A sword is on the Chaldeans, said the LORD, and on the inhabitants of Babylon, and on her princes, and on her wise men.…
I. THE DESTROYING AGENT. Not a deluge, not fire from heaven, but an ordinary human agent, working with energy and thoroughness. The weapon which Babylon in its greed of conquest had used against Jerusalem is turned against itself. First of all, Babylon looks covetously on the land of Israel, and spoils it of its people and their possessions. And then, enriched, Babylon becomes in turn an object of desire. God has only to leave covetousness and grasping alone, whether in nations or individuals. There will generally come in some human agency to dissipate ill-gotten gains. As Babylon became richer in external goods, it became weaker in manly resources. There was more to invite attack, more need of the best defences, and yet at the same time less ability to defend. The sword stands here as the great symbol of human physical force. We must not infer that God approves it: he simply points out how it must have free scope upon the surface of things. Babylon took the sword, and she in turn must perish by the sword; and that same sword, successful against Babylon, points to the destruction of those who wielded it. Nothing abiding, nothing permanently satisfying, is to be achieved by the sword.
II. THE EXTENT OF THE DESTRUCTION. Physical force can make short work of all man's natural treasures; all that is wanted is a sufficient amount of it. Skill compensates for force only up to a certain point. Vain was it for Babylon to count up its mighty men and parade its horses and chariots. If we would arrive at right conclusions in the matter of security we must know the strength of our enemies as well as our own. As to one element in its strength in particular, Babylon would be dreadfully deceived. It could not realize how, as the agent of a punishing Jehovah, there had been more than its wonted strength bestowed on it against sinning Israel. It plumed itself too much on conquered Israel, and thought itself stronger than it really was. - Y.
Parallel VersesKJV: A sword is upon the Chaldeans, saith the LORD, and upon the inhabitants of Babylon, and upon her princes, and upon her wise men.