|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
50:21-32 The forces are mustered and empowered to destroy Babylon. Let them do what God demands, and they shall bring to pass what he threatens. The pride of men's hearts sets God against them, and ripens them apace for ruin. Babylon's pride must be her ruin; she has been proud against the Holy One of Israel; who can keep those up whom God will throw down?
Verses 21-28. - The punishment of Babylon, corresponding to her crimes. Verse 21. - The land of Merathaim; i.e. of double rebellion. Probably enough an actual geographical name may lie at the root of this singular expression; but we are not able at present to say what it was. The prophet has, at any rate, modified it in such a way as to convey a definite meaning, symbolic of the character of Babylon (comp. on ver. 31). What was this meaning? According to Gesenius, there is an allusion to the two great blows inflicted on Israel and Judah by Assyria and Babylon respectively; but as these two powers were but the instruments of a higher Hand, this explanation would seem to be inconsistent with the prophetic teaching. Dahler, De Wette, and Keil take the two rebellions to be the spiritual ones of idolatry and pride; and there is no obvious objection to this. But the dual may be simply intended to express intensity; comp. ch. 17:18, "Destroy them with double destruction" (see note). The inhabitants of Pekod; i.e. of punishment. But here too a geographical name very probably lies underneath. The Taylor cylinder inscription of Sennacherib mentions a Pukudu ( = Pekod), together with Havrann (Hauran) and Nabatu (Nabathaeans); but this was the name of a tribe. In Ezekiel 23:23 we read, "The Babylonians, and all the Chaldeans, Pekod, and Shoa, and Koa," etc.; and in 'Records of the Past,' 11:92, we find a town Pikudu mentioned, lying to the south of Babylon, which may, perhaps, have given its name to a district, and to this district the prophet not improbably alludes. M. Halevy conjectures that the event which corresponds to the prophecy is the decisive battle which virtually terminated the Babylonian empire. According to the newly discovered Cyrus inscription, this battle was fought near a place called Rutu, which appears to have been situated in the neighbourhood of Pukudu ('Records,' l.c.). About the symbolic meaning there can be no doubt: Pekod is a worthy pendant to Merathaim. Sin and punishment are so closely connected in the prophetic mind that one word sometimes covers both notions. It is doubtful, for instance, whether the better rendering of Isaiah 5:18 is "draw sin as with a cart rope" or "draw punishment."
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Go up against the land of Merathaim,.... Thought to be the country of the Mardi, which lay part of it in Assyria, and part of it in Armenia; expressed in the dual number, because one part of it lay on one side the Tigris, and the other on the other side. Cyrus, with his army of Medes and Persians, is here called upon; who, according to Herodotus, passed through Assyria to Babylon: and so it may be agreeably rendered, "go by the land of Merathaim"; or the country of the Mardi. Many interpreters take it for an appellative, and not the proper name of a country. The Vulgate Latin version renders it, "the land of rulers"; and the Targum,
"the land of the rebellious people;''
and so Kimchi (w): and to the same sense Jarchi, the land
"that hath exasperated me, and provoked me to anger;''
meaning the land of the Chaldeans, which had ruled over others, rebelled against the Lord, and provoked him to wrath against it. The word, being in the dual number, may, in the mystical sense, respect the two antichrists, the eastern and western, that have ruled over the nations, and rebelled against God, and provoked him; the Turks and Papists, those two rebels, the beast and false prophet, Revelation 19:20; against whom the Christian princes will be bid to go up;
even against it, and against the inhabitants of Pekod; the name of a place in Assyria; see Ezekiel 23:23; by which also Cyrus might go up to Babylon, so Jarchi; and the Targum takes it to be the name of a place: but Kimchi and others take it to be an appellative; and so it may be rendered, "the inhabitants of visitation" (x); because the time was come to visit and punish them for their sins; and may particularly design the inhabitants of Babylon, the city to be visited for its iniquities; and especially mystical Babylon, which shall come up in remembrance before God, Revelation 16:19;
waste and utterly destroy after them, saith the Lord; either after the destruction of the places before mentioned; or pursue after those that flee and make their escape from thence, and destroy them; or rather their posterity, the remnant of them, as the Targum:
and do according to all that I have commanded thee; either Cyrus, according to all the Lord commanded him by the Prophet Isaiah, as Jarchi; or the seven angels, that are to pour out the vials of wrath on antichrist; the kings of the earth, who are to fulfil the will of God upon the man of sin, Revelation 16:1.
(w) "contra terram rebellantium", Pagninus; "super", Montanus; "contra terram rebellionum", Schmidt. (x) "habitatores visitationis", Vatablus, Calvin, De Dieu.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
21. Merathaim—a symbolical name for Babylon, the doubly rebellious, namely, against God. Compare Jer 50:24, "thou hast striven against the Lord"; and Jer 50:29, "proud against the Lord." The "doubly" refers to: first, the Assyrian's oppression of Israel; next, the kindred Chaldean's oppression of Judah (compare Jer 50:17-20, 33; especially Jer 50:18).
Pekod—(Eze 23:23); a chief province of Assyria, in which Nineveh, now overthrown, once lay. But, as in Merathaim, the allusion is to the meaning of Pekod, namely, "visitation"; the inhabitants whose time of deserved visitation in punishment is come; not, however, without reference to the now Babylonian province, Pekod. The visitation on Babylon was a following up of that on Assyria.
after them—even their posterity, and all that is still left of Babylon, until the very name is extinct [Grotius]. Devastate the city, after its inhabitants have deserted it.
all … I … commanded—by Isaiah (Isa 13:1, &c.).
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