Jeremiah 50:33
Thus saith the LORD of hosts; The children of Israel and the children of Judah were oppressed together: and all that took them captives held them fast; they refused to let them go.
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(33) Were oppressed.—Better, are oppressed, and so on through the verse. The English tense is misleading. The prophet, having described the doom that lies in the future, now returns to the present, and finds in the actual state of Israel that which made the destruction of Babylon a necessary condition of its liberation. All appeals to the mercy of their conquerors, Assyrian or Chaldæan, had been made in vain.

Jeremiah 50:33-34. Israel and Judah were oppressed together — Not together with respect to times, for there was a distance of one hundred and fifty years between the time of Israel’s and Judah’s being carried away captive; nor by the same enemy; Israel being carried away by the Assyrians, Judah by the Chaldeans. Together here signifies no more than that they were both oppressed, or alike oppressed. And all that took them captives held them fast — Were determined not to release them. The prophet seems here to intimate, that as their enemies were not only very powerful, but fully resolved to detain them in captivity, his predictions of their deliverance might seem to some but vain words, never likely to be fulfilled. Hence he adds, in the next verse, Their Redeemer is strong — Or, their Avenger, as the word also signifies. He that has a right to them will claim his right, and make good his claim. He is stronger than their enemies who hold them fast, and can, with infinite ease, overpower all their force, and baffle all their subtlety, and put strength into his own people, though they may be very weak. The Lord of hosts is his name — And he will answer his name, and make it appear that he is what his people call him. He shall thoroughly plead their cause — Hebrew, ריכ וריב את ריבם, pleading he will plead it, plead it with jealousy, and effectually plead it and carry it; that he may give rest to the land — To his people’s land, rest from all their enemies round about; or, to the earth, as ארצmore properly signifies, namely, rest from the oppressions of the Babylonish empire; and disquiet — Or, cause to tremble, as some render הרגיז, the inhabitants of Babylon — Because they have disquieted his people, and caused them to tremble, for whose honour and comfort he is jealous.

50:33-46 It is Israel's comfort in distress, that, though they are weak, their Redeemer is strong. This may be applied to believers, who complain of the dominion of sin and corruption, and of their own weakness and manifold infirmities. Their Redeemer is able to keep what they commit to him; and sin shall not have dominion over them. He will give them that rest which remains for the people of God. Also here is Babylon's sin, and their punishment. The sins are, idolatry and persecution. He that will not save his people in their sins, never will countenance the wickedness of his open enemies. The judgments of God for these sins will lay them waste. In the judgments denounced against prosperous Babylon, and the mercies promised to afflicted Israel, we learn to choose to suffer affliction with the people of God, rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.Were oppressed - are "oppressed together: and all their captors have laid firm hold upon them: they have refused to let them go." The restoration of Israel and Judah to their land is necessary. As Babylon will not let them go, it must be broken, and its empire destroyed. 33. Israel and … Judah were oppressed—He anticipates an objection, in order to answer it: Ye have been, no doubt, "oppressed," therefore ye despair of deliverance; but, remember your "Redeemer is strong," and therefore can and will deliver you. Were oppressed together; not together in respect of times, for’ there was one hundred and fifty years difference betwixt the time of Israel’s and Judah’s captivity; nor by the same enemy, Israel was carried away captive by the Assyrians, Judah by the Chaldeans.

Together in this place signifies no more than that they were both oppressed, or alike oppressed.

And all that took them captives held them fast; they refused to let them go: and some may think that my prophecies are but flatteries and vain words, for those who have them in their hands are able to keep them, and will not be willing to let them go.

Thus saith the Lord of hosts,.... This is a preface to another prophecy, detached from the former, respecting the redemption of the Lord's people by the Messiah; and is used to excite the attention to it, as well as, to assure the truth of it:

the children of Israel and the children of Judah were oppressed together; which cannot be well understood of the ten tribes of Israel, and of the two tribes of Judah and Benjamin, or the whole body of the Jewish people; since these were not oppressed at one and the same time, nor by one and the same monarch and monarchy. The children of Israel, or the ten tribes, were carried captive by Shalmaneser the Assyrian monarch; and the children of Judah by Nebuchadnezzar the Babylonian monarch, a hundred and fifty years after; to say that some of the ten tribes were mixed with the children of Judah, at the time when carried captive into Babylon, and so oppressed together with them, can hardly be thought to answer the import of the phrase, "the children of Israel"; which seems to design the body of that people. It is better therefore to understand it of the whole mystical Israel of God, as in their nature state oppressed by sin and Satan, being under their dominion; or as labouring under the oppressions and persecutions of antichrist; or else of the Jewish people in their present captivity, who will be redeemed from it, and converted, and all Israel shall be saved:

and all that took them captives held them fast; they refused to let them go; as the Assyrians and Chaldeans took and held fast literal Israel and Judah; so the elect of God, the Israel he has chosen for himself, are taken captive by sin and Satan, and are held by them, till they are snatched from them by powerful and efficacious grace; and as many of God's Israel are taken and held captive under the antichristian yoke; and as the Jews to this day are in a state of exile and captivity, from which they cannot free themselves.

Thus saith the LORD of hosts; The children of Israel and the children of Judah were oppressed together: and all that took them captives held them fast; they refused to let them go.
33. hold … refuse] The Babylonian oppressors act like Pharaoh of old.

Verse 33. - At the end of ver. 32 a pause occurs in the discourse. Then the prophet takes up the theme again with renewed emphasis. Were oppressed; rather, are oppressed. Because the oppression of Israel and Judah still continues, whereas Israel has by this time been amply punished ("received double," Isaiah 40:2) for her transgressions, Jehovah will himself interpose. He is, in fact, Israel's Goel ("Redeemer"), i.e. charged, like the next of kin, with the duty of recovering thy rights and avenging thy wrongs (comp. Isaiah 41:14; Isaiah 47:4). On the Goel, see Leviticus 25:25; Ruth 4:6; Numbers 30:19. Jeremiah 50:33Further description of the guilt and punishment of Babylon. The presumptuous pride manifests itself in the fact that Israel and Judah still languish in exile. All those who have been seized and carried away they have kept hold of. שׁביהם is used as in Isaiah 14:2. They refuse to let them go, as Pharaoh once did, Exodus 7:14, 27; Exodus 9:2; cf. Isaiah 14:17. Jahveh, the deliverer of Israel, cannot endure this. As the strong One, the God of hosts, He will lead them in the fight; as their advocate, He will obtain their dues for them; cf. Jeremiah 25:31; Isaiah 49:25. Dahler, Ewald, and Umbreit follow the Vulgate and the Chaldee in taking 'למען הרגּיע as synonymous with הרגּיז, in the sense of shaking, rousing, a meaning which רגע has in the Kal, but which cannot be made out for the Hiphil. In the Hiphil it means to give rest, to come to rest, Deuteronomy 28:65; Isaiah 34:14; Isaiah 61:4; Jeremiah 31:2; and in the Niphal, to rest, keep quiet, Jeremiah 47:6. This is the meaning given by the Syriac, Raschi, Kimchi, Rosenmller, Maurer, Hitzig, etc., and supported by a comparison with Isaiah 14:7, Isaiah 14:3,Isaiah 14:16. Babylon has hitherto kept the earth in unrest and anxiety (Isaiah 14:16); now it is to get rest (Isaiah 14:3, Isaiah 14:7), and trembling or quaking for fear is to come on Babylon. The two verbs, which have similar sounds, express a contrast. On the form of the infinitive הרגּיע, cf. Ewald, 238, d. In order to conduct the case of Israel as against Babylon, the Lord (Jeremiah 50:35-38) calls for the sword against the Chaldeans, the inhabitants of Babylon, on their princes, wise men, heroes, and the whole army, the treasures and the waters. There is no verb following חרב, but only the object with על, the words being put in the form of an exclamation, on account of the passion pervading them. The sword is to come and show its power on the Chaldeans, i.e., the population of the rural districts, on the inhabitants of the capital, and further, on the princes and wise men (magicians). A special class of the last named are the בּדּים, properly "babblers," those who talk at random, here "soothsayers" and lying prophets, the astrologers of Babylon; see Delitzsch on Isaiah 44:25 [Clark's translation, For. Theol. Lib.]. ונאלוּ, "And they shall be as fools;" see on Jeremiah 5:4. Further, on the warriors, the horses, and war-chariots, the main strength of the Asiatic conquerors, cf. Jeremiah 46:9, Isaiah 43:17; Psalm 20:8. כּל־הערב, "all the mixed multitude" in the midst of Babylon: these are here the mercenaries ad allies (as to this word, see on Jeremiah 25:20). These shall become women, i.e., weak and incapable of resistance; see Nahum 3:13. The last objects of vengeance are the treasures and the waters of Babylon. In Jeremiah 50:38 the Masoretes have pointed חרב, because חרב, "sword," seemed to be inapplicable to the waters. But indeed neither does the sword, in the proper sense of the word, well apply to treasures; it rather stands, by synecdoche, for war. In this improper meaning it might also be used with reference to the waters, in so far as the canals and watercourses, on which the fertility of Babylonia depended, were destroyed by war. Hence many expositors would read חרב here also, and attribute the employment of this word to the rhetorical power connected with enumeration. Others are of opinion that חרב may also mean aridity, drought, in Deuteronomy 28:22; but the assumption is erroneous, and cannot be confirmed by that passage. Neither can it be denied, that to confine the reference of the expression "her waters" to the canals and artificial watercourses of Babylonia seems unnatural. All these received their water from the rivers Euphrates and Tigris, the volume of water in which remained uninfluenced by war. We therefore follow Hitzig in holding that חרב is the correct punctuation; in the transition from חרב into חרב, with its similar sound, we neither perceive any injury done to rhetorical force, derived from an enumeration of objects, nor any need for referring the following clause, which assigns the reason merely to such rhetorical considerations as Graf does. In the drying up of the water there is no allusion to the diversion of the Euphrates, by which Cyrus opened up for himself an entrance into the city (Herodotus, i. 190); the drying up is merely appointed by God, as a consequence of continued drought, for the purpose of destroying the land. Hitzig's opinion neither suits the context, nor can be justified otherwise; he holds that water is the emblem of the sea on nations, the surging multitude of people in the streets of the city, and he refers for proof to Jeremiah 51:36 and Isaiah 21:1 (!). The clauses in Jeremiah 50:38, which assign the reason, refer to the whole threatening, Jeremiah 50:35-38. Babylon is to be destroyed, with its inhabitants and all its means of help, because it is a land of idols (cf. Jeremiah 51:52 and Isaiah 21:9), and its inhabitants suffer themselves to be befooled by false gods. התהולל means to act or behave like a madman, rave, Jeremiah 25:16; here, to let oneself be deprived of reason, not (as Graf thinks) to fall into a sacred frenzy. אימים, terrors, Psalm 88:16; here, objects of fear and horror, i.e., idols.
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