Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
CONTINUATION OF THE
BEGUN IN THE
1. in the midst of them that rise . . . against
me--literally, "in the heart" of them. Compare
"the midst of the sea," Margin;
"the heart of the seas"; Margin;
In the center of the Chaldeans. "Against Me," because they persecute My
people. The 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,
would give the very word Chaldeans here; but the mystical
method cannot be intended, as "Babylon" is plainly so called in the
immediately preceding parallel clause.
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
2. fanners--(See on
The fanners separate the wheat from the chaff; so God's judgments shall
sweep away guilty Babylon as chaff
3. Against him that bendeth--namely, the bow; that is, the Babylonian
let the archer bend--that is, the Persian archer
The Chaldean version and JEROME, by
changing the vowel points, read, "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 English Version, not to
the Babylonians, to warn them against resistance as vain, as in
the Chaldean version. The word "bend" is thrice repeated:
"Against him that bendeth let him that bendeth bend," to imply the
utmost straining of the bow.
4. (See on
5. forsaken--as a widow (Hebrew). Israel is not severed from her
by a perpetual divorce.
though . . . sin--though the land of Israel has been filled with
sin, that is, 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].
6. 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
7. 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
(Jer 13:12; 25:15, 16).
Compare as to spiritual Babylon,
Re 14:8; 17:4.
The cup is termed "golden," to express the splendor and opulence of
Babylon; whence also in the image seen by Nebuchadnezzar
the head representing Babylon is of gold (compare
8, 9. 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.
Re 14:8; 18:2, 9).
(Jer 8:22; 46:11).
9. We would have healed--We attempted to heal.
her judgment--her crimes provoking God's "judgments"
reacheth unto heaven--
Even the heathen nations perceive that her awful fall must be God's
judgment for her crying sins
(Ps 9:16; 64:9).
10. 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, &c.--
our righteousness--not the Jews' merits, but God's faithfulness to
Himself and to His covenant, which constituted the "righteousness" of
His people, that is, their justification in their controversy with
Babylon, the cruel enemy of God and His people. Compare
"The Lord our righteousness";
Their righteousness is His righteousness.
declare in Zion--
11. Make bright--literally, "pure." Polish and sharpen.
gather--literally, "fill"; that is, gather in full number, so that
none be wanting. So, "gave in full tale"
GESENIUS, not so well, translates, "Fill with
your bodies the shields" (compare
He means to tell the Babylonians, Make what preparations you will, all
will be in vain (compare
kings of . . . Medes--He names the Medes rather than the Persians,
because Darius, or Cyaxares, was above Cyrus in power and the greatness
of his kingdom.
12. With all your efforts, your city shall be taken.
standard--to summon the defenders together to any point threatened
by the besiegers.
(Jer 51:32, 36;
The Euphrates surrounded the city and, being divided into many
channels, formed islands. Compare as to spiritual Babylon "waters,"
that is, "many peoples,"
Re 17:1, 15.
A large lake also was near Babylon.
measure--literally, "cubit," which was the most common measure, and
therefore is used for a measure in general. The time for putting a
limit to thy covetousness
[GESENIUS]. There is no "and" in the
Hebrew: translate, "thine end, the retribution for thy
MAURER takes the image to be from weaving: "the
cubit where thou art to be cut off"; for the web is cut off, when the
required number of cubits is completed
14. by himself--literally, "by His soul"
fill . . . with caterpillars--locusts
Numerous as are the citizens of Babylon, the invaders shall be more
15-19. Repeated from
except that "Israel" is not in the Hebrew of
which ought, therefore, to be translated, "He is the Former of all
things, and (therefore) of the rod of His inheritance" (that is, of the
nation peculiarly His own). In
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"
but God can, by merely "uttering His voice," create "many waters"
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," &c.
Such an Almighty Being can be at no loss for resources to effect His
purpose against Babylon.
20. (See on
"Break in pieces" refers to the "hammer" there (compare
Margin). The club also was often used by ancient
22. old and young--
24. The detail of particulars
is in order to express the indiscriminate slaughters perpetrated by
Babylon on Zion, which, in just retribution, are all to befall her in
(Jer 50:15, 29).
in your sight--addressed to the Jews.
25. destroying mountain--called so, not from its position, for it
Ge 11:2, 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, fifty royal cubits broad and two
roll thee down from the rocks--that is, from thy rock-like
fortifications and walls.
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.
26. corner . . . stone . . .
foundations--The corner-stone was the most important one in
the building, the foundation-stones came next in importance
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.
the Babylonians were told to "set up the 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 Japheth
who gave his name to the sea 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 neighboring regions, and from these he drew levies in
proceeding against Babylon.
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
28. kings of . . . Medes--
The satraps and tributary kings under Darius, or Cyaxares.
his dominion--the king of Media's dominion.
29. land shall tremble . . . every purpose of
. . . Lord shall be performed--elegant antithesis between
the trembling of the land or earth, and the stability of
"every purpose of the Lord" (compare
30. 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.
remained in . . . holds--not daring to go forth to fight; many, with
Nabonidus, withdrew to the fortified city Borsippa.
31. (See on
One post--One courier after another shall announce the capture
of the city. The couriers despatched from the walls, where 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
32. passages are stopped--The guarded fords of the Euphrates are
occupied by the enemy (see on
reeds . . . burned--literally, "the marsh." After draining off the
river, Cyrus "burned" the stockade of dense tree-like "reeds" on its
banks, forming the outworks of the city's fortifications. The burning of
these would give the appearance of the marsh or river itself being
33. like a threshing-floor, it is time to thresh her--rather,
"like a threshing-floor at the time of threshing," or "at the time when
it is trodden." The treading, or threshing, 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 corn 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 (compare
Re 14:15, 18).
34. me--Zion speaks. Her groans are what bring down retribution in kind
Ps 102:13, 17, 20).
empty vessel--He has drained me out.
dragon--The serpent often "swallows" its prey whole; or a sea monster
filled his belly . . . cast me out--like a beast, which, having
"filled" himself to satiety, "casts out" the rest
filling all his storehouses with my goods, he has
cast me out of this land [GROTIUS].
35. my flesh--which Nebuchadnezzar hath "devoured"
Zion thus calls her kinsmen
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
36. plead . . . cause--
"sea," that is, the Nile
(Jer 50:26, 39;
38, 39. The capture of Babylon was effected on the night of a
festival in honor of its idols.
roar . . . yell--The Babylonians were shouting in drunken
39. 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
(Jer 25:15; 49:12;
rejoice, and sleep . . . perpetual, &c.--that they may
exult, and in the midst of their jubilant exultation sleep the
sleep of death
Isa 21:4, 5).
41. Sheshach--Babylon (compare Note, see
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].
42. The sea--the host of Median invaders. The image (compare
Isa 8:7, 8)
is appropriately taken from the Euphrates, which, overflowing in
spring, is like a "sea" near Babylon
(Jer 51:13, 32, 36).
43. Her cities--the cities, her dependencies. So, "Jerusalem and the
Or, the "cities" are the inner and outer cities, the two parts into
which Babylon was divided by the Euphrates [GROTIUS].
44. Bel . . . 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"; compare "devoured," "swallowed,"
which it should have to disgorge (compare
Of these gifts were the vessels of Jehovah's temple in Jerusalem
The restoration of these, as foretold here, is recorded in
flow--as a river; fitly depicting the influx of pilgrims of all
"nations" to the idol.
45, 46. (See on
46. And lest--Compare, for the same ellipsis,
"And in order that your heart may not faint at the (first) rumor" (of
war), I will give you some intimation of the time. In the first "year"
there shall "come a rumor" that Cyrus is preparing for war against
Babylon. "After that, in another year, shall come a rumor," namely,
that Cyrus is approaching, and has already entered Assyria. Then is
your time to "go out"
Babylon was taken the following or third year of Belshazzar's reign
violence in the land--of Babylon
ruler against ruler--or, "ruler upon ruler," a continual change of
rulers in a short space. Belshazzar and Nabonidus, supplanted by Darius
or Cyaxares, who is succeeded by Cyrus.
47. GROTIUS translates, "Because then (namely, on the third year)
the time shall have come that," &c.
confounded--at seeing their gods powerless to help them.
her slain--in retribution for "Israel's slain"
who fell by her hand. GROTIUS translates, "her
dancers," as in
Jud 21:21, 23;
the same Hebrew word is translated, alluding to the dancing
revelry of the festival during which Cyrus took Babylon.
48. heaven . . . earth . . . sing for
(Isa 14:7-13; 44:23;
49. caused . . . to fall--literally, "has been for the
falling," that is, as Babylon made this its one aim to fill all places
with the slain of Israel, so at Babylon shall all the slain of that
whole land (not as English Version, "of all the
earth") [MAURER]. HENDERSON translates, "Babylon also shall fall, ye slain
of Israel. Those also of Babylon shall fall, O ye slain of all the
earth." But, "in the midst of her,"
plainly answers to "at Babylon,"
50. escaped . . . 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.
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
51. The prophet anticipates the Jews' reply; I know you will say in
despair, "We are confounded," &c. "Wherefore (God saith to you)
behold, I will," &c.
[CALVIN]. I prefer taking
as the prayer which the Jews are directed to offer in exile
"let Jerusalem come into your mind" (and say in prayer to God), "We are
confounded." This view is confirmed by
Ps 44:15, 16; 79:4; 102:17-20;
Isa 62:6, 7.
for strangers--The "reproach," which especially has stung us, came
when they taunted us with the fact that they had burned the temple, our
peculiar glory, as though our religion was a thing of naught.
52. Wherefore--because of these sighs of the Jews directed to God
I . . . judgment upon . . . images--in
opposition to the Babylonian taunt that Jehovah's religion was a thing
of naught, since they had burned His temple
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
53. We are not to measure God's power by what seems to our perceptions
natural or probable. Compare
as to Edom
55. great voice--Where once was the great din of a mighty
city, there shall be the silence of death
[VATABLUS]. Or, the "great voice" of the revellers
(Jer 51:38, 39;
Or, the voice of mighty boasting [CALVIN],
her waves--"when" her calamities shall cause her to give forth a widely
different "voice," even such a one as the waves give that lash the
[GROTIUS]. Or, "when" is connected thus: "the
great voice" in her, when her "waves," &c. (compare
CALVIN translates, "their waves," that is,
the Medes bursting on her as impetuous waves; so
But the parallel, "a great voice," belongs to her, therefore the
wave-like "roar" of "their voice" ought also belong to her
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"
56. taken--when they were least expecting it, and in such a way that
resistance was impossible.
58. broad walls--eighty-seven feet broad
[ROSENMULLER]; fifty cubits
[GROTIUS]. A chariot of four horses abreast could meet another on it
without collision. The walls were two hundred cubits high, and four
hundred and eighty-five stadia, or sixty miles in extent.
gates--one hundred in number, of brass; twenty-five on each of the
four sides, the city being square; between the gates were two hundred
and fifty 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 three hundred and
sixty-five stadia, as
DIODORUS states, it is said two hundred thousand
men completed a stadium each day, so that the whole was completed in one
labour . . . in the fire--The event will show that the builders of
the walls have "labored" only for the "fire" in which they shall be
consumed, "In the fire" answers to the parallel, "burned with fire."
Translate, "shall have labored in vain," &c. Compare
"built desolate places for themselves," that is, grand places, soon
about to be desolate ruins. Jeremiah has in view here
59-64. 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.
went with Zedekiah--rather, "in behalf of Zedekiah"; sent by Zedekiah
to appease Nebuchadnezzar's anger at his revolt
fourth year--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 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" (compare
Margin). MAURER translates, "commander of
the caravan," on whom it devolved to appoint the resting-place for the
night. English Version suits the context best.
61. 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
62. O Lord, thou--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.
63. bind a stone, &c.--
So the Phoceans in leaving their country, when about to found
Marseilles, threw lead into the sea, binding themselves not to return
till the lead should swim.
64. they shall be weary--The Babylonians shall be worn out, so as
not to be able to recover their strength.
Thus far . . . 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 at
to explain and confirm what precedes [CALVIN].