Jeremiah 49:23
Concerning Damascus. Hamath is confounded, and Arpad: for they have heard evil tidings: they are fainthearted; there is sorrow on the sea; it cannot be quiet.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(23) Concerning Damascus.—Damascus is named as the capital of Aram, or Syria. The kingdom first became powerful under Rezon after David’s death (1Kings 11:23-24). In the history of 1 and 2 Kings we find it engaged in constant wars against Israel and Judah (1Kings 22:1; 2Kings 6:8) or in alliance with Israel against Judah (1Kings 15:19; 2Kings 16:5-6). The last of these alliances was the memorable confederacy of Isaiah 7:2, between Rezin and Pekah. That ended, as Isaiah foretold, in the subjugation of Damascus by the Assyrians (2Kings 16:9). And so the Syrians continued subject till the downfall of the Assyrian Empire, when they naturally fell before the power of Nebuchadnezzar. The language of the prophet is vague, but probably points to his attack.

Hamath is confounded, and Arpad.—The former town was originally pointed out as the northern limit of the territory of Israel (Numbers 34:8), and this was attained under Solomon (2Chronicles 8:4). It lies in a strong position in the valley of the Orontes, and under the name of Hamah is still a flourishing city with 30,000 inhabitants, Arpad, always joined with Hamath (Isaiah 10:9; Isaiah 36:19; Isaiah 37:13), must at the time have been nearly as important. The name Arpaddu has been found in cuneiform inscriptions, and its site has been placed at about fourteen miles north of Aleppo. For further details see Notes on Isaiah 10:9.

There is sorrow on the sea; it cannot be quiet.—The mention of the sea in connexion with Damascus presents some difficulty. The most simple solution is probably the truest. The terror that prevails at Damascus is thought of as extending to the sea (i.e., to the Mediterranean), possibly with special reference to its commerce with Tyre (Ezekiel 27:18). All is restless and unquiet as the sea itself. The last clause seems like a reminiscence of Isaiah 57:20. Many MSS. give the various reading “like the sea,” which would make the parallelism more complete.

Jeremiah 49:23. Concerning Damascus — “Damascus was the capital of the kingdom of Syria: and had seemingly at this time swallowed up all the other petty sovereignties of that country. Isaiah had before uttered a prophecy concerning it, of a calamitous import, (chap. 17,) which had been fulfilled by Tiglath-pileser’s taking it, and carrying the people captive to Kir, 2 Kings 16:9. Amos also had foretold the same event, Amos 1:3-5. But it had recovered itself after the fall of the Assyrian empire, and is here doomed to suffer again the like calamities from the resentment of Nebuchadnezzar, probably about the same time with the other neighbouring nations: see note on chap. Jeremiah 48:1. Hamath is confounded, and Arpad — Hamath and Arpad are elsewhere joined together: see 2 Kings 18:34; 2 Kings 19:13; Isaiah 10:9. Hamath was the capital of a part of Syria. bearing the same name, and which formed once an independent kingdom. It was situate on the northern frontier of the land of Israel, Whence we find frequent mention of the entrance of Hamath, Numbers 34:8, &c. The city of Hamath, Josephus tells us, was that which the Macedonians afterward called Epiphania: Ant., lib. 1. cap. 6. And Jerome, in his commentary on Isaiah 10:9, says the same. Hemath, quam Syri usque hodie Epiphanium vocant — Aphad, or Arvad, is with good reason held to be the island of Aradus, in the Mediterranean sea; as those who are called הארודי, Genesis 10:18, are by the LXX. rendered Αραδιοι, in the Vulgate, Aradii. This island was not far from the shore, and nearly opposite to Hamath.” — Blaney. They heard evil tidings — Tidings of the approach of a hostile army; they are faint-hearted — Their courage fails them. Their sorrow is on the sea — Or, as on the sea, namely, when a storm arises and the sea is tempestuous. Houbigant reads, They fluctuate as the sea; they cannot be at rest: compare Isaiah 57:20-21. But Blaney renders נמגו נים דאגה, They are melted into a sea of solicitude: observing, “This is a literal translation of the text; and appears to me preferable in sense to any of the interpretations I have hitherto met with.”49:23-27 How easily God can dispirit those nations that have been most celebrated for valour! Damascus waxes feeble. It was a city of joy, having all the delights of the sons of men. But those deceive themselves who place their happiness in carnal joys.Though the superscription is confined to Damascus, the prophecy relates to the whole of Aram, called by us Syria, which was divided into two parts, the northern, of which Hamath was the capital, and the southeastern, belonging to Damascus.

Hamath is confounded - Or, is ashamed. For Hamath see Isaiah 10:9 note. Arpad lay about fourteen miles north of Aleppo, at a place now called Tel Erfad.

Fainthearted - The sinews are relaxed unknit, through terror.

There is sorrow on the sea - In the sea. As the sea is used (marginal reference) of the agitation of the thoughts of evil men, its sense here also probably is, there is sorrow, or rather anxiety, in the agitated hearts of the Syrians.

23. Prophecy as to Damascus, &c. (Isa 17:1; 10:9). The kingdom of Damascus was destroyed by Assyria, but the city revived, and it is as to the latter Jeremiah now prophesies. The fulfilment was probably about five years after the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar [Josephus, Antiquities, 10.9,7].

Hamath is confounded—at the tidings of the overthrow of the neighboring Damascus.

on the sea—that is, at the sea; the dwellers there are alarmed. Other manuscripts read, "like the sea." "There is anxiety (restless) as is the sea: they cannot quiet it," that is, it cannot be quieted (Isa 57:20).

it—Whatever dwellers are there "cannot be quiet."

The prophet comes to denounce the judgments of God against Syria, another nation of the Gentiles.

Damascus was the head city of Syria, Isaiah 7:8 17:3, or Aram, (as in the Hebrew,) because it was a country inhabited by the posterity of Aram, one of the sons of Shem; part of it lay betwixt Babylon and Arabia, and was called Mesopotamia, lying betwixt the two rivers of Tigris and Euphrates. Laban and Naaman were of this country. David had war with them, 2 Samuel 8:5 10:18. So had Ahab, 1 Kings 20:20; and Joram, 2 Kings 8:28; and Ahaz, Isaiah 7:2. After God’s long patience with them he threatens them with ruin, as by Jeremiah in this place, so by Amos, i. 5. Damascus being the head of this country, is sometimes put (as here) for the whole country. Hamath and Arpad were two cities also of Syria, 2 Kings 18:34. The prophet foretells that they also should hear of ill news, an enemy that is coming against them, and that they should be melted through fear, and their courage should fail them, they should be as troubled as the sea, is in a storm, or their inhabitants that lived near to the sea should be troubled. Concerning Damascus,.... Or, "unto Damascus" (d); or, "against Damascus" (e); that is, "thus saith the Lord"; which is to be repeated from the foregoing instances, Jeremiah 49:1. This is to be understood, not only of the city of Damascus, but of the whole kingdom of Syria, of which Damascus was the metropolis; see Isaiah 7:8;

Hamath is confounded, and Arpad; two cities in Syria; the first is generally thought to be Antioch of Syria, sometimes called Epiphania; and the other the same with Arvad, inhabited by the Arvadim, or Aradians; see 2 Kings 18:34; these, that is, the inhabitants of them, as the Targum, were covered with shame, thrown into the utmost confusion and consternation:

for they have heard evil tidings; of the Chaldean army invading the land of Syria, and of their coming against them; and perhaps of their taking of Damascus their capital city; all which must be bad news unto them, and give them great uneasiness:

they are fainthearted; or "melted" (f); their hearts melted like wax, and flowed like water; they had no heart nor spirit left in them, through fear of the enemy;

there is sorrow in the sea, it cannot be quiet: the Targum is,

"fear in the sea, carefulness hath taken hold on them, behold, as those that go down to the sea to rest, and cannot rest;''

or, as other copies, cannot flee. So Jarchi, and Kimchi interpret it, as if the note of similitude was wanting, and the sense this, that the inhabitants of the above places were either like the troubled sea itself, which cannot rest; or like persons in a storm at sea, who are in the utmost uneasiness and distress: or else it designs such that belonged to the kingdom of Syria, that dwelt in the isles of the sea; who were in great fright when they heard of the invasion of their country by the Chaldeans, particularly the Antaradians.

(d) "ad Damascum", V. L. Pagninus, Montanus. (e) "Contra Damascum", Vatablus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Schmidt. (f) "liquefacti sunt", Vatablus, Cocceius, Schmidt.

Concerning {y} Damascus. Hamath is confounded, and Arpad: for they have heard evil tidings: they are fainthearted; there is sorrow on the sea; it cannot be quiet.

(y) Which was the chief city of Syria, by which he means the whole country.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
23. Damascus] Damascus was for a long time held by a powerful dynasty of kings, who reduced the other cities under their own sway.

Hamath] Hama, on the Orontes, 110 miles N. of Damascus.

Arpad] Tell-Erfad, 95 miles N. of Hamath, and often mentioned (e.g. 2 Kings 18:34; 2 Kings 19:13; Isaiah 10:9) along with it. Both names occur frequently on Assyrian monuments.

sorrow (mg. care) on the sea] The mention of “sea” (perhaps arising from the influence of Isaiah 57:20) is quite unsuitable topographically to this context. Co. emends to “they are melted away there from care.” But Dr.’s emendation is better, viz. because of care, like the sea, they cannot rest.

23–27 (= LXX. Ch. Jeremiah 30:12-16). Prophecy against Damascus

This section is rejected even by some commentators (e.g. Co.) who admit portions of chs. 46–51 as genuine. The main objection adduced is the emphasis laid on Hamath and Arpad (Jeremiah 49:23), combined with the absence of these two cities from the vision in ch. Jeremiah 25:18 ff. Still this hardly justifies us in dismissing the whole section as later than Jeremiah’s time, as Jeremiah 49:26-27 may easily be an addition to the original form, the former as borrowed from Jeremiah 50:30, where it fits better, the latter as closely connected with the refrain, Amos 1:4; Amos 1:10; Amos 1:12; Amos 1:14; Amos 2:5.

The section may be summarized thus. Hamath and Arpad are terror-stricken. Damascus turns in alarm to flee. She is empty of succour. Her warriors within her are fallen, and Benhadad’s palaces shall be burnt.Verses 23-27. - The heading Concerning Damascus is too limited (like that of the partly parallel prophecy in Isaiah 17:1-11); for the prophecy relates, not only to Damascus, the capital of the kingdom of southeastern Aram (or Syria), but to Hamath, the capital of the northern kingdom. (The third of the Aramaean kingdoms, that of Zobah, had ceased to exist.) Damascus had already been threatened by Amos (Amos 1:3-5), and by Isaiah (Isaiah 17:1-11). We may infer from the prophecy that Damascus had provoked the hostility of Nebuchadnezzar, but we have as yet no monumental evidence as to the facts. Verse 23. - Hamath. Still an important city under the name of Hamah, situated to the north of Hums (Emesa), on the Orontes. It formed nominally the boundary of the kingdom of Israel (Numbers 34:8; Joshua 13:5), was actually a part of the empire of Solomon (2 Chronicles 8:4), and was conquered for a short time by Jeroboam II. (2 Kings 14:25). Under Sargon it was fully incorporated into the Assyrian empire (comp. Isaiah 10:9); rebellious populations were repeatedly transplanted into the territory of Hamath. Arpad. Always mentioned together with Hamath, whose fate it appears to have shared (Isaiah 10:9). A tell, or hill, with ruins, about three (German) miles from Aleppo, still bears the name Erfad (Zeitschrift of the German Oriental Society, 25:655). There is sorrow on the sea, etc.; i.e. even the sea participates in the agitation of that troublous time: somewhat as in Habakkuk 3:10 the sea is represented as sympathizing in the terror produced by a Divine manifestation. But by the slightest possible emendation (viz. of caph into beth) we obtain a more natural sense - "with an unrest as of the sea, which cannot be quiet." In Isaiah 57:20 we read, "For the ungodly are like the troubled sea, for it cannot be quiet;" and it can hardly be doubted that Jeremiah is alluding to this passage. If he altered it at all, it would be in the direction of greater smoothness rather than the reverse. Not a few manuscripts of Jeremiah actually have this corrected reading, which should probably be adopted. The nature and occasion of the judgment decreed. - Jeremiah 49:14. "I have heard tidings from Jahveh, and a messenger has been sent among the nations: Gather yourselves together, and go against her, and arise to the battle! Jeremiah 49:15. For, behold, I have made thee small among the nations, despised among men. Jeremiah 49:16. Thy terribleness hath deceived thee, the pride of thy heart, O thou that dwellest in the hiding-places of the rock, that holdest the height of the hill. Though thou makest thy nest high like the eagle, thence will I bring thee down, saith Jahveh. Jeremiah 49:17. And Edom shall become an astonishment; every passer-by shall be astonished at her, and shall hiss at all her plagues. Jeremiah 49:18. As [it was in] the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah, saith Jahveh, no man shall dwell there, nor shall a son of man sojourn there."

This judgment will immediately take place. The nations who are to make Edom small and despised have been already summoned by the Lord to the war. Jeremiah has taken this idea from Obadiah 1:1, Obadiah 1:2. The subject in "I have heard" is the prophet, who has heard the information from Jahveh. In Obadiah is found the plural, "we have heard," because the prophet includes himself among the people; this is to show that the news serves as a consolation to Israel, because Edom shall be punished for his crimes committed against Judah. This view was not before the mind of Jeremiah; with him the prevailing representation is, that judgment, from which Edom cannot be excepted, is passed upon all nations. Therefore he has chosen the singular, "I have heard." In the succeeding clause the perf. Pual שׁלּח has been changed into שׁלוּח, as the more usual form. The messenger is to be considered as having been sent by the Lord for the purpose of summoning the nations to war, as he actually does in the second hemistich. The message agrees, in the nature of its contents, with Obadiah 1:1; but Jeremiah has dealt somewhat freely with its form. The statement with regard to the object of the war, Jeremiah 49:15, agrees pretty exactly with Obadiah 1:2. The account, too, which is given of the cause of the judgment, i.e., the guilt of Edom arising from his trusting in the impregnable character of his habitation, is derived from Obadiah 1:3, Obadiah 1:4. Jeremiah has intensified the idea by the additional use of תּפלצתּך, but has also made certain limitations of the expression by omitting some clauses found in Obadiah. The word just named is ἅπ. λεγ., and has been variously explained. The verb פּלץ occurs only in Job 9:6, with the meaning of quaking, trembling; and the noun פּלּצוּת pretty frequently in the sense of fear, shuddering, horror; further, מפלצת is used in 1 Kings 15:13; 2 Chronicles 15:16, of an idol, monster, object of horror. Hence Rabbinical writers have been inclined to understand תּפלצת as meaning idolatry; in this they are followed by J. D. Michaelis, Meier, and Ngelsbach. The last-named writer translates, "Thy monster (idol) led thee astray." But even though this meaning were better established from the use of language than it is, yet the mention of idolatry, or even of an idol, is quite unsuitable in this passage. The lxx render ἡ παιγνία σου i.e., risus or jocus tuus, Chald. טפשׁוּתך, "thy folly," - evidently a mere guess from the context. The best ascertained translation is, "Thy terror," i.e., the terror which thou dost inspire, or the fear of thee, "hath misled thee, the pride of thine heart," so that "the pride," etc., forms an apposition to "thy terror." The combination of the fem. תּפלצתּך with the verb השּׁיא in the masc. is not decisive against this. Following the example of Schleussner (O arrogantiam tuam), Hitzig and Graf would take the word as an exclamation, "Terror to thee! horror on thee!" and thy point for support to הפכּכם, Isaiah 29:16. But an exclamation is out of place here, and incompatible with the derivation of the following words from Obadiah. Since Jeremiah appropriates from Obadiah the thought, "thy pride hath misled thee," תּפלצתּך may possibly be meant as a mere intensification of זדוי לבּך. The pride of Edom increased because the other nations were afraid to make war on him in his rocky dwelling, so difficult of access. On שׂכני בּחגוי הסּלע, see on Obadiah 1:3. The succeeding apposition-clause מרום שׁבתּו, found in Obadiah, is modified by Jeremiah into תּפשׂי מרום גּבעה otni , "thou that seizest, or holdest (as in Jeremiah 40:10), the height of the hill." In the expression חגוי there is perhaps implied an allusion to the rock-city סלע, or Petra, in the Wady Musa (see on 2 Kings 14:7), and in מרום גּבעה ni dn another allusion to Bozrah, which lay on a hill; see on Jeremiah 49:13. On Jeremiah 49:16, cf. Obadiah 1:4. Jeremiah has omitted the hyperbolic addition, "among the stars." In Jeremiah 49:17 and Jeremiah 49:18 the devastation of Edom is further portrayed. On Jeremiah 49:17, cf. Jeremiah 25:11, Jeremiah 25:38; with 17b agrees Jeremiah 19:8, almost word for word. The comparison with Sodom, etc., is a reminiscence from Deuteronomy 29:22, and is repeated in the prophecy concerning Babylon, 50:40; cf. Isaiah 13:19; Amos 4:11. "Her neighbours" are Admah and Zeboim, Deuteronomy 29:22; Hosea 11:8. The comparison with Sodom is not so to be understood as if it indicated that Edom shall be destroyed in the same manner as Sodom; it is merely stated that the land of Edom shall become a desert waste, like the region of the Dead Sea, uninhabited, and with no human beings in it; cf. Jeremiah 49:33 and Jeremiah 50:40.

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