|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
49:7-22 The Edomites were old enemies to the Israel of God. But their day is now at hand; it is foretold, not only to warn them, but for the sake of the Israel of God, whose afflictions were aggravated by them. Thus Divine judgments go round from nation to nation; the earth is full of commotion, and nothing can escape the ministers of Divine vengeance. The righteousness of God is to be observed amidst the violence of men.
Verses 19-22. - Figures descriptive of the unique physical qualities of the destined conqueror of Edom. Both figures have been used before (see Jeremiah 4:7; Jeremiah 48:40). Verse 19. - He shall some. The subject is withheld, as in ch. 46:18 (see note); 48:40. The swelling of Jordan; rather, the pride of Jordan; i.e. the luxuriant thickets on its banks. See on Jeremiah 12:5, where the phrase first occurs. Against the habitation of the strong; rather, to the evergreen pasture. The word rendered "evergreen" is one of those which are the despair of interpreters, from their fulness of meaning. The root-meaning is simply "continuance," whether it be continuance of strength (comp. Micah 6:2, Hebrew) or of the flow of a stream (Deuteronomy 21:4; Amos 5:24), or, as here, of the perennial verdure of a well watered pasturage. But I will suddenly make him run away from her. Make whom? The lion? Such is the natural inference from the Authorized Version, but the context absolutely forbids it. It seems useless to mention the crowd of explanations which have been offered of this "obscure and much-vexed passage," as old Matthew Poole calls it, since in Jeremiah 50:44 we have precisely the same phrase, but with another suffix, which clears up the meaning. We may, therefore, either read (with the Septuagint and the Syriac Version), "For I will suddenly make them run away from it" (viz. the pasture), or keep the old reading "him" for "them," and explain "him" as meaning the Edomites. The expression used for "suddenly" is very forcible; we might render, with Ewald, "in the twinkling of an eye." And who is a chosen man, etc.? A still more difficult clause. If the text is correct, which cannot be assumed as certain, we should probably render, with Ewald, "and will appoint over it [i.e. the land of Edom] him who is chosen," viz. Nebuchadnezzar. Who will appoint me the time? The same phrase is rendered in Job 9:19, "Who shall set me a time to plead?" (comp. the Latin phrase dicur dicere). To drag a defendant before the tribunal implies equality of rank. One might venture to do this with Nebuchadnezzar, if he were not the representative of One still mightier. Finally, Who is that shepherd that will stand before me? The land of Edom has been likened to a pasture; it is natural that the ruler should be now described as a shepherd (comp. Jeremiah 29:34)
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Behold, he shall come up like a lion from the swelling of Jordan,.... The Targum rightly interprets it of a king and his army, paraphrasing the words thus,
"behold, a king with his army shall come up against them, as a lion comes up from the height of Jordan;''
not the king of Edom that should come up against Judea, or to defend himself against those that invaded him; but Nebuchadnezzar and his army that should come up against the Edomites from the land of Judea, where Jordan was, having first subdued that; or should come with that strength, fury, and fierceness, as a lion when forced out of its covert near the river Jordan, by the overflowing of its banks, and obliged to betake himself to higher grounds; who, being enraged, roars and tears in pieces all in his way. Monsieur Thevenot (w) says, that Jordan is beset on both sides with little, thick, and pleasant woods; and Mr. Maundrell (x) observes, that
"there is a first and outermost bank to the river, about a furlong, upon a level, before you come to the second bank, to which it may be supposed the river did, and still does, overflow; and the second bank is so beset with bushes and trees, such as tamarisk, willows, and oleanders, &c. that you can see no water till you have made your way through them. In this thicket anciently (and the same is reported of at this day) several sorts of wild beasts were wont to harbour themselves, whose being washed out of the covert, by the over flowings of the river, gave occasion to the allusion, Jeremiah 49:19.''
So Jerom (y) speaks of lions, in his time, taking up their abode by the river Jordan, near which were desert places, reeds, and sedges:
against the habitation of the strong; the land of Edom, a country well fortified, in which mighty men dwelt; particularly Mount Seir, where their king was, and which was "the fold of the mighty"; either of the mighty shepherd, as it may be rendered (z); or of the strong place (a); but what is this to a lion?
but I will make him suddenly run away from her; that is, either the mighty shepherd, the king of Edom, from his fold, upon the approach of the lion, the king of Babylon; or else, as it may be rendered, "and I will cause him to run upon it (b) suddenly": that is, cause the king of Babylon to come speedily into the land of Edom, and seize upon it, overrun it, prevail over it, and be master of it, as Jarchi interprets it:
and who is a chosen man that I may appoint over her? a choice person in Nebuchadnezzar's army, fit to be made a deputy governor over the land of Edom:
for who is like me? for wisdom and power; able to do whatever I please, and to furnish those with proper abilities to perform and accomplish whatever I give them in charge and commission to do:
and who will appoint me the time? set a time to dispute the matter with me, or engage in war against me?
and who is that shepherd that will stand before me? or king, as the Targum and Ben Melech; any king, prince, or potentate, who, both in Scripture and in other writings, are often called shepherds; the king of Edom is particularly pointed at, whose habitation or fold is before observed: alas! what could such a shepherd do? or how could he stand before the almighty God, or any lion he should send?
(w) Travels, par. 1. B. 2. ch. 41. p. 193. (x) Journey from Aleppo to Jerusalem, p. 82. Ed. 7. (y) Comment. in Zech. xi. 3.((z) "ad caulam fortis", i.e. "pastoris validi et fortis", Schmidt. (a) "Sub. loci robusti", Vatablus; so Ben Melech. (b) "nam momento currere faciam cum (nempe Nebuchadanosarem) supra eam", De Dieu, Gataker.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
19. he—Nebuchadnezzar, or Nebuzara-dan; the name would at once suggest itself to the minds of the hearers (Jer 48:40; 46:18).
swelling—as a lion which the overflow of the Jordan forced out of his lair on the banks, to ascend the neighboring heights [Calvin]. See as to the translation, "pride of the Jordan," see on Jer 12:5.
habitation of … strong—the fastnesses of Idumea (compare Nu 24:21). Maurer translates, "An ever verdant (literally, 'perennial') pasturage," that is, Idumea heretofore having enjoyed uninterrupted tranquillity; so in Jer 49:20 the image is retained, the Idumeans being compared to "a flock," and their king to "a shepherd," in this verse, and the enemy to "a lion" (compare Jer 50:17-19). English Version accords more with the Hebrew.
suddenly—"in the twinkling of an eye," as the Hebrew implies.
him … her—I will make Nebuzara-dan enter Idumea, and then, having in the twinkling of an eye effected the conquest, go away speedily: elsewhere. Instead of "but," translate, "for." Grotius translates, "run upon her," or "to her," instead of "run away from her." Maurer understands it, "I will make him (the Idumean) run away from her" (that is, from his own land); the similar change of reference of the pronouns (Jer 50:44) favors this.
who is a chosen man, &c.—God calls the choicest warriors to Him, to set "over" the work of devastating Idumea. God will surely execute His purpose, for He can call forth from all sides the agents He chooses.
who is like me?—(Ex 15:11).
who will appoint me the time?—namely, for entering into a trial in judgment with Me (see Margin). Image from law courts (Job 9:19).
shepherd—leader of the Idumeans; following up the previous image, "a lion"; no Idumean shepherd shall withstand the lion sent by Jehovah (Job 41:10), or save the Idumean flock.
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