Jeremiah 51:1
Thus said the LORD; Behold, I will raise up against Babylon, and against them that dwell in the middle of them that rise up against me, a destroying wind;
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
LI.

(1) I will raise up . . . a destroying wind.—Literally, the wind of a destroyer. In Haggai 1:14; Ezra 1:1; Ezra 1:5; 1Chronicles 5:26 the phrase is used for “stirring up the spirit” of a man, and that may be its meaning here. The context, however, suggests, in the “fanners” of the next verse, the literal meaning of “wind,” and it is quite possible that the phrase may have been used by Jeremiah in this sense, and afterwards acquired a figurative meaning. It does not appear in any earlier book of the Old Testament.

Against them that dwell in the midst of them that rise up against me.—Literally, in the heart of my adversaries. In the judgment of most commentators the Hebrew words Leb-kamai, which answer to the last ten words of the English, furnish another example of the Atbash or cypher-writing of which we have seen an instance in the Sheshach of Jeremiah 25:26. Interpreted by that cypher Leb-kamai becomes Chasdim or Chaldæans. Obviously the significance of the cypher-words gives force to its employment here, and presents a parallel to the use of the names Merathaim and Pekod in Jeremiah 50:21. Some commentators, indeed, rest in that significance without recognising the hidden meaning of the Atbash. The LXX. and Syriac versions translate “against the Chaldæans,” as recognising the use of the cypher. Both this and Sheshach had probably become familiar in the correspondence between the exiles and those of their countrymen who remained in Judaea, and so both would understand them when used by Jeremiah.

Jeremiah 51:1-2. Behold, I will raise up against Babylon — Darius and Cyrus, who came against Babylon, came by a divine instinct. God excited their spirits to accomplish his purpose against that idolatrous city, and the oppressive government which had its seat there. Against them that dwell in the midst — Hebrew, in the heart; of them that rise up against me — That is, in the centre of the country of mine adversaries, which by a circumlocution means the same as Babylon itself. A destroying wind — See note on Jeremiah 4:11, where the prophet describes the Chaldean army coming up for the destruction of Judea under the same metaphor. The Chaldeans had been like a destroying, blasting wind to the Jews, and now the Medes and Persians are to be like one to them. And will send unto Babylon fanners — Enemies who shall drive them away as chaff is driven away by the fan; or those who shall disperse her forces, and empty or spoil her land of all its riches, &c. This image is frequently made use of by the Hebrew prophets, to represent the ease with which the Almighty disperses and destroys his enemies: see notes on Jeremiah 15:7; Isaiah 21:10; Isaiah 41:16. For in the day of trouble they shall be against her, &c. — Or, as the words may be rendered, When they shall come round her on every side in the evil (or adverse) day.51:1-58 The particulars of this prophecy are dispersed and interwoven, and the same things left and returned to again. Babylon is abundant in treasures, yet neither her waters nor her wealth shall secure her. Destruction comes when they did not think of it. Wherever we are, in the greatest depths, at the greatest distances, we are to remember the Lord our God; and in the times of the greatest fears and hopes, it is most needful to remember the Lord. The feeling excited by Babylon's fall is the same with the New Testament Babylon, Re 18:9,19. The ruin of all who support idolatry, infidelity, and superstition, is needful for the revival of true godliness; and the threatening prophecies of Scripture yield comfort in this view. The great seat of antichristian tyranny, idolatry, and superstition, the persecutor of true Christians, is as certainly doomed to destruction as ancient Babylon. Then will vast multitudes mourn for sin, and seek the Lord. Then will the lost sheep of the house of Israel be brought back to the fold of the good Shepherd, and stray no more. And the exact fulfilment of these ancient prophecies encourages us to faith in all the promises and prophecies of the sacred Scriptures.In the midst of them that rise up against me - Or, in Leb-kamai, the cipher for Kasdim, i. e., Chaldaea. This cipher was not necessarily invented by Jeremiah, or used for concealment. It was probaby first devised either for political purposes or for trade, and was in time largely employed in the correspondence between the exiles at Babylon and their friends at home. Thus, words in common use like Sheshach Jeremiah 25:26 and Leb-kamai, would be known to everybody. CHAPTER 51

Jer 51:1-64. Continuation of the Prophecy against Babylon Begun in the Fiftieth Chapter.

1. in the midst of them that rise … against me—literally, "in the heart" of them. Compare Ps 46:2, "the midst of the sea," Margin; Eze 27:4, "the heart of the seas"; Margin; Mt 12:40. In the center of the Chaldeans. "Against Me," because they persecute My people. The cabalistic mode of interpreting Hebrew words (by taking the letters in the inverse order of the alphabet, the last letter representing the first, and so on, Jer 25:26) would give the very word Chaldeans here; but the mystical method cannot be intended, as "Babylon" is plainly so called in the immediately preceding parallel clause.

wind—God needs not warlike weapons to "destroy" His foes; a wind or blast is sufficient; though, no doubt, the "wind" here is the invading host of Medes and Persians (Jer 4:11; 2Ki 19:7).The severe judgment of God against voluptuous, covetous, tyrannical, and idolatrous Babel, in the revenge and for the redemption of Israel, Jeremiah 51:1-58. Jeremiah delivereth the book of this prophecy to Seraiah, to be cast into Euphrates, in token of the perpetual shaking of Babylon, Jeremiah 51:59-64.

In this chapter the prophecy of the destruction of Babylon is continued under new metaphors; he begins with that of a wind,

a destroying wind, ( as northerly winds are ordinarily very pernicious,) but the Hebrew idiom so ill suiteth that of other languages, that it is no easy matter positively to assert the sense of the words used. In the Hebrew they are, and to, or against, those that inhabit the heart of those that rise up. Some would have it those that are wise in their own opinion, and are therefore said to dwell in their heart; others, those that are secure; but the best interpreters judge our translation to have best hit the sense, —

them that dwell in the heart, that is, in the midst of the Chaldeans, who are here said to have risen up against God, to strive against God. Jeremiah 50:24.

Thus saith the Lord, behold, I will raise up against Babylon,.... This is not a new prophecy, but a continuation of the former, and an enlargement of it. The Babylonians being the last and most notorious enemies of the Jews, their destruction is the longer dwelt upon; and as they were against the Lord's people the Lord was against them, and threatens to raise up instruments of his vengeance against them:

and against them that dwell in the midst of them that rise up against me; that dwell in Babylon, the metropolis of the Chaldeans, the seat and centre of the enemies of God and his people. It is a periphrasis of the Chaldeans; and, so the Targum renders it,

"against the inhabitants of the land of the Chaldeans;''

and so the Septuagint version, against the Chaldeans; and Jarchi and Kimchi observe that according to "athbash", a rule of interpretation with the Jews, the letters in "leb kame", rendered "the midst of them that rise up against me", answer to "Cashdim" or the Chaldeans; however they are no doubt designed; for they rose up against God, by setting up idols of their own; and against his people, by taking and carrying them captive: and now the Lord says he would raise up against them

a destroying wind; a northern one, the army of the Modes and Persians, which should sweep away all before it. The Targum is,

"people that are slayers; whose hearts are lifted up, and are beautiful in stature, and their spirit destroying.''

Thus saith the LORD; Behold, I will raise up against Babylon, and against them that dwell in the midst of them that rise against me, a destroying {a} wind;

(a) The Medes and Persians who will destroy them as the wind does the chaff.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Jeremiah 51:1. against them that dwell in Leb-kamai] Observe mg. meaning, the centre of hostility to Jehovah. See on Jeremiah 25:26 (“Sheshach”).

a destroying wind] or better, the spirit of a destroyer, cp. Jeremiah 51:11, and Haggai 1:14.Verse 1. - Against them that dwell in the midst of them that rise up against me. The Hebrew has leb-kamai, which is Kasdim, or Chaldea, written in the cypher called Athbash (see on Jeremiah 25:26); just as Sheshach in ver. 41 is equivalent to Babel. The question arises whether the prophet himself is responsible for this covert way of writing, or a scribe in later times (so Ewald). In favour of the former view it may be urged that Babylon and Chaldea receive symbolic names (though not in Athbash) in the connected chapter (Jeremiah 50:21, 31, 32); in favour of the latter, that the Septuagint has Ξαλδαίους in ver. 1, and does not express Sheshach in ver. 41, also that the clause to which Sheshach belongs in Jeremiah 25:26 is of very dubious genuineness. A destroying wind; rather, the spirit (ruakh) of a destroyer (or perhaps, of destruction). The verb rendered in this verse "raise up," when used in connection with ruakh, always means "to excite the spirit of any one" (ver. 11; Haggai 1:14; 1 Chronicles 5:26). The agents who execute the judgment. - Jeremiah 50:41. "Behold, a people shall come from the north, and a great nation, and many kings shall be raised up from the most distant sides of the earth. Jeremiah 50:42. Bow and javelin shall they seize: they are cruel, and will not pity; their voice shall sound like the sea, and they shall ride upon horses, [each one] arrayed like a man for the battle, against thee, O daughter of Babylon. Jeremiah 50:43. The king of Babylon hath heard the report concerning them, and his hands have fallen down: distress hath seized him, writing pain, like [that of] the woman in childbirth. Jeremiah 50:44. Behold, he shall come up like a lion from the glory of Jordan to a habitation of rock; but in a moment will I make them run away from her, and will set over her him who is chosen: for who is like me, and who will appoint me a time [to plead my defence]? and what shepherd [is there] that will stand before me? Jeremiah 50:45. Therefore hear ye the counsel of Jahveh which He hath taken against Babylon, and His purposes which He hath purposed against the land of the Chaldeans: Assuredly they shall drag them away, the smallest of the flock; assuredly [their] habitation shall be astonished at them. Jeremiah 50:46. At the cry, 'Babylon is taken,' the earth is shaken, and a cry [for help] is heard among the nations.

Jeremiah 51

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