The LORD of hosts has sworn by himself, saying, Surely I will fill you with men, as with caterpillars; and they shall lift up a shout against you.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)The Lord of hosts hath sworn by himself.—This is, as in Jeremiah 49:13; Amos 6:8, the most solemn form of affirmation. Compare Hebrews 6:13, and Note on Jeremiah 49:13.
Surely I will fill thee with men, as with Caterpillers.—Better, with grasshoppers or locusts, the fullest type of the swarms of the destroyer (Nahum 3:15). The “Surely” answers to the Hebrew “For if,” as giving the condition on which the shouting depends.
They shall lift up a shout against thee.—The thought is the same as in Jeremiah 25:30. The “shout” is that of those who tread the grapes in the wine-press, and that, as in Isaiah 63:2-3, is the received symbol of conquest and destruction.
fill … with caterpillars—locusts (Na 3:15). Numerous as are the citizens of Babylon, the invaders shall be more numerous.Jeremiah 22:5 44:26 49:13 Amos 4:2 6:8 Isaiah 45:23; that is, the thing next mentioned shall come to pass as certainly as that there is a God in heaven, or that God liveth.
Surely I will fill thee with men, as with caterpillars; I will bring against thee a great army, that shall be like a swarm of caterpillars, and shall come against thee in such numbers as caterpillars use to come, and for the same end, to eat thee up and destroy thee; and as soldiers use do when they go on to fight their enemies, or to assault cities, they shall make a great shout against thee. Hebrews 6:13; and the certain performance of what he swears unto need not be doubted of; and indeed the design of the oath is to assure of the truth of the thing, about which, after this, there ought to be no hesitation:
surely I fill thee with men as with caterpillars; or "locusts" (r); march in vast numbers, and make sad desolation where they come; and to which a numerous army may fitly be compared; and which are here meant, even the army of Cyrus, that should enter Babylon, and fill it, as it did. So the Targum,
"the Lord of hosts hath sworn by his word, if I fill them with armies of many people as locusts:''
and they shall lift up a shout against thee; as soldiers, when they make the onset in battle; or as besiegers, when they make their attack on a city; or as when grape gatherers bring in their vintage, or tread out their wine, to which the allusion is: it signifies that her enemies should get an entire victory, and triumph over her.The LORD of hosts hath sworn by himself, saying, Surely I will fill thee with men, as with caterpillers; and they shall lift up a shout against thee.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)14. I will fill, etc.] rather, Though I have filled thee (better, thou art filled) with men (i.e. innumerable inhabitants), as with locusts (viz. in point of numbers), they (the assailants) shall lift up, etc.
cankerworm] the locust in its early (pupa) stage. Cp. Jeremiah 51:27, where see note.
a shout] the vintage song, See on Jeremiah 25:30.Verse 14. - Surely I will fill thee, etc. This is the rendering of Hitzig and Graf; the enemies are compared to locusts, as in Jeremiah 46:23. But the expression, "to fill a city with men," is more naturally taken of the increase of the population of the city; and it is better to render, with Ewald and Keil, "Even though [or, 'Surely even though'] I have filled thee with men, as with locusts, they shall raise over thee the cheer of the vintage;" i.e. the millions of Babylon's population will not save her from the most utter ruin. For the vintage cheer, see on Jeremiah 25:30; and for the figures, see especially, Isaiah 63:1-6. Isaiah 21:9 finds an echo in the expression, "Babylon is fallen." The figure of the cup refers us back to Jeremiah 25:15., where, however, it is applied in a different way. The cup is said to be of gold, in order to point out the splendour and glory of Nebuchadnezzar's dominion. "In the hand of Jahveh," i.e., used by Him as His instrument for pouring out His wrath to the nations. But Babylon has suddenly fallen and been broken in pieces. At this point Jeremiah drops the figure of the cup, for a golden cup does not break when it falls. The fall is so terrible, that the nations in Babylon are summoned to participate in the lamentation, and to lend their aid in repairing her injuries. But they answer that their attempts to heal her are fruitless. (On צרי, cf. Jeremiah 46:11 and Jeremiah 8:22.) The terrible and irreparable character of the fall is thus expressed in a dramatic manner. We must neither think of the allies and mercenaries as those who are addressed (Schnurrer, Rosenmller, Maurer, Hitzig), nor merely the Israelites who had been delivered from Babylon (Umbreit). The latter view is opposed by the words which follow, "Let every one go to his own country;" this points to men out of different lands. And the former assumption is opposed by the consideration that not merely the mercenaries, but also the allies are to be viewed as fallen and ruined together with Babylon, and that Babylon, which had subdued all the nations, has no allies, according to the general way in which the prophet views these things. Those addressed are rather the nations that had been vanquished by Babylon and detained in the city, of which Israel was one. Inasmuch as these were the servants of Babylon, and as such bound to pay her service, they are to heal Babylon; and because the attempts to heal her prove fruitless, they are to leave the ruined city. They answer this summons by the resolve, "We will go every one to his own land;" cf. Jeremiah 50:8, Jeremiah 50:16. The motive for this resolution, "for her guilt reaches up to heaven," certainly shows that it is Israelites who are speaking, because it is only they who form their opinions in such a way; but they speak in the name of all the strangers who are in Babylon. משׁפּט is the matter upon which judgment is passed, i.e., the transgression, the guilt, analogous to משׁפּט דּמים, Ezekiel 7:23, and משׁפּט מות , Deuteronomy 19:6; Deuteronomy 21:22; it does not mean the punishment adjudged, of which we cannot say that it reaches up to heaven. On this expression, cf. Psalm 57:11; Psalm 108:5. Through the fall of Babylon, the Lord has made manifest the righteousness of Israel; the redeemed ones are to proclaim this in Zion. צדקות does not mean "righteous acts" (Judges 5:11), but proofs of the righteousness of Israel as opposed to Babylon, which righteousness Babylon, through tyrannical oppression of the people that had been delivered up to it merely for chastisement, has failed to perceive, and which, so long as the Lord did not take His people to Himself again in a visible manner, was hidden from the world; cf. Psalm 37:6.
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