Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
PROPHECY OF THE
CAPTIVITY; AND AFTER
BABYLON, AND OF
1. fourth year of Jehoiakim--called the third year in
But probably Jehoiakim was set on the throne by Pharaoh-necho on his
return from Carchemish about July, whereas Nebuchadnezzar
mounted the throne January 21, 604 B.C.; so that
Nebuchadnezzar's first year was partly the third, partly the
fourth, of Jehoiakim's. Here first Jeremiah gives specific
dates. Nebuchadnezzar had previously entered Judea in the reign of his
3. From the thirteenth year of Josiah, in which Jeremiah began to
to the end of Josiah's reign, was nineteen years
the three months
2 Kings 23. 31)
of Jehoahaz' reign, with the not quite complete four years of Jehoiakim
added to the nineteen years, make up twenty-three years in all.
4. rising early--(See on
"The prophets" refer to Urijah, Zephaniah, Habakkuk, &c. It aggravates
their sin, that God sent not merely one but many messengers, and those
messengers, prophets; and, that during all those years specified,
Jeremiah and his fellow prophets spared no effort, late and
5. Turn . . . dwell--In Hebrew there is expressed by sameness of
sounds the correspondence between their turning to God and God's
turning to them to permit them to dwell in their land:
Shubu . . . shebu, "Return" . . . so shall ye "remain."
every one from . . . evil--Each must separately
repent and turn from his own sin. None is excepted, lest they
should think their guilt extenuated because the evil is general.
6. He instances one sin, idolatry, as representative of all their
sins; as nothing is dearer to God than a pure worship of Himself.
7. Though ye provoke Me to anger
yet it is not I, but yourselves, whom ye thereby hurt
(Pr 8:36; 20:2).
9. the north--(see on
Jer 1:14, 15).
The Medes and other northern peoples, confederate with Babylon, are
included with the Chaldeans.
my servant--My agent for punishing
(Jer 27:6; 43:10;
Cyrus, "My shepherd." God makes even unbelievers unconsciously to
fulfil His designs. A reproof to the Jews, who boasted that they were
the servants of God; yet a heathen king is to be more the
servant of God than they, and that as the agent of their
The land shall be so desolated that even in the houses left standing
there shall be no inhabitant; a terrible stillness shall prevail; no
sound of the hand-mill (two circular stones, one above the
other, for grinding corn, worked by two women,
in daily use in every house, and therefore forbidden to be taken in
no night-light, so universal in the East that the poorest house
has it, burning all night.
(Job 21:17; 18:6).
11. seventy years--
The exact number of years of Sabbaths in four hundred ninety years, the
period from Saul to the Babylonian captivity; righteous retribution for
their violation of the Sabbath
(Le 26:34, 35;
The seventy years probably begin from the fourth year of Jehoiakim,
when Jerusalem was first captured, and many captives, as well as the
treasures of the temple, were carried away; they end with the first
year of Cyrus, who, on taking Babylon, issued an edict for the
restoration of the Jews
Daniel's seventy prophetic weeks are based on the seventy years
of the captivity (compare
Da 9:2, 24).
13. all . . . written in this book, which Jeremiah
. . . prophesied against all . . . nations--It
follows from this, that the prophecies against foreign nations
(forty-sixth through fifty-first chapters) must have been already
written. Hence the Septuagint inserts here those prophecies. But
if they had followed immediately
there would have been no propriety in the observation in the verse. The
very wording of the reference shows that they existed in some other
part of the book, and not in the immediate context. It was in this very
year, the fourth of Jehoiakim
(Jer 36:1, 2),
that Jeremiah was directed to write in a regular book for the
first time all that he had prophesied against Judah and foreign
"nations" from the beginning of his ministry. Probably, at a
subsequent time, when he completed the whole work, including the
forty-sixth through fifty-first chapters, Jeremiah himself inserted the
clause, "all that is written in this book, which Jeremiah hath
prophesied against all the nations." The prophecies in question may
have been repeated, as others in Jeremiah, more than once; so in the
original smaller collection they may have stood in an earlier position;
and, in the fuller subsequent collection, in their later and present
14. serve themselves--
(Jer 27:7; 30:8; 34:10).
Avail themselves of their services as slaves.
them also--the Chaldees, who heretofore have made other nations their
slaves, shall themselves also in their turn be slaves to them.
MAURER translates, "shall impose servitude on them, even them."
recompense them--namely, the Chaldees and other nations against whom
Jeremiah had prophesied
as having oppressed the Jews.
their deeds--rather, "deed," namely, their bad treatment of the Jews
(Jer 50:29; 51:6, 24;
15. wine cup--Compare
Jer 13:12, 13,
as to this image, to express stupefying judgments; also
Jer 49:12; 51:7.
Jeremiah often embodies the imagery of Isaiah in his prophecies
Re 16:19; 18:6).
The wine cup was not literally given by Jeremiah to the representatives
of the different nations; but only in symbolical vision.
16. be moved--reel
18. Jerusalem--put first: for "judgment begins at the house of God";
they being most guilty whose religious privileges are greatest
kings--Jehoiakim, Jeconiah, and Zedekiah.
as it is this day--The accomplishment of the curse had already begun
under Jehoiakim. This clause, however, may have been inserted by
Jeremiah at his final revision of his prophecies in Egypt.
19. Pharaoh--put next after Jerusalem, because the Jews had relied
most on him, and Egypt and Judea stood on a common footing
(Jer 46:2, 25).
20. mingled people--mercenary foreign troops serving under
Pharaoh-hophra in the time of Jeremiah. The employment of these
foreigners provoked the native Egyptians to overthrow him. Psammetichus,
father of Pharaoh-necho, also had given a settlement in Egypt to Ionian
and Carian adventurers [HERODOTUS, 2.152, 154].
Isa 19:2, 3;
The term is first found in
Uz--in the geographical order here, between Egypt and the states
along the Mediterranean; therefore not the "Uz" of
(north of Arabia-Deserta), but the northern part of
Arabia-Petræa, between the sea and Idumea
Ge 36:20, 28).
remnant of Ashdod--called a "remnant," because Ashdod had lost most
of its inhabitants in the twenty-nine years siege by Psammetichus.
Compare also see on
Gath is not mentioned because it was overthrown in the same war.
21. Edom . . . Moab . . . Ammon--joined together, as being related to
22. all the kings of Tyrus--the petty kings of the various dependencies
isles--a term including all maritime regions
23. Dedan--north of Arabia
(Ge 25:3, 4).
Tema . . . Buz--neighboring tribes north of Arabia
all . . . in . . . utmost corners--rather, "having the
hair cut in angles," a heathenish custom
24. mingled people--not in the same sense as in
the "motley crowd," so called in contempt (compare
Jer 49:28, 31; 50:37).
By a different pointing it may be translated the "Arabs"; but the
repetition of the name is not likely. BLANEY
thinks there were two divisions of what we call Arabia, the west
(Araba) and the east. The west included Arabia-Petræa and
the parts on the sea bordering on Egypt, the land of Cush; the east,
Arabia-Felix and Deserta. The latter are "the mixed race" inhabiting
25. Zimri--perhaps the Zabra mentioned by
PTOLEMY between Mecca
and Medina. Zimran also, as Dedan, was one of Abraham's sons by
Elam--properly, west of Persia; but used for Persia in general.
26. Sheshach--Babylon; as the parallelism in
proves. In the Cabalistic system (called Athbash, the first
Hebrew letter in the alphabet being expressed by the last)
Sheshach would exactly answer to Babel. Jeremiah
may have used this system (as perhaps in
for concealment at the time of this prediction, in the fourth year of
Jehoiakim, while Nebuchadnezzar was before Jerusalem. In
there can be no concealment, as Babylon is expressly mentioned. MICHAELIS more simply explains the term "brazen-gated"
others, "the house of a prince." Rather, it comes from the Babylonian
goddess, Shach, by reduplication of the first letter; from her
Misael was named Meshach by the Babylonians. The term
Shace was applied to a festival at Babylon, alluded to in
Jer 51:39, 57;
It was during this feast that Cyrus took Babylon [HERODOTUS, 1]. Thus Jeremiah mystically denotes the time
of its capture by this term [GLASSIUS].
27. rise no more--The heathen nations in question should fall to rise
no more. The Jews should fall but for a time, and then rise again.
Therefore, the epithet is given, "the God of Israel."
28. if they refuse to take the cup--No effort of theirs to escape
destruction will avail.
29. If I spared not Mine elect people on account of sin,
much less will I spare you
be unpunished--"be treated as innocent."
30. roar--image from a destructive lion
upon his habitation--rather, "His pasturage"; keeping up the image
of a lion roaring against the flock in the pasture. The roar was first
to go forth over Judea wherein were "the sheep of His pasture"
and thence into heathen lands.
shout . . . tread . . . grapes--
Isa 16:9, 10).
31. controversy--cause at issue
plead with all flesh--
God shows the whole world that He does what is altogether just in
32. from the coasts--rather, "from the uttermost regions." Like a
storm which arises in one region and then diffuses itself far and wide,
so God's judgments shall pass "from nation to nation," till all has been
fulfilled; no distance shall prevent the fulfilment.
not be lamented--
(Jer 16:4, 6).
neither gathered--to their fathers, in their ancestral tombs
Here he returns to the Jews and their rulers, using the same
image as in
"pasture" (see on
wallow yourselves--Cover yourselves as thickly with ashes, in token
of sorrow, as one who rolls in them
principal--leaders. The Septuagint translates "rams," carrying
out the image (compare
days of your slaughter . . . of . . . dispersions--rather, "your
days for slaughter (that is, the time of your being slain), and your
dispersions (not 'of your dispersions'), are accomplished
pleasant vessel--Ye were once a precious vessel, but ye shall
fall, and so be a broken vessel
"Your past excellency shall not render you safe now. I will turn to
your ignominy whatever glory I conferred on you" [CALVIN].
35. Literally, "Flight shall fail the shepherds . . .
escaping (shall fail) the principal," &c.
The leaders will be the first objects for slaughter; escape by flight
will be out of their power.
37. habitations--rather, carrying out the image "pastures"
The pasturages where, peaceably and without incursion of wild
beasts, the flocks have fed, shall be destroyed; that is, the regions
where, heretofore, there was peace and security (alluding to the
name Salem, or Jerusalem, "possessing peace").
38. his covert--the temple, where heretofore, like a lion, as its
defender, by the mere terror of His voice He warded off the foe; but now
He leaves it a prey to the Gentiles [CALVIN].
fierceness of . . . oppressor--rather, as the Hebrew, for
"oppressor" is an adjective feminine, the word "sword" is understood,
Jer 46:16; 50:16,
is expressed (indeed, some manuscripts and the Septuagint read
"sword" instead of "fierceness" here; probably interpolated from
"the oppressing sword." The Hebrew for "oppressing" means
also a "dove": there may be, therefore, a covert allusion to the
Chaldean standard bearing a dove on it, in honor of Semiramis, the
first queen, said in popular superstition to have been nourished by
doves when exposed at birth, and at death to have been transformed into
a dove. Her name may come from a root referring to the cooing of
a dove. That bird was held sacred to the goddess Venus. Vulgate
so translates "the anger of the dove."
his . . . anger--If the anger of Nebuchadnezzar cannot be evaded,
how much less that of God (compare