Jeremiah 51:41
How is Sheshach taken! and how is the praise of the whole earth surprised! how is Babylon become an astonishment among the nations!
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(41) How is Sheshach taken!—“Sheshach,” it will be remembered, is the cypher which, as explained in the Note on Jeremiah 25:26, stands for Babylon. Here, in the parallelism of Hebrew poetry, it balances the actual name of the city in the second clause of the verse. The word “surprised” is the same as that rendered “stopped” in Jeremiah 51:32.

Jeremiah 51:41-43. How is Sheshach taken! — That Babylon is meant by Sheshach is certain; but why it is so called is yet matter of doubt: see note on Jeremiah 25:26. Some indeed have supposed that it is called so from a goddess of that name, which the Babylonians worshipped, and which is supposed by Calmet to have been the same with the moon; but of these things there does not appear to be satisfactory proof. How is the praise of the whole earth surprised — Babylon was esteemed the wonder of the world, for the height, breadth, and compass of its walls, the palaces and hanging gardens belonging to it, for the temple of Belus, for the banks and facing of the river, and the artificial lakes and canals made for the draining of it, and for its riches and greatness. The sea is come up upon Babylon, &c. — A numerous army, or a vast multitude of people, carrying all before them like an inundation. Her cities are a desolation — All the lesser cities, within the territories of Babylon, are become an uninhabited, uncultivated desert: see note on Isaiah 13:20.51:1-58 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.Sheshach - Babylon: see the Jeremiah 51:1 note.

Surprised - i. e., seized, captured.

41. Sheshach—Babylon (compare Note, see Jer 25:26); called so from the goddess Shach, to whom a five days' festival was kept, during which, as in the Roman Saturnalia, the most unbridled licentiousness was permitted; slaves ruled their masters, and in every house one called Zogan, arrayed in a royal garment, was chosen to rule all the rest. He calls Babylon "Sheshach," to imply that it was during this feast the city was taken [Scaliger]. We meet with this term

Sheshach only here, and Jeremiah 25:26; both places leave it doubtful whether it be to be taken for an idol, which they called by the name of Shach, or a name given to the city of Babylon, which worshipped that idol, to the honour of which the Babylonians kept a yearly festival for several days; in the time of which festival they say it was that Cyrus took the city of Babylon.

The praise of the whole earth; Babylon, that was so famous over all the world for her splendour. And so it is interpreted in the next words, wherein Babylon, for the punishment brought upon it, is said to be an astonishment to all nations; which makes it probable that Babylon is what was called Sheshach, by the doubling of a letter, because she worshipped Shach. How is Sheshach taken!.... Not the city Shushan, as Sir John Marsham thinks (e); but Babylon, as is plain from a following clause; and so the Targum,

"how is Babylon subdued!''

called Sheshach, by a position and commutation of letters the Jews call "athbash"; so Jarchi, Kimchi, and Abarbinel account for it; or else from their idol Shach, the same with Bel, which was worshipped here, and had a temple erected for it; and where an annual feast was kept in honour of it, called the Sacchean feast; and which was observing the very time the city was taken; and may be the true reason of its having this name given it now; See Gill on Jeremiah 25:26; the taking of which was very wonderful; and therefore this question is put by way of admiration; it being so well fortified and provided to hold out a long siege:

and how is the praise of the whole earth surprised? for it was taken by stratagem and surprise, before the king and his guards, the army, and the inhabitants of it, were aware; that city, which was matter and occasion of praise to all the world, and went through it; for the compass of it, and height and strength of its walls; the river Euphrates that ran through it, and flowed about it; the temple, palaces, and gardens in it:

how is Babylon become an astonishment among the nations! or, "a desolation"; and indeed its being a desolation was the reason of its being an astonishment among the nations; who were amazed to see so strong, rich, and splendid a city brought to ruin in a very short time.

(e) Canon. Chron. p. 607.

How is {y} Sheshach taken! and how is the praise of the whole earth surprised! how is Babylon become an horror among the nations!

(y) Meaning Babel as in Jer 25:26.

41. Sheshach] i.e. Babylon. See on Jeremiah 25:26.

a desolation] mg. an astonishment. Cp. Jeremiah 51:43.Verse 41. - How is Sheshach taken! The Septuagint omits "Sheshach" (see, on the name, Jeremiah 25:26), and very possibly rightly. This judgment comes on Babylon for its offences against Israel. The king of Babylon has devoured Israel, etc. Those who complain, in Jeremiah 51:34, are the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem, in whose name the prophet enumerates the crimes of Babylon. "Nebuchadnezzar has devoured us," i.e., oppressed us. The plural suffixes to the verbs have been needlessly changed in the Qeri into singulars, for the simple reason, perhaps, that with מעדני and in Jeremiah 51:35 the address makes a transition into the singular. המם signifies to throw enemies into confusion by causing a panic, for the purpose of destroying them; hence to destroy, see on Deuteronomy 2:15; here to destroy, crush. "He set us down like an empty vessel" refers to the country and the people; he has swept the country of human beings, and robbed the people of everything. תּנּין, usually a sea-monster, crocodile (Isaiah 27:1; Isaiah 51:9, etc.); here a beast of prey which devours everything. מעדנים, "delights," then "dainty meats," Genesis 49:20.

(Note: The form actually found in the Masoretic text is מעדני, "from (out of, with) my dainties." - Tr.)

הדיח, from דּוּח, signifies to wash away, push away (see Delitzsch on Isaiah 4:4); in other places Jeremiah uses הדּיח, Jeremiah 8:3; Jeremiah 16:15, etc. "Let my wrong (i.e., the wrong done me) come upon Babylon." This wrong is more fully specified, with reference to the figure of swallowing, by "my flesh and blood;" cf. Micah 3:3. The Lord will avenge this wrong, Jeremiah 51:36, cf. Jeremiah 50:34; Jeremiah 51:6, Jeremiah 51:11; He will also dry up the sea of Babylon, and make her spring dry up. Many expositors understand these latter words metaphorically, as referring to the sea of nations surging in Babylon (Jeremiah 51:42, Jeremiah 51:55), and view the treasures and riches as the fountain from which the sea of nations sprang up (Hitzig); but the context demands a literal interpretation, inasmuch as in Jeremiah 51:37 the subject treated of is the laying waste of the country. The sea of Babylon is the Euphrates, with its canals, lakes, and marshes, i.e., the abundance of water to which Babylonia owed its fertility, and the city its influence as the centre of the then known world. Isaiah (Isaiah 21:1) accordingly calls Babylon, emblematically, the desert of the sea, inasmuch as the region in which Babylon stands is a plain, broken in such a manner by the Euphrates, as well as by marshes and lakes, as that the city, so to speak, swims in the sea (Delitzsch). The source of spring of the sea is the Euphrates, and the drying up of this spring is not to be understood literally of the drying up of the Euphrates, but signifies a drying up of the springs of water that fertilize the country. On the figures employed in Jeremiah 51:37, cf. Jeremiah 9:10; Jeremiah 18:16; Jeremiah 49:33.

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