|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
51:59-64 This prophecy is sent to Babylon, to the captives there, by Seraiah, who is to read it to his countrymen in captivity. Let them with faith see the end of these threatening powers, and comfort themselves herewith. When we see what this world is, how glittering its shows, and how flattering its proposals, let us read in the book of the Lord that it shall shortly be desolate. The book must be thrown into the river Euphrates. The fall of the New Testament Babylon is thus represented, Re 18:21. Those that sink under the weight of God's wrath and curse, sink for ever. Babylon, and every antichrist, will soon sink and rise no more for ever. Let us hope in God's word, and quietly wait for his salvation; then we shall see, but shall not share, the destruction of the wicked.
Verses 59-64. - Epilogue. The word, etc. (see ver. 61). Seraiah. Apparently the brother of Baruch. With Zedekiah. The Septuagint has "from Zedekiah," which is referred by Bleek and Gratz. It would thus be an embassy, of which Seraiah was the head. According to the ordinary reading, Zedekiah went himself. A quiet prince. Not so. The Hebrew means probably, "in command over the resting place," i.e. he took charge of the royal caravan, and arranged the halting places. But the Targum and the Septuagint have a more probable reading (not, however, one involving a change in the consonants of the text, "in command over the gifts," i.e. the functionary who took charge of the presents made to the king. M. Lenormant speaks of an official called "magister largitionum" (bel tabti) in the Assyrian court ('Syllabaires Cundiformes,' par. 1877, p. 171).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
The word which Jeremiah the prophet commanded Seraiah,.... This word is no other than the above prophecy concerning the destruction of Babylon, contained in this and the preceding chapter; or rather the order the prophet gave this prince to take a copy of it with him to Babylon, and there read it, and their cast it into the river Euphrates, with a stone bound it. Of this Seraiah we read nowhere else: he is further described as
the son of Neriah, the son of Maaseiah, when he went with Zedekiah the king of Judah into Babylon, in the fourth year of his reign; the Jews say (i) that Zedekiah, in the fourth year of his reign, went to Babylon, to reconcile himself to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and took Seraiah with him, and returned and came to his kingdom in Jerusalem; but we have no account in Scripture of any such journey he took. The Septuagint and Arabic versions render it, "when he went from Zedekiah"; as this particle is sometimes (k) elsewhere rendered, Genesis 4:1; and so the Targum explains it,
"when he went on an embassy of Zedekiah;''
and Abarbinel, by the command of the king; it seems he was ambassador from the king of Judah to the king of Babylon upon some business or another; and Jeremiah took this opportunity of sending a copy of the above prophecy by him, for the ends before mentioned: this was in the fourth year of Zedekiah's reign, seven years before the destruction of Jerusalem, and sixty years before the taking of Babylon; so long before was it prophesied of. The Syriac version wrongly reads it "in the eleventh year"; the year of Jerusalem's destruction; supposing that Seraiah's going with Zedekiah to Babylon was his going with him into captivity:
and this Seraiah was a quiet prince; one of a peaceable disposition, that did not love war, or persecution of good men; and so a fit person for Zedekiah to send upon an embassy of peace; and for Jeremiah to employ in such service as he did; for, had he been a hot and haughty prince, he would have despised his orders and commands. Some render it, "prince of Menuchah" (l); taking it to be the proper name of a place of which he was governor; thought to be the same with Manahath, 1 Chronicles 8:6. The Targum and Septuagint version call him "the prince of gifts": one by whom such were introduced into the king's presence that brought treasure, gifts, or presents to him, as Jarchi interprets it; according to Kimchi, he was the king's familiar favourite, with whom he used to converse and delight himself when he was at rest and at leisure from business. Some take him to be the lord of the bedchamber, or lord chamberlain; and others lord chief justice of peace. The first sense seems most agreeable.
(i) Seder Olam Rabba, c. 25. p. 72, 73. (k) Vid. L'Empereur, Not. in Mosis Kimchii, p. 254, 255. & Noldii Concordant. Ebr, p. 114. No. 577. (l) "princeps Menuchae", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
59-64. A special copy of the prophecy prepared by Jeremiah was delivered to Seraiah, to console the Jews in their Babylonian exile. Though he was to throw it into the Euphrates, a symbol of Babylon's fate, no doubt he retained the substance in memory, so as to be able orally to communicate it to his countrymen.
went with Zedekiah—rather, "in behalf of Zedekiah"; sent by Zedekiah to appease Nebuchadnezzar's anger at his revolt [Calvin].
fourth year—so that Jeremiah's prediction of Babylon's downfall was thus solemnly written and sealed by a symbolical action, six whole years before the capture of Jerusalem by the Babylonians.
quiet prince—Compare 1Ch 22:9, "a man of rest." Seraiah was not one of the courtiers hostile to God's prophets, but "quiet" and docile; ready to execute Jeremiah's commission, notwithstanding the risk attending it. Glassius translates, "prince of Menuchah" (compare 1Ch 2:52, Margin). Maurer translates, "commander of the caravan," on whom it devolved to appoint the resting-place for the night. English Version suits the context best.
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