Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. “Daniel’s Babylonian empire resumes, as it were, the thread which was broken off with the tower-erection and kingdom of Nimrod. In the Babylonian tower-building the whole of the then existing humanity was united against God; with the Babylonian kingdom began the period of the universal monarchies, which again aspired after an atheistical union of entire humanity. Babylon has since and even to the Revelation (Jer 18) remained the standing type of this world.” AUBERLEN, Der proph. Daniel, S. 230.
2. For what reason does Babylon appear as a type of the world? Why not Nineveh, or Persepolis, or Tyre, or Memphis, or Rome? Certainly not because Babylon was greater, more glorious, more powerful or prouder and more ungodly than those cities and kingdoms. Nineveh especially was still greater than Babylon (comp. DUNCKER, Gesch. d. Alterth. I. S. 474, 5), and Assyria was not less hostile to the theocracy, having carried away into captivity the northern and larger half of the people of Israel. Babylon is qualified for this representation in two ways: 1. because it is the home of worldly princedom and titanic arrogance (Gen. 10:8; 11:1–4); 2. because Babylon destroyed the centre of the theocracy, Jerusalem, the temple and the theocratic kingdom, and first assumed to be the single supreme power of the globe.
3. “When God has used a superstitious, wicked and tyrannical nation long enough as His rod, He breaks it in pieces and finally throws it into the fire. For even those whom He formerly used as His chosen anointed instruments He then regards as but the dust in the streets or as chaff before the wind.” CRAMER.
4. “No monarch is too rich, too wicked, too strong for God the Lord. And He can soon enlist and engage soldiers whom He can use against His declared enemies.” CRAMER.
5. “Israel was founded on everlasting foundations, even God’s word and promise. The sins of the people brought about that it was laid low in the dust, but not without hope of a better resurrection. Babylon, on the other hand, must perish forever, for in it is the empire of evil come to its highest bloom. Jeremiah owns the nothingness of all worldly kingdoms, since they are all under this national order to serve only for a time. We are to be subject to them and seek their welfare for the sake of the souls of men, whom God is educating therein; a Christian however cannot be enthusiastic for them after the manner of the ancient heathen nor of ancient Israel, for here we have no abiding city, our citizenship is in heaven. The kingdoms of this world are no sanctuaries for us and we supplicate their continuance only with the daily bread of the fourth petition. Jeremiah applies many words and figures to Babylon which he has already used in the judgments on other nations, thus to intimate that in Babylon all the heathenism of the world culminates, and that here also must be the greatest anguish. What, however, is here declared of Babylon must be fulfilled again on all earthly powers in so far as, treading in its footprints, they take flesh for their arm and regard the material of this world as power, whether they be called states or churches.” DIEDRICH.
6. On 50:2. In putting into the mouth of Israel, returning from Babylon, the call to an everlasting covenant with Jehovah, the prophet causes them 1. to confess that they have forgotten the first covenant; 2. he shows us that the time of the new covenant begins with the redemption from the Babylonish captivity. He was far, however, from supposing that this redemption would be only a weak beginning, that the appearance of the Saviour would be deferred for centuries, that Israel would sink still deeper as an external πολιτεία, and that finally the Israel of the new covenant would itself appear as a μυστήριον, εἰς ὃ ἐπιθυμοῦσιν ἄγγελοι παρακύψαι (1 Pet. 1:9–12).
7. From what Jeremiah has already said in 31:31–34 of the new covenant we see that its nature and its difference from the old is not unknown to him. Yet he knows the new covenant only in general. He knows that it will be deeply spiritual and eternal, but how and why it will be so is still to him part of the μυστήριον.
8. On 50:6. Jeremiah here points back to Jer 23. Priests, kings and prophets, who should discharge the office of shepherds, prove to be wolves. Yea, they are the worst of wolves, who go about in official clothing. There is therefore no more dangerous doctrine than that of an infallible office. Jer. 14:14; Matt. 7:15; 23:2–12.
9. On 50:7. It is the worst condition into which a church of God can come, when the enemies who desolate it can maintain that they are in the right in doing so. It is, however, a just nemesis when those who will not hear the regular messengers of God must be told by the extraordinary messengers of God what they should have done. Comp. 40:2, 3.
10. On 50:8. “Babylon is opened, and it must be abandoned not clung to, for the captivity is a temporary chastisement, not the divine arrangement for the children of God. God’s people must in the general redemption go like rams before the herd of the nations, that these may also attach themselves to Israel, as this was fulfilled at the time of Christ in the first churches and the apostles, who now draw the whole heathen world after them to eternal life. Here the prophet recognizes the new humanity, which proceeds from the ruins of the old, in which also ancient Israel leads the way; thus all, who follow it, become Israel.” DIEDRICH.—“The heathen felt somewhat of the divine punishment when they overcame so easily the usually so strongly protected nation. But Jeremiah shows them still how they deceived themselves in thinking that God had wholly rejected His people, for of the eternal covenant of grace they certainly understood nothing.” HEIM and HOFFMANN on the Major Prophets.
11. On 50:18. “The great powers of the world form indeed the history of the world, but they have no future. Israel, however, always returns home to the dear and glorious land. The Jews might as a token of this return under Cyrus; the case is however this, that the true Holy One in Israel, Christ, guides us back to Paradise, when we flee to His hand from the Babylon of this world and let it be crucified for us.” DIEDRICH.
12. On 50:23. “Although the Chaldeans were called of God for the purpose of making war on the Jewish nation on account of their multitudinous sins, yet they are punished because they did it not as God with a pure intention, namely, to punish the wrong in them and keep them for reformation; for they were themselves greater sinners than the Jews and continued with impenitence in their sins. Therefore they could not go scot-free and remain unpunished. Moreover, they acted too roughly and dealt with the Jews more harshly than God had commanded, for which He therefore fairly punished them. As God the Lord Himself says (Isa. 47:6): When I was angry with My people I gave them into thine hands; but thou shewedst them no mercy. Therefore it is not enough that God’s will be accomplished, but there must be the good intention in it, which God had, otherwise such a work may be a sin and call down the divine punishment upon it.” Würtemb. Summ.
13. On 50:31–34. “God calls Babylon Thou Pride, for pride was their inward force and impulse in all their actions. But worldly pride makes a Babylon and brings on a Babylon’s fate .… Pride must fall, for it is in itself a lie against God, and all its might must perish in the fire; thus will the humble and meek remain in possession of the earth: this has a wide application through all times, even to eternity.” DIEDRICH.
14. On Jer 51:33. “Israel is indeed weak and must suffer in a time of tyranny; it cannot help itself, nor needs it to do so, for its Redeemer is strong, His name The Lord Zebaoth—and He is, now, having assumed our flesh, among us and conducts our cause so that the world trembles.” DIEDRICH.
15. On 50:45. “An emblem of the destruction of anti-christian Babylon, which was also the true hammer of the whole world. This has God also broken and must and will do it still more. And this will the shepherd-boys do, as is said here in Jer 51:45 (according to LUTHER’S translation), that is, all true teachers and preachers.” CRAMER.
16. On Jer 51. “The doctrines accord in all points with the previous chapter. And the prophet Jeremiah both in this and the previous chapter does nothing else but make out for the Babylonians their final discharge and passport, because they behaved so valiantly and well against the people of Judah, that they might know they would not go unrecompensed. For payment is according to service. And had they done better it would have gone better with them. It is well that when tyrants succeed in their evil undertakings they should not suppose they are God’s dearest children and lean on His bosom, since they will yet receive the recompense on their crown, whatever they have earned.” CRAMER.
17. [“Though in the hand of Babylon is a golden cup; she chooses such a cup, in order that men’s eyes may be dazzled with the glitter of the gold, and may not inquire what it contains. But mark well, in the golden cup of Babylon is the poison of idolatry, the poison of false doctrines, which destroy the souls of men. I have often seen such a golden cup, in fair speeches of seductive eloquence: and when I have examined the venomous ingredients of the golden chalice, I have recognized the cup of Babylon.” ORIGEN in WORDSWORTH.—S. R. A.]
“The seat and throne of Anti-christ is expressly named Babylon, namely, the city of Rome, built on the seven hills (Rev. 17:9). Just as Babylon brought so many lands and kingdoms under its sway and ruled them with great pomp and pride (the golden cup, which made all the world drunk, was Babylon in the hand of the Lord (51:7), and all the heathen drank of the wine and became mad)—so has the spiritual Babylon a cup in its hand, full of the abomination and uncleanness of its whoredom, of which the kings of the earth and all who dwell on the earth have been made drunk. As it is said of Babylon that she dwells by great waters and has great treasures, so writes John of the Romish Babylon, that it is clothed in silk and purple and scarlet and adorned with gold, precious stones and pearls (Rev. 18:12). Of Babylon it is said that the slain in Israel were smitten by her; so also the spiritual Babylon is become drunk with the blood of the saints (Rev. 17:6). Just, however, as the Chaldean Babylon is a type of the spiritual in its pride and despotism, so also is it a type of the destruction which will come upon it. Many wished to heal Babylon but she would not be healed; so many endeavor to support the ruinous anti-christian Babylon, but all in vain. For as Babylon was at last so destroyed as to be a heap of stones and abode of dragons, so will it be with anti-christian Babylon. Of this it is written in Rev. 14:8: She is fallen, fallen, that great city, for she has made all nations drink of the wine of her fornication. And again, Babylon the great is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils and a hold of all foul and hateful birds (Rev. 18:2). As the inhabitants of Babylon were admonished to flee from her, that every man might deliver his soul (51:6)—and again, My people, go ye out from the midst of her and deliver every man his soul, etc. (51:45)—so the Holy Spirit admonishes Christians almost in the same words to go out from the spiritual Babylon, that they be not polluted by her sins and at the same time share in her punishment. For thus it is written in Rev. 18:4, I heard, says John, a voice from heaven saying, Go ye out of her, My people, that ye be not partakers of her sins and that ye receive not of her plagues, for her sins reach unto heaven and God remembers her iniquities.” Wurtemb. Summarien.
18. On 51:5. “A monarch can sooner make an end of half a continent than draw a nail from a hut which the Lord protects.—And if it is true that Kaiser Rudolph, when he revoked the toleration of the Picards and the same day lost one of his principal forts, said, ‘I thought it would be so, for I grasped at God’s sceptre’ (WEISMANNI, Hist. Eccl. Tom. II. p. 320)—this was a sage remark, a supplement to the words of the wise.” ZINZENDORF.
19. On 51:9. We heal Babylon, but she will not be healed. Babylon is an outwardly beautiful but inwardly worm-eaten apple. Hence sooner or later the foulness must become noticeable. So is it with all whose heart and centre is not God. All is inwardly hollow and vain. When this internal vacuity begins to render itself externally palpable, when here and there a rent or foul spot becomes visible, then certainly come the friends and admirers of the unholy form and would improve, cover up, sew up, heal. But it does not avail. When once there is death in the body no physician can effect a cure.
20. On 51:17, 19, 20. “The children of God have three causes why they may venture on Him. 1. All men are fools, their treasure is it not; 2. The Lord is their hammer; He breaks through everything, and 3, they are an instrument in His hand, a heritage; in this there is happiness.” ZINZENDORF.
21. On 51:41–44. “How was Sheshach thus won, the city renowned in all the world thus taken? No one would have thought it possible, but God does it. He rules with wonders and with wonders He makes His church free. Babylon is a wonder no longer for its power, but for its weakness. We are to know the world’s weakness even where it still appears strong. A sea of hostile nations has covered Babylon. Her land is now a desolation. God takes Bel, the principal idol of Babylon, symbolizing its whole civil powers in hand, and snatches his prey from his teeth. Our God is stronger than all worldly forces, and never leaves us to them.” DIEDRICH.
22. On 51:58. “Yea, so it is with all walls and towers, in which God’s word is not the vital force, even though they be entitled churches and cathedrals … God’s church alone possesses permanence through His pure word.” DIEDRICH.
23. On 51:60–64. When we wish to preserve an archive safely, we deposit it in a record-office where it is kept in a dry place that no moisture may get to it. Seraiah throws his book-roll into the waters of the Euphrates, which must wash it away, dissolve and destroy it. But this was of no account. The main point was that he, Seraiah, as representative of the holy nation had taken solemn stock of the word of God against Babylon, and as it were taken God at His word, and reminded Him of it. In this manner the matter was laid up in the most enduring and safest archive that could be imagined; it was made a case of honor with the omniscient and omnipotent God. Such matters can, however, neither be forgotten, nor remain in dead silence, nor be neglected. They must be brought to such an end as the honor of God requires.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
1. On 50:2. This text may be used on the feast of the Reformation, or any other occasion with reference to a rem bene gestam. The Triumph of the Good Cause, 1. over what enemies it is gained; 2. to what it should impel us; (a) to the avoidance of that over which we new triumph; (b) to the grateful proclamation of what the Lord has done for us, by word and by deed.
2. On 50:4–8. The deliverance of Israel from the Babylonian captivity a type of the deliverance of the Church. 1. The Church must humbly acknowledge the captivity suffered as a judgment of God. 2. She must turn like Israel inwardly with an upright heart unto the Lord; 3. She must become like Israel to all men a pattern and leader to freedom.
3. On 50:5. A confirmation sermon. “What is the hour of confirmation? 1. An hour which calls to separation; 2. an hour which leads to new connections; 3. an hour which fixes forever the old covenant with the soul’s friend.” FLOREY, 1853.
4. On 50:18–20. Assyria and Babylon the types of all the spiritual enemies of the church as of individual Christians. Every one has his Assyria and his Babylon. Sin is the destruction of men. Forgiveness of sins is the condition of life, for only where forgiveness of sins is, is there life and blessedness. In Christ we find the forgiveness of sins. He destroys the handwriting. He washes us clean. He is also the good shepherd who leads our souls into green pastures, to the spiritual Carmel.
5. On 50:31, 32. Warning against pride. Babylon was very strong and powerful, rich and splendid. It seemed invincible by nature and by art. Had it not then a certain justification in being proud, at least towards men? No; for no one has to contend only with men. Every one who contends has the Lord either for his friend or his enemy. It is the Lord from whom cometh victory (Prov. 21:31). He it is who teacheth our hands to fight (Ps. 18:35; 144:1). His strength is made perfect in weakness (2 Cor. 12:9). He can make the lame (Isa. 33:23; Mic. 4:7) and mortally wounded (Jer. 37:10) so strong that they overmaster the sound (comp. Jer 51:45). He can make one man put to flight a thousand (Deut. 32:30; Isa. 30:17). With him can one dash in pieces a troop and leap over a wall (Ps. 18:29). No one accordingly should be proud. The word of the Lord, “I am against thee, thou proud one!” is a terrible word which no one should conjure up against himself.
6. On 50:33, 34. The consolation of the Church in persecution. 1. It suffers violence and injustice. 2. Its redeemer is strong.
7. On 51:5. God the Lord manifests such favor to Israel as to declare Himself her husband (2:2; 3:1). But now that Israel and Judah are in exile, it seems as if they were rejected or widowed women. This, however, is only appearance. Israel’s husband does not die. He may well bring a period of chastisement, of purification and trial on His people, but when this period is over, the Lord turns the handle, and smites those through whom He chastised Israel, when they had forgotten that they were not to satisfy their own desire, but only to accomplish the Lord’s will on Israel.
8. On 51:6. A time may come when it is well to separate one’s self. For although it is said in Prov. 18:1; he who separateth himself, seeketh that which pleaseth him and opposeth all that is good—and therefore separation, as the antipodes of churchliness, i.e., of churchly communion and humble subjection to the law of the co-operation of members (1 Cor. 12:25 sqq.) is to be repudiated, yet there may come moments in the life of the church, when it will be a duty to leave the community and separate one’s self. Such a moment is come when the community has become a Babylon. It should, however, be noted that one should not be too ready with such a decision. For even the life of the church is subject to many vacillations. There are periods of decay, obscurations, as it were, comparable to eclipses of the stars, but to these, so long as the foundations only subsist, must always follow a restoration and return to the original brightness. No one is to consider the church a Babylon on account of such a passing state of disease. It is this only when it has withheld the objective divine foundations, the means of grace, the word and sacrament, altogether and permanently in their saving efficacy. Then, when the soul can no longer find in the church the pure and divine bread of life; it is well “to deliver the soul that it perish not in the iniquity of the church.” From this separation from the church is, however, to be carefully distinguished the separation within the church, from all that which is opposed to the healthy life of the church, and is therefore to be regarded as a diseased part of the ecclesiastical body. Such separation is the daily duty of the Christian. He has to perform it with respect to his private life in all the manifold relations, indicated to us in Matt. 18:17; Rom. 16:17; 1 Cor. 5:9 sqq.; 2 Thess. 3:6; Tit. 3:10; 2 John 10, 11.—Comp. the article on Sects, by PALMER in HERZOG, R.-Enc., XXI., S. 21, 22.
9. On 51:10. The righteousness which avails before God. 1. Its origin (not our work or merit, but God’s grace in Christ); 2. Its fruit, praise of that which the Lord has wrought in us (a) by words, (b) by works.
10. On 51:50. This text may be used at the sending out of missionaries or the departure of emigrants. Occasion may be taken to speak 1, of the gracious help and deliverance, which the Lord has hitherto shown to the departing; 2, they may be admonished to remain united in their distant land with their brethren at home by (a) remembering the Lord, i.e., ever remaining sincerely devoted to the Lord as the common shield of salvation; (b) faithfuly serving Jerusalem, i.e., the common mother of us all (Gal. 4:26), the church, with all our powers in the proper place and measure, and ever keeping her in our hearts.
The word that the LORD spake against Babylon and against the land of the Chaldeans by Jeremiah the prophet.11. Prophecy against Babylon (chh. 50, 51.)
1. Before the battle of Carchemish Jeremiah predicted to his people a severe visitation by a people coming from the north, whom he afterwards recognized as the Chaldeans, and then constantly proclaimed that Israel and the other nations would be saved from complete destruction only by subjection to Nebuchadnezzar. It may, therefore, be said that during part of his ministry he spoke of the Chaldeans unknowingly in a manner favorable to them. There is no contradiction, however, as many suppose, in his here predicting the destruction of Babylon itself, and in the same manner by a people coming from the north (50:3, 9, 41, 51:48). For Jeremiah would only say that for the present, in the proximate future, Babylon is the instrument of judgment on all nations (50:23; 51:20 sqq.), but the time is coming when Babylon itself must drain the cup of wrath, in punishment for the sins which it has incurred in the execution of its mission (50:11, 24, 28, 32; 51:6,11, 24, 36, 56). Jeremiah’s declarations for and against Babylon are thus related to each other, as in 25:27 the brief declaration, “and the king of Sheshach shall drink after them,” is to the previous announcements that Babylon shall offer the cup of wrath. It is not strange to find a prophecy against Babylon in Jeremiah, but must be regarded as perfectly natural.
2. Prophecy against Babylon has a history. First, Isaiah, probably moved by the embassy, which Merodach-Baladan sent to Hezekiah (Isa. 39, 2 Ki. 20:12 sqq.) proclaimed the judgment of destruction on Babylon (Isa. chh. 13, 14, 21; 43:14; 46:1–2; 47; 48:14 sqq.). He is followed by Micah, who, in a brief declaration, comprises all which Jeremiah has said in his whole book for and against Babylon, “thou shalt dwell in the field, and thou shalt go to Babylon; there shalt thou be delivered; there the Lord shall redeem thee from the hand of thy enemies.” Mic. 4:10. Habakkuk then, the cotemporary of Jeremiah, prophesied before him, but after the battle of Carchemish, against Babylon, characterizing it not only in the narrower sense as a power hostile to the people of Israel, but also in a higher and more comprehensive sense as a worldly power, self-deifying, and the enemy of God. Jeremiah finally appropriates his predecessors and represents the acme of Old Testament prophecy against Babylon. He thus forms the main foundation for the prophecy of the Apocalypse concerning the Babylon of the final period. It is, however, to be observed that he gives relatively less prominence than Habakkuk to the ideal significance of Babylon as a type of ungodly, self-deifying, worldly powers. The latter does this in brief but wondrously profound and significant utterances. “For, lo, I raise up the Chaldeans, that powerful and irrepressible nation, which goes as far as the earth extends, to occupy dwellings which are not. Terrible and fearful are they; from themselves proceed their judgment and their dignity” (1:6, 7). “Then he overflows with courage and transgresses and becomes guilty; this his power is unto his God” (1:11). “Lo, inflated, not upright is his soul within him, but the just by faith shall live” (2:4). “Yea also because wine stultifies a man, who is arrogant and is not contented, who enlargeth his desire as hell, and is like death and cannot be satisfied, but draweth to himself all nations and gathereth to himself all nations” (2:5).—Jeremiah by no means passes over this element, but he rather intimates it only in single words, in those significant names which he gives to Babylon when he calls it Double defiance (50:21), Pride (as personification in 50:31, 32), Heart of my opponents (51:1), Golden cup making the whole earth drunk (51:7). We may then say that of the two contemporary prophets, who lived to see the culmination of the Babylonian power, Jeremiah draws the grandest and most complete picture of the destruction menacing Babylon, but in such wise that he only intimates the ideal element which represents Babylon as the centre and type of all worldly enmity to God, while Habakkuk, who, notwithstanding the external insignificance of his little book, has a powerful and profound mind, gives us deeper glances into the inner life of the Babylonian empire.
3. It is not, however, the prophets who first stamped Babylon as a centre and type of ungodly empire. This character was impressed upon it from the earliest period. It was the locality of the first earthly princedom. That Nimrod, whose memory is preserved to the present day by the ruined tower of the Birs Nimrud, and who still lives in the traditions of the East as a great criminal and enemy of God, had, according to Gen. 10:8 sqq., Babylon as the beginning of his dominion. The first aristocrat, hero of the chase and of war, conqueror, and despot, proceeded from Babylon. Add to this, that the Babylonian tower-structure is, according to its most essential nature, to be regarded as an undertaking of human pride begun without God and in man’s own strength. The tower was to be a memorial of a period of gigantic effort and aspiration towards the political concentration of the human race into one irresistible power. Thus we see that the ideas of earthly power and glory were from the first native to the soil of Babylon. Comp. NAEGELSB., Jer. u. Bab., S. 5 sqq.; PERIZONIUS, Origg. Babylonicæ, Cap. 10–12; JAHN, Archæology I., 1, S. 30, coll. DEYLING, Observ. Sacræ., P. III., p. 19 ff.—BRIAN WALTON in his Polyglott, Lond., Prolegg. I., pag. 3; HETZEL, Gedanken über den babylonischen Thurmbau, Hildb., 1775; GÖRRES, Die Völkertafel des Pent., Regensburg, 1845, 1, S. 51. The seed sowed in that primitive period reached its full bloom in Nebuchadnezzar. By him Babylon was really made the first “all-devouring” universal monarchy, by which I mean that his power was greater than that of the Assyrians before him, or the Persians and Romans after him. But he also devoured the theocracy, i.e., the only point on this earth where the kingdom of God was represented in the form of a human popular and civil life. Since that time the kingdom of God as such has had no place on earth. It is still as the church in the embrace of worldly power. Babylon, however, the first worldly power which brought the kingdom of God into this condition, appears from that time in the Scriptures as the worldly power, κατʼ ἐξοχὴν, so that not only what the Old Testament prophets declare of the different representatives of worldly dominion, of Egypt (Rev. 11:8), Tyre (Rev. 18:11 coll. Ezek. 27.), Nineveh (Rev. 18:3, 5 coll. Nah. 3:4, Jon. 1:2), is transferred in the New Testament to Babylon, but even the name of Babylon itself is attributed to the final form of the worldly power, antichristian Rome. Comp. Rev. 17:9, 18. See in general Rev. 14:8; 16:9, and especially chh. 17, 18. This subject is treated more in detail in NAEGELSB. Jer. u. Bab.
4. With regard to the etymology of the name Babylon there have been two opposite views. According to one, which was first broached by STEPHANUS BYZANTINUS and the Etymologicon Magn. s. v. Βαβνλὼν, the name, designates Bel as the founder of the city. EICHHORN (Biblioth. d. bibl. Litt. III., S. 1001) accordingly explains בָּבֶל as arising from Bab Bel, i.e., porta or aula Beli. GESENIUS (Thesaur., pag. 212), TUCH and others modify this view, in so far that they translate בָּבֶל domus Beli, since the word is written in Arabic bâbel, and bâ is frequently used in Arabic names of cities for bî, bêt. KNOBEL (Gen., S. 128) derives Babel from Bar-bel, i.e., arx (βᾶρις, בִּירַה) Beli. It is opposed however to these explanations that they are supported on partly much too recent and partly altogether insecure linguistic analogies. The other explanation is founded on Gen. 11:7, 9 (נָֽכְלָה שְׂפָתַּם, Jer 50:7 and בִּי שָׁם בָּלֵל י׳ שְׂבַּת בָּל־הָאָרֶץ), According to this בָּבֶל arose from בַּלְבֵּל. The punctuation of the first syllable is to he explained after the analogy of כּוֹכָב for טוֹטָבּוֹת כַּבְכָּב, for טָכְּטָבּוֹת (EW. § 158, c; OLSH. § 74, § 189, a). For the Segol of the second syllable appeal might be made to כַרְמֶל (DELITZSCH on Gen. 11:9). The meaning would be confusio. Comp. Exod. 29:2, 40; Lev. 2:4–6; further, בְּלִיל, farrago; תְּבֻלַּל troubling, blemish (Lev. 21:20). These explanations are also favored by the ancient translations. ONKELOS translates נָֽבְלָה, Gen. 11:7, by בָּלַל ,נְבַלְבֵּל, Jer 50:9, by בִּלְבֵּל, confudit. Comp. BUXTORF, Lex. Rabb. et Talm., pag. 309. The Peshito version has in 11:9 balbel (comp. CASTELLI, Lex., pag. 100); SAADIAH balbala confudit.—Comp. GABLER, Urgeschichte II. 2, S. 228. HAEVERNICK, Einleit. i. A. T., I., S. 147, 8.—The Babylonian monuments lead to still another etymology. According to OPPERT, namely (Exp. en. Mesop. II. S. 46), the word reads on the monuments Babi-ilu, Babilu. Bab is the Shemitic בַּב door, Ilu the ·͂Ηλος in Diodorus, the Κρόνος of the Greeks, Saturn, the god of the deluge. The meaning of the name would then be Porta Dei diluvii. Comp. Ib., S. 67, 157, 259.—Which of these explanations is the correct one is by no means decided, for even the cuneiform inscriptions, presupposing that they are correctly deciphered, represent a late date in relation to the origin of the name, and it is a question whether the Babylonian scholars themselves knew the correct etymology of the word. [Comp. also SMITH’S Dictionary of the Bible, s. v., Babel, Babylon; RAWLINSON, Ancient Monarchies, I., p. 149; ID., Herodotus, II., p. 574; DR. PUSEY, Lectures on Daniel, p. 271, n, quoted in WORDSWORTH ad loc.—S. R. A.]
5. The genuineness of this prophecy has been shown by me in detail in my work Jeremia und Babylon, S. 69 ff. GRAF also acknowledges it (S. 580 ff.). Only EWALD and MEIER, so far as I know, still persist, in maintaining its unauthenticity. “This portion evidently belongs to the last period of the exile, and cannot therefore proceed from Jeremiah,” says the latter (Die prophet. Bücher d. A. T., S. 350, 2). I myself formerly regarded the passage 50:41–46 as a gloss, but I have now retracted this opinion. But after repeated investigation I cannot regard the passage 51:15–19 as original. Consult the exegesis. In respect to the word שֵׁשַׁדְ, 51:41, also, my suspicions have not yet been removed.
6. In what manner the prophecy is related to its fulfilment has been fully shown in NAEGELSB. Jer. u. Bab., S. 135. I add to the remark there, that according to THEODORET Jews were the last inhabitants of the destroyed city of Babylon, the following notice from OPPERT (Exp. I., S. 135): “Hillah fut fondée par Seifeddaulet vers l’an 1100 à la place de l’antique ville de Babylone, τὸ ἄστν. Jusque-là, des Juifs avaient habité seuls la ville ou plutôt les ruines de Babylone; en 1030 après Jesus-Christ ils quittèrent ces lieux.” Many later witnesses thus corroborate the statement of THEODORET, that the people of Israel could not separate themselves from the corpse of the city, which had destroyed Jerusalem and the temple.
7. In regard to the division of the portion, I am no longer of opinion that the whole is to be discriminated into three main sections with thirteen subdivisions. I still think that three chronological stages may be distinguished, in so far as the destruction of Babylon is represented partly as future, now in the stage of preparation (comp. 50:9, 21, 26, 41) partly as present, in the process of execution (comp. 50:14, 24, 35, 43, etc.; 51:1, 11, 27), partly as already accomplished (comp. 50:2, 15, 46; 51:39, 41, 46, 57). And these three stages are so distributed that the first is chiefly in the beginning, the second chiefly in the middle, the third towards the close; but not so sharply defined that 50:21–51:33 may be regarded as the second and the foregoing and following as the first and third divisions. The single tableaux or pictures, of which, according to the peculiar style of Jeremiah, the discourse consists, are more distinct. I find nineteen of these, exclusive of the superscription and the historical close. The exegesis will exhibit these in detail.
1. THE SUPERSCRIPTION
1 The word which Jehovah spoke against Babylon, against the land of the Chaldeans, by Jeremiah the prophet.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
The form of the superscription is like those in 45:1; 46:13. The expression בְּיַר is not found in any other superscription of Jeremiah’s. It occurs in this sense only in 37:2. In my work, Jer. u. Bab., S. 22, I have proposed the hypothesis that there is in this an intimation that this prophecy, according to 51:59 sqq., was given only by the hand, not by the mouth of the prophet. אֶל־אֶרֶץ ו׳ defines more particularly the idea of בַָּבֶל and guards against too narrow a rendering. Comp. 50:8, 45; 51:54.
2. THE CORD BROKEN; ISRAEL FREE (PS. 124: 7)
2 Declare it among the nations,
Publish it and erect a signal;
Publish it, conceal it not.
Say “Babylon is taken, with shame stands Bel,
Merodach is thrown down, with shame stand her images,
Thrown down are her idols.”
3 For a nation cometh against her from the north,
And will make her land desolate,
That no inhabitant shall be therein
From man down to beast they flee; up, away!
4 In those days and at that time, saith Jehovah,
The children of Israel shall come,
They and the children of Judah together;
Weeping shall they come
And seek Jehovah their God.
5 After Zion shall they inquire,
Their faces turned thitherward:
“Come, let us join ourselves1 to Jehovah
In a perpetual covenant2 that shall not be forgotten.”
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
The prophet in the first two verses goes to work analytically, first (Jer 50:2) causing the destruction of Babylon to be proclaimed aloud to all nations, and then (Jer 50:3) saying, how and by whom this destruction will be accomplished. This analytic description serves him, however, only as a basis for a promise important to him above all, viz., that in those days the captives of Israel and Judah being liberated, will come home and be united to their God in an eternal and unforgetable covenant (Jer 50:4, 5).
Jer 50:2, 3. Declare it…up, away. The importance of the matter is shown in the grandeur and animation of the opening, in which the summons to proclaim and the declaration of the destruction are five times repeated. Comp. 4:5, 6; 5:20; 31:7; 46:14.—Erect a signal, i.e., for the rapid spread of the tidings. Comp. 51:12, 27; 4:6; 6:1; Isa. 5:26; 13:2.—Conceal it not. The address seems to be to the friends of Babylon, who might be disposed to withhold this Job’s post.—Taken. Comp. 8:9; 10:14; 46:24; 48:1.—Bel and Merodach are not different deities, but one and the same (comp. DELITZSCH on Isa. 46:1). The temple of Belus (comp. Herod. I. 181, 2) was also the temple of Marduk, as he is called on the monuments. Here he was worshipped as the Bilu rabu (בַּעַל רָב) as deus augurationis and protective deity of Babylonia. “Toute la dynastie Babylonienne (says OPPERT, Exp. en Mesop., Tom. II., p. 272) le met (Merodach) à la tête des Dieux, et l’inscription de Borsippa le nomme le roi du ciel et de la terre. Nebo prend la seconde place et les autres divinités ne paraissent que rarement.” Comp. Tom. 1, p. 178, 9.—That he is not Mars, as I formerly supposed and HAHN in DRECHSLER’SJesaja on 31:1 (II., 2, S. 212) directly maintains, is decidedly affirmed by OPPERT (p. 271).—The purport of the proclamation is expressed in Jer 50:2b and 3 only. From Jer 50:4 we have the words of the prophet, who predicts in what manner these results will be attained. This is seen from the imperfects יָשִׁית ,יִהְיֶה, etc.—A nation from the north. Comp. Jer 50:9. The destroyers of Babylon are to come from the north, and in 51:27, 28 nations to the north and north-east of Babylonia are mentioned. Comp. the map in NIEBUHR’SAss. u. Bab., and S. 135, Anm. 1; 427, 8.—Moreover, the remarkable parallelism should be noticed, Babylon, once the nation from the north, menacing Israel, is now attacked by such a nation, Comp. 2:15; 4:7; 9:9; 33:12; 51:62.
Jer 50:4, 5. In those days …. forgotten. The destruction of Babylon is immediately followed by the redemption. The prophets so regard it as to comprise all the stages of its fulfilment through several thousand years in one picture. To this picture belongs above all the reunion of the tribes of the northern and southern kingdom (comp. 3:14–16) and then their honest conversion to the Lord (comp. 3:21; 31:9–19; Hos. 3:5), the return to Zion (31:8), the conclusion of a covenant with Jehovah, which shall not be broken and forgotten like the first (comp. Gen. 17:10; Lev. 19:5–7; Deut. 29. and 30). Comp. also Jer. 20:11; 23:40.
Jer 50:5.—באו ונלוו Both forms are Imperative, and there is no need either to take בּאֹוּ as Perf. or to alter נִלְווּ into נִלִיה(GRAF.). Comp. EWALD, § 226, b; OLSH, § Joel 4:11; Isa. 43:9.
Jer 50:5.—ברית עולם. Accus. modalis. Comp. NAEGELSB. Gr., § 70, i; 31:31, 32; 32:40.
My people hath been lost sheep: their shepherds have caused them to go astray, they have turned them away on the mountains: they have gone from mountain to hill, they have forgotten their restingplace.3. THE CHASTISEMENT OF THE CHASTISER
6 A lost herd3 was4 my people:
Their shepherds had led them astray on seductive mountains,5
From mountain to hill they went,
Forgat their fold.
7 Whoever found them devoured them,
And their oppressors said: We incur no guilt,
Because they have sinned against Jehovah,
The true pasturage and their fathers’ hope, Jehovah.
8 Flee out of Babylon and—
Let them go6 forth out of the land of the Chaldeans,
And be as the rams before the sheep!
9 For behold, I raise and lead7 against Babylon
An assembly of great nations from the north country;
They equip themselves against her, there8 she is taken—
Their arrows9 like those of a successful10 hero, who returneth not empty,
10 And Chaldea shall become a prey;
All that plunder her shall be satisfied, saith Jehovah.
11 For thou rejoicedst,11 for thou exultedst, robber of my heritage,
For thou skippedst like a thrashing12 calf
And neighedst like the strong steeds.
12 Your mother is put to great shame,
She that bare you blushes.
“Behold the last of the nations, wilderness, waste, and steppe,”
13 Because of the wrath of Jehovah it shall be uninhabited,
And shall be wholly a desolation:
Whoever passeth by Babylon is amazed,
And mocks her on account of all her strokes.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
Israel has certainly sinned greatly by idolatry (Jer 50:6), and has therefore been deservedly chastised by his enemies (Jer 50:7). But now the hour of deliverance strikes (Jer 50:8). for the Lord sends against Babylon great hosts of nations from the north, who will attack it successfully (Jer 50:9). In consequence Babylon itself shall become a prey (Jer 50:10), and receive the punishment for having discharged its office as punisher of Israel with arrogant and malicious joy (Jer 50:11). It shall thus be the last of nations, and the country be a horrible wilderness (Jer 50:12, 13).
Jer 50:6, 7. A lost herd … hope, Jehovah. Comp. Ezek. 34:4, 16; Ps. 119:176; Luke 15:4, 6.—Their shepherds. Comp. 10:21; 12:10; 23:1 sqq.—Seductive. The mountains may well be thus called, which by means of the worship of high-places practised upon them, exerted such an irresistible charm on the heart of carnal Israel. Comp. 2:20; 3:2; 6:23; 17:2.—Whoever found them. Comp. 2:3; 10:25; 30:16. In this expression there is evidently an intimation that Israel has been often devoured. The enemies had a certain degree of justification in this, but in yielding to the illusion that they could not sin against Israel, forsaken by his God, and could therefore do any thing to him, they incurred great guilt, as is seen in what follows.—True pasturage. Zion is called נְוִה־צֶדֶק31:23. Here Jehovah Himself is so called, as elsewhere a fortress (Ps. 18:3) sun, shield (Ps. 84:11), shade (Ps. 121:5).—Father’s hope. Comp. 14:8; 17:13.
Jer 50:8-10. Flee … saith Jehovah. The tables are turned. Babylon must now suffer the punishment of injustice. The hour of deliverance has struck for Israel and the other nations held in bondage. Hence the summons is made to Israel to flee. Comp. Isa. 48:20; 52:11; Zech. 2:10.—As the rams, etc. The sense is not both that Israel is to press forward in order to save himself before all, but rather that it is to go before all (comp. Jer 50:16) as an example and leader in the flight.—North. Comp. rems. on Jer 50:3.—Like those, etc. Comp. 4:31; 46:22; NAEGELSB. Gr., § 65, 3 Anm.—Who returneth, etc. Comp. 2 Sam. 1:22.—Chaldea, Kasdim as the name of the country, as in 51:24, 35; Ezek. 11:24.—A prey. Comp. 49:32.
Jer 50:11-13. For thou rejoicedst … stroke.—I take כִּי simply as “for,” so that Jer 50:11 gives the reason why Chaldea is to become a prey. The imperfects then designate the action as continuing in the past. Comp, NAEGELSB. Gr., § 87 f.: Jer. 15:9; 36:18.
Jer 50:12, 13 conclude the discourse with a lively description, sketched in a few powerful strokes of the condition of Babylon after the attack predicted in Jer 50:9,10. The prophet beholds this as though it had been produced in his presence. Hence the perfects is put to shame, and blushes (15:9), Observe that the prophet here addresses the single individuals of the nation. Hence your mother and last of the nations. Comp. Ps. 139:9; Am. 9:1; Jer. 31:7.—Waste (ציה). Comp. 51:43.—Uninhabited. Comp. Isa. 13:20; Jer. 17:6, 25; 30:18.—Whoever passeth. Comp. 18:16; 19:8; 49:17.
Jer 50:6—The plural אבדות depends on the ideal plural in צאן. Comp. NAEGELSB. Gr., §105, 3; Gen. 30:38; Jer. 33:13; Job 1:14.
Jer 50:6.—The Chethibh הָיָה is referred to the subject as e.g., in Gen. 31:8. The Keri is therefore unnecessary.
Jer 50:6.—הרים שונבים. The Chethibh is usually read שׁוֹבָבִים (3:14, 22) the Ker שׁוֹבְבוּם. I think, however, that we must read the Chethibh שׁוֹבְבִים (comp. 31:8; 49:4), and understand it in the meaning of “alienating, seductive mountains.” We then take the word in the same sense as those who follow the Keri, and find our support like them in passages like Isa. 47:10. Comp. rems. on 31:8.
Jer 50:8.—Chethibh יֵצֵאוּ. This sudden change of person is not uncommon. (Comp. 5:14; 12:13; 17:13; 21:12 Chethibh); 31:3; 36:29, 30; 44:3–6; 47:7. NAEGELSB. Gr., § 101, 2, Anm.
Jer 50:9.—מעיר ומעלה Observe the paronomasia and compare 51:1, 11; Isai. 13:17.
Jer 50:9.—משׁמ. If this word is regarded as local, it is difficult after עָֽרְכוּ להּ to find a suitable terminus a quo. I therefore prefer to understand it with ROSENMUELLER, DE WETTE, UMBREIT, of time. Comp. Hos. 2:17; Job 35:12.
Jer 50:9.—הציו The suffix is to be referred to the entirety of those nations regarded as one male person.
Jer 50:9.—משׁכיל. Comp. 10:21; 23:5.
Jer 50:11.—The Keri תּשְׂמְחוּ, etc. is occasioned by שֹׁסֵי ו׳, but is unnecessary, for the prophet conceives the Chaldean nation as one female individual, as in חִצָיֶ the enemies as one male. Comp. e.g., 3:8–10, and אִמְּבֶם in Jer 50:12.
Jer 50:11.—דשׁא. Part. from דּוּשׁ to thrash (Hos.10:11), א for ה as e.g., Lam. 3:12; comp. OLSH § 108, e, Anm. 164, b.
Put yourselves in array against Babylon round about: all ye that bend the bow, shoot at her, spare no arrows: for she hath sinned against the LORD.4. THE VENGEANCE OF JEHOVAH
14 Array yourselves against Babylon round about, all ye archers,
Shoot13 at her, spare not14 the arrows,
For against Jehovah hath she sinned.
15 Cry against her round about!
She stretches forth15 her hand;
Fallen are her bastions,16
Thrown down are her walls.
For Jehovah’s vengeance it is.
Avenge yourselves on her!
As she hath done, do also unto her.
16 Exterminate the sower from Babylon,
And him that handleth the sickle at the time of harvest.
Before the destroying sword let every one turn to his people,
And every one flee into his own land.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
This picture is a supplement to the foregoing, and a further delineation of particular features. (a) The attack is described more in detail (Jer 50:14, 15a); (b) the connection between the fall of Babylon and its malignant pride (Jer 50:11) traced through the idea of recompense and vengeance of Jehovah (Jer 50:14b, 15b); and (c) the desolation of Babylon, described generally in Jer 50:12, 13, is rendered more palpable in Jer 50:16 by the setting forth of single characteristic features.
Jer 50:14, 15. Array … unto her.—Array evidently refers to equip (עָרְכוּ), Jer 50:9, but as the attack was only ordered therein general, the manner of it is here more specially designated. Comp. Jer 50:29; 46:9.—Both these verses correspond exactly in their structure. Each begins with a summons to attack, and closes with a causal sentence of the purport that this warlike proceeding is an act of Jehovah’s vengeance. Yet there is a gradation in the two, for while in Jer 50:14 the attack is described in only its first stage, Jer 50:15 brings before us the last decisive storm in the words Cry against her, which has the surrender for its immediate consequence. That the words are to be understood in this sense, seems to me clear from round about. Comp. Jer 50:14. The triumphant cry sounds not from the environs, but from within the city.—Stretches forth her hand. This is a token of subjection. Det manus vincique se patiatur. CICERO, De Amic. Cap. 26 fin. Comp. 2 Chron. 30:8; Lam. 5:6.—For Jehovah’s, etc. This point also is here expressed more strongly than in Jer 50:14b, and thus forms the transition from Jer 50:14 to the threatening of judgment. Babylon has called forth the vengeance of Jehovah by its malicious pleasure and arrogant violence. Comp. Jer 50:28; 51:6, 11, 36; 46:10.—As she hath done. Comp. Jer 50:29; Ps. 137:8; Rev. 18:6, 7.
Jer 50:16. Exterminate … his own land. This verse also specializes a general idea expressed in the previous context, viz., that of desolation, and this from two points of view. It is first said that what had hitherto been an ornament of the city, and had increased their power of resistance, viz., the fields inside the walls (DIOD. SIC., II. 9; CURT. 5:4; PLIN.Hist. Nat., XVIII. 17), will be given up to desolation for lack of men. It is evident that the prophet had these fields within the city in view from the fact that he is describing the siege of the city of Babylon throughout. Then, however, he predicts the flight of all who are not Babylonians (for the Babylonians will fall by the sword), Israel at their head (Jer 50:8). Comp. 46:16; Isa. 13:14.—Destroying sword. Comp. 25:38; 46:16. In the latter passage the LXX. translates as here, μάχαιρα ἑλληνική, which Theodoret explains: πρὸ τῆς Βαβυλῶνος Λυδοὺς ὁ Κῦρος κατεστρέψατο καὶ Ἴωνας καὶ Αἰολέας. Another explanation is given by WALTON (Polyglott, Lond., Tom. I., pag. 47. Introd.): Ira columbæ (25:38), gladius columbæ designant iram et gladium Chaldæorum, in quorum labaro erat columba argentea pennis inauratis Semiramidem repræsentans.
Jer 50:14.—ידו. The Kal here only. Elsewhere Piel only occurs; Joel 4:3; Obad. 11; Nah. 3:10; Lam. 3:53; Zech. 2:4.
Jer 50:14.—חָמַל with אֵל, as in 51:3; Isa. 9:18.
Jer 50:15.—Owing to the animation, of style, the perfects are without the connecting Vau. Comp. Josh. 6:5, 10, 16, 20; 1 Sam. 17:20.
Jer 50:15.—אֲשׁוּיֹתֶיָה or אַֽשְׁוִיֹתֶיָה (Chethibh) occurs here only. Likewise the form of the Keri אָשְׁיוֹתֶיָה. The root appears to be אָשָׁה, from which at most in Hebrew the proper name יאשִׁיָה is derived. Related, however, is אָשַׁשׁ, to be strong, firm (Arab, assa) from which אָשַׁישׁ (Isa. 16:7) the foundation-walls and the Aram. אשׁ, plur. אֻשִּׁין (Ezr. 4:12; 5:16; 6:3), which the prophet chose purposely. Comp. Jer 50:23. From the radical meaning “to be strong,” may also be derived that of fortification, defence, bastion.
Israel is a scattered sheep; the lions have driven him away: first the king of Assyria hath devoured him; and last this Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon hath broken his bones.5. THE HAPPY TURN
17 A scattered sheep is Israel, which the lions chased.17
First the king of Assyria devoured him,
And last this Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon hath broken his bones.18
18 Therefore thus saith Jehovah Zebaoth, the God of Israel;
Behold, I visit the king of Babylon and his land
As I have visited the king of Assyria.
19 And I bring Israel home to his pasturage,
To pasture on Carmel and Bashan,
And on mount Ephraim and Gilead his soul shall be satisfied.
20 In those days, at that time, saith Jehovah,
The iniquity of Israel shall be sought for,19—and it is gone!
And the sins of Judah—but thou findest them not.20
For I will pardon him whom I reserve.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
Hitherto Israel has been a poor frightened sheep, driven and devoured by two mighty wild animals, Assyria and Babylon (Jer 50:17); but the tables are to be turned. Assyria has already received its chastisement. That of Babylon will not be deferred (Jer 50:18). Then will Israel again feed peaceably on his own pasture (Jer 50:19). The reason of this wonderful change consists in this, that the Lord will show kindness to His people and forgive them all their iniquity (Jer 50:20).
Jer 50:17-19. A scattered … be satisfied. Assyria destroyed the northern, Babylon the southern kingdom. In both cases the destruction was complete, and consequently represented by the figure of devouring, only with this difference that as a still higher degree the breaking of the bones is mentioned in the second case. After the destruction of the kingdom of the ten tribes the kingdom of Judah still remained as the skeleton of the theocracy. In destroying Jerusalem and the temple Nebuchadnezzar, as it were, broke its bones.—As I have visited. Comp. 46:25. The then already long past destruction of Nineveh is thus the type and pledge of the destruction of Babylon.—Bring Israel home. Comp. Ezek. 38:4; 39:2.—Pasturage. Comp. 23:3; 22:6; Mic. 7:14; Isa. 33:9; Nah. 1:4; Ezek. 34:13, 14.
Jer 50:20. In those days … reserve. Comp. Jer 50:4. As in the mention of Assyria and Babylon, Jer 50:17, 18, there was a reference to the community of the two halves of the theocratic nation in misfortune, so here their union in prosperity is expressly set forth. Comp. rems. on Jer 50:4. The reason of their restoration to prosperity is here mentioned; Jehovah’s grace which will grant forgiveness to the survivors, and cause their guilt to disappear without a trace.
Jer 50:17.—This is to be regarded as a relative sentence with אֲשֶׁר understood. Comp. NAEGELSB. Gr., § 80, 6.
Jer 50:17.—אִצֵּם here only. It is formed like גֵּרֵמ, denominative from גֶּרֶמ. As this signifies “to strip off, to gnaw off” (Num. 24:8; Ezek. 23:34), so the former means “to bone, to destroy the bones.”
Jer 50:20.—יבקשׁ את־עון וגו׳. Comp. 31:34; 33:8; 36:3, In regard to the construction comp. Naegelsb Gr., § 100, 2.
Jer 50:20.—תמצאינה. Comp. OLSH., § 265, c.
Go up against the land of Merathaim, even against it, and against the inhabitants of Pekod: waste and utterly destroy after them, saith the LORD, and do according to all that I have commanded thee.6. ONE HAMMER CRUSHED BY THE OTHER
21 Against the land of DOUBLE-DEFIANCE;21
Go up against it and against the inhabitants of VISITATION!
Slay22 and burn after them, saith Jehovah,
And do according to all that I commanded thee!
22 Cry of war in the land and great ruin!
23 How is the hammer of the whole earth crushed and broken!
How is Babylon become a horror of desolation among the nations!
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
A complete picture, the specific element of which is the prophet’s showing how the Lord sends a chosen instrument to crush Babylon, which has hitherto served Him as such in the chastisement of mankind. In brief but powerful lines is described the summons to the instrument (Jer 50:21), the execution of the commission (Jer 50:22), the result (Jer 50:23).
Jer 50:21-23. Against the land … among the nations. “What is meant by the double defiance it is difficult to say. We may regard it not inappropriately as the double visitation of the theocratic nation by Assyria and Babylon (Jer 50:17, 18). The name, however, is given only to Babylon, which according to this view represents only half the defiance. The connection seems to require an interpretation according to which Babylon itself receives the whole reproach, and here, as it seems to me, two points may be observed: 1. The defiance which Babylon manifested both towards man and God, in revolting against the king of Assyria its master, and in sinning against Jehovah by its arrogant demeanor towards Israel. 2. The double defiance, which Babylon manifested in the earliest period in the erection of the tower of Babel and the founding of the first worldly kingdom (Gen. 10:8 sqq.), and in later times by its behaviour towards the theocracy. I formerly inclined to the latter view, but now give the former the preference, because it is more natural and presents more clearly the element of doubleness. For the sin of Babylon against the Lord in earlier and more recent times is too entirely one and the same for it to be represented as a double one.—Against it. Comp. Jer 50:3. The singular appears to me to be due to a different reason from that in Jer 50:3, for there we find גוי, nation, which according to what follows is to be taken as collective. Here, however, the subject is left indefinite. This is the more surprising, as previously the enemies of Babylon are always called upon in the plural (Jer 50:14–16). When then in the following Jer 50:23 Babylon is designated as the crushed hammer, i.e. as the instrument of Jehovah, which He Himself has destroyed, is it not most natural to regard as the subject of the imperative in Jer 50:21 the instrument of which the Lord will make use in the destruction of His former instrument? Then, however, it is natural to place over against the Babylonian hammer (פַטִישׁ, comp. GROTIUSad loc.), viz., Nebuchadnezzar, another hammer, i.e. over against the already known and mentioned (Jer 50:17) representative of the first empire, the representative (certainly only sometimes present in idea) of the other empire called to its destruction. Comp. 51:20.—Visitation is also a name formed ad hoc, and given to Babylon in antithesis to its double-defiance, which deserves visitation. Thus the former name designates Babylon’s guilt, the latter its punishment. Comp. Jer 50:18 and 31 and Ezek. 23:23, which passage is based on this. Comp. HAEVERNICK on the passage.—Burn. Comp. 25:9.—Cry of war, etc. Comp. 4:6; 6:1; 14:17; 48:3; 51:54.—How, etc. Comp. Isa. 14:12; Jer. 51:20, 41.
Jer 50:21.—EWALD has well remarked that the word מְרָתַיִם is used in antithesis to אֲרַס־נַהֲרַיִם, Mesopotamia. Not Double-river, but Double defiance (comp. Zweibrücken [Bipontes] in Germany) was to be Babylon’s title. For similar names comp. e.g., Mic. 1:10. The word does not occur elsewhere. It may be derived from מְרִי, although the mention of Israel by this name (Ezek. 2:7; 44:6) may be regarded as analogous to, or an imitation of (comp. פְקוֹד, ver.21,and Ezek. 23:23) this expression. A singular מָרָה from מָרָה, rebellis fuit, also does not occur. מְרָתַיִם is new form made by the prophet. FUERST would derive it from מְרָת, to which he ascribes the meaning of “lordship.” But the analogies מוֹרֶה (Job 36:22; Aram. מַר ,מָרֵא), מָרוֹת ,מִרְיָם (Mic. 1:12) are very uncertain, and admit of another explanation. The word מָרָה, rebellis fuit, is always used elsewhere of Israel, hut this limitation of the use is not necessarily founded in the radical signification. There is no reason then why a word formed from the root, new and specially ad hoc., should not be applied in another case. In regard to the dual it is ungrammatical to attribute to it the significance of a climax, which it never has elsewhere.
Jer 50:21.—חֲרֹב a denominative from חֶרֶב. Comp. Jer 50:27; 2 Ki. 3:23.
I have laid a snare for thee, and thou art also taken, O Babylon, and thou wast not aware: thou art found, and also caught, because thou hast striven against the LORD.7. BABYLON SURPRISED AND DESTROYED, ISRAEL LIBERATED
24 I have placed23 a net for thee and thou art also taken,
O Babylon, and thou knowest it not.
Thou art found and also caught,
For against Jehovah hast thou striven.24
25 Jehovah hath opened his arsenal,
And brought forth the weapons of his wrath;
For the LORD Jehovah Zebaoth hath a work in the land of the Chaldeans.
26 Come hither even the last, open her storehouses,25
Cast it up as heaps of rubbish and burn it,26
Let there be nothing left of it.
27 Slay all her bullocks,
Down with them to the slaughter-house!
Woe unto them, for their day is come,
The time of their visitation.
28 Hark! the fleeing and escaped from the land of Babylon,
To proclaim in Zion the vengeance of Jehovah, our God,
The vengeance of his sanctuary.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
In this picture the element of secrecy and surprise as excluding all resistance, which will prevail at the capture of Babylon, is made prominent (ver, 24). This mode of capture is rendered possible by the Lord’s having opened His armory and brought into use all the means of attack which it affords. He has done this because He would manage the business with Babylon as a matter of the highest importance (Jer 50:25). As now, however, the Lord has emptied His arsenal against Babylon, so also shall all store-houses in Babylon be emptied and all living and dead treasures contained therein be destroyed (Jer 50:26, 27). The escaped of Zion, however, shall bring home the joyful tidings of Jehovah’s vengeance (Jer 50:28). We see that these verses also furnish a complete picture progressing from the beginning to the close with special prominence of single specific elements.
Jer 50:24. I have placed … striven. In this placing of a net or snare lies the element of commencement on account of which we regard this verse as the commencement of a new picture. This must be so the rather as Jer 50:23 evidently contains a conclusion. The prophet in spirit sees Babylon unexpectedly caught in a net or snare. How literally this would be fulfilled Jeremiah himself might have no idea (comp. 1 Pet. 1:11). Twice was Babylon taken by stratagem, and both times so that the city was in the power of its enemies, before it was aware. Herodotus says (I. 191), with reference to the capture by Cyrus, that if the Babylonians had known or observed his plan (the diversion of the Euphrates) they could have inflicted great injury on the Persians. But these came upon them quite unexpectedly (ἐξ ἀπροσδοκήτον σφιπαρώστησαν οἱ ΙΙέρσαι), the outer parts of the city being already taken before those who dwelt in the central parts had observed what was going on (τοὺς τὸ μέσον οἰκεοντος οὐ μανθάνειν ἑαλωκότας). With reference to the capture by Darius Hystaspis, however, he says (III. 158) that a part of the Babylonians, who saw the entrance of the Persians through the gate opened by Zopyrus, fled, the rest remaining every one in his place till they also perceived that they were betrayed (ἐς ο͂ δὴ καὶ οὐτσι ἔμαθον προδεομένοι).
Jer 50:25-28. Jehovah … sanctuary. The capture of a city like Babylon by an overwhelming surprise is not possible without great means. Such are now provided by Jehovah, for He opens His arsenal (comp. 10:13; 51:16) to take from it all necessary implements of war (comp. Isa. 13:5). This He does because He has a מְלאכה, a business in the land of the Chaldeans. A business or work of Jehovah is always a great and important matter, and is therefore not to be performed negligently (48:10). To the execution of this work He now summons His servants and instruments (Jer 50:26), who are to come מִקֵּץ. If we refer this to the city (attacked from the end, not from the middle) the meaning is feeble and unsuitable, for a city can only be attacked from without and thus from the ends of it. If it be rendered “from all ends” (round about, Jer 50:15, 29) we miss the word for “all.” Hence it is best to take it with EWALD and GRAF=ad unum omnes. If the outermost come, all come. Come. Gen. 19:4; 47:2; Isa.56:11; Ezek. 33:2. To the opening of the arsenal of Jehovah is to correspond the violent breaking open and emptying of the storehouses of Babylon.—Slay all, etc. The bullocks are the representatives and chief personages of the human population. Comp. Isa. 34:6, 7; Jer. 48:15; 51:40.—The time, etc. Comp. 46:21.—Fleeing. Comp. Jer 50:4, 8.—Vengeance. Comp. Jer 50:15; 51:11.
Ver.24.—The verb יקשׁ is not found elsewhere in Jeremiah. But compare יָקוּשׁ, 5:26.
Jer 50:24.—התנרית. This word does not occur elsewhere in Jeremiah. Comp. Deut. 2:5,19, 24; Prov. 28:4
Jer 50:26.—מאבסיה. This word is ἅπ. λεγ.
Jer 50:26.—The suffix in סָלּוּהָ and הַֽחֲרִימוּהָ may be referred to the land or more fitly to the contents of the store houses. Comp. 33:2, 3; NAEGELSB. Gr., § 60, 6, b.
Call together the archers against Babylon: all ye that bend the bow, camp against it round about; let none thereof escape: recompense her according to her work; according to all that she hath done, do unto her: for she hath been proud against the LORD, against the Holy One of Israel.8. THE PUNISHMENT OF PRIDE
29 Call against Babylon archers;27
All ye that bend the bow camp against it round about!28
No escape! Recompense her according to her work,
Just as she hath done, do ye also unto her,
For against Jehovah was she proud,
Against the Holy One of Israel.
30 Therefore shall her young men fall in her streets,
And all her warriors shall be cut off in that day, saith Jehovah.
31 Behold I come to thee, O Pride, saith the Lord, Jehovah Zebaoth.
For come is thy day, the time of thy visitation.
32 Then Pride totters and falls,
And none helps him up;
And I kindle a fire in his cities,
Which shall devour all round about.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
Warriors are summoned to recompense Babylon for the pride which it has manifested towards Jehovah (Jer 50:20). Its men shall perish (Jer 50:31). Thus will toe Lord on the day of recompense bring their pride to totter and fall; no one will raise it up, fire will consume all its power (Jer 50:31, 32).
Jer 50:29. Call … of Israel.Convocatio militum initium belli. Comp. Jer 50:14. השׁמיצו is taken by most commentators and translators in the sense of vocare, convocare, as in 51:27; 1 Ki. 15:22 coll. 1 Sam. 15:4.—All ye, etc. Comp. Jer 50:14.—Recompense, etc. Comp. Jer 50:15; 25:14.—Proud. Deserved humiliation of the pride of Babylon is predicted by earlier prophets: Isa. 13:11; 14:13 sqq.; 47:7, 8; Hab. 2:5, 8.—Holy One of Israel. Comp. 51:5. This expression is peculiar to Isaiah. “All Isaiah’s prophecies bear this name of God as their peculiar stamp. It occurs twelve times in chh. 50:39., seventeen times in chh. 40–66.” DELITZSCH on Isa. 6:3.
Jer 50:30-32. Therefore … round about. Jer 50:30 is repeated almost verbatim from 49:26. The only difference is that here we have herwarriors for the warriors. The verse is not necessary, but rather disturbing, for Jer 50:31, is closely connected by Pride with Jer 50:29 (proud). It may have been a gloss.—Behold I come,etc. Comp. 21:13; 23:30 sqq.; 51:25.—Pride. “In nominis proprii formam transiit.” J. D. MICHAELIS.—Thy day. Comp. Jer 50:27; 49:8.—Totters, etc. Comp. Isa. 31:3; Jer. 46:6.—I kindle, etc. Comp. 21:14; 17:27; 49:27.—Him in Jer 50:32 refers to Pride.—Babylon is regarded as the metropolis. Comp. Jer 50:12; 51:43; 9:10, etc.
Jer 50:29.—רבימ. As there is no substantive here as in Jer 50:41; 16:16, the meaning appears to be different. Derived from רָבַב (Gen. 49:23; Ps. 18:15 coll. רָבָב Gen. 21:20) רַב is found with the meaning of “archer,” also in Job 16:13; Prov. 26:10.
Jer 50:29.—אל־יהי ו׳.The Keri unnecessarily adds לָהּ from Jer 50:26.
Thus saith the LORD of hosts; The children of Israel and the children of Judah were oppressed together: and all that took them captives held them fast; they refused to let them go.9. ISRAEL FREE, THE SWORD UPON BABYLON
33 Thus saith Jehovah Zebaoth:
Oppressed are the children of Israel and the children of Judah together,
And all their captors hold them fast,
They refuse to let them go.
34 Their Redeemer is strong, Jehovah Zebaoth is his name.
He will well prosecute their cause,
That he may give rest29 to the land,
And procure disquiet to the inhabitants of Babylon.
35 A sword upon the Chaldeans, saith Jehovah,
And upon the inhabitants of Babylon,
And upon her princes and upon her wise men.
36 A sword upon the coxcombs, that they become fools,
A sword upon her heroes, that they be dismayed.
37 A sword upon their horses and their chariots,
And upon all her auxiliaries in her midst, that they become as women,
A sword upon her treasures, that they be plundered.
38 Drought30 upon her waters, that they dry up;
For it is a land of idols,
And on objects of horror31 they foolishly trust.
39 Therefore shall wild-beasts32 dwell there with the jackals,4
And the daughters of the ostrich shall dwell there;
And never more will it be inhabited further,
Nor dwelt in from generation to generation.
40 As God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah and their neighbors, saith Jehovah,
A man shall not dwell there,
Nor a son of man sojourn in her.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
Proceeding from the condition of bondage in which Judah and Israel are found (Jer 50:33), the prophet predicts deliverance by the strong hand of Jehovah (Jer 50:34), which to Babylon signifies destruction of all that supports its power and glory: the inevitable fate of an idolatrous people (Jer 50:35–38). In consequence of this Babylonia will become a deserted and horrible waste (Jer 50:39, 40).
Jer 50:33, 34. Thus saith … inhabitants of Babylon. The prophet, who knows the exile of Israel as an accomplished fact and has predicted for years the exile of Judah as impending, may well describe Judah and Israel as oppressed, held fast by their captors (שֹׁבים, captivatores, Isa. 14:2; 1 Ki. 8:46 sqq.; Ps. 137:3). It is the same thought which lies at the foundation of the summons to flight (Jer 50:8 coll. Jer 50:4 and 28).—They refuse, etc. As Pharaoh, Exod. 7:14–27; 9:2.—The strong captor is, however, opposed by a still stronger deliverer of Israel,—Jehovah. With the exception of the words “Jehovah Zebaoth is His name” (10:16; 31:35; 32:18; 33:2), the first half of Jer 50:34 is taken from Prov. 23:11 coll.22:23; Isa. 47:4; 48:20.—That he may give rest, etc. Since it may be appropriately declared of Babylon, as the “hammer of the whole earth,” Jer 50:23, that it has disquieted the earth (Isa. 14:16), and that consequently its disquieting must contribute to the peace of the earth, I agree with those who take הִרְגִּיעַ in its usual meaning, “to make rest, quiet” (Deut. 28:65; Isa. 34:14; 51:4; Jer. 31:2).
Jer 50:35-38. A sword … foolishly trust. In these verses it is specially shown how the Lord will conduct His cause with Babylon and bring disquiet upon it. The sword is as it were cited to exercise the office of avenger, both in general and in particular. For as its objects are designated: 1. the Chaldeans in general; 2. the inhabitants of the capital, with the resident princes, wise men (counsellors of the king), Magians (בַּדִּים, “talk, chattering,” 48:30; Isa. 16:6; Job 11:3; here personally the lying prophets, astrologers, Isa. 44:25, comp. DELITZSCHad loc.; 47:13, 19:13) and warriors; 3. horses, chariots and auxiliaries (25:20; comp. NIEBUHR, Ass. u. Bab., S. 206 Anm. 2 and the article “Griechen” in the Register S. 519; 51:30); 4. treasures and water, on which last the power and safety of Babylon in great measure depended. (Comp. 51:13, 36; Isa. 21:1 and DELITZSCHad loc.).—For it is a land, etc. This sentence corresponds to Jer 50:34. As there the positive reason of the destruction breaking over Babylon is stated, so here the negative. The positive ground is the strength of Jehovah (הזק, Jer 50:34), the negative is the powerlessness of the idols. Comp. 51:47, 52.—Foolishly trust. The prefix בְּ [on] may designate either the means and instrument, or the supporting or moving reason. The former yields the conception that the idol-images served as the instruments of mad behaviour, the latter that they were the ground thereof. Without doubt the latter is the more correct. The senseless, inflated, arrogant behaviour of the Babylonians was supported by their belief in idols. Comp. נִבָּא with בְּ in 2:8 and the Greek μαίνεσθαι ὑπὸ τοῦ θεοῦ. HEROD. 4:79.
Jer 50:39, 40. Therefore shall … sojourn in her. The first half of Jer 50:39 is composed of reminiscences from Isaiah (Isa. 13:21, 22; 34:14). The second half of the verse is taken verbatim from Isa. 13:20. Comp. Jer 50:13; 17:6. Jer 50:40 is a repetition of 49:18, but taken originally from Isa. 13:19 coll.Am. 4:11. The original passage on which all these prophetic utterances are based is Deut. 29:22.—Comp. 49:33; 51:43.
Jer 50:34.—On the Infinitive form הִרְגִיַעִ in comp. OLSH., § 192 f.; EWALD, § 238 d.
Jer 50:38.—The Masoretes read הֹרֶב, evidently because חֶרֶב sword, does not apply to water. The idea of a sword may, however, be used by synecdoche for war (comp. 11:6) or חֶרֶב may have a double meaning. Not a few exegetes assume for Deut. 28:22 a word, חֶרֶב derived from חָרֵב, with the meaning “drought, dryness.” Comp. FUERST s. v. חֵרֵב.
Jer 50:38.—אֵימִימ is used for “idols” here only. Comp. Gen. 14:5; Deut. 2:10,11; Ps. 88:16; Job 20:25. [In Ps. 88:16 the word is translated “terrors.”]
Jer 50:39.—צִוִימ (in Jeremiah here only, comp. besides Ps. 72:9; Dan. 11:30) from צִי, desertum, are inhabitants of the desert, especially wild beasts. אִיִימ from אָיָה) אִי to howl, comp. DELITZSCH on Isa. 13:21) are jackals. Ibn-Awi is the Arabic name for jackal. Our translation “Shuhus and Uhus” [horned owls], is based on formal grounds. [UMBREIT and BLAYNEY read “wild-cat and jackals” or “wild-dogs.” HITZIG as in the text.—S. R. A.]
Behold, a people shall come from the north, and a great nation, and many kings shall be raised up from the coasts of the earth.10. NON TU, SED TIBI
41 Behold, a people cometh from the north,
And a great host and many kings break up from the ends of the earth.
42 Bow and lance they bear,
Cruel are they33 and without compassion.
Their sound roareth like the sea,
And on horses they ride equipped like a man for the battle
Against thee, thou daughter of Babylon.
43 The king of Babylon hath heard the report of them,
And his hands are feeble;
Anguish hath seized him, trembling as a parturient.
44 Behold, like a lion he ascends
From the pride of Jordan to the evergreen pasturage,
For in a twinkling I drive her34 from thence,
And—who is chosen? Him I set over her.
For who is like me, and who will order me?
And who is the shepherd who may stand before me?
45 Therefore hear the counsel of Jehovah that he hath counselled against Babylon,
And his thoughts which he hath thought against the land of the Chaldeans:
Yea, they will be dragged away, the weak little sheep,
Yea, the pasturage will be amazed concerning them.
46 With the cry, “Babylon is taken,” the earth trembles,
And a crying is heard35 among the nations.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
This entire passage consists of quotations, Jer 50:41–43 being taken from 6:22–24, Jer 50:44–46 from 49:19–21. As the prophet has already repeatedly designated the enemy as one coming from the north, it was natural to apply the former prophecy of the enemy threatening Judah from the north to Babylon, and it must also be admitted that the prophet would find it appropriate to transfer the prophecy of the chosen instrument for the destruction of Edom (49:19–21) to the similarly chosen instrument of the destruction of Babylon. Although thus the quotations here are accumulated to a degree greater than heretofore, I am yet convinced (contrary to my former view in Der proph. Jer. u. Bab., S. 128 ff.) that the passage is genuine and original. The idea of the unity of God’s judgments and of just recompense was to be represented here. This would receive no detriment, even if every single feature of the former prophecies did not seem adapted to be applied to Babylon. This, however, is not the case, for we find in the text such modifications as the application to Babylon required; daughter of Babylon, Jer 50:42; King of Babylon, Jer 50:43; against Babylon and the land of the Chaldeans, Jer 50:45; Babylon is taken, Jer 50:46; among the nations, for, in the Red Sea, Jer 50:46. What is not altered is not then opposed, according to the author’s judgment, to its application to Babylon. The figure in Jer 50:44a is therefore not inappropriate. The pride of Jordan and evergreen pasturage belong to the picture. The lion, which, from the reed-thickets on the Jordan, falls upon the flocks feeding near the bank (comp. rems. on 49:19), is a figure which may be applied to any case of overpowering hostile attack. Likewise the description of the northern people (6:23) is by no means so special that it may not be applied to any people advancing with warlike impetuosity. Moreover, Jeremiah, when he wrote 6:22–24, neither had the Chaldeans specially in view, nor are they so very different from their neighbors, the Medes.
The addition and many kings in Jer 50:41 is thus explained, that in the conception of the prophet the picture was present of a host of enemies, composed of many different elements (comp. 51:27, 28).
Jer 50:42.—אכזרי המה. Comp. NAEGELSB. Gr., §105, 4, b, 2.
Jer 50:44.—ארוצם is probably only a mistake, and is therefore to be read with the Keri אֲרִיצֵמ (comp. אֲרִיצֶנּוּ 49:19).
Jer 50:46.—נשׁמע is occasioned by 49:21, and moreover comp. NAEGELSB. Gr., § 60, 4.