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. Jeremiah 49:23Concerning Damascus. - Aram, on this side of the Euphrates, or Syria, was divided, in the times of Saul and David, into the kingdoms of Damascus, Zobah, and Hamath, of which the second, extending between Damascus and Hamath (see on 2 Samuel 8:3), or situated north-eastward from Damascus, between the Orontes and the Euphrates, was the most powerful; its kings were defeated by Saul (1 Samuel 14:47), and afterwards conquered and made tributary to the kingdom of Israel by David, who did the same to the Syrians of Damascus that had come to the assistance of Hadadezer king of Zobah (2 Samuel 8 and 10). After the death of David and during the time of Solomon, a freebooter named Rezon, who had broken away from Hadadezer during the war, established himself in Damascus (see on 1 Kings 11:23-25), and became the founder of a dynasty which afterwards made vassals of all the smaller kings of Syria, whose number is given 1 Kings 20:1. This dynasty also, under the powerful rulers Benhadad I and II and Hazael, long pressed hard on the kingdom of Israel, and conquered a great part of the Israelite territory (1 Kings 15:18., Jeremiah 20:1., Jeremiah 22:3.; 2 Kings 5:1., Jeremiah 6:8., Jeremiah 8:, Jeremiah 10:, Jeremiah 12:, Jeremiah 13:3.). At last, King Joash, after the death of Hazael, succeeded in retaking the conquered cities from his son, Benhadad III((2 Kings 13:19.); and Jeroboam II was able to restore the ancient frontiers of Israel as far as Hamath (2 Kings 14:25). Some decades alter, Rezin king of Damascus, in alliance with Pekah of Israel, undertook a war of conquest against Judah during the time of Ahaz, who therefore called to his aid the Assyrian king Tiglath-pileser. This monarch conquered Damascus, and put an end to the Syrian kingdom, by carrying away the people to Kir (2 Kings 15:37; 2 Kings 16:5-9). This kingdom of Syria is called "Damascus" in the prophets, after its capital. We find threats of destruction and ruin pronounced against it even by such early prophets as Amos (Amos 1:3-5), for its cruelty committed against Israel, and Isaiah (Isaiah 17:1.), because of its having combined with Israel to destroy Judah. According to the use of language just referred to, "Damascus," mentioned in the heading of this prophecy, is not the city, but the kingdom of Syria, which has been named after its capital, and to which, besides Damascus, belonged the powerful cities of Hamath and Arpad, wxich formerly had kings of their own (Isaiah 37:13). Jeremiah does not mention any special offence. In the judgment to come on all nations, Aram-Damascus cannot remain exempt.

Jeremiah 49:23

"Hamath is ashamed, and Arpad, for they have heard evil tidings: they despair; there is trouble on the sea; no one can rest. Jeremiah 49:24. Damascus has become discouraged, she has turned to flee: terror has seized her; distress and pains have laid hold on her, like a woman in childbirth. Jeremiah 49:25. How is the city of praise not left, the city of my delight? Jeremiah 49:26. Therefore shall her young men fall in her streets, and all the man of war shall be silent in that day, saith Jahveh of hosts. Jeremiah 49:27. And I will kindle a fire in the wall of Damascus, and it shall devour the palaces of Benhadad."

The largest cities of Aram are seized with consternation and discouragement. Damascus would flee, but its men of war fall by the sword of the enemy, and the city is in flames. The description of the terror which overpowers the inhabitants of Aram begins with Hamath (Epiphaneia of the Greeks, now called Hamah), which lies north from Hums (Emesa), on the Orontes (el 'Asi); see on Genesis 10:17 and Numbers 34:8. Arpad is always mentioned in connection with Hamath (Isaiah 10:9; Isaiah 36:19; Isaiah 37:13; 2 Kings 18:34 and 2 Kings 19:13): in the list of Assyrian synonyms published by Oppert and Schrader, it is sounded Arpadda; and judging by the name, it still remains in the large village of Arfd, mentioned by Maras., about fifteen miles north from Haleb (Aleppo); see on 2 Kings 18:34. The bad news which Hamath and Arpad have heard is about the approach of a hostile army. "She is ashamed," i.e., disappointed in her hope and trust (cf. Jeremiah 17:13), with the accessory idea of being confounded. נמוג, to be fainthearted from fear and anxiety; cf. Joshua 2:9, Joshua 2:24; Exodus 15:15, etc. There is a difficulty with the expression בּים, from the mention of the sea. Ewald has therefore invented a new word, בּי, which is stated to signify mind, heart; and he translates, "their heart is in trouble." Graf very rightly remarks, against this, that there was no occasion whatever for the employment of a word which occurs nowhere else. The simplest explanation is that of J. D. Michaelis, Rosenmller, and Maurer: "on the sea," i.e., onwards to the sea, "anxiety prevails." The objection of Graf, that on this view there is no nominative to יוּכל, cannot make this explanation doubtful, because the subject (Ger. man, Fr. on, Eng. people, they) is easily obtained from the context. The words השׁקט לא יוּכל form a reminiscence from Isaiah 57:20, where they are used of the sea when stirred up, to which the wicked are compared. But it does not follow from this that the words are to be understood in this passage also of the sea, and to be translated accordingly: "in the sea there is no rest," i.e., the sea itself is in ceaseless motion (Hitzig); or with a change of בּים into כּים, "there is a tumult like the sea, which cannot keep quiet" (Graf). As little warrant is there for concluding, from passages like Jeremiah 17:12., where the surging of the Assyrian power is compared to the roaring of the waves of the sea, that the unrest of the inhabitants of Syria, who are in a state of anxious solicitude, is here compared to the restless surging and roaring of the sea (Umbreit). For such a purpose, דּאגה, "concern, solicitude," is much too weak, or rather inappropriate.

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