Jeremiah 50
Pulpit Commentary
The word that the LORD spake against Babylon and against the land of the Chaldeans by Jeremiah the prophet.
Declare ye among the nations, and publish, and set up a standard; publish, and conceal not: say, Babylon is taken, Bel is confounded, Merodach is broken in pieces; her idols are confounded, her images are broken in pieces.
Verses 2-10. - Babylon's fall and Israel's deliverance. Verses 2, 3. - The prophet, with the eye of faith, sees his revelation accomplished. Babylon (like Moab) is taken; her idols are destroyed. In his exuberant joy, he calls on the bystanders to proclaim the good news to the sympathetic nations, and to set up (or rather, lift up) a standard (as Jeremiah 4:6), to call the attention of those who might not be within hearing of the proclamation. The idols have been convicted of false pretensions; they are ashamed and dismayed (so we should render rather than confounded and broken in pieces) at the terrible result to their worshippers. Bel and Merodach are not different deifies, but merely different names of one of the two principal gods of the later Babylonian empire. Bel, it is true, was originally distinct from Merodach, but ultimately identified with him. Merodach was the tutelary god of Babylon, and Nebuchadnezzar seems to have been specially addicted to his worship, though, indeed, he mentions Nebo also with hardly less honour. This is the beginning of an inscription of this king's, preserved at the India House: - "Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, glorious prince, worshipper of Marduk, adorer of the lofty one, glorifier of Nabu, the exalted, the possessor of intelligence" (Mr. Rodwell's translation, 'Records of the Past,' 5:113). Elsewhere Nebuchadnezzar speaks of Marduk as "the god my maker," "the chief of the gods," and of himself as "his (Marduk's) eldest son, the chosen of his heart." Her images. It is a very peculiar word (gillulim), specially frequent in Ezekiel, and also found in a chapter of Leviticus with which Ezekiel has affinities (Leviticus 26:30). It evidently involves a sore disparagement of idol worship. The etymological meaning is "things rolled," which may be variously interpreted as "idol blocks" (Gesenius), or "doll images" (Ewald).
For out of the north there cometh up a nation against her, which shall make her land desolate, and none shall dwell therein: they shall remove, they shall depart, both man and beast.
Verse 3. - Out of the north. There was a peculiar mystery attaching to the north in the Hebrew mind, as, in fact, the word very for "north" in Hebrew (literally, the hidden) indicates. The burnt offering was to be sacrificed on the north side of the altar (Leviticus 1:11), and the four cherubim, in the vision of Ezekiel, are described as coming from the north (Ezekiel 1:4). The horror with which Babylon was regarded was intensified, apparently, by its northern position (Jeremiah 1:14), and now the "hidden" north again pours forth its swarms of warriors against Babylon herself. They shall remove, they shall depart; rather, they are fled, they are gone; almost the same clause occurs in Jeremiah 9:10. The prediction is realized as past.
In those days, and in that time, saith the LORD, the children of Israel shall come, they and the children of Judah together, going and weeping: they shall go, and seek the LORD their God.
Verse 4. - In those days, etc. The destruction of Babylon is immediately followed by the deliverance of Israel. But the description of the latter is a remarkable one. We are by no means to regard it as an idealized picture of the return of the Jews under Zerubbabel, any more than we can suppose the glowing promises in the second part of Isaiah to have their sole fulfilment in that disappointing event. No; it is the characteristic of Messianic prophecy that, with "foreshortened perspective," the prophets represent as equally near events which are really separated by ages. In the Book of Isaiah, for instance, preliminary judgments are repeatedly described in terms which, properly speaking, only apply to the great final judgment. In fact, each great political revolution is a stage in the Divine drama of judgment, which will reach its close in the final cataclysm. And so too here (as well as in Isaiah 40-46.) the promise of mercy to Israel, which began to be fulfilled in the edict of Cyrus, is represented as if the still future conversion of the people of Israel were actually accomplished. The description reminds us of Jeremiah 3:18-21. Notice the penitence of the returning exiles, and the reunion of Israel and Judah (see on Jeremiah 3:18). Going and weeping; they shall go; rather, they shall go, weeping as they go.
They shall ask the way to Zion with their faces thitherward, saying, Come, and let us join ourselves to the LORD in a perpetual covenant that shall not be forgotten.
Verse 5. - Thitherward; rather, hitherward: The prophet is evidently writing from Jerusalem (comp. Jeremiah 51:50). Let us join ourselves. A conjectural emendation (nilveh for nilvu, a difficult reading, meaning, perhaps, "join yourselves"). A perpetual covenant. The same phrase occurs in Jeremiah 32:40. The addition, "that shall not be forgotten," reminds us of "the ark of the covenant," which was "not to be remembered" (Jeremiah 3:16).
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.
Verse 6. - Lost sheep. Not merely with reference to the scattering of the Captivity (as in Isaiah 27:13, where the Authorized Version has "ready to perish"), but to the transgressions of the Law of God, of which the Jews had been constantly guilty (comp. Psalm 119:176; Isaiah 53:6). Their shepherds... mountains. This is the marginal correction in the Hebrew Bible; the text has, "Their shepherds have caused them to go astray upon the seducing mountains" - a strange expression, which is, however, defended by Naegelsbach on the ground of Jeremiah 2:20; Jeremiah 3:2, 23; Jeremiah 17:2. Their resting place; literally, their couching place; i.e. their pasture, Jehovah, at once their Pasture (ver. 7) and their true Shepherd (Psalm 23:1).
All that found them have devoured them: and their adversaries said, We offend not, because they have sinned against the LORD, the habitation of justice, even the LORD, the hope of their fathers.
Verse 7. - We offend not; rather, we incur no guilt. As long as Israel lived a life consecrated to Jehovah, "all that devoured him incurred guilt" (Jeremiah 2:3). But now that he had wandered from Jehovah, and so forfeited his protection, his adversaries denied that they could be brought to account. Habitation of justice; strictly, pasture of righteousness. The same title is applied in Jeremiah 31:23 to Jerusalem. But Jerusalem's spiritual efficacy is only derivative; rest and life flow from Jehovah alone, who is, therefore, the true Pasture of his people. In the Hebrew, "Jehovah" is placed emphatically at the end of the verse. The hope of their fathers (comp. Psalm 22:4). To forsake Jehovah was an act of treason to the former generations.
Remove out of the midst of Babylon, and go forth out of the land of the Chaldeans, and be as the he goats before the flocks.
Verse 8. - The prophet returns to the fate of Babylon. He exhorts the captive Israelites to flee in time, before the hostile army reaches the city (comp. Isaiah 48:20). Be as the he goats before the flocks; rather, as the rams, whose example is followed unhesitatingly by the flock. The "flocks" in this case are the strangers in Babylon (ver. 16).
For, lo, I will raise and cause to come up against Babylon an assembly of great nations from the north country: and they shall set themselves in array against her; from thence she shall be taken: their arrows shall be as of a mighty expert man; none shall return in vain.
Verse 9. - I will raise; literally, I will stir up (or, awaken); comp. Jeremiah 6:22; Isaiah 13:17. An assembly of great nations. So in a parallel prophecy, "the kingdoms of nations gathered together" (Isaiah 13:4). Callias in Ebers' learned story, 'The Egyptian Princess,' speaks of "an empire so casually heaped together, and consisting of seventy populations of different tongues and customs, as that of Persia." From thence; i.e. from the headquarters of the array of nations. As of a mighty expert man; rather, as of an expert warrior (or, mighty man). The marginal rendering of the Authorized Version represents a various reading of the Hebrew found in three old editions, and presupposed in the Targum and Vulgate, "one making childless," i.e. "a destroyer." The received reading, however, is self-evidently right. None shall return in vain. It seems doubtful whether this refers to the arrow or to the mighty man. The arrow may be said to "return [or, 'turn'] in vain" when it misses its aim or strikes the mark without piercing it (comp. 2 Samuel 1:22, where, however, it is the sword which is thus spoken of); the mighty man when he retires from the field defeated. This wider use of the phrase is sanctioned by Isaiah 55:11.
And Chaldea shall be a spoil: all that spoil her shall be satisfied, saith the LORD.
Because ye were glad, because ye rejoiced, O ye destroyers of mine heritage, because ye are grown fat as the heifer at grass, and bellow as bulls;
Verses 11-20. - Babylon's desolation and Israel's glorification. Verses 11, 12. - Because ye were glad, etc.; rather, Truly ye may be glad; truly ye may rejoice, ye spoilers of mine heritage; truly ye may leap as a heifer at grass, and neigh as steeds; yet your mother, etc. Your triumph shall be of short duration; disgrace follows closely upon its heels. "Your mother" is a term for the nation regarded as a whole (comp. Isaiah 51:1; Hosea 2:2; Hosea 4:5). "At grass" is the reading adopted by the Septuagint and Vulgate; the pointed text has (the vowels alone are different), "(a heifer) that thresheth," i.e. allowed to eat its fill of corn, agreeably to the direction in Deuteronomy 25:4. It is not clear why the Authorized Version deserted the received pointing. Behold, the hindermost of the nations shall be a wilderness; rather, Behold, the hindermost of the nations! a wilderness, etc. The subject understood in the first part is obviously the people, in the second the land, of Babylon.
Your mother shall be sore confounded; she that bare you shall be ashamed: behold, the hindermost of the nations shall be a wilderness, a dry land, and a desert.
Because of the wrath of the LORD it shall not be inhabited, but it shall be wholly desolate: every one that goeth by Babylon shall be astonished, and hiss at all her plagues.
Verse 13. - All but the first clause of this verse is taken from Jeremiah 19:8; Jeremiah 49:17.
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.
Verse 14. - Put yourselves in array, etc. The Authorized Version, guided, perhaps, by considerations of rhythm, has misplaced the first stop, which ought to be after "bow." The Medes are referred to in a parallel prophecy as great archers (Isaiah 13:18).
Shout against her round about: she hath given her hand: her foundations are fallen, her walls are thrown down: for it is the vengeance of the LORD: take vengeance upon her; as she hath done, do unto her.
Verse 15. - Shout against her; i.e. raise the battle cry (comp. Joshua 6:16; Isaiah 42:13). She hath given her hand. This action is generally mentioned as a pledge of friendship or a ratification of a promise (2 Kings 10:15; Ezekiel 17:18; Ezra 10:19); but the notion of surrender or submission would naturally follow (so in 1 Chronicles 29:24; 2 Chronicles 30:8). Dr. Payne Smith well quotes the words of Turnus, when begging his life of AEneas, "Vicisti, et victum tendere palmas Ausonii videre" ('AEneid,' 12:936). Her foundations. The word is difficult, but a comparison with the Syriac suggests the rendering, her walls. "Foundations" is obviously wrong.
Cut off the sower from Babylon, and him that handleth the sickle in the time of harvest: for fear of the oppressing sword they shall turn every one to his people, and they shall flee every one to his own land.
Verse 16. - Cut off the sower, etc. "Babylon" here probably means Babylonia, for it is clear from ver. 12 that the curse belongs to the country as well as the city of Babylon; indeed, "Babylon" in ver. 13 seems to be used in the wider sense. Others think of the open spaces within the walls of Babylon, in which it is said that crops were raised to provision the city in case of a siege (see Rawlinson, 'Ancient Monarchies,' 2:518); but this is less natural. They shall turn, etc. The subject is, not the husbandmen, but the strangers in Babylonia; comp. the parallel passage, Isaiah 13:14, on which this passage is based. AEsehylus ('Pers.,' 53) speaks of the Πάμμικτος ὄχλος in Babylon. Whether brought by force from their homes, like the Jews, or voluntary residents for the sake of commerce, all should hurry from the doomed city.
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.
Verse 17. - Israel is a scattered sheep, etc. Here a pause in the discourse occurs. The prophet returns to the present condition of Israel, who is likened to a sheep scared away from its fold by lions. The ruin wrought by the lions is described first as "devouring" and then as "breaking the bones" of Israel - in either case it is complete destruction, but the completeness is more emphasized by the second figure. In fact, when the "ten tribes" were carried captive, the elements of the theocracy still remained in the southern kingdom.
Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will punish the king of Babylon and his land, as I have punished the king of Assyria.
And I will bring Israel again to his habitation, and he shall feed on Carmel and Bashan, and his soul shall be satisfied upon mount Ephraim and Gilead.
Verse 19. - The flock restored. His habitation is an unfortunate rendering, which obscures the beautiful figure; read, his pasture (as in ver. 7). The places mentioned were all famous for their rich pasturage (comp. Jeremiah 22:6; Isaiah 33:9; Micah 7:14 (especially); Ezekiel 34:13, 14; Song of Solomon 4:1).
In those days, and in that time, saith the LORD, the iniquity of Israel shall be sought for, and there shall be none; and the sins of Judah, and they shall not be found: for I will pardon them whom I reserve.
Verse 20. - In those days, etc. An evangelical promise, reminding us of Jeremiah 31:34 and Jeremiah 33:8, and of the combination of spiritual with temporal blessings in the latter part of Isaiah.
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.
Verses 21-28. - The punishment of Babylon, corresponding to her crimes. Verse 21. - The land of Merathaim; i.e. of double rebellion. Probably enough an actual geographical name may lie at the root of this singular expression; but we are not able at present to say what it was. The prophet has, at any rate, modified it in such a way as to convey a definite meaning, symbolic of the character of Babylon (comp. on ver. 31). What was this meaning? According to Gesenius, there is an allusion to the two great blows inflicted on Israel and Judah by Assyria and Babylon respectively; but as these two powers were but the instruments of a higher Hand, this explanation would seem to be inconsistent with the prophetic teaching. Dahler, De Wette, and Keil take the two rebellions to be the spiritual ones of idolatry and pride; and there is no obvious objection to this. But the dual may be simply intended to express intensity; comp. ch. 17:18, "Destroy them with double destruction" (see note). The inhabitants of Pekod; i.e. of punishment. But here too a geographical name very probably lies underneath. The Taylor cylinder inscription of Sennacherib mentions a Pukudu ( = Pekod), together with Havrann (Hauran) and Nabatu (Nabathaeans); but this was the name of a tribe. In Ezekiel 23:23 we read, "The Babylonians, and all the Chaldeans, Pekod, and Shoa, and Koa," etc.; and in 'Records of the Past,' 11:92, we find a town Pikudu mentioned, lying to the south of Babylon, which may, perhaps, have given its name to a district, and to this district the prophet not improbably alludes. M. Halevy conjectures that the event which corresponds to the prophecy is the decisive battle which virtually terminated the Babylonian empire. According to the newly discovered Cyrus inscription, this battle was fought near a place called Rutu, which appears to have been situated in the neighbourhood of Pukudu ('Records,' l.c.). About the symbolic meaning there can be no doubt: Pekod is a worthy pendant to Merathaim. Sin and punishment are so closely connected in the prophetic mind that one word sometimes covers both notions. It is doubtful, for instance, whether the better rendering of Isaiah 5:18 is "draw sin as with a cart rope" or "draw punishment."
A sound of battle is in the land, and of great destruction.
How is the hammer of the whole earth cut asunder and broken! how is Babylon become a desolation among the nations!
Verse 23. - The hammer of the whole earth. So in Isaiah (Isaiah 14:5), "Jehovah hath broken the staff of the wicked, the rod of the rulers; which smote peoples in passion with an unceasing stroke." In the next chapter a similar title is conferred upon Israel, with the right to retaliate upon Babylon all the evil which Babylon had done to Zion (Jeremiah 51:20-24). Compare the epithet Martel, "The Hammer," given to Charles, Duke of the Franks, on account of his great victory over the Saraoens at Tours; it is tempting to add "Makkabi," the epithet of Judas (Maccabaeus), but the k is not the same letter as that in maqqab, hammer.
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.
Verse 24. - I have laid a snare for thee. It was very natural, as long as Cyrus's own account of the capture of Babylon was unknown, to refer for a fulfilment to the stratagem which, as Herodotus relates, that king employed, viz. diverting the waters of the Euphrates into an already existing reservoir, and entering the city unexpectedly by the river channel (Herod., 1:191). But the cylinder inscription, translated by Sir H. Rawlinson in 1880, shows that Babylon opened its gates of its own accord, on hearing the defeat and capture of Nabonidus. There is no occasion to look for any further fulfilment of the prophecy than the surprise which must ever come upon the bystander when he sees a mighty empire suddenly pass into the hands of its enemies. The tenses in this verse are not very happily rendered. It would be better to translate, I laid a snare for thee, and thou wast taken, O Babylon, unawares; thou wast found, etc., because thou hadst striven against the Lord.
The LORD hath opened his armoury, and hath brought forth the weapons of his indignation: for this is the work of the Lord GOD of hosts in the land of the Chaldeans.
Verse 25. - Hath opened his armoury. A truly grand figure. The north country (the "hidden" part of the earth, as it was called in Hebrew) is regarded by the prophet as a storehouse of young and "inexhaustible" nations, from which Jehovah can at any time "bring forth weapons of his indignation." The latter phrase, occurs again in the parallel prophecy (Isaiah 13:5), where it is evidently applied to the army of Medo-Persian invaders. For this is the work, etc.; rather, For the Lord, Jehovah of hosts, hath a work.
Come against her from the utmost border, open her storehouses: cast her up as heaps, and destroy her utterly: let nothing of her be left.
Verse 26. - Come against her; rather, Come to her. Dr. Payne Smith infers that Babylon has already fallen, and that the persons addressed are not warriors only, but plunderers of every kind. This is almost too subtle. The prepositions "to" and "against' (literally, upon) are so frequently interchanged (comp. Jeremiah 46:22; Jeremiah 49:9). From the utmost border; rather, all together; it is an idiom expressing universality. Those who are spoken of are regarded as a totality, "from the utmost end" of which its members come. Cast her up as heaps; rather, Cast it up as sheaves; i.e. ransack the repositories of Babylon's wealth, and heap it up like corn; last of all, destroy her (rather, it) utterly. The verb is a very emphatic one. Its primary meaning is "to cut off, or shut off." Hence kherem, a devoted thing, is applied in the Law to that which is "tabooed," as it were, cut off from any but sacred uses. In Leviticus 27:21 it is used of a field wholly appropriated to the sanctuary, and in 1 Samuel 15:21 and 1 Kings 20:42 to living beings doomed to destruction. Destruction is generally a part of the meaning; but it is not merely destruction, but an act of homage to the Divine justice.
Slay all her bullocks; let them go down to the slaughter: woe unto them! for their day is come, the time of their visitation.
Verse 27. - In this verse we are told that the kherem, i.e. the Divine ban, falls upon the entire male population, as in the holy wars of Joshua (Joshua 6:21; Joshua 11:11, 20). All her bullocks. As in Jeremiah 51:40 and Isaiah 34:6, the doomed people is likened to sacrificial victims (comp. Jeremiah 46:10). The same fact is described without figure in Jeremiah 48:15. Go down to the slaughter; i.e. be forced down to the slaughtering trough.
The voice of them that flee and escape out of the land of Babylon, to declare in Zion the vengeance of the LORD our God, the vengeance of his temple.
Verse 28. - The voice of them that flee, etc.; rather, Hark! those that flee, etc. A confused murmur indicates the approach of the fugitives with their great tidings. The vengeance of his temple; i.e. the punishment due to Babylon for burning the temple; comp. next verse, also ver. 15, "The vengeance of the Lord," and Jeremiah 51:11.
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.
Verses 29-40. - The completeness of Babylon's destruction. Verse 29. - Call together the archers, etc. A dramatic way of indicating that the siege is about to begin.
Therefore shall her young men fall in the streets, and all her men of war shall be cut off in that day, saith the LORD.
Verse 30. - With the exception of "her" in the second clause, a repetition of Jeremiah 49:26.
Behold, I am against thee, O thou most proud, saith the Lord GOD of hosts: for thy day is come, the time that I will visit thee.
Verse 31. - O thou most proud; rather, O Pride! Just as in ver. 21 Babylon is called Merathaim, and as Egypt is, in Hebrew poetry, called Rahab, i.e. "boisterousness" or "arrogance" (Isaiah 30:7; Isaiah 51:9; Job 26:12; Psalm 87:4; Psalm 89:10).
And the most proud shall stumble and fall, and none shall raise him up: and I will kindle a fire in his cities, and it shall devour all round about him.
Verse 32. - The most proud; rather, Pride. Raise him up. For the sake of uniformity, "her" would be better; for it is Babylon who is spoken cf. There is an inconsistency in the use of the persons in the original. Elsewhere in this description Babylon is feminine; here it is masculine, to agree with "Pride."
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.
Verse 33. - At the end of ver. 32 a pause occurs in the discourse. Then the prophet takes up the theme again with renewed emphasis. Were oppressed; rather, are oppressed. Because the oppression of Israel and Judah still continues, whereas Israel has by this time been amply punished ("received double," Isaiah 40:2) for her transgressions, Jehovah will himself interpose. He is, in fact, Israel's Goel ("Redeemer"), i.e. charged, like the next of kin, with the duty of recovering thy rights and avenging thy wrongs (comp. Isaiah 41:14; Isaiah 47:4). On the Goel, see Leviticus 25:25; Ruth 4:6; Numbers 30:19.
Their Redeemer is strong; the LORD of hosts is his name: he shall throughly plead their cause, that he may give rest to the land, and disquiet the inhabitants of Babylon.
Verse 34. - That he may give rest to the land; rather, to the earth. Babylon was one of the great world empires; we can hardly dispense with this convenient Germanism. It was the wont of the Chaldeans, as Habakkuk puts it (Habakkuk 1:6), "to walk through the breadth of the earth, to possess dwelling places that were not theirs." Observe the striking contrast - "rest" to the world which has been too long deprived of it, and "disquiet" to those who have hitherto spread it far and wide (comp. Isaiah 14:2, 3).
A sword is upon the Chaldeans, saith the LORD, and upon the inhabitants of Babylon, and upon her princes, and upon her wise men.
Verses 35-38. - No human aid avails against so terrible a foe; therefore Jehovah calls upon his Sword (see on Jeremiah 47:6) to avenge the cause of his people. Verse 35. - A sword is, etc., should rather be, Sword upon the Chaldea, it is an exclamation equivalent to "Let the Sword come upon the Chaldeans" - that sword which never "returns empty." The wise men are, partly the astronomers and astrologers at the various observatories in Babylonia, whose duty it was to send in monthly reports of the appearances in the sky, which were regarded as having an occult political significance (comp. Isaiah 47:13). In the next verse they are called liars, or praters. In Isaiah 44:25 this word stands parallel to "diviners." Possibly "liars" may be a wider term than "wise men," and includes an inferior grade of pretenders to "wisdom."
A sword is upon the liars; and they shall dote: a sword is upon her mighty men; and they shall be dismayed.
A sword is upon their horses, and upon their chariots, and upon all the mingled people that are in the midst of her; and they shall become as women: a sword is upon her treasures; and they shall be robbed.
Verse 37. - The mingled people; rather, the foreign peoples. Even if in Jeremiah 25:20 the Hebrew 'erebh is an ethnographical term reminding us of the Assyrian Urbi used of Bedouin tribes, it is clear that no such explanation will suit here (see on Jeremiah 25:20).
A drought is upon her waters; and they shall be dried up: for it is the land of graven images, and they are mad upon their idols.
Verse 38. - A drought. The Maasoretic critics, in their prosaic realism, were unable to see how a "sword" could be "upon the waters;" hence they altered khereb into khoreb. But the sword is merely a symbol of the Divine vengeance, and may be interpreted differently according to the exigencies of the context. Render, Sword upon the waters. They are mad upon their idols; rather, through Terrors they befool themselves. "Terrors" is a synonym for the gods of the heathen, which inspired a feeling of awe rather than affection, unlike Jehovah as he revealed himself through the authors of the psalms and prophecies.
Therefore the wild beasts of the desert with the wild beasts of the islands shall dwell there, and the owls shall dwell therein: and it shall be no more inhabited for ever; neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation.
Verse 39. - Parallel passages: Isaiah 34:14; Isaiah 13:20-22. The wild beasts of the desert; rather, wild cats (so Bochart, 'Hierozoicon,' p. 862). Wild beasts of the islands; rather, jackals. Owls; rather, ostriches.
As God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah and the neighbour cities thereof, saith the LORD; so shall no man abide there, neither shall any son of man dwell therein.
Verse 40. - A verbal copy of Jeremiah 49:18.
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.
Verse 41- Jeremiah 51:4. - The instruments of the judgment. The section is partly a cento from other prophecies. Thus vers. 41-43 are a repetition of Jeremiah
They shall hold the bow and the lance: they are cruel, and will not shew mercy: their voice shall roar like the sea, and they shall ride upon horses, every one put in array, like a man to the battle, against thee, O daughter of Babylon.
The king of Babylon hath heard the report of them, and his hands waxed feeble: anguish took hold of him, and pangs as of a woman in travail.
Behold, he shall come up like a lion from the swelling of Jordan unto the habitation of the strong: but I will make them suddenly run away from her: and who is a chosen man, that I may appoint over her? for who is like me? and who will appoint me the time? and who is that shepherd that will stand before me?
Therefore hear ye the counsel of the LORD, that he hath taken against Babylon; and his purposes, that he hath purposed against the land of the Chaldeans: Surely the least of the flock shall draw them out: surely he shall make their habitation desolate with them.
At the noise of the taking of Babylon the earth is moved, and the cry is heard among the nations.
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