|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 44. - Bel; i.e. Merodach, the patron deity of Babylon (see on Jeremiah 50:2). Swallowed up. An allusion to the myth mentioned above (see ver. 34). That which Bel, i.e. Babylon, has "swallowed up" is not only the spoil of the conquered nations, but those nations themselves. Yea, the wall of Babylon shall fall; literally, is fallen (is as good as fallen). The famous wall of Babylon (comp. ver. 58) is described by Herodotus (1:179, 181). From this clause down to the first half of ver. 49 is omitted in the Septuagint.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And I will punish Bel in Babylon,.... The idol of the Babylonians, who had a temple in Babylon, where he was worshipped: the same is called Belus by Aelianus (g), Curtius (h), and Pausanias (i); perhaps the same Herodian (k) calls Belis, and says some take him to be Apollo; for more of him; see Gill on Isaiah 46:1; and See Gill on Jeremiah 50:2; who was punished when his temple was demolished, and plundered of its wealth; this golden image of Belus was broke to pieces, and the gold of it carried away. The Targum is,
"I will visit or punish them that worship Bel in Babylon:''
and I will bring forth out of his mouth that which he hath swallowed up; the rich offerings made to him when victories were obtained; all success being ascribed to him; and the spoils of conquered enemies, which were brought and laid up in his temple, particularly the vessels of the sanctuary at Jerusalem, which were deposited there; see 2 Chronicles 36:7; and which were restored by Cyrus, Ezra 1:7; which restoration of them greatly fulfilled this prophecy; and was a refunding of what was lodged with him, or a vomiting what he had swallowed up; compare with this the story of "Bel and the dragon":
and the nations shall not flow together any more unto him; either to worship him, or bring their presents to him, to ingratiate themselves with the king of Babylon:
yea, the wall of Babylon shall fall; which Bel was not able to defend; and therefore should be deserted by his worshippers. The Targum renders it in the plural, the walls of Babylon; of which; see Gill on Jeremiah 51:58. Some think that not the wall of the city is here meant: but the temple of Bel, which was as a wall or fortress to the city; but now should fall, and be so no more; since it is not easy to give a reason why mention here should be made of the fall of the walls of the city; and seeing express mention is made of this afterwards.
(g) Var. Hist. l. 13. c. 3.((h) Hist. l. 5. c. 1.((i) L. 1. sive Attica, p. 29. (k) Hist. l. 8. c. 7.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
44. Bel … swallowed—in allusion to the many sacrifices to the idol which its priests pretended it swallowed at night; or rather, the precious gifts taken from other nations and offered to it (which it is said to have "swallowed"; compare "devoured," "swallowed," Jer 51:34; Jer 50:17), which it should have to disgorge (compare Jer 51:13; Jer 50:37). Of these gifts were the vessels of Jehovah's temple in Jerusalem (2Ch 36:7; Da 1:2). The restoration of these, as foretold here, is recorded in Ezr 1:7-11.
flow—as a river; fitly depicting the influx of pilgrims of all "nations" to the idol.
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