|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
51:1-58 The particulars of this prophecy are dispersed and interwoven, and the same things left and returned to again. Babylon is abundant in treasures, yet neither her waters nor her wealth shall secure her. Destruction comes when they did not think of it. Wherever we are, in the greatest depths, at the greatest distances, we are to remember the Lord our God; and in the times of the greatest fears and hopes, it is most needful to remember the Lord. The feeling excited by Babylon's fall is the same with the New Testament Babylon, Re 18:9,19. The ruin of all who support idolatry, infidelity, and superstition, is needful for the revival of true godliness; and the threatening prophecies of Scripture yield comfort in this view. The great seat of antichristian tyranny, idolatry, and superstition, the persecutor of true Christians, is as certainly doomed to destruction as ancient Babylon. Then will vast multitudes mourn for sin, and seek the Lord. Then will the lost sheep of the house of Israel be brought back to the fold of the good Shepherd, and stray no more. And the exact fulfilment of these ancient prophecies encourages us to faith in all the promises and prophecies of the sacred Scriptures.
Verses 27-37. - A more detailed sketch of the conquest of Babylon; followed (somewhat out of the natural order) by a complaint on the part of Israel, and a promise of championship on that of Jehovah. Verse 27. - Prepare the nations; literally, consecrate the nations; viz. by religious rites. It is in an especial sense a religious war to which they are summoned (see on Jeremiah 6:4, and comp. Isaiah 13:3). Ararat. Ararat appears in the cuneiform inscriptions under the form "Urartu? In Isaiah 37:38 the Authorized Version renders correctly by "Armenia." The Assyrian kings, since Shalmaneser, were constantly at war with the Armenians; Assurbanipal reduced them to pay tribute. Minni. The Mannai of the cuneiform inscriptions. The locality of this tribe has been hitherto wrongly given as the mountain country about Lake Vau. But Professor Sayco has shown that they are rather to be looked for to the southwest of Lake Urumiyeh. A captain. The word (tifsar) is singular, but is probably to be understood collectively as equivalent to "captains," like the word (sus, "horse," equivalent to "horses") to which it is parallel. It is here used loosely of certain officials of the Armenians; but properly it is an Assyrian word (adopted from the Accadian or proto-Babylonian), meaning "tablet writer," and derived, according to Friedrich Delitzsch, from dip or dup, a tablet, and sat, to write (Accadian words). As the rough caterpillars. This is the third of the four kinds of locusts mentioned in Joel 1:4; or, to speak more precisely, it is the locust in its penultimate stage, when its wings are already visible, but enveloped in horn-like sheaths, which stand up upon its back. Hence the epithet "rough," or "bristling." Keil's rendering, "as the dreadful (horrifying) locust," implies a faulty interpretation of Joel 1:4. It would be strange indeed if Joel had accumulated four synonymous terms for locust in such a peculiar context.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Set ye up a standard in the land,.... Not in Chaldea, but rather in any land; or in all the countries which belonged to Media and Persia; where Cyrus's standard is ordered to be set up, to gather soldiers together, and enlist in his service, in order to go with him in his expedition against Babylon:
blow the trumpet among the nations; for the same purpose, to call them to arms, to join the forces of Cyrus, and go with him into the land of Chaldea:
prepare the nations against her: animate them, stir up their spirits against her, and furnish them with armour to engage with her: or, "sanctify" (x) them; select a certain number out of them fit for such work:
call together the kingdoms of Ararat, Minni, and Ashchenaz; the two former are generally thought to intend Armenia the greater, and the lesser; and the latter Ascania, a country in Phrygia; and certain it is that Cyrus first conquered these countries, and had many Armenians, Phrygians, and Cappadocians, in his army he brought against Babylon, as Xenophon (y) relates. The Targum is, declare
"against her to the kingdoms of the land of Kardu, the army of Armenia and Hadeb,''
appoint a captain against her; over all these forces thus collected: Cyrus seems to be intended; unless the singular is put for the plural, and so intends a sufficient number of general officers of the army:
cause the horses to come up as the rough caterpillars; or "locusts" (z); which though generally smooth, yet some fire hairy and rough; to which the horses in Cyrus's army are compared, for their multitude, the shape of their heads, long manes, and manner of going, leaping, and prancing. So the Targum,
"they shall cause the horses to come up, leaping like the shining locust;''
that is of a yellow colour, and shines like gold. So the word the Targum here uses is used by Jonathan in Leviticus 13:32; of hair yellow as gold, and here to be understood of hairy locusts: and, as Aelianus (a) says, there were locusts of a golden colour in Arabia. And such may be meant here by the Chaldee paraphrase, which well expresses their motion by leaping; see Joel 2:5; and which agrees with that of horses. The word rendered "rough" has the signification of horror in it, such as makes the hair to stand upright; see Job 4:15; and so some (b) render it here. And Bochart (c), from Alcamus, an Arabic writer, observes, that there is a sort of locusts which have two hairs upon their head, which are called their horn, which when erected may answer to this sense of the word; and he brings in the poet Claudian (d), as describing the locust by the top of its head, as very horrible and terrible; and that some locusts? have hair upon their heads seems manifest from Revelation 9:8; though it may be, the reason why they are here represented as so dreadful and frightful may not be so much on account of their form, as for the terror they strike men with, when they come in great numbers, and make such terrible havoc of the fruits of the earth as they do; wherefore the above learned writer proposes to render the words, "as the horrible locusts" (e).
(x) "sanctificate", Piscator, Schmidt. (y) Cyropaedia, l. 5. c. 15. & l. 7. c. 21. (z) "sicut bruchum", Montanus, Schmidt. (a) De Animal. l. 10. c. 13. (b) "horripilantem", Montanus; "qui horret", Piscator, Cocceius. (c) Hierozoic. par. 2. l. 4. c. 2. col. 456. (d) "Horret apex capitis, medio fera lumina surgunt Vertice", &c. Epigram. 13. (e) "Non tam horrentem, quam horrendum sonat".
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
27. (Jer 50:29). As in Jer 51:12 the Babylonians were told to "set up the standard," so here her foes are told to do so: the latter, to good purpose; the former, in vain.
Ararat—Upper or Major Armenia, the regions about Mount Ararat.
Minni—Lower or Lesser Armenia. Rawlinson says that Van was the capital of Minni. It was conquered by Tettarrassa, the general of Tetembar II, the Assyrian king whose wars are recorded on the black obelisk now in the British Museum.
Ashchenaz—a descendant of Japheth (Ge 10:3), who gave his name to the sea now called the Black Sea; the region bordering on it is probably here meant, namely, Asia Minor, including places named Ascania in Phrygia and Bithynia. Cyrus had subdued Asia Minor and the neighboring regions, and from these he drew levies in proceeding against Babylon.
rough caterpillars—The horsemen in multitude, and in appearance bristling with javelins and with crests, resemble "rough caterpillars," or locusts of the hairy-crested kind (Na 3:15).
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