This article is taken from my book entitled, The FUTURE WAR Prophecies in the chapter entitled, “The First War of Iran in Elam.” I sincerely believe that the prophecy of Elam in Jeremiah 49:34-39 could be one of the next FUTURE WAR foretellings to find fulfillment.
However, some prophecy teachers believe that the prophecy of Elam in Jeremiah 49:34-39 has been fulfilled historically. The number #1 argument is that it happened during the reign of Nebuchadnezzar II in the sixth century.
Dr. Mark Hitchcock pastor of Faith Bible Church in Oklahoma did a teaching on his YouTube channel on the prophecy of Elam in Jeremiah 49. In his video from January 20, 2020, entitled, “Marking The Times Episode 96 Prophecy of Elam” he says:
“The destruction of Elam took place in the reign of King Nebuchadnezzar.“
Note that Hitchcock is stating that the “destruction of Elam,” which is what the prophecy literally calls for, has already happened. The destruction of Elam entails the following:• A severe disaster caused by the Lord’s fierce anger in Jer. 49:37,
• An apparent humanitarian crisis that results and necessitates a worldwide scattering of the indigenous population of the Elamites/Iranians in Jer. 49:36,
• An utter and complete destruction of Elam by its enemies in Jer. 49:37. The NLT says, “Their enemies will chase them with the sword until I have destroyed them completely.”
• A destroying of the rulers, (kings and the princes), which creates a political power vacuum that the Lord fills by setting His throne in the territory as per Jer. 49:38.
Dr. Andy Woods the Senior pastor of Sugar Land Bible Church in Texas is a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary. He also did a teaching on his YouTube channel about the prophecy of Elam in Jeremiah 49. In his video “Middle East Meltdown #26” on August 7, 2022, he says Dr. Mark Hitchcock does the best job he has ever seen on explaining how the prophecies in Jeremiah 49:34-38 actually historically happened. Here are his words:
“Mark Hitchcock wrote a book called Showdown with Iran and in that book there’s appendix 1 and appendix 2 and at the very end he does the best job I’ve ever seen of explaining why those prophecies are not futuristic prophecies but you know actually historically happened. You know for example with the Elam prophecies and I agree that Elam equals Persia which if it was a futuristic prophecy would equal modern day Iran, but it keeps saying Nebuchadnezzar you know over and over again in that section so that’s a prophecy that was fulfilled back in the sixth century…”
Note that Woods says, “Elam equals Persia.” When Jeremiah wrote the Elam prophecy around 596 BC, Elam did not equal Persia, but seemingly was a distinctly different territory. Ezekiel, Jeremiah’s contemporary, writes about Persia about a decade or two later in Ezekiel 38:5. Thus, Jeremiah prophesies about Elam first and not Persia, and Ezekiel prophesies about Persia subsequently, but does not incorporate Elam into his foretelling.
Moreover, Elamites show up in several scriptures after the Babylonian Empire was conquered by Persia. Elamites appeared at Pentecost in Acts 2:9. In fact, in the New Testament you will read about Elamites, but you won’t find any references to Persia or Persians. Also, in Isaiah 11:11, Elam is mentioned as a territory that Jews will leave in order to return to Israel when the nation gets restored a second time, which happened in 1948.
“It shall come to pass in that day That the Lord shall set His hand again the second time To recover the remnant of His people who are left, From Assyria and Egypt, From Pathros and Cush, From Elam and Shinar, From Hamath and the islands of the sea.” (Isaiah 11:11, NKJV)
In his book “Showdown with Iran” Dr. Mark Hitchcock for some unknown reason chose not to provide any historical evidence that Nebuchadnezzar II actually destroyed Elam in the sixth century which immediately resulted in the Elamites being scattered to countries around the world. Why?
Are there any historical sources that show Nebuchadnezzar II in the sixth century destroyed and caused a disaster that resulted in the Elamites being scattered to countries around the world at that time? In the email below to Mark Hitchcock on March 17, 2023, my senior researcher Brad Myers questioned Mark about this lack of historical evidence.
“In your video you are communicating that Jeremiah 49:34-38 was fulfilled when Nebuchadnezzar II DESTROYED Elam in the sixth century. Your interpretation can be easily proven if history confirms that Nebuchadnezzar II, IN THE SIXTH CENTURY DESTROYED Elam. Here is some historical evidence that Nebuchadnezzar II did not destroy Elam in the sixth century like you said he did in your book and in this video. Did you miss this historical evidence when you did your book or did you find OTHER historical sources that confirms Nebuchadnezzar II DESTROYED Elam in the sixth century? I have not seen any conflicting historical evidence on this.”
Below are portions of the evidence that Brad Myers presented to Mark Hitchcock in the email. After reviewing this evidence Hitchcock had an interesting concluding comment, which is included at the end of this article.
Historical Evidence that Nebuchadnezzar II DID NOT DESTROY ELAM!
In Wikipedia you can find the following information concerning Nebuchadnezzar II and what took place in 597.B.C. with Elam.
“In 597 BC, the Babylonian army departed for the Levant again, but appears to not have engaged in any military activities as they turned back immediately after reaching the Euphrates. The following year, Nebuchadnezzar marched his army along the Tigris river to do battle with the Elamites, but NO ACTUAL BATTLE HAPPENED as the Elamites retreated out of fear once Nebuchadnezzar was a day’s march away.”[i]
The editors of Encyclopedia Britannica make available the following historical account of what took place between Nebuchadnezzar and Elam in 596/595.
“After a further brief Syrian campaign in 596/595, Nebuchadnezzar had to act in eastern Babylonia to repel a threatened invasion, probably from Elam (modern southwestern Iran).“[ii]
In the Keil and Delitzsch Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament they say:
“Even if Nebuchadnezzar were then occupied in the eastern portion of his kingdom, yet there is nothing at all to prove that he was involved in war with Media or Elam. History says nothing of a war waged by Nebuchadnezzar on Elam, nor does this prophecy furnish any support for such an assumption.”[iii]
J. A. Thompson in his commentary, “The Book of Jeremiah,” on page 33 said that a broken text in the Babylonian Chronicle MAY indicate a CLASH between Nebuchadnezzar and Elam in 596 B.C.
“A broken text in the Babylonian Chronicle may indicate a clash between Nebuchadnezzar and Elam in 596 B.C. to prevent an Elamite advance into Babylonia.”[iv]
The following source documents some of the history of Nebuchadnezzar II in one of the historiographical texts from ancient Babylonia in the time frame of about 597. This historical information was discovered in the Babylonian Chronicles. It documents Nebuchadnezzar’s encounter with the king of Elam.
“The Chronicle Concerning the Early Years of Nebuchadnezzar II (ABC 5) is one of the historiographical texts from ancient Babylonia … in 597 BCE…”
Here is a little of what has been found in the Babylonian Chronicle between Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon and Elam.
“[Obv.15] In the first year of Nebuchadnezzar [604/603] in the month of Simanunote he mustered his army.”
“[Rev.16′] In the ninth year [596/595], the month of […] the king of Akkad and his troops marched along the bank of the Tigris […]”
“[Rev.20′] the king of Elam was afraid and, panic falling on him, he returned to his own land.”
This historical account in the Babylonian Chronicles seems to give credence to the idea that there may not have been an actual battle. In the historical account in the Babylonian Chronicles there was no mention of a destruction of Elam and Nebuchadnezzar’s armies did not kill the king of Elam as the biblical text requires in Jeremiah 49.
Jer. 49:36 says that the population will scatter out of Elam into the nations of the world and Jer. 49:38 specifically predicts the kings and princes of Elam will be destroyed. The king not only survived, but rather than scatter away from Elam, he returned back to Elam. These two facts mitigate against the possibility that the Elam prophecy found fulfillment through Nebuchadnezzar II.
Hitchcock and Woods point out that Nebuchadnezzar is mentioned in Jer. 49:28-33 and by association and in keeping within the context, that Nebuchadnezzar was also involved in Jer. 49:34-39 about Elam. They believe this in large part because Jer. 49:28-33 states that the judgment of Kedar and Hazor would be by King Nebuchadnezzar and that did happen historically. Thus, they think King Nebuchadnezzar would also be responsible in the fulfillment of the Elam prophecy. However, they provide no historical proof.
Nebuchadnezzar is mentioned specifically in Jeremiah 34:1, 39:1, 46:2,13,26, 49:28, 50:17 and 51:4, etc., why did the Lord not inspire Jeremiah to put his name in Jeremiah 49:34-39? Did he omit Nebuchadnezzar’s name intentionally because this king is not involved in the Elam prophecies?
Moreover, King Nebuchadnezzar is not identified in any other of the Jeremiah 49 prophecies of Ammon in Jer. 49:1-6, Edom in Jer. 49:7-22, Damascus, Hamath and Harpad in Jer. 49:23-27 and Elam in Jer. 49:34-39. So, would they connect King Nebuchadnezzar with the fulfillment for these other prophecies, even though he’s not associated with any of them?
Another problem for their view is that in 612 BC, Babylon destroyed the Assyrian capital of Nineveh and split the Assyrian empire and delivered Elam to Media at that time.[v] This happened about sixteen years before Jeremiah issued his Elam prophecy in 596 BC. They will have to prove when King Nebuchadnezzar conquered Elam after 596 BC, but before he died in 561 BC.
The next relevant question, is “why is God so fiercely angry” as per Jer. 39:37 at the Elamites during the time of Nebuchadnezzar II that he uses this king to destroy Elam? Where is the historical proof of this fierce anger at that time?
Where is the historical evidence that Nebuchadnezzar’s armies chased the Elamites with the sword (Jer. 49:37) and killed their king and government officials (Jer. 49:38) in any of the historical accounts found from any source?
Keep in mind that the biblical text in Jeremiah 49:34-38 does not simply say that Elam was defeated. It actually gives many details of what actually happens after the defeat. Should we ignore details in the actual biblical text of end time passages when we come up with our interpretations?
Other Top Prophecy Scholars Who Disagree That Nebuchadnezzar II Fulfilled the Jeremiah Elam Prophecy
Do highly respected traditional dispensationalists like Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum, Dr. Arno Gaebelein, Dr. J. Dwight Pentecost, Dr. Charles Dyer and Dr. John Walvoord agree with Dr. Mark Hitchcock and Dr. Andy Woods that Nebuchadnezzar II fulfilled the prophecies in Jeremiah 49:34-38? Below are some quotes from these respected prophecy experts.
Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum writes about Jeremiah 49:34-39 as a future prophecy on page 510 of his book entitled, “The Footsteps of the Messiah.” In fact, this is where I first heard about Jeremiah’s Elam prophecy. Several years ago at a conference, I asked Arnold if he thought Jeremiah 49:34-38 could have been historically fulfilled, but Jeremiah 49:39 remains unfulfilled.
partial fulfillment is what some teach. They conclude from Jer. 49:39 that at
least this last verse happens in the future because it reads, “But it shall
come to pass in the latter days:
I will bring back the captives of Elam,’ says the Lord.” Dr. Fruchtenbaum thought quietly for a moment and then said, “No, it all has to happen in the future at the same time.”
Dr. Arno Gaebelein, the author of the Annotated Bible in 1922, believed that Elam’s overthrow is foretold in the latter days and he appears unconvinced that the destruction and overthrow of Elam was fulfilled in the sixth century when he notes:
“The final prediction is as to Elam. Elam was east of South Babylonia and the lower Tigris, later known as Susians. This prophecy was given at the beginning of Zedekiah’s reign. Elam became an ally of the Persian kingdom. Here her overthrow is foretold as well as her restoration “in the latter days.”[vi]
Dr. J. Dwight Pentecost in his classic prophecy book, “Things To Come,” published in 1958 on page 264 believes in a future fulfillment of Jeremiah 49:34-39 when he wrote the following,
“There is a divine program for the Gentile nations that is to come to fulfillment in the tribulation period….The Judgments upon Nations Adjacent to Israel.…These predictions are set forth in various portions of the Old Testament…Elam (Jer. 49:34-39).”
Dr. John Walvoord is a well-respected theologian and served as President of Dallas Theological Seminary. He was a professor of systematic theology for 50 years and is considered to be one of the world’s top interpreters of end time prophecy. In his very popular book, “The Bible Knowledge Commentary” he says,
“Though there is some evidence that Nebuchadnezzar defeated the Elamites about 596 B.C., his subjugation at that time did not fulfill this message.”[vii]
Notice that Dr. Walvoord believed Nebuchadnezzar in 596 B.C. at that time did not fulfill the message of Jeremiah 49:34-38. Dr. Charles Dyer echoes nearly the exact same sentiment in the Moody Bible Commentary. Dr. Charles Dyer and Eva Rydelnik on page 1181 state:
“Though there is some evidence that Nebuchadnezzar defeated the Elamites about 596 B.C., their subjugation at that time did not fulfill this message.”
Observe the only difference between the Walvoord and Dyer quotes above is the use of the word “his” vs. “their.”
Dr. Andy Woods in his teaching on Elam in his video ” Middle East Meltdown #26 on August 7, 2022, actually recommends that people read Dr John Walvoord’s excellent book “Every Prophecy of the Bible” that was published in 1999. Let’s turn to page 151 and see what Dr. Walvoord wrote about Jeremiah 49:34-39 concerning Elam. Dr. Walvoord pens these words:
“Jeremiah 49:34-39. The prophecy concerning Elam referred to an area east of Babylon, known today as Iran. The destruction of Elam was described as breaking her bow, for, like Kedar, Elam was noted for archery. The complete destruction of Elam does not seem to have been fulfilled in history and may have its final chapter in the future in connection with the judgements at the second coming of Christ. Elam was promised, however, restoration (v 39).”
As you can read, Dr. John Walvoord clearly says “the COMPLETE DESTRUCTION OF ELAM DOES NOT SEEM TO HAVE BEEN FULFILLED IN HISTORY…”
Is it possible that Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum, Dr. Arno Gaebelein, Dr. J. Dwight Pentecost, Dr. Charles Dyer and Dr. John Walvoord most likely looked at the historical evidence in the sixth century about Nebuchadnezzar II concerning Elam in Jeremiah 49 and concluded without looking at newspaper headlines in their days that the complete destruction of Elam does not seem to have been fulfilled in history?
If the complete destruction of Elam does not seem to have been fulfilled in history, wouldn’t this logically mean that the prophecies of Elam in Jeremiah 49:34-38 are going to take place sometime in the future? Who could God be so fiercely angry at in modern-day Iran in our day? Could it be the rogue Islamic regime that wants to wipe Israel off of the map?
Mark Hitchcock’s Response to Brad Myers Email of Evidence
As promised above, this is the email response that Mark Hitchcock gave to Brad Myers after reviewing the evidence that Brad had provided. Hitchcock’s response was emailed to Myers on April 18, 2023.
“Thanks for your email. I appreciate your desire to be accurate. There is some evidence that Neb did defeat the Elamites about 596, but this was not as destructive as Jer. 49 indicates. Here is the Babylonian Chronicle from 599-593 BC.”
Then in his email to Brad Myers, Mark Hitchcock included several excerpts from the Babylonian Chronicle, of which only a few are included below. The Rev. abbreviations are identifiers in the Chronicle and do not refer to the biblical book of Revelation.
“Rev.16) In the ninth year [596/595 B.C.], the month of […] the king of Akkad and his troops marched along the bank of the Tigris […] Rev.17) the king of Elam […] Rev.18) the king of Akkad […] Rev.19) which is on the bank of the Tigris he pitched his camp. While there was still a distance of one day’s march between them, Rev.20) the king of Elam was afraid and, panic falling on him, he returned to his own land…”
Hitchcock concluded his email with the following assessments.
“I agree that it never specifically says Elam was destroyed by Neb, (alluding to Nebuchadnezzar II), but many have concluded that it did happen. Elam is not a problem after this for Neb so something must have happened. The previous context in Jer. 49 mentions Neb by name (49:30) as does the next chapter (Jer. 50:17). With this passage in between these two, it seems logical to me that it’s describing some victory of Neb over the Elamites. Nebuchadnezzar’s conquests dominate Jer. 46—49… Additionally, Elam became a central part of the Persian Empire and was destroyed by Alexander in 334-331BC which also could fulfill this prophecy.”
Dr. Mark Hitchcock now agrees that the historical evidence does not specifically say that Nebuchadnezzar II destroyed Elam, but apparently formulates his interpretation that this Jeremiah prophecy found fulfillment, at least in large part, on the basis that “many have concluded that it did happen.”
As this article pointed out, many top scholars have not “concluded that it did happen!” How can Hitchcock state in his video, “The destruction of Elam took place in the reign of King Nebuchadnezzar,” but then subsequently admit otherwise in the above email when he says, “I agree that it never specifically says Elam was destroyed by Neb.”
Then he posits this possibility, “Additionally, Elam became a central part of the Persian Empire and was destroyed by Alexander in 334-331 BC which also could fulfill this prophecy.”
I don’t know about you dear reader, but I’m confused. Is Hitchcock saying that Nebuchadnezzar II or Alexander destroyed Elam in fulfillment of Jeremiah 49:34-39? If he’s shifting his view in favor of Alexander, then that’s easy to prove as being even more problematic.
POSTSCRIPT TO THIS ARTICLE
As a professional courtesy on July 30, 2023, I forwarded this article to Dr. Mark Hitchcock with the comments included below:
“Mark, I have attached my article that will be posting… I would encourage you to review it beforehand and let me know if you feel that I have adequately stated your position on the Elam prophecy. Also, let me know if you have any additional comments you would like me to add.”
On July 31, 2023, Hitchcock responded. Mark’s response is abbreviated and condensed below.
“I mentioned in my conversation with your associate that Alexander the Great conquered Elam.”
We included this Hitchcock conversation above in the article. Then he added,
“Also, Cyrus the Great defeated Elam in ca. 550-530 BC. Nebuchadnezzar isn’t the only one who conquered that area after Jeremiah’s prophecy.”
I responded to Mark and said the following,
“I am prepared to address all of these three options above, but until you or anyone else comes out publicly and provides strong supporting historical proof as to who actually fulfilled the Elam prophecy, then I don’t believe it’s necessary to address these weak past arguments. Apparently, Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum, Dr. Arno Gaebelein, Dr. J. Dwight Pentecost, Dr. Charles Dyer and Dr. John Walvoord felt the same way, since they didn’t address these possibilities either.”
It’s important to note that at no point in our email correspondences between Brad Myers, Mark Hitchcock and me, did anyone feel that we were attacking one another. We were communicating as brothers in the Lord genuinely seeking the truth about the Elam prophecy.
What about the strong possibility that Jeremiah 49:34-39 remains entirely unfulfilled? Stay tuned…
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[vi] Gaebelein quote taken from this website: https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/gab/jeremiah-49.html
[vii] Walvoord quote taken from this website: https://christianarticlesblog.wordpress.com/2023/02/26/prophecies-of-elam/
[i] Wikipedia quote taken from this weblink: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nebuchadnezzar_II
[ii] Britannica quote taken from this website: https://www.britannica.com/biography/Nebuchadnezzar-II
[iii] Quote taken from this website: https://biblehub.com/commentaries/jeremiah/49-39.htm
[iv] Thompson quote taken from this website: https://www.livius.org/sources/content/mesopotamian-chronicles-content/abc-5-jerusalem-chronicle/