|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 41. - How is Sheshach taken! The Septuagint omits "Sheshach" (see, on the name, Jeremiah 25:26), and very possibly rightly.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
How is Sheshach taken!.... Not the city Shushan, as Sir John Marsham thinks (e); but Babylon, as is plain from a following clause; and so the Targum,
"how is Babylon subdued!''
called Sheshach, by a position and commutation of letters the Jews call "athbash"; so Jarchi, Kimchi, and Abarbinel account for it; or else from their idol Shach, the same with Bel, which was worshipped here, and had a temple erected for it; and where an annual feast was kept in honour of it, called the Sacchean feast; and which was observing the very time the city was taken; and may be the true reason of its having this name given it now; See Gill on Jeremiah 25:26; the taking of which was very wonderful; and therefore this question is put by way of admiration; it being so well fortified and provided to hold out a long siege:
and how is the praise of the whole earth surprised? for it was taken by stratagem and surprise, before the king and his guards, the army, and the inhabitants of it, were aware; that city, which was matter and occasion of praise to all the world, and went through it; for the compass of it, and height and strength of its walls; the river Euphrates that ran through it, and flowed about it; the temple, palaces, and gardens in it:
how is Babylon become an astonishment among the nations! or, "a desolation"; and indeed its being a desolation was the reason of its being an astonishment among the nations; who were amazed to see so strong, rich, and splendid a city brought to ruin in a very short time.
(e) Canon. Chron. p. 607.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
41. Sheshach—Babylon (compare Note, see Jer 25:26); called so from the goddess Shach, to whom a five days' festival was kept, during which, as in the Roman Saturnalia, the most unbridled licentiousness was permitted; slaves ruled their masters, and in every house one called Zogan, arrayed in a royal garment, was chosen to rule all the rest. He calls Babylon "Sheshach," to imply that it was during this feast the city was taken [Scaliger].
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