Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
HISTORICAL APPENDIX, CONTAINING A BRIEF SURVEY OF THE EVENTS FROM THE BEGINNING OF THE REIGN OF ZEDEKIAH, TO THE DEATH OF JEHOIACHIN (JER 52)
By the concluding words of 51:64 (Thus far, etc.) the final editor of the book evidently wished to indicate that the words of Jeremiah cease with Jer 51, and that, therefore, what follows is not from him, but some other. We are thus expressly warned by those concluding words against the mistake of attributing chap. 52 to the prophet. Nevertheless the chapter has been considered by D. KIMCHI, ABARBANEL and many others, as a work of Jeremiah. SEB. SCHMIDT, e.g., in opposition to the opinion of ABARBANEL, says that the men of the great synagogue took the history of the destruction of Jerusalem from the Book of Kings and inserted it here, “ne forte erremus in eo, quod supra scriptum est.” And afterwards “Contrarium potius statuimus, scripta hæc esse a Jeremia propheta et transsumta in librum Regum, sicut in eum historia Hiskiæ ex Jesaja translata est, cum aliqua tamen variatione, ut appareat, utrumque scriptorem habere quod sibi proprium et a Spiritu sancto inspiratum.” All orthodox commentators of the older period do not however adopt this view. The strict Lutheran FÖRSTER, e.g., says in his Commentary, which appeared in 1672, “Hucusque fuit prophetia Jeremiæ. Caput istud ultimum ab alio quodam viro pio et sancto ἐπεισάγματος quasi loco superadditum fuit vel huc transscriptum ex II. Reg. c. 25.”—Among the more modern authors HAEVERNICK adopts the view that Jeremiah wrote the history of Jehoiachin and Zedekiah just as Isaiah wrote that of Hezekiah. He then, as editor of the Book of Kings allotted its natural place to this description in 2 Ki. 25. (Einl. II., 1, S. 172) while Jer. 52 was added to these by the collectors of the prophecies. He afterwards (II. 2, S. 248) modifies this view, at least declaring Jer 51:31–34 to be a subsequently added notice, which, however, passed naturally and probably at the same time to 2 Ki. 25—KEIL (Einl. II., Aufl., S. 261; Comm. über die proph. Geschichtsbücher des A. T., III. Bd., 1865, S. 378, 9) is of opinion that an extended history of the last times of the kingdom of Judah, composed “perhaps by Jeremiah or Baruch” (in the Einl., etc., it is “either by Jeremiah or by Baruch”), was in existence. The two narratives of Jer. 52 and 2 Ki. 25 were brief extracts from this. Most commentators, however, are of opinion that the present passage belonged originally to the Book of Kings, and was inserted by a later hand with several lesser and one great modification (the insertion of Jer. 52:28–30, in the place of 2 Ki. 25:22–26). I also adopt this view in substance, for the following reasons: 1. The introduction of the passage (52:1, 2) contains the standing formula of the Book of Kings, with which the succession of a new king is usually recorded. This introduction is thus undoubtedly original in the Book of Kings. For whoever composed it, and from whatever source it may have been drawn, it was at any rate, as it now reads, written originally for the Book of Kings, and in Jer. 52 is only a transposition from thence. 2. The rest also is so composed that it cannot be said there is anything contained in it contrary in form or purport to the usual character of the Books of the Kings. 3. There is, therefore, a strong presumption that the narrative also thus introduced was originally written for the Book of Kings, to which it is essential and indispensable, and which, without it, would be so much mutilated, while the Book of Jeremiah receives in it a conclusion however useful, yet essentially foreign. 4. The transference from the Book of Kings is made purposely and with consideration. This is evident from the fact that the brief section, Jer 51:28–30, was inserted instead of the narrative concerning the fate of the Jews remaining in the country, which is only a brief extract from Jeremiah, chh. 39–43, and therefore in the Book of Jeremiah would have been an unnecessary repetition. 5. As to the form of the text the relation is as follows: (a) in Jer 51:1–5, Jer. 52 has some traces of an older form of the text, not yet purified from roughnesses. Comp. וִיחוּדָה עַד־הִשְׁלִיכוֹ, Jer 51:3, with 2 Ki. 24:20. Likewise the older form [Illigible] נְבוּכַדְרֶ Jer 51:4, with 2 Ki. 25:1. On the other hand וַיַהֽנֲוּ ib. betrays the hand of an emendator, (b) In Jer 51:6–11, the text of Jer. 52. is in general, especially as regards completeness and correctness much better; Jer 51:6 contains the indispensable statement of the month, which is strangely lacking in 2 Ki. 25:3; so also Jer. 52. 7 contains the verbs indispensable to the sense, יבִרִחוּ וַיֵצְאוּ ו׳. Jer 51:10 b contains the statement concerning princes of Judah, Jer 51:11 a similar one concerning the imprisonment of Zedekiah, which are both wanting in 2 Ki. 25. The text of 2 Ki. 25. thus appears here to be more than contracted (comp. also אֹתוֹ, 2 Ki. 25:5 with אֶת־צִדְקִיָהוּ Jer. 52:8, whereby the harshness occasioned in 2 Ki. 25:7 by a change of subjects is removed). The absence of those essential parts of speech in Jer 51:3, 4, can be the result only of the transformations which the text has suffered. Thus also the other wants of the text may be explained, and there is no necessity for assuming the common use of a third source. (e). From Jer 51:12–23 the Book of Kings shows in Jer 51:8–17 a text variously emended and purged from real or apparent offences. In Jer 51:8 Nebuchadnezzar, ib. עֶבֶד for עָמַד, and ירְוּשָלֵם for בּי׳, in Jer 51:9 כָּל־בֵּית־גָדוֹל for the more difficult הַגָּדוֹל. In Jer 51:10 the superfluous כֹּל is absent before חוֹמֹת; in Jer 51:11 for the same reason is wanting וּמִדַּלּוֹת הָעָם; the rare word הִָאָמוֹן is altered into the more current הֶהָמוֹן, in Jer 51:12 we read דַּלַּת for דַּלּוֹת, which does not occur elsewhere; ib. the name Nebuzaradan seemed superfluous; ib. גָּבִים Chethibh for יֹגְבִּים, not occurring elsewhere; in Jer 51:14 מִזְדָקוֹת, and likewise in Jer 51:15 סִפִּים and סִירוֹת, because otherwise these names would be mentioned twice, also in Jer 51:15 the two neighboring words to the two last mentioned have disappeared; in Jer 51:16 with perfect justice the statement concerning the twelve oxen is absent; ib. we find the easier לִנְהשֶׁת; in Jer 51:17 the apparently superfluous וְהָעַמּוּדִים is wanting in the beginning, then all from חוּט, perhaps because these statements were already to be found in 1 Ki. 7:15, 16; in Jer 51:17 אַחַת is wanting after הַכֹּתֶרֶת; ib. שָׁלשׁ is an evident mistake; after Jer 51:17 that is entirely wanting which forms Jer. 52:23, perhaps because its main import had been already expressed in 1 Kings 7:20.—(d). In verses 24–27 again the text of Jeremiah 52. shows itself to have been emended, but not, happily; in Jer 51:24 הַמִּשְׁנֶה is only an apparent improvement; in Jer 51:25 אֲשֶׁר הָיהָ is certainly plainer; ib. שִׁבְעָה is doubtful; the absence of the article before סֹפֶר seems to proceed from ignorance. (e). In the concluding section, Jer 51:31–34; again the text of the book of Kings betrays the hand of the emendator; in Jer 51:27 (2 Ki. 25.) הֲמִשָׁה is obscure, but וַיוֹצֵא אֹתוֹ seemed evidently superfluous; instead of the rarer form כְּלִיא stands the more usual מֵעֵל כִּסֵּא ,כֶּלֶא is a simplification; שִׁנָּא in Jer 51:29 is a later Aramaic form; in Jer 51:30 בָּבֶל is wanting as superfluous, for the same reason also עַד יוֹם מוֹתוֹ
From all this it seems to follow that Jer. 52. is certainly a transposition of 2 Ki. 25. but that in the former passage we have a better text, neither disfigured by needless correction nor by other injuries. Whether the author of the book of Kings is Jeremiah himself, or whether especially at the close of his history he made use of this prophet’s writings, I leave undecided. This much, however, is certain, that this chapter neither stood originally in this place, nor is it an extract made by another person from the same source, from which 2 Ki. 25:18–25, 30 was derived. Whatever opinion, however, may be held regarding the sources, Jer. 52. was not drawn therefrom by another person, but transposed from the book of Kings, and yet has preserved the text more pure than the original passage.
The object of the transposition was evidently first to furnish the reader of the prophecies with the necessary historical guidance. The object may also have been prominent to show how completely and exactly the threatenings of the prophet against the stiff-necked people were fulfilled.
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;11. THE HEART OF THE INSURGENTS, THE FANNERS AND THE INVIDUATE
1 Thus saith Jehovah:
Behold, I raise up against Babylon,
And against the inmates of the heart of my insurgents
A destroying wind.1
2 And I sent unto Babylon fanners,2
Who shall fan it and empty out its land,
For upon it are they from all sides in the day of calamity.
3 Against him that bendeth let the archer bend his bow,
And against him who lifteth himself up3 in his harness,4
And spare ye not her young men,
Banish ye the entire host.
4 That the slain fall in the land of the Chaldeans,
And the pierced through in her streets.
5 For Israel and Judah are not widows5 from their God,6 Jehovah Zebaoth,
But their land is full of guilt on account of the Holy One of Israel.
6 Flee out of Babylon, and let every man deliver his soul;
Let not destruction come upon you through their sin.
For it is a time of vengeance for Jehovah,
He rendereth recompense unto her.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
Babylon, the heart of Jehovah’s opponents, shall be fanned like chaff (Jer 51:1, 2). Without a figure; a strong, warlike power shall cast down Babylon (Jer 51:3, 4). For Israel and Judah are not forsaken widows; rather shall they be delivered and Jehovah’s vengeance executed on Babylon (Jer 51:5, 6).—The passage thus consists of two halves: Jer 51:1–4, and Jer 51:5, 6. In the first half the judgment on Babylon is announced, (a) under the figure of fanning, Jer 51:1, 2; ( b) in unfigurative language, Jer 51:3, 4. The second half is related to the first as a statement of the reason (For, Jer 51:5). The judgment, namely, is impending, because the Lord will show Himself a faithful husband with respect to Israel, a righteous recompenser with respect to Babylon.
Jer 51:1, 2. Thus saith … calamity. Whether לֵב קָמַי [heart of my insurgents] is to be explained by the Atbash [or principle of alphabetical inversion, according to which it is equivalent to Casdim, the Chaldeans] is doubtful, for the expression might be used by the prophet without any reference to that permutation of letters. As he called Babylon Double-defiance and Visitation in 50:21 and Pride in 50:31, so might he call it Heart-of-my-insurgents. This designation was a natural one. It is founded in the significance which the idea of Babylon has in the consciousness of the entire Old and New Testament prophecy. For though it is only in the Apocalypse that Babylon is distinctly set forth as the comprehensive centre of all and every hostility to the Lord and His kingdom (comp. NAEGELSB. Jer. u. Bab., S. 10 ff.), this representation is rooted in the views of the Old Testament prophets concerning Babylon, and we shall not err if we regard this passage as the chief basis of this conception of Babylon by the New Testament revelator, according to which it is declared to be the “Mother of harlots and abominations of the earth” (Rev. 17:5). Still it is remarkable that the name בַּשְׂדִּים should form, according to the Cabbalistic play upon words, an expression with a suitable meaning (comp. BUXTORF, Lex. Chald., p. 248, 9; HERZOG, Real-Enc., VII., S. 205). The expression הֵעִיר רוּחַ signifies indeed everywhere else (Jer 51:11; Hagg. 1:14; Ezr. 1:1, 5; 1 Chron. 5:26; 2 Chron. 21:16; 36:22) “to awaken, excite the spirit.” But the expression is not necessarily restricted to this meaning. In this passage where fanning is spoken of, the context requires the meaning “wind.” It seems that the expression first began to come into use in the time of Jeremiah, for previously it does not occur. It is however quite natural that a mode of expression still in its formative state should at first waver in its signification. Only when it has become fixed by long usage in a definite sense can it no longer be taken in another sense without misapprehension.—Who shall fan. Comp. 49:32, 36.—And empty. Comp. 19:1, 7; Isa. 24:1; Nah. 2:3. Here the prophet passes from the figurative to the literal mode of speech, for the fanning will consist in just this, that the land will be emptied, men and property being carried away.—For upon it, etc. Comp. 4:17; 17:17, 18.
Jer 51:3-6. Against him … unto her—Spare not, etc. Comp. Isa. 13:18; Jer. 1:14.—Fall, etc. Comp. Jer 51:47, 49, 52; 37:10; Isa. 13:15.—Not widows, etc. Comp. Isa. 1:1; 54:4–6; Lam. 1:1.—Their is to be referred to Babylon. The sense of this half of the verse is: it might appear as if the Lord were better disposed towards Babylon than Israel, because the latter is a captive in the power of the former. It is not so. Babylonia is laden with guilt with respect to Jehovah, and is therefore under the curse of the Holy One of Israel. I do not see what there is unlike Jeremiah in this verse. That אָשָׁם for guilt does not occur elsewhere in Jeremiah is nothing to the point. The occurrence of the expression Holy One of Israel here, as in 50:29, is not strange in view of the frequent quotations from Isaiah. With respect to the connection with the preceding and following contexts, however, it should be mentioned that Jer 51:5 in an exceedingly appropriate manner gives a double reason for the announcement contained in Jer 51:1–4: 1. a negative one (Israel is not rejected); 2. a positive one (Babylon is full of guilt). Jer 51:5 is also connected with Jer 51:6 in two ways: 1. as an integral part of the entire discourse, Jer 51:1–5, in so far that Jer 51:6 draws the inference from all that has gone before (Jer 51:1–5); 2. specially by the words, “Let not destruction come upon you through their sin,” which apparently refer to “their land is full of guilt.”—Flee, etc. Comp. Isa. 13:14; 48:20; Jer. 48:6; 1. 8.—Let not, etc. Comp. 49:26; 50:30—Gen. 19:15.—For it is a time, etc. Comp. Isa. 34:8; Jer. 46:10; 1. 15, 28; 51:11—Rev. 18:4.—Vengeance, etc. Comp. Joel 4:4; Isa. 59:18; 66:6; Prov. 19:17; Ps. 137:8.
Jer 51:1.—רוּח as masc. also in Exod. 10:13; Ps. 51:12; Eccles. 1:6. משׁחית, comp. Jer 51:25; 2:30; 5:26.
Jer 51:2.—זרימ. The analogy of 48:12 seems to require the punctuation זָרִים .זֹרִים is very troublesome. Although violence by strangers is spoken of in many places (comp. Jer 51:51), this idea does not at all suit this connection, and the frequent occurrence of זָיִים while זֹיִים is not found elsewhere (only זֹרֶה occurs in Ruth 3:2), may indeed have occasioned the Masoretic punctuation, unless זָרִים itself may be taken as Part. Kal. after the analogy of מָלֵא ,יָרֵא ,הָרָה, etc. (comp. OLSH., § 245, a).
Jer 51:3.—וְאֶל־יִתְעַל. This is the main difficulty in Jer 51:3. For, 1. this Hithp. form does not occur elsewhere, 2. the abbreviated Imperfect form, if the word comes from עָלָה, is surprising. According to the laws of the Hebrew language, however, יִתְעַל can come only from עָלָה (comp. OLSH., § 269, d). It must then signify “lift one’s self up.” Then the abbreviated form is strange, which might be in place after אַל, but not after אֵל. I do not think, however, that we need be so scrupulous in the matter. As in Jeremiah (and elsewhere) the full form stands where we should expect the abbreviated (comp. 3:7; EW., § 224, c), so may the latter stand where we should expect the former. Comp. Jer. 17:8, Chethibh; EWALD, §224, c, Anm.; GES., § 128, 2, Anm. Then the rest, according to the reading of the Chethibh, affords no difficulty. With respect to the absence of the nota relationis, comp. 1 Chron. 15:12; NAEGELSB. Gr., § 80, 6, 2, a.
Jer 51:3.—סרין. Comp. 46:4; EWALD, § 49, d.
Jer 51:5.—The masc. אַלְמָן here only—to be regarded as neuter. Comp. שָׁדוּד, 4:30.
Jer 51:5.—מאלהיו. Pregnant construction. Comp. NAEGELSB. Gr., § 112, 7.
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.12. THE GOLDEN CUP BROKEN
7 A golden cup was Babylon in the hand of Jehovah,
Which made all the earth drunken:
Of its wine have nations drunk,
And nations have become mad.
8 Suddenly is Babylon fallen and shattered!
Howl over her, take balsam for her pain,
If so be she may be healed.
9 We have healed7 Babylon, but she was not healed:
Forsake her and let us go each into his own country:
For her judgment reacheth8 unto heaven,
And towers up even to the clouds.
10 “Jehovah hath brought forth our righteous works:
Come and let us declare in Zion the work of Jehovah, our God.”
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
These verses also contain a picture complete in itself. For the prophet shows us first Babylon at the height of its power, when it was like a golden cup, in which Jehovah gave the nations the wine of His wrath to drink (Jer 51:7). Now the parts are changed. Babylon is itself “a sick man,” and the prophet therefore calls upon the nations that have become tributary to him to give him medicine (Jer 51:8). These answer that they had tried this in vain, and mutually expect each other to flee from the common prison (Jer 51:9). Israel is one among these nations, and therefore calls upon those who belong to it to journey home, and in their home declare the mighty acts of the Lord in the deliverance and justification of His people (Jer 51:10). We see that the discourse is dramatically arranged, and as to its purport, proceeds from the height and greatness of Babylon to its fall.
Jer 51:7, 8. A golden cup … be healed. The prophet had here 25:15 in mind. That which in 50:23 and 51:20 is expressed by the figure of the hammer is expressed here by the figure of the cup, except that, in the hammer the element of irresistible power, in the golden cup that of pride and glory, is more prominent. The cup, however, is “in the hand of Jehovah.” It is therefore Jehovah’s instrument, and what it bestows is the gift of Jehovah. From the effect of this gift we see that its object was punishment. The nations are intoxicated by it, and become like mad (comp. 25:16). This figure portrays the overwhelming fulness of destructive effect which they were obliged to receive.—Comp. Rev. 17:2, 4.—[Babylon, “like a fair harlot, has bewitched thee with the love potions of her idolatries.” WORDSWORTH. The same image is used in the Apocalypse. Comp. also DOCTRINAL NOTE No. 17.—S. R. A.]—Now Babylon itself is thrown down, shattered, sick unto death. The expression “Babylon is fallen” seems to be taken from Isa. 21:9. Comp. Rev. 14:8; 18:2. The figure of the cup is abandoned gradually. It is still perceived in the word shattered, but the balsam and the pain presuppose a living organism. Those who are called upon must be the same who afterwards speak, Jer 51:9, 10. It is the nations conquered and held in captivity by Babylon which speak, among them Israel. They are the same who were spoken of in 50:8, 16. These are summoned to heal Babylon, because they are now his servants, and thus obligated to render him assistance.—Balsam. Comp. 46:11; 8:22.
Jer 51:9, 10. We have healed .. our God. Those who are called upon do not refuse to render the service, but this is shown to be in vain. They express this after having made the attempt, and hence the perfect tense—6:14; 15:18; 17:14. They thus express that in the service of Babylon they have honestly done what they could for its deliverance. As all their attempts have proved vain, they think of their own safety by flight into their native lands. Comp. Isaiah 13:14; Jer. 46:16.—The reason why Babylon was not to be helped lies in the immeasurable greatness of the evil which has come upon it. The punitive judgment advances upon them so overpoweringly that it reaches even to the sky. Comp. Ps. 36:6; 57: 11; 108:5.—Israel, who is especially benefited by the breaking of the prison, rejoices above all that his honor is saved, that he has not everlastingly disappeared and perished as something entirely bad, but is still preserved as good for something. We might be tempted to take righteous works (צְדָקוֹת) in the sense of “salvation” (comp. Isa. 62:1) but the plural is opposed to such a rendering. For though the “righteousnesses of Jehovah” are spoken of in the sense of “saving acts” (comp. Jud. 5:11; Ps. 103:6) the righteousness of Israel, which the Lord has brought to light, cannot well be other than such facts as render manifest that Israel is still worthy the honor of being the people of Jehovah (Comp. Is. 62:2). Comp. Ps. 37:6; Jer. 50:20.
Jer 51:9.—The perf. רִכִּאנוּ is to be understood de conatu. Comp. NAEGELSB. Gr., § 100, 4, Anm. 2.
Jer 51:9.—On נָגַע specially comp. 4:10, 18.
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.13. THE TRIPLE THREATENING
11 Sharpen9 the arrows, fill the shields !10
Jehovah hath awakened the spirit of the kings of Media,
For his mind is against Babylon to destroy it;
For the vengeance of Jehovah it is,
The vengeance of his sanctuary.
12 Against the walls of Babylon raise standards,
Strengthen the watch, appoint watchmen,
Lay the ambush!
For as Jehovah hath thought so also hath he done—
All that he hath spoken against the inhabitants of Babylon.
13 O thou that dwellest on great waters, on greatness of treasures!
Thine end is come, the ell of thy section.11
14 Sworn hath Jehovah Zebaoth by himself:12
“Have I filled, thee with men as with grasshoppers,
So shall they sing over thee the song of the vintage.”
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
A triple call of threatening against Babylon forming a climax; first (Jer 51:11a) a general summons to war, with mention of the warlike power thus called upon, then (Jer 51:12a) an immediate attack on the walls of the city is commanded, and in the third place (Jer 51:13), its approaching end is announced. Each of the calls is, however, followed by a statement of reasons, in which also a climax may be perceived. For Jer 51:11b announces the decree of Jehovah and its cause; Jer 51:12b contains the assurance that with the Lord purposing and acting are the same thing. Jer 51:14 strengthens the threatening of Jer 51:13 by reference to a solemn oath of Jehovah.
Jer 51:11. Sharpen … sanctuary.—Hath awakened, etc. Comp. rems, on Jer 51:1. This passage is taken from Isa. 13:17, from which we see that the definition of the enemies, threatening from the north (50:9, 41), as the Medes is older than Jeremiah. Comp. Jer 51:28. In this sentence the prophet informs us to whom the summons of the preceding clause is addressed. The second half of the verse contains a double statement of cause, first the proximate and immediate, then the remote and mediate, but at the same time deepest ground of the summons. Comp. 50:15, 28.
Jer 51:12. Against the walls … of Babylon. The military signals are to precede the attack on the walls of Babylon. On account of against the walls, נֵם, standards, seems here to be not the mere general signal of convocation or message, but a military sign indicating a particular point of attack. The word also denotes the flags of ships (Isa. 33:23; Ezek. 27:7). Comp. WINER, R.-W.-B., s. v. “Fahnen” and “Schiffe.” The watch and watchmen appear to be related to each other as defensive and offensive (comp. 2 Sam. 11:16, and HITZIG).—Ambush. Comp. Josh. 8:14–16; Jud. 20:33–35.—For, etc. To wish and to do sire to be shown to be identical with Jehovah. Comp. 4:28; Lam. 2:17; Zech. 1:6; 8:14, 15.
Jer 51:13, 14. O thou that dwellest … vintage. The greatest supports of the power of Babylon were the waters surrounding it (comp. vers, 32 and 36; 50:38; Isa. 21:1; Ps. 137:1), and the great riches which Nebuchadnezzar accumulated (comp. Βαβυλὼν ἡ πολύχρυσος, Æsch. Pers. 52, and OPPERT, Exped. en Mésop. I. p. 175), and which rendered it possible for him to erect his immense buildings. DUNCKER says in reference to this: “Nebuchadnezzar had no need to fear that he would exhaust the subjects of his native land by the cost of his buildings. The immense booty of Nineveh, the greater part of which accrued to the Babylonians, the plunder of Jerusalem, the tributes of Syria and the Phœnician cities furnished the greatest means. The fruitfulness of the Babylonian territory, the produce of the fields depended on the overflowing of the Euphrates. By an extensive system of dams, canals and conduits, Nebuchadnezzar succeeded both in conducting the water of the Euphrates to every point of the Babylonian plain, and in draining the marshes and averting the violent inundations, which were not infrequent” (Gesch. d. Alterth., I., S. 846). Add to this that these water-courses were of the greatest importance for the defence of the country. “Their object was primarily irrigation and navigation; but they afforded at the same time strong lines of defence against the enemy,” says NIEBUHR (Ass. u. Bab., S. 229).—On a cylinder in the possession of Mr. Thomas Phillips, which has been deciphered by Grotefend, Nebuchadnezzar says (according to OPPERT, p. 231): “Tout autour je fis couler de l’eau dans cette digue immense de terre. A travers ces grandes eaux comparables aux abimes de la mer, je fis faire un conduit.” Comp. Ib., p. 234.—Their end is come. Comp. Gen. 6:13.—Ell of thy section. There are two renderings of this, “measure, end of thy fury, avarice, gain.” So GROTIUS, CAPELLE, CHR. B. MICHAELIS, ROSENMUELLER, EWALD, HITZIG, But אַמָּה is the ell or yard measure, and does not involve the idea of full measure, or end. Hence the other rendering is to be preferred, which, after the example of Jerome (pedalis præcisionis tuæ), is adopted by VENEMA, J. D. MICHAELIS, EICHHORN, DE WETTE, GESENIUS, BÖTTCHER (Proben altestam. Schrifterkl., S. 289, Anm. m), MAURER, GRAF. The idea lying at the foundation of the expression “the ell of the cutting thee off,” is that the thread of life is measured, and when a definite number of yards is reached, will be cut off. Comp, Isa. 38:12; Job 6:9.—Have I, כִּי אִם, are not here particles of asseveration, as in 2 Sam. 15:21; 2 Ki. 5:20, but conditional, if I have filled thee with men as with grasshoppers (comp. 46:23), this was only in order to be able to tread the more abundant vintage (הֵידָד. Comp. rems. on 25:30). Hence even the song of the treaders is a sign of their work yielding abundant returns.
Jer 51:11.—הֵבֵר is properly to polish, but arrows are polished by being sharpened. The word is thus rendered by the Chaldee and Vulgate.
Jer 51:11.—שׁלטים. The meaning is doubtful. It may be quiver, arrow, or shield. ROEDIGER, in Ges. Thes., p. 1418, decides for the last, and I also think that both the parallel passages (comp. Song of Sol. 4:4 with 2 Chron. 23:9; Ezek. 27:11; 1 Chron. 18:7) and the use of the word in Aramaic favor the meaning “shield.” To fill the shields is a phrase like brachio implere. Comp. מִלֵּא קֶשֶׁת, Zech. 9:13, and KOEHLER thereon. [WORDSWORTH prefers the translation quivers as given by the Vulg., Syriac, and Targum. COWLES: “The Hebrew word means primarily to fill. GESENIUS supposes it means here, Fill the shields with the soldiers’ own body, i.e., put them on; while MAURER suggests the sense, ‘Fill them with oil,’ anoint them as a preparation for service, urging that this is in harmony with the preceding clause, ‘Polish the arrows,’ and corresponds with Isaiah 21:5, ‘Anoint the shields.’ ”—S. R. A.]
Jer 51:13.—According to this rendering [A. V.: measure of thy covetousness], בִצְעֵןְ is inf. Kal from בָצַע (comp. פִתְחֵךְ 48:7; OLSH., § 245, b) meaning to strife off, cut off, etc.
Jer 51:14.בנכּשׁו. Comp. Am. 6:8.
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.PASSAGE INSERTED FROM 16:12–16
15 Who maketh the earth by his power,
Establisheth the globe by his wisdom,
And by his understanding stretched out the heavens.
16 At the sound of his voice, throng of waters in the heavens,
And vapors he bringeth up from the ends of the earth;
He maketh lightnings to the rain,
And bringeth the wind out of his chambers.
17 All men stand there mute, without understanding;
All the founders of idol images are put to shame,
For a lie is their molten work, no spirit is therein.
18 They are vapor, turned to ridicule;
At the time of their visitation they perish.
19 Not so the portion of Jacob;
For he formeth all things and the rod of his inheritance.
Jehovah Zebaoth is his name.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
This whole passage is a quotation from 16:12–16. It interrupts the connection in a disturbing manner. For even if the words in Jer 51:15, 16 may be regarded as suitable to support the thought that Jehovah, who has sworn in Jer 51:14 to destroy Babylon, has also the power to realize this threat, the following exposition of the vanity of idols is a superfluous appendage to the present prophecy. There is no point either in the following or previous context which requires such an exposition. It is a mere digression. Add to this, that in Jer 51:19 the words וְיִשְׂרָאֵל are omitted before שֵׁבֶט (comp. 10:16). If this omission is not due to a mere oversight, it betrays the hand of an emendator, who, to honor the tribe of Judah, wishes to remove the appearance as though only the Israel of the ten tribes were the stock of Jehovah’s inheritance. Comp. NAEGELSB. Jer. u. Bab., S. 131 ff.; GRAF, S 590, 1.
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;14. HOW THE LORD PUNISHES HIS OWN HAMMER
20 A hammer13 art thou to me, weapons of war,
And with thee I break nations in pieces,
And with thee I overthrow kingdoms.
21 And with thee I break in pieces the horse and his rider,
And with thee I break in pieces the chariot and its driver.
22 And with thee I break in pieces man and woman,
And with thee I break in pieces old man and boy,
And with thee I break in pieces young man and maiden,
23 And with thee I break in pieces the shepherd and his flock,
And with thee I break in pieces the husbandman and his team,
And with thee I break in pieces magistrates and rulers.14
24 And I recompense to Babylon and all the inhabitants of Chaldea all the evil,
Which they have done to Zion before your eyes, saith Jehovah.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
A picture very clearly complete in itself. The prophet sees in spirit a large number of persons before him who are to serve the Lord for a hammer, in order therewith to dash to pieces nations and kingdoms, especially, however. Babylon in all its parts, and thus to recompense to it what it has inflicted, on Zion.
Jer 51:20-24. A hammer … saith Jehovah. In 50:23 Babylon was called “the hammer of the whole earth,” and it might certainly be addressed again in the same way here. Many expositors, the LXX., JEROME, THEODORET at their head, are of opinion that it is so. But I, it should be observed that another word and, indeed, one formed ad hoc is chosen. Comp. TEXTUAL NOTE 1. May not the prophet have intended to indicate by using another word, specially formed for the occasion, that he meant another hammer than that spoken of before in 50:23? 2. The perfects with the Vau consecutive may, indeed, be taken in a past sense (comp. 18:4; 19:4, 5; 37:11), but this construction is not normal. The imperfect would be more correct. 3. וְשִׁלַּמְתֵּי, Jer 51:24, must at any rate be taken in a future sense. Since, however, this word is a perfectly similar form to the previous perfects and similarly construed, there is a presumption that the perfects are also to be rendered as futures. 4. In 50:21 we found an ideal person addressed, of which the Lord would make use as His instrument in the chastisement of Babylon. It is to the same that the prophet here tarns. That he referred in thought to 50.21, 22, is evident from מַכִּץ, which he opposes to כַּטִיש there used. He here, however, extends the task appointed to the hammer, for it is not to visit Babylon only, as in 50:21, but many nations and kingdoms. Who this chosen instrument was to be the prophet was ignorant.—To take כִּלֵיweapon, as singular for כְּלִי, with HITZIG and GRAF, appears to me unnecessary. The former is not a single weapon, but comprehends all weapons of war. The objects enumerated as to be broken form in a certain measure a circle, proceeding from the great and strong to the small and weak, and then rising from the young man and maiden again to the great and strong.—Chaldea. Kasdim as the name of the country, as in 50:10 coll. 51:35.—Before your eyes, is to be referred to I recompense, since it would be superfluous referred to have done, and expresses the thought that those who now hear of the destruction of Babylon will also see it, and thus be convinced by ocular demonstration of the truth of Jeremiah’s prediction.
Jer 51:20.—מַכֵּץ (a participial form derived from the Hiphil. Comp. e.g., מַסְגֵר, and as a related synonym מֵכִּיץ, Prov. 25:18) does not occur elsewhere.
Jer 51:23.—כּחות. Comp. Jer 51:28, 57; Ezek. 23:6, 23; 1 Ki. 10:15; Neh. 2:7; Ezr. 8:36 Esth. 8:9. According to BENFEY (Monatsnamen, S. 195), the word comes from the Sanscrit (Pakscha, socius, amicus), and is certainly related to the Arabic Pascha. Comp. GESEN., Thes., pag. 1100.—סגנים, which occurs only in the plural (Isa. 41:25; Ezr. 9:2; Neh. 2:16, etc.), are likewise præfecti provinciarum. On the different derivations comp. GESEN. Thes., pag. 937.
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.15. THE DESTROYING MOUNTAIN
25 Behold, I come to thee, thou destroying mountain,
Saith Jehovah, which destroyed the whole world;
And I stretch forth my hand over thee,
And roll thee from the rocks and make thee a burnt mountain.
26 And they shall take no stone of thee for a corner,
Nor a stone for foundations,
But thou shalt be perpetual ruins, saith Jehovah.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
Babylon is here compared to a mountain, which has a widely destroying influence. This can refer only to a volcano, and with this it agrees that the mountain, after being laid bare to its rocky heart, is said to be a burnt-out mountain (Jer 51:25). So much, however, has it suffered by the destroying energies that its stones are not even available for building material.—We see that these two verses afford a picture perfectly complete in itself. [COWLES: “This blending of the figures of the volcano and the avalanche may not conform to the nicest rules of rhetoric, but none can say the conceptions are not grand and their significance both clear and strong.”—S. R. A.]
Jer 51:25, 26. Behold, I come … saith Jehovah.—Behold, etc. Comp. 21:13; 23:30–32; 50:31.—The expression destroying mountain [הַר הַמַּשְׁחִית], occurs besides only in 2Ki. 23:13, where the mount of Olives (or the southern peak thereof, the mons scandali or offensionis of ecclesiastical tradition; comp. KEIL on Kings, S. 362), is so called [A. V. “Mountain of corruption].” The Mount of Olives evidently received this appellation from the corrupting influence which proceeded from it in religious matters. May not Babylon also be called a destroying mountain in spiritual relations? If then we remember that the name of Babylon is connected even in primæval traditions with defiant worldly power and idolatry (comp. 50:29–32, and NAEGELSB.Jer. u. Bab., S. 5 ff.), we may well suppose that the prophet also had the corrupting spiritual influence of Babylon in mind (comp. also 50:38; 51:1, 44). We are not, however, justified in restricting his view to this single point, the element of destructiveness in a physical sense being also quite natural. It is repeatedly expressed in this prophecy. Comp. the hammer, 50:23, and the cup, 51:7 coll.25:15–17.—We may then assume that Babylon is designated as a destroying mountain in a spiritual and physical reference. Perhaps in the term “mountain,” there is also a hint at the tower which was widely visible, and corresponded to the widely extended influence. As to the picture in itself the question arises, What sort of a mountain had the prophet in mind? How must a (natural) mountain be constituted so as to be fitly designated a widely destroying mountain? I am of opinion that this designation can be given only to a volcano, for men seek the vicinity of mountains because these afford protection to their habitations and agriculture. Even the vicinity of volcanoes is not shunned, because these become dangerous only from time to time, and the general advantage of their vicinity outweighs the temporary disadvantage. The following description seems also to point to a volcano. How otherwise can we explain the words “roll thee from the rocks,” than of a volcanic eruption?” The mountain is to be laid bare, the overlying strata are to be thrown down so that nothing will remain but the skeleton,—the masses of stone which form its interior. All this can be said only of volcanoes. And when finally the result of this process is designated by the words וּנְתַתִּיןְ לְהַר שְׂרֵכָּה, is not this a good conclusion to the figure drawn from a volcano? שְׂרֵכָּה is combustio, exustio. Comp. Isa. 9:4; 64:10. A mons combustionis or exustionis is either one from which the combustio issues, or one which suffers or has suffered combustion. In the former case it would be difficult to perceive how this could be a punishment. In the latter case the question arises, whether the mount of combustion is to be understood as burning or burnt out. If we regard the previous and following context, we cannot doubt that the words “make thee a mountain of combustion,” designate the result of the process, which is further described in Jer 51:26. The mountain is so burnt, out that its stones are not even available for building materials. To GRAF’S remark that “this latter point in itself doubtful was hardly so established in the experience of a Jew, that he could make use of it as a figure which would commend itself to his countrymen,” I reply, that it did not need much experience to know that stones cracked or vitrified by fire, are bad building material, and that, moreover, here at the close the discourse evidently passes from figure to reality. The prophet has certainly the burnt up city in view, the stones of which could not be used for building purposes. [COWLES: “In fact, large building stones were never there. Her immense structures were built of brick, either sundried or kiln-burnt. Hence the great mass of these materials lie to this day more or less decomposed in the mountains of rubbish which mark the site of that once magnificent city.”—S. R. A.]—But thou Shalt, etc. Comp. Jer 51:62; 25:9.
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.16. WAR AGAINST THE THRESHING-FLOOR OF BABYLON
27 Raise ye a standard in the land,
Blow the trumpet among the nations,
Consecrate nations against her,
Call upon her the kingdoms of Ararat, Minni and Ashkenaz;
Appoint a captain against her,
Bring up horses like bristly locusts.
28 Consecrate nations against her,
The kings of Media with her satraps and all her governors,
And the whole land of their dominion.
29 Then the earth quakes15 and trembles,
For the thoughts of Jehovah are being fulfilled16 on Babylon,
To make the land of Babylon a waste without an inhabitant.
30 The heroes of Babylon have ceased to fight,
They sit in their strongholds;
Dried up17 is their strength,
They are become women;
They have burned her dwellings,
Her bars are broken.
31 Courier runneth against courier, messenger against messenger,
To announce to the king of Babylon
That his city is taken to its utmost end,
32 The passages occupied, the ponds burned with fire, the men of war confounded.
33 For thus saith Jehovah Zebaoth, the God of Israel,
“The daughter of Babylon is like a threshing floor,
Now they tread her,18
Yet a little and the time of harvest will come to her.”
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
A very animated picture! Three main groups may be plainly distinguished, and a conclusion. The first group (Jer 51:27–29) shows us the enemies of Babylon, the Medes with the nations subject to their dominion advancing against Babylon with so great an army that the earth trembles. The second group is composed of the Babylonian warriors, who, overwhelmed by the success of the enemy, let their hands fall in powerless and spiritless dismay (Jer 51:30). In the third group we perceive the king of Babylon, who, sitting in his castle, receives from all sides the news of the capture of the city (Jer 51:31, 32). In the closing words the prophet expresses the thought that all which is now being done to render the city splendid and glorious is no more than the preparation of the threshing-floor, on which in a short time the harvest will be piled. These verses are clearly distinguished from those which precede and follow, and exhibit a clear and connected picture.
Jer 51:27-29. Raise ye … inhabitant, Jer 51:27 evidently contains a new beginning, for it summons to that which has to be done in the beginning of a warlike expedition. Comp. Jer 51:2; 50:2.—Consecrate, etc. It was the custom to commence every war with sacred rites (comp. HERZ., R.-Enc., and WINER, R.-B.-W., s. v. “Krieg”); but here, as in Isa. 13:3, the war appears to be designated as a holy one, because it, has to do with a “work of Jehovah” (50:23) and “the vengeance of His sanctuary” (50:28). Comp. 6:4; 22:7; Joel 4:9; Mic. 3:5.—Call. Comp. 50:2, 29.—Ararat. Comp. Gen. 8:4. [COWLES: “The name Ararat is Sanskrit, meaning ‘the holy land,’ a name probably due to traditions of Noah’s ark.”—S. R. A.].—In Isaiah (37:38 coll.2 Ki. 19:37) a land of Ararat is spoken of. THEODORET says on the present passage, Ἀραρὰτ τὴν Ἀρμενίαν καλεῖ. According to Moses of Chorene (Hist. Armen. p. 361) Ararat was the chief district of Armenia and divided into twenty circuits. Comp. DELITZSCH on Isa 37:38.—Minni also, which occurs here only, Ps. 45:9 being doubtful, belongs to Armenia; it was, according to NIEBUHR (Ass. u. Bab. S. 427 coll. 136), the second chief state of this country.—Ashkenaz must be sought for at any rate in the neighborhood of Armenia, since Togarmah is the brother of Ashkenaz according to Gen. 10:3, and “the country on the Pontus, Ararat and Caucasus is in general the home of the children of Japheth” (NIEBUHRut sup.). KNOBEL. (Völkertafel and on Gen. 10:3) regards Ashkenaz as the Asorum genus and says in reference to this passage: “The Ashkenaz mentioned in Jer. 51:27 appears to be a remnant of the Asi nation in Asia.” [Comp. also KEIL and DELITZSCH on Gen. 10:3, Tr. I. p. 163.—S. R. A.]. In general these three peoples here mentioned correspond to the “nations from the north” which are spoken of in 50:3, 9.—Appoint a captain—טכּסר. The word occurs besides only in Nah. 3:17. The meaning is doubtful. All we learn from the context is that something hostile to Babylon is intended. The words against her follow four times in Jer 51:27, 28, and cannot be taken in another sense the third time from the other three. It is therefore not a measure within Babylon but against Babylon which is spoken of. Appoint is then used as in 15:3. I do not think that number, multitude can be the point of comparison between this and the parallel horses (it is certainly not so with מִנְזָר in Nah. 3:17), and that therefore the word designates “troops” of any kind (GRAF, MEIER). It is admitted by most commentators that it is an Assyrian word. (Comp. STRAUSS on Nahum, S. 123). In the inscription of Bisutun, the Assyrian text of which has been rendered in Hebrew letters by OPPERT, (Exp. en Mésop, II. p. 233), the word סַר occurs times innumerable in the sense of “King,” as a title of Darius. Comp. also STRAUSS, S. 124 Anm., etc.;BRANDIS, Gewinn, etc., S. 101, 2. טכּסר might thus be a compound of סר. The circumstance that the different nations have their leaders in their “kings” is no ground against this hypothesis, for the multifarious host would still need a common head. I therefore adhere provisionally to the meaning “captain.”—Like bristly locusts. Comp. Jer 51:14. The comparison is very graphic, both with respect to the number and also the form and movements of the animals. Comp. CREDNER on Joel 1:4.—Consecrate nations is repeated as a sign that the prophet will yet make new and important additions to the nations already mentioned.—Kings of Media. The plural is no more to be regarded as an absolutely indifferent matter than as depending on distinct historical knowledge. It simply leaves open the possibility of a plurality. A great war with Babylon would certainly occupy the whole royal family of Media and might occupy several Median kings in succession. For an analogous case comp. 17:20; 19:3.—Jeremiah’s mention of the Medes is significant for two reasons: 1. because at that time, in the fourth year of Zedekiah (155 Nabon.=B. C. 598), Nebuchadnezzar was in all probability at war with Media. His father-in-law, Cyaxares, had died the year before, B. C. 594. This was a favorable epoch to cast off the previous supremacy of Media. “We think that we may unhesitatingly assume that Nabukudrussur had to undertake a great war with Media in the years 154 and 155,” says NIEBUHR (Ass. u. Bab., S. 212, 3 and on his reasons for this view Ib. S. 211 and S. 284),—2. because in the mention of the Medes there is a strong argument against those who assert that this prophecy was composed post eventum, during the captivity, for at this time the Persians and not the Medes would have been designated as the conquerors of Babylon. Comp. Jer 51:11.—Her satraps. Comp. Jer 51:23 and 57.—To make, etc. Comp. Isa. 13:9; Jer. 2:15; 4:7; 9:10; 46:19; 50:3; 51:47.
Jer 51:30. The heroes of Babylon … broken.—Become women. Comp. 50:37; Nah. 3:13.—They have burned. The subject is the enemies.—Bars are broken. Comp. Am. 1:5; Isa. 45:2; Lam. 2:9.—As only the capture of the city is described, the burning of the dwellings must not be referred to a burning of the whole city, presupposing the capture. It must rather be intended as a parallel to the breaking of the bars. The sentence discloses that the enemies had begun their work by setting the dwellings on fire. [Compare the account of the siege of Babylon in XENOPHON as given by WORDSWORTH.—S. R. A.]
Jer 51:31, 32. Courier … confounded. The prophet conceives of the king as in the midst of the city, in his citadel. When the city is taken “from the end thereof” (comp. 50:26) the messengers hastening to inform the king would meet each other. This is a sad meeting, an accumulation of calamities which reminds us of the Job’s posts (Job 1:13 sqq.).—Passages.מַעְבָּרוֹת, are passages. Forts may be meant, but also bridges or tunnels, or even the stations of the messenger or ferries, since on account of the walls a landing could not be made at pleasure. Concerning the bridges which connected the two banks of the river in the middle of the city and the tunnel under the Euphrates, which connected the two royal castles, comp. OPPERT, I. S. 192, etc. The Euphrates, moreover, had no fords, and the article forbids us to think of the bed of the Euphrates, laid dry by the diversion of the stream (Herod., I.191), as it denotes that definite and well-known points of transition are meant. The expression may well be referred to the bridge, the ferry-stations and perhaps also to the tunnel. Both this sentence and the following parts of Jer 51:33 belong to the announcements spoken of in Jer 51:31.—The ponds burned with fire. This sentence is enigmatical. The view that the burning is not to be understood literally, but merely to be taken as figurative for drying up, for which an appeal is strangely made to 1 Ki. 18:38, seems to me as untenable as that, according to which the burning is to be referred merely to the sedge. The former view is opposed by the formal reason that the figure would be an unsuitably exaggerated one, the latter by the material reason that the burning of the sedge seems purposeless. But are the great water-works of Nebuchadnezzar to be conceived of as having no wood-work about them? Did not the flood-gates at least consist of wood? The great basin of Sepharvaim, e.g., might be opened and closed by flood gates (comp. DUNCKER, Gesch. d. Alterth. I. S. 849). If the Euphrates were dried up and it was wished to complete the act of demolition, the destruction of the sluices by fire might be an appropriate way of accomplishing this. I do not mean to say that I perceive a special prediction in these words. Jeremiah paints the picture of the destruction of Babylon in Colors, which in general betray a correct knowledge of Babylonian circumstances. This picture could not be applied to the capture of any city at pleasure, but the coloring is nowhere so specific that we must say it is either a mantle prediction or a vaticinium post eventum. Jeremiah’s mind was occupied only with the great theme,—Babylon will tall and be destroyed, and Israel will be delivered. He greatly varies this theme, and here and there a feature finds a surprisingly accurate fulfilment, but there may be here a deeply hidden connection between cause and effect, which we cannot fathom or demonstrate, and the prophet had no foreknowledge of this agreement of his words with the future reality. Comp. 50:21 and the rems. on 51:39. KUEPER in the Beweis des Glaubens, February and March, 1867.—Are confounded. Comp. Isa. 13:8. The words as the purport of the message correspond exactly to what was reported as a fact in Jer 51:30. [Comp. Herod., I. 181; ARISTOT., Polit. III. c. l; RAWLINSON, Anc. Mon. III. 363; and PUSEY, on Daniel, p. 268, in WORDSWORTH and his note on the fulfilment of this prophecy.—S. R. A.]
Jer 51:33. For thus saith … to her. For attaches these words closely to the previous verse. What follows is separated by its specific contents, and thus the statement of reason forms a conclusion. When Jeremiah wrote Babylon stood at the zenith of its bloom. The rejoinder might then be made to him, How canst thou, contrary to all appearances, speak of such an enfeebling of this glorious army and of the capture and destruction of these impregnable bulwarks? Jeremiah replies, Babylon is a threshing-floor. All that is now done to render her great and glorious is no more than a preparation of the floor by treading. In a short time, however, the season of harvest will come to her. Jeremiah here leans back upon 50:26. The glorious city shall one day serve only as a threshing-floor for all the treasures harvested by her enemies.
Jer 51:29.—ותרעשׁ. The Imperf. with Vau consec. is used here because the prophet transports himself so vividly to the future that he regards it as already past. Comp. NAEGELSB. Gr., § 88, 5. There is therefore no necessity of reading וְתִרְעַשׁ with MEIER.
Jer 51:29.—קמה. Comp. 44:28, 29. On the singular comp. NAEGELSB. Gr., 105, 4 b.
Jer 51:30.—The form נַֽשְׁתָה is probably to be derived from נָשַׁת exaruit. This root occurs only in two passages elsewhere; Isa. 19:5, נִשְּׁתוּ, and 41:17, נָשָׁתָּה. The latter form may have stood for נָשָֽׁתָה with Dag. f. euphon. Comp. OLSH., § 83 b and 232 e; DELITZSCH on Isa. 19:5. Others would derive the forms from שָׁתַת, שָׁתָה or נָשָׁה. Comp. FUERST s. v. שָׁתַח, GESEN., Thes. s. v. נָשַׁת. At any rate a play upon words with לְנָשִׁים appears to be intended.
Jer 51:33.—הִדְריךְ=דֶּרֶןְ facere. Comp. HITZIG ad loc.—With regard to the construction, it is not necessary to assume an irregular infinitive form, but simply to supply אֲשֶׁר. Comp. Jer 51:3 and NAEGELSB. Gr., § 80, 6.
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.17. BABYLON’S MISDEED, ISRAEL’S COMPLAINT, JEHOVAH’S SENTENCE
34 Nebuchadrezzar, king of Babylon, devoured us, he crushed us,
He put us away as an empty vessel,
He swallowed us like a dragon,
He filled his belly19 with my best and cast us out.20
35 “My wrong and my flesh be on Babylon,” say the inhabitress of Zion
“My blood on the inhabitants of Chaldea,” say Jerusalem.
36 Therefore thus saith21 Jehovah:
Behold, I fight thy battle, and execute thy vengeance,
And cause her sea to dry up and seal up her spring.
37 And Babylon shall become ruins, the abode of jackals,
A terror and an object of scorn, which is bare of inhabitants.
38 They will roar one with another like young lions,
They will growl22 like the young of the lioness.
39 For their intoxication I prepare them a drinking-bout,
And make them drunken that they may rejoice,
Fall asleep to a perpetual sleep
And never awake, saith Jehovah.
40 I will bring them down like lambs to the slaughter,
Like rams with he-goats.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
Nebuchadnezzar has devoured Israel, emptied his land and caused it to stand like an empty vessel, having cast out the people (Jer 51:34). For this Israel invokes the vengeance of Jehovah (Jer 51:35). To this desire the Lord declares Himself willing to respond; as Babylon has emptied Israel, so shall it become an empty unwatered desert; as Nebuchadnezzar has devoured Israel like a dragon, so shall the Chaldeans roar like lions; as they have revelled in Israel’s flesh and blood, so shall they empty the cup of wrath even to fatal drunkenness, and be brought as sheep to the slaughter (Jer 51:36–40). Three main thoughts are thus plainly distinguishable, the expositio facti, the complaint and the sentence.
Jer 51:34. Nebuchadrezzar … cast us out. Nebuchadnezzar has devoured (50:17, 17) and crushed (literally disturbavit, Ex. 14:25; 23:27; Josh. 10:10; 2 Chr. 15:6) Israel; and then let the land stand like an empty vessel. HITZIG regards the words he put us away, as spoken by the land, but this view is opposed by the plural pronoun. It is better to regard the people and land as speaking together. Then the first clause refers to the persons, the second to the land, the third to the particular things, which the enemy took with him as plunder out of the country.—Dragon, תַּנִּין, is 1, bellua maritima, κῆτος, (Gen. 1:21; Job 7:12; Ps. 158:7). 2. Serpent (Ex. 7:9, 10, 12; Deut. 32:33; Ps. 74:13). 3. Crocodile (Isa. 27:1; 51:9; Ezek. 29:3; 32:2; Ps. 74:13), In this place it is usually translated dragon, this being viewed as a modification of the second meaning. It is really a matter of indifference what great animal is intended, and it therefore suffices to render the word by a general term.
Jer 51:35. My wrong … Jerusalem. After the representation of the condition of things, Israel here appears as a plaintiff, and demands as his right the punishment of the oppressor.—My wrong. Comp. Gen. 16:5.—My flesh and my blood point back to devoured, Jer 51:34.—Inhabitants of Chaldea. Comp. Jer 51:24; 50:10. [“By my flesh we are here to understand the blood-relations of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, or the Jews throughout the country, who were killed or carried captive to Babylon.” HENDERSON.—S. R. A.]
Jer 51:36-40. Therefore thus … with he goats. The Lord receives the complaint of Israel. He declares himself ready to execute the punishment desired. The close connection of the words with Jer 51:35 is clear from therefore, and from its whole purport.—I fight, etc. Comp. 50:34; 51:6, 11, 56; 50:15, 28.—Cause to dry up, etc. The abundance of water, to which the land of Babylon owes its fertility and power, the Lord will dry up and even seal up the springs. Comp. 50:38.—Her sea. Comp. rems. on Jer 51:13. “The main land, on which Babylon stands, is … a large … plain, which is so broken up with marshes and lakes by the Euphrates, that it floats, as it were, in the sea. The low land on the lower Euphrates is, as it were, wrung from the sea; for before Semiramis erected the dikes, the Euphrates used to overflow it all (πελαγίζειν ,Herod., I., 184); Abydenus (in EUSEB. Præp., IX., 41), even says that at first it was all water, and was also called θάλασσα.” DELITZSCH on Isa. 21:1.—Become ruins. Comp. 9:10; 18:16; 19:8; 25:9, 18; 29:18; 51:29. According to the theory of recompense which the Lord has presented in Jer 51:36 (comp. Jer 51:6) the desolation and evacuation here predicted corresponds to the emptying, which Israel, according to Jer 51:34, had experienced from Babylon.—In Jer 51:38 it is not an element of the punishment, but on the contrary the revelling of the Babylonians in the enjoyment of their plunder, which is described (comp. 2:15; Am. 3:4).
Jer 51:39. While now they are in the heart of their greedy enjoyment (comp. Hos. 7:4–7) the Lord will prepare them a banquet of his own kind. He will pour them out a full cap, but of wrath (25:15–27). Of this excitement and sleep will be the consequence—the excitement of anguish and the sleep of death (Jer 51:57).—That they may rejoice, is therefore intended ironically. Comp. Isa. 21:5, and DELITZSCH, ad loc.—The remarkable fulfilment of these words in the surprise of the Chaldeans while feasting (Dan. 5:1 sqq.; HEROD., I., 191; CYROP., VII., 23) is no more to be traced to special prediction, than the fulfilment of Jer 51:31, 32; 50:24. The prophet has no expectation that his picture of wild carousal, and the exchange of this for another ironically so-called, would correspond so literally to the facts. That this was the case was not, however, due to a coincidence, but to divine Providence. Comp. rems. on Jer 51:31, 32.—I will bring them, etc. Comp. 48:15; 50:27. Lambs, rams, he-goats! All classes of the population are to fall a sacrifice to the butcher’s knife. Comp. Isa. 34:6; Ezek. 39:18; Jer. 50:8.—This description also, from Jer 51:38 onwards, stands in evident contrast to the devouring of Israel by the Chaldeans, in Jer 51:34.
Jer 51:34.—כְּרֵשׂ, belly, is ἅπ. λεγ.
Jer 51:34.—מעדני. The singular suffix has induced the Masoretes to make the previous verbs conformable to this, but this change of number is by no means rare. Comp. 9:7; 10:4; 13:20; 64:9; NAEGELSB. Gr., § 105, 7 Anm. 2. Some commentators would attach the word to the following, and read הדִּיהַנוּ because the Hiph of דּוּחַ signifies to wash, rinse away (Isa. 4:4; Ezek. 40:38; 2 Chron. 4:6), and does not occur elsewhere in Jeremiah, while הִדִּיחַ is very common with him (8:3; 16:15; 23:3, 8; 27:10, 15, etc.). The meaning of rinsing, however, lies at the foundation of that casting away (“the Hiph. of דִוּחַ is to cast away, wash away,” DELITZSCH on Isa. 4:4, S. 89), and the brevity of the second half of the verse is not without analogy. Comp. 50:26; 51:28.
Jer 51:35.—ישׁבת צ׳ Comp. Isa. 12:6. The expression occurs only in these two places.
Jer 51:38.—נָעַר, snarl, growl, is an ἅπ. λεγ.
How is Sheshach taken! and how is the praise of the whole earth surprised! how is Babylon become an astonishment among the nations!18. THE DEMOLITION OF THE PRISON, THE LIBERATION OF THE CAPTIVES
41 How is Sheshach taken,
And the praise of the whole earth captured!
How is Babylon become a horrid waste23 among the nations!
42 The sea is come up over Babylon,
With the multitude of its waves is she covered.
43 Her cities are become a desolation,
A land of aridity and steppe,
A land wherein no man will dwell,
Which no son of man will pass through.
44 And I visit Bel in Babylon,
And take from his mouth what he hath devoured,
And no more shall the nations flow to him:
The wall also of Babylon is fallen.
45 Go out from the midst of her, my people,
And let every one save his soul from the fury of Jehovah’s anger.
46 And let not your heart faint,24
Nor fear on account of the rumor which is heard in the land,
For in that year the rumor comes25 and the year after26 another,
And feud in the land, ruler against ruler.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
A double picture! As in Jer 51:50:1–5, on the background of Babylon destroyed the prophet sees Jerusalem delivered. He thus first shows us Babylon taken and desolated (Jer 51:41–43), the gods robbed of all ability to retain plunder or attract worshippers, and even the strong, proud walls thrown down (Jer 51:44). He then summons Israel to flee from the abomination of desolation (Jer 51:45), and not to be afraid at the alarm of war (Jer 51:46).
Jer 51:41-44. How is Sheshach … is fallen. Comp. 50:2.—Sheshach. Comp. rems. on 25:26. If it is to be derived from שָׁכַדְ to stoop down, and taken in the sense of “humiliation, submission,” the idea does not accord with the following “praise of the whole earth.” It must wait further illumination.—Praise, etc. Comp. 48:2; 49:25. Herodotus says of Babylon, ἐκεκόσμητο ὡς οὐδὲν ἄλλο πόλισμα τῶν ἡμε͂ις ἴδμεν (I., 178).—The sea, etc. We might think here of the sea of nations (comp. Isa. 8:7, 8; 17:12; Jer. 46:7, 8), especially since in Jer 51:36 and Jer 51:43, the contrary is expressed. It is, however, possible that the prophet would really say both, viz., that Babylon will be exposed to horrible aridity and fearful inundations. The Euphrates, when left to itself, has at some times too much, and at others too little water. Nebuchadnezzar’s great water-works were to regulate the supply, and when these are destroyed (comp. Jer 51:32) Babylon incurs the double danger.—Her cities, etc. Comp. 9:10.—Land of aridity, etc. Comp. 2:6; 50:12.—No man, etc. Comp. 9:9–11; 49:18, 33; 50:40.—Bel (comp. rems. on 50:2) is here mentioned as Babylon’s highest deity, and accordingly as the shield of its power and glory. Whoever conquers and plunders Babylon, conquers and plunders Bel, and whatever Babylon retains of plundered property in its hand, that has Bel. He has, as it were, swallowed all (comp. Jer 51:34; 50:17). Israel then with all the plunder of Jerusalem (comp. Dan. 1:2) may be represented as “devoured by Bel,” and this he is to restore. He is also no longer to have the renown of being a powerful protector. Foreigners shall no longer stream thither to commend themselves to his protection and be amazed at his glory. On the expression, comp. Isa. 2:2.—The mention of the wall of Babylon (comp. Jer 51:58; 50:15) again as by way of supplement, may seem surprising. The walls of Babylon, however, seem here to be regarded as a sanctuary of Bel. This is intimated in their names; Imgur-Bel, i.e., Bel protect, was the name of the outer wall comprising 480 stadia, Nivitti-Bel, i.e., residence of Bel, was the name of the inner wall, 360 stadia long. Comp. OPPERT, I., S. 227. [The name of the king also was Belshazzar.—S. R. A.]
Jer 51:45, 46. Go out… ruler. That which, according to Jer 51:41–44 is to come upon Babylon, is the effect of Jehovah’s wrath. In order that this may not fall upon the Israelites also, they are to flee. Comp. Jer 51:6; 50:8.—From the fury, etc. Comp. 4:8, 26; 12:13; 25:37, 38; 30:24.—Feud, etc. Comp. 30:21; 33:26.—The prophet evidently presupposes a great war. Comp. rems. on Jer 51:28. This passage reminds us of Matt. 24:6; Luke 21:28. [Comp. RAWLINSON, Anc. Mon., III., p. 515, as quoted in WORDSWORTH.—S. R. A.].
Jer 51:41.—שַׁמָּה is stupor in 5:30; 8:21. As in the verbal root, so also in the noun, the idea of being rigid and confused is connected with that of horrible desolation. Comp. 2:15; 4:7; 50:3, 23, etc.
Jer 51:46.—ופן־ירך ו׳. Comp. Deut. 20:4; Isa. 7:4.—אַל=פֵּן as frequently. EWALD, § 337, b.
Jer 51:46.—ובא וגו׳ The construction is as, e.g., in 27:10. Comp. NAEGELSB. Gr., § 99, 3.
Jer 51:46.—אַֽחֲרֵיו is to be regarded as neuter. Comp. NAEGELSB. Gr., § 60, 4.
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.19. BABYLON’S FALL AN OCCASION OF JOY TO HEAVEN AND EARTH, BUT ESPECIALLY TO ISRAEL
47 Therefore behold, the days come that I visit the idols of Babylon,
And her whole land shall be put to shame,
And her wounded ones shall all fall in the midst of her.
48 But heaven and earth, and all therein, shall rejoice over Babylon,
For from the north come27 the destroyers, saith Jehovah.
49 As Babylon caused28 the slain29 of Israel to fall,
So at Babylon are fallen the slain of the whole land.
50 Ye that have escaped the sword,
Go on,30 stand not still:
Remember Jehovah from afar,
And let Jerusalem come into your hearts.
51 “We are ashamed, for we have heard reproach,
Shame covers our face, for strangers are come into the sanctuaries of Jehovah’s house.”
52 Wherefore behold, the days come, saith Jehovah, that I punish her idols;
And in her whole land groan31 the slain.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
We may observe in this passage that it gradually exhausts itself, and hastens to the conclusion. We may also perceive the effort to revert to the commencement. Hence the great similarity of these verses to 50:3–5. Babylon’s idols are to be visited, the land confounded, and filled with the slain (Jer 51:47), to the joy of heaven and earth. The destroyers coming from the north are to accomplish this (Jer 51:48). Thus will be recompensed to Babylon what it has done to Israel (Jer 51:49). The Israelites, however, are encouraged to go home comforted (Jer 51:50). They seem not to understand the call, for they answer with complaining words, from which it is seen that no other feeling could find place in their hearts, than that of the disgrace they had suffered (Jer 51:51). But the prophet comforts them by skilfully repeating the opening words of the picture, indicating that even for their disgrace the promised visitation of the idols and of their country would procure satisfaction (Jer 51:52). If our division is correct, and Jer 51:52 is really the close of the strophe beginning at Jer 51:47, and if, as cannot be doubted (see the proof in detail below), these verses reproduce in a certain measure the beginning of the whole prophecy, 50:2–5, an artificial arrangement is here noticeable, of which a trace also recurs in the last picture, for Jer 51:58 also in its purport refers back to Jer 51:53.
Jer 51:47, 48. Therefore behold … saith Jehovah.—Therefore draws a further special conclusion from the premises stated in the previous context. The main purport of this picture follows from all which has been previously stated as the decree of Jehovah concerning Babylon.—Behold, the day. Comp. 9:24. This formula is found fourteen times in Jeremiah, 7:32; 16:14; 19:6, etc.—The idols, etc. Generalization of what is said in Jer 51:44 of Bel alone. In 50:2 also the confusion of Bel, Merodach and the idols generally is spoken of. Comp. Jer 51:52.—Put to shame. Comp. 48:13.—Her wounded. Comp. Jer 51:4.—If we render “slain,” we get no suitable meaning from the sentence, even if the emphasis be laid on “in the midst of her,” we must, therefore, take the word in the sense of wounded, as in Ps. 69:26; Job 24:12. All the wounded will fall, i.e., all their wounds will be mortal.
Jer 51:48. Shall rejoice, etc. These words express the main thought of the first part (Jer 51:47, 48) and at the same time the only new element. Heaven and earth certainly must rejoice when once again the justice, wisdom and power of the Lord celebrate a triumph, and it is anew evident that He, and not the devil, is Lord in the world. Comp. Isa. 44:23; 49:13; Ps. 96:10, 11.—The sentence gains much in clearness if we regard it as a parenthesis, and refer the following causal sentence to Jer 51:47. According to the logical sequence the destroyers are the first cause, and the destruction of Babylon the second cause of the rejoicing. If we do not take the imperative sentence as a parenthesis, we must at least refer the causal sentence to all the foregoing context, so that the destroyers appear as the ground both of the fall and the rejoicing. The words for from the north, also remind us of 50:3 coll. 50:9, 41, standing here in the same connection as there.—Destroyers. Comp. Jer 51:53.
Jer 51:49-52. As Babylon … the slain. In this second part of the picture the prophet expresses substantially the same thought as in the first, but with special application to Israel and emphasis on the idea of recompense. The sin of Babylon against Israel shall be recompensed, and Israel, at first unable to receive the joyful tidings, is greatly comforted by the repeated solemn proclamation of judgment on the destroyers.—Remember, etc. These words remind us vividly of 50:4, 5.—From afar. Jehovah is still always considered as dwelling in Zion. Comp. 41:5.—Come, etc. Comp. 3:16; 44:21.—The Israelites answer to the call, but with words of grief. They cannot receive the joyful tidings. Their minds are still full of the feeling of the disgrace they have suffered. It is as though they would say, What is the thought of Jehovah and Jerusalem for us? Have we not from thence recollections only of the deepest shame and reproach? We are put to shame and we are ashamed (comp. 9:18), for we have heard reproach, scorn and ridicule as the part of the heathen (6:10; 24:9), the consequence of which is that shame covered our face (Ps. 69:8; 35:26; 71:13). This scorn which has come upon us refers however to the fact that strangers (comp. 5:19; 30:8; Isa. 1:7) have come into the sanctuaries (i.e., into all parts, even those forbidden to profane feet) of Jehovah’s house. It must appear surprising that the Israelites respond to the joyful call of the prophet, Jer 51:50, with words of grief. The strophe cannot therefore possibly be concluded here, or it would end in a harsh dissonance. We therefore attach Jer 51:52 to it. Even on this account, says Jeremiah, skilfully repeating the opening words of the picture, shall the idols be visited and their land filled with the slain. The prophet speaks very appropriately of the visitation of the idols, for just this is the recompense for the disgrace inflicted on the house of Jehovah.
Jer 51:48.—The singular יָבוֹא stands here as an anticipated predicate. Comp. NAEGELSB. Gr., § 105, 4, 6, 3.
Jer 51:49.—Before לִנְפֹל should be supplied הָֽיְתָה. The sense of the connection is then Babylon tended to, occasioned, the fall. Comp. NAEGELSB. Gr., § 95, 3 b.
Jer 51:49—הַלְלֵי ו׳ need not be taken as vocative. It is the construction of a sentence in which the infinitive represents the predicate, and the subject is implied in a substantive, depending on a preposition. Comp. 5:26; 6:7; 17:2; 34:9; NAEGELSB. Gr., § 95, 2.—If we take it as voc. (HITZIG, EWALD, GRAF, etc.), the two clauses of the disjunctive sentence either contain the same thought, or we must take לְ as the לְ auctoris, which is harsh. The Perf. נָפְלוּ is according to this interpretation the prophetic perfect. The prophet sees the strages of the Babylonians as something which has already happened. Hence he addresses the Israelites as having escaped from the overthrow.
Jer 51:50.—הלכי. This imperative occurs here only. The choice of the expression is, however, explained by the circumstance, that הָלַךְ here does not signify to go away, but as is clear from the antithesis תַּֽעֲמֹדוּ (comp. Gen. 19:17; Jer. 4:6) to go on, and is thus used with a certain emphasis. Hence it is also unnecessary with the LXX. to connect the ה with the previous word, and read מֵחָרָבָה or מֵחָרְבָּה.—Comp., moreover, Jer 51:45; 50:8, 28.
Jer 51:52.—אנק in Jeremiah here only. Comp. Ezek. 26:15.
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.20. NO WALL IS A DEFENCE AGAINST THE LORD
53 “Even though Babylon should mount up to heaven,
And tower up32 his defences33 to a precipitous height,
From me will destroyers come to her,” saith Jehovah.
54 A loud crying from Babylon
And great ruin from the land of the Chaldeans!
55 For Jehovah destroyeth Babylon,
And extirpates from her the loud noise.
And her waves roar like mighty waters,
The noise of their calling resounds.
56 For there is coming upon her, upon Babylon, a destroyer,
And her heroes are taken, their bows broken;34
For a God of recompense is Jehovah,
Who well requiteth.
57 “And I make drunk her princes and her wise men,
Her counts, her dukes and her heroes,
That they may sleep a perpetual sleep,
And never awake,” saith the King:
Jehovah Zebaoth is his name.
58 Thus saith Jehovah Zebaoth,
“Babylon’s broad wall35 is laid bare,36
And her high gates burn37 in the fire!
Thus then have peoples labored in vain,
And nations wearied themselves38 for the fire.”
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
The main thought of the picture is that no dead or living wall can save Babylon, for the Lord, the righteous recompenser, has determined upon its fall. The dead wall of Babylon will not avail, because the Lord will send destroyers, as first expressed in Jer 51:53. In the following verses the fulfilment of this declaration is exhibited: great noise is heard from Babylon (Jer 51:54). Whence comes this? Hence, that the Lord has begun the work of destruction on Babylon—destroying both the great masses (Jer 51:55) and the élite of the population. His justice requires this (Jer 51:56). Substantially the same thought closes the discourse as began it, and both the beginning and conclusion appear as the verba ipsissima of Jehovah, so that in form also the end reverts to the beginning. The princes and wise men of Babylon may be designated as its living wall. They shall be made drunk with the cup of Jehovah’s wrath, and sleep an everlasting sleep (Jer 51:57). The dead wall, with its lofty gates, shall be subjected to fire, so that it will be made manifest that the immense work, the fruit of the labor of many nations, was achieved in vain, to be consumed by fire (Jer 51:58).
Jer 51:53. Even though… saith Jehovah. In the opening words there appears to be a double allusion: 1. to the tower of Babel, Gen. 11:4; 2. to the high walls with which Babylon was surrounded. Their height must have been very great. Even if the statements of 200 yards (HERODOTUS) and 250 yards (OROSIUS) are to be considered exaggerated, the lowest estimates of the ancients (PHILOSTR., Apoll. Tyan., I., 25) speak of three and a half plethra, i.e., 150 feet (OPPERT, Exp., I., p. 224, 5).—Comp. Ob. 4; Hab. 2:9; Jer. 49:10.—Destroyers. Comp. Jer 51:48. [WORDSWORTH: “We may compare also the words of Nebuchadnezzar still extant on this cylinder: ‘In Babylon is the tower of my abode. … To make more difficult the attack of an enemy against Imgour-Bet, the indestructible Wall of Babylon, I constructed a bulwark like a mountain,’ ” etc.—S. R. A.]
Jer 51:54-56. A loud crying … requiteth. That Jer 51:54 describes the execution of what is threatened in Jer 51:53, the work therefore of the destroyers (comp. 50:22, 46; 48:3) is seen from Jer 51:55, 56. It is at the same time clear from the connection that the loud noise spoken of in Jer 51:54 is the united consequence of a double operation directed to the two main portions of the Babylonian population. At one time the work of the destroyers is against the great mass of the people. This is the sense of loud noise and her waves. The sentence And her waves, etc. expresses the result. The destruction of Babylon and the extirpation of the great tumult of nations cannot take place without bringing the masses of the people into wild and noisy excitement, for, as was remarked on Jer 51:42, masses of people may certainly, as here, be compared with masses of water.—Roar. Comp. 5:22; 31:35; Jer. 51:15—Jer. 6:23.—Afterwards, however, the work of the destroyers is against the élite of the people, the heroes, i.e., the brave men and warriors (Jer 51:30; 50:36) and their weapons.—For a God of recompense, etc. The causal particle refers of course not only to the immediate, but all the previous context. The object of recompense is here stated as the ground of Jehovah’s procedure against Babylon, as in 50:15, 28; 51:6, 11, 36. Comp. 2 Sam. 19:37; Isa. 59:18.
Jer 51:57, 58. And I make… for the fire. These verses also contain, like Jer 51:53, the verba ipsissima of Jehovah, and Jer 51:58 also treats of the dead wall. When, in Jer 51:57, it is said of the princes, wise men and warriors (comp. 50:35, 36; 51:23, 28), that the Lord will make them drunk and cause them to sleep a perpetual sleep (comp. rems. on Jer 51:39, whence these words are taken, and 25:15, 16, 27), it is evidently to be thus intimated that the Lord will paralyze all the forces which might be able in any way to delay the fall. It may then be said that the prophet treats in Jer 51:57 of the destruction of the living, in Jer 51:58 of the dead stone defences. I may be allowed here to insert a passage relating to the building of the walls from the cylinder-inscription already mentioned, as given by OPPERT (Exp., I., p. 230). “Babylon is the refuge of the God Merodach; I have finished (observe that Nebuchadnezzar is the speaker) Imgur-Bel, his great enclosure. In the thresholds of the great gates I have adjusted folding-doors in brass, very strong railings and gratings (?), I have dug its ditches, I have reached the bottom of the waters, I have constructed the banks of the trench with bitumen and bricks. Wishing to preserve the pyramid more efficaciously and to defend it from the enemy and the attacks which might be made on Babylon the imperishable, I caused to be constructed in masonry in the extremities of Babylon a (second) great enclosure, the boulevard of the Rising Sun, which no king had made before me. I had the ditches made dry, and caused the banks to be constructed on barrels.” Here follow the words quoted above in Jer 51:13.—The walls of Babylon, however, were not the work of Nebuchadnezzar alone. According to an inscription, now at Aberdeen, some share in the glory of this work is due to Assarhaddon, the son of Sanherib. He says (OPPERT, p. 227, etc.), “Babylon is the city of laws, Imgur-Bel is its enclosure, Nivitti-Bel its rampart; from the foundation to the battlements I founded, continued, enlarged them.” OPPERT is of opinion that these words express too much, and that Nabopolassar, and especially Nebuchadnezzar, are to be regarded as at least the completers of the work. As to the destruction of the wall, OPPERT says (p. 225, etc.), “It is to be presumed that the outer wall, encroached upon by Cyrus, spoiled by Darius, filled with breaches by Xerxes, did not exist at the commencement of the fourth century of the vulgar era. The ditches had been filled—and at least in the greater part the wall had disappeared which was so imposing to the enemies of Babylon, and which inspired Jeremiah with the words recorded in 51:53, 58.”—Thus then have peoples, etc. These words are found with slight alteration (transposition of in vain and for the fire) in Hab. 2:13. Habakkuk was the contemporary of Jeremiah, and also prophesied the punitive judgment to be executed on Judah by the Chaldeans. As in 1:6 Habakkuk expressly mentions the Chaldeans, he cannot have prophesied before the battle of Carchemish, for it is inconceivable that the appointment of this nation was disclosed to him earlier than to Jeremiah. It is possible that he wrote in the reign of Zedekiah, for we see from chap. 1 that the dominion of the Chaldeans had then lasted for some time. If now the words “Behold, is it not of the Lord of hosts?” which in Hab. 2:13 immediately precede the words common to this passage, are to be regarded as a formula of quotation, it is not impossible that this is the passage which he quotes, although, of course, it cannot be denied that both may have drawn from a common source. It is, however, grammatically more correct to take מֵאֵת in the sense of command or determination (as in Josh. 11:20; Ezek. 33:30), and to translate (with EWALD, MEIER) “it is decreed of the Lord that the nations,” etc., and then it is more probable that the words are original to Habakkuk. They suit the context admirably. For Habakkuk wishes to show that a building erected with blood and injustice cannot endure, from which in passing we may derive the important information that Nebuchadnezzar did not execute his immense works without despotic violence.—Labored and wearied themselves are synonymous expressions, comp. Isa 40:38 sqq.; so that if we render and wearied themselves (as required by the text here, but not in Hab. 2:13), we must understand this in an enhanced signification, as exhausted themselves, or are sinking, which it is doubtful if the word will bear. Nor is it in accordance with the sense and connection of the original passage to attribute to the nations, who were compelled to build the wall, a sinking when the wall falls! It is for them rather a victory than a defeat. This long discourse, as EWALD remarks, “very suitably closes with this sentence of Habakkuk, which is here quite appropriate.”—בְּדֵי־רִיק (to a sufficiency in vain), involves a certain irony. The great wall will be good enough to satisfy the lust of the all-devouring annihilation, or of the fire. It is therefore stronger than לְרִיק. Isa. 49:4; 65:23. Comp. Nah. 2:13.
Jer 51:53.—The Piel בִצֵּר denotes to cut off, to separate sharply. This is used in the sense of fortifying, like Kal in בְצוּרָה, Isa. 2:15; 37:26 coll. מִבְצָר, because fortifications are sharply separated from their surroundings. Comp. Isa. 22:10.
Jer 51:53.—עֹז is here as in מִגְדַּל עֹז, Jud. 9:51; Ps. 61:4; Prov. 18:10; צוּר עֹז, Ps. 62:4; עיר or קִרְיַת עז, Isa. 26:1; Prov. 10:12; 18:11, a strong bulwark for defence or protection.
Jer 51:56.—חִתֵּת=to make חַת, i.e., to make cracked. Comp. פִּתֵח, Isa. 48:8; 60:11; פִּחַד Isa. 51:13; and with respect to the meaning “broken,” 1 Sam. 2:4; on the singular, comp. NAEGELSB. Gr. § 105, 4, b.
Jer 51:58.—הֹמֹות is construed as sing, here only. Evidently the totality of the walls, which, in a certain aspect, was a six-fold line of circumvallation (comp. OPPERT, p. 228, etc.), is regarded as a unit. Comp. EWALD, § 318, a.
Jer 51:58.—ערער ו׳. Inf. abs. Pilpel, (comp. OLSH., § 253, Anm.) with Hithpalp. from עָרַר, to strip one’s self, i.e., thrown down, discovered to their foundations. Comp. עֵרָה Hab. 3:13; Psalm 137:7; and Isaiah 23:13; Ezek. 13:14.
Jer 51:58.—יצתו. Comp. 49:2; Isa. 33:12; OLSH., § 242, b.
Jer 51:58.—Regarding these words as original to Habakkuk, we may also regard ויעפו as a scriptural error, it being easy to write this instead of ייעפו. Comp. NAEGELSB. Jer. u. Bab., S. 97.
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.21. HISTORICAL CONCLUSION
59The 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 [caravan-marshall]. 60So Jeremiah wrote in a book all the evil that should come39 upon Babylon, 61even all these words that are written against Babylon. And Jeremiah said to Seraiah, When thou comest to Babylon, and shalt see, and shalt [see that thou]40 62read all these words; then shalt thou say, O LORD [and say, O Jehovah], thou hast spoken against this place, to cut it off, that none shall remain in it, neither 63man nor beast, but that it shall be desolate for ever. And it shall be, when thou hast made an end of reading this book, that thou shalt bind a stone to it, and cast 64it into the midst of Euphrates: And thou shalt say, Thus shall Babylon sink,41 and shall not rise from [because of] the evil that I will bring upon her: and they shall be weary [exhausted].42 Thus far are the words of Jeremiah.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
When King Zedekiah, in the fourth year of his reign, made a journey to Babylon, Jeremiah gave to Seraiah, the brother of Baruch, the marshall, the prophecy against Babylon to take with him and read in Babylon, and then with prayer to the Lord to cast it into the Euphrates.
Jer 51:59. The word … caravan-marshall. The commission which Seraiah receives really forms the chief part of this section. For after Jer 51:60, in which the restoration of the roll forming the basis of this commission is described, all the rest contains only the words in which Jeremiah imparts the commission.—Seraiah, according to 32:13, must be a brother of Baruch, the friend and assistant of our prophet, which explains why the commission was given to him. Other persons named Seraiah are mentioned in this book, 36:26; 40:8; 52:24. It seems to have been a common name among the priests. Comp. 1 Chron. 7:6, 14; Ezr. 7:1, 4; Neh. 10:2; 11:11; 12:1, 12.—It is not perfectly clear why Zedekiah went to Babylon. His fourth year is the same in which the envoys of the neighboring nations met in Jerusalem, to treat concerning a defensive alliance against the Chaldean power. Comp. rems. on 27:1 and 28:1. NIEBUHR thinks that the diversion then made by Nebuchadnezzar’s war with Media was the occasion of this meeting (Ass. u. Bab., S. 211). The journey to Babylon shows that nothing came of the project, whether that the reports from the East caused the matter to appear too dangerous, or that the warnings of Jeremiah made some impression.—A quiet prince (שׂר־מנוחה). This expression has been interpreted in the most various and strangest ways, concerning which comp. ROSENMUELLER and J. D. MICHAELISad loc. The latter was the first to give the substantially correct rendering in his Translation of the Old Testament, 1778, Leader of the caravan. MAURER first proposed “Reisemarschall,” marshall of the journey. Literally it denotes “Prince of the resting-place.” Comp. Numb. 10:33.
Jer 51:60-64. So Jeremiah wrote .… exhausted. We may assume that this journey of Zedekiah was the occasion of the prophecy against Babylon. For homage, if not the only object, was certainly one of the objects, of the journey, and it therefore involved a deep disgrace to the theocracy. How fitting it was that the prophet should make use of this journey to furnish the medal with an appropriate reverse. While the king of Judah, in view of all, was casting himself in homage before the throne of the Chaldean king, Seraiah was to cast a roll in the Euphrates, on which was recorded as a divine decree the destruction of Babylon and deliverance of Israel.—That Jeremiah copied the prophecy from the book-roll mentioned in 36:32 (GRAF) is only supposable, in case Jeremiah successively increased that collection of writings begun in the fifth year of Jehoiakim, first inserting the present prophecy in it, and thus giving Seraiah a copy, a confirmation of which hypothesis may be found in the expression in a [אֶחָד, one] book. It is, however, possible that Jeremiah would thus intimate that he purposely wrote the prophecy upon one roll, in antithesis to the many rolls forming the main collection. The reason of the prophet’s care to write the whole on one roll, would then doubtless be that one could be handled more easily and safely than two.—The reading was evidently for a threefold purpose: 1. With respect to the city of Babylon it was an announcement of judgment (HITZIG), which appears the more significant, as the announcers were not in a condition to make a declaration against Babylon, coming, as they did in all humility, to do homage. 2. With respect to God, it was to be affirmed that the people of Israel had taken solemn notice of the divine promise. Hence after the reading the Lord is to be expressly addressed and reminded of the word of His promise in its main features (comp. Jer 51:62 with 50:3; 51:26). He is thus, as it were, to be taken at His word and pledged. 3. To the Israelites there was naturally a great comfort in all this, which must have been of special value to them in that moment of deep shame.—The sinking of the roll in the Euphrates is added to the reading as supplementary and confirming the words by a visible symbolic action. The roll being compelled to sink by the stone and thus outwardly given up to destruction, suggests the thought that this external part was no longer necessary after, by the reading, the purport had been received into the living spiritual archives of the consciousness. At the same time, as is expressly stated in Jer 51:64, the sinking by the weight of the stone is to represent symbolically the ruin of Babylon.—Shall not rise, as the roll with the stone will not.—From the evil does not designate the element in which Babylon is to sink, but the figure is here forsaken and the transition made to literal speech. מִפְּנֵי then=in consequence of [because of, the evil].—Shall be weary. These words might certainly be dispensed with, as they rather injure than promote the clearness of the sense. As is well understood, however, the easier reading is by no means always the more correct. The question depends on whether the finer and more hidden sense which may be contained in the words is able to balance the formal reasons which favor their spuriousness. Comp. the TEXTUAL remarks.
Thus far the words of Jeremiah. These words, which I cannot regard as misplaced (comp. rems. on Jer 51:64) have simply the object of indicating that ch.52 does not proceed from Jeremiah himself, but is the addition made by another person.
Jer 51:60.—On the sense of the Imperfect תָּבוֹא comp. NAEGELSB. Gr., § 87, 1.
Jer 51:61.—וראית. This word cannot mean “and when thou seest it (for the first time).” The suffix would certainly not be wanting in that case. Nor can we see why the reading should take place at the first sight of the city. Both time and place might then be vary unfavorable. It is rather the apodosis; then see to it. It is inculcated upon him that he discharge his commission with circumspection. Comp. 1 Ki. 12:16; Ps. 37:37; Isa. 22:11.
Jer 51:64.—שָׁקַע, demergi, desidere, in Jeremiah here only. Comp. Am. 8:8; 9:5.
Jer 51:64.—If the word ויעפו is not genuine, it can have come here only through the transposition of the following words, “Thus far,” etc., with which the copyist, through carelessness or of purpose, connected this. This, however, involves the inauthenticity of Jer 51:59–64 or their original position before 50:1. HITZIG says the passage “bears some marks of genuineness, none of the contrary,” and it is incredible that it stood before 50:1, since it would then appear that this great prophecy was only of secondary importance. If, then, Jer 51:59–64 are genuine and in their original position, the same must be said of the concluding words, since they could never have had their position before Jer 51:59. A copyist could not have added ויעפו by mistake. Jeremiah, then, must have done it. His object probably was to give a token of identity to the sinking prophecy by an unmistakable quotation from it. The ancient translations, with the exception of the LXX., which is of no authority, all express the word. Comp. NAEGELSB. Jer. u. Bab., S. 96.