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Bible Commentaries

Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary

Jeremiah 51

Verses 1-6

JEREMIAH - CHAPTER 51

AN ORACLE CONCERNING BABYLON - Continued

Va. 1-6: A DESTROYING WIND

1. God is raising up an instrument of judgment against Babylon and those who dwell in the midst of her, (vs. 1; comp. Jeremiah 4:11-12; Jeremiah 23:19; Hosea 13:15).

2. The "destroying wind" is NOT a tornado; it symbolizes the coming of "strangers" upon Babylon, who will winnow and empty her land, (vs. 2; comp. Jeremiah 15:7; Psalms 1:4, Isaiah 41:15-16; Matthew 3:12).

3. It will be useless for the warriors of Babylon to take up weapons for defense; a path of human carnage will be left behind the invading army, (vs. 3-4; Jeremiah 50:14; Jeremiah 50:21; Jeremiah 50:29; Isaiah 13:15; Isaiah 14:19).

4. The judgment of Babylon is a vindication of Israel and Judah -whom God has not forsaken, even though their land has been full of sin! (vs. 5; Jeremiah 33:24-26; Isaiah 54:7-8; Hosea 4:1-2).

5. Thus, He who counseled Judah to surrender to Nebuchadnezzar, NOW alerts her to be ready to FLEE FROM BABYLON, as the instrument of her judgment approaches, (vs. 6, 45; Jeremiah 50:8; Jeremiah 50:28; comp. Numbers 16:26; Jeremiah 50:15; Jeremiah 25:14).

Verses 7-10

1. Babylon has been a golden cup in the Lord’s hand - from which the nations have been compelled to drink of His indignation and wrath - leaving them bewildered and helpless, (vs. 7; Jeremiah 13:12-14; Jeremiah 25:15­16; 49:12; comp. Isaiah 51:17; Isaiah 51:22).

2. But, Jeremiah sees the cup falling and breaking into pieces -shattered beyond repair! (vs. 8); though there is the "balm of Gilead" for Israel’s healing (Jeremiah 8:22), the wounds of Babylon are beyond repair, (comp. Jeremiah 46:11).

3. In verse 9 the Jews in Babylon address other foreign residents - urging them to flee to their own homelands, because the doom of Babylon is sealed! (comp. Jeremiah 46:16; Jeremiah 50:16; Isaiah 13:14; Ezra 9:6).

4. Since in the judgment of her oppressor, God has openly manifested His righteousness in behalf of the remnant of His captive people, they purpose to return, and to declare, in Zion, the word of Jehovah their God, (vs. 10; comp. Psalms 37:6; Micah 7:9; Jeremiah 50:28; Isaiah 40:2).

Verses 11-14

Vs. 11-14: THE VENGEANCE OF JEHOVAH’S TEMPLE

1. The men of Babylon may sharpen their arrows, and put on their suits of armour, but it will be in vain, (vs. 11 a: comp. Jeremiah 46:3-4; Joel 3:9­-10).

2. Here, for the first time, Jeremiah identifies Babylon’s enemy as the kings (Darius and Cyrus) of the Medes - through whom the Lord purposes to destroy Babylon, in retribution for what she did to His temple, (vs. 11 b; comp. Jeremiah 50:28).

3. Verse 12 depicts the setting up of a tight blockade around the city of Babylon to make certain that is inhabitants do not escape without surrender; the Lord has both planned and executed what He has threatened concerning this city, (vs. 29; comp. Jeremiah 4:28; Jeremiah 23:20).

4. With shouts of triumph, the army of the Medes will swarm like locusts over Babylon - the conqueror of many peoples, (Jeremiah 50:37-38; Isaiah 45:3); nor will her numerous idols provide any help in the day of her extremity, (vs. 13-14; Habakkuk 2:9-11).

Verses 15-19

Vs. 15-19: A HYMN OF PRAISE

This hymn of praise is repeated from Jeremiah 10:12-16. See comment there.

Verses 20-26

Vs. 20-26: GOD’S BATTLE AXE IS EFFECTIVE

1. Scholars disagree concerning who is addressed as God’s "battle-axe" - with whom He breaks nations in pieces and destroys kingdom, (vs. 20; comp. Jeremiah 50:23; Micah 4:12-13).

a. No one can doubt that Babylon HAS BEEN that instrument.

b. Nor should there be any doubt that the Medes are about to supplant her in that role.

2. No element of society escaped the crushing power of Babylon, (vs. 21-23: Isaiah 43:17; Isaiah 13:15-18).

3. Now, God will recompense upon Babylon, and all the inhabitants of Chaldea, the same havoc that they have wrought upon Zion, (vs. 24, 6, 35, 56; Jeremiah 50:10; Jeremiah 50:15; Jeremiah 50:29).

4. Jehovah declares Himself to be against this destroying mountain (kingdom); thus will He so humiliate her that she will be as a barren, burned-out volcano, (vs. 25, 53, 58, Jeremiah 50:31; comp. Revelation 8:8).

Verses 27-33

Vs. 27-33: AN ALLIANCE AGAINST BABYLON

1. Jehovah of hosts is, Himself, Commander of the forces being assembled against Babylon; at His signal a standard is set up, and the trumpet blown, to rally the nations around it, (vs. 27-28) - Ararat, Minni, Ashkenaz, Media and every land that is under her dominion.

2. The land of Babylon is pictured as trembling and writhing in anguish because of the Lord’s irrevocable purpose to make her desolate, (vs. 29; comp. Jeremiah 8:16; Jeremiah 10:10; Jeremiah 50:46).

3. Disheartened, discouraged, and terrified by what is coming upon them, the mighty men of Babylon ceased to fight - remaining in their fortresses, (vs. 30; Jeremiah 50:15; Jeremiah 50:36-37; Psalms 76:1-6).

4. Posts and messengers inform the King of Babylon concerning the total collapse and panic of his men of war; Babylon’s is a LOST CAUSE! (vs. 31-32; comp. 2 Samuel 18:19-33).

5. The daughter of Babylon is likened to a threshing floor at the time it is trodden down in readiness for the threshing; harvest time is fast approaching, (vs. 33; Isaiah 21:9-10; comp. Joel 3:13).

Verses 34-40

Vs. 34-40: JUDAH’S COMPLAINT AGAINST BABYLON

1. Like some great monster, Nebuchaanezzar had swallowed the land of Judah in a single gulp - filling his belly with her delicacies and casting her out, (vs. 34; comp. Isaiah 24:1-3).

2. Thus, she calls for vengeance upon Babylon for her violence and bloodsrred. (vs. 35; comp. Psalms 137:8).

3. And the Lord promises to plead her cause - executing vengeance upon Babylon unto utter devastation! (vs. 36-37; Psalms 140:12; Romans 12:19).

4. Their triumphant shouts of exultation, likened to the roaring of a lion over its prey, will be silenced, (vs. 38; comp. Jeremiah 2:15; Jeremiah 4:7; Jeremiah 50:17).

5. The Lord is preparing a feast - making them so drunk, with the wine of His indignation, that they will sleep a perpetual sleep of death! (vs. 39, 57; comp. Jeremiah 48:26).

6. He will bring them down like slaughter-animals, (vs. 40; Jeremiah 50:27; comp. Isaiah 34:6-8).

Verses 41-44

Vs. 41-44: THE END DRAWS NEARER

1. Babylon, the praise of the whole earth, is taken, seized and become a desolation among the nations! (vs. 41; Jeremiah 25:26).

2. The enemy has come upon her like a rising tide; wave after wave has crashed against her walls, until she is crushed, (vs. 42, 55; comp. Isaiah 8:7-8).

3. Her cities are become like a desert wherein no one will dwell, or pass through, (vs. 43, 29, 62; Jeremiah 50:12; Isaiah 13:19-20).

4. The land and its patron deity (Bel) are so closely identified that the defeat of one necessarily involves the destruction of the other, (vs. 44; Jeremiah 50:2).

a. Then, from the mouth of Bel, will be taken the plunder of subjugated nations, (vs. 34; Ezra 1:7-8).

b. No more will pilgrims stream to his shrine, for the wall of Babylon has fallen! (vs. 58; contrast Isaiah 2:2).

Verses 45-58

Vs. 45-58: BABYLON IS FALLENI

1. Again the Lord calls upon His people to flee from Babylon, thus, escaping his fierce indignation and saving their own lives, (vs. 45; Isaiah 48:20; comp. Genesis 19:12-16; Acts 2:40).

2. They must not be discouraged, or faint-hearted, because of the political intrigue and violence in the land -when ruler is against

ruler! (vs. 46; Jeremiah 46:21-28; Isaiah 43:5; Isaiah 13:3-5; comp. Isaiah 19:2).

3. When judgment falls upon Babylon, heaven and earth will herald the news with joy! (vs. 47-48a; comp. Isaiah 44:23; Isaiah 48:20; Isaiah 49:13).

4. Because of the slain of Israel, and the desecration of Jehovah’s temple in Jerusalem, Babylon will fall to an enemy from the north, (vs. 48b-51; comp. vs. 11, 27, Jeremiah 50:29; Psalms 137:8-9).

5. Again the Jews are urged to remember and return to Jerusalem (Psalms 137:6) - fleeing the calamity that is about to fall upon the city of pride, (vs. 50,45; Deuteronomy 4:29-31).

6. Though Babylon builds fortifications that reach into the heavens, she, and her idols, cannot escape the destroyer that God is sending against her! (vs. 52-53; comp. Jeremiah 49:16; Psalms 139:8-10; Isaiah 14:12­-13).

7. Midst the crash of the battle, a mighty cry rises up from Babylon; the Lord is bringing the hum of the great city to a devastating silence, (vs. 54-55a; comp. Jeremiah 50:46).

8. The surging masses of Babylon’s foe are likened to the roar of mighty waves that flow over the walls and bring the queen of nations to an ignominious end! (vs. 55b-57; comp. Psalms 124:2-5; Habakkuk 2:8; Psalms 76:1-12; Psalms 94:1-2; Jeremiah 25:27).

9. Her broad walls (11-25 feet thick) and lofty gates (40-60 feet high) are leveled and burned with fire, (vs. 58; Isaiah 45:1-2).

10. How utterly FOOLISH for men to exert themselves for what goes up in smoke, or to exhaust themselves for nothingness! (comp. Habakkuk 2:13).

Verses 59-64

Vs. 59-64: JEREMIAH’S CHARGE TO SERAIAH

1. According to verse 59, this charge may be dated 594­593 B.C.

2. Seraiah was a brother of Baruch (Jeremiah 32:12), and a quartermaster officer on the king’s staff - in charge of selecting the resting place where the king would stop for the night.

3. No word is given concerning the purpose of this trip of Zedekiah to Babylon, but it appears that he has been summoned there to reaffirm his loyalty to Nebuchadnezzar.

4. On a scroll, Jeremiah has written messages of judgment against Babylon which he commissioned Seraiah to read publicly when he arrived in the proud city, (vs. 60-61).

5. Then he was to proclaim this to be the word of Jehovah, the God of Israel, concerning Babylon - to destroy it, (vs. 62; comp. Jeremiah 25:12; Jeremiah 50:3; Jeremiah 50:13; Jeremiah 50:39-40; Isaiah 13:19-22; Isaiah 14:22-23).

6. Then, In a symbolic act, he was to bind a stone to the scroll and cast it into the Euphrates - declaring that, in this manner, Babylon will sink (her power exhausted) and never rise again -because of the judgment Jehovah is bringing upon her sin, (vs. 63-64; comp. Revelation 18:21).

7. "Thus far are the words of Jeremiah" suggests that the historical appendix (chapter 52) was added by another hand, to show (primarily from 2Ki) that Jeremiah’s basic prophecies had already been fulfilled.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Blessed Hope Foundation and the Baptist Training Center.
Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Jeremiah 51". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/jeremiah-51.html. 1985.