Jeremiah 51:25
Behold, I am against thee, O destroying mountain, saith the LORD, which destroyest all the earth: and I will stretch out mine hand upon thee, and roll thee down from the rocks, and will make thee a burnt mountain.
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(25) O destroying mountain.—Singularly enough the phrase is the same as that which is applied in 2Kings 23:13 to the Mount of Olives, and is there rendered by the Authorised version as “the Mount of Corruption.” It adds to the interest that this name so given appears in the reign of Josiah, and must therefore have been familiar to Jeremiah. There it is applied to the Mount of Olives as having been the centre of the worship of Ashtoreth and Chemosh and Milcom, destroying the faith and life of Israel. Here, not without the thought that the false worship of Babylon was the root of all its evils, the prophet applies it to that city. The use of the term “mountain,” literally quite inapplicable, was symbolical of its sovereignty. The latter clause of the verse suggests the idea that the prophet had before him the picture of a volcano.

And will make thee a burnt mountain.—Literally, a mountain of burning—either actively, as rolling down its lava and stones to the destruction of all below; or passively, as spent and burnt out. As the sentence describes the doom of Babylon, the latter meaning seems preferable. It is interesting to note the fact that there is an extinct volcano known as Koukal (= fire), which rises to a height of 300 feet above the river Khabour, in Western Assyria (the Chebar of Ezekiel 1:3), consisting of loose lava, scoriæ, and ashes. (Rawlinson’s Ancient Monarchies, i. 189.) Possibly the prophet, who had journeyed to the Euphrates, had seen in this the symbol of the “destroying mountain” that destroyed itself. Babylon was for him an extinct volcano.

Jeremiah 51:25-26. Behold, I am against thee, O destroying mountain — Babylon was situate in a plain, but is called a mountain here, by reason of its superiority and eminence above all other places; and perhaps also on account of its lofty walls, palaces, and other edifices; and it has the epithet of destroying, on account of its being the cause of the destruction of many nations. Or, the words הר המשׁחיתmay properly be rendered, mountain of corruption, a name given by way of reproach to the mount of Olives, after it was defiled by idolatry, 2 Kings 23:13, where see the note. The same appellation is here given to Babylon, because it was the seat of idolatry; which was derived from thence into other countries under its government and jurisdiction. This is remarkably true of mystical Babylon. I will roll thee down from the rocks — That is, from thy strong holds. I will dismantle all thy walls and forts, and then set thee on fire, (see Jeremiah 51:58-59,) so that thou shalt appear like a great mountain burning. “Earthquakes were frequent in Palestine, and the sacred writers have embellished their writings with repeated allusions to this terrible phenomenon. The prophet here compares a powerful nation, doomed to destruction, to a ruinous mountain, or rather a volcano, which would soon be consumed, and involve other mountains in its ruins.” And they shall not take of thee a stone — There shall not be left, in thee a stone fit to be used in any principal part of a building, either for a foundation or for a corner-stone. This seems to be spoken figuratively, and to signify that they should no longer have kings and governors taken from among themselves, but should be under the dominion of foreigners.

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.O destroying mountain - A volcano which by its flames and hot lava-streams "destroys the whole land."

A burnt mountain - A burned-out mountain, of which the crater alone remains. Such was Babylon. Its destructive energy under Nebuchadnezzar was like the first outbreak of volcanic fires; its rapid collapse under his successors was as the same volcano when its flames have burned out, and its crater is falling in upon itself.

25. destroying mountain—called so, not from its position, for it lay low (Jer 51:13; Ge 11:2, 9), but from its eminence above other nations, many of which it had "destroyed"; also, because of its lofty palaces, towers, hanging gardens resting on arches, and walls, fifty royal cubits broad and two hundred high.

roll thee down from the rocks—that is, from thy rock-like fortifications and walls.

burnt mountain—(Re 8:8). A volcano, which, after having spent itself in pouring its "destroying" lava on all the country around, falls into the vacuum and becomes extinct, the surrounding "rocks" alone marking where the crater had been. Such was the appearance of Babylon after its destruction, and as the pumice stones of the volcano are left in their place, being unfit for building, so Babylon should never rise from its ruins.

Babylon is not here called a mountain because it was situated upon any hills or mountains, for it appears from Genesis 11:2 that it was situated in a plain, and we read, Jeremiah 51:13, that it dwelt upon many waters; but because it was very high for its power and greatness, and had very high walls and towers, that it looked at a distance like a high rocky mountain, and, as some say, (being a very large city,) was full of trees. They had destroyed many people of the earth that lay near to them. God threatens to destroy them notwithstanding their towers and great fortifications, as many times they threw down malefactors from high rocks, mountains, and precipices; and to make them like Ætna or Vesuvius, or like some other mountains of sulphur, or other bituminous matter fired, which are always burning; or else he threateneth that their cities and towers, which appeared like a mountain, should be burnt.

Behold, I am against thee, O destroying mountain, saith the Lord, which destroyest all the earth,.... Babylon is called a mountain, though situated in a plain, because of its high walls, lofty towers, and hanging gardens, which made it look at a distance like a high mountain, as Lebanon, and others: or because it was a strong fortified city; so the Targum renders it, O destroying city: or because of its power and grandeur as a monarchy, it being usual to compare monarchies to mountains; see Isaiah 2:2; here called a "destroying" one for a reason given, because it destroyed all the earth, all the nations and kingdoms of it: the same character is given of mystical Babylon and its inhabitants, Revelation 11:18,

and I will stretch out mine hand upon thee: in a way of vindictive wrath, pouring it out upon her, and inflicting his judgments on her; laying hold on and seizing her in a furious manner, as a man does his enemy, when he has found him:

and roll them down from the rocks; towers and fortresses in Babylon, which looked like rocks, but should be now demolished:

and will make thee a burnt mountain: reduced to cinders and ashes by the conflagration of it: or, "a burning mountain": like Etna and Vesuvius; we never read of the burning of literal Babylon, but we do of mystical Babylon: see Revelation 18:8; and with this compare Revelation 8:8. The Targum renders it, a burnt city.

Behold, I am against thee, O destroying {o} mountain, saith the LORD, which destroyest all the earth: and I will stretch out my hand upon thee, and roll thee down from the {p} rocks, and will make thee a burnt mountain.

(o) Not that Babylon stood on a mountain but because it was strong and seemed invincible.

(p) From your strongholds and fortresses.

25. O destroying mountain] For the expression cp. 2 Kings 23:13 R.V. mg. The figure is not appropriate in a literal sense, as Babylon is situated in a plain. The sense must be that she towers in supremacy over other countries. Perhaps Ezekiel 35:3 ff. may have suggested this passage.

a burnt mountain] barren and desolate.

Verses 25, 26. - Another image for the destruction of Babylon. Verse 25. - O destroying mountain. The description evidently points to a volcano.

(1) Jehovah says that he will roll the mountain down from the rocks, which can only be understood of the stones and lava hurled down from the crater;

(2) that he will make it a "mountain of burning," i.e. either to a burning, or, more forcibly, a burnt out mountain; and

(3) that, as a consequence of this, its stones shall be unsuitable for the purposes of the builder. Now, Palestine, it has been clearly made out, "lies almost in the centre of one great volcano region of the earth's surface, that, namely, which includes the basin of the Mediterranean and the provinces of Western or Central Asia. Traces of that volcanic action are found in every direction. The black basaltic rock of the Hauran, the hot springs of Tiberius and Emmaus and Gadara, the naphtha fountains near the Dead Sea, the dykes of porphyry and other volcanic rooks that force their way through the limestone, the many eaves in the limestone rocks themselves, - all these show that we are treading on ground where the forces of the hidden fires of earth have been in times past in active operation. We are, that is, in a zone of earthquakes" (Plumptre, 'Biblical Studies,' p. 136; comp. Pusey's note on Amos 4:11). There is a striking parallel to this prophetic description in Revelation 8:8, where the destruction of a great empire is likened to the submersion in the sea of a great burning mountain, (Vitringa has noticed the parallel.) Jeremiah 51:25The omnipotence of the Lord and Creator of the whole world will destroy the idols of Babylon, and break the mighty kingdom that rules the world. Jeremiah 51:15. "He who made the earth by His strength, establishing the world by His wisdom, and stretched out the heavens by His understanding; Jeremiah 51:16. When, thundering, He makes a roaring sound of water in the heavens, He causes clouds to ascend from the end of the earth, makes lightnings for the rain, and brings forth the wind out of His treasures. Jeremiah 51:17. Every man without knowledge is brutish; every goldsmith is ashamed because of the image: for his molten work is a lie, and there is no spirit in them. Jeremiah 51:18. They are vanity, a work of mockery; in their time of visitation they perish. Jeremiah 51:19. The Portion of Jacob is not like these; for He is the framer of all, and of the tribe of his inheritance: Jahveh of hosts is His name. Jeremiah 51:20. Thou art a hammer to me, weapons of war; and with thee I will break nations in pieces, and with thee destroy kingdoms. Jeremiah 51:21. And with thee I will break in pieces the horse and his rider, and with thee I will break in pieces the chariot and its rider. Jeremiah 51:22. And with thee I will break in pieces man and woman, and with thee I will break in pieces old and young, and with thee I will break in pieces young man and maiden. Jeremiah 51:23. And with thee I will break in pieces the shepherd and his flock, and with thee I will break in pieces the husbandman and his yoke [of oxen], and with thee I will break in pieces governors and deputy-governors. Jeremiah 51:24. And I will recompense to Babylon, and to all the inhabitants of Chaldea, all their evil which they have done in Zion before your eyes, saith Jahveh. Jeremiah 51:25. Behold, I am against thee, O mountain of destruction, saith Jahve, that destroyed all the earth; and I will stretch out my hand against thee, and roll thee down from the rocks, and make thee a burnt mountain, Jeremiah 51:26. So that they shall not take from thee a stone for a corner, or a stone for foundations; but thou shalt be desolations for ever, saith Jahveh."

In order to establish, against all doubt, the fall of Babylon that has been announced under solemn oath, Jeremiah, in Jeremiah 51:15-19. repeats a passage from the address in Jeremiah 10:12-16, in which he holds up before the people, by way of warning, the almighty power of the living God, and the destruction of the idols at the time of the judgment. In Jeremiah 51:10 he wished, by means of this announcement, to combat the fears of the idolatrous people for the power of the heathen gods; here he seeks by the same means to destroy the confidence of the Chaldeans in their gods, and to state that all idols will be destroyed before the almighty power of the Creator and Ruler of the whole world on the day of judgment, and Israel shall then learn that He who formed the universe will show Himself, by the fall of Babylon, as the Creator of Israel. The whole passage is repeated verbatim, on till a change made in Jeremiah 51:19, where ישׂראל is omitted before שׁבט נחלתו, and these words are connected with what precedes: "He is the former of all, and of the tribe which belongs to Him as His own property," i.e., Israel. This alteration is not to be put to the account of a copyist, who omitted the word "Israel" through an oversight, but is due to Jeremiah: there was no need here, as in Jeremiah 10, for bringing into special prominence the relation of Israel to his God.

(Note: In Jeremiah 10:16 the lxx have taken no account either of ישׂראל or שׁבט. Hence Movers, Hitzig, and Ewald infer that these words have found their way into the text as a gloss suggested by Deuteronomy 32:9, and should be deleted. But in this they are wrong. The omission of the two words by the lxx is a result of the erroneous translation there given of the first clause of the verse. This the lxx have rendered ου ̓ τοιαύτη μερὶς τῷ ̓Ιακωβ, instead of ου ̓ τοιαύτη ἡ μερὶς τοῦ ̓Ιακώβ. Having done so, it was impossible for them to continue, ὅτι ὁ πλάσας τὰ πάντα αὐτός, because they could not predicate this of μερίς, which they evidently did not take to mean God. And if they were to connect הוּא with what followed, they were bound to omit the two words, for it would never have done to take together הוּא וישׂראל שׁבט נחלתו. They therefore simply omitted the troublesome words, and went on to translate: ὅτι ὁ πλάσας τὰ πάντα αὐτός κληρονομία αὐτοῦ. Cf. Ngelsbach. Jeremia u. Babylon, S. 94.)

As to the rest, see the exposition of Jeremiah 10:12-16. In Jeremiah 51:20-26 the destruction of Babylon and its power is further carried out in two figures. In Jeremiah 51:20-24 Babylon is compared to a hammer, which God uses for the purpose of beating to pieces nations and kingdoms, with their forces and their inhabitants, but on which He will afterwards requite the evil done to Zion. מפּץ is equivalent to מפיץ ot tnelaviuqe si, Proverbs 25:18, one who breaks in pieces; hence a battle-hammer. Hitzig takes כּלי to be a singular, "formed thus in order to avoid an accumulation of i sounds (cf. פּליטים with פּליטי)." This is possible, but neither necessary nor probable. The plural, "weapons of war," is added, because the battle-hammer is considered as including all weapons of war. By the hammer, Ewald understands "the true Israel;" Hitzig, Cyrus, the destroyer of Babylon; Ngelsbach, an ideal person. These three views are based on the fact that the operation performed by means of the hammer (breaking to pieces) is marked by perfects with ו relative (ונפּצתּי), which is also true of the retribution to be made on Babylon: from this it is inferred that the breaking with the hammer, as well as the retribution, is still future, and that the meaning is, "When I hammer in this way with thee, I will requite Babylon" (Hitzig); while Ewald concludes from nothing but the context that the words refer to Israel.

But none of these reasons is decisive, nor any of the three views tenable. The context gives decided support to the opinion that in Jeremiah 51:20. it is Babylon that is addressed, just as in Jeremiah 51:13. and Jeremiah 51:25; a further proof is, that as early as Jeremiah 50:23, Babylon is called "the hammer of the whole earth." Only very weighty reasons, then, could induce us to refer the same figure, as used here, to another nation. The word פּטּישׁ (Jeremiah 50:23), "hammer, smith's hammer" (Isaiah 41:7), is not essentially different from מפּץ, which is used here. The figure is quite inapplicable to Israel, because "Israel is certainly to be delivered through the destruction of Babylon, but is not to be himself the instrument of the destruction" (Graf). Finally, the employment of the perfect with w relative, both in connection with the shattering to pieces which God accomplishes with (by means of) Babylon, and also the retribution He will execute on Babylon, is explained by the fact, that just as, in prophetic vision, what Babylon does to the nations, and what happens to it, was not separated into two acts, distinct from one another, but appeared as one continuous whole, so also the work of Babylon as the instrument of destruction was not yet finished, but had only begun, and still continuing, was partly future, like the retribution which it was to receive for its offence against Zion; just as in Jeremiah 51:13 Babylon is viewed as then still in the active exercise of its power; and the purpose for which God employs it, as well as the fate that is to befall it, is presented together in something like this manner: "O Babylon, who art my hammer with which I break peoples and kingdoms in pieces, thee will I requite!" There is separate mention made of the instances of breaking, in a long enumeration, which becomes tedious through the constant repetition of the verb - something like the enumeration in Jeremiah 50:35-38, where, however, the constant repetition of חרב gives great emphasis to the address. First comes the general designation, nations and kingdoms; then military forces; then (Jeremiah 51:25) the inhabitants of the kingdoms, arranged, as in Ezekiel 23:6, Ezekiel 23:23, according to sex, age, and class, labouring classes (shepherds, and husbandmen with their cattle); and lastly dignitaries, satraps and lieutenant-governors, פּחות וּסגנים, as in Ezekiel 23:6, Ezekiel 23:23. פּחה probably comes from the Zendic pavan (root pa), of which a dialectic form is pagvan, "upholder of government;" see on Haggai 1:1. סגן corresponds to the ζωγάνης of the Athenians, "lieutenant-governor;" but it is not much that has hitherto been ascertained with regard to this office; see Delitzsch on Isaiah 41:25 Clark's translation. On 'ושׁלּמתּי וגו, cf. Jeremiah 51:6 and Jeremiah 50:15, Jeremiah 50:29; "before your eyes," towards the end of this verse, belongs to this verb in the main clause.

This retribution is set forth in Jeremiah 51:25. under a new figure. Babylon is called the "mountain of destruction;" this name is immediately explained by the predicate, "that destroys the whole earth," brings destruction on it. The name הר המשׁחית is applied in 2 Kings 23:13 to the Mount of Olives, or its southern summit, the so-called mons offensionis vel scandali of ecclesiastical tradition, on which Solomon had erected idolatrous altars for his foreign wives; the name refers to the pernicious influence thereby exercised on the religious life of Israel. In this verse, "destruction" is used in a comprehensive sense of the physical and moral ruin which Babylon brought on the nations. Babylon is a "mountain," as being a powerful kingdom, supereminent above others; whether there is also a reference in the title to its lofty buildings (C. B. Michaelis) seems doubtful. "I will roll thee down from the rocks," de petris, in quarum fastigiis hucusque eminuisti. Non efferes te amplius super alia regna (C. B. Mich.). To this Hitzig adds, by way of explanation: "The summit of the mountain is sometimes changed into the very position occupied by the crater." From what follows, "I will make thee a mountain of burning," i.e., either a burning, or burnt, burnt-out mountain, modern expositors infer, with J. D. Michaelis, that the prophet has before his mind a volcano in active eruption, "for no other kind of mountains could devastate countries; it is just volcanoes which have been hollowed out by fire that fall in, or, it may be, tumble down into the valley below, scattering their constituent elements here and there; the stones of such mountains, too, are commonly so much broken and burnt, that they are of no use for building" (Hitzig). Of the above remarks this much is correct, that the words, "I will make thee a burning mountain," are founded on the conception of a volcano; any more extended application, however, of the figure to the whole verse is unwarranted. The clause, "I will roll thee down from the rocks," cannot possibly be applied to the action of a volcano in eruption (though Ngelsbach does so apply it), unless we are ready to impute to the prophet a false notion regarding the eruptions of volcanoes. By the eruption, a mountain is not loosened from the rock on which it rests, and hurled down into the valleys round about; it is only the heart of the mountain, or the rocks on which its summit rests, that seem to be vomited out of it. Besides, the notion that there is a representation of an active volcano in the first clauses of the verse, is disproved by the very fact that the mountain, Babylon, does not bring ruin on the earth, as one that is burning; it is not to become such until after it has been rolled down from the rocks on which it rests. The laying waste of the countries is not ascribed to the fire that issues from the mountain, but the mountain begins to burn only after it has been rolled down from its rocks. Babylon, as a kingdom and city, is called a mountain, because it mightily surpassed and held sway over them; cf. Isaiah 2:14. It brings ruin on the whole earth by subjugation of the nations and devastation of the countries. The mountain rests on rocks, i.e., its power has a foundation as firm as a rock, until the Lord rolls it down from its height, and burns the strong mountain, making it like an extinct volcano, the stones of which, having been rendered vitreous by the fire, no longer furnish material that can be employed for the foundation of new buildings. "A corner-stone," etc., is explained by C. B. Michaelis, after the Chaldee, Kimchi, and others, to mean, "no one will appoint a king or a prince any more out of the stock of the Chaldeans." This is against the context, according to which the point treated of is, not the fall of the kingdom in or of Babylon, but the destruction of Babylon as a city and kingdom. Hitzig and Graf, accordingly, take the meaning to be this: Not a stone of the city will be used for a new building - no one will any more build for himself among their ruins, and out of the material there. The corner-stone and the foundation (it is further asserted) are mentioned by way of example, not because particularly large and good stones are needed for these parts, but because every house begins with them. But though the following clause, "thou shalt be an everlasting desolation," contains this idea, yet this interpretation neither exhausts nor gives a generally correct view of the meaning of the words, "no one will take from thee a corner-stone or a foundation-stone." The burning of the mountain signifies not merely that Babylon was to be burned to ashes, but that her sway over the world was to be quite at an end; this was only to come about when the city was burnt. When no stone of any value for a new building is to be left after this conflagration, this is equivalent to saying that nothing will be left of the empire that has been destroyed, which would be of any use in the foundation of another state. The last clause also ("for thou shalt be," etc.) refers to more than the destruction of the city of Babylon. This is seen even in the fundamental passage, Jeremiah 25:12, where the same threat is uttered against the land of the Chaldeans.

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