Yahweh’s word that came to Jeremiah the prophet concerning the Philistines, before Pharaoh struck Gaza.
“Behold, waters rise up out of the north,
and will become an overflowing stream,
and will overflow the land and all that is therein,
the city and those who dwell therein.
The men will cry,
and all the inhabitants of the land will wail.
At the noise of the stamping of the hoofs of his strong ones,
at the rushing of his chariots,
at the rumbling of his wheels,
the fathers don’t look back for their children
because their hands are so feeble,
because of the day that comes to destroy all the Philistines,
to cut off from Tyre and Sidon every helper who remains;
for Yahweh will destroy the Philistines,
the remnant of the isle of Caphtor.
Baldness has come on Gaza;
Ashkelon is brought to nothing.
You remnant of their valley,
how long will you cut yourself?
“ ‘You sword of Yahweh, how long will it be before you are quiet?
Put yourself back into your scabbard;
rest, and be still.’
“How can you be quiet,
since Yahweh has given you a command?
Against Ashkelon, and against the seashore,
there he has appointed it.”
Perhaps one of the reasons that Pharaoh was feeling so confident in his conquest of Babylon was that he had already fulfilled this prophesy. Here we read that God had decided to have Egypt conquer the Philistines, including Gaza, Caphtor and Ashkelon. God had decided to give Pharaoh that victory but it could have been that he thought that it was his own hand that won the battles.
When we read the past about the Philistines in the Bible, we learn that they were a rough people. They weren’t afraid to burn people they didn’t like in their own houses. They were the ones who fought using the giant Goliath and who captured Samson, but here we read that they were to become so weak that the men wouldn’t have the strength to go back and save their own children. It’s clear that the Philistines didn’t think they needed God either and were usually quite willing to attack Israel and enslave them if possible. For a portion of Israel’s past, the Philistines were the ones in charge.
It’s kind of strange to have a prophet talk to God’s sword and ask when it is going to stop, and tell it to go back into its sheath. Jeremiah also asks the sword how it can be quiet when God has commanded it to attack. Perhaps the battle went on and on until the Philistines were finally destroyed. If I were in the area, I might be asking the same thing. It’s not unusual for us to ask God when He is going to relieve us of our pain, but the problem we see here is that neither Egypt or the Philistines were willing to respect God’s word. When people look to their own understanding of things instead of trusting in God’s word, they can expect God’s sword to eventually come out and bring the justice they deserve.