Jeremiah (Ch 49-50)

Chapter 49 contains prophecies concerning the judgments of God on several nations and kingdoms, chiefly bordering on the land of Israel; on the Ammonites; Edomites, Edom, which lay south to the land of Israel; the kingdom of Damascus, or the Syrians, the Kedarenes or Arabians, and on the Elamites or Persians.

Jeremiah 49

1 Concerning the Ammonites, thus saith the Lord: “Hath Israel no sons? Hath he no heir? Why then doth their king inherit Gad, and his people dwell in his cities? — hath Israel no sons? hath he no heir? certainly he has, and who ought to possess the land; this is not speaking of the ten tribes, sometimes called Israel, for these had been long ago carried captive, and left no heirs of their tribes; but of all Israel, including the tribes of Judah and Benjamin; who though their brethren and being next in blood were the lawful heirs of their lands and possessions;

— why then doth their king inherit Gad? that part of the land of Israel which belonged to the tribe of Gad; this, when the ten tribes were carried captive by the king of Assyria and the Gadites among the rest was seized on by the Ammonites with their king at the head of them;

1 Kings 11:5; the Ammonites having got possession of the land set up their idol in it where their temples were built for him and altars erected and sacrifices offered to him, so that he might be said to inherit it; and which must be very offensive to, and highly resented by, the God of Israel.

Therefore behold, the days come,” saith the Lord, “that I will cause an alarm of war to be heard in Rabbah of the Ammonites; and it shall be a desolate heap, and her daughters shall be burned with fire; then shall Israel be heir unto them that were his heirs,” saith the Lord. — therefore behold the days come, saith the Lord… Or, “are coming” as they did in a very little time after this prophecy;

— that I will cause an alarm of war to be heard in Rabbah of the Ammonites; the metropolis of the Ammonites; it was their royal city in the times of David; this the Lord threatens with the sound of the trumpet, the alarm of war or the noise of warriors as the Targum says; the Chaldean army under Nebuchadnezzar, who, about five years after the destruction of Jerusalem subdued the Ammonites;

— and it shall be a desolate heap; be utterly destroyed; its walls broken down, and houses demolished, and made a heap of rubbish:

— her daughters shall be burnt with fire: Rabbah was the mother city, and the other cities of the Ammonites were her daughters, which are threatened to be destroyed with fire by the enemy; or it may mean the villages round Rabbah, it being usual in Scripture for villages to be called the daughters of cities; so the Targum paraphrases it, “the inhabitants of her villages shall be burnt with fire,”

— then shall Israel be heirs unto them that were his heirs, saith the Lord: that is, shall inherit their land again which the Ammonites pretended to be the lawful heirs of; yea, not only possess their own land but the land of Ammon too: this was fulfilled not immediately upon the destruction of Ammon, but in part upon the return of the Jews from the Babylonish captivity when they repossessed their own country; and partly in the times of the Maccabees, when they subdued the Ammonites.

“Howl, O Heshbon, for Ai is despoiled! Cry, ye daughters of Rabbah; gird you with sackcloth! Lament, and run to and fro by the hedges; for their king shall go into captivity, and his priests and his princes together. — howl, O Heshbon, at that time occupied by the Ammonites; for Ai is spoiled, had already been subdued by the invaders; cry, ye daughters of Rabbah, the towns and villages near the capital, gird you with sackcloth, in token of deep mourning; 

— lament and run to and fro by the hedges in the fenced encampment, such as were quickly erected out in the open fields, since the cities no longer offered any protection; for their king shall go into captivity, in this case their idol Melchom with whom the heathen king was pleased to identify himself and his priests and princes together.

Why gloriest thou in the valleys, thy flowing valley, O backsliding daughter, that trusted in her treasures, saying, ‘Who shall come unto me?’ — wherefore gloriest thou in the valleys, thy flowing valley, flowing with abundance, with milk and honey, O backsliding daughter? so called because the children of Ammon had denied their descent from Lot and had turned to idolatry;

— that trusted in her treasures, in her wealth of resources and goods, saying, Who shall come unto me? namely, in a hostile attack. The Ammonites boasted that no enemy could successfully launch a campaign against their land.

Behold, I will bring a fear upon thee,” saith the Lord God of hosts, “from all those that be about thee; and ye shall be driven out, every man straight forth, and none shall gather up him that wandereth. — behold, I will bring a fear upon thee, saith the Lord God of hosts, from all those that be about thee, whose misfortune and overthrow would bring terror upon them; and ye shall be driven out, every man, right forth, straight ahead, without turning; 

— and none shall gather up him that wandereth, make any attempt to bring about so much as a semblance of order among the scattered fugitives. According to secular accounts the overthrow of Ammon took place in the fifth year after the destruction of Jerusalem, after King Baalis had executed the murder of Gedaliah, Jeremiah 40:14.

And afterward I will bring back the captives of the children of Ammon,” saith the Lord. — and afterwards I will bring again the captivity of the children of Ammon, saith the Lord. Perhaps by Cyrus; for, in the times of Judas Maccabeus, the children of Ammon were again a large and mighty people, “Afterward he passed over to the children of Ammon, where he found a mighty power and much people, with Timotheus their captain” (1 Maccabees 5:6).

Concerning Edom, thus saith the Lord of hosts: “Is wisdom no more in Teman? Is counsel perished from the prudent? Is their wisdom vanished? — concerning Edom, thus saith the Lord of hosts… Or, “unto Edom” thus saith the Lord; or “against Edom” all which is true, as observed on Jeremiah 49:1; meaning the Idumeans, the posterity of Esau, who was called Edom; Herod the Great, an Idumean, king over Judea; was a great example of the Idumean cruelty over the Jews; which could be as yet future, points at the destruction of Rome and the Romans, who with the Jews frequently go by the name of Edom; 

— is wisdom no more in Teman? a city in Edom which had its name from Teman, a grandson of Esau, Genesis 36:11; whose descendants were called Temanites; one of which was Eliphaz, a friend of Job’s, Job 2:11; it was a principal city, famous for men of wisdom; such an one was the person just mentioned: perhaps the grand senate of the country, or the chief counsellors, dwelt here; where schemes were formed for the good of the country in times of war or peace; or schools for the instruction of various arts and sciences; and which had continued to this time but now would be no more;

— the Targum says, “is there no more wisdom in the south?” but Rashi interprets it as Edom, which lay south to the land of Israel; “And your south side shall be from the desert of Zin close by the side of Edom” (Numbers 34:3).

Flee ye, turn back, dwell deep, O inhabitants of Dedan; for I will bring the calamity of Esau upon him, at the time that I will visit him. — flee ye, turn back, dwell deep, O inhabitants of Dedan… another city in Idumea; though some take it to be a country in Arabia, bordering on Edom, and subdued by the Edomites: the inhabitants of this place are advised to “flee” for their lives;

— since the enemy was just upon them; and “turn back” lest they should fall into his hands; and hide themselves in some deep caverns of the earth, in holes, and dens of rocks and such like places. It is a prophecy that they should flee from and turn their backs on their enemies and betake themselves to some very secret places for safety;

— for I will bring the calamity of Esau upon him; which was determined concerning him, threatened to him and was his just desert; even the utter destruction of the whole land:

— the time of his visitation; the time fixed to visit him in a way of wrath and punishment to come.

9 If grape-gatherers come to thee, would they not leave some gleaning grapes? If thieves by night, they will destroy till they have enough. — the Targum renders it, “if thy spoilers, as grape gatherers, should come to thee,” would not they leave some for the poor to glean? certainly they would and not take every cluster;

— if thieves by night, they will destroy till they have enough who break into houses by night, these will eat and drink as much as is sufficient, and carry off what serves their turn; but they seldom take away everything they find in a house; they leave some things behind them; but it is suggested that the Chaldeans should take away all from the Edomites and leave them nothing; see Obadiah 1:5.

10 But I have made Esau bare; I have uncovered his secret places, and he shall not be able to hide himself; his seed is despoiled, and his brethren and his neighbors, and he is no more. — but I have made Esau bare… by the hand of the Chaldeans; stripped him of everything that is valuable; of his cities, castles, villages, people, wealth and treasure:

— I have uncovered his secret places; where either his substance was hid, or his people; these were made known to their enemies, who seized on both:

— and he shall not be able to hide himself; even in his deep places in the caves and dens of the earth, but his enemy shall find him out:

— his seed is spoiled and his brethren and his neighbours, his children, as the Targum says; and his brethren, the Ammonites and Moabites; and his neighbours, the Philistines; or as many as were with him and belonged unto him:

— and he is not: his kingdom is not; he is no more a people and nation, but all destroyed by the sword or carried captive; or there should be none left of his brethren, and neighbours, and friends to say to him what follows: “leave thy fatherless children.”

11 Leave thy fatherless children; I will preserve them alive; and let thy widows trust in Me.” — the Targum takes them to be an address to the people of Israel, paraphrasing them thus: “you, O house of Israel, your orphans shall not be left, I will sustain them and your widows shall trust in my word.”

12 For thus saith the Lord: “Behold, they whose judgement was not to drink of the cup have assuredly drunk. And art thou he that shall altogether go unpunished? Thou shalt not go unpunished, but thou shalt surely drink of it. — behold, they whose judgement was not to drink of the cup have assuredly drunken; meaning some of the other nations, who had not dealt so ill with the Jews as the Edomites had, at least their sins were not so aggravated as theirs were in a comparative sense; for otherwise it was but just that they should be treated in the manner they were; since they were not so guilty as these were;

— and art thou he that shalt altogether go unpunished? if lesser sinners are not let go free, how should it be thought that greater ones should? and especially if judgement had begun at God’s own people, the wicked Edomite could not expect to escape;

— thou shalt not go unpunished, but thou shalt surely drink of it; the cup of wrath and vengeance; or have the just punishment inflicted on them threatened them.

13 For I have sworn by Myself,” saith the Lord, “that Bozrah shall become a desolation, a reproach, a waste, and a curse; and all the cities thereof shall be perpetual wastes.” — but Bozrah of Idumea is the royal city of Edom, Isaiah 63:1; shall become a desolation, a reproach, a waste and a curse.

14 I have heard a word from the Lord, and an ambassador is sent unto the heathen, saying, “Gather ye together, and come against her, and rise up to the battle!”

15 “For lo, I will make thee small among the heathen and despised among men. — for, lo, I will make thee small among the nations… Or “I have given thee” or “made thee” as if Edom was a people few in number, and their country not large, and which was the reason of gathering the Chaldeans against them, to reduce their number, weaken their strength, and destroy their substance and so make them a small, feeble and contemptible people;

— and despised among men: for the fewness of their men, the desolation of their country, the consumption of their wealth and riches, their poverty and meanness; see Obadiah 1:2 “Behold, I have made thee small among the nations; thou art greatly despised (as the term Latinos would indicate).

16 Thy terribleness hath deceived thee, and the pride of thine heart, O thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock, that holdest the height of the hill; though thou shouldest make thy nest as high as the eagle, I will bring thee down from thence,” saith the Lord. — thy terribleness hath deceived thee, the fact that other nations seemed to stand in awe of Edom had caused him to think that he was really formidable, and the pride of thine heart, insolence usually having this influence upon the heart of the proud to deceive them, wherefore the Lord now calls out;

— O thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock, that boldest the height of the hill, some of the forts of Idumea being situated on almost inaccessible cliffs, though thou shouldest make thy nest as high as the eagle, I will bring thee down from thence, saith the Lord, showing that before Him no stronghold is impregnable.

17 “Also Edom shall be a desolation; every one that goeth by it shall be astonished and shall hiss at all the plagues thereof. — also Edom shall be a desolation; not only Bozrah, its principal city, before spoken of, but the whole country of Idumea should be laid waste; its fortified cities destroyed; its riches plundered; and its inhabitants slain with the sword; every one that goeth by it shall be astonished, filled with horrified surprise at the total overthrow of the country and shall hiss at all the plagues thereof with a sound expressing derision and mockery.

18 As in the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah and the neighbor cities thereof,” saith the Lord, “no man shall abide there, neither shall a son of man dwell in it. — as in the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah… which was so sudden and general, that nothing was left, or any spared; so should it be with Edom;

— no man shall abide there, neither shall a son of man dwell in it; it would be an uninhabited desert.

19 Behold, he shall come up like a lion from the swelling of the Jordan against the habitation of the strong; but I will suddenly make him run away from her. And who is a chosen man, that I may appoint over her? For who is like Me? And who will appoint Me a time? And who is that shepherd that will stand before Me?” — behold, he shall come up like a lion from the swelling of Jordan… the Targum interprets it of a king and his army, paraphrasing the words thus, “behold, a king with his army shall come up against them, as a lion comes up from the height of Jordan” as Nebuchadnezzar and his army that should come up against the Edomites from the land of Judea, where Jordan was;

— against the habitation of the strong the land of Edom, a country well fortified in which mighty men dwelt; particularly Mount Seir, where their king was and which was “the fold of the mighty” either of the mighty shepherd as it may be rendered or of the strong place; but what is this to a lion?

— and who is that shepherd that will stand before me? or king, as the Targum says, any king, prince or potentate, who both in Scripture and in other writings, are often called shepherds; the king of Edom is particularly pointed at whose habitation or fold is before observed: alas! what could such a shepherd do? or how could he stand before the almighty God or any lion he should send?

20 Therefore hear the counsel of the Lord that He hath taken against Edom, and His purposes that He hath purposed against the inhabitants of Teman. Surely the least of the flock shall draw them out; surely He shall make their habitations desolate with them. — surely he shall make their habitations desolate with them; or “their folds” the sheep shall be destroyed and their folds shall be demolished; that is, the inhabitants of Edom shall be slain with the sword, and their cities, towns and villages, shall be laid waste.

21 The earth is moved at the noise of their fall; at the cry the noise thereof was heard in the Red Sea. — the earth is moved at the noise of their fall, quaking with its intensity, at the cry the noise thereof was heard in the Red Sea, or “a crying the noise of it is heard at the Red Sea.”

22 Behold, He shall come up and fly as the eagle, and spread His wings over Bozrah; and at that day shall the heart of the mighty men of Edom be as the heart of a woman in her pangs. — behold, he, the conqueror, like Herod the Great, an Idumean, was a great eagle with his famed cruelty over the Jews as king over Judea; shall come up and fly and spread his wings as the eagle over Bozrah, to pounce down upon the whole country; and at that day shall the heart of the mighty men of Edom be as the heart of a woman in her pangs. No matter how impregnable the position of God’s enemies may seem in the eyes of human beings, they will quickly fall before the attack of the Lord.

23 Concerning Damascus: “Hamath is confounded, and Arpad, for they have heard evil tidings; they are fainthearted; there is sorrow on the sea; it cannot be quiet. — concerning Damascus. Hamath, a powerful city on the Orontes and formerly the capital of a country of the same name, is confounded, and Arpad, another mighty city, both of them now within the confines of Syria;

— for they have heard evil tidings; they are faint-hearted, full of concern on account of the reports which they have heard; there is sorrow on the sea, terror among the inhabitants along its shores; it cannot be quiet, there is no rest for worry over the outlook.

24 Damascus is waxed feeble and turneth herself to flee, and fear hath seized on her; anguish and sorrows have taken her, as a woman in travail. — Damascus is waxed feeble, utterly discouraged and enfeebled; and turneth herself to flee, and fear hath seized on her, anguish and sorrows have taken her as a woman in travail, the terror of utter despair.

25 How is the city of praise not left, the city of My joy! — how is the city of praise not left, the city of my joy? How was it that the place of delight as Damascus was called of old, was not abandoned by its inhabitants, so that they might have saved their lives by a speedy flight?

26 Therefore her young men shall fall in her streets, and all the men of war shall be cut off in that day,” saith the Lord of hosts. — therefore her young men shall fall in her streets, and all the men of war shall be cut off in that day, saith the Lord of hosts; so great had been their terror at the approach of the enemy that they had not even had recourse to flight and so were cut down in the very streets of their city.

27 “And I will kindle a fire in the wall of Damascus, and it shall consume the palaces of Benhadad.” — and I will kindle a fire in the wall of Damascus, and it shall consume the palaces of Benhadad, the royal dwellings and therewith at least a part, if not all, of the city.

28 Concerning Kedar and concerning the kingdoms of Hazor, which Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon shall smite, thus saith the Lord: “Arise ye, go up to Kedar, and despoil the men of the East. — concerning Kedar, and concerning the kingdoms of Hazor… a new prophecy concerning the Arabians; for Kedar was a son of Ishmael;

— which Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon shall smite, thus saith the Lord: that is, “thus saith the Lord concerning”, or “unto” or “against Kedar” as in Jeremiah 49:1 which the king of Babylon “hath smitten” the past for the future, common in prophetic language: or “is about to smite” would do it in a very little time; for the phrase, “thus saith the Lord” is not to be connected with what follows after, but with what goes before; though indeed the next words are the words of the Lord to the Chaldeans:

— and spoil the men of the east; the Arabians, which lay east of Judea and Babylon: or “the children of Kedem” the same with Kedemah, another son of Ishmael, Genesis 25:15; whose posterity dwelt still more to the east; the Targum renders it “the children of the east.”

29 Their tents and their flocks shall they take away; they shall take for themselves their curtains and all their vessels and their camels; and they shall cry unto them, ‘Fear is on every side!’ — their tents and their flocks, the chief possessions of nomads, shall they take away; they shall take to themselves their curtains, the costly woven goods and the hangings of their tents;

— and all their vessels, household utensils as well as such pieces of furniture and adornment as comprised their wealth and their camels; and they, the invading forces, shall cry unto them, in a shout of war, Fear is on every side.

30 Flee, get you far off! Dwell deep, O ye inhabitants of Hazor,” saith the Lord. “For Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon hath taken counsel against you, and hath conceived a purpose against you. — flee, get you far off, run apace, dwell deep, hide themselves in remote places;

— O ye inhabitants of Hazor! saith the Lord; for Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon hath taken counsel against you, devised a plan to subdue them and hath conceived a design against you. This warning is addressed to the wilderness dwellers, since no conqueror would venture to follow them into the trackless wastes of the desert. In the next words the Lord once more turns to the enemies, bidding them continue their work of destruction.

31 “Arise, get you up unto the wealthy nation, that dwelleth without cares,” saith the Lord, “which have neither gates nor bars, which dwell alone. — arise, get you up unto the wealthy nation, a tranquil tribe, having no presentiment of evil that dwelleth without care in calm security, saith the Lord, which have neither gates nor bars, not dwelling in fenced and fortified cities;

— which dwell alone with little or no intercourse with other nations or tribes from which they might expect assistance in case of an attack.

32 And their camels shall be a booty, and the multitude of their cattle a spoil; and I will scatter into all winds them that are in the utmost corners; and I will bring their calamity from all sides thereof,” saith the Lord. — and their camels shall be a booty and the multitude of their cattle a spoil, a welcome bit of plunder for the enemies; 

— and I will scatter into all winds them that are in the utmost corners, those who have the edges of their hair trimmed; for these tribes had the custom of clipping the hair of head and beard in a peculiar angle; and I will bring their calamity from all sides thereof, saith the Lord.

33 “And Hazor shall be a dwelling for dragons, and a desolation for ever; there shall no man abide there, nor any son of man dwell in it.” — and Hazor shall be a dwelling for dragons, the habitation of jackals and a desolation forever; there shall no man abide there nor any son of man dwell in it. This prophecy was fulfilled when the Chaldeans on their way to the West and South, sent detachments of troops to bring these nomadic tribes into subjection.

34 The word of the Lord that came to Jeremiah the prophet against Elam, in the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah king of Judah, saying, — the word of the Lord that came unto Jeremiah the prophet against Elam… the Persians, as it is commonly understood, who descended from Elam the son of Shem, Genesis 10:22; according to Josephus; but rather the country of Elymais is here designed; which though in the times of Cyrus was added to and made a part of the Persian empire, yet was a country distinct both from Persia and Media; and as though as near unto Persia and bordering on Media, a country that belonged to the Assyrians; and so it seems that Elam served under Sennacherib, king of Assyria, when he besieged Jerusalem.

35 “Thus saith the Lord of hosts: “‘Behold, I will break the bow of Elam, the chief of their might. — thus saith the Lord of hosts, I will break the bow of Elam… the inhabitants of this country were famous for their skill in archery; this the Lord threatens to break so that it should be useless and of no more service to them to defend themselves or annoy others. Their strength, as the Targum says; that in which their great strength and security lay; in which they put their trust and confidence;

— the chief of their might; which may be interpreted by way of apposition of their bow, the chief instrument of their might and power; or may design their mighty men, the archers themselves, who should be destroyed, even Elam itself, and all the inhabitants of it especially their warriors, who should be slain or carried captive.

36 And upon Elam will I bring the four winds from the four quarters of heaven, and will scatter them toward all those winds; and there shall be no nation whither the outcasts of Elam shall not come. — and upon Elam will I bring the four winds from the four quarters of heaven… the Targum interprets it the four kingdoms; see Daniel 7:2. Some think this had its accomplishment in the times of Alexander; or else after his death in the times of his four successors; but rather in the times of Nebuchadnezzar, who should bring with him, in his army, people that dwelt in the several parts of the world, comparable to the winds for their swiftness and strength; whose blast would be so great as to drive the Elamites to every part of the world, as every light thing is by the wind:

— and will scatter them towards all those winds; those four winds, east, west, north and south:

— and there shall be no nation whither the outcasts of Elam shall not come; those that are driven out of it, forced to flee from it or are taken captive, should come into the several nations of the world; so that there would not be any in which an Elamite was not.

37 For I will cause Elam to be dismayed before their enemies and before them that seek their life; and I will bring evil upon them, even My fierce anger,’ saith the Lord; ‘and I will send the sword after them till I have consumed them. — for I will cause Elam to be dismayed before their enemies… frightened; thrown into the utmost consternation so that they shall have no heart nor spirit to go out against them and meet them and defend themselves; but make all haste imaginable to flee from them, such a panic would seize them;

— and before them that seek their life; a further description of their enemies; they being such, who, not content with their substance sought to take away their lives; nothing less would satisfy them; being cruel and blood thirsty:

— and I will bring evil upon them even my fierce anger, saith the Lord; and a greater evil than that cannot be; signifying that the destruction that should be made among them would be the effect of the wrath of God upon them for their sins:

— and I will send the sword after them till I have consumed them; that is, those that slay with the sword, as the Targum says; these should go after those that fled and destroy them till the greater part of them were consumed; for all of them that were taken were not destroyed; or otherwise there would have been none to return from captivity as is promised at the close of this prophecy.

38 And I will set My throne in Elam, and will destroy from thence the king and the princes,’ saith the Lord. — and I will set my throne in Elam… either when Alexander subdued it, or Cyrus, or rather Nebuchadnezzar, whose palace probably was, or his successors was, in Shushan in Elam, as before observed from Daniel 8:2. This is called the Lord’s throne, because he gave it to him; his conquest of Elam, and his dominion over it, were from him;

— and will destroy from thence the king and the princes, saith the Lord; so that there should be no more kings of Elam, and princes and nobles of their own after this time; and because mention is made of the kings of Elam in the times of Nebuchadnezzar, Jeremiah 25:25; though that is observed in the first year of his reign, some have thought that it is best to understand it or Cyrus, the Lord’s servant and anointed; and whose throne might well be called the throne of God, which he gave him and set him on in an eminent manner, not only there, but elsewhere; see Ezra 1:2; and when this country of Elam, or Elymais, became at part of the Persian empire, and never had any more kings to reign over it separately.

39 “‘But it shall come to pass in the latter days, that I will bring back the captives of Elam,’ saith the Lord.” — and will destroy from thence the king and the princes, saith the Lord; so that there should be no more kings of Elam, and princes and nobles of their own, after this time; and because mention is made of the kings of Elam in the times of Nebuchadnezzar, Jeremiah 25:25; though that is observed in the first year of his reign, some have thought that it is best to understand it or Cyrus, the Lord’s servant and anointed; and whose throne might well be called the throne of God, which he gave him, and set him on in an eminent manner, not only there, but elsewhere; see Ezra 1:2; and when this country of Elam, or Elymais, became at part of the Persian empire, and never had any more kings to reign over it separately. Some of the Jewish Rabbins interpret the king and princes of Vashti of Haman and his sons; but very wrongly.

— that I will bring again the captivity of Elam, saith the Lord.

Jeremiah 50

The Chaldeans, especially under Nebuchadnezzar their king, has been described by God as “the king of Babylon, My servant” in multiple places (Jeremiah 25:9, 27:6, 43:10). So this and the following chapter contain a long prophecy concerning the destruction of Babylon following their judgement as well.

1 The word that the Lord spoke against Babylon and against the land of the Chaldeans by Jeremiah the prophet: — the word that the Lord spoke against Babylon… Or the city of Babylon, the metropolis of the Chaldean empire; sometimes it signifies the whole country, here the city only as appears by what follows:

— and against the land of the Chaldeans; where the Jews were carried captive, for whose comfort this prophecy is delivered out; and which had subdued other nations, and was become an universal monarchy; these people are mentioned last, because the rest of the nations were to drink the cup of God’s wrath at their hands, and then they were to drink it after them; see Jeremiah 25:9; this is to be understood not only of Babylon and its empire, literally taken, but of mystical Babylon and its dependencies; of Rome and its jurisdiction; of antichrist, and the antichristian states, the last enemies of the church and people of God, who will be destroyed by the pouring out of the seven vials; see Revelation 15:1. This prophecy, which is called “the word that the Lord spoke” for it was from him the warning was decreed and declared.

“Declare ye among the nations, and proclaim and set up a standard; proclaim and conceal not. Say, ‘Babylon is taken, Bel is confounded, Merodach is broken in pieces! Her idols are confounded, her images are broken in pieces!’ — declare ye among the nations and publish and to call the attention of all men to the importance and the significance of this announcement; publish and conceal not; say, Babylon is taken; Bel, the chief deity of the Chaldeans, thought by some to be the same with Baal by contraction;

— is confounded; Merodach, another name for the same idol is broken in pieces. Her idols are confounded, covered with shame and confusion, her images are broken in pieces, powerless before the almighty power of Yehovah.

For out of the north there cometh up a nation against her, which shall make her land desolate, and none shall dwell therein; they shall be removed, they shall depart, both man and beast. — for out of the north there cometh up a nation against her… the Medes and Persians, under Cyrus were one nation; and not only lay north of Judea where this prophecy came, but of Babylon, against which they were to come; and might lay more north to it before the enlargement of their dominions; and besides, Cyrus came through Assyria to Babylon which lay north of it; see Isaiah 41:25

“In those days and in that time,” saith the Lord, “the children of Israel shall come, they and the children of Judah together, going and weeping; they shall go, and seek the Lord their God. — in those days, and at that time, saith the Lord… when Babylon shall be taken and destroyed, then what follows shall be accomplished; which, as it respects the conversion of the Jews, shows that this prophecy is not to be restrained to literal Babylon:

— the children of Israel shall come, they and the children of Judah together: this is prophetic, parallel to Ezekiel 37 where the whole house of Jacob will be joined together.

They shall ask the way to Zion with their faces turned thitherward, saying, ‘Come, and let us join ourselves to the Lord in a perpetual covenant that shall not be forgotten.’ — they shall ask the way to Zion, the habitation of Yehovah, their faces toward Jerusalem with steadfast purpose not to be daunted or to be turned aside by difficulties along the way;

— saying, Come and let us join ourselves to the Lord in a perpetual covenant that shall not be forgotten as the first covenant had been act aside by an apostate nation.

My people hath been lost sheep; their shepherds have caused them to go astray. They have turned them away on the mountains; they have gone from mountain to hill; they have forgotten their resting place. — My people hath been lost sheep; their shepherds have caused them to go astray, the very men who were entrusted with their care being guilty of this gross neglect; they have turned them away on the mountains, the places of idolatry;

— they have gone from mountain to hill, from one altar of idolatrous worship to the next; they have forgotten their resting-place, in the care of Yehovah where they could lie down in safety.

All who found them have devoured them; and their adversaries said, ‘We offend not, because they have sinned against the Lord, the habitation of justice, even the Lord, the hope of their fathers.’ — all that found them have devoured them… as lost and wandering sheep are liable to be found, and to be devoured, by every beast of prey, lions, wolves and bears; so the house of Jacobs were found by their neighbours, their enemies and especially by their endtime “Chaldeans” or “Assyrians” having forsaken God, and being forsaken by him; and which is their case now and are often found and seized upon by their enemies and made a prey of under one pretence or another.

“Depart out of the midst of Babylon, and go forth out of the land of the Chaldeans, and be as the hegoats before the flocks. — remove out of the midst of Babylon, so all Israelites in truth are now warned to go forth out of the land of the Chaldeans where they were as yet held in captivity and be as the he-goats before the flocks, the leaders of all oppressed nations as they now turned to flee.

For lo, I will raise and cause to come up against Babylon an assembly of great nations from the north country, and they shall set themselves in array against her. From thence she shall be taken. Their arrows shall be as of a mighty destroyer; none shall return in vain. — for, lo, I will raise and cause to come up, against Babylon an assembly of great nations from the North country, an army composed of many nations; and they shall set themselves in array against her with full equipment for warfare; 

— from thence, or “there,” she shall be taken, namely, where the hostile nations have assembled themselves; their arrows shall be as of a mighty expert man, one well versed in the art of warfare; none shall return in vain, none of them would fail to perform its deadly work.

10 And Chaldea shall be a spoil; all that despoil her shall be satisfied,” saith the Lord. — and Chaldea shall be a spoil, a prey ready for the invaders; all that spoil her shall be satisfied, saith the Lord, since they were getting all that their heart desired in the way of rich booty. In this sense the Lord now turns directly to Babylon in pronouncing sentence upon the Chaldean Empire.

11 “Because ye were glad, because ye rejoiced, O ye destroyers of Mine heritage, because ye are grown fat as the heifer at grass, and bellow as bulls, — because ye were glad, because ye rejoiced, O ye destroyers of Mine heritage, the Chaldeans called so on account of the pillage committed by them in destroying Judah, because ye are grown fat as the heifer at grass, skipping like a threshing calf or heifer, with proud insolence and bellow as bulls, or “neigh as steeds,” in overweening, challenging pride.

12 your mother shall be sore confounded; she that bore you shall be ashamed. Behold, the hindermost of the nations shall be a wilderness, a dry land and a desert. — your mother shall be sore confounded… the monarchy of the Chaldeans; so the Targum says, your congregation; or rather their metropolis, their mother city, the city of Babylon; which would be confounded when taken, none of her sons being able to defend her: the same will be true of mystical Babylon, the mother of harlots, Revelation 17:5.

13 Because of the wrath of the Lord it shall not be inhabited, but it shall be wholly desolate; every one that goeth by Babylon shall be astonished and hiss at all her plagues. — because of the wrath of the Lord, it shall not be inhabited… that is, Babylon; which the Targum expresses, “because thou, Babylon, hast provoked the Lord” by their idolatry, luxury, ill usage of his people and profanation of the vessels of the sanctuary; therefore it should be destroyed and left without an inhabitant in it.

14 Put yourselves in array against Babylon round about; all ye that bend the bow, shoot at her, spare no arrows, for she hath sinned against the Lord. — put yourselves in array against Babylon round about to surround the city and to attack her from all sides simultaneously; all ye that bend the bow, the archers representing the entire army of the enemy;

— shoot at her, spare no arrows; for she hath sinned against the Lord, she has fully deserved the punishment being meted out to her.

15 Shout against her round about; she hath given her hand. Her foundations are fallen, her walls are thrown down; for it is the vengeance of the Lord. Take vengeance upon her; as she hath done, do unto her. — shout against her round about, encouraging one another with loud and fierce battle-cries; she hath given her hand, thereby submitting to the conquerors; her foundations are fallen, the fortifications in which she trusted for safety;

— her walls are thrown down, so that she is now helpless before the invaders; for it is the vengeance of the Lord, the destruction of Babylon was a punishment determined by Him; take vengeance upon her, retaliation being permitted in this instance; as she hath done to others.

16 Cut off the sower from Babylon, and him that handleth the sickle in the time of harvest; for fear of the oppressing sword they shall turn every one to his people, and they shall flee every one to his own land. — cut off the sower from Babylon and him that handleth the sickle, or scythe in the time of harvest so that both sowers and reapers would be destroyed and there could be no harvesting in the entire country; 

— for fear of the oppressing sword they shall turn every one to his people and they shall flee every one to his own land, the strangers in the country getting ready to preserve their lives before the threatening catastrophe comes. Over against this fate of Babylon is placed the deliverance of Judah from oppression and exile.

17 “Israel is a scattered sheep; the lions have driven him away. First the king of Assyria hath devoured him, and last this Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon hath broken his bones.” — Israel is a scattered sheep… Or like a sheep that is frightened and drove from the fold and is dispersed and wanders about here and there; Israel includes all the twelve tribes:

— the lions have driven him away; from his own land and carried him captive and scattered him among the nations; these lions are afterwards interpreted of the kings of Assyria and Babylon: so the Targum says. “kings have removed them” comparable to lions for their strength, fierceness and voraciousness;

— first the king of Assyria hath devoured him; eaten up his flesh; meaning Shalmaneser king of Assyria, who carried captive the ten tribes that never returned and therefore said to be devoured:

— and last this Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon hath broken his bones; or “boned him” took out his bones, all his strength and substance; or took the flesh off of them, stripped him of all his wealth and riches, reduced him to his bones, made a mere skeleton of him:

18 Therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: “Behold, I will punish the king of Babylon and his land, as I have punished the king of Assyria. — as I have punished the king of Assyria; not Shalmaneser, that carried the tribes captive; but a successor of his, Chynilidanus, the last king of Assyria; who was killed when Nineveh was taken, the metropolis of Assyria and which was done before this prophecy was delivered; and the return to their own land; which is prophesied in Jeremiah 50:19.

19 And I will bring Israel again to his habitation; and he shall feed on Carmel and Bashan, and his soul shall be satisfied upon Mount Ephraim and Gilead. — and he shall feed on Carmel and Bashan, and his soul shall be satisfied upon Mount Ephraim and Gilead; and as they were all fruitful places and had good pasturage, so they belonged to the ten tribes; which shows that it respects the return of them and the fulness of blessings, both temporal and spiritual, they shall then enjoy.

20 In those days and in that time,” saith the Lord, “the iniquity of Israel shall be sought for, and there shall be none; and the sins of Judah and they shall not be found: for I will pardon them whom I reserve. — in those days and in that time, saith the Lord, the prophecy now again turning to the endtime, the iniquity of Israel shall be sought for, and there shall be none, no longer any guilt would be charged against it; 

— and the sins of Judah and they shall not be found; for I will pardon them whom I reserve, granting them forgiveness and pardon by virtue of the Messiah’s merits. If enemies of the Lord, whom He, for any reason whatever, has used as His instruments to carry out His plans, become overbearing and insolent as a consequence, He readily plunges them from the height of their pride to the depths of humiliation and confusion.

21 “Go up against the land of Merathaim, even against it and against the inhabitants of Pekod. Waste and utterly destroy after them,” saith the Lord, “and do according to all that I have commanded thee. — go up against the land of Merathaim… thought to be the country of the Mardi, which lay part of it in Assyria, and part of it in Armenia; Cyrus, with his army of Medes and Persians, who according to Herodotus, passed through Assyria to Babylon: and so it may be agreeably rendered, “go by the land of Merathaim” or the country of the Mardi; the Targum says, “the land of the rebellious people.”

22 A sound of battle is in the land, and of great destruction.

23 How the hammer of the whole earth is cut asunder and broken! How Babylon hath become a desolation among the nations! — how is the hammer of the whole earth cut asunder and broken!.. the Targum says, “how is the king cut down and broken that moved the whole earth!”

— the king of Babylon or the kingdom of Babylon, which was like a hammer for its hardness and strength; and being an instrument in the hand of God of beating to pieces and destroying kingdoms and nations; but is itself now destroyed. These are the words either of the prophet or rather of the people of other nations, wondering how this destruction came about and rejoicing at it;

— how is Babylon become a desolation among the nations! this explains who and what is meant by the hammer of the earth and by its being cut asunder and broken; even the utter destruction of the city and kingdom of Babylon.

24 I have laid a snare for thee, and thou art also taken, O Babylon, and thou wast not aware; thou art found and also caught, because thou hast striven against the Lord. — I have laid a snare for thee, and thou art also taken, O Babylon… retorting to the strategy that Cyrus used, in draining the river Euphrates, and marching his army up through it into the midst of the city of Babylon and took it by surprise while the inhabitants were feasting and revelling all night: this is said to be a snare laid by the Lord because it was according to the counsel of his will and through his directing and overruling providence:

— and thou wast not aware; of what the enemy had done of his march into the city and taking of it; for one part of the city was seized and taken before the other knew anything of it:

— thou art found, and also caught; as wild beasts in a net or birds in a snare. The Targum says, “thy sins are sought and are found and also thou art taken:”

— because thou hast striven against the Lord; as persons litigate a point with each other in courts of judicature or as warriors strive against each other in battle; she sinned against the Lord and offended him, not only by her idolatry and luxury, but by her oppression of his people and profaning the vessels of his house; as Belshazzar did, the night Babylon was taken. The Targum says, “for with the people of the Lord thou hast strove.”

25 The Lord hath opened His armory and hath brought forth the weapons of His indignation; for this is the work of the Lord God of hosts in the land of the Chaldeans. — and hath brought forth the weapons of his indignation; as a king, when he goes to war, opens his armoury and takes out armour of every kind, both offensive and defensive: swords, spears, shields, so the Lord would now bring the Medes and Persians, well armed, to be the instruments of his wrath and vengeance on Babylon: or, “the vessels of his indignation” having some view to the vessels of the sanctuary, the king of Babylon had taken away and profaned them; these may well be applied to the vials of wrath poured out on them by the angels, called forth out of the temple.

26 Come against her from the utmost border; open her storehouses. Cast her up as heaps and destroy her utterly; let nothing of her be left. — come against her from the utmost border, from the most remote corner of the earth, or “all men, down to the very last,” open her storehouses; cast her up as heaps, that is, all the plunder of the city and destroy her utterly; let nothing of her be left, the city with all its possessions and treasures was to be burned with fire.

27 Slay all her bullocks; let them go down to the slaughter. Woe unto them! For their day has come, the time of their visitation. — slay all her bullocks, her entire population; let them go down to the slaughter. Woe unto them! for their day is come, the time of their visitation, their punishment at the hands of Yehovah.

28 The voice of them that flee and escape out of the land of Babylon, to declare in Zion the vengeance of the Lord our God, the vengeance of His temple. — the voice of them that flee and escape out of the land of Babylon, the fugitives saving their lives in the midst of the general destruction to declare in Zion the vengeance of the Lord our God, the vengeance of His Temple, for by the destruction of Babylon the Lord punished the Chaldeans for their profanation of His Sanctuary on Zion.

29 “Call together the archers against Babylon. All ye that bend the bow, camp against it round about; let none thereof escape. Recompense her according to her work; according to all that she hath done, do unto her. For she hath been proud against the Lord, against the Holy One of Israel. — call together the archers against Babylon for the siege of the city; all ye that bend the bow, camp against it round about, leaving no loophole for escape; let none thereof escape. Recompense her according to her work;

— according to all that she hath done, do unto her, paying her back in her own coin; for she hath been proud against the Lord, against the Holy One of Israel, this pride being the fundamental transgression and fault of Babylon, a form of blasphemy challenging the Lord’s honor.

30 Therefore shall her young men fall in the streets, and all her men of war shall be cut off in that day,” saith the Lord. — therefore shall her young men fall in the streets… Or “surely” it is the form of an oath, according to Rashi, Cyrus, when he took Babylon, ordered proclamation to be made that the inhabitants should keep indoors; and that whoever were found in the streets should be put to death as doubtless many were: and all her men of war shall be cut off in that day, saith the Lord; as Belshazzar and his guards were; see Daniel 5:30.

31 “Behold, I am against thee, O thou most proud,” saith the Lord God of hosts; “for thy day is come, the time that I will visit thee. — behold, I am against thee, O thou most proud, saith the Lord God of hosts, coming to teach her humility; for thy day is come, the time that I will visit thee to bring His punishment upon her in full measure.

32 And the most proud shall stumble and fall, and none shall raise him up; and I will kindle a fire in his cities, and it shall devour all round about him.” — and the most proud shall stumble and fall, literally, “Then pride totters and falls,” the abstract being used to emphasize Babylon’s guilt, and none shall raise him up; and I will kindle a fire in his cities and it shall devour all round about him, the smaller cities sharing the fate of the metropolis.

33 Thus saith the Lord of hosts: “The children of Israel and the children of Judah were oppressed together, and all that took them captives held them fast; they refused to let them go. — thus saith the Lord of hosts, The children of Israel and the children of Judah were oppressed together in the captivity of the exile, and all that took them captives held them fast, were still holding them at the time when this prophecy was given; they refused to let them go so that it might seem as though deliverance were a matter far beyond any possibility. Over against this, however, stands the strong assurance of Yehovah.

34 Their Redeemer is strong; the Lord of hosts is His name. He shall thoroughly plead their cause, that He may give rest to the land, and disquiet the inhabitants of Babylon. — their Redeemer is strong, the Lord of hosts is His name, the Commander of all the heavenly armies; He shall thoroughly plead their cause, taking their part with all needed energy;

— that He may give rest to the land so that Judah would once more enjoy peace and security and, on the contrary, disquiet the inhabitants of Babylon who thought that they were altogether secure against all enemies. In order to take the part of His people with the proper zeal, the Lord now calls upon the sword to perform its work against the Chaldeans.

35 “A sword is upon the Chaldeans,” saith the Lord, “and upon the inhabitants of Babylon, and upon her princes, and upon her wise men! — a sword is upon the Chaldeans, saith the Lord… Or, “shall be” or “O sword, be thou on the Chaldeans” that is, the sword of the Medes and Persians; those that kill with the sword, as the Targum says;

— and upon the inhabitants of Babylon; the metropolis of Chaldea; the common people in it as distinguished from those of high rank and degree following: and upon her princes; Belshazzar and his nobles who were slain the night Babylon was taken;

— and upon her wise men; prime ministers, politicians, and counsellors of state; neither high birth nor great wisdom can secure from the sword of the enemy when it has a commission from God as it had here.

36 A sword is upon the liars, and they shall dote! A sword is upon her mighty men, and they shall be dismayed! — a sword is upon the liars… the Targum renders it “diviners” and so Rashi agrees of which there were many among the Chaldeans who were a lying set of men who imposed upon and deceived the people; these with their divinations and soothsayings could not save the land, nor themselves from the devouring sword; nay, their sorceries and divinations were the cause of their ruin.

37 A sword is upon their horses and upon their chariots, and upon all the mingled people that are in the midst of her, and they shall become as women! A sword is upon her treasures, and they shall be robbed! — a sword is upon their horses and upon their chariots which were her boast in warfare and upon all the mingled people that are in the midst of her, her mercenaries and allies;

— and they shall become as women, weak and utterly unable for effective resistance; a sword is upon her treasures, the wealth which she had accumulated in the course of her campaigns and they shall be robbed.

38 A drought is upon her waters, and they shall be dried up! For it is the land of graven images, and they are mad over their idols. — a drought is upon her waters, and they shall be dried up, the dams and irrigation canals being destroyed by the invading army; for it is the land of graven images and they are mad upon their idols, literally, “their objects of horror or terror,” for the images which are usually found in heathen sanctuaries are really more likely to frighten than to attract. They have indulged in gross and revolting idolatry and must therefore bear their iniquity.

39 Therefore the wild beasts of the desert with the wild beasts of the islands shall dwell there, and the owls shall dwell therein; and it shall be no more inhabited for ever, neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation. — therefore the wild beasts of the desert with the wild beasts of the islands, the jackals shall dwell there and the owls, literally, “daughters of crying,” that is, the female ostriches shall dwell therein and it shall be no more inhabited forever, neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation.

40 As God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah and the neighbor cities thereof,” saith the Lord, “so shall no man abide there, neither shall any son of man dwell therein. — so shall no man abide there, neither shall any son of man dwell therein; the same is said concerning Edom.

41 “Behold, a people shall come from the north, and a great nation, and many kings shall be raised up from the borders of the earth. — behold, a people shall come from the north and a great nation… the Modes and Persians, whose country lay north of Babylon.

42 They shall hold the bow and the lance; they are cruel and will not show mercy; their voice shall roar like the sea, and they shall ride upon horses, every one put in array like a man to the battle, against thee, O daughter of Babylon. — they shall hold the bow and the lance… Or “spear” the Targum interprets it, “shields” as many in Cyrus’s army had them; the one an offensive, the other a defensive weapon; or if bow and lance, the one is used at a distance, the other when near. The Medes and Persians were well skilled in handling the bow, the armour with large bows and short spears; besides bows and arrows, they had two javelins or lances, one of which they cast, and the other they held and used in their hands as they found necessary; and so Cyrus in a speech of his, says that they had breast plates to cover their bodies and lances or javelins which they could use by throwing or holding, as they pleased:

— they are cruel, and will not show mercy: not even to infants but dash them against the stones.

43 The king of Babylon hath heard the report of them, and his hands waxed feeble; anguish took hold of him, and pangs as of a woman in travail. — the king of Babylon hath heard the report of them… Belshazzar had the report brought to him of an invasion of his land; of their approach to Babylon and design upon it and of their number, character and force:

— and his hands waxed feeble as they did when he saw the handwriting upon the wall, Daniel 5:6;

— anguish took hold of him, and pangs as of a woman in travail; a sudden panic seized him and he was quite dispirited at once as a woman in childbirth, when her pains come upon her and there is no avoiding them.

44 Behold, he shall come up like a lion from the swelling of the Jordan unto the habitation of the strong; but I will make them suddenly run away from her. And who is a chosen man that I may appoint over her? For who is like Me? And who will appoint Me the time? And who is that shepherd that will stand before Me?” — behold, he shall come up like a lion from the swelling of Jordan… what is said of Nebuchadnezzar coming up against Edom is here said of Cyrus coming up against Babylon; for of a king it is to be understood; as the Targum says, “behold, a king with his army shall come up against them, as a lion from the height of Jordan;”

— and who is that shepherd that will stand before me? or king? not Belshazzar, he could not stand before the Lord: so the Targum says “there is no king that hath strength before me” that is, to withstand him or hinder what he has appointed and ordered to be done.

45 Therefore hear ye the counsel of the Lord that He hath taken against Babylon, and His purposes that He hath purposed against the land of the Chaldeans. Surely the least of the flock shall draw them out; surely He shall make their habitation desolate with them. — surely the least of the flock shall draw them out; the weakest and most feeble in the army of Cyrus should be more than a match for any in Babylon and should draw them out and devour them as dogs and wolves the sheep out of the flock.

46 At the noise of the taking of Babylon the earth is moved, and the cry is heard among the nations. — at the noise of the taking of Babylon the earth is moved… it being so sudden and unexpected and so very astonishing:

— and the cry is heard among the nations that Babylon is fallen; which, as applied to mystical Babylon, will be matter of joy to some and of lamentation to others; see Revelation 14:8.

~ by Joel Huan on November 24, 2021.

One Response to “Jeremiah (Ch 49-50)”

  1. […] Study of Chapters 49 and 50 HERE ~ —— […]

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