|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
50:8-20 The desolation that shall be brought upon Babylon is set forth in a variety of expressions. The cause of this destruction is the wrath of the Lord. Babylon shall be wholly desolated; for she hath sinned against the Lord. Sin makes men a mark for the arrows of God's judgments. The mercy promised to the Israel of God, shall not only accompany, but arise from the destruction of Babylon. These sheep shall be gathered from the deserts, and put again into good pasture. All who return to God and their duty, shall find satisfaction of soul in so doing. Deliverances out of trouble are comforts indeed, when fruits of the forgiveness of sin.
Verse 16. - Cut off the sower, etc. "Babylon" here probably means Babylonia, for it is clear from ver. 12 that the curse belongs to the country as well as the city of Babylon; indeed, "Babylon" in ver. 13 seems to be used in the wider sense. Others think of the open spaces within the walls of Babylon, in which it is said that crops were raised to provision the city in case of a siege (see Rawlinson, 'Ancient Monarchies,' 2:518); but this is less natural. They shall turn, etc. The subject is, not the husbandmen, but the strangers in Babylonia; comp. the parallel passage, Isaiah 13:14, on which this passage is based. AEsehylus ('Pers.,' 53) speaks of the Πάμμικτος ὄχλος in Babylon. Whether brought by force from their homes, like the Jews, or voluntary residents for the sake of commerce, all should hurry from the doomed city.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Cut off the sower from in Babylon, and him that handleth the sickle in the time of harvest,.... Both sower and reaper: the walls of Babylon took in a large compass of land, where there were corn fields; and which, as Curtius (s) observes, would yield a sufficiency to hold out a siege against an enemy; but being taken, the husbandman would not be spared, as used to be, but should be cut off, and so none to till the ground, or to reap what was upon it; and thus, in course, would be, desolate, as before threatened. The Targum understands this in a figurative sense,
"destroy the king out of Babylon, and take hold of the sword in the time of slaughter;''
and Cocceius interprets the sower of any doctor or bishop in mystical Babylon, and the reaper of such that gather the fruits, and exact obedience; see Revelation 18:14;
for fear of the oppressing sword; of the Medes and Persians:
they shall turn everyone to his people, and they shall flee everyone to his own land; not those of other nations, as the Jews, who were detained captives there, as Kimchi thinks; for these were not in such fear of the Persians, nor did they flee because of them; but were let go by them, and sent into their own land honourably: but either such who, of other nations, were come to traffic at Babylon; or rather the auxiliaries of other nations, who were either hired or forced into the service of Babylon; these, finding the city taken, would make the best of their way into their own country.
(s) Hist. l. 5. c. 1.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
16. Babylon had the extent rather of a nation than of a city. Therefore grain was grown within the city wall sufficient to last for a long siege [Aristotle, Politics, 3.2; Pliny, 18.17]. Conquerors usually spare agriculturists, but in this case all alike were to be "cut off."
for fear of … oppressing sword—because of the sword of the oppressor.
every one to his people—from which they had been removed to Babylon from all quarters by the Chaldean conquerors (Jer 51:9; Isa 13:14).
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