Jeremiah 51:11
Make bright the arrows; gather the shields: the LORD has 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.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(11) Make bright the arrows.—Better, Sharpen, the “polishing” or “making bright” being as the means to that end.

Gather the shields.—Literally, fill the shields, i.e., arm yourselves with them, The large shields of the Persian soldiers covered the whole body, and the man literally filled them. The LXX. and Vulgate agree in rendering the noun “quivers” instead of “shields,” but this would seem to have been a conjecture rising out of a wish to connect the two clauses. The rendering of the Authorised version agrees with the use of the word in Song Song of Solomon 4:4; Ezekiel 27:11; 2Kings 11:10. Some critics interpret the words as meaning “fill the shields with oil,” as parallel to “sharpen the arrows,” and agreeing with “anoint the shield” in Isaiah 21:5.

Of the kings of the Medes.—As with the Greeks in their use of the terms Medise and Medism, so with the Hebrews the Medes are more prominent than the Persians in the work of destruction (comp. Isaiah 13:17). The “kings” are the chieftains of tribes more or less independent, but owning the suzerainty of the Persian king. It is noticeable that the ruler of Babylon, after its capture by Cyrus, in Daniel 5:31, is “Darius the Median,” and that he is called a “king.”

Jeremiah 51:11-12. Make bright the arrows, gather the shields — Hebrew, מלאו השׁלשׂים, the quivers. Thus the LXX., πληρουτε τας φαρετρας, with whom agree the Vulgate, Castalio, and others. The meaning is, Prepare all the instruments of war to defend yourselves, ye Babylonians, for you will have need of them all. The Lord hath raised up the spirit of the kings of the Medes — Neriglissar, king of Babylon, having formed an alliance against the Medes, Cambyses sent his son Cyrus with an army of thirty thousand Persians to join the Medes, commanded by Cyaxares, king of Media, Cyrus’s uncle; called in Scripture, Darius the Mede. It was properly his army that made the expedition against the Babylonians, Cyrus being employed as his general. Persia was then a small part of the empire of Media, and of little account till Cyrus advanced its reputation; and even then it was called the kingdom of the Medes and Persians, the Medes having still the preference: see Xenophon’s Cyropæd., lib. 1. and Lowth. Set up the standard upon, or rather, before the walls of Babylon; and proceed to take all the necessary steps to distress her, and make yourselves masters of her: for the Lord hath both devised, &c. — For God will both favour your undertaking, and will enable you to accomplish it.51:1-58 The particulars of this prophecy are dispersed and interwoven, and the same things left and returned to again. Babylon is abundant in treasures, yet neither her waters nor her wealth shall secure her. Destruction comes when they did not think of it. Wherever we are, in the greatest depths, at the greatest distances, we are to remember the Lord our God; and in the times of the greatest fears and hopes, it is most needful to remember the Lord. The feeling excited by Babylon's fall is the same with the New Testament Babylon, Re 18:9,19. The ruin of all who support idolatry, infidelity, and superstition, is needful for the revival of true godliness; and the threatening prophecies of Scripture yield comfort in this view. The great seat of antichristian tyranny, idolatry, and superstition, the persecutor of true Christians, is as certainly doomed to destruction as ancient Babylon. Then will vast multitudes mourn for sin, and seek the Lord. Then will the lost sheep of the house of Israel be brought back to the fold of the good Shepherd, and stray no more. And the exact fulfilment of these ancient prophecies encourages us to faith in all the promises and prophecies of the sacred Scriptures.Make bright - Rather, Sharpen.

The Medes Genesis 10:2 were a branch of the great Aryan family, who as conquerors had seized upon the vast regions extending from the Caspian Sea to the eastern borders of Mesopotamia, but without being able to dispossess the Turanian tribes who had previously dwelt there. They were divided into numerous clans, each with its own local chief, the leaders of the larger sections being those who are here called kings.

11. Make bright—literally, "pure." Polish and sharpen.

gather—literally, "fill"; that is, gather in full number, so that none be wanting. So, "gave in full tale" (1Sa 18:27). Gesenius, not so well, translates, "Fill with your bodies the shields" (compare So 4:4). He means to tell the Babylonians, Make what preparations you will, all will be in vain (compare Jer 46:3-6).

kings of … Medes—He names the Medes rather than the Persians, because Darius, or Cyaxares, was above Cyrus in power and the greatness of his kingdom.

temple—(Jer 50:28).

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. Make bright the arrows,.... Which were covered with rust; scour them of it; anoint them with oil, as armour were wont to be; make them neat, clean, and bright, that they may pierce the deeper; hence we read of a "polished shaft", or arrow, one made bright and pure, Isaiah 49:2; agreeably to this some render the word "sharpen the arrows" (k); so the Targum. The word has the signification of "choosing"; but, as Gussetius observes (l), whether the direction be to choose the best arrows, or to scour clean and polish them, the end is the same; namely, to have such as are most fit for use. Joseph Kimchi derives the word from another, which signifies a feather; and so renders it, "feather the arrows" (m); that they may fly the swifter. These and what follow are either the words of God, or of the prophet; or, as some think, of the Jews about to return to Judea, whose words are continued, exhorting the Medes and Persians to go on with the war against the Chaldeans; but they rather seem to be addressed to the Chaldeans themselves, putting them upon doing these things; and suggesting, that when they had done all they could, it would be to no purpose:

gather the shields; which lay scattered about and neglected in time of peace: or, "fill" them; fill the hands with them; or bring in a full or sufficient number; since there would be now occasion for them, to defend them against the enemy. The Targum, and several versions, render it, "fill the quivers" (n); that is, with arrows; and so Jarchi: or, "fill the shields" (o); that is, with oil; anoint them, as in Isaiah 21:5;

the Lord hath raised up the spirit of the kings of the Medes; of Cyaxares, or Darius the Mede, and of Cyrus, who succeeded his uncle as king of Media; and indeed the army that came against Babylon was an army of Medes joined by the Persians, Cyrus being employed as general of it by his uncle. The Septuagint, Syriac, and Arabic versions, read it, "the spirit of the king of the Medes"; with which the following clause seems to agree:

for his device is against Babylon, to destroy it; the device of the king of the Medes, Darius; or rather the device of the Lord, who stirred up the spirit of the kings of the Medes; put it into their hearts to fulfil his will; and gave them wisdom and skill, courage and resolution, to do it; and as he will to the kings of the earth against mystical Babylon, Revelation 17:16;

because it is the vengeance of the Lord, the vengeance of his temple; his vengeance on Babylon, for the destruction of his temple, and the profanation of it; see Jeremiah 50:28.

(k) "acuite sagittas", V. L. Castalio; "exacuite", Montanus. (l) Ebr. Comment. p. 148. (m) "Ponite pennas in sagittis", so some in Vatablus. (n) , Sept. "implete pharetras", V. L. Castalio, So Syr. this version is prefered by Gussetius, Ebr. Comment. p. 860, 945. (o) "Implete scuta, scil. oleo", Stockius, p. 1098.

Make bright the arrows; gather the shields: the LORD hath raised up the spirit of the kings of the Medes: for his purpose is against Babylon, to destroy it; because it is the vengeance of the LORD, the {h} vengeance of his temple.

(h) For the wrong done to his people and to his temple, Jer 50:28.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
11. sharp] For mg. cp. Isaiah 49:2 (“polished shaft”).

hold firm] mg. fill. If we retain “shields” (see next note), the latter verb seems inappropriate. Cp., however, its use in 2 Samuel 23:7 R.V. mg. Gi. suggests “polish” or “furbish,” but this involves a somewhat drastic change in the Heb.

shields] The LXX vary much in their rendering of the word. Here they have “quivers.” For mg. see W. E. Barnes in Expos. Times, vol. X. (Oct. ’98–Sept. ’99), pp. 43 ff.

kings] read king, with LXX. Cp. Jeremiah 51:28.Verse 11. - Make bright; rather, polish, so that the arrows may penetrate easily (comp. Isaiah 49:2, "a polished shaft"). Gather the shields; rather, fill the shields (viz. with your arms); i.e. take hold of them. Comp. the phrase, "to fill the hand with the bow" (2 Kings 9:24). The rendering" quivers" is wanting in philological authority, and seems to have been inferred from this passage, where, however, it is unnecessary. The kings of the Medes. The prophet speaks of the Medes and not the Persians (comp. Isaiah 13:17). "The reason, probably, is twofold:

(1) that the name Madai became known to the Jews at an earlier period than Paras, 'Persia;' and

(2) that the generals of Cyrus were apparently Medes (e.g. Mazares and Harpagus, Herod., 1:157, 162)" (Cheyne's 'Prophecies of Isaiah,' 2:275, 276). The new Cyrus inscription throws light on the latter circumstance. Because of the righteousness of Israel, Babylon is to be irretrievably destroyed. Jeremiah 51:5. "For Israel is not forsaken, nor Judah of his God, of Jahveh of hosts; but their land is full of guilt because of the Holy One of Israel. Jeremiah 51:6. Flee out of the midst of Babylon, and save ye every one his life: do not perish for her iniquity; because it is a time of vengeance for Jahveh; He renders to her what she has committed. Jeremiah 51:7. Babylon [was] a golden cup in the hand of Jahveh, that intoxicated all the earth. Nations have drunk of her wine, therefore nations are mad. Jeremiah 51:8. Babylon has fallen suddenly and been broken: howl over her: take balsam for her pain; perhaps she may be healed. Jeremiah 51:9. 'We have tried to heal Babylon, but she is not healed. Leave her, and let us go each one to his own land; for her judgment reaches unto heaven, and is lifted up to the clouds.' Jeremiah 51:10. Jahveh hath brought forth our righteousnesses; come, and let us declare in Zion the doing of Jahveh our God. Jeremiah 51:11. Sharpen the arrow, fill the shields: Jahveh hath roused the spirit of the kings of Media; for His counsel is against Babylon, to destroy it; because it is the vengeance of Jahveh, the vengeance of His temple. Jeremiah 51:12. Against the walls of Babylon raise a standard; strengthen the watch, set watchmen, prepare the ambushes: for Jahveh hath both devised and done what He spake against the inhabitants of Babylon. Jeremiah 51:13. O thou that dwellest upon many waters, rich in treasures, thine end hath sworn by Himself, 'Surely I have filled thee with men, as [with] the locust; and they shall raise a shout of joy against thee.'"

The offence of Babylon against the Holy One of Israel demands its destruction. In Jeremiah 51:5, two reasons are given for God's determination to destroy Babylon. The Lord is induced to this (1) by His relation to Israel and Judah, whom Babylon will not let go; (2) by the grave offence of Babylon. Israel is לא אלמן, "not widowed," forsaken by his God; i.e., Jahveh, the God of hosts, has not rejected His people for ever, so as not to trouble Himself any more about them; cf. Isaiah 50:1; Isaiah 54:4. "Their land" - the land of the Chaldeans - "is full of guilt before the Holy One of Israel," partly through their relation to Israel (Jeremiah 50:21), partly through their idolatry (Isaiah 50:2, 38). מן does not mean here "on the side of," but "on account of," because they do not acknowledge Jahveh as the Holy One of Israel.

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