Jeremiah 50:9
For, lo, I will raise and cause to come up against Babylon an assembly of great nations from the north country: and they shall set themselves in array against her; from thence she shall be taken: their arrows shall be as of a mighty expert man; none shall return in vain.
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(9) An assembly of great nations from the north country.—Like all the great monarchies of the East, the Medo-Persian kingdom, which was to be the destroyer of Babylon, was made up of a congeries of many different races. Herodotus (vii. 61-69), in his account of the army of Xerxes, names twenty-two, from the Medes and Persians at the head of the list to the Arabians and Ethiopians at its close.

From thence she shall be taken.—The Hebrew adverb may be taken either of time or place. The latter, as referring to the region from which the assailants come, gives the better sense.

As of a mighty expert man.—The marginal rendering, “destroyer,” follows the Vulgate and the Targum, and represents a various reading. There is no sufficient reason for rejecting the Authorised Version, which has the support of the LXX. and the Syriac versions.

None shall return in vain.—Grammatically the words may refer either to the warrior or the arrow. The use of the same phrase in 2Samuel 1:22; Isaiah 55:11 is perhaps in favour of the latter.

Jeremiah 50:9-11. For, lo, I will raise against Babylon, &c. — See Jeremiah 50:41, and Jeremiah 51:27. From thence, or, as משׁם, may be rendered, immediately, she shall be taken. Their arrows, &c. — The Medes and Persians were famous for the use of the bow. And Chaldea shall be a spoil — To all her destroyers, who shall enrich themselves by plundering her. All that spoil her shall be satisfied — Namely, with spoil and plunder, for Chaldea, with Babylon its metropolis, was, at that time, the richest country in the world. Because ye were glad, &c. — They rejoiced at the ruin of the Jews, a sin laid also to the charge of the Edomites, Obadiah 1:12. Though the Chaldeans were the executioners of God’s judgments upon the Jews, yet he punished them, because they were influenced in what they did purely by their own ambition and covetousness and acted with inhumanity and cruelty toward the conquered, though Providence directed their cruelties and oppressions, to the fulfilling its own ends and purposes. In like manner, God threatens to punish the king of Assyria after he had been the executioner of his judgments upon Jerusalem. Because ye are grown fat, &c. — The insolence and rudeness of oppressors are often compared to the wantonness of full-fed cattle.

50:8-20 The desolation that shall be brought upon Babylon is set forth in a variety of expressions. The cause of this destruction is the wrath of the Lord. Babylon shall be wholly desolated; for she hath sinned against the Lord. Sin makes men a mark for the arrows of God's judgments. The mercy promised to the Israel of God, shall not only accompany, but arise from the destruction of Babylon. These sheep shall be gathered from the deserts, and put again into good pasture. All who return to God and their duty, shall find satisfaction of soul in so doing. Deliverances out of trouble are comforts indeed, when fruits of the forgiveness of sin.I will raise - Or, stir up.

An assembly of great nations - The Medo-Persian empire was as much an aggregate of discordant nations as that of Babylon.

From thence - From the north, i. e., by the great nations coming thence.

Return in vain - A proverbial expression for ill success (compare Isaiah 55:11). Here the skillful warrior returns not empty.

9. from thence—that is, from the north country.

expert—literally, "prosperous." Besides "might," "expertness" is needed, that an arrow may do execution. The Margin has a different Hebrew reading; "destroying," literally, "bereaving, childless-making" (Jer 15:7). The Septuagint and Syriac support English Version.

In vain—without killing him at whom it was aimed (2Sa 1:22).

He means the Medes and Persians, as it is expounded afterward.

Their arrows shall be as of a mighty expert man; none shall return in vain; I will so direct their arrows, that every arrow they shoot shall pierce one or other. Or, (as some raffler choose to interpret it,) no soldier of that assembly of great nations that shall come up against Babylon shall return without some booty or other. The reason of the different reading noted in the margin is the difference of a point in the Hebrew, which if set on the right side of the letter, the word signifieth a destroyer; if on the left side, an expert man, as we translate it.

For, lo, I will raise and cause to come up against Babylon,.... The work was of the Lord; it was he that would give a commission and a command to the enemies of Babylon; that would incline them, and stir them up, to come against her; that would direct their motions and guide them thither, so that it would assuredly be; wherefore it behooves the people of God to make haste out of it:

an assembly of great nations from the north country; the Medes and Persians, with their allies and auxiliaries which came with them from the north; as also a collection of Christian nations from the north of Europe against antichrist:

and they shall set themselves in array against her; draw up their army in form of battle, or prepare and dispose their instruments of war for the siege of Babylon:

from thence shall she be taken; on the north side, from which quarter the enemy should come; or from the place where their army is drawn up in battle array; or suddenly, and at once: so Babylon was destroyed by Cyrus; and the destruction of Rome, or mystical Babylon, will be sudden and at an unawares, Revelation 18:8;

their arrows shall be as of a mighty expert man; or "that bereaves" (g) women of their husbands, and parents of their children: the Medes and Persians were famous for archery, strong to draw the bow, and skilful to guide and direct the arrow. Strabo (h) says of Media major, that it sometimes furnished out thirteen thousand archers to the Elymaeans, or Persians, against the Susians and Babylonians;

none shall return in vain; not one of the arrows but shall do execution, kill a man: or "it", or "he, which" or "who, shall not return in vain" (i); the assembly of nations, or anyone of the archers or soldiers.

(g) "orbantis", Pagninus, Vatablus, Piscator. (h) Geograph. l. 11. p. 361. (i) "quae non redibit frustra", Schmidt; "quae non revertitur frustra", De Dieu; "qui non redit vacuus", Cocceius.

For, lo, I will raise and cause to come up against Babylon an assembly of great nations from the north country: and they shall set themselves in array against her; from thence she shall be taken: their arrows shall be as of a mighty expert man; none shall return in vain.
9. an assembly of great nations] such as Ararat, Minni, Ashkenaz. Cp. Jeremiah 51:27 f.

an expert mighty man] better than the mg. a mighty man that maketh childless. In the Heb. the two readings differ by the position of a dot.

none shall return] Rightly mg. that returneth not.

in vain] empty-handed, making the reference to be to the return of warriors with abundant spoil. Cp. 2 Samuel 1:22.

Verse 9. - I will raise; literally, I will stir up (or, awaken); comp. Jeremiah 6:22; Isaiah 13:17. An assembly of great nations. So in a parallel prophecy, "the kingdoms of nations gathered together" (Isaiah 13:4). Callias in Ebers' learned story, 'The Egyptian Princess,' speaks of "an empire so casually heaped together, and consisting of seventy populations of different tongues and customs, as that of Persia." From thence; i.e. from the headquarters of the array of nations. As of a mighty expert man; rather, as of an expert warrior (or, mighty man). The marginal rendering of the Authorized Version represents a various reading of the Hebrew found in three old editions, and presupposed in the Targum and Vulgate, "one making childless," i.e. "a destroyer." The received reading, however, is self-evidently right. None shall return in vain. It seems doubtful whether this refers to the arrow or to the mighty man. The arrow may be said to "return [or, 'turn'] in vain" when it misses its aim or strikes the mark without piercing it (comp. 2 Samuel 1:22, where, however, it is the sword which is thus spoken of); the mighty man when he retires from the field defeated. This wider use of the phrase is sanctioned by Isaiah 55:11. Jeremiah 50:9For the Lord arouses and leads against Babylon a crowd of nations, i.e., an army consisting of a multitude of nations. As meeעיר reminds us of Isaiah 13:17, so קהל גּוים גּ remind us of ממלכות גּוים נאספים in Isaiah 13:4. ערך ל, to make preparations against. משּׁם is not used of time (Rosenmller, Ngelsbach, etc.), for this application of the word has not been established from the actual occurrence of instances, but it has a local meaning, and refers to the "crowd of nations:" from that place where the nations that come out of the north have assembled before Babylon. In the last clause, the multitude of great nations is taken together, as if they formed one enemy: "his arrows are like the arrows of a wisely dealing (i.e., skilful) warrior."

(Note: Instead of משׂכּיל, J. H. Michaelis, in his Biblia Halens., has accepted the reading משּׁכּיל on the authority of three Erfurt codices and three old editions (a Veneta of 1618; Buxtorf's Rabbinic Bible, printed at Basle, 1720; and the London Polyglott). J. D. Michaelis, Rosenmller, Maurer, and Umbreit have decided for this reading, and point to the rendering of the Vulgate, interfectoris, and of the Targum, מתכּיל, orbans. On the other hand, the lxx and Syriac have read and rendered משׂכּיל; and this reading is not merely presented by nonnulli libri, as Maurer states, but by twelve codices of de Rossi, and all the more ancient editions of the Bible, of which de Rossi in his variae lectiones mentions forty-one. The critical witnesses are thus overwhelming for משׂכּיל; and against משּׁכּיל there lies the further consideration, that שׁכל has the meaning orbare, to render childless, only in the Piel, but in the Hiphil means abortare, to cause or have miscarriages, as is shown by רחם משּׁכּיל, Hosea 9:14.)

The words לא ישׁוּב do not permit of being referred, on the strength of 2 Samuel 1:22, to one particular arrow which does not come back empty; for the verb שׁוּב, though perhaps suitable enough for the sword, which is drawn back when it has executed the blow, is inappropriate for the arrow, which does not return. The subject to ישׁוּב is גּבּור si , the hero, who does not turn or return without having accomplished his object; cf. Isaiah 55:11. In Jeremiah 50:10, כּשׂדּים is the name of the country, "Chaldeans;" hence it is construed as a feminine. The plunderers of Chaldea will be able to satisfy themselves with the rich booty of that country.

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