Concerning the Ammonites, thus saith the LORD; Hath Israel no sons? hath he no heir? why then doth their king inherit Gad, and his people dwell in his cities?
Hath Israel no sons? - i. e., the Ammonites in seizing Gilead have acted as if the country had no rightful owner. The sons of Israel were to return from captivity, and the land was their hereditary property.
Inherit - i. e., take possession of.
Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will cause an alarm of war to be heard in Rabbah of the Ammonites; and it shall be a desolate heap, and her daughters shall be burned with fire: then shall Israel be heir unto them that were his heirs, saith the LORD.
Rabbah - i. e., the "great city." See 2 Samuel 12:27 note for a distinction between Rabbah, the citadel, and the town itself, lying below upon the Jabbok.
Daughters - i. e., unwalled villages (and in Jeremiah 49:3).
Shall Israel be heir ... - i. e., "shall be victor over his victors;" compare Micah 1:15.
Howl, O Heshbon, for Ai is spoiled: cry, ye daughters of Rabbah, gird you with sackcloth; lament, and run to and fro by the hedges; for their king shall go into captivity, and his priests and his princes together.
Ai - Not the town on the west of the Jordan Joshua 7:2; a place not mentioned elsewhere. For Ai some read Ar.
Hedges - Fields were not divided by hedges until recent times; the term probably means the walls which enclose the vineyards Numbers 22:24.
Wherefore gloriest thou in the valleys, thy flowing valley, O backsliding daughter? that trusted in her treasures, saying, Who shall come unto me?
Thy flowing valley - The (fertile) valley in which Rabbah was situated. The Septuagint again has: "in the valleys of the Anakim," as in Jeremiah 47:5 (see the note).
Behold, I will bring a fear upon thee, saith the Lord GOD of hosts, from all those that be about thee; and ye shall be driven out every man right forth; and none shall gather up him that wandereth.
Every man right forth - The Ammonites will live in terror of the tribes which rove in the neighborhood, and at the slightest alarm will flee straight away without resistance.
And afterward I will bring again the captivity of the children of Ammon, saith the LORD.
In 1 Macc. 5:6, 7, the Ammonites appear again as a powerful nation.
Concerning Edom, thus saith the LORD of hosts; Is wisdom no more in Teman? is counsel perished from the prudent? is their wisdom vanished?
Edom stretched along the south of Judah from the border of Moab on the Dead Sea to the Mediterranean and the Arabian deserts, and held the same relation to Judah which Moab held toward the kingdom of Israel. Although expressly reserved from attack by Moses Deuteronomy 2:5, a long feud caused the Edomites to cherish so bitter an enmity against Judah, that they exulted with cruel joy over the capture of Jerusalem by the Chaldaeans, and showed great cruelty toward those why fled to them for refuge.
Of the prophecies against Edom the first eight verses of Obadiah are also found in Jeremiah (see the marginal references). As Jeremiah wrote before the capture of Jerusalem, and Obadiah apparently after it (see Jeremiah 49:13-14), it might seem certain that Obadiah copied from Jeremiah. Others held the reverse view; while some consider that the two prophets may both have made common use of some ancient prediction. See the introduction to Obadiah.
The prophecy is divisible into three strophes. In the first Jeremiah 49:7-13, the prophet describes Edom as terror-stricken.
Teman - A strip of land on the northeast of Edom, put here for Edom generally. Its inhabitants were among those "children of the East" famed for wisdom, because of their skill in proverbs and dark sayings.
Flee ye, turn back, dwell deep, O inhabitants of Dedan; for I will bring the calamity of Esau upon him, the time that I will visit him.
Dwell deep - Jeremiah 49:30. The Dedanites, who were used to travel through the Edomite territory with their caravans, are advised to retire as far as possible into the Arabian deserts to be out of the way of the invaders.
If grapegatherers come to thee, would they not leave some gleaning grapes? if thieves by night, they will destroy till they have enough.
Translate it: "If vintagers come to thee, they will not leave any gleaning: if thieves by night, they will destroy their fill."
But I have made Esau bare, I have uncovered his secret places, and he shall not be able to hide himself: his seed is spoiled, and his brethren, and his neighbours, and he is not.
But - For. The reason why the invaders destroy Edom so completely. His secret places are the hiding-places in the mountains of Seir.
His seed - Esau's seed, the Edomites; his brethren are the nations joined with him in the possession of the land, Amalek, and perhaps the Simeonites; his neighbors are Dedan, Tema, Buz.
Leave thy fatherless children, I will preserve them alive; and let thy widows trust in me.
For thus saith the LORD; Behold, they whose judgment was not to drink of the cup have assuredly drunken; and art thou he that shall altogether go unpunished? thou shalt not go unpunished, but thou shalt surely drink of it.
Translate it: "Behold they whose rule was not to drink of the cup shall surely drink etc." It was not the ordinary manner of God's people to suffer from His wrath: but now when they are drinking of the wine-cup of fury Jeremiah 25:15, how can those not in covenant with Him hope to escape?
For I have sworn by myself, saith the LORD, that Bozrah shall become a desolation, a reproach, a waste, and a curse; and all the cities thereof shall be perpetual wastes.
I have heard a rumour from the LORD, and an ambassador is sent unto the heathen, saying, Gather ye together, and come against her, and rise up to the battle.
The second strophe, Edom's chastisement.
Rumour - Or, "revelation."
Ambassador - Or, messenger, i. e., herald. The business of an ambassador is to negotiate, of a herald to carry a message.
For, lo, I will make thee small among the heathen, and despised among men.
Small ... - Rather, small among the nations, i. e., of no political importance.
Thy terribleness hath deceived thee, and the pride of thine heart, O thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock, that holdest the height of the hill: though thou shouldest make thy nest as high as the eagle, I will bring thee down from thence, saith the LORD.
Edom's "terribleness" consisted in her cities being hewn in the sides of inaccessible rocks, from where she could suddenly descend for predatory warfare, and retire to her fastnesses without fear of reprisals.
The clefts of the rock - Or, the fastnesses of Sela, the rock-city, Petra (see Isaiah 16:1).
The hill - i. e., Bozrah.
Also Edom shall be a desolation: every one that goeth by it shall be astonished, and shall hiss at all the plagues thereof.
Better, "And Edom shall become a terror: every passer by shalt be terrified, and shudder etc."
As in the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah and the neighbour cities thereof, saith the LORD, no man shall abide there, neither shall a son of man dwell in it.
Neighbour ... - Admah and Zeboim.
A son of man - i. e., "Any man." From 536 a.d. onward, Petra suddenly vanishes from the pages of history. Only in the present century was its real site discovered.
Behold, he shall come up like a lion from the swelling of Jordan against the habitation of the strong: but I will suddenly make him run away from her: and who is a chosen man, that I may appoint over her? for who is like me? and who will appoint me the time? and who is that shepherd that will stand before me?
Concluding strophe. The fall of Edom is compared to the state of a flock worried by an enemy strong as a lion Jeremiah 4:7, and swift as an eagle.
The swelling of Jordan - Or, the pride of Jordan, the thickets on his banks (marginal reference note).
Against the habitation of the strong - Or, to the abiding pasturage. The lion stalks forth from the jungle to attack the fold, sure to find sheep there because of the perennial (evergreen) pasturage: "but I will suddenly make him (the flock, Edom) run away from her (or it, the pasturage)."
And who is a chosen ... - Better, and I will appoint over it, the abandoned land of Edom, him who is chosen, i. e., my chosen ruler Nebuchadnezzar.
Who will appoint me the time? - The plaintiff, in giving notice of a suit, had to mention the time when the defendant must appear (see the margin). Yahweh identifies himself with Nebuchadnezzar Jeremiah 25:9, and shows the hopelessness of Edom's cause. For who is like Yahweh, His equal in power and might? Who will dare litigate with Him, and question His right? etc.
Therefore hear the counsel of the LORD, that he hath taken against Edom; and his purposes, that he hath purposed against the inhabitants of Teman: Surely the least of the flock shall draw them out: surely he shall make their habitations desolate with them.
Surely the least ... - Rather, Surely they will worry them, the feeble ones of the flock: surely their pasture shall be terror-stricken over them. No shepherd can resist Nebuchadnezzar Jeremiah 49:19, but all flee, and leave the sheep unprotected. Thereupon, the Chaldaeans enter, and treat the poor feeble flock so barbarously, that the very fold is horrified at their cruelty.
The earth is moved at the noise of their fall, at the cry the noise thereof was heard in the Red sea.
Is moved - Quakes.
At the cry ... - The arrangement is much more poetical in the Hebrew, The shriek - to the sea of Suph (Exodus 10:19 note) is heard its sound.
Behold, he shall come up and fly as the eagle, and spread his wings over Bozrah: and at that day shall the heart of the mighty men of Edom be as the heart of a woman in her pangs.
Nebuchadnezzar shall swoop down like an eagle, the emblem of swiftness.
Concerning Damascus. Hamath is confounded, and Arpad: for they have heard evil tidings: they are fainthearted; there is sorrow on the sea; it cannot be quiet.
Though the superscription is confined to Damascus, the prophecy relates to the whole of Aram, called by us Syria, which was divided into two parts, the northern, of which Hamath was the capital, and the southeastern, belonging to Damascus.
Hamath is confounded - Or, is ashamed. For Hamath see Isaiah 10:9 note. Arpad lay about fourteen miles north of Aleppo, at a place now called Tel Erfad.
Fainthearted - The sinews are relaxed unknit, through terror.
There is sorrow on the sea - In the sea. As the sea is used (marginal reference) of the agitation of the thoughts of evil men, its sense here also probably is, there is sorrow, or rather anxiety, in the agitated hearts of the Syrians.
Damascus is waxed feeble, and turneth herself to flee, and fear hath seized on her: anguish and sorrows have taken her, as a woman in travail.
And turneth - Omit and. The original is a rapid sequence of unconnected sentences. "Damascus is unnerved; she turned to flee, and a trembling seized her; anguish and writhings took hold of her etc."
How is the city of praise not left, the city of my joy!
An exclamation of sorrow wrung from the prophet at the thought of the people of Damascus remaining to be slaughtered. The words my joy express the prophet's own sympathy. The praise of Damascus for beauty has been universal from the days of Naaman 2 Kings 5:12, to those of recent travelers.
Therefore her young men shall fall in her streets, and all the men of war shall be cut off in that day, saith the LORD of hosts.
And I will kindle a fire in the wall of Damascus, and it shall consume the palaces of Benhadad.
See the marginal reference and 1 Kings 11:14 note.
Concerning Kedar, and concerning the kingdoms of Hazor, which Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon shall smite, thus saith the LORD; Arise ye, go up to Kedar, and spoil the men of the east.
Hazor, derived from a word signifying an unwalled village, is a general appellative of those Arab tribes who were partially settled, while Kedar signifies the Bedawin, who used only tents. Some think that Hazor is another way of spelling Jetor, i. e., Ituraea, whose inhabitants, with the Kedarenes, would naturally be called the sons of the East.
Shall smite - Or, smote.
Their tents and their flocks shall they take away: they shall take to themselves their curtains, and all their vessels, and their camels; and they shall cry unto them, Fear is on every side.
Curtains - The hangings of the tents.
Fear is on every side - Magor-missabib (see Jeremiah 6:25 note); a cry, indicating the panic which followed the unexpected onset of the enemy.
Flee, get you far off, dwell deep, O ye inhabitants of Hazor, saith the LORD; for Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon hath taken counsel against you, and hath conceived a purpose against you.
A purpose against you - Others read "against them" (the wealthy nation, Jeremiah 49:31).
Arise, get you up unto the wealthy nation, that dwelleth without care, saith the LORD, which have neither gates nor bars, which dwell alone.
The wealthy nation - Or, a nation at rest, living securely and in confidence.
Which dwell alone - They dwell alone, i. e., have neither alliances with other nations, nor contact by commerce.
And their camels shall be a booty, and the multitude of their cattle a spoil: and I will scatter into all winds them that are in the utmost corners; and I will bring their calamity from all sides thereof, saith the LORD.
Them ... corners - Or, those who clip the corners of their beards (compare Jeremiah 9:26).
And Hazor shall be a dwelling for dragons, and a desolation for ever: there shall no man abide there, nor any son of man dwell in it.
Dragons - i. e., jackals.
The word of the LORD that came to Jeremiah the prophet against Elam in the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah king of Judah, saying,
Against Elam - Or, concerning Elam. This country, better known as Susiana, is the modern Chuzistan, and lies on the east of Chaldaea, from which it is separated by the Tigris. In the cuneiform inscriptions we find the Elamites on friendly terms with Babylon. The suggestion therefore that they served as auxiliaries in the Chaldaean army in the expedition against Judah is not improbable. It was in the first year of Zedekiah that this prophecy was written, and thus it is a little prior to the prophecies against Babylon Jeremiah 51:59, which immediately follow. The words, "the Elam," appear in the Septuagint in Jeremiah 25:14, followed by this prophecy, while in Jeremiah 26:1 we find, "In the beginning of the reign of king Zedekiah there was this word about Elam," followed in Jeremiah 49:2 by the prophecy (Jeremiah 46 of the Hebrew) against Egypt. This is a proof simply of the confusion which existed in the Egyptian transcripts of the prophecies relating to the nations.
Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Behold, I will break the bow of Elam, the chief of their might.
The bow was the national weapon of Elam, and therefore the "chief of their might," that on which their strength in war depended.
And upon Elam will I bring the four winds from the four quarters of heaven, and will scatter them toward all those winds; and there shall be no nation whither the outcasts of Elam shall not come.
In a whirlwind violent gales seem to blow from every quarter, and whatever is exposed to their fury they scatter over the whole country. With similar violence the whole nation of Elam shall be dispersed far and wide.
For I will cause Elam to be dismayed before their enemies, and before them that seek their life: and I will bring evil upon them, even my fierce anger, saith the LORD; and I will send the sword after them, till I have consumed them:
And I will set my throne in Elam, and will destroy from thence the king and the princes, saith the LORD.
Literally, king and princes. Elam will lose its independence, and henceforward have no native ruler with his attendant officers.
But it shall come to pass in the latter days, that I will bring again the captivity of Elam, saith the LORD.
Elam - Elam was subject to Babylon Daniel 8:2, and its capital Shushan a favorite residence of the Persian kings Esther 1:2. Of its subsequent fate we know little; the Elamites continued to exist, and members of their nation were present at Pentecost among those chosen to represent the Gentile world at the first preaching of the Gospel Acts 2:9.