Jeremiah 49

 

 

On Ammon, Edom, Damascus, Kedar and Hazer, and Elam.

 

     The Violence of the Ammonites Shall be Severely Punished  (vs. 1-3)

 

1  Concerning the Ammonites, thus saith the LORD; Hath Israel no sons?”

The violent seizure, perpetrated before his eyes, of parts of the sacred territory,

forces the indignant question from the prophet, “How can these things be?” It

was so on a former occasion (see ch. 2:14), and it is so again, now that the

Ammonites are occupying the land of the Gadites. True, the present generation

has lost its property, but the next is the heir to all its rights and privileges - “hath

he no heir? why then doth their king inherit Gad, and his people dwell in his

cities?” - their King — their Melech or Moloch; it is the idol-god, not the

earthly king who is referred to (so in Amos 1:15; Zephaniah 1:5).  The Septuagint,

the Syriac, and the Vulgate, however, read Milcom, which was the name of the

Ammonite deity; this is only a different vocalizing of the consonants of the text.

The actual vowel points give “malcam.” This reading may, of course, be interpreted

of the earthly king of the Ammonites. But this view ignores the obvious parallelism

of ch.48:7, “Chemosh shall go forth into captivity.” Inherit. The primary

meaning of the word is “to take possession of, especially by force,” - I Kings 21:6

(compare ch. 8:10).

 

 

Israel’s Heirs (v. 1)

 

“Hath he no heir?” Most wonderful is the preservation of the Jews as a

distinct race amid the strangest vicissitudes of fortune and through

centuries of exile — surviving the devastating deluge of the successive

Oriental monarchies, the captivity in Babylon, the cruelties of Antiochus

Epiphanes, the sweep of Roman conquest, the persecution of the Middle

Ages, and the cosmopolitan citizenship of our own day (I have heard that

at one time, one fourth of all Jewish people lived in New York City – CY –

2011). Yet, much as Israel has contributed to the philosophy and trade of the

modern world, and great as her future mission may yet be, we cannot blind

ourselves to the fact that her lonely glory of religions preeminence has passed

away.  Others have entered into this proud inheritance.  “He came unto His own,

and His own received Him not.  But as many as received Him, to them gave He

power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.”

(John 1:11-12)

 

 

Ø      The knowledge of the true God. This, and not the land flowing

with milk and honey, was the chief treasure of Israel’s inheritance.

When all neighboring nations were following polytheism, idol

worship, and immoral rites, Israel was led by prophetic voices to

look to one God — a spiritual presence who could only be in the

beauty of holiness. That people, therefore, which has the highest

worshipped knowledge of God, and the purest religious life and

worship, wilt be the true heir of this part of the ancient possession

of the Jews.

 

Ø      The mission to enlighten the heathen. The Jew was not called to

his privileged position wholly for his own sake. He was an elect

people that he might be an apostle to the world; that in him there

might be developed the revelation of truth which was for the

healing of all the nations; that he might cultivate, preserve,

transmit, and disseminate this abroad. His was the proud mission

of the torch bearer to the nations that sat in darkness, that through

his light they might see their light and life. This mission was

often ignored, and it was never perfectly developed in Old

Testament times; but the work of Jonah and Daniel, and the

prophecies of Isaiah and Jeremiah concerning the heathen,

are partial accomplishments of it. IT WAITED UNTIL

CHRIST CAME FOR ITS FULL EXERCISE!  Then the Jew

became the missionary of the gospel. The faith of the new age

was given to the world by Jew apostles.

 

has become his heir?

 

Ø      The Christian is the heir of the Jew’s knowledge of the true God.

He and he alone, whether he be of the stock of Shem, of Ham, or

of Japheth, is the true Israelite, the “royal priesthood” (I Peter 2:5).

For Christianity is the fulfillment and perfection of the Jewish faith

(Matthew 5:17-20). In the New Testament we see a higher

knowledge of God, a more spiritual worship, a more devoted service.

If this be true, to reject it and rest contented with the lower faith of

the Old Testament must be to give way in the race.

 

Ø      The most Christian missionary is the truest heir to Israel’s mission

To evangelize the world. If there be any one race upon whom the

mantle of Israel has fallen, may we not think that this is the great

English-speaking peoples of Britain and America? (And to think    

that I got an e-mail yesterday [August 18, 2011] saying: 

 

This morning on the Today Show, Matt Lauer interviewed one

of the  wives of one of the Navy Seals killed this weekend. He

asked her what she would say to her children about their dad

and how she would want them to remember him...She said,

and I quote, " His love for Christ" and then continued with

a few other things...through out the day and on MSN

homepage...when the story is replayed they have edited the

"Love of Christ" part out...  Why? Because using the word

Christ might offend someone...

 

Can you believe this?  Within the last week there have

been lootings in Great Britian called “flash mobs”.  One

of the signs of the Second Coming is “violence and

anarchy” – (Matthew 24:12)  When I first came to

                        Hopkinsville and would travel back and forth to my

                        home in Somerset, near the Todd County/Logan County

                        line was a sign by the road which said “Prepare to meet

                        thy God” (Amos 4:12) – I say that what Jeremiah is saying

                        about Edom and Elam, the Unites States of America had

                        better consider of herself!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!CY – 2011)

Such an inheritance is not to be made out by ingenious

arguments about the fate of the lost ten tribes. If we were the

descendants of those apostate Israelites, we should be none the

better for the fact, nor are we under any disadvantage because

the hypothesis of an Israelite origin proves to be groundless.

To make much of such a point is to go back to the lower

conceptions of Judaism, and to disregard the higher spiritual

conditions of Christianity. The true heir of Israel is the

possessor of Israel’s faith in its full development. It is not

our birth and descent, but our personal religion, that can

secure the inheritance to us.

 

2  Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will cause an

alarm of war to be heard in Rabbah of the Ammonites; and it shall be a

desolate heap, and her daughters shall be burned with fire: then shall Israel

be heir unto them that were his heirs, saith the LORD.”  The punishment of

Ammon. Its capital, Rabbah (see II Samuel 12:26-27), and the “daughter” cities

(compare Numbers 21:25, margin; Joshua 15:45 and 17:11 in the Hebrew), shall

be laid waste.  The alarm of war (“alarm” equivalent to “shout”), as in ch. 4:19.

A desolate heap. Fortified towns were built on heaps, or slight elevations

(compare ch. 30:18), the Hebrew name for which (in the singular) is tel. The

heap and the ruins of the town together are aptly called a “heap of desolation.”

Then shall Israel be heir, etc.; rather, then shall Israel dispossess those who

dispossessed him (compare v. 1). The form of the phrase reminds us of Isaiah 14:2.

 

3  Howl, O Heshbon, for Ai is spoiled: cry, ye daughters of Rabbah,

gird you with sackcloth; lament, and run to and fro by the hedges;

for their king shall go into captivity, and his priests and his princes

together.”  Heshbon. Here mentioned as de jure a Gadite, but de facto an

Ammonitish, town; in Numbers 21:26 it appears as “the city of Sihon

the Amorite. In Isaiah 15:4 and 16:9 it is reckoned to the Moabites.

There was a continual warfare between the neighboring tribes of Reuben

and Gad on the one hand, and the Moabites and Ammonites on the other.

Let Heshbon lament, because Ai is spoiled. The introduction of Ai, which

is only known to us as a Canaanitish town, near Bethel, on the wrong side

of the Jordan for Moab, is startling. It is replied that we have no list of the

Ammonitish cities, and that there may have been another town named Ai.

The reply is valid; but leaves a second difficulty untouched, viz. that the

mention of a third place destroys the continuity of thought. First, we are

made acquainted with the fall of Rabbah; then Heshbon (probably the

second place in the country) is called upon to wail because it has been

taken by storm; then the populations of the “daughter” cities are

summoned to join in the lamentation over Rabbah; — is it not reasonable

to conclude that the subject of the mourning is one and the same?

Daughters of Rabbah; i.e. unwalled towns (as in v. 2). Run to and fro

by the hedges; rather, by the enclosures; i.e. wander about in the open

country, seeking a lodging place in the enclosures of the sheepfolds (so

Numbers 32:24, Hebrew) or the vineyards (so Numbers 22:24, Hebrew).

Their king; or, Milcom (see on v. 1).

 

4  Wherefore gloriest thou in the valleys, thy flowing valley, O backsliding

daughter? that trusted in her treasures, saying, Who shall come unto me?”

The valleys; i.e. long extended plains, such as were suitable for cornfields (Isaiah

17:5; Psalm 65:14), and such as characterized the territory of the Ammonites.

Thy flowing valley. “Flowing;” that is, abounding with rich crops.

 

5  Behold, I will bring a fear upon thee, saith the Lord GOD of hosts,

from all those that be about thee; and ye shall be driven out every

man right forth; and none shall gather up him that wandereth.”

The Ammonitish community dissolved; every one caring for himself.

Every man right forth; i.e. straight before him, in a wild panic which expels

every thought but that of self-preservation. Him that wandereth. Collectively

for “the wanderers,” i.e. the fugitives. So it is said of the Babylonians, that

they are “like sheep with none to gather them.”

 

6  And afterward I will bring again the captivity of the children of

Ammon, saith the LORD.”  Revival of the Ammonites (see on ch. 48:47).

 

 

Judgment of Edom (vs. 7-10)

 

A startling picture of the judgment impending over Edom, the severity of which

is to be inferred from the behavior of the sufferers.  Observe, no allusion is made

by Jeremiah to any special bitter feeling of the Edomites towards the Israelites,

such as is implied in Isaiah 34; Ezekiel 35., and other passages. With regard to the

fulfillment of the prophecy, we may fairly quote in the first place Malachi 1:2-4.

The agents in the desolation there referred to (still fresh in Malachi’s recollection)

are probably the Nabathaeans (an Arab race, though writing Aramaic), who,

after occupying Edom, dropped their nomad habits, devoted themselves to

commerce, and founded the kingdom of Arabia Petraea. Meantime the

Edomites maintained an independent existence in the midst of the Jewish

colonists, till John Hyrcanus compelled them to accept circumcision about

B.C. 130. In spite of this enforced religious and political union, the Edomites

remained perfectly conscious of their nationality, and we find them mentioned

as a distinct factor in the community in Josephus’ account of the great Jewish

war. They pass away from history after the destruction of Jerusalem, A.D. 70.

 

7  Concerning Edom, thus saith the LORD of hosts; Is wisdom no more in

Teman?’ - Teman was celebrated for its “wisdom,” i.e. for a practical moral

philosophy, similar to that which we find in the less distinctly religions portions

of the Book of Proverbs. It was this “wisdom” which formed the common

element in the higher culture of the Semitic peoples, and of which the sacred

narrator speaks when he says that “Solomon’s wisdom excelled the wisdom of

all the children of the east country” (I Kings 4:30). One of Job’s friends, Eliphaz,

was a Temanite (Job 2:11).  From v. 20, however, it appears that Teman is here

used for Edom in general, of which it formed a part. “Wisdom” was doubtless

cultivated throughout Idumaea (Obadiah 1:8), the “land of Uz,” in which Job

dwelt, was probably in the east of Edom (see on ch. 25:20) – “is counsel perished

from the prudent? is their wisdom vanished?”  The Hebrew, with its

characteristic love for material symbols, has, “Is their wisdom poured out?” So in

ch.19:7, “I will pour out [a different word, however, is used] the counsel of

Judah.” The body being regarded as a vessel, it was natural to represent the

principle of life, both physical (Isaiah 53:12) and intellectual (as here) under the

symbol of a liquid.

 

8  Flee ye, turn back, dwell deep, O inhabitants of Dedan; for I will

bring the calamity of Esau upon him, the time that I will visit him.”

Turn back. The grammatical form is peculiar (literally, be made to turn back).

If the punctuation is not an oversight the object is to suggest the compulsiveness

of the change of route of the Dedanites. Dwell deep; i.e. tarry in the deepest

recesses ye can find, so as to avoid the calamities of the Edomites. The Dedanites,

it will be remembered, were a tribe devoted to commerce (see on ch. 25:23).

Isaiah had already, on an earlier occasion, given the same advice as Jeremiah, viz.

to leave the beaten track and take refuge in a less exposed part of the desert,

where shrubs and thorn bushes (“the forest,” or rather, “the thickets”) would

secure them to some extent from observation (Isaiah 21:13). See, however, v. 10.

 

9  If grape gatherers come to thee, would they not leave some gleaning

grapes? if thieves by night, they will destroy till they have enough.”

Jeremiah modifies his original in Obadiah 5; the interrogative clauses here

become affirmative. Render, If vintagers come to thee, they will not leave

any gleanings: if thieves by night, they destroy what is sufficient for them.

 

10  But I have made Esau bare, I have uncovered his secret places, and he

shall not be able to hide himself: his seed is spoiled, and his brethren, and

his neighbors, and he is not.”  The verse gives the reason why the destruction

is so complete. “It is I, Jehovah, who made Esau bare,” etc. “Esau,” i.e. Edom

(Genesis 25:30). His seed; i.e. the Edomites. His brethren, or kinsmen; i.e. the

Amalekites (Genesis 36:12). His neighbors; i.e. the tribes of Dedan, Tema, and

Buz (ch. 25:23).

 

In vs. 11-13 we have a merciful mitigation of the prophet’s stern threat. The

true God will provide for the widows and orphans, if Edom will but

commit them to Him. And let not Edom think it strange that he is punished;

for even Israel, the chosen people, has drunk of the bitter cup. Yea,

Jehovah has sworn “by Himself” that all Edom’s cities shall be laid waste.

 

11  Leave thy fatherless children, I will preserve them alive; and let thy

widows trust in me.”  The invitation means more than might be supposed. It is

equivalent to a promise of the revival of the Edomitish people (compare on

ch. 46:26; 48:47).

 

12  For thus saith the LORD; Behold, they whose judgment was not to

drink of the cup have assuredly drunken; and art thou he that shall

altogether go unpunished? thou shalt not go unpunished, but thou

shalt surely drink of it.”  Jehovah condescends to speak from a human

point of view.  So, in Isaiah 28:21, the punishment of Jerusalem is called His

strange work.”

 

13  For I have sworn by myself, saith the LORD, that Bozrah shall

become a desolation, a reproach, a waste, and a curse; and all the

cities thereof shall be perpetual wastes.”  Bozrah. This seems to have been

at one time the capital of Edom (see Amos 1:12; Isaiah 34:6; 63:1). It was a

hill city (compare on v. 16); a village called Busaira (i.e. little Bozrah) now

stands among its ruins. Perpetual wastes. A phrase characteristic of Jeremiah

(see ch. 25:9;Isaiah 58:12; 61:4).

 

Based at first on the older prophecy (see Obadiah 1:1-4); then follow two

verses in Jeremiah’s peculiar manner. As yet Edom feels himself secure in his

rocky home. But a Divine impulse already stirs the nation, through whom

Jehovah wills to humble the proud. Edom shall become a second Sodom.

 

14  I have heard a rumor from the LORD,” - In Obadiah it is we have

heard,” i.e. the company of prophets (compare Isaiah 53:1, “Who hath believed

our report?” according to one interpretation). Jeremiah, to justify his adoption

of the outward form of his prophecy, declares that he is personally

responsible for its substance. “Rumor,” or as the word is elsewhere

rendered, “report,” is a technical term for a prophetic revelation (Obadiah 1:1;

Isaiah 28:9, 19; 53:1; compare Isaiah 21:10; 28:22); and it is from this Old

Testament usage that ajkoh> acquires its special meaning in Romans 10:16-17.

In fact, ajkoh>, or bearing, is a more exact equivalent of the original. A prophet

is one who has “listened in the council of God” (Job 15:8, corrected version;

compare Amos 3:7), and “when the Lord Jehovah hath spoken, who can but

prophesy?” (Amos 3:8). Prophetic perception of Divine truth is so exceptional a

thing that it can only be expressed approximately in terms of everyday life.

One while it may be called a “hearing,” a “report,” another while a “vision”

or “intuition.” He who makes to hear or see is, of course, Jehovah, through

the objective influence of his Spirit. It is important to study the Biblical

phraseology, which has a depth of meaning too often overlooked, owing to

the blunter edge which time has given to our modern speech - “and an

ambassador” - rather, a herald - “is sent unto the heathen,” -  rather, unto the

nations. There is no religious idea involved; the word goyim literally means

nations,” and there is no reason for deviating from the primary sense. In

the next verse it is even more necessary to make this correction - “saying,

Gather ye together, and come against her, and rise up to the battle.

15  For, lo, I will make thee small among the heathen, and despised

among men.”

 

16  Thy terribleness hath deceived thee, and the pride of thine heart, O

thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock, that holdest the height of the

hill: though thou shouldest make thy nest as high as the eagle, I will bring

thee down from thence, saith the LORD.”  Thy terribleness. This is certainly

the best rendering of this a[pax lego>menon. The “terribleness” of Edom

consisted in the fact that the other nations shrank from disturbing her in her

rocky fastness. In the clefts of the rock. Probably with an allusion to the rock

city Sela, or Petra (“rock”); as perhaps in “the height of the hill” to the situation

of Bozrah)  - As the eagle. Not any eagle is meant, but the griffon

(Gypsfulvus), or great vulture.

 

17 “Also Edom shall be a desolation: every one that goeth by it shall be

astonished, and shall hiss at all the plagues thereof.”  A desolation; rather,

an astonishment. The word is from the same root as the following verb.

The phrase is characteristic of Jeremiah, who has no scruple in repeating a

forcible expression, and so enforcing an “astonishing” as the reverses of once

flourishing kingdoms! For the Bible knows nothing of the “necessity” of the

decay and death of nations. The “covenant” which Jehovah offers contains

THE PLEDGE OF INDESTRUCTIBILITY.  Everyone that goeth by it, etc.

Another self-reminiscence (see ch.19:8).

 

18  As in the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah and the neighbor

cities thereof,” -  saith the LORD, no man shall abide there, neither shall a

son of man dwell in it.”  Compare Deuteronomy 29:23, which explains the

reference in “the neighbor cities” (Admah and Zeboim). (See arkdiscovery.com)

The verse is repeated in ch. 50:40; It does not, of course, mean that fire and

brimstone should be the agents of destruction (nor is even Isaiah 34:9 to be

understood literally), but that the desolate appearance of Edom should remind

of that of the neighborhood of the Dead Sea (compare Isaiah 13:19; Amos 4:11).

 

Vs. 19-23 uses figures descriptive of the unique physical qualities of the destined

conqueror of Edom. Both figures have been used before (see Jeremiah 4:7; 48:40).

 

19  Behold, he shall come” - the subject is withheld, as in ch. 46:18 (see note);

48:40  - “up like a lion from the swelling of Jordan” - rather, the pride of Jordan;

 i.e. the luxuriant thickets on its banks. See on ch. 12:5, where the phrase first

occurs - “against the habitation of the strong:” -  rather, to the evergreen pasture.

The word rendered “evergreen” is one of those which are the despair of

interpreters, from their fullness of meaning. The root meaning is simply

continuance,” whether it be continuance of strength (compare Micah 6:2, Hebrew)

or of the flow of a stream (Deuteronomy 21:4; Amos 5:24), or, as here, of the

perennial verdure of a well watered pasturage - “but I will suddenly make him

run away from her:” - Make whom? The lion? Such is the natural inference from

the Authorized Version, but the context absolutely forbids it. It seems useless to

mention the crowd of explanations which have been offered of this “obscure and

much-vexed passage,” as old Matthew Poole calls it, since in ch. 50:44 we have

precisely the same phrase, but with another suffix, which clears up the meaning.

We may, therefore, either read (with the Septuagint and the Syriac Version),

“For I will suddenly make them run away from it” (viz. the pasture), or keep the

old reading “him” for “them,” and explain “him” as meaning the Edomites.

The expression used for “suddenly” is very forcible; we might render,“in the

twinkling of an eye” -   “and who is a chosen man,” - A still more

difficult clause. If the text is correct we should probably render “and will

appoint over it [i.e. the land of Edom] him who is chosen,” viz. Nebuchadnezzar

that I may appoint over her? for who is like me? and who will appoint me

the  time?”  - The same phrase is rendered in Job 9:19, “Who shall set me a time

 to plead?” To drag a defendant before the tribunal implies equality of rank. One

might venture to do this with Nebuchadnezzar, if he were not the representative

of One still mightier. Finally, - “and who is that shepherd that will stand before

me?”  The land of Edom has been likened to a pasture; it is natural that the ruler

should be now described as a shepherd.

 

20  Therefore hear the counsel of the LORD, that He hath taken against

Edom; and His purposes, that He hath purposed against the inhabitants of

Teman: Surely the least of the flock shall draw them out: surely He shall

make their habitations desolate with them.”  The counsel of the Lord. At first

sight this appears to detract from the perfection of Jehovah. But another prophet

declares that the Divine “counsels” are “framed” from eternity (Isaiah 22:11;

37:26).  Surely the least, etc.; rather, Surely they shall drag them along, the weak

ones of the flock; surely their pasture shall be appalled at them. Such is the sad

fate of the sheep, now that the resistance of their shepherd has been overpowered.

“The weak ones of the flock” is a phrase quite in Jeremiah’s manner; its opposite

is “the noble ones of the flock” (ch.25:34).

 

 

21 “The earth is moved” -  rather, quaketh (as ch. 8:16). It is a pity that the

Authorized Version has not preserved the present tense throughout the verse.

The prophet seems to see his prediction realized before him. - “at the noise

of their fall, at the cry the noise thereof was heard in the Red sea.”

rather, beside the Red Sea; compare I Kings 9:26, Eloth, on the shore of the

Red Sea, in the land of Edom.”

 

22 “Behold, he shall come up and fly as the eagle, and spread his wings

over Bozrah: and at that day shall the heart of the mighty men of Edom

be as the heart of a woman in her pangs.”  Behold, he shall come up…

Bozrah. Repeated from ch. 48:40, with the substitution of “Bozrah” for

“Moab,” and the addition of “and he shall come up” from v. 19. For Bozrah,”

see on v. 13.  And at that day. Repeated from ch. 48:41 (latter half), with

the exception that “Edom” stands for “Moab.”

 

 

Prophecy Concerning Damascus (vs. 23-27)

 

In vs. 23-27 we have the heading Concerning Damascus which is too limited

(like that of the partly parallel prophecy in Isaiah 17:1-11); for the prophecy

relates, not only to Damascus, the capital of the kingdom of southeastern

Aram (or Syria), but to Hamath, the capital of the northern kingdom. (The

third of the Aramaean kingdoms, that of Zobah, had ceased to exist.)

Damascus had already been threatened by Amos (Amos 1:3-5), and by

Isaiah (Isaiah 17:1-11). We may infer from the prophecy that Damascus

had provoked the hostility of Nebuchadnezzar, but we have .as yet no

monumental evidence as to the facts.

 

23  Concerning Damascus. Hamath is confounded, and Arpad: for they

have heard evil tidings: they are fainthearted; there is sorrow on the

sea; it cannot be quiet.”  Hamath. Still an important city under the name of

Hamah, situated to the north of Hums (Emesa), on the Orontes. It formed

nominally the boundary of the kingdom of Israel (Numbers 34:8; Joshua 13:5),

was actually a part of the empire of Solomon (II Chronicles 8:4), and was

conquered for a short time by Jeroboam II (II Kings 14:25). Under Sargon it

was fully incorporated into the Assyrian empire (compare Isaiah 10:9); rebellious

populations were repeatedly transplanted into the territory of Hamath. Arpad.

Always mentioned together with Hamath, whose fate it appears to have shared

(Isaiah 10:9). A tel, or hill, with ruins, about three miles from Aleppo, still bears

the name Erfad. There is sorrow on the sea, etc.; i.e. even the sea participates in

the agitation of that troublous time: somewhat as in Habakkuk 3:10 the

sea is represented as sympathizing in the terror produced by a Divine

manifestation. But by the slightest possible emendation (viz. of caph into

beth) we obtain a more natural sense — “with an unrest as of the sea,

which cannot be quiet.” In Isaiah 57:20 we read, “For the ungodly are

like the troubled sea, for it cannot be quiet;” and it can hardly be doubted

that Jeremiah is alluding to this passage. If he altered it at all, it would be in

the direction of greater smoothness rather than the reverse. Not a few

manuscripts of Jeremiah actually have this corrected reading, which should

probably be adopted.

 

24  Damascus is waxed feeble, and turneth herself to flee, and fear

hath seized on her: anguish and sorrows have taken her, as a woman in

travail.  25   How is the city of praise not left, the city of my joy!”

A difficult passage.  The construction, indeed, is plain. “How is not,” etc. I can

only mean “How is it that the city of praise is not,” etc.?  (compare II Samuel

1:14).  The difficulty lies in the word rendered “left.” The ordinary meaning of

the verb, when applied to cities, is certainly “to leave without inhabitants;” e.g.

ch. 4:29; Isaiah 7:16; 32:14. This, however, does not suit the context, which

shows that “the daughter of Damascus” personified is the speaker, so that v. 25

ought rather to mean, “How is it that the city of praise is [not, ‘is not’] forsaken?”

Either, then, we must suppose that “not” has been inserted by mistake — a too

arbitrary step, seeing that there is no negative in the context to account for the

insertion (the case is different, therefore, from Job 21:30; 27:15, where such an

insertion is at any rate justifiable); or else we must give uzzebhah the sense of

let go free” (compare Exodus 23:5; Deuteronomy 32:36; Job 10:1). It is the

obstinate incredulity of love which refuses to admit the possibility of the

destruction of the loved object. The city of praise. The city which is my

praise,” or boast. Few cities, in fact, have had so long and brilliant an

existence as Damascus.  (Damascus is the oldest continuous inhabited city

in the world – CY – 2011)

 

26  Therefore her young men shall fall in her streets, and all the men of

war shall be cut off in that day, saith the LORD of hosts.  27  And I will

kindle a fire in the wall of Damascus, and it shall consume the palaces of

Benhadad.”  And I will kindle, etc. A combination of clauses from

Amos 1:14 and 1:4. Three several kings of Damascus bore the name of

Ben-hadad: one the contemporary of King Baasha of Samaria; another, of

Ahab; a third, of Joash. (Ben-hadad, however, should rather be Ben-hadar,

agreeably to the Assyrian inscriptions and the Septuagint.)

 

 

    Prophecy Against the Nomad and Partly settled Arabs (vs. 28-33)

 

The former described under the name Kedar (see on ch. 2:10), the latter under

that of Hazor (connected with hazer, an unwalled village; compare Leviticus

25:31). This use of Hazor is remarkable; elsewhere the name denotes towns in

Palestine (Joshua 11:1; 15:23; Nehemiah 11:33).  There are two plainly marked

strophes, vs. 28-30 and 31-33, both beginning with a summons to the foe to

take the field.

 

28  Concerning Kedar, and concerning the kingdoms of Hazor, which

Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon shall smite, thus saith the LORD;

Arise ye, go up to Kedar, and spoil the men of the east.”  Hazor (i.e. the

settled Arabs) is said to have kingdoms.  “King” is used in Hebrew in a wider

sense than we are accustomed to (compare ch.25:24, “All the kings of Arabia”).

The “kings” of Hazor would be mere sheikhs or emirs. Shall smite; rather, smote.

There is no justification whatever for the future. The statement is obviously a

later addition, to show that the prophecy was fulfilled. On the form

Nebuchadrezzar,” see on ch. 21:2. The men of the east. A general designation

of the inhabitants of all the countries in the east of Palestine (Genesis 29:1;

Judges 6:3; Job 1:3).

 

29  Their tents and their flocks shall they take away: they shall take to

themselves their curtains, and all their vessels, and their camels; and they

shall cry unto them, Fear is on every side.”  All the possessions of the nomad

are here mentioned — first his tents and his flocks; then the hangings of which

the tent is composed (ch. 4:20; 10:20), and the vessels which it contains; and

finally the camels which the Arab rides, not to mention their other uses. All this

shall be ruthlessly appropriated by the Chaldean invaders. Fear is on every

side. Again Jeremiah’s motto recurs (see on ch.6:25). It expresses here, not the

war cry itself, but the result produced by it.

 

30 “Flee, get you far off, dwell deep, O ye inhabitants of Hazor, saith

the LORD; for Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon hath taken

counsel against you, and hath conceived a purpose against you.”

The prophet turns to the Arabs in villages who have still more to tempt the

cupidity of plunderers, and urges them to flee while there is still time. Dwell deep

(see on v. 8).

 

31  Arise, get you up unto the wealthy nation, that dwelleth without care,

saith the LORD, which have neither gates nor bars, which dwell alone.”

How easy is the expedition to which the Chaldean army is invited! — it is a

mere holiday march. Resistance is impossible, for an enemy has never been

dreamed of. The tribes of Hazor are not, indeed, a wealthy nation, for they have

but little wealth to tempt either the conqueror or the merchant; they “live alone;”

they are an uncommercial and unwarlike, but a profoundly “tranquil, nation, that

dwelleth securely [or, ‘confidently’]” — a description reminding us of

Judges 8:7; Ezekiel 38:11. In their idyllic, patriarchal state they feel no need of

walls with their accompanying double gates (the gates of ancient cities were so

large that they were divided) and bars. Like Israel in the prophetic vision

(Numbers 23:9), “they dwell alone.”

 

32  And their camels shall be a booty, and the multitude of their cattle

a spoil: and I will scatter into all winds them that are in the utmost

corners; and I will bring their calamity from all sides thereof, saith

the LORD.”  Them that are in the utmost corners. Another of Jeremiah’s

characteristic phrases, which should rather be tendered, the corner clipped

(i.e. having the hair cut off about the ears and temples; see on ch. 9:26).

From all sides. Nebuchadnezzar will so arrange his troops that the

Bedaween [but the people of Hazor were not Bedaween, i.e. desert Arabs]

will be surrounded on all sides, and, being thus unable to escape in a body,

will be scattered to ‘all the winds,’ to the four quarters of the earth.

 

33  And Hazor shall be a dwelling for dragons, and a desolation for

ever: there shall no man abide there, nor any son of man dwell in

it.”  The same fate predicted for Hazor as for Edom (v. 18). Dragons; rather,

jackals (see on ch. 10:22).

 

 

Prophecy Concerning Elam (vs. 34-39)

 

The title places this prophecy later than those in ch. 48:1-49:33; viz. at the

beginning of the reign of Zedekiah. From this fact, and from the absence of

any reference to Nebuchadnezzar as the instrument of Elam’s humiliation, it

is conjectured that the Elamites had been concerned in the events which led to

the dethronement and captivity of Jehoiachin.  The Elamites appear perpetually

as the allies of Merodach-baladan and his sons in their struggles for

independence.” We are not yet, however, in possession of information as

to the relations of Elam to the great Babylonian empire which rose upon

the ruins of the Assyrian.  And what was Elam? One of the most ancient

kingdoms in the world (see Genesis 14.). Geographically it was the tract

of country., partly mountainous, partly lowland, lying south of Assyria and

east of Persia proper, to which Herodotus gives the name of Cissia, and the

classical geographers that of Tusis or Tusiaua. This is clear from the

Persian text of the Behistun inscription of Darius. It is frequently

mentioned under the name “Ilam,” or “Ilamti,” in the Assyrian inscriptions,

especially in those of Sargon, Sennacherib, and Assurbauipal. In B.C 721

Sargon states that he annexed a district or province of Elam (and hence,

perhaps, we must explain the mention of the Elamites in the Assyrian army

in Isaiah 22:6), which was, doubtless, one cause of the embittered

feeling towards Assyria of the portion which remained independent. The

annals of the heroic struggle of Merodach-baladan contain repeated

reference to the King of Elam. Assurbanipal made no less than three

invasions of Elam, and the singular pretext for the third is, curiously

enough, associated with the remarkable fourteenth chapter of Genesis. It

was this — that the Elamite king had refused to deliver up an image of the

goddess Nana, which Kudur-nankhundi, an ancient Elamite monarch, had

carried oft, and which had remained 1635 or (perhaps) 1535 years in

Elam.  This king has been plausibly conjectured to be a member of the

same dynasty as “Chedorlaomer [= Kudur-Lagamar] King of Elam.” This

time it was all over with Elam; Shushan itself was plundered and destroyed,

and far and wide the country was laid waste. That so restless and

courageous a people should have become famous among the surrounding

nations was only to be expected; and it is a striking proof of this that

Ezekiel, in describing the companions whom fallen Egypt would meet with

in Hades, mentions “Elam and all her multitude” (Ezekiel 32:24). The

fact that the Septuagint has the heading twice over — first very briefly (in

ch. 25:14, where it is followed by this prophecy), and then at full

length (ch. 26:1, at the end of the prophecy of Elam) — has been variously

explained. It is, at any rate, clear that there is some confusion in the present

text of this translation. In connection with this prediction it is interesting to

notice one of the results of a new cuneiform discovery among some tablets

acquired in 1878 by the British Museum. At the very time when Nebuchadnezzar

was taking an oath of allegiance from Zedekiah, he was also engaged in hostilities

against Elam. We do not know, what brought the Babylonians into hostilities

with the Elamites, but the result of the expedition was to bring the whole

kingdom of Elam within the boundaries of the Babylonian monarchy

(Transactions of the Society of Biblical Archaeology, 7:214).

 

34  The word of the LORD that came to Jeremiah the prophet against

Elam in the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah king of Judah, saying, 

35  Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Behold, I will break the bow of

Elam, the chief of their might.”  The bow of Elam. So Isaiah in prophetic

vision, “And Elam bare the quiver” (Isaiah 22:6).

 

36  And upon Elam will I bring the four winds from the four quarters

of heaven, and will scatter them toward all those winds; and there

shall be no nation whither the outcasts of Elam shall not come.”  An emblem

of the utter hopelessness of escape. The four winds (figuratively spoken of by

Zechariah (Zechariah 6:5) as “presenting themselves” before God, to receive His

commissions) shall combine their forces to scatter the doomed nation. The

outcasts of Elam. This is the marginal reading in the Hebrew Bible; the text has,

the perpetual outcasts.” No philological eye can doubt that the correction

should be admitted (a yod for a vav).

 

37 For I will cause Elam to be dismayed before their enemies, and

before them that seek their life: and I will bring evil upon them,

even my fierce anger, saith the LORD; and I will send the sword

after them, till I have consumed them:”

 

38  And I will set my throne in Elam,” - i.e. my tribunal (as ch. 43:10) -

 and will destroy from thence the king and the princes, saith the LORD.”  -

rather, king and princes. The threat is not merely that the reigning king shall

be dethroned, but that Elam shall lose its native rulers altogether.

 

39   “But it shall come to pass in the latter days, that I will bring again

the captivity of Elam, saith the LORD.”  But… in the latter days; i.e.

 presumably in the Messianic Age. Into the fulfilment of this promise we

need not inquire in too prosaic a spirit. It is true that Elamites are mentioned

among the persons present on the great “day of Pentecost” (Acts 2:9). But this

would be a meager fulfilment indeed. The fact is that, both in the narrative in the

Acts and in this prophecy, the Elamites are chiefly mentioned as representatives

of the distant and less civilized Gentile nations, and the fulfilment is granted

whenever a similar people to the Elamites is brought to the knowledge of

the true religion.

 

 

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