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Against them that dwell in the midst of them that rise up against me - literally, in the heart of them, etc. Compare Psalms 46:2, "the midst of the sea" - margin, 'the heart of the seas;' Ezekiel 27:4, margin; Matthew 12:40, "in the heart of the earth" - in the center of the Chaldeans. They "rise up against me," because they persecute my people. The Athbash or cabalistic mode of interpreting Hebrew words (by taking the letters in the inverse order of the alphabet, the last letter representing the first, and so on, Jeremiah 25:26, "Sheshach") would give the very word Chaldeans for "in the midst of them that rise up against me" [ leeb (H3820) qaamaay (H6965)] here; but the mystical method cannot be intended, as "Babylon" is plainly so called in the immediately preceding parallel clause.
A destroying wind. God needs not warlike weapons to "destroy" His foes; a wind or blast is sufficient; though, no doubt, the "wind" here is the invading host of Medes and Persians (Jeremiah 4:11; 2 Kings 19:7).
Fanners - (note, Jeremiah 15:7). The fanners separate the wheat from the chaff; so God's judgments shall sweep away guilty Babylon as "chaff" (Psalms 1:4).
Against him that bendeth - namely, the bow, i:e., against the Babylonian archer.
Let the archer bend - i:e., the Persian archer (Jeremiah 50:14). The Chaldean version and Jerome, by changing the vowel points, read ['al, instead of 'el], 'Let NOT him (the Babylonian) who bendeth his bow bend it.' But the close of the verse is addressed to the Median invaders; therefore it is more likely that the first part of the verse is addressed to them, as in the 'English version, not to the Babylonians, to warn them against resistance as vain, as in the Chaldaic version. The word bend is thrice repeated in the Hebrew. 'Against him that bendeth, let him that bendeth (the archer, in the English version) bend,' to imply the utmost straining of the bow.
The slain shall fall in the land ... and ... in her streets - (notes, Jeremiah 49:26, "Therefore her young men shall fall in her streets;" Jeremiah 50:30; Jeremiah 50:37).
Israel hath not been forsaken - as a widow [Hebrew, 'almaan (H488)]. Israel is not severed from her Husband, Yahweh (Isaiah 54:5-7), by a perpetual divorce.
Though their land was filled with sin - though the land of Israel has been filled with sin - i:e., with the punishment of their sin, devastation. But, as the Hebrew means for, or and therefore, not though, translate, 'and therefore their (the Chaldeans') land has been filled with (the penal consequences of) their sin (Grotius).
Flee out of the midst of Babylon. Warning to the Israelite captives to flee from Babylon, lest they should be involved in the punishment of her "iniquity." So as to spiritual Babylon and her captives (Revelation 18:4).
Babylon hath been a golden cup in the LORD's hand, that made all the earth drunken: the nations have drunken of her wine; therefore the nations are mad.
Babylon hath been a golden cup in the Lord's hand. Babylon is compared to a cup, because she was the vessel in the hand of God to make drunken with His vengeance the other peoples (Jeremiah 13:12; Jeremiah 25:15-16). Compare as to spiritual Babylon, Revelation 14:8; Revelation 17:4. The cup is termed "golden," to express the splendour and opulence of Babylon; whence also, in the image seen by Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 2:38), the head representing Babylon is of gold (cf. Isaiah 14:4).
Howl for her: take balm for her pain ... we would have healed Babylon, but she is not healed: forsake her, and let us go. Her friends and confederates, who behold her fall, are invited to her aid. They reply, her case is incurable, and that they must leave her to her fate.
Verse 8. (Isaiah 21:9; Revelation 14:8; Revelation 18:2; Revelation 18:9).
Verse 9. We would have healed Babylon - we attempted to heal.
Her judgment - her sins provoking God's "judgments" (Grotius).
Reacheth unto heaven - (Genesis 18:21; Jonah 1:2; Revelation 18:5). Even the pagan nations perceive that her awful fall must be God's judgment for her crying sins (Psalms 9:16; Psalms 64:9).
The Lord hath ... Next after the speech of the confederates of Babylon comes that of the Jews, celebrating with thanksgivings the promise-keeping faithfulness of their covenant God.
Brought forth - (Psalms 37:6, "He shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light"). Our righteousness - not the Jews' merits, but God's faithfulness to Himself and to His covenant, which constituted the "righteousness" of His people - i:e., their justification in their controversy with Babylon, the cruel enemy of God and His people. (Compare Jeremiah 23:6, "The Lord our righteousness;" Micah 7:9.) Their righteousness is His righteousness.
Come, and let us declare in Zion the work of the Lord our God - (Psalms 102:13-21, "When the Lord shall build up Zion, He shall appear in his glory ... to declare the name of the Lord in Zion, and His praise in Jerusalem").
Make bright the arrows; gather the shields: the LORD hath raised up the spirit of the kings of the Medes: for his device is against Babylon, to destroy it; because it is the vengeance of the LORD, the vengeance of his temple.
Make bright - literally, pure. Polish and sharpen "the arrows."
Gather - literally, fill; i:e., gather in full number "the shields," so that none be missing. So, "gave in full tale" (1 Samuel 18:27). Gesenius, not so well, translates, 'Fill with your bodies the shields' (cf. Song of Solomon 4:4). He means to tell the Babylonians, Make what preparations you will, all will be in vain (cf. Jeremiah 46:3-6).
The Lord hath raised up the spirit of the kings of the Medes. He names the Medes rather than the Persians, because Darius, or Cyaxares, was above Cyrus in power and the greatness of his kingdom.
It is the vengeance of the Lord, the vengeance of His temple - (Jeremiah 50:28).
Set up the standard upon the walls of Babylon, make the watch strong, set up the watchmen, prepare the ambushes: for the LORD hath both devised and done that which he spake against the inhabitants of Babylon.
Set up ... - with all your efforts, your city shall be taken.
The standard - to summon the defenders together to any point threatened by the besiegers.
O thou that dwellest upon many waters - (Jeremiah 51:32; Jeremiah 51:36; note, Isaiah 21:1). The Euphrates surrounded the city, and, being divided into many channels, formed islands. Compare as to spiritual Babylon, "waters," i:e., 'many peoples,' Revelation 17:1; Revelation 17:15. A large lake also was near Babylon.
The measure - literally, the cubit, which was the most common measure, and therefore is used for a measure in general.
Of thy covetousness - the time for putting a limit to thy covetousness is come (Gesenius). There is no "and" in the Hebrew; translate, thine end, the retribution for thy covetousness' (Grotius). Maurer takes the image to be from weaving: "thine end is come" - namely, 'the cubit where thou art to be cut off;' for the web is cut off when the required number of cubits is completed (Isaiah 38:12).
The Lord of hosts hath sworn by himself - literally, by His soul (2 Samuel 15:21; Hebrews 6:13, "Because He (God) could swear by no greater, He sware by Himself").
I will fill thee with men, as with caterpillars - locusts (Nahum 3:15). Numerous as are the citizens of Babylon, the invaders shall be more numerous.
He hath made the earth by his power ... When he uttereth his voice ... Every man is brutish by his knowledge ... They are vanity ... The Portion of Jacob is not like them ... - repeated from Jeremiah 10:12-16; except that "Israel" is not in the Hebrew of Jeremiah 51:19 (though it is in Jeremiah 10:16): Jeremiah 51:19 ought, therefore, to be translated, 'He is the Former of all things, and (therefore) of the rod of His inheritance' - i:e., of the nation peculiarly His own. In Jeremiah 10:1-25 the contrast is between the idols and God; here it is between the power of populous Babylon and that of God: "Thou dwellest upon many waters" (Jeremiah 51:13); but God can, by merely "uttering His voice," create "many waters" (Jeremiah 51:16). The "earth" (in its material aspect) is the result of His "power;" the "world" (viewed in its orderly system) is the result of His "wisdom," etc. (Jeremiah 51:15). Such an Almighty Being can be at no loss for resources to effect His purpose against Babylon.
Thou art my battle-ax ... - (note, Jeremiah 50:23).
With thee will I break in pieces the nations. "Break in pieces" refers to the "hammer" there (cf. Nahum 2:1, "He that dasheth in pieces is come up," margin, 'the disperser, or hammer'). The club also was often used by ancient warriors.
No JFB commentary on this verse.
With thee will I break in pieces old and young - (2 Chronicles 36:17, "The Chadees slew the young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary, and had no compassion upon young man or maiden, old man or him that stooped for age").
No JFB commentary on this verse.
I will render unto Babylon ... all their evil that they have done. The detail of particulars (Jeremiah 51:20-23) is in order to express the indiscriminate slaughters perpetrated by Babylon on Zion, which, in just retribution, are all to befall herself (Jeremiah 50:15; Jeremiah 50:29)
Behold, I am against thee, O destroying mountain, saith the LORD, which destroyest all the earth: and I will stretch out mine hand upon thee, and roll thee down from the rocks, and will make thee a burnt mountain.
O destroying mountain - called so, not from its position, for it lay low in the "plain in the land of Shinar," where the original tower of Babel was built (Jeremiah 51:13; Genesis 11:2; Genesis 11:9), but from its eminence above other nations, many of which it had "destroyed;" also because of its lofty palaces, towers, hanging gardens resting on arches, and walls 50 royal cubits broad and 200 royal cubits high.
I will ... roll thee down from the rocks - i:e., from thy rock-like fortifications and walls.
I will make thee a burnt mountain. So, at the sounding of the second trumpet, "as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea" (Revelation 8:8). I will make thee like a volcano, which, after having spent itself in pouring its "destroying" lava on all the country around, falls into the vacuum, and becomes extinct, the surrounding "rocks" alone marking where the crater had been. Such was the appearance of Babylon after its destruction; and as the pumice stones of the volcano are left in their place, being unfit for building, so Babylon should never rise from its ruins.
They shall not take of thee a stone for a corner, nor a stone for foundations. The cornerstone was the most important one in the building; the foundation stones came next in importance (Eph. 2:29 ). So the sense is, even as there shall be no stones useful for building left of thee, so no leading prince or governors shall come forth from thy inhabitants.
Set ye up a standard in the land, blow the trumpet among the nations, prepare the nations against her, call together against her the kingdoms of Ararat, Minni, and Ashchenaz; appoint a captain against her; cause the horses to come up as the rough caterpillers.
Set ye up a standard ... prepare the nations against her - (Jeremiah 50:29). As in Jeremiah 51:12 the Babylonians were told to "set up a standard," so here her foes are told to do so; the latter to good purpose, the former in vain.
Ararat - Upper or Major Armenia, the regions about mount Ararat.
Minni - Lower or Lesser Armenia. Rawlinson says that Van was the capital of Minni. It was conquered by Tettarrassa, the general of Tetembar II, the Assyrian king whose wars are recorded on the black obelisk now in the British Museum.
Ashchenaz - a descendant of Japhet (Genesis 10:3), who gave his name to the sea, the Euxine, which perhaps is the Greek corruption of the name Ashkenaz, first made in Greek inflection into Axeinos, now called the Black Sea; the region bordering on it is probably here meant-namely, Asia Minor, including places named Ascania, in Phrygia and Bithynia. Cyrus had subdued Asia Minor and the neighbouring regions, and from these drew levies in proceeding against Babylon.
Cause the horses to come up as ... rough caterpillars - the horsemen, in multitude and in appearance, bristling with javelins and with crests, resemble "rough caterpillars," or locusts of the hairy-crested kind (Nahum 3:15).
The kings of the Medes - (Jeremiah 51:14). The satraps and tributary kings under Darius, or Cyaxares.
All the land of his dominion - the King of Media's dominion.
The land shall tremble ... for every purpose of the Lord shall be performed. Elegant antithesis between the trembling of the land or earth and the stability of "every purpose of the Lord" (cf. Psalms 46:1-3).
The mighty men of Babylon have forborne to fight - for the city was not taken by force of arms, but by stratagem, according to the counsel given to Cyrus by two eunuchs of Belshazzar, who deserted.
They have remained in their holds - not daring to go forth to fight; many, with Nabonnidus, withdrew to the fortified city Borsippa.
One post shall run to meet another, and one messenger to meet another, to shew the king of Babylon that his city is taken at one end, One post shall run to meet another ... to show the king of Babylon that his city is taken at one end - (note, Jeremiah 50:24, "Thou art also taken, O Babylon, and thou wast not aware").
One post - one courier after another shall announce the capture of the city. The couriers despatched from the walls who Cyrus enters shall "meet" those sent by the king. Their confused running to and fro would result from the sudden panic at the entrance of Cyrus into the city, which he had so long besieged ineffectually: the Babylonians had laughed at his attempts, and were feasting at the time without fear.
Taken at one end - which was not known for a long time to the king and his courtiers feasting in the middle of the city: so great was its extent that, when the city was already three days in the enemy's hands, the fact was not known in some parts of the city (Aristotle, 'Polemics,' 3: 2).
Passages are stopped - the guarded fords of the Euphrates are occupied by the enemy (note, Jeremiah 50:38).
The reeds ... burned - "the reeds" [ haa'ªgamiym (H98)], literally, the marshes. After draining off the river, Cyrus "burned" the stockade of dense tree-like "reeds" on its banks, forming the outworks of the city fortifications. The burning of these would give the appearance of the marsh or river itself being on "fire."
The daughter of Babylon is like a threshing-floor, it is time to thresh her - rather, 'is like a threshing-floor at the time of threshing,' or 'at the time when it is trodden.' The treading or threshing is here put before the harvest, out of the natural order, because the prominent thought is the treading down or destruction of Babylon. In the East the treading out of the grain took place only at harvest time. Babylon is like a threshing-floor not trodden for a long time; but the time of harvest, when her citizens shall be trodden under foot, shall come (Calvin). 'Like a threshing-floor full of corn, so is Babylon now full of riches, but the time of harvest shall come, when all her prosperity shall be cut off' (Ludovicus de Dieu). Grotius distinguishes the "harvest" from the "threshing;" the former is the slaying of her citizens, the latter the pillaging and destruction of the city (cf. Joel 3:13; Revelation 14:15; Revelation 14:18).
Nebuchadrezzar the king of Babylon hath devoured me, he hath crushed me, he hath made me an empty vessel, he hath swallowed me up like a dragon, he hath filled his belly with my delicates, he hath cast me out.
Nebuchadnezzar ... hath devoured me. Zion speaks. Her groans are what bring down retribution in kind on Babylon (Jeremiah 50:17; Psalms 102:13; Psalms 102:17; Psalms 102:20).
He hath made me an empty vessel - he has drained me out.
He hath swallowed me like a dragon - the serpent often 'swallows' its prey whole. Or a sea monster (Grotius).
He hath filled his belly ... he hath cast me out - like a wild beast, which, having "filled" himself to satiety, 'casts out' the rest (Calvin).
With my delicates - i:e., with my delicacies. After filling all his store-houses with my goods, he has cast me out of this land (Grotius).
The violence done ... to my flesh - which Nebuchadnezzar hath "devoured" (Jeremiah 51:34). Zion thus calls her kinsmen (Romans 11:14) slain throughout the country, or carried captives to Babylon (Grotius). Or, as "my blood" follows, it and "my flesh" constitute the whole man: Zion, in its totality, its citizens, and all its substance, have been a prey to Babylon's violence (Psalms 137:8-9).
Thus saith the Lord; Behold, I will plead thy cause - (Jeremiah 50:34, "Their Redeemer is strong, The Lord of hosts is His name: He shall throughly plead their cause"). Sea - the Euphrates (Jeremiah 51:13; Jeremiah 50:38). Compare Isaiah 19:5, "see" - i:e., the Nile (Isaiah 21:1).
Babylon shall become heaps, a dwelling-place for dragons - (Jeremiah 50:26; Jeremiah 50:39; Revelation 18:2).
39. They shall roar ... they shall yell. The capture of Babylon was effected on the night of a festival in honour of its idols. The Babylonians were shouting in drunken revelry (cf. Daniel 5:4).
In their heat I will make their feasts - in the midst of their being heated with wine I will give them "their" potions-a very different cup to drink, but one which is their due-the wine-cup of my stupefying wrath (Jeremiah 25:15; Jeremiah 49:12; Isaiah 51:17; Lamentations 4:21).
I will make them drunken, that they may rejoice, and sleep a perpetual sleep - that they may exult, and, in the midst of their jubilant exultation, sleep the sleep of death, that knows no waking (Jeremiah 51:57; Isaiah 21:4-5).
No JFB commentary on this verse.
Sheshach - Babylon (cf. note, Jeremiah 25:20). Called so from the goddess Shach, to whom a five days' festival was kept, during which, as in the Roman Saturnalia, the most unbridled licentiousness was permitted; slaves ruled their masters, and in every house one called Zogan, arrayed in a royal garment, was chosen to rule all the rest. He calls Babylon "Sheshach," to imply that it was during this feast the city was taken (Scaliger).
The sea is come up upon Babylon - "the sea" - i:e., the host of Median invaders. The image (cf. Jeremiah 47:2; Isaiah 8:7-8) is appropriately taken from the Euphrates, which, overflowing in spring, is like a "sea" near Babylon (Jeremiah 51:13; Jeremiah 51:32; Jeremiah 51:36).
Her cites - the cities her dependencies. So "Jerusalem and the cities thereof" (Jeremiah 34:1). Or the "cities" are the inner and outer cities, the two parts into which Babylon was divided by the Euphrates (Grotius).
And I will punish Bel in Babylon, and I will bring forth out of his mouth that which he hath swallowed up: and the nations shall not flow together any more unto him: yea, the wall of Babylon shall fall.
Bel ... I will bring forth out of his mouth that which he hath swallowed - in allusion to the many sacrifices to the idol, which its priests pretended it swallowed at night; or, rather, the precious gifts taken from other nations and offered to it, which it is said to have "swallowed" (cf. "devoured," "swallowed," Jeremiah 51:34; Jeremiah 50:17), which it should have to disgorge (cf. Jeremiah 51:13; Jeremiah 50:37). Of these gifts were the vessels of Yahweh's temple in Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 36:7; Daniel 1:2). The restoration of these to Sheshbazzar, the prince of Judah, for the temple, by the direction of Cyrus, as foretold here, is recorded Ezra 1:7-11.
The nations shall not flow together anymore unto him - they "shall not flow" as a river; fitly depicting the influx of pilgrims of all "nations" to the idol.
My people, go ye, out of the midst of her - (note, Jeremiah 51:6). The frequent repetition of the same charge (Jeremiah 50:8; Jeremiah 51:6; Jeremiah 51:45) implies the earnest concern God has for His people, just as when "Lot lingered" in doomed Sodom, on the eve of its destruction, the angels "laid hold upon his hand ... the Lord being merciful to him, and brought him forth, and set him without the city, and said Escape for thy life" (Genesis 19:16-17).
Verse 46. And lest your heart faint ... a rumour shall both come one year, and after that in another year shall come a rumour. Compare, for the same ellipsis, Genesis 3:22; Exodus 13:17; Deuteronomy 8:12. Supply the ellipsis thus, 'And in order that your heart may not faint at the (first) rumour' (of war), I will give you some intimation of the time: in the first "year" there shall "come a rumour" that Cyrus is preparing for war against Babylon. "After that in another year shall come a rumour" - namely, that Cyrus is approaching, and has already entered Assyria. Then is your time to "go out" (Jeremiah 51:45). Babylon was taken the following, or third year of Belshazzar's reign (Grotius).
Violence in the land - of Babylon (Psalms 7:16).
Ruler against ruler - or, 'ruler upon ruler;' a continual change of rulers in a short space. Belshazzar and Nabonnidus, supplanted by Darius or Cyaxares, who is succeeded by Cyrus.
Therefore, behold, the days come, that I will do judgment. Grotius translates [ laakeen (H3651)], 'Because then (namely, on the third year) the days shall have come that I will do judgment.'
Her whole land shall be confounded - at seeing their gods powerless to help them.
All her slain - in retribution for 'Israel's slain' (Jeremiah 51:49), who fell by her hand. Grotius translates [chªlaaleyhaa], 'all her dancers,' as in Judges 21:21; Judges 21:23; 1 Samuel 18:6, the same Hebrew word is translated, alluding to the dancing revelry of the festival during which Cyrus took Babylon.
The heaven and the earth ... shall sing for Babylon - (Isaiah 14:7-13, "The whole earth is at rest, and is quiet; they break forth into singing;" Isaiah 44:23; Revelation 18:20, "Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy apostles and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her").
As Babylon hath caused the slain of Israel to fall, so at Babylon shall fall the slain of all the earth.
As Babylon hath caused the slain of Israel to fall - literally, has been for the falling; i:e., As Babylon made this its one aim, to fill all places with the slain of Israel, 'so at Babylon shall fall the slain of that whole land' (not as the English version, "of all the earth"). (Maurer.) Henderson translates, 'Babylon also shall fall, ye slain of Israel. Those also of Babylon also shall fall, O ye slain of all the earth.' But "in the midst of her," in Jeremiah 51:47 - "all her slain shall fall in the midst of her" - plainly answers to "at Babylon," Jeremiah 51:49 - `at Babylon shall fall the slain of all that land.'
Ye that have escaped the sword, go away, stand not still: remember the LORD afar off, and let Jerusalem come into your mind. Ye that have escaped the sword - namely, of the Medes. So great will be the slaughter that even some of God's people shall be involved in it, as they had deserved.
Remember the Lord afar off - though ye are banished far off from where ye used formerly to worship God.
Let Jerusalem come into your mind - while in exile, remember your temple and city, so as to prefer them to all the rest of the world wherever ye may be (Psalms 137:5; Isaiah 62:6).
We are confounded because we have heard reproach. The prophet anticipates the Jews' reply: I know you will say in despair, "We are confounded," etc. "Wherefore (God saith to you), behold, the days come that I will do judgment upon her (Babylon's) graven images" (Jeremiah 51:52). (Calvin.) I prefer taking Jeremiah 51:51 as the prayer which the Jews are directed to offer in exile (Jeremiah 51:50), "let Jerusalem come into your mind," (and say in prayer to God), "We are confounded." This view is confirmed by Psalms 44:15-16: "My confusion is continually before me, and the shame of my face hath covered me, for the voice of him that reproacheth and blasphemeth, by reason of the enemy and avenger," the whole 44th Psalm being the cry of distress of the captive and dispersed Jews; 79:4, "We are become a reproach to our neighbours," etc; Psalms 102:17-20; Isaiah 62:6-7.
For strangers are come into the sanctuaries of the Lord's house. The "reproach" which especially has stung us is when they taunted us with the feet that they had burned the temple, our special glory, as though our religion was a thing of nought.
Wherefore, behold ... - because of these sighs of the Jews directed to God (Jeremiah 51:21).
I will do judgment upon her ... images. In Opposition to the Babylonian taunt, that Yahweh's religion was a thing of nought, since they had burned His temple (Jeremiah 51:51), I will show that, though I have thus visited the Jews' neglect of me, yet those gods of Babylon cannot save themselves, much less their votaries, who shall "through all her land." lie and "groan" with wounds.
Though Babylon should mount up to heaven - (cf. Obadiah 1:4 as to Edom; Amos 9:2, "Though they climb up to heaven, thence will I bring them down").
Though ... yet from me shall spoilers come unto her, saith the Lord. We are not to measure God's power by what seems to our perceptions natural or probable.
No JFB commentary on this verse.
Because the Lord hath ... destroyed out of her the great voice - where once was the great din of a might city, there shall be the silence of death (Vatablus). Or, the "great voice" of the revellers (Jeremiah 51:38-39; Isaiah 22:2). Or, the voice of mighty boasting (Calvin). Compare Jeremiah 51:53.
When her waves do roar - "when" her calamities shall cause her to give forth a widely different "voice," even such a one as the waves give that lash the shores (Jeremiah 51:42). (Grotius.) Or "when" is connected thus: 'The great voice (in her), when her waves do roar like great waters' (cf. Jeremiah 51:13). Calvin translates, 'their waves' - i:e., the Medes bursting on her as impetuous waves; so Jeremiah 51:42, "The sea is come up upon Babylon." But the parallel, a "great voice," belongs to her; therefore the wave-like "roar" of "their voice" ought also to belong to her, (cf. Jeremiah 51:54). The "great voice" of commercial din, boasting, and feasting, is "destroyed;" but in its stead there is the wave-like roar of her voice in her "destruction" (Jeremiah 51:54).
Her mighty men are taken - when they were least expecting it, and in such a way that resistance was impossible.
And I will make drunk her princes, and her wise men, her captains, and her rulers, and her mighty men: and they shall sleep a perpetual sleep, and not wake, saith the King, whose name is the LORD of hosts.
I will make drunk her ... captains - (Jeremiah 51:39; Daniel 5:1, etc.)
Thus saith the LORD of hosts; The broad walls of Babylon shall be utterly broken, and her high gates shall be burned with fire; and the people shall labour in vain, and the folk in the fire, and they shall be weary.
The broad walls of Babylon - 87 feet wide (Rosenmuller); 50 cubits (Grotius). A chariot of 4 horses abreast could meet another on it without collision. The walls were 200 cubits high, and 485 stadia, or 60 miles, in extent.
Her high gates - 100 in number, made of brass; 25 on each of the 4 sides, the city being square; between the gates were 250 towers. Berosus says triple walls encompassed the outer, and the same number the inner city. Cyrus caused the outer walls to be demolished. Taking the extent of the walls to be 365 stadia, as Diodorus states, it is said 200,000 men completed a stadium each day, so that the whole was completed in one year.
The people shall labour in vain, and the folk in the fire, and they shall be weary. The event will show that the builders of the walls have 'laboured' only for the "fire" in which they shall be consumed. "In the fire" answers to the parallel, "burnt with fire." Translate, 'shall have laboured in vain,' etc. Compare Job 3:14, "Kings and counselors of the earth built desolate places for themselves" - i:e., grand places, soon about to be desolate ruins. Jeremiah has in view here Habakkuk 2:13.
The word which Jeremiah the prophet commanded Seraiah the son of Neriah, the son of Maaseiah, when he went with Zedekiah the king of Judah into Babylon in the fourth year of his reign. And this Seraiah was a quiet prince.
The word which Jeremiah ... commanded Seraiah. A special copy of the prophecy prepared by Jeremiah was delivered to Seraiah, to console the Jews in their Babylonian exile. Though he was to throw it into the Euphrates, a symbol of Babylon's fate, no doubt he retained the substance in memory, so as to be able orally to communicate it to his countrymen.
When he went with Zedekiah - rather, 'when he went in behalf of Zedekiah;' sent by Zedekiah to appease Nebuchadnezzar's anger at his revolt (Calvin).
In the fourth year of his reign - so that Jeremiah's prediction of Babylon's downfall was thus solemnly written, and sealed by a symbolical action, six whole years before the capture of Jerusalem by the Babylonians.
A quiet prince - cf. 1 Chronicles 22:9, "a man of rest." Seraiah was not one of the courtiers hostile to God's prophets, but "quiet" and docile, ready to execute Jeremiah's commission, notwithstanding the risk attending it. Glassius translates, 'prince of Menuchah,' (cf. 1 Chronicles 2:52, margin) Maurer translates, 'commander of the caravan,' on whom it devolved to appoint the resting-place for the night. The English version suits the context best [ mªnuwchaah (H4496), from nuwach, to be quiet].
Verse 61. When thou comest to Babylon, and shalt ... read - not in public for the Chaldeans would not have understood Hebrew; but in private, as is to be inferred from his addressing himself altogether to God (Jeremiah 51:62). (Calvin.)
Verse 62. Then shalt thou say, O Lord, thou hast spoken against this place - and not merely Jeremiah, or any man, is the author of this prophecy; I therefore here, in thy presence, embrace as true all that I read.
Verse 63. Bind a stone to it, and cast it into the midst of the Euphrates. So in the case of spiritual Babylon, "A mighty angel took up a stone (not merely a mortal man as Seraiah) like a great millstone and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all" (Revelation 18:21). So the Phoceans, in leaving their country, when about to found Marseilles, threw lead into the sea, binding themselves not to return until the lead should swim.
Verse 64. They shall be weary - the Babylonians shall be worn out, so as not to be able to recover their strength.
Thus far are the words of Jeremiah. Hence, it is to be inferred that the last chapter is not included in Jeremiah's writings, but was added by some inspired man, mainly from 2 Kings 24:18 to 2 Kings 25:1-30 to explain and confirm what precedes (Calvin).
Remarks: (1) The ungodly that rise up against the Lord and His people (Jeremiah 51:1) are "like the chaff which the wind driveth away" (Psalms 1:4).) The Lord's fan is in His hand (Jeremiah 51:2), and He will soon make an everlasting difference between the refuse chaff-spiritual Babylon, and all who essentially in heart and life belong to her-and the wheat-Israel the elect people, and all who are by faith of the true Israel of God.
(2) Israel may seem for a time "forsaken" of God as a wife put away from her husband (Jeremiah 51:4); but the severance between her and her God is but for a time not forever. Though her land has been temporarily filled with the consequences of her sin against the Holy One of Israel, yet in God's own time He will receive her back to His favour, never to be cast away again, while Babylon her enemy is to be doomed to eternal separation from God.
(3) Meanwhile the duty of Israel, literal and spiritual, is to "flee out of the Babylon" of the world and the apostate Church, and to "deliver every man his soul" (Jeremiah 51:6; Jeremiah 51:45), lest we should partake of her sins and consequent plagues. Her case is incurable; she must be left to her just doom, and to drink forever of the unmixed cup of the Lord's indignation herself, which she made so many to drink of in her time of golden prosperity and pride (Jeremiah 51:7; Jeremiah 51:9). Then shall the elect people glorify the riches of the grace of God in saving them, while He condemns the apostate world and Church. They shall joyfully say, "The Lord hath brought forth" His righteousness, which is "our righteousness" (Jeremiah 51:10; Jeremiah 23:6). "Come and let us declare in Zion the work of the Lord our God." God's faithfulness to His own everlastings covenant of love to His elect is their justification against their proud and cruel enemy (Micah 7:9).
(4) Babylon, though guarded by many waters from without, and though having within her abundant treasures, cannot defer for a moment the appointed "end," or pass "the measure" or limit to her covetousness which God has fixed (Jeremiah 51:13). Riches will not profit any sinner in the day of wrath, nor can the treasures of the whole world gain for the covetous man the respite of a day, when his end is come. How infinitely wiser, then, is it for us to make "the Former of all things," who is the eternal and all-satisfying "portion" of His people, our portion, than to trust in uncertain riches, and to give our hearts to covetousness (Jeremiah 51:15-19).
(5) Babylon, "the battle ax" of the nations, must at last feel its deadly stroke herself. She who showed no pity to age, sex, or rank, shall have no pity showed to her. Her evil is to recoil on herself (Jeremiah 51:20-24). Like a once-destructive volcano, which sinks into the vacuum made by the pouring out of its lava from within upon the surrounding country (Jeremiah 51:25), so Babylon, the destroyer of the earth, is to be destroyed herself; and that because God is against her. None of her materials shall be available for future edifices. She shall be desolate forever. Such is the eternal "desolation" (Jeremiah 51:29) and ruin awaiting all that apostatize from God, and who abuse the talents given them by God, to selfish aggrandizement, worldliness, and pride. God is against them, who or what, then, can be for them? Every purpose of Yahweh against them shall be performed, however unlikely it may seem to carnal man. As in the midst of Belshazzar's unhallowed revelry, the startling tidings fell like a thunderbolt among the feasters, that "the city was taken at one end" (Jeremiah 51:31), so shall sudden destruction at the unexpected coming of the Son of man "surprise" (Jeremiah 51:41) the apostate and unbelieving world, while it is wholly given to eating and drinking, buying and selling, marrying and being given in marriage. "For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the earth" Luke 21:34-35; Luke 17:24-30).
(6) It is the sighing of Zion under the oppressive violence of Babylon (Jeremiah 51:34-36) that brings upon the latter the retributive vengeance of God. When His people groan, in the sad consciousness of their own inability to redress their wrongs, the Lord espouses their cause, and pleads effectually against the haughty aggressor (Jeremiah 51:36). "Shall not God avenge His own elect, which cry day and night unto Him, though He bear long with them? I tell you," saith the Son of God, "He will avenge them speedily" (Luke 18:7-8). It is the consolation of believers to know the assaults of Satan and the God-opposed world are but for a time. "The Lord God of recompences shall surely requite" (Jeremiah 51:56). In the heat of their carnal potations, Yahweh shall give the drunkards as their due a very different cup to drink, even the winecup of His stupefying anger (Jeremiah 51:39), so that they shall "sleep a perpetual sleep, and not wake" until they lift up their eyes in torment.
(7) The Jews are charged to "remember the Lord" in their dispersion "afar off, and to let Jerusalem come into their mind" (Jeremiah 51:50). So let us, however far we be removed from outward ordinances of worship, remember our Prayer-hearing God. However "confounded" in mind by trials, reproach, temptation and sham e, so far from being thereby estranged from God, we have the more reason to draw nigh to God, committing our cause to His hands, and waiting for him time of deliverance (Jeremiah 51:51).
(8) God throws the persecutors of Israel and His Church "as a stone into the mighty waters." Those who, like Babylon, oppose the Lord and His people, shall sink under the weight of God's curse upon their sin, and shall not rise again forever (Jeremiah 51:63-64). The threats of God's judgments to come are as necessary parts of Scripture as the promises. Let us learn from both to serve God acceptably, with reverence and godly fear; so shall our eyes see, without our sharing in, the reward of the wicked (Psalms 91:8).
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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Jeremiah 51". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://studylight.org/
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