Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Concerning the Ammonites, thus saith the LORD; Hath Israel no sons? hath he no heir? why then doth their king inherit Gad, and his people dwell in his cities?
Jer 49:1-39. Predictions as to Ammon, Idumea, Damascus, Kedar, Hazor, and Elam.
The event of the prophecy as to Ammon preceded that as to Moab (see on Jer 49:3); and in Eze 21:26-28, the destruction of Ammon is subjoined to the deposition of Zedekiah.
1. Hath Israel … no heir?—namely, to occupy the land of Gad, after it itself has been carried away captive by Shalmaneser. Ammon, like Moab, descended from Lot, lay north of Moab, from which it was separated by the river Arnon, and east of Reuben and Gad (Jos 13:24, 25) on the same side of Jordan. It seized on Gad when Israel was carried captive. Judah was by the right of kindred the heir, not Ammon; but Ammon joined with Nebuchadnezzar against Judah and Jerusalem (2Ki 24:2) and exulted over its fall (Ps 83:4-7, 8; Zep 2:8, 9). It had already, in the days of Jeroboam, in Israel's affliction, tried to "enlarge its border" (2Ki 14:26; Am 1:1, 13).
their king—(Am 1:15); referring to Melchom, their tutelary idol (Zep 1:5); and so the Septuagint reads it here as a proper name (1Ki 11:5, 33; 2Ki 23:13). The Ammonite god is said to do what they do, namely, occupy the Israelite land of Gad. To Jehovah, the theocratic "King" of Israel, the land belonged of right; so that their Molech or Melchom was a usurper-king.
his people—the people of Melchom, "their king." Compare "people of Chemosh," Jer 48:46.
Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will cause an alarm of war to be heard in Rabbah of the Ammonites; and it shall be a desolate heap, and her daughters shall be burned with fire: then shall Israel be heir unto them that were his heirs, saith the LORD.
2. Rabbah—"the great," metropolis of Ammon (2Sa 12:26-30). Its destruction is foretold also in Eze 25:5; Am 1:14, 15.
her daughters—the towns and villages, dependencies of the metropolis (Jos 15:45).
shall … be heir—shall possess those who possessed him. The full accomplishment of this is still future; partially fulfilled under the Maccabees (1 Maccabees 5:6).
Howl, O Heshbon, for Ai is spoiled: cry, ye daughters of Rabbah, gird you with sackcloth; lament, and run to and fro by the hedges; for their king shall go into captivity, and his priests and his princes together.
3. Heshbon … Ai—Nebuchadnezzar, coming from the north, first attacked Ammon, then its brother and neighbor, Moab. As Ai of Ammon had already suffered destruction, Heshbon of Moab being near it might well fear the same fate.
hedges—Their cities being destroyed, the outcasts have no place of shelter save behind the "hedges" of vineyards and gardens; or else the enclosures of their villages.
their king—Melchom, the idol, as the mention of "his priests" shows (compare Jer 48:7).
Wherefore gloriest thou in the valleys, thy flowing valley, O backsliding daughter? that trusted in her treasures, saying, Who shall come unto me?
4. thy flowing valley—rather, "thy valley shall flow," namely with the blood of the slain; in sad contrast to their "valleys" in which they had heretofore "gloried," as flowing with milk and honey [Grotius]. Or else, as Margin, "shall flow away."
backsliding—apostate from Jehovah, the God of their father Lot, to Molech.
treasures—her resources for resisting the foe.
Who shall, &c.—Who can come … (Jer 21:13).
Behold, I will bring a fear upon thee, saith the Lord GOD of hosts, from all those that be about thee; and ye shall be driven out every man right forth; and none shall gather up him that wandereth.
5. every man right forth—whithersoever chance may lead him (Jer 46:5; Ge 19:17); straight before him, onwards at random (Am 4:3).
none … gather up him, &c.—There shall be none to gather together the wandering fugitives, so as to care for them and restore them to their own homes.
And afterward I will bring again the captivity of the children of Ammon, saith the LORD.
6. (Compare Jer 48:47). For the sake of "righteous" Lot their progenitor. Partially fulfilled under Cyrus; in gospel times more fully.
Concerning Edom, thus saith the LORD of hosts; Is wisdom no more in Teman? is counsel perished from the prudent? is their wisdom vanished?
7. Concerning Edom—a distinct prophecy, copied in part from Obadiah, but with the freedom of one himself inspired and foretelling a later calamity. Obadiah's was fulfilled probably in Sennacherib's time (compare Isa 34:5; Am 1:11); Jeremiah's about the same time as his preceding prophecies (Jer 49:12; Eze 25:12).
wisdom—for which the Arabs and the people of Teman (a city of Edom) in particular, were famed (Ge 36:15; 1Ki 4:30; see Job, everywhere; Ob 8).
vanished—literally, "poured out," that is, exhausted (compare Isa 19:3, Margin) [Maurer]. Or, as the kindred Ethiopic word means, "worn out" [Ludovicus De Dieu].
Flee ye, turn back, dwell deep, O inhabitants of Dedan; for I will bring the calamity of Esau upon him, the time that I will visit him.
8. turn—namely, your backs in flight.
dwell deep—in deep defiles and caves [Grotius], which abound in Idumea. Others refer it to the Arab custom of retiring into the depth of the desert when avoiding an offended foe (Jer 49:30).
Dedan—a tribe bordering on and made subject by Idumea; descended from Jokshan, son of Abraham and Keturah (Ge 25:1-3).
Esau—The naming of Edom's progenitor, reprobated by God, recalls the remembrance of the old curse on him for his profanity, both his sin and its punishment being perpetuated in his descendants (Heb 12:16, 17).
If grapegatherers come to thee, would they not leave some gleaning grapes? if thieves by night, they will destroy till they have enough.
9. (Ob 5). Grape gatherers, yea even thieves, leave something behind them; but the Chaldeans will sweep Idumea clean of everything.
But I have made Esau bare, I have uncovered his secret places, and he shall not be able to hide himself: his seed is spoiled, and his brethren, and his neighbours, and he is not.
10. Edom became politically extinct after the time of the Romans.
uncovered his secret places—where he hid himself (Jer 49:8) and his treasures (Isa 45:3). I have caused that nothing should be so hidden as that the conqueror should not find it.
Leave thy fatherless children, I will preserve them alive; and let thy widows trust in me.
11. Thy fatherless and widows must rest their hope in God alone, as none of the adult males shall be left alive, so desperate will be the affairs of Edom. The verse also, besides this threat, implies a promise of mercy to Esau in God's good time, as there was to Moab and Ammon (Jer 49:6; Jer 48:47); the extinction of the adult males is the prominent idea (compare Jer 49:12).
For thus saith the LORD; Behold, they whose judgment was not to drink of the cup have assuredly drunken; and art thou he that shall altogether go unpunished? thou shalt not go unpunished, but thou shalt surely drink of it.
12. (Compare Jer 25:15, 16, 29).
they whose judgment was not to drink of the cup—the Jews to whom, by virtue of the covenant relation, it did not belong to drink the cup. It might have been expected that they would be spared. He regards not the merits of the Jews, for they were as bad or worse than others: but the grace and adoption of God; it is just and natural ("judgment") that God should pardon His sons sooner than aliens [Calvin].
For I have sworn by myself, saith the LORD, that Bozrah shall become a desolation, a reproach, a waste, and a curse; and all the cities thereof shall be perpetual wastes.
13. Bozrah—(See on Jer 48:24).
I have heard a rumour from the LORD, and an ambassador is sent unto the heathen, saying, Gather ye together, and come against her, and rise up to the battle.
14. (Ob 1-3).
ambassador … unto the heathen—a messenger from God to stir up the Chaldeans against Edom.
For, lo, I will make thee small among the heathen, and despised among men.
15. David and Joab had already humbled Edom (2Sa 8:14).
Thy terribleness hath deceived thee, and the pride of thine heart, O thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock, that holdest the height of the hill: though thou shouldest make thy nest as high as the eagle, I will bring thee down from thence, saith the LORD.
16. terribleness—the terror which thou didst inspire into others.
deceived thee—rendered thee proudly confident, as if none would dare to assail thee.
dwellest in … rock—Petra, the chief of Idumea, was cut in the rocks; its ruins are very remarkable. The whole south of Idumea abounds in cave dwellings and rocks.
though … nest … eagle—(Job 39:27; Ob 3, 4). The eagle builds its nest in the highest craggy eyry.
Also Edom shall be a desolation: every one that goeth by it shall be astonished, and shall hiss at all the plagues thereof.
17. (Compare 1Ki 9:8).
As in the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah and the neighbour cities thereof, saith the LORD, no man shall abide there, neither shall a son of man dwell in it.
18. (Jer 50:40; De 29:23; Am 4:11).
no man shall abide there—that is, of the Idumeans. The Romans had a garrison there.
Behold, he shall come up like a lion from the swelling of Jordan against the habitation of the strong: but I will suddenly make him run away from her: and who is a chosen man, that I may appoint over her? for who is like me? and who will appoint me the time? and who is that shepherd that will stand before me?
19. he—Nebuchadnezzar, or Nebuzara-dan; the name would at once suggest itself to the minds of the hearers (Jer 48:40; 46:18).
swelling—as a lion which the overflow of the Jordan forced out of his lair on the banks, to ascend the neighboring heights [Calvin]. See as to the translation, "pride of the Jordan," see on Jer 12:5.
habitation of … strong—the fastnesses of Idumea (compare Nu 24:21). Maurer translates, "An ever verdant (literally, 'perennial') pasturage," that is, Idumea heretofore having enjoyed uninterrupted tranquillity; so in Jer 49:20 the image is retained, the Idumeans being compared to "a flock," and their king to "a shepherd," in this verse, and the enemy to "a lion" (compare Jer 50:17-19). English Version accords more with the Hebrew.
suddenly—"in the twinkling of an eye," as the Hebrew implies.
him … her—I will make Nebuzara-dan enter Idumea, and then, having in the twinkling of an eye effected the conquest, go away speedily: elsewhere. Instead of "but," translate, "for." Grotius translates, "run upon her," or "to her," instead of "run away from her." Maurer understands it, "I will make him (the Idumean) run away from her" (that is, from his own land); the similar change of reference of the pronouns (Jer 50:44) favors this.
who is a chosen man, &c.—God calls the choicest warriors to Him, to set "over" the work of devastating Idumea. God will surely execute His purpose, for He can call forth from all sides the agents He chooses.
who is like me?—(Ex 15:11).
who will appoint me the time?—namely, for entering into a trial in judgment with Me (see Margin). Image from law courts (Job 9:19).
shepherd—leader of the Idumeans; following up the previous image, "a lion"; no Idumean shepherd shall withstand the lion sent by Jehovah (Job 41:10), or save the Idumean flock.
Therefore hear the counsel of the LORD, that he hath taken against Edom; and his purposes, that he hath purposed against the inhabitants of Teman: Surely the least of the flock shall draw them out: surely he shall make their habitations desolate with them.
20. least of the flock—the weakest and humblest of the Chaldean host. Compare Jer 6:3, where the hostile leaders and their hosts are called "shepherds and their flocks."
draw … out—"shall drag them away captive" [Grotius]; shall drag them to and fro, as a lion (Jer 49:19) does feeble sheep [Maurer].
with them—that is, the habitation which they possess.
The earth is moved at the noise of their fall, at the cry the noise thereof was heard in the Red sea.
21. was heard in—that is, shall be heard at.
Red Sea—a considerable distance from Idumea; though the district at the Elantic bay of the Red Sea originally belonged to Idumea, and the sea itself was called from Edom, that is, "red" (Ge 25:30, Margin). Others translate, "the weedy sea" (Margin), and derive the name, "Red Sea," from its red weeds; the former view is preferable.
Behold, he shall come up and fly as the eagle, and spread his wings over Bozrah: and at that day shall the heart of the mighty men of Edom be as the heart of a woman in her pangs.
22. (Compare Jer 48:40, 41).
Bozrah—(See on Jer 48:24).
Concerning Damascus. Hamath is confounded, and Arpad: for they have heard evil tidings: they are fainthearted; there is sorrow on the sea; it cannot be quiet.
23. Prophecy as to Damascus, &c. (Isa 17:1; 10:9). The kingdom of Damascus was destroyed by Assyria, but the city revived, and it is as to the latter Jeremiah now prophesies. The fulfilment was probably about five years after the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar [Josephus, Antiquities, 10.9,7].
Hamath is confounded—at the tidings of the overthrow of the neighboring Damascus.
on the sea—that is, at the sea; the dwellers there are alarmed. Other manuscripts read, "like the sea." "There is anxiety (restless) as is the sea: they cannot quiet it," that is, it cannot be quieted (Isa 57:20).
it—Whatever dwellers are there "cannot be quiet."
Damascus is waxed feeble, and turneth herself to flee, and fear hath seized on her: anguish and sorrows have taken her, as a woman in travail.
How is the city of praise not left, the city of my joy!
25. city of praise—The prophet, in the person of a citizen of Damascus deploring its calamity, calls it "the city of praise," that is, celebrated with praises everywhere for its beauty (Jer 33:9; 51:41). "How is it possible that such a city has not been left whole—has not been spared by the foe?" Compare left, Lu 17:35, 36. So Israel "left" standing some of the Canaanite cities (Jos 11:13).
of my joy—that is, in which I delighted.
Therefore her young men shall fall in her streets, and all the men of war shall be cut off in that day, saith the LORD of hosts.
26. Therefore—that is, Since Damascus is doomed to fall, therefore, &c.
And I will kindle a fire in the wall of Damascus, and it shall consume the palaces of Benhadad.
27. palaces of Ben-hadad—that palace from which so many evils and such cruelty to Israel emanated; thus implying the cause of Damascus' overthrow. Not the Ben-hadad of 2Ki 13:3; Am 1:4; it was a common name of the Syrian kings (compare 1Ki 15:18; meaning "son of Hadad," the idol).
Concerning Kedar, and concerning the kingdoms of Hazor, which Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon shall smite, thus saith the LORD; Arise ye, go up to Kedar, and spoil the men of the east.
28. Kedar—son of Ishmael (Ge 25:13). The Kedarenes led a wandering predatory life in Arabia-Petræa, as the Bedouin Arabs (2Ch 21:16, 17; Ps 120:5). Kedar means "blackness" (So 1:5).
Hazor—not the city in Palestine, but a district in Arabia-Petræa. "Kingdoms" refer to the several combinations of clans, each under its own sheik.
men of the east—Kedar and Hazor were east of Judea (Jud 6:3; Job 1:3).
Their tents and their flocks shall they take away: they shall take to themselves their curtains, and all their vessels, and their camels; and they shall cry unto them, Fear is on every side.
29. tents—in which they dwelt, from which they are called Scenites, that is, tent dwellers.
curtains—namely, with which the tents were covered (Jer 4:20; 10:20; Ps 104:2).
they shall cry unto them, Fear, &c.—The foe, on crying, Fear …, shall discomfit them (the Kedarenes) by their mere cry.
Flee, get you far off, dwell deep, O ye inhabitants of Hazor, saith the LORD; for Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon hath taken counsel against you, and hath conceived a purpose against you.
30. (See on Jer 49:8). No conqueror would venture to follow them into the desert.
Arise, get you up unto the wealthy nation, that dwelleth without care, saith the LORD, which have neither gates nor bars, which dwell alone.
31. wealthy—rather, "tranquil" (1Ch 4:40).
neither gates nor bars—The Arabs, lying out of the track of the contending powers of Asia and Africa, took no measures of defense and had neither walled cities nor gates (Eze 38:11). They thought their scanty resources and wilderness position would tempt no foe.
alone—separated from other nations, without allies; and from one another scattered asunder. So as to Israel's isolation (Nu 23:9; De 33:28; Mic 7:14).
And their camels shall be a booty, and the multitude of their cattle a spoil: and I will scatter into all winds them that are in the utmost corners; and I will bring their calamity from all sides thereof, saith the LORD.
32. camels—their chief possessions; not fields or vineyards.
in utmost … corners—who seemed least likely to be dispersed. Or else, "having the hair shaven (or clipped) in angles" (Jer 9:26; 25:23) [Grotius].
calamity from all sides—which will force even those in "corners" to "scatter" themselves.
And Hazor shall be a dwelling for dragons, and a desolation for ever: there shall no man abide there, nor any son of man dwell in it.
33. (Mal 1:3).
The word of the LORD that came to Jeremiah the prophet against Elam in the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah king of Judah, saying,
34. Elam—part of Susiana, west of Persia proper, but used to designate Persia in general. Elam proper, or Elymais, nearer Judea than Persia, is probably here meant; it had helped Nebuchadnezzar against Judea; hence its punishment. It may have been idolatrous, whereas Persia proper was mainly monotheistic.
Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Behold, I will break the bow of Elam, the chief of their might.
35. bow—Elam was famed for its bowmen (Isa 22:6).
chief of their might—in opposition to "bow," that is, bowmen, who constituted their main strength.
And upon Elam will I bring the four winds from the four quarters of heaven, and will scatter them toward all those winds; and there shall be no nation whither the outcasts of Elam shall not come.
36. four winds, &c.—Nebuchadnezzar's army containing soldiers from the four quarters.
For I will cause Elam to be dismayed before their enemies, and before them that seek their life: and I will bring evil upon them, even my fierce anger, saith the LORD; and I will send the sword after them, till I have consumed them:
37. consumed—as a distinct nation (Da 8:2-27). Fulfilled under Alexander and his successors.
And I will set my throne in Elam, and will destroy from thence the king and the princes, saith the LORD.
38. I will show Myself King by My judgments there, as though My tribunal were erected there. The throne of Cyrus, God's instrument, set up over Media, of which Elam was a part, may be meant [Grotius]; or rather, that of Nebuchadnezzar (Jer 43:10). Then the restoration of Elam (Jer 49:39) will refer partly to that which took place on the reduction of Babylon by Cyrus, prince of Persia and Media.
But it shall come to pass in the latter days, that I will bring again the captivity of Elam, saith the LORD.
39. latter days—The full restoration belongs to gospel times. Elamites were among the first who heard and accepted it (Ac 2:9).