|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
49:23-27 How easily God can dispirit those nations that have been most celebrated for valour! Damascus waxes feeble. It was a city of joy, having all the delights of the sons of men. But those deceive themselves who place their happiness in carnal joys.
Verses 23-27. - The heading Concerning Damascus is too limited (like that of the partly parallel prophecy in Isaiah 17:1-11); for the prophecy relates, not only to Damascus, the capital of the kingdom of southeastern Aram (or Syria), but to Hamath, the capital of the northern kingdom. (The third of the Aramaean kingdoms, that of Zobah, had ceased to exist.) Damascus had already been threatened by Amos (Amos 1:3-5), and by Isaiah (Isaiah 17:1-11). We may infer from the prophecy that Damascus had provoked the hostility of Nebuchadnezzar, but we have as yet no monumental evidence as to the facts. Verse 23. - Hamath. Still an important city under the name of Hamah, situated to the north of Hums (Emesa), on the Orontes. It formed nominally the boundary of the kingdom of Israel (Numbers 34:8; Joshua 13:5), was actually a part of the empire of Solomon (2 Chronicles 8:4), and was conquered for a short time by Jeroboam II. (2 Kings 14:25). Under Sargon it was fully incorporated into the Assyrian empire (comp. Isaiah 10:9); rebellious populations were repeatedly transplanted into the territory of Hamath. Arpad. Always mentioned together with Hamath, whose fate it appears to have shared (Isaiah 10:9). A tell, or hill, with ruins, about three (German) miles from Aleppo, still bears the name Erfad (Zeitschrift of the German Oriental Society, 25:655). There is sorrow on the sea, etc.; i.e. even the sea participates in the agitation of that troublous time: somewhat as in Habakkuk 3:10 the sea is represented as sympathizing in the terror produced by a Divine manifestation. But by the slightest possible emendation (viz. of caph into beth) we obtain a more natural sense - "with an unrest as of the sea, which cannot be quiet." In Isaiah 57:20 we read, "For the ungodly are like the troubled sea, for it cannot be quiet;" and it can hardly be doubted that Jeremiah is alluding to this passage. If he altered it at all, it would be in the direction of greater smoothness rather than the reverse. Not a few manuscripts of Jeremiah actually have this corrected reading, which should probably be adopted.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Concerning Damascus,.... Or, "unto Damascus" (d); or, "against Damascus" (e); that is, "thus saith the Lord"; which is to be repeated from the foregoing instances, Jeremiah 49:1. This is to be understood, not only of the city of Damascus, but of the whole kingdom of Syria, of which Damascus was the metropolis; see Isaiah 7:8;
Hamath is confounded, and Arpad; two cities in Syria; the first is generally thought to be Antioch of Syria, sometimes called Epiphania; and the other the same with Arvad, inhabited by the Arvadim, or Aradians; see 2 Kings 18:34; these, that is, the inhabitants of them, as the Targum, were covered with shame, thrown into the utmost confusion and consternation:
for they have heard evil tidings; of the Chaldean army invading the land of Syria, and of their coming against them; and perhaps of their taking of Damascus their capital city; all which must be bad news unto them, and give them great uneasiness:
they are fainthearted; or "melted" (f); their hearts melted like wax, and flowed like water; they had no heart nor spirit left in them, through fear of the enemy;
there is sorrow in the sea, it cannot be quiet: the Targum is,
"fear in the sea, carefulness hath taken hold on them, behold, as those that go down to the sea to rest, and cannot rest;''
or, as other copies, cannot flee. So Jarchi, and Kimchi interpret it, as if the note of similitude was wanting, and the sense this, that the inhabitants of the above places were either like the troubled sea itself, which cannot rest; or like persons in a storm at sea, who are in the utmost uneasiness and distress: or else it designs such that belonged to the kingdom of Syria, that dwelt in the isles of the sea; who were in great fright when they heard of the invasion of their country by the Chaldeans, particularly the Antaradians.
(d) "ad Damascum", V. L. Pagninus, Montanus. (e) "Contra Damascum", Vatablus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Schmidt. (f) "liquefacti sunt", Vatablus, Cocceius, Schmidt.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
23. Prophecy as to Damascus, &c. (Isa 17:1; 10:9). The kingdom of Damascus was destroyed by Assyria, but the city revived, and it is as to the latter Jeremiah now prophesies. The fulfilment was probably about five years after the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar [Josephus, Antiquities, 10.9,7].
Hamath is confounded—at the tidings of the overthrow of the neighboring Damascus.
on the sea—that is, at the sea; the dwellers there are alarmed. Other manuscripts read, "like the sea." "There is anxiety (restless) as is the sea: they cannot quiet it," that is, it cannot be quieted (Isa 57:20).
it—Whatever dwellers are there "cannot be quiet."
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