Jeremiah 51:9
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 reaches to heaven, and is lifted up even to the skies.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(9) We would have healed Babylon . . .—This is the dramatic answer of the Israelite exiles to the prophet’s appeal. They have done what they could, but all was in vain. The guilt could not be washed away, the punishment could not be averted. The “judgment” is measureless as is the distance from heaven to earth. This is also reproduced in Revelation 18:5. For the phrase, as applied to Nebuchadnezzar, see Daniel 4:20. Possibly there may be an allusive reference to the tower of Babel, “reaching unto heaven,” as the type of Babylonian greatness (Genesis 11:4).

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.Omit would. All was done that it was possible to do to heal her.

To the skies - Or, to the clouds.

9. We would have healed—We attempted to heal.

her judgment—her crimes provoking God's "judgments" [Grotius].

reacheth unto heaven—(Ge 18:21; Jon 1:2; Re 18:5). Even the heathen nations perceive that her awful fall must be God's judgment for her crying sins (Ps 9:16; 64:9).

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. We would have healed Babylon, but she is not healed,.... These are either the words of the friends of Babylon of her auxiliaries and allies, who did all they could to defend her against the Persians, but to no purpose; it was not in their power to help her; the time of her destruction was come, and there was no avoiding it; or of the prophets and good people of the Jews that were in Babylon, that took pains to convince, the inhabitants of Babylon of their idolatries and other sins, and reform them, that so they might not be their ruin; but all instructions and admonitions were in vain; in like manner many worthy reformers have laboured much to reclaim mystical Babylon, or the church of Rome, from her errors and idolatries; but still she retains them; wherefore it follows:

forsake her, and let us go everyone into his own country; so said the auxiliary troops that were in the service of the king of Babylon; since we can do him no good, and are ourselves posed to danger, let us desert him, and provide for our safety by hastening to our own country as fast as we can; this was really the case after the first battle of Cyrus with the Babylonians, in which their king Neriglissar was slain: Croesus and the rest of the allies, seeing their case so distressed and helpless, left them to shift for themselves, and fled by night (h): or so might the Jews say when the city was taken, and they were delivered out of the hands of their oppressors; and so will the people of God say, who shall be called out of mystical Babylon just before its ruin, Revelation 18:4;

for her judgment reacheth unto heaven, and is lifted up even to the skies: that is, her sins were so many, that they reached even to heaven; and were taken notice of by God that dwelleth there; and were the cause of judgment or punishment being from thence inflicted on her, which was unavoidable, being the decree of heaven, and the just demerit of her sin; and therefore no help could be afforded her; nor was there any safety by being in her; see Revelation 18:5.

(h) Xenophon, Cyropaedia l. 4. c. 2.

We would have healed Babylon, but she is not healed: forsake her, and let {f} us go every one into his own country: for her judgment reacheth to heaven, and is lifted even to the skies.

(f) Thus the people of God exhort one another to go to Zion and praise God.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
9. We would have healed, etc.] As the v. cannot be taken to express Jewish sentiment, we must suppose it to be put in the mouth of the nations, intoxicated by their share in the splendour of Babylon, and so lamenting its fall and desiring to restore its fortunes. Cp. Revelation 18:9-19, and for Israel’s joy (Jeremiah 51:10) at the judgement which befalls its oppressor, Revelation 18:20.

her judgement] i.e. her punishment.Verse 9. - We would have healed Babylon. Experience shows that it is useless to attempt to correct such inveterate evils. Everyone into his own country (as Jeremiah 50:16). Her judgment; i.e. her punishment. Perhaps there is an allusion to the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah, burned by fire from heaven. But we might also render "her crime" (comp. Deuteronomy 19:6, where "worthy of death" is more strictly "a capital crime"). These strangers shall kill, without sparing, every warrior of Babylon, and annihilate its whole military forces. In the first half of the verse the reading is doubtful, since the Masoretes would have the second ידרד (Qeri) expunged, probably because (as Bttcher, N. Aehrenl. ii. S. 166, supposes) they considered it merely a repetition. The meaning is not thereby changed. According to the Qeri, we would require to translate, "against him who bends the bow, may there be, or come, one who bends his bow;" according to the Kethib, "against him who bends the bow, may he who bends his bow bend it." As to אל־ידרך with אשׁר omitted, cf. 1 Chronicles 15:12; 2 Chronicles 1:4, and Ewald, 333, b. יתעל בּס' stands in apposition to אל־ידרך ; יתעל is the Hithpael from עלה, and means to raise oneself: it is to be taken as the shortened form of the imperfect passive; cf. Gesenius, 128, Rem. 2. Certainly, the Hithpael of עלה occurs nowhere else, but it is quite appropriate here; so that it is unnecessary, with Hitzig, to adduce, for explanation, the Arabic tl', to stretch the head out of anything, or, with Ewald, to derive the form from the Aramaic עלל, Arabic gl, to thrust in. Neither is there any foundation for the remark, that the abbreviated form of the imperfect would be admissible only if אל were found instead of אל. Indeed, the Syriac, Targum, and Vulgate have actually read and rendered from אל, which several codices also present, "Let him not bend his bow, nor stretch himself in his coat of mail." But by this reading the first half of the verse is put in contradiction to the second; and this contradiction is not removed by the supposition of J. D. Michaelis and Hitzig, who refer these clauses to the Chaldeans, and find the thought expressed in them, that the Chaldeans, through loss of courage, cannot set themselves for defence. For, in that case, we would be obliged, with Hitzig, to explain as spurious the words that follow, "and spare ye not her young men;" but for this there is no valid reason. As to החרימוּ, cf. Jeremiah 50:21, Jeremiah 50:26. On Jeremiah 51:4, cf. Jeremiah 50:30 and Jeremiah 49:26. The suffix in "her streets" refers to Babylon.
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