Matthew Poole's Commentary
Thus saith the LORD; Behold, I will raise up against Babylon, and against them that dwell in the midst of them that rise up against me, a destroying wind;The severe judgment of God against voluptuous, covetous, tyrannical, and idolatrous Babel, in the revenge and for the redemption of Israel, Jeremiah 51:1-58. Jeremiah delivereth the book of this prophecy to Seraiah, to be cast into Euphrates, in token of the perpetual shaking of Babylon, Jeremiah 51:59-64.
In this chapter the prophecy of the destruction of Babylon is continued under new metaphors; he begins with that of a wind,
a destroying wind, ( as northerly winds are ordinarily very pernicious,) but the Hebrew idiom so ill suiteth that of other languages, that it is no easy matter positively to assert the sense of the words used. In the Hebrew they are, and to, or against, those that inhabit the heart of those that rise up. Some would have it those that are wise in their own opinion, and are therefore said to dwell in their heart; others, those that are secure; but the best interpreters judge our translation to have best hit the sense, —
them that dwell in the heart, that is, in the midst of the Chaldeans, who are here said to have risen up against God, to strive against God. Jeremiah 50:24.
And will send unto Babylon fanners, that shall fan her, and shall empty her land: for in the day of trouble they shall be against her round about.Wicked men are compared to chaff, Psalm 1:4. Such as execute judgment on them are called fanners, Jeremiah 15:7; so Matthew 3:12; because as the fanner keepeth what is in the fan unquiet in a continual motion and agitation, by which (advantaged by the wind) he emptieth it of the chaff; so the executioners of God’s vengeance, by a succession of judgments, keeps a people from quiet, till all their chaff be winnowed out, and the fan be emptied of all but the more solid grain. For (he saith) as the fanner first riddleth what he hath in his fan one way, then another, first throweth it up, then lets it fall into the fan; so the enemies should be round about Babylon, and God would be on every side and every way destroying them.
Against him that bendeth let the archer bend his bow, and against him that lifteth himself up in his brigandine: and spare ye not her young men; destroy ye utterly all her host.Whatever arms the Babylonians shall be armed with, they shall meet with their matches; those that are archers shall meet with archers to bend the bow against them, and those who are otherwise armed shall meet with persons prepared to encounter them at their own weapons. Their whole host shall be destroyed, both young and old men.
Thus the slain shall fall in the land of the Chaldeans, and they that are thrust through in her streets.Thus all of them shall be destroyed, some in the fields, some in the streets of their cities.
For Israel hath not been forsaken, nor Judah of his God, of the LORD of hosts; though their land was filled with sin against the Holy One of Israel.That is, not, utterly forsaken, for in a sense they were forsaken as to some gradual manifestations of God’s love to them, but Judah and Israel were not left as a widow, or were not divorced from God. The word translated sin signifies a most heinous sinning, or desolation, and the best interpreters judge that sin here signifieth the punishment of sin. God hath not forsaken the Jews utterly, though as they were formerly filled with grievous sins, so they be now filled with grievous judgments because of their sins.
Flee out of the midst of Babylon, and deliver every man his soul: be not cut off in her iniquity; for this is the time of the LORD'S vengeance; he will render unto her a recompence.It is a matter of no great moment whether we understand these words as spoken to the Jews in the captivity of Babylon, as Jeremiah 1:8, or to those whom the Chaldeans had hired to help them, or to such strangers as for their secular advantages lived in Babylon. By soul here seemeth to be meant life, and by iniquity the punishment of the Babylonians’ iniquity (as the Hebrew word oft signifies); though in the New Testament these words be used as a monition to people to separate from the idolatries of mystical Babylon, yet they seem here to be only a warning to others to remove out of the reach of Babylon’s fall.
For this is the time of the Lord’s vengeance; he will render unto her a recompence; for the time is come when God hath determined to take vengeance on Babylon, and to recompense to her all her sin, and that cruelty which she showed to the Jews in particular.
Babylon hath been a golden cup in the LORD'S hand, that made all the earth drunken: the nations have drunken of her wine; therefore the nations are mad.A golden cup, because of her great riches and plenty. God hitherto had made me of Babylon as a rod in his hand, and had given her riches, and power, and prosperity proportioned to the service he had for her to do; what she did she did by commission from God; therefore this golden cup is said to have been
in the Lord’s hand. She had made all the nations about her drunken with the Lord’s fury, conquering them all, and making them mad through the misery and smart they felt from her. Babylon in Daniel is compared to a head of gold; and, Revelation 17:4, she is said to have a golden cup in her hand; but the meaning is no more than this, that God had raised up Babylon to great degrees of dignity and splendour, intending to make use of her to execute his vengeance upon many other people; and he did accordingly so use her, to give the cup of his fury to many nations to the enraging of divers people; but now the course of his providence toward her was altering, &c.
Babylon is suddenly fallen and destroyed: howl for her; take balm for her pain, if so be she may be healed.That is, she shall suddenly fall and be destroyed; you may try all the probable ways for her cure, but they will all be used to no purpose.
We would have healed Babylon, but she is not healed: forsake her, and let us go every one into his own country: for her judgment reacheth unto heaven, and is lifted up even to the skies.The prophet here seemeth to personate the mercenary soldiers that should come to help the Chaldeans, as if they should say this, they would have helped Babylon, but there was no healing for her; and therefore they call one to another to leave her to herself, and return each man to his own country, for her punishment was very great, her case too sad for them to help. The reaching of things to the heavens, and lifting them up to the skies, are phrases used to signify high and great measures and degrees of things, so expressed Genesis 11:4 28:12 Deu 1:28 1 Samuel 5:12 2 Chronicles 28:9 Psalm 107:26.
The LORD hath brought forth our righteousness: come, and let us declare in Zion the work of the LORD our God.These words are spoken as in the person of the Jews, owning the destruction of Babylon,
1. To be the mighty work of God.
2. An act of justice and judgment, pleading the cause and revenging the wrongs of his people; and owning the Jewish religion, and calling one to another to go to the temple to declare what God had done for them, and to give thanks unto him for it.
Make bright the arrows; gather the shields: the LORD hath raised up the spirit of the kings of the Medes: for his device is against Babylon, to destroy it; because it is the vengeance of the LORD, the vengeance of his temple.Make bright the arrows; prepare the arrows for fighting, whether by feathering, sharpening, or polishing and cleansing of them, is not much material.
Gather the shields; you that are Chaldeans, gather all the shields you have together, you will have need of them all: or, you that are the enemies of the Chaldeans, gather you together your shields. For God hath put a spirit into Cyrus and Darius, &c., and his design is against Babylon to destroy it. It is a day in which God is resolved to take vengeance on Babylon, to take vengeance for the indignities they have offered to, and the horrible profanation of, his temple.
Set up the standard upon the walls of Babylon, make the watch strong, set up the watchmen, prepare the ambushes: for the LORD hath both devised and done that which he spake against the inhabitants of Babylon.Some judge these words spoken to the Medes, declaring the will of God, that they should use all probable means to conquer Babylon, or (as some would have it) display their banners upon the walls of it, as signs of its being already conquered: but certainly it is more reasonable to conclude them the prophet’s words to the Babylonians, either rousing them out of their security, (for it appears they were strangely secure from Da 5; historians tell us that the city was fortified by walls fifty cubits high, and two hundred cubits broad, and by a very deep and large ditch, besides that on one side it had the river Euphrates,) or at least quickening them to make all the preparation they could, though all would be to very little purpose, for God had resolved upon what he would do upon Babylon, and it was already as good as done.
O thou that dwellest upon many waters, abundant in treasures, thine end is come, and the measure of thy covetousness.Babylon is said to dwell upon many waters, because upon the great river Euphrates, which they say did not only run by it, but almost encompass it, branching itself into many smaller rivers, which made several parts of the city islands.
Abundant in treasures; it is a city much noted in Scripture for wealth, and made much more wealthy than it was by traffic by the conquest of many nations.
Thine end is come, and the measure of thy covetousness: the prophet tells them that now their gathering time was over, there was now a boundary set to their covetousness; in the Hebrew it is, the cubit of thy covetousness, which is by our translators well translated a measure, because it was amongst the Jews the common measure of height and depth. The word by us translated covetousness, as Exodus 18:21, may either signify riches, the object of their covetousness, or prosperity, or that unlawful desire of having more, which is properly called covetousness, either because they should be destroyed utterly, or because they should prosper no more; there was no end put to the Babylonians’ lusts, but there was an end put to the satisfaction of their lusts.
The LORD of hosts hath sworn by himself, saying, Surely I will fill thee with men, as with caterpillers; and they shall lift up a shout against thee.The Lord, that is able to bring to pass what he saith, hath sworn by his life, or by himself; see the like phrase Jeremiah 22:5 44:26 49:13 Amos 4:2 6:8 Isaiah 45:23; that is, the thing next mentioned shall come to pass as certainly as that there is a God in heaven, or that God liveth.
Surely I will fill thee with men, as with caterpillars; I will bring against thee a great army, that shall be like a swarm of caterpillars, and shall come against thee in such numbers as caterpillars use to come, and for the same end, to eat thee up and destroy thee; and as soldiers use do when they go on to fight their enemies, or to assault cities, they shall make a great shout against thee.
He hath made the earth by his power, he hath established the world by his wisdom, and hath stretched out the heaven by his understanding.No text from Poole on this verse.
When he uttereth his voice, there is a multitude of waters in the heavens; and he causeth the vapours to ascend from the ends of the earth: he maketh lightnings with rain, and bringeth forth the wind out of his treasures.No text from Poole on this verse.
Every man is brutish by his knowledge; every founder is confounded by the graven image: for his molten image is falsehood, and there is no breath in them.No text from Poole on this verse.
They are vanity, the work of errors: in the time of their visitation they shall perish.No text from Poole on this verse.
The portion of Jacob is not like them; for he is the former of all things: and Israel is the rod of his inheritance: the LORD of hosts is his name.We had these five verses all in Jeremiah 10:12-16. See there the explication of the several passages in them; the scope of which is only to convince those to whom the prophet spoke, that notwithstanding all the power, and riches, and greatness, and alliances of the Chaldeans, yet that God who had threatened this ruin to them was able to bring it upon them, and all their idols were vanities, things of nought, that should not be able to protect them, and from whose power or impotency they must not measure nor make up a judgment of what God was able to do; for Israel’s God was that God who made the world, and the Lord of all the armies of the creatures, whether in heaven or earth.
Thou art my battle axe and weapons of war: for with thee will I break in pieces the nations, and with thee will I destroy kingdoms;Interpreters are here divided, whether by
thee in this and the following verses to understand Cyrus, whom God made use of to destroy Babylon and many other places, or Babylon. Our translators understand it of Cyrus, and therefore speak of the future tense,
will I. The Hebrew text will not resolve us; I rather incline to interpret it of Babylon, as indeed the most do, and so it should be, Thou hast been, and art, for that is the sense; Cyrus and Darius were not yet in being. God had made use of Babylon like a hammer or battle-axe to break many nations in pieces.
And with thee will I break in pieces the horse and his rider; and with thee will I break in pieces the chariot and his rider;No text from Poole on this verse.
With thee also will I break in pieces man and woman; and with thee will I break in pieces old and young; and with thee will I break in pieces the young man and the maid;No text from Poole on this verse.
I will also break in pieces with thee the shepherd and his flock; and with thee will I break in pieces the husbandman and his yoke of oxen; and with thee will I break in pieces captains and rulers.The sense of all three verse is the same, viz. that God had made use of, and was still making use of the Babylonians to waste and impoverish much people, wasting their goods, routing their armies, killing all sorts of their inhabitants.
And I will render unto Babylon and to all the inhabitants of Chaldea all their evil that they have done in Zion in your sight, saith the LORD.The particle in the front of this verse, which our translators (understanding the four former verses of Cyrus) render and in a copulative sense, must be rendered now, or but, if the four former verses be understood of Babylon, and the sense is this: Though I nave hitherto made use of Babylon, and shall yet for a time make use of the Chaldeans and Babylonians to destroy several other nations; yet now the time is come that I will punish them, and recompense to them all the mischief they have done to the Jews, and some of the Jews shall live to see it.
Behold, I am against thee, O destroying mountain, saith the LORD, which destroyest all the earth: and I will stretch out mine hand upon thee, and roll thee down from the rocks, and will make thee a burnt mountain.Babylon is not here called a mountain because it was situated upon any hills or mountains, for it appears from Genesis 11:2 that it was situated in a plain, and we read, Jeremiah 51:13, that it dwelt upon many waters; but because it was very high for its power and greatness, and had very high walls and towers, that it looked at a distance like a high rocky mountain, and, as some say, (being a very large city,) was full of trees. They had destroyed many people of the earth that lay near to them. God threatens to destroy them notwithstanding their towers and great fortifications, as many times they threw down malefactors from high rocks, mountains, and precipices; and to make them like Ætna or Vesuvius, or like some other mountains of sulphur, or other bituminous matter fired, which are always burning; or else he threateneth that their cities and towers, which appeared like a mountain, should be burnt.
And they shall not take of thee a stone for a corner, nor a stone for foundations; but thou shalt be desolate for ever, saith the LORD.God threateneth to Babylon an utter ruin and desolation, so as they should not have a stone left fit to lay a foundation, or to make a corner-stone; or, as some others interpret it, that city should never be built again, there should never from the rubbish of it be taken a stone to lay the foundation, nor to lay upon the corners of new houses, new walls, new towers in that place. Foundation-stones, and corner-stones, are principal stones in buildings. Nothing shall be left in Babylon of any worth, value, or considerableness.
Set ye up a standard in the land, blow the trumpet among the nations, prepare the nations against her, call together against her the kingdoms of Ararat, Minni, and Ashchenaz; appoint a captain against her; cause the horses to come up as the rough caterpillers.The former words of this verse are expounded by those that follow; setting up of standards and blowings of trumpets are preparatory to bring armies together. The setting up of standards, and blowing of trumpets, are military signs of the will of those princes or captains-general whose those standards are, and to whom those trumpets belong, that those soldiers who are under their command should gather themselves together to the places where those standards are set up, and those trumpets blown. What this
kingdom of Ararat was, and those of
Ashchenaz, is very hard to determine. We read of a mountain called Ararat, where the ark rested after the flood, Genesis 8:4. Of Minni we read no where else: most writers think these were two kingdoms within Armenia. Ashchenaz descended from Noah by Japheth, Genesis 10:3, Certain it is that the emperor of the Medes had the dominion of these places, from whence it is very probable that either Cyrus or Darius, or both, drew out soldiers to help them to conquer the Chaldeans.
Appoint a captain against her: after people are gathered together for war, the first thing to be done is to put them into military order, constituting a captain-general.
Cause the horses to come up as the rough caterpillars. Others read it, like the wasting caterpillar, or like the horrible affrighting caterpillar. Great disputes there are amongst critical interpreters what caterpillars are here meant, the caterpillars being generally smooth; but as we know not the complexion of insects over all the world, so even amongst us we see some caterpillars that look a little rough: that which alone we are here to attend is wily the Median horses are compared to these insects: undoubtedly it is either,
1 With respect to their numbers, for caterpillars in those countries used to come in vast numbers.
2. Or in regard of the horror and trembling caused by them in people when they came, being a great plague to the places which they infested.
Prepare against her the nations with the kings of the Medes, the captains thereof, and all the rulers thereof, and all the land of his dominion.Here the prophet declares those particular princes and nations that should be God’s instruments to destroy Babylon, viz. Cyrus and Darius, the emperors of the Medes, with all the forces under their command, and people under their dominion.
And the land shall tremble and sorrow: for every purpose of the LORD shall be performed against Babylon, to make the land of Babylon a desolation without an inhabitant.That is, Babylon, or the land of Chaldea, shall tremble and sorrow; for God hath determined to destroy it, and to leave it wholly desolate, so as none should dwell in it.
The mighty men of Babylon have forborn to fight, they have remained in their holds: their might hath failed; they became as women: they have burned her dwellingplaces; her bars are broken.When God hath determined an end, he ordereth means proportionable to that end. Babylon had many valiant and mighty men, and it is very probable the Babylonians trusted very much to them; but when it came to, God took off their courage, so as they had no heart to fight, but kept themselves in their strong holds, and if at any time they came out, their courage failed them, and they behaved themselves more like women than men of war; so as their enemies burned their cities, brake down their fortifications, and made what havoc they pleased.
One post shall run to meet another, and one messenger to meet another, to shew the king of Babylon that his city is taken at one end,We have had occasion one and again to recite what we have in civil historians about the taking of Babylon by Cyrus, viz., that it was taken by surprise, by the Median emperor’s unexpected diverting the river Euphrates by divers channels which he cut; as also that Babylon was a very vast city, the greatness of which might admit of posts and messengers from one end of the city to another, to acquaint the king what was done at the other end of the city in which himself was resident; and it is said that the king of Babylon, when his city, was taken, did not know of his danger until the enemy had entered the city.
And that the passages are stopped, and the reeds they have burned with fire, and the men of war are affrighted.This was part of the message which the prophet saith the messenger should carry to the king of Babylon, that was in the other part of the city, that the passages over the river Euphrates, or any other passages by which the Babylonians might, upon the enemies’ entrance, make their escape, were all stopped, and guarded with soldiers, or otherwise, so as there was no hope of any making an escape. The word translated
reeds signifies also standing pools of water, and that some judge the sense, the water is drained out of the pits or pools, so as it could not hinder the entrance of the enemies: those that adhere to the translation of it reeds, say that upon the borders of the river Euphrates were vast quantities of great and tall reeds, which, with the mud in which they stood, were as another wall to the city, but the Medes had burnt up them, so as the way was open to the walls; and the men of war, seeing these reeds burnt up, and the water drained from them, were affrighted, so as their hearts through fear failed them.
For thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; The daughter of Babylon is like a threshingfloor, it is time to thresh her: yet a little while, and the time of her harvest shall come.Babylon had been a threshing instrument by which, and a threshing-floor in which, God had threshed many other nations; God now intended to make it as a
threshing-floor wherein he would thresh the Chaldeans.
It is time to thresh her: some think because of the next words, that the words were better translated it is time to tread her, (so the word properly signifies,) as men use to prepare their threshing-floors against the time of harvest, for the time of this harvest was near;
her harvest signifieth the harvest which the justice of God would have from the ruin of the Chaldeans.
Nebuchadrezzar the king of Babylon hath devoured me, he hath crushed me, he hath made me an empty vessel, he hath swallowed me up like a dragon, he hath filled his belly with my delicates, he hath cast me out.The prophet speaketh this in the name of the Jews, complaining of the
king of Babylon as the author of all the miseries they had endured, which he expresseth by several phrases signifying the same thing, viz. that it was the king of Babylon that had ruined. them, and filled himself and his soldiers with their delicate things, and cast them out of their land, dealing with them as wolves or other beasts of prey, that eat what they please of other beasts they have preyed upon, and leave the rest in the fields.
The violence done to me and to my flesh be upon Babylon, shall the inhabitant of Zion say; and my blood upon the inhabitants of Chaldea, shall Jerusalem say.The words are either a prayer, or a prediction of God’s vengeance upon Babylon; so Psalm 137:7,8. God hath said vengeance is his, and he will repay it. The church of the Jews here commits its cause to God, and prayeth him to execute vengeance for her. How far it is lawful for us to pray against our enemies we have heard once and again.
Therefore thus saith the LORD; Behold, I will plead thy cause, and take vengeance for thee; and I will dry up her sea, and make her springs dry.Men had need take heed how they give cause of appeals to God against them, especially the appeals of such as are a people that have a covenant relation to God. God in those cases ordinarily showeth himself a swift witness and judge, and gives a speedy judgment in such causes.
Behold, saith God,
I will plead thy cause, not with words, but actually with my judicial dispensations, therefore it is expounded by taking vengeance. The vengeance which God threateneth is expressed metaphorically under the notion of
drying up her sea, and making her springs dry, which signifies the depriving her of all necessaries, not only of the abundance of her men, riches, treasures, but of her springs. Thus I had rather expound it, than as referring to the particular stratagem by which Cyrus took Babylon, viz, by drying up in some measure the river Euphrates, that is, turning it into other channels.
And Babylon shall become heaps, a dwellingplace for dragons, an astonishment, and an hissing, without an inhabitant.Babylon shall become heaps; heaps of rubbish.
A dwelling-place for dragons, an astonishment, and an hissing, without an inhabitant. See Poole "Jeremiah 50:39", See Poole "Jeremiah 50:40", where the same thing was before said.
They shall roar together like lions: they shall yell as lions' whelps.It is uncertain whether this be to be understood of the Medes, making horrible roarings and noises when they took Babylon; or of the Babylonians, who upon the taking of their city (as is usual) made horrid outcries, as being a people quite undone: some think it referreth to the drunken noises of the Babylonians at their festival, during the celebration of which we are told their city was taken; but to this one would think the comparison of
lions’ whelps (which ordinarily yell for want of victuals, or for some mischief done them, not when their bellies are full) should not so well agree.
In their heat I will make their feasts, and I will make them drunken, that they may rejoice, and sleep a perpetual sleep, and not wake, saith the LORD.When they shall grow hot with wine, I will put, or give, or make them a feast of another nature. Interpreters judge that the prophet referreth to the feast made by Belshazzar, Daniel 5:1,
to a thousand of his lords, when he and his wives and concubines drank wine in the vessels belonging to the temple, during which feast the city was taken. So they were made drunk with the wine cup of God’s fury, because the Lord had designed them to utter ruin and destruction, that as men filled with wine are merry, and shout, and then fall asleep; so the Chaldeans being drunk with the wine of the Lord’s wrath, while they were merry with their cups of wine, might fall into such a sleep as they should never awake out of.
I will bring them down like lambs to the slaughter, like rams with he goats.That is, they shall be destroyed before they are aware of it.
How is Sheshach taken! and how is the praise of the whole earth surprised! how is Babylon become an astonishment among the nations!We meet with this term
Sheshach only here, and Jeremiah 25:26; both places leave it doubtful whether it be to be taken for an idol, which they called by the name of Shach, or a name given to the city of Babylon, which worshipped that idol, to the honour of which the Babylonians kept a yearly festival for several days; in the time of which festival they say it was that Cyrus took the city of Babylon.
The praise of the whole earth; Babylon, that was so famous over all the world for her splendour. And so it is interpreted in the next words, wherein Babylon, for the punishment brought upon it, is said to be an astonishment to all nations; which makes it probable that Babylon is what was called Sheshach, by the doubling of a letter, because she worshipped Shach.
The sea is come up upon Babylon: she is covered with the multitude of the waves thereof.A multitude of enemies, that are like the sea in which there is a multitude of waters, or that will overrun them as the sea overfloweth the shore, or any land into which it once breaketh.
Her cities are a desolation, a dry land, and a wilderness, a land wherein no man dwelleth, neither doth any son of man pass thereby.See Jeremiah 2:6 9:12: the words are all of them descriptive of an utter desolation, that should not only be the fate of Babylon the head city, but of all the inferior cities, that were as daughters to that mother city.
And I will punish Bel in Babylon, and I will bring forth out of his mouth that which he hath swallowed up: and the nations shall not flow together any more unto him: yea, the wall of Babylon shall fall.And I will punish Bel and Babylon: Bel was the principal Babylonian idol, of which see what is noted Jeremiah 1 2.
And I will bring forth out of his mouth that which he hath swallowed up; all the vessels of the temple, 2 Chronicles 36:7, and whatever gifts the Babylonians had presented to him.
And the nations shall not flow together any more unto him: it was the custom of other nations to send presents to the gods of those nations whom they were in subjection to, or whom they would appease, whence it is that we read the Philistines when they had the ark would not send it home without a present, 1 Samuel 6:11. God by his prophet foretelleth that the time should come when the nations should come no more to Babylon, neither to pay a homage to their chief idol, nor yet to bring offerings unto him.
Yea, the wall of Babylon shall fall; and the city of Babylon should be also ruined.
My people, go ye out of the midst of her, and deliver ye every man his soul from the fierce anger of the LORD.These words are an exhortation to the Jews to be willing, upon the first proclamation of liberty by Cyrus, to go out of Babylon, notwithstanding the pleasantness of the place, and that now their stakes had been pitched there many years, because of the ruin which should most certainly come on that place.
And lest your heart faint, and ye fear for the rumour that shall be heard in the land; a rumour shall both come one year, and after that in another year shall come a rumour, and violence in the land, ruler against ruler.And lest your heart faint; and lest they should be affrighted by the succession of evils year after year that should come on Babylon. Some think it were better translated, And let not your heart faint. Though you should hear of Cyrus’s coming year after year, yet faint not; (for they say Cyrus was one year preparing, and that he spent the second year in passing through Assyria, so as he came not at Babylon till the third year;) no, not though you should see or hear of successive troubles, and a great deal of violence in the land by the opposition of great princes one to another, for none of them shall do you any harm; but this doth not so well suit to the former verse, where they are bidden to make haste out and to save their own lives. I do therefore prefer the sense of our interpreters, and their translation of it, as making another argument to persuade them to make haste out, because they would by reason of the successive evils year after year coming upon the Babylonians live there very troublesome and uneasy lives.
Therefore, behold, the days come, that I will do judgment upon the graven images of Babylon: and her whole land shall be confounded, and all her slain shall fall in the midst of her.I will do, that is, I will execute, judgment upon the idols of Babylon, and the whole land of Chaldea shall be confounded, when they shall see that their idols will do them no more service.
And all her slain shall fall in the midst of her: some, instead of her slain’ would have it read, her dancers, (for the city was taken while Belshazzar and his whole court were revelling,) but the learned author of the English Annotations tells us the word will not bear it.
Then the heaven and the earth, and all that is therein, shall sing for Babylon: for the spoilers shall come unto her from the north, saith the LORD.All the creatures in heaven and earth. shall rejoice at the vengeance which God shall take upon Babylon, which had been the destroyer of so many of their people. The Median soldiers are those here called spoilers from the north.
As Babylon hath caused the slain of Israel to fall, so at Babylon shall fall the slain of all the earth.The words in the Hebrew have some difficulty, which is not so obvious to those not acquainted with that language, but hath given occasion to interpreters to vary in their particular translations of it; but they mostly agree in the general sense, viz. that these words are given as a reason why the whole earth should so much rejoice in the ruin of Babylon, because Babylon had caused Israel to fall. The latter term,
all the earth, must be understood in a restrained sense, for that earth; the Chaldeans coming up from all parts of Chaldea to help Babylon, should be slain there, as by the means of Babylon the Israelites were slain that came up from all parts of Judea to help Jerusalem.
Ye that have escaped the sword, go away, stand not still: remember the LORD afar off, and let Jerusalem come into your mind.It is hard to resolve whether the prophet here speaks to the Chaldeans, or the Medes, or the Jews, though most understand it of the Jews, whom God would have leave Babylon as soon as they should have a liberty proclaimed; and to remember when they came into Judea the great things, both of justice toward the Chaldeans and mercy toward them, which God had done; and keep Jerusalem in their mind, as the place where they were to worship God according to his direction, and for which God had so wrought.
We are confounded, because we have heard reproach: shame hath covered our faces: for strangers are come into the sanctuaries of the LORD'S house.The words of this verse seem to prove that the Jews were the persons intended in the former verse, whom God would have to go away, and not to stand still; for it is out of doubt that it is of them the prophet here speaketh, and whom the prophet brings in here, saying,
We are confounded, that is, ashamed (as it is expounded in the next words) to hear the enemies reproaching us for our God, or for our religion, as Psalm 137:3; and because pagans that were strangers to the commonwealth of Israel, who, Numbers 1:51, might not come near the tabernacle of the Lord, were come, and that not to worship, but to plunder and rifle in the sanctuaries of the Lord, even into the court of the priests and of the Israelites, and into the most holy place; those whose very presence in these places had been a pollution of them.
Wherefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will do judgment upon her graven images: and through all her land the wounded shall groan.For which complaints of my people, or rather for which profanation of my holy place, I will be revenged upon their graven images, and not only upon their idols, but upon the worshippers of them, and cause a groaning of wounded men over all the country of the Chaldeans; I will cause them to know that their idols are not able to protect them from my power and justice.
Though Babylon should mount up to heaven, and though she should fortify the height of her strength, yet from me shall spoilers come unto her, saith the LORD.We are very prone to measure things by the measures of our own reasons, and to judge of events which are to be the effects of Divine power by human probabilities, therefore God is put to use many words to the same purpose: he saw the Jews saying in their hearts, How can these things be? Babylon hath impregnable walls, two hundred feet high, (so historians report,) and of a great breadth, and it hath very strong and high towers. God by his prophet tells them, that if they could mount up as high as heaven, if they could make their towers much stronger than they were, yet the
spoilers were to come from him, and he could and would send spoilers who would pull down her wall and break down her towers.
A sound of a cry cometh from Babylon, and great destruction from the land of the Chaldeans:To assure them that what God threatened should certainly be, he calls to the Jews to listen, as if already there were cry from Babylon, and a sound of a great destruction from the land of the Chaldeans.
Because the LORD hath spoiled Babylon, and destroyed out of her the great voice; when her waves do roar like great waters, a noise of their voice is uttered:The sword is not so much the sword of the Medes a the sword of the Lord. It is he who is to be looked at, a the spoiler of Babylon.
And destroyed out of her the great voice; and hath made to cease in that great city the noise caused from the multitudes of people in it walking up an, down, and trafficking together. The noise of her enemies that shall break in upon her shall be like the noise and roarings of the sea, when it dasheth upon the shore or upon some rocks. That shall be the only noise shall be heard in her, instead of the noises wont there to be made from the multitude of people, or from revellers.
Because the spoiler is come upon her, even upon Babylon, and her mighty men are taken, every one of their bows is broken: for the LORD God of recompences shall surely requite.Little more is said here than was before, only the words hint the taking of Babylon by a surprise, when the kin and the inhabitants were not aware of it, which he had be fore also told us, Jeremiah 51:39,40. In this the prophet saith that God would act but as a just God, a
God of recompence. Where God’s people suffer wrong, and either cannot revenge themselves, or may not do it, being private person, (to whom God hath given no power of the sword,) if the can exercise faith and patience, they shall find God a Go of recompences, that can and will requite their enemies, all plead their cause.
And I will make drunk her princes, and her wise men, her captains, and her rulers, and her mighty men: and they shall sleep a perpetual sleep, and not wake, saith the King, whose name is the LORD of hosts.Drunken men use to fall asleep. The prophet speaks here metaphorically. His meaning is, that the Lord would fill them with the wine of his fury, mentioned Jeremiah 30:15,16, and upon the drinking of it they should sleep their last sleep, the effects of it should be their utter ruin and destruction. Yet there seemeth to be an allusion to the posture the king of Babylon, and the thousand of his lords, mentioned Daniel 5:1, were in, when their city was taken (which, as was before said, was in the time of the festival of their idol Shach,) when they were drinking wine in the bowls that were brought from the temple at Jerusalem, Jeremiah 51:3 Jeremiah 51:30, it is said, In that very night was Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans slain.
Thus saith the LORD of hosts; The broad walls of Babylon shall be utterly broken, and her high gates shall be burned with fire; and the people shall labour in vain, and the folk in the fire, and they shall be weary.Incredible things are told us by historians of this great city. They say the compass of it was threescore miles about; that her walls were in height two hundred feet, her breadth such as two chariots might drive abreast upon the top of them; that it had a hundred great gates, many of then of brass. God threatens the breaking down of these walls and the burning of these high gates and towers; and that though the people should labour to quench this fire, or to rebuild this city, yet it would be all lost labour, and they should give over their enterprise, as being weary.
The word which Jeremiah the prophet commanded Seraiah the son of Neriah, the son of Maaseiah, when he went with Zedekiah the king of Judah into Babylon in the fourth year of his reign. And this Seraiah was a quiet prince.Of this
Seraiah we read no more than we have in this verse, though, Jeremiah 36:26, there be mention made of another Seraiah.
When he went with Zedekiah the king of Judah into Babylon: we no where read of any journey Zedekiah made into Babylon till he was carried a prisoner thither, it is therefore probable that with should be translated from, as the same particle is in other places, Genesis 4:1 44:4, it being not usual with great princes to make visits one to another at such distances, though the Jews tell us a story of some such thing.
In the fourth year of his reign: the expressing of this circumstance of time lets us know that this prophecy was many years before Babylon was destroyed, for it was seven years before Jerusalem was taken; so as it must be above sixty years before it was fulfilled in the first degree.
And this Seraiah was a quiet prince: the Hebrew word admits of various interpretations; some think that Menucha was a place over which Seraiah had some authority under Zedekiah, the same with Manahath, 1 Chronicles 8:6. Others think it was a name of office, and signified lord chamberlain; but the best interpreters see no reason to vary from our translation, the sense of which is, that he was a man of a moderate, quiet temper, that persuaded to peace.
So Jeremiah wrote in a book all the evil that should come upon Babylon, even all these words that are written against Babylon.No text from Poole on this verse.
And Jeremiah said to Seraiah, When thou comest to Babylon, and shalt see, and shalt read all these words;Not to the Chaldeans, nor possibly is it to be understood of a mere private reading of them to himself, but to the Jews that were in Babylon, acquainting them with what God had spoken against Babylon by the prophet.
Then shalt thou say, O LORD, thou hast spoken against this place, to cut it off, that none shall remain in it, neither man nor beast, but that it shall be desolate for ever.Thou shalt testify that thou believest what thou hast read to be what shall most certainly come to pass, by speaking words to this sense.
And it shall be, when thou hast made an end of reading this book, that thou shalt bind a stone to it, and cast it into the midst of Euphrates:No text from Poole on this verse.
And thou shalt say, Thus shall Babylon sink, and shall not rise from the evil that I will bring upon her: and they shall be weary. Thus far are the words of Jeremiah.It hath been often said that Euphrates was that great river which ran by the walls of Babylon; into this Seraiah is commanded by Jeremiah to throw this roll of prophecy against Babylon, symbolically to teach the Jews, that according to the tenor of his prophecy the time should come, after some years, when Babylon should be destroyed never to rise again to any great view or degree of splendour, no more than that roll with the stone tied to it should rise from the bottom of Euphrates.
And they shall be weary; some read, though they weary themselves, that is, do what they can, or, (as it is here,) and they shall be weary with that weight of judgment which shall be upon them.
Thus far are the words of Jeremiah: either the words of Jeremiah relating to Babylon reach thus far, or all the words of Jeremiah remaining on sacred record (for it is thought that the next chapter was rather penned by some other holy man); or (which seemeth the best) the prophetical words of Jeremiah, for the matter of the next chapter is historical, and the Book of Lamentations is not prophetical, as to the main of it, though there be in it three or four prophetical passages, Lamentations 4:21,22, &c.