Jeremiah 50:4
In those days, and in that time, said the LORD, the children of Israel shall come, they and the children of Judah together, going and weeping: they shall go, and seek the LORD their God.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(4) The children of Israel shall come . . .—The union of the divided sections of the people is significant as being that which the prophet had all along hoped for (Jeremiah 3:14-16). And the united people are to return with tears of mingled joy and penitence (comp. Ezra 3:13; Ezra 8:21-23), no longer worshipping Baal and the queen of heaven (Jeremiah 7:18; Jeremiah 44:17), but “seeking Jehovah their God.”

Jeremiah 50:4-5. In those days — Wherein God shall begin to execute judgment on Babylon; the children of Israel shall come, &c. — This passage is primarily meant of the return of the Jews from their captivity, upon the destruction of the Babylonish monarchy. Many of the ten tribes, here termed the children of Israel, which had been carried captive into Assyria, hearing that their brethren of the two tribes were permitted and encouraged by Cyrus and his successors to return to their own land, undoubtedly associated themselves with them, and returned also from the several places where they had been settled: see Calmet’s Dissertation on the Return of the Ten Tribes. Going and weeping — Weeping, partly with sorrow for the sins which had brought the calamities of the captivity upon them, and partly for joy, that God should show them such mercy as to bring them again to their own country. They shall go and seek the Lord their God — They shall inquire after Jehovah, their own God, and seek his favour, protection, and aid, and shall now have no more to do with idols. Observe, reader, those that seek the Lord must seek him sorrowing; and those that sorrow and are in trouble must seek him, and then their sorrow will soon be turned into joy, for he will be found of those that seek him. We learn from Ezra 3:13, that the people both wept and rejoiced aloud at the laying of the foundation of the temple after their return from captivity, and that the noise of the weeping of some was equal to the shouts of joy raised by others. They shall ask the way to Zion — The city of their ancient solemnities; with their faces thitherward — Determined to return to it, now that the ruin of Babylon and the decree of Cyrus had opened the way for their release. The journey, indeed, is long and difficult, and they know not the road, but they will make inquiry concerning it, and trust in God to enable them to surmount all the difficulties and dangers of the way. Reader, wouldst thou arrive at the heavenly Canaan, and dost ask the way thither? Then see that thy face be thitherward, and not toward the world. In these words the prophet seems to allude to the Jews going in companies to Jerusalem at the solemn festivals. Saying, Let us join ourselves to the Lord in a perpetual covenant — They had broken the covenant which their fathers had made with God, and which had been often solemnly renewed, especially a little time before the captivity, in the days of Josiah; but here they exhort one another to join themselves to him again, by engaging afresh to be his, and that not for a time merely, but for ever; even in a perpetual, or everlasting covenant. as the Hebrew, ברית עולם, signifies, and is translated, Jeremiah 32:40; a covenant that must not be broken, and therefore must not be forgotten: for a due remembrance of it will be the means of a due observance of it. 50:1-7 The king of Babylon was kind to Jeremiah, yet the prophet must foretell the ruin of that kingdom. If our friends are God's enemies, we dare not speak peace to them. The destruction of Babylon is spoken of as done thoroughly. Here is a word for the comfort of the Jews. They shall return to their God first, then to their own land; the promise of their conversion and reformation makes way for the other promises. Their tears flow not from the sorrow of the world, as when they went into captivity, but from godly sorrow. They shall seek after the Lord as their God, and have no more to do with idols. They shall think of returning to their own country. This represents the return of poor souls to God. In true converts there are sincere desires to attain the end, and constant cares to keep in the way. Their present case is lamented as very sad. The sins of professing Christians never will excuse those who rejoice in destroying them.The fall of Babylon is to be immediately followed by the return of the exiles homewards, in tearful procession, because they go as penitents; and yet with joy, because their faces are toward Zion. The cessation moreover of the schism between Israel and Judah is one of the signs of the times of the Messiah Isaiah 11:12-13, and symbolically represents the gathering together of the warring empires of the world under the peaceful scepter of the Church's King.

Going and weeping: they shall go - Omit the colon; i. e., "they go ever onward weeping."

4. Fulfilled only in part when some few of the ten tribes of "Israel" joined Judah in a "covenant" with God, at the restoration of Judah to its land (Ne 9:38; 10:29). The full event is yet to come (Jer 31:9; Ho 1:11; Zec 12:10).

weeping—with joy at their restoration beyond all hope; and with sorrow at the remembrance of their sins and sufferings (Ezr 3:12, 13; Ps 126:5, 6).

seek … Lord—(Ho 3:5).

In the days wherein God shall begin to execute judgment upon Babylon, (which was in the time of Cyrus emperor of the Medes,) the children of Judah shall come out of captivity; and some of the children of Israel, (viz. those of the ten tribes,) hearing that their brethren were gone out of the captivity of Babylon, shall go up also from the several places into which they were disposed by the Assyrians:

weeping, either for sorrow in the sense of their sins which had brought the miseries of captivity upon them, or for joy that God ever should show them such a mercy as to bring them home again into their own country. And those that feared God, whether of the ten tribes, or of the kingdom of Judah, worshipped God at Jerusalem, after their old accustomed manner. In those days, and at that time, saith the Lord,.... When Babylon shall be taken and destroyed, then what follows shall be accomplished; which, as it respects the conversion of the Jews, shows that this prophecy is not to be restrained to literal Babylon:

the children of Israel shall come, they and the children of Judah together: upon the taking of Babylon, in a literal sense, by Cyrus, the children of Israel, or the ten tribes, carried away by the Assyrians, did not return; only the children of Judah, or the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, with the Levites, and a few of the other tribes, that might be mixed among them: but when mystical Babylon is fallen, then the whole body of the Jews will be converted, and return to their own land, Israel and Judah; which is foretold in other prophecies, as here, which speak of their general conversion; see Jeremiah 30:3, Hosea 1:11;

going and weeping; which is another circumstance, which shows that this does not respect the return of the Jews from the Babylonish captivity; for that was attended with joy, and not with tears; see Psalm 126:1; unless it is to be understood of weeping for joy, and of tears of joy, as Kimchi interprets it; but it is better to understand it of that godly sorrow and mourning for sin, which will appear in the Jews at the time of their conversion; particularly for their fathers' ill treatment of the Messiah, their unbelief and rejection of him, and their continued obstinacy and perverseness, and other sins; see Jeremiah 31:9;

they shall go and seem the Lord their God; even David their King, the true Messiah, who is Lord and God; to him they shall seek for peace, pardon, righteousness, and eternal life; and acknowledge him to be the Messiah, their Lord, and their God; embrace his Gospel, and submit to his ordinances; see Jeremiah 30:9. The Targum is,

"when they were carried captive, they went weeping; but when they return from the land of their captivity, they shall seek the worship of the Lord their God.''

In those days, and in that time, saith the LORD, the children of Israel shall {d} come, they and the children of Judah together, going and {e} weeping: they shall go, and seek the LORD their God.

(d) When Cyrus will take Babel.

(e) Read Jer 31:9.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
4. The overthrow of Babylon shall be the signal for the deliverance and penitent return of the re-united people of God. Cp. Jeremiah 3:12; Jeremiah 3:18; Jeremiah 3:21-25, and elsewhere.Verse 4. - In those days, etc. The destruction of Babylon is immediately followed by the deliverance of Israel. But the description of the latter is a remarkable one. We are by no means to regard it as an idealized picture of the return of the Jews under Zerubbabel, any more than we can suppose the glowing promises in the second part of Isaiah to have their sole fulfilment in that disappointing event. No; it is the characteristic of Messianic prophecy that, with "foreshortened perspective," the prophets represent as equally near events which are really separated by ages. In the Book of Isaiah, for instance, preliminary judgments are repeatedly described in terms which, properly speaking, only apply to the great final judgment. In fact, each great political revolution is a stage in the Divine drama of judgment, which will reach its close in the final cataclysm. And so too here (as well as in Isaiah 40-46.) the promise of mercy to Israel, which began to be fulfilled in the edict of Cyrus, is represented as if the still future conversion of the people of Israel were actually accomplished. The description reminds us of Jeremiah 3:18-21. Notice the penitence of the returning exiles, and the reunion of Israel and Judah (see on Jeremiah 3:18). Going and weeping; they shall go; rather, they shall go, weeping as they go. Through the working of God's power, the Elamites shall be dispersed to all the four winds, i.e., to all parts of the earth. This exercise of power is represented under the figure of the four winds. The wind is the most appropriate among all earthly things for symbolizing the Spirit of God, or the energy of the divine operation; cf. Zechariah 6:5; Daniel 7:2. The Kethib עולם in Jeremiah 49:36 has evidently been written by mistake for עילם. The meaning of the figure is this: Elam is to be attacked on all sides by enemies, and be scattered in every direction. This is evident from Jeremiah 49:37, where the figurative is changed for the literal, and the thought further extended. החתּתּי, Hiphil from חתת, be broken to pieces, in Hiphil to dispirit through fear and terror; cf. Jeremiah 1:17. On the form of the text, which is shortened from החתּותי through the shifting of the tone to the last syllable, cf. Ewald, 234, e. רעה, "evil, misfortune," is marked by the apposition, "the heat of mine anger," as the emanation of God's judgment of wrath. On 37b, cf. Jeremiah 9:15. The Lord will sit in judgment on king and princes, and punish them with death. The throne is set for the Judge to sit in judgment; see Jeremiah 43:10. Yet (Jeremiah 49:39), in the Messianic future, blessing shall come on Elam; cf. Jeremiah 49:6; Jeremiah 48:7.

If we compare this prophecy with the remaining prophecies of Jeremiah regarding the heathen nations, we shall find that it contains no reference whatever to any execution by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon of the judgment with which the Elamites are threatened; but it announces the fall of Elam and the dispersion of its inhabitants by enemies in a way so general, that, as Hvernick (on Daniel, p. 549) has remarked, it is an arbitrary addition for any one to make, if he thinks definitely of the Chaldeans as the enemies of Elam, because, correctly viewed, the contents rather declare against a conquest by Nebuchadnezzar. "Jeremiah," says Hvernick, "announces the utter extinction of the state as such, a general dispersion and annihilation of the people, a tribunal of punishment which the Lord Himself will hold over them, - features which are far too strongly marked, and far too grand, to let us think that Elam is merely to be rendered tributary and incorporated into a new state. If we connect with this the deliverance of Elam mentioned at the close of Jeremiah 49:39, viz., his conversion, then we will not hesitate to take the meaning of the oracle, in a more general way, as referring to the gradual fall of this heathen nation, for which, however, a future deliverance is in store, as is fully shown by the issue." This view is at least much more correct than the current tone, still maintained by Ewald, Hitzig, Graf, etc., according to which the prophecy refers to a conquest of Elam by Nebuchadnezzar. M. von Niebuhr (Gesch. Assyr. und Bab. S. 210) attempts to show its probability from a notice in Strabo (xi. 524), and (on S. 212) from the intimation given in the book of Judith, Jeremiah 1, of a war between Nebuchadnezzar and Media, which was successfully concluded in the twelfth year of his reign. But the statement in Strabo, that the Kossaites, a nation of robbers, once sent 13,000 archers to help the Elamites against the Susites and Babylonians, is far too indefinite for us to be able to apply it to a war which Nebuchadnezzar in company with Media carried on against Elam; for the Susites are at least not Medes. And the notice in the book of Judith is self-evidently unhistorical; for it says that Nebuchadnezzar was king of the Assyrians and resided in the great city of Nineveh, and that he defeated Arphaxad the king of Media in the seventeenth year of his reign (Judith 1:1, 13). But Nebuchadnezzar neither resided in Nineveh, which had been destroyed shortly before; nor could he have made war on Arphaxad king of Media in the seventeenth year of his reign, because he had in that year begun to besiege Jerusalem with all his forces. But the additional considerations which Niebuhr brings forward in support of his hypothesis can as little stand the test. Neither Jeremiah 25:25, where the kings of Media and Elam are mentioned among those who are to drink the cup of wrath, nor Ezekiel 32:24., where Elam and the whole multitude of its people are brought forward as among those who were slain, and who sank into the nether parts of the earth, furnish proofs of the conquest and destruction of Elam by Nebuchadnezzar, or of a war between that king and Media. For the funeral-song in Ezekiel bears a thoroughly ideal character, and announces the fall of all the heathen powers, without any regard to Nebuchadnezzar. This holds, too, in a sense, of Jeremiah 25, where Nebuchadnezzar is certainly mentioned as the ruler into whose power all the nations are to be delivered for the space of seventy years, inasmuch as this announcement also launches out into the idea of a judgment of all nations; so that we are not entitled to assume that all the kingdoms of the earth, to whom the cup of wrath is presented, were to be conquered and brought under subjection by Nebuchadnezzar. Still less reason is there for inferring from Jeremiah 27:3, that Nebuchadnezzar was involved in a war with Media at a time when, as is there stated, at the beginning of Zedekiah's reign, the kings of Edom, Moab, Ammon, and Phoenicia sent ambassadors to Jerusalem to recommend a coalition against the power of Babylon. Even if Nebuchadnezzar were then occupied in the eastern portion of his kingdom, yet there is nothing at all to prove that he was involved in war with Media or Elam. History says nothing of a war waged by Nebuchadnezzar on Elam, nor does this prophecy furnish any support for such an assumption. Although it does not set before us a "gradual ruin" of Elam (Hvernick), but rather a catastrophe brought on by God, yet the description is given in terms so general, that nothing more specific can be inferred from it regarding the time and the circumstances of this catastrophe. In this prophecy, Elam is not considered in its historical relation to the people of Israel, but as the representative of the heathen world lying beyond, which has not hitherto come into any relation towards the people of Israel, but which nevertheless, along with it, falls under the judgment coming on all nations, in order that, through the judgment, it may be led to the knowledge of the true God, and share in His salvation.

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