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INTRODUCTORY, Jeremiah 25:1-3.
1. This chapter is dated with unusual exactness, not only the year of Jehoiakim king of Judah, but also that of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, being specified. Other examples of dates similarly complete are Jeremiah 26:1; Jeremiah 28:1; Jeremiah 32:1; Jeremiah 39:1, etc. The mention of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon marks the overshadowing influence of this great eastern power. Fourth year of Jehoiakim, etc. In Daniel 1:1, the third year of Jehoiakim is identified with the first year of Nebuchadnezzar. The explanation of this discrepancy which is so slight as to be really a confirmation is, that the fourth year of Jehoiakim was but partly coincident with the first year of Nebuchadrezzar. Hales, in his Chronology, makes Jehoiakim’s reign commence July, 607 B.C., and Nebuchadrezzar’s in January, 604 B.C. It hence appears that the prophecy dates in that memorable year which was the turning point in the history of the East. The decisive battle of Carchemish established the ascendency of Babylonian Syria and Palestine, and sealed the fate of the Jewish nation. Immediately thereafter Jerusalem was taken, and her principal inhabitants carried away captive. Shortly after this capture of Jerusalem, by the death of Nabopolassar, Nebuchadnezzar succeeded to the throne, January, 604 B.C. Thus is the general date of this prophecy most memorable; marking the battle of Carchemish, the capture of Jerusalem, the beginning of the seventy years’ captivity, the accession of Nebuchadnezzar to the Babylonian throne, and the permanent ascendency of the power of the Euphrates over that of the Nile: for never again does Egypt resume her old place among the great nations of the earth.
3. From the thirteenth year of Josiah, etc. Appropriately marking the crisis, the prophet takes a retrospective glance. For twenty-three years he had patiently and persistently preached repentance to this unwilling and persecuting people; and hence they cannot now say that their calamities come without warning. These three and twenty years are made up of nineteen under Josiah and four of Jehoiakim, including the three months’ reign of Jehoahaz.
THE JUDGMENT ON JUDAH, Jeremiah 25:4-11.
4. The Lord… sent, etc. Thus demonstrating his love and long-suffering.
6. Compare Jeremiah 7:6; Jeremiah 1:16.
9. Families of the north An allusion to the conglomerate character of the Babylonish kingdom, blending, as it did, all the peoples in the great basin of the Tigris and Euphrates. And Nebuchadrezzar, etc. Literally, and to Nebuchadrezzar, etc., bringing it after send rather than take, in construction. He is called the servant of Jehovah because of his providential mission in executing God’s will on Judah. See also Jeremiah 28:6; Jeremiah 43:10.
11. Seventy years Used not as a round number, nor primarily for its symbolical import, but with chronological exactness. The accuracy of this number is attested by both sacred and profane chronology. It begins with the fourth year of Jehoiakim, 606 B.C., and extends to the first year of Cyrus, 536 B.C. The whole period of the Babylonian empire after the fall of Nineveh was about sixty-seven years. Add the two years of Darius the Mede, (Daniel 6:1,) and we have about sixty-nine years for the captivity before the accession of Cyrus, near the beginning of whose reign came the decree of release and restoration. See an excellent resume of the chronological data in Keil’s Commentary.
JUDGMENT ON BABYLON AND OTHER NATIONS, Jeremiah 25:12-29.
12. When seventy years are accomplished Babylon was captured 538 B.C., just sixty-eight years after the capture of Jerusalem.
Perpetual desolations To none other of the great powers of the ancient world do these words apply so impressively and absolutely. The utter nothingness to which this vast empire has returned is not relieved even by interesting and valuable monumental remains, as in the case of Nineveh, and especially of Egypt.
13. Written in this book The difficulties in this verse have been exaggerated. On the one hand, there can be no question that this language implies the existence of a written book of Jeremiah, and is not satisfied with a merely spoken discourse. But words at first spoken more fully are here reduced to a condensed written record, in which the identifying phrase “written in this book” occurs. That the passage directly mentions the prophecies which are to come has been too hastily assumed. Against all the nations is a phrase which is perfectly intelligible in its application to prophecies already recorded. But the Septuagint divides this thirteenth verse differently. Its arrangement is inconsistent with the Masoretic punctuation, but not with the original text, and strongly commends itself to favourable consideration. The preceding passage is made to terminate at book, and the sentence immediately following is the caption of the succeeding passage What Jeremiah prophesied against the nations a title which describes the subject-matter of the passage as far as the thirty-fourth verse. And yet, even with the Masoretic pointing, the difficulty is not serious.
14. Shall serve themselves Shall make them, namely, the Chaldeans. their slaves. See Jeremiah 50:29; Jeremiah 51:24.
15. Wine cup “A flagon filled with wrath.” See Jeremiah 49:12; Jeremiah 51:7; Isaiah 51:17; Isaiah 51:22, etc.
Cause… the nations… to drink Not literally the representatives of the nations assembled at Jerusalem, as Michaelis explains, but symbolically, in prophetic vision. “As the wrath of God is no essence that may be drunk by the bodily act, so, manifestly, the cup is no material cup, and the drinking is no act of outer physical reality.”
18. Jerusalem Mentioned first, as being most important, and perhaps, too, most guilty.
19. Pharaoh, etc. The enumeration begins with Egypt and goes northward, mentioning Uz, Edom, Moab, and Ammon on the east, and Philistia, Tyre, Zidon, and the isles of the Mediterranean on the west. Then, to the far east, the kings of Arabia and Elam, with the Medes to the northward; and finally the enumeration terminates with all the kings of the north and all the kingdoms of the world… upon the face of the earth, but mentions last of all the king of Babylon by the name of Sheshach. (Jeremiah 25:19-26.)
20. Uz This passage falls in with Lamentations 4:21, in fixing the locality of this land somewhere between the Egyptian border and Palestine, probably in the neighbourhood of Idumea.
Philistines The towns which are mentioned were probably capitals of separate principalities. Gath, which is elsewhere mentioned as one of the five royal cities of the Philistines, (Joshua 13:3; 1 Samuel 6:17,) is not here mentioned, probably because it was no longer a capital city. The remnant of Ashdod was what had survived the twenty-nine years’ siege of Psammeticus, and its capture and destruction. (Herod. 2:157.)
22. Kings of Tyrus, etc. The plural is, in Jeremiah 25:18; Jeremiah 19:3; Jeremiah 13:13, used to include the present kings and their successors. Isles, more exactly, as in the margin, region by the sea side, probably including generally the colonies in and upon the Mediterranean.
23. Dedan… Tema… Buz Arabian tribes. Utmost corners, as in Jeremiah 9:25, should be hair-corners polled, or who have the corners of their hair shorn.
24. Arabia A general name, not for the whole district now known by this name, but for that region occupied by the nomadic peoples descended from Ishmael and Midian.
25. Zimri This name occurs only here; but from the order in which it is introduced we may safely conclude that it represents a people to the extreme east, between the Arabs and the Elamites.
Elam As is common in the Bible this name is not limited to Elymais, but is put for the whole of Persia.
Medes Located still farther to the north and east, and destined to hold a conspicuous place in the history of the near future.
26. Kings of the north Completing the survey.
Sheshach See also Jeremiah 51:41. In the opinion of many we have here and in Jeremiah 51:1, an example of that cabalistic figure called the atbash. This consisted in substituting for each letter in a word the letter holding the corresponding place counting from the other end of the alphabet, namely, for א (aleph) ת (tav;) for ב (beth) שׁ (shin,) etc. On this plan Sheshach would answer to Babel, which it certainly means; and in Jeremiah 51:1, the words rendered “in the midst of them that rise up,” literally, heart of the risers up, would answer to Chasdim, (Chaldea,) which also seems to be the sense intended. Jerome, in the fourth century, gives this explanation, which he had probably derived from his rabbinical teachers. If this explanation is correct, it is doubtless true, as Dean Smith says, that this is the “oldest known cipher.”
But even if this view be taken, it will still be questioned whether this device was originated by Jeremiah for some purpose of his own, or whether he simply appropriated what was formed to his hand. For the former no good reason can be given, as there was evidently no concealment by means of this name. Besides, there is some sense of incongruity between the character and work of a prophet feeling almost insupportably the burden of the Lord’s message of judgment, and such an artificial, not to say puerile, expedient as this. But if these words were already in common use there is no reason why Jeremiah may not have employed them, especially if the baldness of his reference to Babylon might thus be in any measure relieved. And yet it is more than possible that the origin of these words is altogether of a different character. For instance, as Professor Rawlinson suggests, this name Sheshach may belong to a Babylonian divinity, and for that reason be taken for the land.
27. Drink ye, etc. Language which sets forth vividly and impressively the helplessness of the people under the divine inflictions.
THE JUDGMENT ON THE WORLD, Jeremiah 25:30-38.
30. The Lord shall roar As a lion furious for his prey, (see Joel 3:16; Amos 1:2,) before whom sheep and shepherds (Jeremiah 25:34-36) fall helplessly on the ground in consternation and despair.
They that tread the grapes Who raise the vintage-shout, keeping time, as was the custom, by the alternate raising and pushing down of the feet.
31. A noise The din of war, the noise of great armies; hence full of terror and danger.
32. Evil shall go forth As a fierce and destructive storm travels on from nation to nation.
34. Howl, ye shepherds Thrown into consternation by both the lion and the storm.
Wallow yourselves Roll yourselves.
37. The peaceable habitations Literally, the pastures of peace, where the flocks feed and lie down without fear or disturbance.
38. Forsaken his covert Here the prophet returns to his original figure of a fierce and terrible lion stalking forth for his prey.
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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Jeremiah 25". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 7 / Ordinary 12