does this because he wants to drive home the meaning of Dumah. Edom means red but Dumah means, silence. And this name change from Edom to Dumah is symbolic of Edom’s future fate. Therefore, Edom is to suffer the death of silence.

    The Edomites are the descendants of Esau (see my commentary on Genesis In – The Written Account of the Generations of Esau). Although the Edomites were closely related in blood and language to the Israelites, they refused a request by Moses for the Israelites to pass through their territory on their way north (Numbers 20:14-21). Many times they were at war with the neighboring kings of Israel and Judah (Second Kings 8:20; Second Chronicles 28:17). Over the centuries they have opposed the people of God. Long ago ADONAI declared an unchangeable law of the world. He said to Abram: I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse (Genesis 12:3a). The working out of this principle is seen in the nation of Edom.

    The word Dumah, or silence, is a different kind of silence than some other Hebrew words that Isaiah could have used. This one means a deep, utter silence. It is a death like silence, a death-like sleep, or a death-like darkness. Look how some of the Psalms describe this silence: Let me not be put to shame, O LORD, for I have cried out to you; but let the wicked be put to shame and lie dumah (silent) in the grave (Psalm 31:17). Unless the LORD had given me help, I would soon have dwelt in the dumah (silence) of death (Psalm 94:17). The NKJV does not have the phrase of death because it is a word for word translation, but the NIV does have it because it is a thought for thought translation. It is not the dead who praise the LORD, those who go down to dumah (silence) (Psalm 115:17).

    Next, we have a common example of something that will happen elsewhere in the Prophets where suddenly, out of nowhere, a little cryptic prophecy is given. It doesn’t seem to say much at all. They are usually limited to one to five verses. This one is limited to two verses (21:11b-12). If it were apart from other passages of Scripture it would be impossible to understand it. If this were all we had, we would never be able to figure this out. But we can glean a lot from other verses to discover its meaning.

    There is a sudden call to the Watchman from Mount Seir (pronounced say-ear), which is the key mountain range in Edom. In fact, Seir is an alternative name for Edom, because the mountains of Seir were given as a possession to Esau and his descendants (Joshua 24:4). This is where the Edomites settled, in what today is southern Jordan. The question is asked twice: Watchmen, what is left of the night? Watchman, what is left of the night (21:11b)? In Hebrew, the word for night has two forms, a long form and a short form. In these two questions, the first one is the long form, and the second one is the short form. The point is to heighten anxiety and give a sense of urgency and haste. The appeal is, “What part of the night is it?” In other words, “How much of the night has passed?” “How much more must be endured before the light of the morning comes?”

    Then the watchman replies. Up to this point, the original text has all been written in Hebrew, but now when the watchman answers, it switches to Aramaic. The watchman replies: Morning is coming. The Hebrew word, is coming, is written in the perfect tense to emphasize it's certainty. But also the night (21:12a) there will be no relief for Edom, and no consolation. While the morning was coming, it was certain that another night would follow. There will be no change; it will still be dark for Edom as a nation. For Edom it is night, meaning total destruction. No one will be left.

    But if you would ask, then ask. And come back (turn) yet again (21:12b). The word come back or turn (shuv) means turn in the sense of conversion. The only possible relief for individual Edomites is to turn to the Messiah and come back after repenting, because there is no possible relief for Edom as a nation. These two verses also serve as a prelude to the far eschatological Edom (see Gi – Edom’s Streams Will Be Turned into Pitch). Other passages that deal with the far eschatological Edom are Jeremiah 49:7-22; Ezekiel 25:12-14, 35:1-15; Amos 1:11-12; Obadiah 1-21; Malachi 1:2-5.

    Edom is going to play the central role in the Campaign of Armageddon. Edom will be the place where the final remnant of Israel is hiding out during the second half of the Great Tribulation. And also, Edom is the location of the Second Coming of Christ (see Kg – The Second Coming of Jesus Christ to Bozrah). The Jews will not be hiding in Edom because of Edom’s love for them. On the contrary, Edom will do what it can to turn the Jews over to the antichrist and the armies of the world that are trying to destroy Israel for the final time. Initially, Messiah first returns to save all of Israel (Romans 11:26; Malachi Zechariah 12:7-14; Amos 9:11-12; Jeremiah 31:31-32). After, Christ and the Jews leave Edom it becomes the second burning wasteland of the Millennium. Babylon is one (see Dr – I Will Cut Off from Babylon Her Name) and Edom is the other. So while the entire world is enjoying the Millennium, these two spots remain a burning wasteland. This will be the death of silence. The oracles concerning Babylon and Edom answer the question, “Where does rebellion against God lead?” The answer is that they both become the home of demons during the entire Millennial Kingdom.

 

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