Jeremiah 50:4
In those days, and in that time, saith 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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(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.

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. Jeremiah 50:4Then, when Babylon shall have fallen, the children of Israel and Judah return out of their captivity, seeking Jahveh their God with tears of repentance, and marching to Zion, for the purpose of joining themselves to Him in an eternal covenant. The fall of Babylon has the deliverance of Israel as its direct result. The prophet views this in such a way, that all the steps in the fulfilment (the return from Babylon, the reunion of the tribes previously separated, their sincere return to the Lord, and the making of a new covenant that shall endure for ever), which will actually follow successively in long periods, are taken together into one view. By the statement made regarding the time, "In those days, and at that time," the fall of Babylon and the deliverance of Israel (which Jeremiah sees in the spirit as already begun) are marked out as belonging to the future. Israel and Judah come together, divided no more; cf. Jeremiah 3:18. "Going and weeping they go," i.e., they always go further on, weeping: cf. Jeremiah 41:6; 2 Samuel 3:16; Ewald, 280, b. Cf. also Jeremiah 3:21; Jeremiah 31:9. Seeking the Lord their God, they ask for Zion, i.e., they ask after the way thither; for in Zion Jahveh has His throne. "The way hither" (i.e., to Jerusalem) "is their face," sc. directed. "Hither" points to the place of the speaker, Jerusalem. באוּ are imperatives, and words with which those who are returning encourage one another to a close following of the Lord their God. נלווּ is imperative for ילּווּ, like נקבּצוּ in Isaiah 43:9, Joel 3:11; cf. Ewald, 226, c. It cannot be the imperfect, because the third person gives no sense; hence Graf would change the vowels, and read נלוה. But suspicion is raised against this by the very fact that, excepting Ecclesiastes 8:15, לוה, in the sense of joining oneself to, depending on, occurs only in the Niphal. בּרית עולם is a modal accusative: "in an eternal covenant which shall not be forgotten," i.e., which we will not forget, will not break again. In fact, this is the new covenant which the Lord, according to Jeremiah 31:31., will make in time to come with His people. But here this side of the matter is withdrawn from consideration; for the point treated of is merely what Israel, in his repentant frame and returning to God, vows he shall do.

Israel comes to this determination in consequence of the misery into which he has fallen because of his sins, Jeremiah 50:5-7. Israel was like a flock of lost sheep which their shepherds had led astray. צאן , a flock of sheep that are going to ruin. The participle in the plural is joined with the collective noun ad sensum, to show what is imminent or is beginning to happen. The verb היה points to the subject צאן; hence the Qeri היוּ is unnecessary. The plural suffixes of the following clause refer to עמּי as a collective. The shepherds led the people of God astray on הרים שׁובבים (a local accusative; on the Kethib שׁובבים, cf. Jeremiah 31:32; Jeremiah 49:4; it is not to be read שׁובבים), mountains that render people faithless. These mountains were so designated because they were the seats of that idolatry which had great power of attraction for a sinful people, so that the seduction or alienation of the people from their God is ascribed to them. שׁובב is used in the sense which the verb has in Isaiah 47:10. The Qeri שׁובבוּם gives the less appropriate idea, "the shepherds made the sheep stray." Hitzig's translation, "they drove them along the mountain," does to suit the verb שׁובב. Moreover, the mountains in themselves do not form unsuitable pasture-ground for sheep, and הרים does not mean "a bare, desolate mountain-range." The objection to our view of הרים, that there is no very evident proof that worship on high places is referred to (Graf), is pure fancy, and the reverse only is true. For the words which follow, "they (the sheep) went from mountain to hill, and forgot their resting-place," have no meaning whatever, unless they are understood of the idolatrous dealings of Israel. The resting-place of the sheep (רבחם, the place where the flocks lie down to rest), according to Jeremiah 50:7, is Jahveh, the hope of their fathers. Their having forgotten this resting-place is the result of their going from mountain to hill: these words undeniably point to the idolatry of the people on every high hill (Jeremiah 2:20; Jeremiah 3:2; Jeremiah 17:2, etc.).

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