Jeremiah 25:12
And it shall come to pass, when seventy years are accomplished, that I will punish the king of Babylon, and that nation, saith the LORD, for their iniquity, and the land of the Chaldeans, and will make it perpetual desolations.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(12) I will punish the king of Babylon . . .—The words are omitted in the LXX. version of the chapter, which differs materially from the Hebrew text, and there are some internal grounds for suspecting it to be a later addition, possibly from the hand of the prophet himself, or, more probably, from that of Baruch as collecting and editing his writings, or of some later transcriber. In Jeremiah 25:26, as commonly interpreted, there is a prediction of the destruction of the king of Babylon veiled in enigmatic language. That we can understand well enough, if it was meant only for the initiated, but it is not easy to see why the same prophetic discourse should contain both the veiled and the open prediction. On the relation of the LXX. version to the Hebrew, see Introduction.

Jeremiah 25:12-14. When seventy years are accomplished, I will punish the king of Babylon — “God often punishes the persons whom he makes instruments of his vengeance upon others for those very things which they did by his appointment, because their intention was merely to carry on their own ambitious and cruel purposes, and not at all to fulfil God’s will, or advance his glory. So that the evil they did was altogether their own, and the good that was brought out of it was to be ascribed solely to God.” — Lowth. See notes on Isaiah 10:5-7. And that nation for their iniquity — For their pride, ambition, luxury, tyranny, and cruelty, as well as for their various idolatries, which, after Daniel’s interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dreams, and the miracles wrought by the God of Israel, in favour of Shadrach and his companions, not to mention the testimony borne to the true religion by many other pious Jews, were greatly aggravated, and without all excuse. And the land of the Chaldeans, and make it perpetual desolations — Chaldee was not reduced to desolation immediately upon the taking of Babylon, and the conquest of the country by the Medes and Persians, but its power was then broken, and the sources of its prosperity greatly diminished, and by degrees the country was turned into a solitude. Of the steps whereby this was effected, see notes on Isaiah 13:19-22, and Jeremiah 50:40. All that is written in this book, which Jeremiah hath prophesied against all nations — Those prophecies are meant which are to be found all together from chap. 46. to chap. 51. inclusively; and which the LXX. have introduced in this place. For many nations, &c., shall serve themselves of them also — Namely, the nations and kings who were confederates with Cyrus. Houbigant renders the clause, For powerful people, and mighty kings, shall reduce even those nations to servitude, and so, &c. And Blaney to nearly the same sense, thus: For of them, even of these, shall many nations and great kings exact service; and I will render, &c.

25:8-14 The fixing of the time during which the Jewish captivity should last, would not only confirm the prophecy, but also comfort the people of God, and encourage faith and prayer. The ruin of Babylon is foretold: the rod will be thrown into the fire when the correcting work is done. When the set time to favour Zion is come, Babylon shall be punished for their iniquity, as other nations have been punished for their sins. Every threatening of the Scripture will certainly be accomplished.Perpetual desolations - The ruins of Babylon form its only lasting memorial. 11. seventy years—(Jer 27:7). The exact number of years of Sabbaths in four hundred ninety years, the period from Saul to the Babylonian captivity; righteous retribution for their violation of the Sabbath (Le 26:34, 35; 2Ch 36:21). The seventy years probably begin from the fourth year of Jehoiakim, when Jerusalem was first captured, and many captives, as well as the treasures of the temple, were carried away; they end with the first year of Cyrus, who, on taking Babylon, issued an edict for the restoration of the Jews (Ezr 1:1). Daniel's seventy prophetic weeks are based on the seventy years of the captivity (compare Da 9:2, 24). When seventy years are accomplished; seventy years accounted from the time that the Jews were carried away in the time of Jeconiah or Jehoiachin, 2 Kings 24:15,16. This was fulfilled by Darius the king of Persia, Daniel 4:31. Of these seventy Nebuchadnezzar reigned thirty-six, 2 Kings 25:27, Evil-merodach thirty-two, and Belshazzar at least two, Daniel 8:1. Though God, whose all the creation is, and who is the Lord of all the hosts of his creatures, doth often make use of heathens and other wicked men to punish his own people, yet he will at last punish them too; and ordinarily when he doth punish them, it is with a more severe and grievous destruction than that by which he punisheth his people, Isaiah 27:7; thus he threatens to make the Chaldeans a perpetual desolation.

And it shall come to pass, when seventy years are accomplished,.... Which were accomplished in the first year of Cyrus: they began with the first year of Nebuchadnezzar, who reigned two years and two months with his father Nabopolassar; after that forty three years by himself; Evilmerodach two years: Neriglissar four years; Belshazzar or Nabonadius seventeen years; and Darius the Median two years; which all make sixty nine years and two months; and if ten months more be added to complete the said seventy years, it will carry the end of them to the first year of Cyrus (g). These years are differently reckoned by others; by Spanhemius, from the first of Nebuchadnezzar, or fourth of Jehoiakim, to the destruction of the city under Zedekiah, nineteen years; thence to the death of Nebuchadnezzar, twenty four; then Evilmerodach, two; then the reign of Neriglissar, including some months of Laborosoarchod, five; then the years of Nabonadius, or Belshazzar, seventeen; and from his death, or the taking of Babylon, to the death of Darius the Mede, two years; which make sixty nine, exclusive of the first of Cyrus; and comes to much the same as the former. By James Alting thus; from the eighteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar, complete, to his death, twenty six years; Evilmerodach, twenty three; Belshazzar, three; Darius the Mede, eighteen, after the destruction of the Babylonish empire; which seems very wrong; better, by Dr. Lightfoot, thus; Nebuchadnezzar, forty five current; Evilmerodach, twenty three; and Belshazzar, three (h). So the Jewish chronicle (i):

that I will punish the king of Babylon, and that nation, saith the Lord, for their iniquity; the king for his tyranny, and the nation for their idolatry; and both for these and other sins they were guilty of; for, though they did the will of God in carrying the Jews captive, they no doubt in their usage of them exceeded their commission, and were justly punishable for their iniquities. This is not to be understood of the present king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar; but of Nabonadius, or Belshazzar, whom the Lord punished by Cyrus; who appears to have been a very wicked man, and in the excess of not, profaning the vessels of the temple the night he was slain, Daniel 5:1;

and the land of the Chaldeans; and will make it perpetual desolations; even as other nations had been made by them, Jeremiah 25:9.

(g) See Prideaux's Connexion, par. 1. B. 2. p. 130. (h) Vid. Witsii Exercitat. 11. in Miscel. Sacr. tom. 2. p. 282, 283. (i) Seder Olam Rabba, c. 28. p. 81.

And it shall come to pass, when {i} seventy years are accomplished, that I will punish {k} the king of Babylon, and that nation, saith the LORD, for their iniquity, and the land of the Chaldeans, and will make it perpetual desolations.

(i) This revelation was for the confirmation of his prophecy because he told them of the time that they would enter and remain in captivity, 2Ch 36:22, Ezr 1:1, Jer 29:10, Da 9:2.

(k) For seeing the judgment began at his own house, the enemies must be punished most grievously, Eze 9:6, 1Pe 4:17.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
12–14. See end of introductory note to this section. Of these vv., 12 and 14, as well as the latter part of 13, cannot be a genuine part of Jeremiah’s prophecies, to be dated, like the earlier part of the passage, in “the 4th year of Jehoiakim,” but are subsequent insertions when the Book was virtually completed as at present. Jeremiah 25:12 seems constructed out of Jeremiah 29:10 (the assignment of the definite “seventy years” is shewn to be authentic there by the whole tenor of that ch.), where the Heb. “everlasting desolations” (as mg. here) is identical with that in this v. together with Jeremiah 51:26; Jeremiah 51:62. Moreover, (i) all three vv. form a break in the subject-matter, while Jeremiah 25:15 f. give the reason for the punishment not of Babylon (Jeremiah 25:12-14) but of Judah and the other nations (Jeremiah 25:11), and (ii) Jeremiah 25:13 implies that the prophecies against foreign nations (chs. 46–51) and in particular against Babylon (chs. 50, 51) were already included in the Book, whereas this last prophecy, if by Jeremiah at all, which may well be doubted (see introd. note there), was not placed in the collection till long after this date (see also on Jeremiah 51:59-64 for date of that portion). Jeremiah 25:14 (absent from LXX) appears to be made up from Jeremiah 27:7 and Jeremiah 50:29, Jeremiah 51:24. Thus from the word “astonishment” in Jeremiah 25:11 we should proceed at once (Jeremiah 25:13) “and I will bring … this book,” continuing direct with Jeremiah 25:15 “For, etc.”

Verses 12-29. - The judgment upon Judah and the nations. Verse 12. - Perpetual desolations. Thus, too, we read in Isaiah 13:20, that Babylon "shall never be inhabited." There is a dispute between Dr. Keith and Dr. Kay on the one side, and rationalistic commentators (e.g. Kuenen) on the other, whether these prophecies have received a circumstantial fulfillment. The truth is that authorities are not entirely agreed on the area covered by the site of Babylon. General Chesney remarks that, so far from being uninhabited, "A town of considerable population, villages, date groves, and gardens, are found still on the very site of ancient Babylon" (extracts from a private letter in B. W. Newton's 'Babylon: its Revival and Final Desolation,' pp. 38-42). Similarly M. Menant, a veteran French Assyriologist, remarks that "Hillah, according to M. Oppert, was a quarter of Babylon, probably that which was inhabited by the working population, without the precincts of the royal palaces. Numberless traces of ancient habitations indicate this origin of the modern town" ('Babylone,' p. 177). Mr. George Smith, however, in his 'Assyrian Discoveries,' simply states that, "A little to the south rose the town of Hillah," apparently assuming (what is impossible to prove, as the walls of Babylon have not yet been discovered) that Hillah lay just outside the city enclosure. But even he adds that it was "built with the bricks found in the old capital," which is, strictly speaking, inconsistent with the absolute abandonment of the site of Babylon implied in Isaiah 13:20-22. The dispute is an unfortunate one, as it tacitly implies that circumstantial fulfillments are necessary to the veracity of prophecy. The truth seems to lie in the mean between two opposing views. As a rule, the details of a prophetic description cannot be pressed; they are mainly imaginative elaborations of a great central truth or fact. Occasionally, however, regarding the prophecies in the light of gospel times, it is almost impossible not to observe that "the Spirit of Christ which was in" the prophets (1 Peter 1:11) has overruled their expressions, so that they correspond more closely to facts than could have been reasonably anticipated. Such superabundant favors to believers in inspiration occur repeatedly in the prophecies respecting Christ. They may, of course, occur elsewhere for a sufficient reason, but we have no right to be surprised if we do not meet with them. The general truth of the prophecy is that the empire of Babylon shall fall forever. As Dr. Payne Smith remarks, it was practically the work of one man (Nebuchadnezzar), and after his death it only lasted for a few years, during which its history is a series of murders and usurpations. Jeremiah 25:12The overthrow of the king of Babylon's sovereignty. - Jeremiah 25:12. "But when seventy years are accomplished, I will visit their iniquity upon the king of Babylon and upon that people, saith Jahveh, and upon the land of the Chaldeans, and will make it everlasting desolations. Jeremiah 25:13. And I bring upon that land all my words which I have spoken concerning it, all that is written in this book, that Jeremiah hath prophesied concerning all peoples. Jeremiah 25:14. For of them also shall many nations and great kings serve themselves, and I will requite them according to their doing and according to the work of their hands."

The punishment or visitation of its iniquity upon Babylon was executed when the city was taken, after a long and difficult siege, by the allied Medes and Persians under Cyrus' command. This was in b.c. 538, just 68 years after Jerusalem was taken by Nebuchadnezzar for the first time. From the time of the fall of Babylon the sovereignty passed to the Medes and Persians; so that the dominion of Babylon over Judah and the surrounding nations, taken exactly, last 68 years, for which the symbolically significant number 70 is used. The Masoretes have changed the Chet. הבאתי into הבאתי (Keri), because the latter is the usual form and is that which alone elsewhere occurs in Jeremiah, cf. Jeremiah 3:14; Jeremiah 36:31; Jeremiah 49:36.; whereas in Jeremiah 25:9 they have pointed הבאתים, because this form is found in Isaiah 56:7; Ezekiel 34:13, and Nehemiah 1:9. - The second half of the Jeremiah 25:13, from "all that is written" onwards, was not, of course, spoken by Jeremiah to the people, but was first added to explain "all my words," etc., when his prophecies were written down and published.

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