Jeremiah 50

CHAPTER L

This and the following chapter contain a prophecy relating to

the fall of Babylon, interspersed with several predictions

relative to the restoration of Israel and Judah, who were to

survive their oppressors, and, on their repentance, to be

pardoned and brought to their own land. This chapter opens with

a prediction of the complete destruction of all the Babylonish

idols, and the utter desolation of Chaldea, through the

instrumentality of a great northern nation, 1-3.

Israel and Judah shall be reinstated in the land of their

forefathers after the total overthrow of the great Babylonish

empire, 4, 5.

Very oppressive and cruel bondage of the Jewish people during

the captivity, 6, 7.

The people of God are commanded to remove speedily from

Babylon, because an assembly of great nations are coming out of

the north to desolate the whole land, 8-10.

Babylon, the hammer of the whole earth, the great desolator of

nations, shall itself become a desolation on account of its

intolerable pride, and because of the iron yoke it has rejoiced

to put upon a people whom a mysterious Providence had placed

under its domination, 11-34.

The judgments which shall fall upon Chaldea, a country addicted

to the grossest idolatry, and to every species of superstition,

shall be most awful and general, as when God overthrew Sodom

and Gomorrah, 35-40.

Character of the people appointed to execute the Divine

judgments upon the oppressors of Israel, 41-45.

Great sensation among the nations at the very terrible and

sudden fall of Babylon, 46.

NOTES ON CHAP. L

Verse 1. THE WORD THAT THE LORD SPAKE AGAINST BABYLON] This is

also a new head of discourse.

The prophecy contained in this and the following chapter was

sent to the captives in Babylon in the fourth year of the reign of

Zedekiah. They are very important; they predict the total

destruction of the Babylonish empire, and the return of the Jews

from their captivity. These chapters were probably composed, with

several additions, out of the book that was then sent by Jeremiah

to the captives by the hand of Seraiah. See Jer 51:59-64.

Verse 2. Declare ye among the nations] God's determination

relative to this empire.

Set up a standard] Show the people where they are to assemble.

Say, Babylon is taken] It is a thing so firmly determined, that

it is as good as already done.

Bel] The tutelar deity of Babylon is confounded, because it

cannot save its own city.

Merodach] Another of their idols, is broken to pieces; it was

not able to save itself, much less the whole empire.

Her idols are confounded] It is a reproach to have acknowledged

them.

Her images] Great and small, golden and wooden, are broken to

pieces; even the form of them no longer appears.

Verse 3. Out of the north there cometh up a nation] The Medes,

who formed the chief part of the army of Cyrus, lay to the north

or north-east of Babylon.

Shall make her land desolate] This war, and the consequent

taking of the city, began those disasters that brought Babylon in

process of time to complete desolation; so that now it is not

known where it stood, the whole country being a total solitude.

Verse 4. In those days, and in that time] In the times in which

Babylon shall be opposed by the Medes and Persians, both Israel

and Judah, seeing the commencement of the fulfilling of the

prophecies, shall begin to seek the Lord with much prayer, and

broken and contrite hearts. When the decree of Cyrus comes, they

shall be ready to set off for their own country, deploring their

offenses, yet rejoicing in the mercy of God which has given them

this reviving in their bondage.

Verse 5. Let us join ourselves to the Lord in a perpetual

covenant] All our former covenants have been broken; let us now

make one that shall last for ever. He shall be the LORD OUR GOD,

and WE will no more worship idols. This covenant they have kept to

the present day; whatever their present moral and spiritual state

may be, they are no idolaters, in the gross sense of the term.

The description that is here given of the state of this people,

their feelings and their conduct, finely exhibit the state of real

penitents, who are fervently seeking the salvation of their souls.

1. In those days, when Jesus Christ is manifested in the flesh;

and in that time, when through him is preached the remission of

sins, and the people who hear are pricked in their conscience.

2. The children of Israel and the children of Judah together.-No

distinctions being then felt or attended to; for all feel

themselves sinners, who have come short of the glory of God. Even

national distinctions and religious differences, which bind men

fastest, and hold them longest, are absorbed in the deep and

overpowering concern they feel for their eternal interests.

3. Going and weeping shall they go.-Religious sorrow does not

preclude activity and diligence. While they are weeping for

their sins, they are going on in the path of duty, seeking the

Lord while he may be found, and calling upon him while he is near.

4. They shall ask the way to Zion.-Real penitents are the most

inquisitive of all mortals; but their inquiries are limited to

one object, they ask the way to Zion. What shall we do to be

saved? How shall we shun the perdition of ungodly men, &c.

5. With their faces thitherward.-They have turned FROM sin, and

turned TO God. They have left the paths of the destroyer, and

their hearts are towards God, and the remembrance of his name.

Thus they are profiting by that light which has convinced them of

sin, righteousness, and judgment.

6. Come, and let us join ourselves to the Lord.-Religion is a

social principle, and begets a social feeling in the soul. No

man who feels his own sore, and the plague of his heart, wishes to

venture alone in the way to heaven. He feels he wants counsel,

support, comfort, and the company of those who will watch over him

in love. Like David, the true penitent is a companion of all those

who fear the Lord. These heavenly feelings come from one and the

same Spirit, and lead to the same end; hence they say,-

7. Let us join ourselves to the Lord in a perpetual covenant. It

is said, that to be undecided, is to be decided. They who are not

determined to go to heaven, will never reach it. If the heart be

not laid under obligation, it will do nothing. "I hope I am in

earnest; I trust I shall be in earnest about the salvation of my

soul, it is very proper I should be so;" and such like, show an

irresolute soul. Such persons are ever learning, and never able

to come to the knowledge of the truth.

Let us therefore bind ourselves. We have trifled too long; been

indecisive too long; have halted too long between two opinions.

We know now that Jehovah is God; let us, therefore, enter into a

covenant with him. Let this covenant be a perpetual one: let us

not make it for a day, for any particular time, but for ever;

and let it never be broken. Let our part be kept inviolable: we

ARE and WILL BE thy people; and God's part will never fail, I AM

and WILL BE your God.

The covenant requires a sacrifice.-Hence berith signifies

both. Christ crucified is the great covenant sacrifice. By him God

becomes united to us, and through him we become united to God.

Verse 6. My people hath been lost sheep] He pities them; for

their pastors, kings, and prophets have caused them to err.

They have gone from mountain to hill] In all high places they

have practised idolatry.

Verse 7. Their adversaries said, We offend not] God has

abandoned them; we are only fulfilling his designs in plaguing

them.

Verse 8. Remove out of the midst of Babylon] The sentence of

destruction is gone out against it; prepare for your flight, that

ye be not overwhelmed in its ruin.

Be as the he-goats before the flocks.] Who always run to the

head of the flock, giving the example for others to follow. This

may be addressed to the elders and persons of authority among the

people.

Verse 9. An assembly of great nations] The army of Cyrus was

composed of Medes, Persians, Armenians, Caducians, Sacae, &c.

Though all these did not come from the north; yet they were

arranged under the Medes, who did come from the north, in

reference to Babylon.

Their arrows] They are such expert archers, that they shall

never miss their mark.

Verse 10. Chaldea shall be a spoil] She has been a spoiler, and

she shall be spoiled. They had destroyed Judea, God's heritage;

and now God shall cause her to be destroyed.

Verse 11. As the heifer at grass] Ye were wanton in the

desolations ye brought upon Judea.

Verse 12. Your mother] Speaking to the Chaldeans: BABYLON, the

metropolis, or mother city, shall be a wilderness, a dry land, a

desert, neither fit for man nor beast.

Verse 15. Shout against her round about] Encompass her with

lines and with troops; let none go in with relief, none come out

to escape from her ruin.

Verse 16. Cut off the sower] Destroy the gardens and the fields,

that there may be neither fruits nor tillage.

Verse 17. Israel] All the descendants of Jacob have been

harassed and spoiled, first by the Assyrians, and afterwards by

the Chaldeans. They acted towards them as a lion to a sheep which

he has caught; first he devours all the flesh, next he breaks all

the bones to extract the marrow.

Verse 18. As I have punished the king of Assyria.] The Assyrians

were overthrown by the Medes and the Chaldeans. The king is here

taken for all their kings, generals, &c., Tiglath-pileser,

Shalmaneser, Sennacherib, Esar-haddon, &c. To them succeeded the

Chaldean or Babylonish kings. Nebuchadnezzar came against Judea

several times; and at last took the city and burnt it, profaned

and demolished the temple, wasted the land, and carried the

princes and people into captivity.

Verse 19. I will bring Israel again] This seems to refer wholly

to the ten tribes; for Carmel, Bashan, Mount Ephraim, and Gilead,

were in their territories.

Verse 20. In those days and in that time] This phrase appears to

take in the whole of an epoch, from its commencement to its end.

See Jer 50:4.

I will pardon them] So as to deliver them from their captivity,

and exact no more punishment from them whom I reserve; namely, the

remnant left in the Babylonish captivity.

Verse 21. Go up against the land of Merathaim-and against the

inhabitants of Pekod] No such places as these are to be found any

where else; and it is not likely that places are at all meant. The

ancient Versions agree in rendering the first as an appellative,

and the last as a verb, except the Chaldee, which has Pekod as a

proper name. Dr. Blayney translates:-

"Against the land of bitternesses, go up:

Upon it, and upon its inhabitants, visit, O sword!"

Dr. Dahler renders thus:-

"March against the country doubly rebellious,

And against its inhabitants worthy of punishment."

The latter of these two versions I take to be the most literal.

The words are addressed to the Medes and Persians; and the country

is Chaldea, doubly rebellious by its idolatry and its insufferable

pride. In these two, it was exceeded by no other land.

Verse 23. The hammer of the whole earth] Nebuchadnezzar dashed

to pieces the nations against whom he warred. He was the scourge

of the Lord.

Verse 24. I have laid a snare for thee] It was not by storm that

Cyrus took the city. The Euphrates ran through it; he dug a

channel for the river in another direction, to divert its stream;

he waited for that time in which the inhabitants had delivered

themselves up to debauchery: in the dead of the night he turned

off the stream, and he and his army entered by the old channel,

now void of its waters. This was the snare of which the prophet

here speaks. See Herodotus, lib. i., c. 191.

Verse 26. Open her store-houses] At the time that Cyrus took the

city, it was full of provisions and treasures of all kinds; the

walls had suffered no injury; and when the inhabitants heard that

the enemy was within, they thought they must have arisen out of

the earth in the centre of the city!

Verse 27. Slay all her bullocks] Princes, magistrates, &c., &c.

Verse 28. Declare in Zion the vengeance of the Lord] Zion was

desolated by Babylon; tell Zion that God hath desolated the

desolator.

The vengeance of his temple.] Which Nebuchadnezzar had pillaged,

profaned, and demolished, transporting its sacred vessels to

Babylon, and putting them in the temple of his god Bel.

Verse 29. Call together the archers] The preceding verses are

the prediction: here, God calls the Medes and Persians to fulfil

it.

Verse 31. O thou most proud] zadon. PRIDE in the

abstract; proudest of all people.

Verse 32. And the most proud] zadon, as before. Here

pride is personified and addressed, as if possessing a being and

rational powers.

Verse 34. Their Redeemer is strong] And it was not that he

wanted power, and that Nebuchadnezzar had much, that Jerusalem

was taken; but because the people had sinned, and would not

return; and therefore national sins called for national

punishments. These have taken place; and now the Lord of hosts

shows them that the power of the Chaldeans is mere weakness

against his might.

Verse 35. A sword] War and its calamities, or any grievous

plague; and so in the following verses.

Verse 38. A drought is upon her waters] May not this refer to

the draining of the channel of the Euphrates, by which the army of

Cyrus entered the city. See on Jer 50:24. The original is,

however, chereb, a sword, as in the preceding verses, which

signifies war, or any calamity by which the thing on which it

falls is ruined.

Verse 39. The wild beasts of the desert] Dahler translates these

various terms, "The wild cats, the jackals, and the ostriches."

And Blayney the same. Wicklif, "Dragons, woodewoses, and

ostriches." Coverdale, "Wild beestes, apes, and estriches."

Verse 40. As God overthrew Sodom] As the very ground on which

these cities stood, with all the plain, now lies under the Dead

Sea; so Babylon and the adjacent country shall be rendered

totally barren and unfruitful, and utterly incapable of being

inhabited. And this is the fact concerning both countries. See

Jer 49:18.

Verse 41. Behold, a people shall come from the north] This and

the two following verses are nearly the same with Jer 6:22-24.

But here, destroyers against Babylon are intended; there,

destroyers against Jerusalem.

Verse 44. Behold, he shall came up like a lion] The same words

as in Jer 49:19, &c., where see the note. See Clarke on Jer 49:19.

Verse 46. At the noise of the taking of Babylon]

See Clarke on Jer 49:21. In the

forty-ninth chapter, these words are spoken of Nebuchadnezzar;

here, of Cyrus. The taking of Babylon was a wonder to all the

surrounding nations. It was thought to be impregnable.

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