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Bible Commentaries

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Jeremiah 51

Verse 1

Thereof. Hebrew leb kamai, "of the heart, rising up against me." (Haydock) --- Many take Leb-kamai to be the enigmatical name of the Chaldeans, by a secret combination of letters, (Kimchi; Grotius) as if they were not clearly designated in the sequel. (Calmet) --- The prophet expresses more pointedly what he had declared in the preceding chapter. (Worthington)

Verse 2

Fan her. After the corn was trodden out, it was heaved into the wind. This custom would insinuate the distress and captivity of the Chaldeans. Septuagint, "I will send....scoffers, and they shall treat her with scorn, Greek: kathubriousin. (Haydock) --- They have read (Calmet) zedim for zarim.

Verse 3

Mail. There will be little or no resistance made, chap. l. 3. (Haydock) --- The Persians denounce destruction to all taken in arms; or, according to Septuagint and Syriac they exhort each other to fight. (Calmet) --- "Let him," &c. (Haydock) --- Hebrew of the Masorets, "you who bend....spare not." (Calmet) --- Protestants, "against him that bendeth let the archer bend his bow," &c. (Haydock) --- Hebrew is printed ne tendat tendat tendans. The second word is properly omitted in some manuscripts. Thus (1 Chronicles xxiv. 6.) we read taken taken, achuz having been put erroneously for achad, one. (Kennicott)

Verse 5

Forsaken, as a widow, viduatus. (Haydock) --- God still considers the nation as his spouse. --- Their land. That of the Chaldeans, (Calmet) or of the Jews. (Theodoret) --- Sin, or punishment.

Verse 6

Silent. Jews proclaim that Babylon is justly punished, (Calmet) lest you partake in her crimes, Apocalypse xviii. 4. Protestants, "be not cut off in her," &c. (Haydock)

Verse 7

Cup. She has exercised the vengeance of the Lord on Juda, Egypt, &c.

Verse 8

Suddenly. She has not lost many battles; but is fallen at once from being the greatest city of the East.

Verse 9

We. The guardian angels, or Jews reply. Miracles are lost on her. --- Heavens. Her crimes call for punishment, Genesis xviii. 21., and Jonas i. 2.

Verse 10

Justices. We had not injured the Chaldeans, though we had offended God.

Verse 11

Sharpen. He addresses ironically the citizens of Babylon. --- Medes. Thus the subjects of the Persian monarchs are commonly styled. (Calmet)

Verse 12

Standard. Call together thy subjects and allies. (Haydock) --- This must be explained of Babylon. (Menochius) --- Yet all will be in vain, ver. 11. (Haydock) --- Ambushes. Herein the valour and genius of heroes was most displayed, Josue viii. 2. (Homer)

Verse 13

Waters. Not far from the Tigris, and divided into two parts by the Euphrates. (Calmet) --- Entire, being cut up by the roots, pedalis, (Lyranus) or according to the measure of thy crimes. (Delrio) (Calmet) --- Septuagint, "thy end is truly come into thy bowels." (Haydock)

Verse 14

Himself. Septuagint, "his hand" lifted up, or by his power. --- Locusts. Their ravages were equally dreaded, Joel ii. 4., and Judges vi. 5.

Verse 16

Rain. Thunder and lightning are usually followed by showers. (Calmet)

Verse 17

Every man, &c. That is, every maker of idols, however he boasts of his knowledge and skill, does but shew himself a fool in pretending to make a god. (Challoner) (Wisdom xiv. 18.) --- By his, or "by default of knowledge;" ( a scientia. Haydock) as the Hebrew may also mean. The Babylonians were so confounded, they knew not what to do. (Calmet) --- Protestants, "Every man is brutish by his knowledge." Marginal note, or "is more brutish than to know," chap. x. 14. (Haydock)

Verse 20

Thou, Cyrus, (Grotius) or more commonly the Chaldeans are understood.

Verse 25

Mountain. So Babylon is styled in derision. See chap. xxi. 13., and Isaias i. 10., and xx. 6., and xxii. 1. The city stood on a plain. Some think that its palace and walls are designated. --- Burnt; unfruitful. This happened long after Cyrus, though it then ceased to be the capital, and became only a shadow of its former greatness.

Verse 26

Corner. No king or conqueror shall spring thence. Alexander [the Great] thought of making it the seat of his empire, but was prevented by death. (Strabo xv.)

Verse 27

Prepare. Literally, "sanctify." (Haydock) --- Call together all nations to fight against Babylon. (Worthington) --- Many religious ceremonies were used. --- Ararat, where the ark rested, (Genesis viii. 4.) near the Araxes, (St. Jerome, in Isaias xxxvii.) or in the Gordyean mountains, in Armenia, where the Menni dwelt. --- Ascenez, or Ascantes, (Calmet) near the Tanais. (Pliny, [Natural History?] vi. 7.) --- Taphsar, "the prince," Nahum iii. 17. (Pagnin) "Warriors." (Chaldean) "Machines" (Septuagint) --- Caterpillar, or "locust," ( bruchum. Haydock) which resembles more a body of cavalry. (Calmet) --- Septuagint, "Push forward the cavalry against her, as a multitude of locusts." (Haydock)

Verse 28

Prepare; "sanctify." (Haydock) --- Media. Cyrus, ver. 11. --- Captains: generals. (Calmet) --- Rulers. Literally, "magistrates." (Haydock) --- Hebrew Seganim, a title used once by Isaias, and frequently by those who wrote after the Assyrians (Calmet) commenced their invasion. (Haydock)

Verse 30

Bars, fastening the gates. (Calmet) --- Those who entered by the channel of the river, would seize the gates to let their companions enter. (Haydock)

Verse 31

King, feasting in his palace, (Herodotus i. 191.) or at Borsippe. (Berosus) He sent to make inquiries, (Calmet) or his subjects hastened to convey the doleful tidings, and thus met each other. (Haydock)

Verse 32

Fords. Thus the enemy entered. --- Marches. Hebrew, "sedges," which grew to the size of trees, and were burnt when the waters of the river and lakes were drained. Herodotus (i. 185, 178.) specifies a lake four hundred and twenty stadia square, and says the ditches round the city were full of water.

Verse 33

Threshing, performed by oxen treading, and by rollers, &c., Judges viii. 16., and 2 Kings xii. 31. --- Little; about fifty-six years.

Verse 34

Dragon, or huge fish, which swallows without chewing. Sion is here venting her complaint, Psalm cxxxvi. 8. (Calmet) --- She shews that Babylon is justly punished for her cruelty towards God's people. (Worthington)

Verse 36

Spring; commerce, the source of her riches; or rather the waters shall be brought out of their usual channels. For many ages (Calmet) the Euphrates has been lost in sands, and reaches not the Persian Gulf. (Pliny, [Natural History?] vii. 27.) (Cellar. iii. 16.)

Verse 37

Dragons. This has been the case for above sixteen centuries, chap. l. 31., and Isaias xiii. 21.

Verse 38

Roar. They shall retain their haughty air and threaten others, when they themselves shall fall (Calmet) in the midst of their feasting, Daniel v. 30. (Xenophon vii.)

Verse 41

Search, the city which worshipped the moon, (chap. xxv. 26.) Bel, (chap. l. 2.) &c.

Verse 42

Sea: numerous armies of Cyrus, or the waters of the Euphrates let loose. (Calmet) --- In the days of Alexander [the Great], many tombs of the kings were inundated. (Strabo xv.)

Verse 44


Down. His priests pretended that he eat, (Daniel xiv. 11.) and a woman of their choice slept in the most retired part of the temple. (Herodotus i. 181.) --- The prophet derides this notion. The idol, or rather his votaries, (Haydock) shall be forced to let go the Israelites. (Calmet) --- Fall, by means of Cyrus and of Darius, chap. l. 3. (Haydock)

Verse 46

Faint. You may apprehend that your miseries will increase in the midst of such confusion; but no, Baltassar, the last of your oppressor's race, shall be assassinated by Neriglissor, who will be succeeded by Laborosoarchod and Nabonides. This last shall yield to Cyrus, who well grant you liberty. Baltassar reigned two years, Neriglissor four, his ill-tempered infant son nine months, when his followers murdered him, and gave the crown to a Babylonian called Nabonides, who kept it seventeen years, till Cyrus took him prisoner. This we learn from Berosus, quoted by Josephus, contra Apion i. On the other hand Daniel makes Darius, the Mede, succeed Baltassar, and after him Cyrus reigned. To these changes and continual alarms the prophet alludes.

Verse 47

Idols; Bel, &c., ver. 41. --- Slain. Hebrew, "dancers." The people were feasting. (Calmet) --- It means also "slain," (Protestants) or "soldiers."

Verse 48

Praise, for the just punishment. (Haydock) --- The crimes were public. (Calmet)

Verse 50

Mind. Offer sacrifices of thanks on Sion, (Haydock) both Jews and other nations. (Calmet)

Verse 51

We. The Jews answer: we are ashamed when we think of these places. (Menochius)

Verse 53

High. Her fortifications and ditches will prove fruitless, chap. xlviii. 7, 18.

Verse 55

Great voice, or boasting and songs of joy, usual at public meetings. --- Noise. They groan under affliction.

Verse 57

Drunk, with the wine of fury, ver. 39., and chap. xxv. 26.

Verse 58

Broad wall. The pagan historians agree not in the dimensions, but allow it was excessively broad and lofty. (Calmet) --- Six chariots might go abreast. It was 360 stadia long, (Ctesias); or 480 (Herodotus i. 178.) that is above 23 leagues, allowing 2,500 paces for each. This author says the breadth was fifty cubits of the king, three inches larger than the common one, or about twenty-one inches. Pliny ([Natural History?] vi. 26.) improperly applies this to Roman feet, and says the walls were two hundred feet high; while Herodotus assigns so many cubits. (Calmet) --- There were three different walls. (Curtius v.) --- Cyrus demolished the outer one. (Berosus) --- What remained, (Calmet) with the hundred brazen gates, Darius treated in like manner. (Herodotus i. 179., and iii. 159.) --- Thus was the prediction fulfilled, and the works of so many captive nations brought to nothing. It is asserted that 200,000 (Calmet) daily finished a stadium, (Curtius v.) or 125 paces. (Calmet)

Verse 59

With. Hebrew also, (Calmet) "on behalf of." (Protestant marginal note) (Haydock) --- It is no where else asserted that Sedecias went in person, and Septuagint, Chaldean, &c., explain it in this manner. Baruch accompanied his brother Sararias, and probably took the letter, Baruch i. 2. Saraias went to petition for the sacred vessels. --- Prophecy, or of the embassy to speak (Calmet) in the king's name. Hebrew menucha, was a caution of Benjamin. It means, "rest;" whence some have inferred that he was chamberlain, (Canticle of Canticles iii. 8.) or a favourite. Most translate, "chief of the presents," Septuagint and Chaldean, as if they they had read mincha, which he carried as a tribute to Babylon. Jeremias gave him charge of the parcel, perhaps before Baruch had determined to go.

Verse 64

Sink. The angel did the like; (Apocalypse xviii. 21.; Calmet) and the Phoceans, leaving their country, swore that they would return no more till a piece of red hot iron, which they threw into the sea, should swim. (Herodotus i. 165.) --- Thus, &c., was added by the compiler. Septuagint omit the sentence, as what relates to Babylon is place [in] chap. xxviii. in their copies. (Calmet) --- Yet Grabe puts it in a different character. (Haydock) --- Jeremias wrote a great deal, after the 4th year of Sedecias, ver. 59. (Calmet) --- He here finished his predictions against Babylon. (Worthington) --- This does not mean that he did not write the next chapter, (Menochius) as Cappel allows, (Houbigant) though this may still be doubted. (Haydock)

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Bibliographical Information
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Jeremiah 51". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". 1859.