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Bible Commentaries

Utley's You Can Understand the Bible

Jeremiah 49

Jeremiah 49:0

PARAGRAPH DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

(The parentheses represent poetic literary units)

NASBNKJVNRSVTEVNJB
Prophecy Against AmmonJudgment On AmmonAgainst AmmonThe LORD'S Judgment On AmmonProphecy Against Ammon
Jeremiah 49:1-6(1-6)Jeremiah 49:1-2(1b-2)Jeremiah 49:1-6(1-6)Jeremiah 49:1-6Jeremiah 49:1-5(1-5)
Jeremiah 49:3-6(3-6)
Jeremiah 49:6
Prophecy Against EdomJudgment On EdomAgainst EdomThe LORD'S Judgment On EdomProphecy Against Edom
Jeremiah 49:7-11(7-11)Jeremiah 49:7-11(7b-11)Jeremiah 49:7-22(7-11)Jeremiah 49:7-11Jeremiah 49:7-11(7-11)
Jeremiah 49:12-13Jeremiah 49:12-13Jeremiah 49:12-13Jeremiah 49:12-13
Jeremiah 49:14-16(14-16)Jeremiah 49:14(14)(14-16)Jeremiah 49:14-16Jeremiah 49:14-16(14-16)
Jeremiah 49:15-19(15-16)
Jeremiah 49:17-19(17-18)Jeremiah 49:17-22Jeremiah 49:17-18
(19)Jeremiah 49:19-22(19-22)
Jeremiah 49:20-22Jeremiah 49:20-22(20-22)
Prophecy Against DamascusJudgment On DamascusAgainst DamascusThe LORD'S Judgment On DamascusProphecy Against the Towns of Syria
Jeremiah 49:23-27(23-27)Jeremiah 49:23-27(23-27)Jeremiah 49:23-27(23-27)Jeremiah 49:23-27Jeremiah 49:23-25(23-25)
Jeremiah 49:26
Jeremiah 49:27(27)
Prophecy Against Kedar and HazorJudgment On Kedar and HazorAgainst Kedar and HazorThe LORD'S Judgment on the Tribe of Kedar and the City of HazorProphecy Against The Arab Tribes
Jeremiah 49:28-33(28b-33)Jeremiah 49:28-33(28b-29)Jeremiah 49:28-33(28b-30)Jeremiah 49:28-29Jeremiah 49:28-33(28b-33)
(30)(31-33)(31-33)
Jeremiah 49:30-31
Jeremiah 49:32-33
Prophecy Against ElamJudgment On ElamAgainst ElamThe LORD'S Judgment of ElamProphecy Against Elam
Jeremiah 49:34Jeremiah 49:34-35aJeremiah 49:34Jeremiah 49:34-39Jeremiah 49:34-35a
Jeremiah 49:35-39(35-39)Jeremiah 49:35-38(35b-38)Jeremiah 49:35-38Jeremiah 49:35-36(35b-36)
Jeremiah 49:37-38(37-38)
Jeremiah 49:39(39)Jeremiah 49:39Jeremiah 49:39

READING CYCLE THREE (see “Guide to Good Bible Reading”)

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

CONTEXTUAL INSIGHTS

A. This chapter deals with the prophecies against

1. Ammon, Jeremiah 49:1-6

2. Edom, Jeremiah 49:7-22

3. Syria, Jeremiah 49:23-27

4. Kedar and Hazor, Jeremiah 49:28-33

5. Elam, Jeremiah 49:34-39

B. Many cities are listed, as in chapter 48 (judgment on Moab).

1. Ammon, Jeremiah 49:1-6

a. Rabbah, Jeremiah 49:2, Jeremiah 49:3

b. Heshbon, Jeremiah 49:3

c. Ai, Jeremiah 49:3

2. Edom, Jeremiah 49:7-22

a. Teman, Jeremiah 49:7

b. Dedan, Jeremiah 49:8

c. Bozrah, Jeremiah 49:13, Jeremiah 49:22

3. Syria, Jeremiah 49:23-27

a. Damascus, Jeremiah 49:23, Jeremiah 49:34, Jeremiah 49:27

b. Hamath, Jeremiah 49:23

c. Arpad, Jeremiah 49:23

d. “the city of praise, “the town of My joy,”Jeremiah 49:25; Jeremiah 49:25 (i.e., Damascus)

C. As there was a ray of hope and restoration related to Moab in Jeremiah 48:47 (cf. Jeremiah 12:14-17), so now there is also a ray of hope and restoration for

1. Ammon, Jeremiah 49:6

2. Elam, Jeremiah 49:39

D. There is a recurrent emphasis on YHWH speaking.

1. thus says the LORD, Jeremiah 49:1; Jeremiah 49:1a, 2g, 12a, 18, 28

2. declares the LORD, Jeremiah 49:2a, Jeremiah 49:6c, Jeremiah 49:13b, Jeremiah 49:16h, 31b, 32d, 38c, 39c

3. declares the LORD God of hosts, Jeremiah 49:5; Jeremiah 49:5b

4. thus says the LORD of hosts, Jeremiah 49:7; Jeremiah 49:7b, Jeremiah 49:26c, Jeremiah 49:35a

5. a message from the LORD, Jeremiah 49:14

It is possible that Jeremiah 49:25 is also a word from YHWH, but not probable; see note.

Verses 1-6

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Jeremiah 49:1-6 1Concerning the sons of Ammon. Thus says the LORD: “Does Israel have no sons? Or has he no heirs? Why then has Malcam taken possession of Gad And his people settled in its cities? 2Therefore behold, the days are coming,” declares the LORD, “That I will cause a trumpet blast of war to be heard Against Rabbah of the sons of Ammon; And it will become a desolate heap, And her towns will be set on fire. Then Israel will take possession of his possessors,” Says the LORD. 3”Wail, O Heshbon, for Ai has been destroyed! Cry out, O daughters of Rabbah, Gird yourselves with sackcloth and lament, And rush back and forth inside the walls; For Malcam will go into exile Together with his priests and his princes. 4How boastful you are about the valleys! Your valley is flowing away, O backsliding daughter Who trusts in her treasures, saying, 'Who will come against me?' 5Behold, I am going to bring terror upon you,” Declares the Lord GOD of hosts, “From all directions around you; And each of you will be driven out headlong, With no one to gather the fugitives together. 6But afterward I will restore The fortunes of the sons of Ammon,” Declares the LORD.

Jeremiah 49:1 “Ammon” These people (like Moab) were descendants of Lot by his own daughter (cf. Genesis 19:38). Therefore, they were relatives of Abraham's family. Their territory was northeast of Moab on the eastern side of Jordan. A group known as “Amorites” lived next to the Jordan River and the Ammonites to the east, closer to the desert. Their capital was Rabbath. They were a potent rival to King Saul, but a vassal to Kings David and Solomon.

The Jerome Biblical Commentary (p. 334) reminds us that Ammon

1. rejoiced at the fall of Jerusalem (cf. Ezekiel 25:1-7)

2. their king, Baalis, encouraged Ishmael to assassinate the new Babylonian governor, Gedaliah (cf. Jeremiah 40:11-16)

Jeremiah 49:1, Jeremiah 49:3

NASB“Malcam” NKJV“Milcham” NRSV, NJB, JJPSOA, REB“Milcom” TEV“Molech” PESHITTA“Malcolm” LXX“Melchol”

The MT has “their king.” All of these names are a word play on the Hebrew word for “king,” מלך (BDB 572). In 1 Kings 11:5, 1 Kings 11:33, this Ammonite national deity is called “Milcom,” but in Jeremiah 49:7 “Molech” (TEC), which is the more common name of this fertility god. See Special Topic at Jeremiah 2:23.

The UBS Text Project (p. 304) gives “Milcom” a “B” rating.

“Gad” This refers to the tribal allocation of Gad (cf. Numbers 32:33-37; Joshua 13:24-28). It included the territory of the Amorites and part of the territory of Ammon.

The tribes of Reuben, Gad, and half of the tribe of Manasseh asked for and received their tribal inheritance on the eastern side of the Jordan River (cf. Joshua 13:8).

The exact reference to Ammon expanding into the territory once held by the tribe of Gad is during the period of Assyrian power (i.e., Tiglath-pileser III in 734-732 B.C., cf. 2 Kings 15:29).

Jeremiah 49:2 “a trumpet” The word is not in the MT, only the CONSTRUCT “cry of battle” (BDB 929 CONSTRUCT 536). It may refer to

1. a particular battle cry

2. the blast of a trumpet (see Special Topic: HORNS USED BY ISRAEL)

“towns” This term (BDB 123 I) is literally “daughters,” but is often used in an idiomatic way (i.e., BDB 123 I, #4) for “surrounding villages” (cf. Numbers 21:25, Numbers 21:32; Judges 1:27; Nehemiah 11:25-31). In Jeremiah 49:3 it is difficult to know if the word means

1. inhabitants of Rabbah

2. villages around Rabbah

Jeremiah 49:3 This series of IMPERATIVES calls on the Ammonites to grieve over their defeat and exile.

1. wail - BDB 410, KB 413, Hiphil IMPERATIVE

2. cry out - BDB 858, KB 1042, Qal IMPERATIVE

3. gird. . .sackcloth - BDB 291, KB 291, Qal IMPERATIVE

4. lament - BDB 704, KB 763, Qal IMPERATIVE

5. rush back and forth - BDB 1001, KB 1439, Hithpolel IMPERATIVE or possibly “gash yourselves,” REB, cf. Jeremiah 48:37; this line is missing in the LXX)

“Ai” A city by this name is unknown in Ammon. NJB changes it to “Ar.” The LXX has “Gai.” The best explanation comes from R. K. Harrison (Tyndale OT Commentary, “Jeremiah,” p. 179). He notes that when “Ai” is used for a city it always has the ARTICLE, but there is no ARTICLE here. The word itself (BDB 743) means “ruins” and, therefore, is a reference to Heshbon's destruction.

Jeremiah 49:4 Ammon had some knowledge of YHWH. Instead of trusting in Him they trusted in

1. their geography (i.e., fertile valleys, lit. “flowing,” BDB 264, KB 206)

2. their treasures (i.e., possibly revenue from trading routes, cf. Jeremiah 48:7)

The JPSOA translates the first two lines as:

“Why do you glory in strength,

Your strength is drained”

They interpret the Hebrew root (BDB 770) “valley” as coming from an Akkadian root for “strength” (cf. NRSV, TEV, REB, NET).

Jeremiah 49:5 Josephus (Antiq. 10.9.7) mentions that Ammon was devastated by Nebuchadnezzar in his twenty-third year (i.e., 582 B.C.).

Jeremiah 49:6 This is another promise of restoration like Jeremiah 48:47 (cf. Jeremiah 12:14-17). The same terminology is also used of Elam in Jeremiah 49:39. These promises have an eschatological orientation, not to these specific nationalities, but to the promised inclusion of “the nations” through Israel's God and His Messiah (i.e., Psalms 22:27; Psalms 66:1-4; Psalms 86:8-10; Isaiah 2:2-4; Isaiah 12:4-5; Isaiah 25:6-9; Isaiah 42:6-12; Isaiah 45:22-23; Isaiah 49:5-6; Isaiah 51:4-5; Isaiah 56:6-8; Isaiah 60:1-3; Isaiah 66:23; Micah 4:1-4; Malachi 1:11; John 3:16; John 4:42; 1 Timothy 2:4; Titus 2:11; 2 Peter 3:9; 1 John 2:1; 1 John 4:14)! Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah!

Verses 7-13

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Jeremiah 49:7-13 7Concerning Edom. Thus says the LORD of hosts, “Is there no longer any wisdom in Teman? Has good counsel been lost to the prudent? Has their wisdom decayed? 8Flee away, turn back, dwell in the depths, O inhabitants of Dedan, For I will bring the disaster of Esau upon him At the time I punish him. 9If grape gatherers came to you, Would they not leave gleanings? If thieves came by night, They would destroy only until they had enough. 10But I have stripped Esau bare, I have uncovered his hiding places So that he will not be able to conceal himself; His offspring has been destroyed along with his relatives And his neighbors, and he is no more. 11Leave your orphans behind, I will keep them alive; And let your widows trust in Me.” 12For thus says the Lord, “Behold, those who were not sentenced to drink the cup will certainly drink it, and are you the one who will be completely acquitted? You will not be acquitted, but you will certainly drink it. 13For I have sworn by Myself,” declares the LORD, “that Bozrah will become an object of horror, a reproach, a ruin and a curse; and all its cities will become perpetual ruins.”

Jeremiah 49:7 “Edom” There is no hope given to Edom, as there is to the other nations. Edom was a perennial enemy of Judah.

SPECIAL TOPIC: EDOM AND ISRAEL

“wisdom. . .good counsel” There are several words used to describe Edom's reputation of having “wise men” (use of three questions). Job was probably from Edom (i.e., “the land of Uz,” and one of his friends from Teman, a city in Edom).

1. wisdom (BDB 315)

2. counsel (BDB 420)

3. the prudent (BDB 106, KB 122, Qal ACTIVE PARTICIPLE)

Jeremiah 9:23-24 is very clear that true wisdom is inseparably linked to a knowledge of YHWH.

“Teman” This NOUN (BDB 412) means “south” (cf. Joshua 12:3; Joshua 13:4) or “south wind” (cf. Psalms 78:26). It is used as a designation for

1. a descendant of Esau, Genesis 36:11; 1 Chronicles 1:36

2. an Arabian clan, Genesis 36:15; 1 Chronicles 1:53

3. a territory or country, Genesis 36:34; Obadiah Jeremiah 49:9

4. a city, Jeremiah 49:7, Jeremiah 49:20; Ezekiel 25:13; Amos 1:12

NASB“decayed” NKJV, NRSV, NJB“vanished” TEV“disappeared” JPSOA, AB“gone stale” REB“dispersed abroad” PESHITTA“taken away”

This VERB (BDB 710, KB 769) in Qal means “to be loosed.” This is the only occurrence of the VERB in Niphal. The root has several senses and different lexicons list them differently.

1. BDB 710

a. VERB

(1) Qal - go free, be unrestrained

(2) Niphal - let loose in the sense of dismissed

b. NOUN - excess (cf. Exodus 26:12)

2. KB 769 - VERB

(1) to stink (Syrian)

(2) to stop

(3) obstinance

(4) falsehood

(5) hanging down

(6) projecting

(7) lounge around

KB # (1) seems to fit the VERB form and context best (KB 769 II), but it is found only here, which makes certainty impossible.

Jeremiah 49:8 This is another series of IMPERATIVES, like Jeremiah 49:3, related to Edom's judgment.

1. flee away - BDB 630, KB 681, Qal IMPERATIVE, cf. Jeremiah 49:24; Jeremiah 46:21

2. turn back - BDB 815, KB 937, Hophal IMPERATIVE, cf. Jeremiah 49:24; Jeremiah 46:21

3. dwell in the depths - BDB 770, KB 847, Hiphil IMPERATIVE (i.e., an attempt to hide, cf. Jeremiah 49:10, or possibly to leave the trans-Jordan plateau and return to their original homeland, cf. NET Bible, p. 1432, #5)

“Dedan” This was an Arabian tribe connected with Sheba (cf. Genesis 25:3; 1 Chronicles 1:32). They are somehow related to Edom in Jeremiah 25:23 and Ezekiel 25:13. The best guess is that a group/city/clan of them had settled in the territory of Edom; not that Edom's influence had spread that far south and east.

Jeremiah 49:9-10 This is very similar to Obadiah 1:5-6.

Jeremiah 49:9 “gleanings” This term (BDB 760) is from Leviticus 19:9-10; Leviticus 23:22; Deuteronomy 24:20-22, where it describes YHWH's provision for the poor as it relates to harvesting a field. The grain which was not gathered the first time through and the grain in the corners was left for the poor to harvest enough to eat but not to gather in quantities to sell.

Jeremiah 49:10 There is a play on the word “offspring” (lit. “seed,” BDB 282) connected to “gleaning.” Edom will be completely and utterly destroyed, nothing left.

“and he is no more” This represents the MT. Some versions of the LXX change this to “and there is none to say,” which gives a context to Jeremiah 49:11, thereby making specific who the speaker is (i.e., the invaders).

Jeremiah 49:11 Is Jeremiah 49:11 (1) another ray of hope linked to Jeremiah 49:12 or (2) an affirmation of complete destruction of even the most vulnerable? The context fits #2 best (cf. Jeremiah 49:20).

Jeremiah 49:12 “the cup” The word “cup” (BDB 468) is often an idiom for judgment. As one drinks and becomes drunk with its physical and emotional consequences, the idiom of “cup” became a way to describe poor choices and their consequences. Some examples of this idiom:

1. Job 21:20

2. Psalms 60:3; Psalms 75:8

3. Isaiah 29:9; Isaiah 51:17; Isaiah 63:6

4. Jeremiah 25:15-16, Jeremiah 25:28; Jeremiah 49:12

5. Lamentations 4:21

6. Ezekiel 23:32-34

It is used in the NT of

1. Jesus - Matthew 20:22; Matthew 26:38-42; Mark 14:36; Luke 22:47; John 18:11

2. the beast - Revelation 14:10; Revelation 16:19; Revelation 19:15

“certainly drink” There are several INFINITIVES and IMPERFECT VERBS of two roots used for emphasis in this verse.

1. certainly drunk - BDB 1059, KB 1667 (three INFINITIVES and two IMPERFECTS)

2-3. completely acquitted - BDB 667, KB 720 (one INFINITIVE and two IMPERFECTS)

Jeremiah 49:13 “I have sworn by Myself” There is no one greater to swear by than YHWH Himself (cf. Jeremiah 22:5; Jeremiah 44:26; Jeremiah 51:14; Genesis 22:16; Isaiah 45:23; Amos 6:8; Hebrews 6:13, Hebrews 6:18). Oath taking was a cultural way of affirming the absolute trustworthiness/truthfulness of a statement or promise.

“Bozrah” This was a major city (possibly the capital in the seventh century) in Edom. The “Bozrah” mentioned in Jeremiah 48:24 is an unknown site in Moab. The root for the city's name (BDB 131 II) is related to the VERB for “grape-gathering” (lit. “those who cut off”) in Jeremiah 49:9 (BDB 130, KB 148, Qal ACTIVE PARTICIPLE).

“an object of horror, a reproach, a ruin and a curse” This is a series of terms used to describe people's reaction to God's judgment.

1. a horror - BDB 1031 I, cf. Deuteronomy 28:37; Jeremiah 5:30; Jeremiah 25:9, Jeremiah 25:11, Jeremiah 25:18, Jeremiah 25:38; Jeremiah 29:18; Jeremiah 42:18; Jeremiah 44:12, Jeremiah 44:22; Jeremiah 49:13, Jeremiah 49:17; Jeremiah 50:23; Jeremiah 51:37, Jeremiah 51:41

2. a reproach - BDB 357, cf. Jeremiah 24:9; Jeremiah 29:18; Jeremiah 42:18; Jeremiah 44:8, Jeremiah 44:12

3. a ruin - BDB 351 II, cf. Ezekiel 29:10; Ezekiel 38:8; Zephaniah 2:4

4. a curse - BDB 887, cf. Jeremiah 24:9; Jeremiah 25:18; 2 Kings 22:19; Zechariah 8:13

Verses 14-16

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Jeremiah 49:14-16 14I have heard a message from the LORD, And an envoy is sent among the nations, saying, “Gather yourselves together and come against her, And rise up for battle! 15For behold, I have made you small among the nations, Despised among men. 16As for the terror of you, The arrogance of your heart has deceived you, O you who live in the clefts of the rock, Who occupy the height of the hill. Though you make your nest as high as an eagle's, I will bring you down from there,” declares the LORD.

Jeremiah 49:14 There is a literary relationship between this verse and the opening verses (i.e., Jeremiah 49:1-4) of Obadiah. I assume that Jeremiah has influenced Obadiah and, thereby makes Obadiah an early post-exilic prophet (which goes against the order of the book in the scroll of the Minor Prophets).

YHWH's prophet is calling on a foreign invader to decimate Edom.

1. gather yourselves - BDB 867, KB 1062

2. come against her - BDB 97, KB 112, Qal IMPERATIVE

3. rise up for battle - BDB 877, KB 1086, Qal IMPERATIVE, cf. Obadiah 1:1

Jeremiah 49:16

NASB“As for the terror of you” NKJV“Your fierceness” NRSV“the terror you inspire” TEV“your pride” NJB“your reputation for ferocity” JPSOA“your horrible nature” REB“your overbearing arrogance”

This word (BDB 814) occurs only here. Most lexicons relate it to the VERB listed just above it in BDB “shuddering” (cf. Job 21:6; Psalms 55:5; Isaiah 21:4; Ezekiel 7:18).

The AB (p. 331) speculates that it may relate to the name of an idol, possibly mentioned in 1 Kings 15:13 (twice), because the NOUN is FEMININE but the VERB (“deceive,” BDB 674, KB 728, Hiphil PERFECT) is MASCULINE.

“arrogance” Edom thought her topography (i.e., a high table land or plateau) would make her immune to invasion but she was mistaken.

Verses 17-19

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Jeremiah 49:17-19 17”Edom will become an object of horror; everyone who passes by it will be horrified and will hiss at all its wounds. 18Like the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah with its neighbors,” says the LORD, “no one will live there, nor will a son of man reside in it. 19Behold, one will come up like a lion from the thickets of the Jordan against a perennially watered pasture; for in an instant I will make him run away from it, and whoever is chosen I shall appoint over it. For who is like Me, and who will summon Me into court? And who then is the shepherd who can stand against Me?”

Jeremiah 49:17 “an object of horror. . .hiss” See note at Jeremiah 49:13 for other words used to describe the shame and reproach. Here

1. everyone who passes by it will be horrified - BDB 1030, KB 1563, Qal IMPERFECT, cf. Leviticus 26:32; Jeremiah 18:16; Jeremiah 19:8; Jeremiah 50:13

2. everyone who passes by it will hiss - BDB 1056, KB 1656, Qal IMPERFECT, cf. 1 Kings 9:8; Jeremiah 19:8; Jeremiah 50:13; Lamentations 2:15

Jeremiah 49:18 “like the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah with its neighbors” Sodom and Gomorrah were the wicked cities destroyed by God in Genesis 19:0. Their destruction and lack of habitation became a cultural idiom (cf. Deuteronomy 29:23; Isaiah 1:9-10; Isaiah 13:19; Jeremiah 23:14; Jeremiah 50:40; Lamentations 4:6; Ezekiel 16:46, Ezekiel 16:48, Ezekiel 16:49, Ezekiel 16:53, Ezekiel 16:55, Ezekiel 16:56; Amos 4:11; Zephaniah 2:9; Matthew 10:15; Matthew 11:23-24; Romans 9:29; 2 Peter 2:6; Jude Jeremiah 49:7; Revelation 11:8).

“a son of man” This is the Hebrew CONSTRUCT ben-adam (i.e., Ezekiel 2:1), which meant human person. In this verse it is parallel to “no one.”

SPECIAL TOPIC: THE SON OF MAN

Jeremiah 49:19-21 This is very similar to Jeremiah 50:44-46, obviously common cultural idioms.

Jeremiah 49:19 “like a lion from the thickets of the Jordan” At one time the Jordan River valley was heavily forested and had many wild lions.

“whoever is chosen I shall appoint over it” This phrase is uncertain in the MT. Possibly Nebuchadnezzar was YHWH's choice for judgment and Cyrus for restoration (cf. Isaiah 44:28; Isaiah 45:1-7). Some commentators change this phrase so as to refer to a shepherd trying to protect the sheep from the lion (AB footnote e, p. 329).

Verses 20-22

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Jeremiah 49:20-22 20Therefore hear the plan of the LORD which He has planned against Edom, and His purposes which He has purposed against the inhabitants of Teman: surely they will drag them off, even the little ones of the flock; surely He will make their pasture desolate because of them. 21The earth has quaked at the noise of their downfall. There is an outcry! The noise of it has been heard at the Red Sea. 22Behold, He will mount up and swoop like an eagle and spread out His wings against Bozrah; and the hearts of the mighty men of Edom in that day will be like the heart of a woman in labor.

Jeremiah 49:20 “the plan of the LORD” History and nations are in YHWH's control! He establishes and destroys (cf. Jeremiah 1:10). His ultimate plan is the redemption of all human beings (see Special Topic: YHWH's Eternal Redemptive Plan at Jeremiah 1:5).

Jeremiah 49:21 “at the Red Sea” See Special Topic below.

SPECIAL TOPIC: THE RED SEA

Jeremiah 49:22 “He will mount up and swoop like an eagle” Nebuchadnezzar's army is depicted in this imagery in Jeremiah 4:13; Jeremiah 48:40; and Lamentations 4:19. It denoted a swift, powerful, deadly attack.

“Bozrah” This was an ancient capital of Edom, mentioned several times in judgment oracles (cf. Isaiah 34:6; Isaiah 63:1; Jeremiah 49:13, Jeremiah 49:22; Amos 1:12).

“a woman in labor” This was a recurrent idiom of fear and anguish (cf. Jeremiah 4:31; Jeremiah 30:6; Jeremiah 48:41; Isaiah 13:8; Isaiah 26:17; Micah 4:9-10). At that moment they were helpless!

Verses 23-27

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Jeremiah 49:23-27 23Concerning Damascus. “Hamath and Arpad are put to shame, For they have heard bad news; They are disheartened. There is anxiety by the sea, It cannot be calmed. 24Damascus has become helpless; She has turned away to flee, And panic has gripped her; Distress and pangs have taken hold of her Like a woman in childbirth. 25How the city of praise has not been deserted, The town of My joy! 26Therefore, her young men will fall in her streets, And all the men of war will be silenced in that day,” declares the LORD of hosts. 27”I will set fire to the wall of Damascus, And it will devour the fortified towers of Ben-hadad.”

Jeremiah 49:23 “Damascus” This was the capital of the Syrian kingdom (i.e., Aramean kingdom, cf. Genesis 14:15; Genesis 15:2; 1 Kings 11:24; 1 Kings 15:18; 1 Kings 19:15; 1 Kings 20:34; 2 Kings 8:7, 2 Kings 8:9; 2 Kings 14:28; 2 Kings 16:10-12; Isaiah 7:8). It was north/northeast of Israel. It was part of the land bridge between Mesopotamia and Egypt. Caravans and armies took this route because of the desert to the east of Palestine. It was conquered by the Assyrian king, Tiglath-pileser in 733 B.C.

Jeremiah 49:23-24 “they have heard bad news” This refers to the invasion of the Babylonian army. Notice the series of words used to describe their fear.

1. put to shame

2. heard bad news

3. disheartened

4. anxiety (this line of poetry is uncertain)

5. cannot be calmed

6. helpless

7. turned away to flee

8. panic has gripped her

9. distress

10. pangs

Jeremiah 49:24 “like a woman in childbirth” This is a recurrent metaphor (BDB 408) for fear and pain (cf. Jeremiah 6:24; Jeremiah 13:21; Jeremiah 22:23; Jeremiah 49:22; Jeremiah 50:43; Psalms 48:6; Isaiah 13:8; Isaiah 21:3; Isaiah 42:14; Hosea 13:13; Micah 4:9, Micah 4:10).

Jeremiah 49:25 It is hard to know who is speaking these words.

1. YHWH

2. people of Syria

There is no reason why Damascus should be called “the city of praise” or “the town of My joy” by YHWH. Poetry is so condensed and figurative that it is often difficult to follow who is speaking. In the judgment of the nations poems of those who are being judged are often quoted as hypothetical of what they would/might have said.

“has not been deserted” This goes against the rest of the context of judgment. Many scholars see the “not” (Hebrew לא) as a grammatical feature called “an emphatic lamedh” (Hebrew L) and, therefore, meaning, “has been completely deserted.”

Jeremiah 49:26 This is very similar to Jeremiah 50:30, obviously cultural idioms and war imagery (cf. Jeremiah 49:27; Amos 1:4) is/are repeated often in ANE poetry.

Jeremiah 49:27 “Ben-hadad” This means “son of Hadad.” Hadad was one of the fertility gods of the Ancient Near East (i.e., a storm/rain god, like Ba'al). Many of the kings of Syria were called by this name.

1. 1 Kings 15:18, 1 Kings 15:20; 2 Chronicles 16:2, 2 Chronicles 16:4

2. 1 Kings 20:0 (mentioned by name 13 times)

2 Kings 6:24; 2 Kings 8:7, 2 Kings 8:9

3. 2 Kings 13:3, 2 Kings 13:24, 2 Kings 13:25; Amos 1:4

Verses 28-33

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Jeremiah 49:28-33 28Concerning Kedar and the kingdoms of Hazor, which Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon defeated. Thus says the LORD, “Arise, go up to Kedar And devastate the men of the east. 29They will take away their tents and their flocks; They will carry off for themselves Their tent curtains, all their goods and their camels, And they will call out to one another, 'Terror on every side!' 30Run away, flee! Dwell in the depths, O inhabitants of Hazor,” declares the LORD; “For Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon has formed a plan against you And devised a scheme against you. 31Arise, go up against a nation which is at ease, Which lives securely,” declares the LORD. “It has no gates or bars; They dwell alone. 32Their camels will become plunder, And their many cattle for booty, And I will scatter to all the winds those who cut the corners of their hair; And I will bring their disaster from every side,” declares the LORD. 33”Hazor will become a haunt of jackals, A desolation forever; No one will live there, Nor will a son of man reside in it.”

Jeremiah 49:28 “Kedar” This name (BDB 871) originally referred to the second son of Ishmael (cf. Genesis 25:13; 1 Chronicles 1:29). The family became a desert, nomadic clan (Bedouin) that lived in tents (cf. Jeremiah 49:29; Psalms 120:5; Song of Song of Solomon 1:5; Isaiah 60:7).

Joesphus (Apion I.19) quotes a Babylonian historian, Berossus, saying that Nebuchadnezzar took over the area where they lived and controlled the caravan routes (I DB, International Dictionary of the Bible, vol. 3, pp. 3-4).

“the kingdoms of Hazor” This does not refer to the Canaanite city that was defeated by both Joshua (cf. Joshua 11:1-15) and later Deborah/Barak (cf. Judges 4-5). The Hebrew word (BDB 347) could also be understood as “unwalled villages” (BDB 347, cf. Genesis 25:16; Isaiah 42:11).

This refers to Arabian desert dwellers to the east of Ammon who were conquered by Nebuchadnezzar in about 598 B.C. This event is also recorded by Josephus.

Nebuchadnezzar is commanded by YHWH to conquer.

1. rise - BDB 877, KB 1086, Qal IMPERATIVE

2. go up - BDB 748, KB 828, Qal IMPERATIVE

3. devastate - BDB 994, KB 1418, Qal IMPERATIVE

4. commands #1 and #2 are repeated in Jeremiah 49:31

“the men of the east” This descriptive phrase can refer to different people groups on the eastern side of the Jordan (cf. Genesis 29:1; Judges 6:3, Judges 6:33; Judges 7:12; Judges 8:10; 1 Kings 4:30; Job 1:3; Isaiah 11:14; Jeremiah 49:28; Ezekiel 25:4, Ezekiel 25:10).

Jeremiah 49:29 “Terror on every side” This phrase is used several times in Jeremiah (cf. Jeremiah 6:25; Jeremiah 20:3, Jeremiah 20:10; Jeremiah 46:5; Jeremiah 49:29; Lamentations 2:22). This would be similar imagery to “the four winds” of Jeremiah 49:36.

Jeremiah 49:30 This is another series of three IMPERATIVES directed to Kedar and Hazor.

1. run - BDB 630; KB 681, Qal IMPERATIVE

2. flee - BDB 626, KB 678, Qal IMPERATIVE

3. dwell in the depths - BDB 770, KB 847, Hiphil IMPERATIVE

This was common imagery; see Jeremiah 49:8.

“a plan” Nebuchadnezzar's plan is really YHWH's plan (i.e., Jeremiah 49:20; Jeremiah 51:10, Jeremiah 51:11; Isaiah 14:24). Nebuchadnezzar is His instrument of judgment, as Cyrus will later be His instrument of restoration.

Jeremiah 49:32 “who cut the corners of their hair This was a practice of several desert tribes (cf. Jeremiah 9:26; Jeremiah 25:23). It is uncertain if it was idolatrous (cf. Leviticus 19:27) or societal (i.e., a ritual or a standard of appearance).

Jeremiah 49:33 “a haunt of jackals” It is possible that the references to the destruction and lack of human habitation was

1. an idiom of complete and continuing devastation (cf. Isaiah 34:10)

2. the presence of the demonic (i.e., cursed place, see Special Topic: The Demonic in the OT), cf. Jeremiah 9:11; Jeremiah 10:22; Isaiah 34:11-15

The NEB, based on new archaeological finds, was the first English translation to see these animals as possibly the demonic symbols of idols.

“a son of man” See note at Jeremiah 49:18.

Verse 34

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Jeremiah 49:34 34That which came as the word of the LORD to Jeremiah the prophet concerning Elam, at the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah king of Judah, saying:

Jeremiah 49:34 “Elam” This represents the highland area east of the Tigris River. Over the centuries its territory expanded and contracted. Both Susa/Shushan and Persepolis were in its territory. Today it would be in Iran.

The Jerome Biblical Commentary (p. 335) mentions an account found in the “Babylonian Chronicles” that tells of Nebuchadnezzar defeating an Elamite king in about 597 B.C. The exiles in Babylon may have been hoping that Nebuchadnezzar would be defeated by Elam. This hope was dashed!

This prophecy is dated in the same time frame as Jeremiah 28:1. Zedekiah reigned from 597 B.C. to the fall and destruction of Jerusalem in 586 B.C.

Verses 35-39

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Jeremiah 49:35-39 35”Thus says the LORD of hosts, 'Behold, I am going to break the bow of Elam, The finest of their might. 36I will bring upon Elam the four winds From the four ends of heaven, And will scatter them to all these winds; And there will be no nation To which the outcasts of Elam will not go. 37So I will shatter Elam before their enemies And before those who seek their lives; And I will bring calamity upon them, Even My fierce anger,' declares the LORD, 'And I will send out the sword after them Until I have consumed them. 38Then I will set My throne in Elam And destroy out of it king and princes,' Declares the LORD. 39'But it will come about in the last days That I will restore the fortunes of Elam,'“ Declares the LORD.

Jeremiah 49:35 “break the bow” This was an idiom for the destruction of a nation's military power (cf. Jeremiah 51:56; Psalms 46:9; Isaiah 22:6). Apparently Elam was famous for its archers.

Jeremiah 49:36 “the four winds of heaven” The number “four” is often used to represent the whole world. See Special Topic: Symbolic Numbers in Scripture. The inhabitants of Elam will be scattered out of existence but notice God's promise in Jeremiah 49:39. See note at Jeremiah 49:6, where the same terminology and promise is given to Ammon (but not to Edom).

Jeremiah 49:37 Again common imagery is used as before in Jeremiah 9:16.

Jeremiah 49:38 “I will set My throne in Elam” This seems to be a reference to Nebuchandezzar's control of the area, functioning as YHWH's chosen vessel of judgment.

Jeremiah 49:39 This is a repeated promise and hope (cf. Jeremiah 30:3, Jeremiah 30:18; Jeremiah 31:23; Jeremiah 32:44; Jeremiah 33:7, Jeremiah 33:11, Jeremiah 33:26; Jeremiah 48:47; Jeremiah 49:6, Jeremiah 49:39). See full note at Jeremiah 48:47 and Jeremiah 49:6. This seems to be an eschatological reference (cf. Deuteronomy 30:3-5).

NASB, NRSV“I shall restore” NKJV“I will bring back”

The MT has “return” (BDB 996, KB 1477, Qal IMPERFECT but the Qere form is Hiphil IMPERFECT of the same VERB).

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Bibliographical Information
Utley. Dr. Robert. "Commentary on Jeremiah 49". "Utley's You Can Understand the Bible". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ubc/jeremiah-49.html. 2021.