|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
17:24-41 The terror of the Almighty will sometimes produce a forced or feigned submission in unconverted men; like those brought from different countries to inhabit Israel. But such will form unworthy thoughts of God, will expect to please him by outward forms, and will vainly try to reconcile his service with the love of the world and the indulgence of their lusts. May that fear of the Lord, which is the beginning of wisdom, possess our hearts, and influence our conduct, that we may be ready for every change. Wordly settlements are uncertain; we know not whither we may be driven before we die, and we must soon leave the world; but the righteous hath chosen that good part which shall not be taken from him.
Verse 30. - And the men of Babylon made Succoth-benoth. There is no deity of this name in the Assyrian or Babylonian lists. The explanation of the word as "tents" or "huts of daughters," which Satisfied Selden, Calmer, Gesenius, Winer, Keil, and others, is rendered absolutely impossible by the context, which requires that the word, whatever its meaning, should be the name of a deity. The Septuagint interpreters, while as much puzzled as others by the word itself, at least saw this, and rendered the expression by τὴν Σουκχὼθ Βενίθ, showing that they regarded it as the name of a goddess. The Babylonian goddess who corresponds most nearly to the word, and is most likely to be intended, would seem to be Zirat-banit, the wife of Merodach ('Transactions of the Society of Biblical Archaeology,' vol. 4. pp. 136-147). Zirat-banit means "the creating lady;" but the Hebrew interpreter seems to have mistaken the first element, which he confounded with Zarat, the Baby-Ionian for "tents," and so translated by "Succoth." The goddess Zirat-banit was certainly one of the principal deities of Babylon, and would be more likely to be selected than any ether goddess. Probably she was worshipped in combination with her husband, Merodach. And the men of Cuth - i.e. "Cuthah" - made Nergal. Nergal was the special deity of Cutha. He was the Babylonian war-god, and had a high position in the Assyrian pantheon also. His name appears as an element in the "Ner-gal-sharezer" of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 39:3, 13) and the Neriglissar of Ptolemy and Berosus. And the men of Hamath made Ashima. The-nius conjectures that "Ashima" represents the Phoenician Eshmoun,one of the Cabiri, or eight "Great Ones." But the etymological resemblance of the two words is not close, and it is not at all certain that the Hamathites at any time acknowledged the Phoenician deities. The Hamathite inscriptions are in the character now known as "Hittite;" and there is reason to believe that the people were non-Semitic. This identification, therefore, must be regarded as very doubtful. Perhaps "Ashima" represents Simi, the daughter of Hadad (see Melito, 'Apologia').
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And the men of Babylon made Succothbenoth,.... That is, those that came from Babylon made and served an idol of this name, which, according to the Jewish writers (u), were the figures of an hen and chickens; but others suppose them to be the Pleiades, or seven stars, the stars being had in great veneration by the Babylonians; though others rather think those Succothbenoth, "tabernacles", or "booths of the daughters", as the words may be rendered, have respect to the apartments in the temple of Venus, or Mylitta with the Babylonians and Assyrians, in which women once in their lives prostituted themselves to whomsoever asked them, in honour of Venus; of which filthy practice of theirs Herodotus (w) makes mention; and Valerius Maximus speaks (x) of a temple of Sicca Venus, which is near in sound to this, where the like impurities were committed:
and the men of Cuth made Nergal; which, according to the Jews, was in the likeness of a cock; but others, because the first part of the word signifies a lamp, suppose fire is meant, worshipped by the Persians, from whom it is thought these men came; but rather the word signifies, as Hillerus (y) observes, the fountain of light, and denotes the sun, worshipped by the Babylonians, Cuth being a province of theirs; from hence one of the princes of Babylon had part of his name, Jeremiah 39:3.
and the men of Hamath made Ashima; which, the Jews say, was in the form of a goat, without any wool on it, or an ape (z); but according to Hillerus (a), with the Arabs, Ashima is the name of a lion, a symbol of the sun, under which form it might be worshipped; unless Ashima is the same with Shamaim, the heavens, worshipped by the Heathens; we read of the Ashemath of Samaria, by which they swore, Amos 8:14, though that was before these men came thither.
(u) T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 63. 2.((w) Clio, sive, l. 1. c. 199. (x) L. 2. c. 6. sect. 15. (y) Onomastic. Sacr. p. 601. (z) David de Pomis Lexic. fol. 17. 2.((a) Onomast. Sacr. p. 609.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
30. Succoth-benoth—that is, the "tents" or "booths of the daughters," similar to those in which the Babylonian damsels celebrated impure rites (Am 2:8).
Nergal—The Jewish writers say this idol was in the form of a cock, and it is certain that a cock is often associated with a priest on the Assyrian monuments [Layard]. But modern critics, looking to the astrological character of Assyrian idolatry, generally consider Nergal as the planet Mars, the god of war. The name of this idol formed part of the appellation of two of the king of Babylon's princes (Jer 39:3).
Ashima—an idol under the form of an entirely bald he-goat.
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