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

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". 1870.