|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.
Verse 3. - Against him that bendeth, etc. There are two readings in the Hebrew Bible - one that given by the Authorized Version; the other, "Against him that bendeth (let) him that bendeth his bow (come)." The difficulty, however, is in the first two words of the clause, which are the same in either reading. It would be much simpler to alter a single point, and render, "Let not the archer bend his bow; and let him not lift himself up in his coat of mail" (for the old word "brigandine," see on Jeremiah 46:4); which might be explained of the Babylonians, on the analogy of Jeremiah 46:6, "Let him not bend his bow, for it will be useless;" but then the second half of the verse hardly suits the first - the prohibitions seem clearly intended to run on in a connected order. On the other hand, the descriptions, "him that bendeth," and "him that lifteth himself up in his brigandine," seem hardly a natural way of putting "the Chaldean army."
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Against him that bendeth let the archer bend his bow,.... These are either the words of the Lord to the Medes and Persians, to the archers among them, to bend their bows and level their arrows against the Chaldeans, who had bent their bows and shot their arrows against others; or of the Medes and Persians stirring up one another to draw their bows, and fight manfully against the enemy:
and against him that lifteth up himself in his brigandine; or coat of mail; that swaggers about in it, proud of it, and putting his confidence in it, as if out of all danger. The sense is, that they should direct their arrows both against those that were more lightly or more heavily armed; since by them they might do execution among the one and the other:
and spare ye not her young men; because of their youth, beauty, and strength:
destroy ye utterly all her host; her whole army, whether officers or common soldiers; or let them be accoutred in what manner they will. The Targum is,
"consume all her substance.''
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
3. Against him that bendeth—namely, the bow; that is, the Babylonian archer.
let the archer bend—that is, the Persian archer (Jer 50:4). The Chaldean version and Jerome, by changing the vowel points, read, "Let not him (the Babylonian) who bendeth his bow bend it." But the close of the verse is addressed to the Median invaders; therefore it is more likely that the first part of the verse is addressed to them, as in English Version, not to the Babylonians, to warn them against resistance as vain, as in the Chaldean version. The word "bend" is thrice repeated: "Against him that bendeth let him that bendeth bend," to imply the utmost straining of the bow.
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