Jeremiah 49:25
How is the city of praise not left, the city of my joy!
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(25) How is the city of praise not left . . . !—The exclamation, half scornful, half ironical, points to the fact that the inhabitants of Damascus had tried in vain to flee (Jeremiah 49:24). The city so fair and glorious, with its rivers Abana and Pharphar (2Kings 5:12), had not been “left,” would not be empty when it was taken. The people would perish with it. Her young warriors and her veterans should be cut off within the walls.

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.An exclamation of sorrow wrung from the prophet at the thought of the people of Damascus remaining to be slaughtered. The words my joy express the prophet's own sympathy. The praise of Damascus for beauty has been universal from the days of Naaman 2 Kings 5:12, to those of recent travelers. 25. city of praise—The prophet, in the person of a citizen of Damascus deploring its calamity, calls it "the city of praise," that is, celebrated with praises everywhere for its beauty (Jer 33:9; 51:41). "How is it possible that such a city has not been left whole—has not been spared by the foe?" Compare left, Lu 17:35, 36. So Israel "left" standing some of the Canaanite cities (Jos 11:13).

of my joy—that is, in which I delighted.

It is called

the city of praise, because it was a city so much praised, a city of great renown, which the prophet seeing like to be destroyed, lamenteth either in the person of the king of Syria, or of the Syrian inhabitants, wondering that the conquerors should not spare so famous and renowned a city, in which so many did rejoice.

How is the city of praise not left,.... The city of Damascus, famous for its antiquity, its wealth and riches, strength and power; and with the Heathens for its devotion and superstition. So Julian (i) the emperor calls it,

"the truly city of Jupiter; the eye of the whole east; Damascus the holy and the greatest;''

but more especially for its delightful and pleasant situation. Benjamin Tudelensis (k) says it was, in his time,

"a very great and beautiful city, surrounded with a wall; and the country about it was full of gardens and orchards, fifteen miles' walk on every side of it; and no city in the whole world appeared with such plenty of fruit as that did.''

Monsieur Thevenot (l) relates, that

"the city of Damascus is in the middle of a spacious plain, surrounded with hills, but all distant from the town, almost out of sight; those on the north side are the nearest, on which side it hath a great many gardens, full of trees, and most fruit trees; these gardens take up the ground from the hill of the forty martyrs, even to the town; so that at a distance it seems to be a forest.''

Mr. Maundrell (m) tells us, that the Turks relate this story of their prophet Mahomet, that,

"coming near Damascus, he took his station at a high precipice, in order to view it; and considering the ravishing beauty and delightfulness of it, he would not tempt his frailty by entering into it; but instantly departed with this reflection on it, that there was but one paradise designed for men, and for his part he was resolved not take his in this world;''

and, adds the same traveller,

"you have indeed from the precipice the most perfect prospect of Damascus; and certainly no place in the world can promise the beholder at a distance greater voluptuousness. It is situate in an even plain of so great extent, that you can but just discern the mountains that compass it on the farther side. In its length it extends near two miles, and is encompassed with gardens, extending no less, according to common estimation, than thirty miles round; which makes it look like a noble city in a vast wood.''

Strabo (n) says of this city, that it is worthy of praise, and almost the most famous city of all near Persia. The sense of it either is, how is it that so famous a city was not spared by the enemy, that they did not leave it untouched, but destroyed and demolished it? or how is it that it was not fortified by the inhabitants of it; that a parapet was not built about the wall all around, to strengthen it, and keep out the enemy? This sense, as well as the former, is mentioned both by Jarchi and Kimchi, who direct to Nahum 3:8, for the confirmation of this sense of the word:

the city of my joy! these are either the words of the prophet, who had a great regard to the city of Damascus as ancient, well built, and opulent city, and lamented its destruction; or rather of the king of it, as Jarchi; or of the inhabitants of it, who said this to one another as they fled; so Kimchi: but there is no necessity of rendering it "my joy", only "joy"; for the "jod" affixed may not be considered as a pronoun, but as a paragogic, or a Syriac termination, which is common; though some interpret this of the city of Jerusalem, and as spoken by the Lord, or by the prophet in his name, upbraiding the Syrians for their hatred to it, and disturbance they gave it; and which is now mentioned as one cause and reason of their ruin; see Amos 1:3.

(i) Opera, par. 2. Ep. 24. p. 145. (k) Itinerarium, p. 54, 55. (l) Travels, par. 2. B. 1. p. I9. (m) Journey from Aleppo to Jerusalem, p. 121, 122. Ed. 7. (n) Geograph. l. 16. p. 520.

How is the {a} city of praise not left, the city of my joy!

(a) He speaks this in the person of the king and of them of the country who will wonder to see Damascus the chief city destroyed.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
25. not forsaken] The negative quite reverses the sense we should expect. Accordingly Du. and Co., emending the MT., render respectively, “Woe to her!” and “Woe to me!” continuing, “For the city of praise is forsaken.”

the city of my joy] We should probably, with several Versions, omit the pronoun, and so put the words in the mouth of the prophet, and not of an inhabitant of the doomed city.

Verse 25. - Hew is the city of praise not left, etc.! A difficult passage. The construction, indeed, is plain. "How is not," etc. I can only mean "How is it that the city of praise is not," etc.?(comp. 2 Samuel 1:14). The difficulty lies in the word rendered "left." The ordinary meaning of the verb, when applied to cities, is certainly "to leave without inhabitants;" e.g. Jeremiah 4:29; Isaiah 7:16; Isaiah 32:14. This, however, does not suit the context, which shows that "the daughter of Damascus" personified is the speaker, so that ver. 25 ought rather to mean, "How is it that the city of praise is [not, 'is not'] forsaken?" Either, then, we must suppose that "not" has been inserted by mistake - a too arbitrary step, seeing that there is no negative in the context to account for the insertion (the case is different, therefore, from Job 21:30; Job 27:15, where such an insertion is at any rate justifiable); or else we must give uzzebhah the sense of "let go free" (comp. Exodus 23:5; Deuteronomy 32:36; Job 10:1). It is the obstinate incredulity of love which refuses to admit the possibility of the destruction of the loved object. The city of praise. The city which is my "praise," or boast. Few cities, in fact, have had so long and brilliant an existence as Damascus. Jeremiah 49:25רפתה דמּשׁק, "Damascus has become slack," i.e., discouraged; she turns to flee, and cannot escape, being seized with trembling and anxiety. החזיקה is not the third pers. fem., prehendit terrorem, but stands for החזיקהּ, with Mappik omitted, because the tone is retracted in consequence of the Athnach; cf. Jeremiah 6:24; Jeremiah 8:21, etc. "Terror has seized Damascus." In the last clause וחבלים is subsumed along with צרה; hence the verb is put in the singular. - Jeremiah 49:25. The question, "How is not," etc., has been differently explained. Eichhorn, Gesenius, Ewald, and Umbreit take the words according to the German usage, in the sense, "How is the city forsaken?" or laid waste. But this Germanism is foreign to the Hebrew; and it is not obviated by C. B. Michaelis taking "how" in the sense of quam inopinato et quam horribiliter non deserta est, so that the words would mean nullus est modus desertionis aut gradus quem Damascus non sit experta, because איך לא does not express the kind and manner, or the degree of an action. In the only other passage where איך לא occurs (2 Samuel 1:14) the negative has its full meaning. Others (Calvin, Schnurrer, J. D. Michaelis, Rosenmller, Maurer) take עזב in the sense of leaving free, untouched: "How has she not been left untouched?" i.e., been spared. But this meaning of the verb is nowhere found. There is no other course left than, with Ngelsbach, to take the verb as referring to the desertion of the city through the flight of the inhabitants, as in Jeremiah 4:29, etc., and to take the words thus: "How is (i.e., how has it happened that) the famous city (is) not forsaken?" According to this view, it is not the desolation of the city that is bewailed, but the fact that the inhabitants have not saved their lives by flight. The way is prepared for this thought by Jeremiah 49:24, where it is said that the inhabitants of Damascus wish to flee, but are seized with convulsive terror; in Jeremiah 49:25 also there is a more specific reason given for it, where it is stated that the youths (the young warriors) and all the men of war shall fall in the streets of the city, and be slain by foes. The suffix in "my delight" refers to the prophet, and expresses his sympathy for the fall of the glorious city (see on Jeremiah 48:31); because not only does its population perish, but the city itself also (Jeremiah 49:27) is to be burned to ashes.
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