Jeremiah 51:14
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.
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(14) 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.

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.Rather, "Surely I have filled thee with men as with locusts, and they shall sing over thee the vintage-song." The vintage-shout suggests the idea of trampling Babylon under foot, as the vintagers trample the grapes; a metaphor of the divine wrath. 14. by himself—literally, "by His soul" (2Sa 15:21; Heb 6:13).

fill … with caterpillars—locusts (Na 3:15). Numerous as are the citizens of Babylon, the invaders shall be more numerous.

The Lord, that is able to bring to pass what he saith, hath sworn by his life, or by himself; see the like phrase 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.

The Lord hath sworn by himself, saying,.... Or, "by his soul" or "life" (q); which is himself, than which he cannot swear by a greater, 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.

(q) "per animam suam", Pagninus, Cocceius, Schmidt. (r) "ut, vel quasi brucho", V. L. Cocceius, Montanus, Grotius, Schmidt.

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.
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. Jeremiah 51:14The Lord announces destruction to Babylon with a solemn oath. Many take כּי אם in the sense of אם לא in oaths: "truly, certainly." But this use of the expression is neither fully established, nor suitable in this connection. In 2 Samuel 15:21 (the only passage that can be cited in its behalf), the meaning "only" gives good enough sense. Ewald (356, b) wrongly adduces 2 Kings 5:20 in support of the above meaning, and three lines below he attributes the signification "although" to the passage now before us. Moreover, the asseveration, "Verily I have filled thee with men as with locusts, and they shall sing the Hedad over thee," can have a suitable meaning only if we take "I have filled thee" prophetically, and understand the filling with men as referring to the enemy, when the city has been reduced (Hitzig). But to fill a city with men hardly means quite the same as to put a host of enemies in it. כּי serves merely to introduce the oath, and אם means "although," - as, for instance, in Job 9:15. The meaning is not, "When I filled thee with men, as with locusts, the only result was, that a more abundant wine-pressing could be obtained" (Ngelsbach), for this though is foreign to the context; the meaning rather is, "Even the countless multitudes of men in Babylon will not avail it" (Ewald), will not keep it from ruin. הידד, the song sung at the pressing of wine, is, from the nature of the case, the battle-song; see on Jeremiah 25:30.
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