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Bible Commentaries
Jeremiah 49

Barnes' Notes on the Whole BibleBarnes' Notes


To the north of the Moabites lay the country of the Ammonites, a closely allied nation Genesis 19:37-38 who claimed that the land assigned to the tribe of Gad had originally belonged to them Judges 11:13. They seem to have been far less civilized than the Moabites, and possessed but one stronghold, Rabbah, not devoting themselves to agriculture, but wandering with their flocks over the Arabian wastes. When, however, Tiglath-Pileser carried the inhabitants of Gilead into captivity, the Ammonites occupied much of the vacant land, and many of them probably adopted a more settled life; at this time they even possessed Heshbon, once the frontier town between Reuben and Gad. It is this seizure of the territory of Gad which forms the starting-point of Jeremiah’s prediction. Older prophecies against Ammon are Amos 1:13-15; Zephaniah 2:8-11.

Verse 1

Hath Israel no sons? - i. e., the Ammonites in seizing Gilead have acted as if the country had no rightful owner. The sons of Israel were to return from captivity, and the land was their hereditary property.

Their king - Milcom (and in Jeremiah 49:3), see the margin. The Ammonite god stands for the Ammonites just as Chemosh Jeremiah 48:7 is the equivalent of the Moabites.

Inherit - i. e., take possession of.

Verse 2

Rabbah - i. e., the “great city.” See 2 Samuel 12:27 note for a distinction between Rabbah, the citadel, and the town itself, lying below upon the Jabbok.

Daughters - i. e., unwalled villages (and in Jeremiah 49:3).

Shall Israel be heir ... - i. e., “shall be victor over his victors;” compare Micah 1:15.

Verse 3

Ai - Not the town on the west of the Jordan Joshua 7:2; a place not mentioned elsewhere. For Ai some read Ar.

Hedges - Fields were not divided by hedges until recent times; the term probably means the walls which enclose the vineyards Numbers 22:24.

Verse 4

Thy flowing valley - The (fertile) valley in which Rabbah was situated. The Septuagint again has: “in the valleys of the Anakim,” as in Jeremiah 47:5 (see the note).

Verse 5

Every man right forth - The Ammonites will live in terror of the tribes which rove in the neighborhood, and at the slightest alarm will flee straight away without resistance.

Verse 6

In 1 Macc. 5:6, 7, the Ammonites appear again as a powerful nation.

Verses 7-22

Edom stretched along the south of Judah from the border of Moab on the Dead Sea to the Mediterranean and the Arabian deserts, and held the same relation to Judah which Moab held toward the kingdom of Israel. Although expressly reserved from attack by Moses Deuteronomy 2:5, a long feud caused the Edomites to cherish so bitter an enmity against Judah, that they exulted with cruel joy over the capture of Jerusalem by the Chaldaeans, and showed great cruelty toward those why fled to them for refuge.

Of the prophecies against Edom the first eight verses of Obadiah are also found in Jeremiah (see the marginal references). As Jeremiah wrote before the capture of Jerusalem, and Obadiah apparently after it (see Jeremiah 49:13-14), it might seem certain that Obadiah copied from Jeremiah. Others held the reverse view; while some consider that the two prophets may both have made common use of some ancient prediction. See the introduction to Obadiah.

The prophecy is divisible into three strophes. In the first Jeremiah 49:7-13, the prophet describes Edom as terror-stricken.

Jeremiah 49:7

Teman - A strip of land on the northeast of Edom, put here for Edom generally. Its inhabitants were among those “children of the East” famed for wisdom, because of their skill in proverbs and dark sayings.

Jeremiah 49:8

Dwell deep - Jeremiah 49:30. The Dedanites, who were used to travel through the Edomite territory with their caravans, are advised to retire as far as possible into the Arabian deserts to be out of the way of the invaders.

Jeremiah 49:9

Translate it: “If vintagers come to thee, they will not leave any gleaning: if thieves by night, they will destroy their fill.”

Jeremiah 49:10

But - For. The reason why the invaders destroy Edom so completely. His secret places are the hiding-places in the mountains of Seir.

His seed - Esau’s seed, the Edomites; his brethren are the nations joined with him in the possession of the land, Amalek, and perhaps the Simeonites; his neighbors are Dedan, Tema, Buz.

Jeremiah 49:11

As with Moab Jeremiah 48:47, and Ammon Jeremiah 49:6, so there is mercy for Edom. The widows shall be protected, and in the orphans of Edom the nation shall once again revive.

Jeremiah 49:12

Translate it: “Behold they whose rule was not to drink of the cup shall surely drink etc.” It was not the ordinary manner of God’s people to suffer from His wrath: but now when they are drinking of the wine-cup of fury Jeremiah 25:15, how can those not in covenant with Him hope to escape?

Jeremiah 49:14-18

The second strophe, Edom’s chastisement.

Jeremiah 49:14

Rumour - Or, “revelation.”

Ambassador - Or, messenger, i. e., herald. The business of an ambassador is to negotiate, of a herald to carry a message.

Jeremiah 49:15

Small ... - Rather, small among the nations, i. e., of no political importance.

Jeremiah 49:16

Edom’s “terribleness” consisted in her cities being hewn in the sides of inaccessible rocks, from where she could suddenly descend for predatory warfare, and retire to her fastnesses without fear of reprisals.

The clefts of the rock - Or, the fastnesses of Sela, the rock-city, Petra (see Isaiah 16:1).

The hill - i. e., Bozrah.

Jeremiah 49:17

Better, “And Edom shall become a terror: every passer by shalt be terrified, and shudder etc.”

Jeremiah 49:18

Neighbour ... - Admah and Zeboim.

A son of man - i. e., “Any man.” From 536 a.d. onward, Petra suddenly vanishes from the pages of history. Only in the present century was its real site discovered.

Jeremiah 49:19-22

Concluding strophe. The fall of Edom is compared to the state of a flock worried by an enemy strong as a lion Jeremiah 4:7, and swift as an eagle.

Jeremiah 49:19

The swelling of Jordan - Or, the pride of Jordan, the thickets on his banks (marginal reference note).

Against the habitation of the strong - Or, to the abiding pasturage. The lion stalks forth from the jungle to attack the fold, sure to find sheep there because of the perennial (evergreen) pasturage: “but I will suddenly make him (the flock, Edom) run away from her (or it, the pasturage).”

And who is a chosen ... - Better, and I will appoint over it, the abandoned land of Edom, him who is chosen, i. e., my chosen ruler Nebuchadnezzar.

Who will appoint me the time? - The plaintiff, in giving notice of a suit, had to mention the time when the defendant must appear (see the margin). Yahweh identifies himself with Nebuchadnezzar Jeremiah 25:9, and shows the hopelessness of Edom’s cause. For who is like Yahweh, His equal in power and might? Who will dare litigate with Him, and question His right? etc.

Jeremiah 49:20

Surely the least ... - Rather, Surely they will worry them, the feeble ones of the flock: surely their pasture shall be terror-stricken over them. No shepherd can resist Nebuchadnezzar Jeremiah 49:19, but all flee, and leave the sheep unprotected. Thereupon, the Chaldaeans enter, and treat the poor feeble flock so barbarously, that the very fold is horrified at their cruelty.

Jeremiah 49:21

Is moved - Quakes.

At the cry ... - The arrangement is much more poetical in the Hebrew, The shriek - to the sea of Suph (Exodus 10:19 note) is heard its sound.

Jeremiah 49:22

Nebuchadnezzar shall swoop down like an eagle, the emblem of swiftness.

Verse 23

Though the superscription is confined to Damascus, the prophecy relates to the whole of Aram, called by us Syria, which was divided into two parts, the northern, of which Hamath was the capital, and the southeastern, belonging to Damascus.

Hamath is confounded - Or, is ashamed. For Hamath see Isaiah 10:9 note. Arpad lay about fourteen miles north of Aleppo, at a place now called Tel Erfad.

Fainthearted - The sinews are relaxed unknit, through terror.

There is sorrow on the sea - In the sea. As the sea is used (marginal reference) of the agitation of the thoughts of evil men, its sense here also probably is, there is sorrow, or rather anxiety, in the agitated hearts of the Syrians.

Verse 24

And turneth - Omit and. The original is a rapid sequence of unconnected sentences. “Damascus is unnerved; she turned to flee, and a trembling seized her; anguish and writhings took hold of her etc.”

Verse 25

An exclamation of sorrow wrung from the prophet at the thought of the people of Damascus remaining to be slaughtered. The words my joy express the prophet’s own sympathy. The praise of Damascus for beauty has been universal from the days of Naaman 2 Kings 5:12, to those of recent travelers.

Verse 27

See the marginal reference and 1 Kings 11:14 note.

Verse 28

Hazor, derived from a word signifying an unwalled village, is a general appellative of those Arab tribes who were partially settled, while Kedar signifies the Bedawin, who used only tents. Some think that Hazor is another way of spelling Jetor, i. e., Ituraea, whose inhabitants, with the Kedarenes, would naturally be called the sons of the East.

Shall smite - Or, smote.

Verse 29

Curtains - The hangings of the tents.

Fear is on every side - Magor-missabib (see Jeremiah 6:25 note); a cry, indicating the panic which followed the unexpected onset of the enemy.

Verse 30

A purpose against you - Others read “against them” (the wealthy nation, Jeremiah 49:31).

Verse 31

The wealthy nation - Or, a nation at rest, living securely and in confidence.

Which dwell alone - They dwell alone, i. e., have neither alliances with other nations, nor contact by commerce.

Verse 32

Them ... corners - Or, those who clip the corners of their beards (compare Jeremiah 9:26).

Verse 33

Dragons - i. e., jackals.

Verse 34

Against Elam - Or, concerning Elam. This country, better known as Susiana, is the modern Chuzistan, and lies on the east of Chaldaea, from which it is separated by the Tigris. In the cuneiform inscriptions we find the Elamites on friendly terms with Babylon. The suggestion therefore that they served as auxiliaries in the Chaldaean army in the expedition against Judah is not improbable. It was in the first year of Zedekiah that this prophecy was written, and thus it is a little prior to the prophecies against Babylon Jeremiah 51:59, which immediately follow. The words, “the Elam,” appear in the Septuagint in Jeremiah 25:14, followed by this prophecy, while in Jeremiah 26:1 we find, “In the beginning of the reign of king Zedekiah there was this word about Elam,” followed in Jeremiah 49:2 by the prophecy (Jeremiah 46:0 of the Hebrew) against Egypt. This is a proof simply of the confusion which existed in the Egyptian transcripts of the prophecies relating to the nations.

Verse 35

The bow was the national weapon of Elam, and therefore the “chief of their might,” that on which their strength in war depended.

Verse 36

In a whirlwind violent gales seem to blow from every quarter, and whatever is exposed to their fury they scatter over the whole country. With similar violence the whole nation of Elam shall be dispersed far and wide.

Verse 38

Literally, king and princes. Elam will lose its independence, and henceforward have no native ruler with his attendant officers.

Verse 39

Elam - Elam was subject to Babylon Daniel 8:2, and its capital Shushan a favorite residence of the Persian kings Esther 1:2. Of its subsequent fate we know little; the Elamites continued to exist, and members of their nation were present at Pentecost among those chosen to represent the Gentile world at the first preaching of the Gospel Acts 2:9.

Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Jeremiah 49". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bnb/jeremiah-49.html. 1870.
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