Jeremiah 49:1
Concerning the Ammonites, thus saith the LORD; Hath Israel no sons? hath he no heir? why then doth their king inherit Gad, and his people dwell in his cities?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
XLIX.

(1) Concerning the Ammonites.—The history of this people was, to a great extent, parallel with that of the Moabites. They had been conquered by Sihon, the great Amorite king, and when that monarch was, in his turn, conquered by the Israelites (Numbers 21:21-31) their territory was assigned to the tribes of Gad and Reuben (Numbers 32:34-38). In Judges 11:12-33 we have the record of an unsuccessful attempt to recover their lost territory, and like attempts appear to have been made by Nahash (1Samuel 11:1-11), and Hanun (2Samuel 10:6-14; 2Samuel 12:26-31). On the deportation of the Trans-jordanic tribes by Tiglath-pileser (2Kings 15:29; 1Chronicles 5:6; 1Chronicles 5:26), they made a more successful effort, and their king Baalis appears as prompting the conspiracy of Ishmael, the son of Nethaniah (Jeremiah 40:14). The prophecy on which we now enter was probably delivered before that time, in or about the fourth year of Jehoiakim (Jeremiah 25:21). Its opening words recall the long-standing territorial controversy. “Had Israel no heir?” Was the land he had occupied so long to pass into the possession of a stranger?

Why then doth their king inherit Gad . . .?—Better, with the margin and all the older versions, Melcom. The name, all but identical with the “Malcham” of Zephaniah 1:5, and connected with Moloch, was that of the god of the Ammonites, as Chemosh was that of the Moabite deity. He, as his very name implied, was their true king; and the complaint of the prophet is that he inherits Gad, which had been in the possession of Israel.

Jeremiah 49:1. Hath Israel no sons? Why then doth their king inherit Gad? — Is there no posterity of Israel, that the king of the Ammonites hath taken possession of Gad, as if he had a right to it, and his people dwell in the cities of it? Instead of their king, here, Blaney reads Milcom, and Dr. Waterland and Houbigant Malkam, the idol of the Ammonites. “God sorely afflicted those parts of the kingdom of Israel that lay eastward of Jordan, first by Hazael, 2 Kings 10:33; afterward by Tiglath-pileser, chap. 2 Kings 15:29; and then delivered up the whole kingdom to be carried captive by Shalmaneser, chap. 17.; after which, it is probable, the Ammonites took occasion to possess themselves of Gad, that lay near their territories. But God’s dispossessing the Israelites gave the Ammonites no right to invade their inheritance, (see Zephaniah 2:8,) especially as they had been so tender of the Ammonites’ right as not to invade their possessions in their march toward the land of Canaan.” See Lowth, and Deuteronomy 4:19; 2 Chronicles 20:10. It is probable, as the king of Ammon had instigated Ishmael to kill Gedaliah, that the reason which induced Nebuchadnezzar to make war upon the Ammonites was to revenge that murder.

49:1-6. Might often prevails against right among men, yet that might shall be controlled by the Almighty, who judges aright; and those will find themselves mistaken, who, like the Ammonites, think every thing their own on which they can lay their hands. The Lord will call men to account for every instance of dishonesty, especially to the destitute.Hath Israel no sons? - i. e., the Ammonites in seizing Gilead have acted as if the country had no rightful owner. The sons of Israel were to return from captivity, and the land was their hereditary property.

Their king - Milcom (and in Jeremiah 49:3), see the margin. The Ammonite god stands for the Ammonites just as Chemosh Jeremiah 48:7 is the equivalent of the Moabites.

Inherit - i. e., take possession of.

CHAPTER 49

Jer 49:1-39. Predictions as to Ammon, Idumea, Damascus, Kedar, Hazor, and Elam.

The event of the prophecy as to Ammon preceded that as to Moab (see on [989]Jer 49:3); and in Eze 21:26-28, the destruction of Ammon is subjoined to the deposition of Zedekiah.

1. Hath Israel … no heir?—namely, to occupy the land of Gad, after it itself has been carried away captive by Shalmaneser. Ammon, like Moab, descended from Lot, lay north of Moab, from which it was separated by the river Arnon, and east of Reuben and Gad (Jos 13:24, 25) on the same side of Jordan. It seized on Gad when Israel was carried captive. Judah was by the right of kindred the heir, not Ammon; but Ammon joined with Nebuchadnezzar against Judah and Jerusalem (2Ki 24:2) and exulted over its fall (Ps 83:4-7, 8; Zep 2:8, 9). It had already, in the days of Jeroboam, in Israel's affliction, tried to "enlarge its border" (2Ki 14:26; Am 1:1, 13).

their king—(Am 1:15); referring to Melchom, their tutelary idol (Zep 1:5); and so the Septuagint reads it here as a proper name (1Ki 11:5, 33; 2Ki 23:13). The Ammonite god is said to do what they do, namely, occupy the Israelite land of Gad. To Jehovah, the theocratic "King" of Israel, the land belonged of right; so that their Molech or Melchom was a usurper-king.

his people—the people of Melchom, "their king." Compare "people of Chemosh," Jer 48:46.The judgment of the Ammonites, Jeremiah 49:1-5: their restoration, Jeremiah 49:6. The judgment of Edom, Jeremiah 49:7-22; of Damascus, Jeremiah 49:23-27; of Kedar and Hazor, Jeremiah 49:28-33; of Elam, and its restoration, Jeremiah 49:34-39.

The Ammonites were the posterity of Ben-ammi, Lot’s incestuous child, by his younger daughter, Genesis 19:38. Their country was near the Jews’ country. The Jews, in their journey from Egypt to Canaan to possess it, passed by their country, but were by God forbidden to meddle with it, because he had given it to the children of Lot, Deu 2:19; but they proved bad neighbours to the Israelites when in Canaan. They assisted the king of Moab against them, Judges 3:13, and made war against them, Judges 10:9 11:4. Nahash their king made an inroad upon them, 1 Samuel 12:12. David fought with them in his time, 2 Samuel 8:12, and destroyed them, 2 Samuel 11:1. Jehoshaphat also and Jotham fought with them, 2 Chronicles 20:1 27:5. During the long tract of time that there were wars betwixt the Jews and Ammonites, the laud of Gad and Reuben, which lay beyond Jordan, fell into the hand of the Syrians, Moabites, and Ammonites (whence it is that in the former chapter we read of many cities of Moab, which were, upon the division of Canaan, in the lot of Gad and Reuben). This prophecy cannot be well understood without a previous understanding this. Hence it is that the prophet saith, Hath Israel no sons? God had given that country of Gilead to Manasseh, and Reuben, and Gad, Numbers 32:40 Joshua 13:29-31; and as men’s estates ought to descend to their heirs, so this land should have continued and descended to the posterity of these tribes, but the Ammonites had by force taken away a part, and Melcom possessed it. Melcom is their king, or the name of their idol to whom they gave the name of king, as other heathens called their idol Baal, that is, lord. And the people of the king of the Ammonites, or of Melcom the idol of the Ammonites, dwelt in the cities belonging to Gad, which was one of the tribes of Israel.

Concerning the Ammonites, thus saith the Lord,.... Or, "to the Ammonites" (u); or, "against" them (w); it will bear to be rendered either way, and all is true; for what is said by the Lord, as follows, is concerning them, their sins, and their punishment, and is directed to them, and is a threatening against them:

hath Israel no sons? hath he no heir? certainly he has, and who ought to possess the land; this is to be understood not of the ten tribes, sometimes called Israel, as distinct from the other two; for these had been long ago carried captive, and left no heirs of their tribes; but of all Israel, including the tribes of Judah and Benjamin; who, though their brethren of the ten tribes were carried captive, and left no children to inherit, yet, being next in blood, were the lawful heirs of their lands and possessions:

why then doth their king inherit Gad? that part of the land of Israel which belonged to the tribe of Gad; this, when the ten tribes were carried captive by the king of Assyria, and the Gadites among the rest, was seized on by the Ammonites, with their king at the head of them, lying near unto them; who might also pretend relation, as being the children of Lot, the brother's son of Abraham; or claim it, as having been their own formerly, and so were the lawful heirs of it, as they imagined; when it of right belonged to the children of Judah and Benjamin: or, "why doth Malcam inherit Gad?" (x) the same with Milcom or Molech, the abomination of the Ammonites, the idol they worshipped, 1 Kings 11:5; so Jarchi interprets it. The Ammonites having got possession of the land, set up their idol in it, where temples were built for him, and altars erected, and sacrifices offered to him, so that he might be said to inherit it; and which must be very offensive to, and highly resented by, the God of Israel:

and his people dwelt in his cities: the Ammonites dwelt in the cities belonging to the tribe of Gad, as if they were their own; who are called the people of Milcom, or Molech, just as the Moabites are called the people of Chemosh, from the idol they worshipped, Jeremiah 48:46.

(u) "ad filios Ammon", V. L. Pagninus, Montanus. (w) "Contra filios Ammonis", Schmidt; "de vel contra", Vatablus; "contra", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator. (x) "cur igitur haereditate possedit Melchom Gad?" V. L. Lutherus, Sanctius, Castalio.

Concerning the {a} Ammonites, thus saith the LORD; Hath Israel no sons? hath he no heir? why then doth their king {b} inherit Gad, and his people dwell in {c} his cities?

(a) They were separated from the Moabites by the river Arnon, and after the ten tribes were carried away into captivity, they invaded the country of Gad.

(b) That is, of the Ammonites.

(c) Meaning, of the Israelites.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
1. Hath Israel no sons?] The style is quite that of Jeremiah (e.g. Jeremiah 2:14).

Malcam] mg. (less well), their king; and so in Jeremiah 49:3. He was the god of Ammon. See 1 Kings 11:5. The word should be written as LXX, Syr., Vulg. Milcom (and so in Jeremiah 49:3).

possess] better, as mg. inherit; so in Jeremiah 49:3.

Verses 1-3. - The violence of the Ammonites shall be severely punished. Verse 1. - Hath Israel no sons! The violent seizure, perpetrated before his eyes, of parts of the sacred territory, forces the indignant question from the prophet, "How can these things be?" It was so on a former occasion (see Jeremiah 2:14), and it is so again, now that the Ammonites are occupying the land of the Gadites. True, the present generation has lost its property, but the next is the heir to all its rights and privileges. Their king; rather, their King - their Melech or Moloch; it is the heavenly, not the earthly king who is referred to (so in Amos 1:15; Zephaniah 1:5). The Septuagint, the Syriac, and the Vulgate, however, read Milcom, which was the name of the Ammonite deity; this is only a different vocalizing of the consonants of the text. The actual vowel points give "malcam." This reading may, of course, be interpreted of the earthly king of the Ammonites. But this view ignores the obvious parallelism of Jeremiah 48:7, "Chemosh shall go forth into captivity." Inherit. The primary meaning of the word is "to take possession of, especially by force, 1 Kings 21:6" (Gesenius, ad voc.), and this is the sense evidently required here (comp. Jeremiah 8:10). Jeremiah 49:1"Concerning the children of Ammon, thus saith Jahveh: Hath Israel no sons, or hath he no heir? Why doth their king inherit Gad, and his people dwell in his cities? Jeremiah 49:2. Therefore, behold, days are coming, saith Jahveh, when I will cause to be heard against Rabbah of the children of Ammon a war-cry; and it shall become a heap of ruins, and her daughters shall be burned with fire: and Israel shall heir those who heired him, saith Jahveh. Jeremiah 49:3. Howl, O Heshbon! for Ai is laid waste. Cry! ye daughters of Rabbah, gird yourselves with sackcloth; lament, and run up and down among the enclosures: for their king shall go into captivity, his priests and his princes together. Jeremiah 49:4. Why dost thou glory in the valleys? Thy valley flows away, O thou rebellious daughter, that trusted in her treasures, [saying], Who shall come to me? Jeremiah 49:5. Behold, I will bring a fear upon thee, saith the Lord Jahveh of hosts, from all that is round thee; and ye shall be driven each one before him, and there shall be none to gather together the fugitives. Jeremiah 49:6. But afterwards I will turn the captivity of the children of Ammon, saith Jahveh."

The address begins with a question full of reproach: "Has Israel, then, no sons who could take possession of his land as their inheritance, that the king of the Ammonites has taken possession of Gad (i.e., of the hereditary portion of the tribe of Gad), and dwells in the cities of Gad?" The question presupposes that the Israelites had been carried away by Tiglath-pileser, but at the same time, also, that the country still belongs to the Gadites, for they certainly have sons who shall again receive the inheritance of their fathers. Since Jeremiah, as is clear from Jeremiah 49:3, had Amos 1:13-15 in his mind, he evidently uses מלכּם in a double sense, not merely in Jeremiah 49:3, but even in Jeremiah 49:1 also, with a reference to Amos 1:15, meaning the king and god of the Ammonites. As in Amos, Aquila, Symmachus, Jerome, and the Syriac, so in this passage also, the lxx, Vulgate, and Syriac have understood מלכּם of the god מלכּם; with them agree Ewald, Hitzig, and Graf. But the reasons alleged for the change of מלכּם into מלכּם are quite as insufficient here as in Amos 1:15. Just as, in the last-named passage, מלכּם first of all refers to the king of the Ammonites, so is it here. It is not the god, but the king, of the Ammonites that has taken possession of the territory of Gad. It is not till Jeremiah 49:3 that the reference to the god Milcom plainly comes out. Jeremiah 49:2. Therefore shall Rabbah, the capital of the Ammonites, hear the cry of war, and be changed into a heap of ruins. רבּת בּני , "The great (city) of the sons of Ammon," is the full name of the Ammonite capital (cf. Deuteronomy 3:11), which is usually called, briefly, רבּה (Amos 1:14; 2 Samuel 11:1, etc.); it was afterwards called Philadelphia, probably after Ptolemy Philadelphus, in Polybius' ̔Ραββατάμανα, in Abulfeda Amn, which is the name still given to its ruins on the Nahr Ammn, i.e., the Upper Jabbok; see on Deuteronomy 3:11. "A cry of war," as in Jeremiah 4:19; cf. Amos 1:14. "A will of desolation," i.e., a heap of ruins; cf. Joshua 8:28; Deuteronomy 13:17. "her daughters" are the smaller cities dependent on the capital, - here, all the remaining cities of the Ammonites; cf. Numbers 21:25; Joshua 15:45, etc. "Israel shall heir those who heired him," i.e., receive back the property of those who have appropriated his land.

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