Jeremiah 51:36
Therefore thus said the LORD; Behold, I will plead your cause, and take vengeance for you; and I will dry up her sea, and make her springs dry.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(36) I will dry up her sea . . .—The nouns have been variously interpreted, some commentators referring it to the “sea” of confluent nations, and finding the wealth of Babylon in the “springs” that fed its greatness; others to the Euphrates, or to the sea-like alluvial plain, intersected by canals and streams in which the city stood, often flooded by the river, so that it became as an actual sea (Herod. i. 184), or specially to the large lake described in the Note on Jeremiah 51:32. So in Isaiah 21:1 Babylon is described as “the desert of the sea.” The Hebrew word for “springs” is in the singular, her reservoir. Probably the literal and figurative meanings run into one another, and the “drying up” describes the exhaustion of the power of which the “sea” was the symbol. In Revelation 16:12 we have apparently an allusive reference to the language of this prediction.

Jeremiah 51:36-39. Thus saith the Lord, I will plead thy cause — This is, as it were, God’s answer to the prayers and imprecations of the Jewish people, mentioned in the two foregoing verses. I will dry up her sea, and make her springs dry — This some think is spoken figuratively, meaning, I will exhaust her multitudes of people, and dry up all those sources from whence she derived her immense wealth and power. But this was literally fulfilled in Cyrus’s draining the river, and thereby gaining an entrance into the city. All great waters are called seas in the Hebrew language. And Babylon shall become heaps — See note on Jeremiah 50:39-40. They shall roar together like lions, &c. — This is either expressive of their grief and anguish of mind, or else the prophet describes the revels and riotous noise which they made upon the night of that public festival in which the city was taken: see below. In their heat I will make their feasts — Or, I will supply them with drink, as Blaney renders משׁתיהם, observing, that all the ancient versions give the word that sense, and that it agrees with the use of it, Daniel 1:8; Daniel 1:10; Daniel 1:16. And I will make them drunken — I will suffer them to give a loose to joy in their feasts, and to be intoxicated with wine: God is frequently said in Scripture to do those things which he permits to be done. Or the words may be taken figuratively, as signifying, While they are feasting I will prepare for them another cup to drink, namely, that of my fury and indignation. History informs us that Babylon was taken at a time when the Babylonians were so engaged in feasting and revelling, and so intoxicated with liquor, that the gates leading down to the river, which used to be shut every night, were left open, which gave a free passage to Cyrus and his army into the city. That they may rejoice and sleep a perpetual sleep — That, in the midst of their jollity and security, they may sleep the sleep of death.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.Her sea - Probably the great lake dug by Nitocris to receive the waters of the Euphrates.

Her springs - Her reservoir; the whole system of canals dug Jeremiah 51:13. The wealth of Babylonia depended upon irrigation.

36. plead … cause—(Jer 50:34).

sea—the Euphrates (Jer 51:13; Jer 50:38). Compare Isa 19:5, "sea," that is, the Nile (Isa 21:1).

Men had need take heed how they give cause of appeals to God against them, especially the appeals of such as are a people that have a covenant relation to God. God in those cases ordinarily showeth himself a swift witness and judge, and gives a speedy judgment in such causes.

Behold, saith God,

I will plead thy cause, not with words, but actually with my judicial dispensations, therefore it is expounded by taking vengeance. The vengeance which God threateneth is expressed metaphorically under the notion of

drying up her sea, and making her springs dry, which signifies the depriving her of all necessaries, not only of the abundance of her men, riches, treasures, but of her springs. Thus I had rather expound it, than as referring to the particular stratagem by which Cyrus took Babylon, viz, by drying up in some measure the river Euphrates, that is, turning it into other channels. Therefore thus saith the Lord,.... In answer to the prayers of the inhabitants of Zion and Jerusalem, imprecating divine vengeance on Babylon:

behold, I will plead thy cause, and take vengeance for thee; not by words only, but by deeds, inflicting punishment on their enemies:

and I will dry up her sea; the confluence of waters about Babylon; the river Euphrates, the channel of which was drained by Cyrus, by which means he took the city; and this may figuratively design the abundance of riches and affluence of good things in Babylon, which should now be taken from her:

and make her springs dry; deprive her of all the necessaries of life; and stop up all the avenues by which she was supplied with them; and cut off all communication of good things to her.

Therefore thus saith the LORD; Behold, I will plead thy {u} cause, and take vengeance for thee; and I will dry up her sea, and make her springs dry.

(u) Thus the Lord esteemed the injury done to his Church as done to himself because their cause is his.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
36. Jehovah replies favourably to the demand for vengeance on Babylon.

her sea … her fountain] either the Euphrates (cp. the word “sea” as applied to the river Nile in Isaiah 18:2; Isaiah 19:5; Nahum 3:8) or, better, the great lake or reservoir, four hundred and twenty furlongs in circumference, made by queen Nitocris (Herod. I. 185), or that constructed by Nebuchadnezzar (see Records of the Past, 2nd series, III. 116).Verse 36. - Her sea; i.e. the Euphrates (comp. Isaiah 21:1), or perhaps the lake dug by Nitocris to receive the waters of the Euphrates, Herod., 1:185 (Payne Smith). Comp. on "the reeds," ver. 32. Her springs, rather, her reservoirs. There are no springs, remarks Dr. Payne Smith, in the flat alluvial soil of Babylonia. The Hebrew word makor is used here collectively for the whole system of canals and reservoirs for the storing of the water. On the advance of this mighty host against Babylon, to execute the judgment determined by the Lord, the earth quakes. The mighty men of Babylon cease to offer resistance, and withdraw dispirited, like women, into inaccessible places, while the enemy sets fire to the houses, breaks the bars, and captures the city. The prophet views all this in spirit as already present, and depicts in lively colours the attack on the city and its capture. Hence the historic tenses, ותּרעשׁ, ותּחל, חדלוּ, etc. קמה is used of the permanence, i.e., of the realization of the divine counsels, as in Jeremiah 44:23. On the singular, see Ewald, 317, a. "To make the land," etc., as in Jeremiah 4:7; Jeremiah 18:16, etc. "They sit (have taken up their position) in the strongholds" (Mountain fastnesses), i.e., in inaccessible places; cf. 1 Samuel 13:16; 2 Samuel 23:14. נשׁתה is but to be regarded as a Kal form from נשׁת; on its derivation from שׁתת, see on Isaiah 41:17. "They have become women;" cf. Jeremiah 50:37. The subject of the verb הצּיעתוּ is the enemy, who set fire to the dwellings in Babylon. "Runner runs against runner," i.e., from opposite sides of the city there come messengers, who meet each other running to tell the king in his castle that the city is taken. The king is therefore (as Graf correctly remarks against Hitzig) not to be thought of as living outside of the city, for "in this case לקראת would have no meaning," but as living in the royal castle, which was situated in the middle of the city, on the Euphrates. Inasmuch as the city is taken "from the end" (מקּצה), i.e., on all sides, the messengers who bring the news to the king's fortress must meet each other.
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