Jeremiah 50:23
How is the hammer of the whole earth cut asunder and broken! how is Babylon become a desolation among the nations!
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(23) How is the hammer of the whole earth cut asunder . . . !—The image had been used before (Jeremiah 23:29) of the might of right as seen in the words of Jehovah. Here it describes the right of might as seen in the despotism of Babylon. The name of Charles Martel and, according to one etymology, that of Judas Maccabæus, present interesting parallelisms. And now the hammer itself, which had been as an instrument in the hand of Jehovah (Jeremiah 51:20), is to be, in its turn, crushed by a power mightier than its own.

50:21-32 The forces are mustered and empowered to destroy Babylon. Let them do what God demands, and they shall bring to pass what he threatens. The pride of men's hearts sets God against them, and ripens them apace for ruin. Babylon's pride must be her ruin; she has been proud against the Holy One of Israel; who can keep those up whom God will throw down?The hammer - Babylon, by whose instrumentality Yahweh had crushed the nations, is now cut asunder, i. e., the head of iron or bronze is cut away from the wooden handle, and broken. 23. hammer—that is, Babylon, so called because of its ponderous destructive power; just as "Martel," that is, "a little hammer," was the surname of a king of the Franks (Isa 14:6). The latter part of the verse expounds the former; God had made the Babylonians his hammer, to break other nations in pieces, now it was itself broken: the particle

how may be understood either as expressing triumph and rejoicing, or admiration, or as inquiring how such a thing could be in the last sense. The next verse is an answer to this.

How is the hammer of the whole earth cut asunder and broken!.... The Targum is,

"how is the king cut down and broken that moved the whole earth!''

The king of Babylon, or the kingdom of Babylon, which was like a hammer for its hardness and strength; and being an instrument, in the hand of God, of beating to pieces and destroying the kingdoms and nations around it; but is now destroyed itself. These are the words either of the prophet, or rather of the people of other nations, wondering how this destruction came about, and rejoicing at it;

how is Babylon become a desolation among the nations! this explains who and what is meant by the hammer of the earth, and by its being cut asunder and broken; even the utter destruction of the city and kingdom of Babylon.

How is the {u} hammer of the whole earth cut asunder and broken! how is Babylon become a desolation among the nations!

(u) Nebuchadnezzar, who had smitten down all the princes and people of the world.

23. the hammer] For the figure cp. Jeremiah 23:29, and for its application to Babylon Jeremiah 51:20-23. Cp. for the title, as given in later days, Charles Martel (hammer), who was grandfather of Charles the Great, and conquered the Saracens in a decisive battle at Tours in 732 a.d., and Edward I of England, on whose tomb at Westminster Abbey are inscribed the words “Scotorum Malleus.”

Verse 23. - The hammer of the whole earth. So in Isaiah (Isaiah 14:5), "Jehovah hath broken the staff of the wicked, the rod of the rulers; which smote peoples in passion with an unceasing stroke." In the next chapter a similar title is conferred upon Israel, with the right to retaliate upon Babylon all the evil which Babylon had done to Zion (Jeremiah 51:20-24). Compare the epithet Martel, "The Hammer," given to Charles, Duke of the Franks, on account of his great victory over the Saraoens at Tours; it is tempting to add "Makkabi," the epithet of Judas (Maccabaeus), but the k is not the same letter as that in maqqab, hammer. Jeremiah 50:23Babylon, "the hammer of the whole earth," i.e., with which Jahveh has beaten to pieces the nations and kingdoms of the earth (Jeremiah 51:20), is itself now being beaten to pieces and destroyed. On the subject, cf. Isaiah 14:5-6. Babylon will become the astonishment of the nations, Jeremiah 51:41. "How!" is an exclamation of surprise, as in Zephaniah 2:15 -a passage which probably hovered before the mind of the prophet.
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