This and the following chapter contain a prophecy relating to the fall of Babylon, interspersed with several predictions relative to the restoration of Israel and Judah, who were to survive their oppressors, and, on their repentance, to be pardoned and brought to their own land. This chapter opens with a prediction of the complete destruction of all the Babylonish idols, and the utter desolation of Chaldea, through the instrumentality of a great northern nation, Jeremiah 50:1-3. Israel and Judah shall be reinstated in the land of their forefathers after the total overthrow of the great Babylonish empire, Jeremiah 50:4, Jeremiah 50:5. Very oppressive and cruel bondage of the Jewish people during the captivity, Jeremiah 50:6, Jeremiah 50:7. The people of God are commanded to remove speedily from Babylon, because an assembly of great nations are coming out of the north to desolate the whole land, Jeremiah 50:8-10. Babylon, the hammer of the whole earth, the great desolator of nations, shall itself become a desolation on account of its intolerable pride, and because of the iron yoke it has rejoiced to put upon a people whom a mysterious Providence had placed under its domination, vv. 11-34. The judgments which shall fall upon Chaldea, a country addicted to the grossest idolatry, and to every species of superstition, shall be most awful and general, as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, Jeremiah 50:35-40. Character of the people appointed to execute the Divine judgments upon the oppressors of Israel, Jeremiah 50:41-45. Great sensation among the nations at the very terrible and sudden fall of Babylon, Jeremiah 50:46.
The word that the LORD spake against Babylon and against the land of the Chaldeans by Jeremiah the prophet.The Word that the Lord Spake Against Babylon - This is also a new head of discourse.
The prophecy contained in this and the following chapter was sent to the captives in Babylon in the fourth year of the reign of Zedekiah. They are very important; they predict the total destruction of the Babylonish empire, and the return of the Jews from their captivity. These chapters were probably composed, with several additions, out of the book that was then sent by Jeremiah to the captives by the hand of Seraiah. See Jeremiah 51:59-64.
Declare ye among the nations, and publish, and set up a standard; publish, and conceal not: say, Babylon is taken, Bel is confounded, Merodach is broken in pieces; her idols are confounded, her images are broken in pieces.Declare ye among the nations - God's determination relative to this empire.
Set up a standard - Show the people where they are to assemble.
Say, Babylon is taken - It is a thing so firmly determined, that it is as good as already done.
Bel - The tutelar deity of Babylon is confounded, because it cannot save its own city.
Merodach - Another of their idols, is broken to pieces; it was not able to save itself, much less the whole empire.
Her idols are confounded - It is a reproach to have acknowledged them.
Her images - Great and small, golden and wooden, are broken to pieces; even the form of them no longer appears.
For out of the north there cometh up a nation against her, which shall make her land desolate, and none shall dwell therein: they shall remove, they shall depart, both man and beast.Out of the north there cometh up a nation - The Medes, who formed the chief part of the army of Cyrus, lay to the north or north-east of Babylon.
Shall make her land desolate - This war, and the consequent taking of the city, began those disasters that brought Babylon in process of time to complete desolation; so that now it is not known where it stood, the whole country being a total solitude.
In those days, and in that time, saith the LORD, the children of Israel shall come, they and the children of Judah together, going and weeping: they shall go, and seek the LORD their God.In those days, and in that time - In the times in which Babylon shall be opposed by the Medes and Persians, both Israel and Judah, seeing the commencement of the fulfilling of the prophecies, shall begin to seek the Lord with much prayer, and broken and contrite hearts. When the decree of Cyrus comes, they shall be ready to set off for their own country, deploring their offenses, yet rejoicing in the mercy of God which has given them this reviving in their bondage.
They shall ask the way to Zion with their faces thitherward, saying, Come, and let us join ourselves to the LORD in a perpetual covenant that shall not be forgotten.Let us join ourselves to the Lord in a perpetual covenant - All our former covenants have been broken; let us now make one that shall last for ever. He shall be the Lord Our God, and We will no more worship idols. This covenant they have kept to the present day; whatever their present moral and spiritual state may be, they are no idolaters, in the gross sense of the term.
The description that is here given of the state of this people, their feelings and their conduct, finely exhibit the state of real penitents, who are fervently seeking the salvation of their souls.
1. In those days when Jesus Christ is manifested in the flesh; and in that time, when through him is preached the remission of sins, and the people who hear are pricked in their conscience.
2. The children of Israel and the children of Judah together. - No distinctions being then felt or attended to; for all feel themselves sinners, who have come short of the glory of God. Even national distinctions and religious differences, which bind men fastest, and hold them longest, are absorbed in the deep and overpowering concern they feel for their eternal interests.
3. Going and weeping shall they go. - Religious sorrow does not preclude activity and diligence. While they are weeping for their sins, they are going on in the path of duty, seeking the Lord while he may be found, and calling upon him while he is near.
4. They shall ask the way to Zion. - Real penitents are the most inquisitive of all mortals; but their inquiries are limited to one object, they ask the way to Zion. What shall we do to be saved? How shall we shun the perdition of ungodly men, etc.
5. With their faces thitherward. - They have turned from sin, and turned To God. They have left the paths of the destroyer, and their hearts are towards God, and the remembrance of his name. Thus they are profiting by that light which has convinced them of sin, righteousness, and judgment.
6. Come, and let us join ourselves to the Lord. - Religion is a social principle, and begets a social feeling in the soul. No man who feels his own sore, and the plague of his heart, wishes to venture alone in the way to heaven. He feels he wants counsel, support, comfort and the company of those who will watch over him in love. Like David, the true penitent is a companion of all those who fear the Lord. These heavenly feelings come from one and the same Spirit, and lead to the same end; hence they say, -
7. Let us join ourselves to the Lord in a perpetual covenant. It is said, that to be undecided, is to be decided. They who are not determined to go to heaven, will never reach it. If the heart be not laid under obligation, it will do nothing. "I hope I am in earnest; I trust I shall be in earnest about the salvation of my soul, it is very proper I should be so;" and such like, show an irresolute soul. Such persons are ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.
Let us therefore bind ourselves. We have trifled too long; been indecisive too long; have halted too long between two opinions. We know now that Jehovah is God; let us, therefore, enter into a covenant with him. Let this covenant be a perpetual one: let us not make it for a day, for any particular time, but for ever; and let it never be broken. Let our part be kept inviolable: we Are and Will Be thy people; and God's part will never fail, I Am and Will Be your God.
The covenant requires a sacrifice. - Hence ברית berith signifies both. Christ crucified is the great covenant sacrifice. By him God becomes united to us, and through him we become united to God.
My people hath been lost sheep: their shepherds have caused them to go astray, they have turned them away on the mountains: they have gone from mountain to hill, they have forgotten their restingplace.My people hath been lost sheep - He pities them; for their pastors, kings, and prophets have caused them to err.
They have gone from mountain to hill - In all high places they have practiced idolatry.
All that found them have devoured them: and their adversaries said, We offend not, because they have sinned against the LORD, the habitation of justice, even the LORD, the hope of their fathers.Their adversaries said, We offend not - God has abandoned them; we are only fulfilling his designs in plaguing them.
Remove out of the midst of Babylon, and go forth out of the land of the Chaldeans, and be as the he goats before the flocks.Remove out of the midst of Babylon - The sentence of destruction is gone out against it; prepare for your flight, that ye be not overwhelmed in its ruin.
Be as the he-goats before the flocks - Who always run to the head of the flock, giving the example for others to follow. This may be addressed to the elders and persons of authority among the people.
For, lo, I will raise and cause to come up against Babylon an assembly of great nations from the north country: and they shall set themselves in array against her; from thence she shall be taken: their arrows shall be as of a mighty expert man; none shall return in vain.An assembly of great nations - The army of Cyrus was composed of Medes, Persians, Armenians, Caducians, Sacae, etc. Though all these did not come from the north; yet they were arranged under the Medes, who did come from the north, in reference to Babylon.
Their arrows - They are such expert archers, that they shall never miss their mark.
And Chaldea shall be a spoil: all that spoil her shall be satisfied, saith the LORD.Chaldea shall be a spoil - She has been a spoiler, and she shall be spoiled. They had destroyed Judea, God's heritage; and now God shall cause her to be destroyed.
Because ye were glad, because ye rejoiced, O ye destroyers of mine heritage, because ye are grown fat as the heifer at grass, and bellow as bulls;As the heifer at grass - Ye were wanton in the desolations ye brought upon Judea.
Your mother shall be sore confounded; she that bare you shall be ashamed: behold, the hindermost of the nations shall be a wilderness, a dry land, and a desert.Your mother - Speaking to the Chaldeans: Babylon, the metropolis, or mother city, shall be a wilderness, a dry land, a desert, neither fit for man nor beast.
Because of the wrath of the LORD it shall not be inhabited, but it shall be wholly desolate: every one that goeth by Babylon shall be astonished, and hiss at all her plagues.
Put yourselves in array against Babylon round about: all ye that bend the bow, shoot at her, spare no arrows: for she hath sinned against the LORD.
Shout against her round about: she hath given her hand: her foundations are fallen, her walls are thrown down: for it is the vengeance of the LORD: take vengeance upon her; as she hath done, do unto her.Shout against her round about - Encompass her with lines and with troops; let none go in with relief, none come out to escape from her ruin.
Cut off the sower from Babylon, and him that handleth the sickle in the time of harvest: for fear of the oppressing sword they shall turn every one to his people, and they shall flee every one to his own land.Cut off the sower - Destroy the gardens and the fields, that there may be neither fruits nor tillage.
Israel is a scattered sheep; the lions have driven him away: first the king of Assyria hath devoured him; and last this Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon hath broken his bones.Israel - All the descendants of Jacob have been harassed and spoiled, first by the Assyrians, and afterwards by the Chaldeans. They acted towards them as a lion to a sheep which he has caught; first he devours all the flesh, next he breaks all the bones to extract the marrow.
Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will punish the king of Babylon and his land, as I have punished the king of Assyria.As I have punished the king of Assyria - The Assyrians were overthrown by the Medes and the Chaldeans. The king is here taken for all their kings, generals, etc., Tiglath-pileser, Shalmaneser, Sennacherib, Esar-haddon, etc. To them succeeded the Chaldean or Babylonish kings. Nebuchadnezzar came against Judea several times; and at last took the city and burnt it, profaned and demolished the temple, wasted the land, and carried the princes and people into captivity.
And I will bring Israel again to his habitation, and he shall feed on Carmel and Bashan, and his soul shall be satisfied upon mount Ephraim and Gilead.I will bring Israel again - This seems to refer wholly to the ten tribes; for Carmel, Bashan, Mount Ephraim, and Gilead, were in their territories.
In those days, and in that time, saith the LORD, the iniquity of Israel shall be sought for, and there shall be none; and the sins of Judah, and they shall not be found: for I will pardon them whom I reserve.In those days and in that time - This phrase appears to take in the whole of an epoch, from its commencement to its end. See Jeremiah 50:4.
I will pardon them - So as to deliver them from their captivity, and exact no more punishment from them whom I reserve, namely, the remnant left in the Babylonish captivity.
Go up against the land of Merathaim, even against it, and against the inhabitants of Pekod: waste and utterly destroy after them, saith the LORD, and do according to all that I have commanded thee.Go up against the land of Merathaim - and against the inhabitants of Pekod - No such places as these are to be found any where else; and it is not likely that places are at all meant. The ancient Versions agree in rendering the first as an appellative, and the last as a verb, except the Chaldee, which has Pekod as a proper name. Dr. Blayney translates: -
"Against the land of bitternesses, go up:
Upon it, and upon its inhabitants, visit, O sword!"
Dr. Dahler renders thus: -
"March against the country doubly rebellious,
And against its inhabitants worthy of punishment."
The latter of these two versions I take to be the most literal. The words are addressed to the Medes and Persians; and the country is Chaldea, doubly rebellious by its idolatry and its insufferable pride. In these two, it was exceeded by no other land.
A sound of battle is in the land, and of great destruction.
How is the hammer of the whole earth cut asunder and broken! how is Babylon become a desolation among the nations!The hammer of the whole earth - Nebuchadnezzar dashed to pieces the nations against whom he warred. He was the scourge of the Lord.
I have laid a snare for thee, and thou art also taken, O Babylon, and thou wast not aware: thou art found, and also caught, because thou hast striven against the LORD.I have laid a snare for thee - It was not by storm that Cyrus took the city. The Euphrates ran through it; he dug a channel for the river in another direction, to divert its stream; he waited for that time in which the inhabitants had delivered themselves up to debauchery: in the dead of the night he turned off the stream, and he and his army entered by the old channel, now void of its waters. This was the snare of which the prophet here speaks. See Nerodotus, lib. i., c. 191.
The LORD hath opened his armoury, and hath brought forth the weapons of his indignation: for this is the work of the Lord GOD of hosts in the land of the Chaldeans.
Come against her from the utmost border, open her storehouses: cast her up as heaps, and destroy her utterly: let nothing of her be left.Open her store-houses - At the time that Cyrus took the city, it was full of provisions and treasures of all kinds; the walls had suffered no injury; and when the inhabitants heard that the enemy was within, they thought they must have arisen out of the earth in the center of the city!
Slay all her bullocks; let them go down to the slaughter: woe unto them! for their day is come, the time of their visitation.Slay all her bullocks - Princes, magistrates, etc., etc.
The voice of them that flee and escape out of the land of Babylon, to declare in Zion the vengeance of the LORD our God, the vengeance of his temple.Declare in Zion the vengeance of the Lord - Zion was desolated by Babylon; tell Zion that God hath desolated the desolator.
The vengeance of his temple - Which Nebuchadnezzar had pillaged, profaned, and demolished, transporting its sacred vessels to Babylon, and putting them in the temple of his god Bel.
Call together the archers against Babylon: all ye that bend the bow, camp against it round about; let none thereof escape: recompense her according to her work; according to all that she hath done, do unto her: for she hath been proud against the LORD, against the Holy One of Israel.Call together the archers - The preceding verses are the prediction: here, God calls the Medes and Persians to fulfill it.
Therefore shall her young men fall in the streets, and all her men of war shall be cut off in that day, saith the LORD.
Behold, I am against thee, O thou most proud, saith the Lord GOD of hosts: for thy day is come, the time that I will visit thee.O thou most proud - זדון zadon. Pride in the abstract; proudest of all people.
And the most proud shall stumble and fall, and none shall raise him up: and I will kindle a fire in his cities, and it shall devour all round about him.And the most proud - זדון zadon, as before. Here pride is personified and addressed, as if possessing a being and rational powers.
Thus saith the LORD of hosts; The children of Israel and the children of Judah were oppressed together: and all that took them captives held them fast; they refused to let them go.
Their Redeemer is strong; the LORD of hosts is his name: he shall throughly plead their cause, that he may give rest to the land, and disquiet the inhabitants of Babylon.Their Redeemer is strong - And it was not that he wanted power, and that Nebuchadnezzar had much, that Jerusalem was taken; but because the people had sinned, and would not return; and therefore national sins called for national punishments. These have taken place; and now the Lord of hosts shows them that the power of the Chaldeans is mere weakness against his might.
A sword is upon the Chaldeans, saith the LORD, and upon the inhabitants of Babylon, and upon her princes, and upon her wise men.A sword - War and its calamities, or any grievous plague; and so in the following verses.
A sword is upon the liars; and they shall dote: a sword is upon her mighty men; and they shall be dismayed.
A sword is upon their horses, and upon their chariots, and upon all the mingled people that are in the midst of her; and they shall become as women: a sword is upon her treasures; and they shall be robbed.
A drought is upon her waters; and they shall be dried up: for it is the land of graven images, and they are mad upon their idols.A drought is upon her waters - May not this refer to the draining of the channel of the Euphrates, by which the army of Cyrus entered the city. See on Jeremiah 50:24 (note). The original is, however, חרב chereb, a sword, as in the preceding verses, which signifies war, or any calamity by which the thing on which it falls is ruined.
Therefore the wild beasts of the desert with the wild beasts of the islands shall dwell there, and the owls shall dwell therein: and it shall be no more inhabited for ever; neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation.The wild beasts of the desert - Dahler translates these various terms, "The wild cats, the jackals, and the ostriches." And Blayney the same. Wicklif, "Dragons, woodewoses, and ostriches." Coverdale, "Wild beestes, apes, and estriches."
As God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah and the neighbour cities thereof, saith the LORD; so shall no man abide there, neither shall any son of man dwell therein.As God overthrew Sodom - As the very ground on which these cities stood, with all the plain, now lies under the Dead Sea; so Babylon and the adjacent country shall be rendered totally barren and unfruitful, and utterly incapable of being inhabited. And this is the fact concerning both countries. See Jeremiah 49:18.
Behold, a people shall come from the north, and a great nation, and many kings shall be raised up from the coasts of the earth.Behold, a people shall come from the north - This and the two following verses are nearly the same with Jeremiah 6:22-24. But here, destroyers against Babylon are intended; there, destroyers against Jerusalem.
They shall hold the bow and the lance: they are cruel, and will not shew mercy: their voice shall roar like the sea, and they shall ride upon horses, every one put in array, like a man to the battle, against thee, O daughter of Babylon.
The king of Babylon hath heard the report of them, and his hands waxed feeble: anguish took hold of him, and pangs as of a woman in travail.
Behold, he shall come up like a lion from the swelling of Jordan unto the habitation of the strong: but I will make them suddenly run away from her: and who is a chosen man, that I may appoint over her? for who is like me? and who will appoint me the time? and who is that shepherd that will stand before me?Behold, he shall came up like a lion - The same words as in Jeremiah 49:19 (note), etc., where see the note.
Therefore hear ye the counsel of the LORD, that he hath taken against Babylon; and his purposes, that he hath purposed against the land of the Chaldeans: Surely the least of the flock shall draw them out: surely he shall make their habitation desolate with them.
At the noise of the taking of Babylon the earth is moved, and the cry is heard among the nations.At the noise of the taking of Babylon - See the note on the parallel place, Jeremiah 49:21 (note). In the forty-ninth chapter, these words are spoken of Nebuchadnezzar; here, of Cyrus. The taking of Babylon was a wonder to all the surrounding nations. It was thought to be impregnable.