The prediction of this chapter is introduced by a full heading, which details with sufficient precision the time of its composition. Jeremiah 25:1. "The word that came (befell) to ( על for אל ) Jeremiah concerning the whole people of Judah, in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, that is, the first year of Nebuchadrezzar the king of Babylon; Jeremiah 25:2 . Which Jeremiah the prophet spake to the whole people of Judah and to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying." - All the discourses of Jeremiah delivered before this time contain either no dates at all, or only very general ones, such as Jeremiah 3:6 : In the days of Josiah, or: at the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim (Jeremiah 26:1). And it is only some of those of the following period that are so completely dated, as Jeremiah 28:1; Jeremiah 32:1; Jeremiah 36:1; Jeremiah 39:1, etc. The present heading is in this further respect peculiar, that besides the year of the king of Judah's reign, we are also told that of the king of Babylon. This is suggested by the contents of this prediction, in which the people are told of the near approach of the judgment which Nebuchadnezzar is to execute on Judah and on all the surrounding nations far and near, until after seventy years judgment fall on Babylon itself. The fourth year of Jehoiakim is accordingly a notable turning-point for the kingdom of Judah. It is called the first year of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, because then, at the command of his old and decrepit father Nabopolassar, Nebuchadnezzar had undertaken the conduct of the war against Pharaoh Necho of Egypt, who had penetrated as far as the Euphrates. At Carchemish he defeated Necho (Jeremiah 46:2), and in the same year he came in pursuit of the fleeing Egyptians to Judah, took Jerusalem, and made King Jehoiakim tributary. With the first taking of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar in the fourth year of Jehoiakim, i.e., in 606 b.c., begins the seventy years' Babylonian bondage or exile of Judah, foretold by Jeremiah in Jeremiah 25:11 of the present chapter. Nebuchadnezzar was then only commander of his father's armies; but he is here, and in 2 Kings 24:1; Daniel 1:1, called king of Babylon, because, equipped with kingly authority, he dictated to the Jews, and treated them as if he had been really king. Not till the following year, when he was at the head of his army in Farther Asia, did his father Nabopolassar die; whereupon he hastened to Babylon to mount the throne; see on Daniel 1:1 and 1 Kings 24:1. - In Jeremiah 25:2 it is again specified that Jeremiah spoke the word of that Lord that came to him to the whole people and to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem ( על for אל again). There is no cogent reason for doubting, as Graf does, the correctness of these dates. Jeremiah 36:5 tells us that Jeremiah in the same year caused Baruch to write down the prophecies he had hitherto delivered, in order to read them to the people assembled in the temple, and this because he himself was imprisoned; but it does not follow from this, that at the time of receiving this prophecy he was prevented from going into the temple. The occurrence of Jer 36 falls in any case into a later time of Jehoiakim's fourth year than the present chapter. Ew., too, finds it very probable that the discourse of this chapter was, in substance at least, publicly delivered. The contents of it tell strongly in favour of this view.
It falls into three parts. In the first, Jeremiah 25:3-11, the people of Judah are told that he (Jeremiah) has for twenty-three years long unceasingly preached the word of the Lord to the people with a view to their repentance, without Judah's having paid any heed to his sayings, or to the exhortations of the other prophets, so that now all the kings of the north, headed by Nebuchadnezzar, will come against Judah and the surrounding nations, will plunder everything, and make these lands tributary to the king of Babylon; and then, Jeremiah 25:12-14, that after seventy years judgment will come on the king of Babylon and his land. In the second part, Jeremiah 25:15-29, Jeremiah receives the cup of the Lord's wrath, to give it to all the people to drink, beginning with Jerusalem and the cities of Judah, proceeding to the Egyptians and the nationalities in the west and east as far as Elam and Media, and concluding with the king of Babylon. Then in the third part, vv. 30-38, judgment to come upon all peoples is set forth in plain statement. - The first part of this discourse would have failed of its effect if Jeremiah had only composed it in writing, and had not delivered it publicly before the people, in its main substance at least. And the two other parts are so closely bound up with the first, that they cannot be separated from it. The judgment made to pass on Judah by Nebuchadnezzar is only the beginning of the judgment which is to pass on one nation after another, until it culminates in judgment upon the whole world. As to the import of the judgment of the Babylonian exile, cf. the remm. in the Comm. on Daniel, Introd. §2. The announcement of the judgment, whose beginning was now at hand, was of the highest importance for Judah. Even the proclamations concerning the other peoples were designed to take effect in the first instance on the covenant people, that so they might learn to fear the Lord their God as the Lord of the whole world and as the Ruler of all the peoples, who by judgment is preparing the way for and advancing the salvation of the whole world. The ungodly were, by the warning of what was to come on all flesh, to be terrified out of their security and led to turn to God; while by a knowledge beforehand of the coming affliction and the time it was appointed to endure, the God-fearing would be strengthened with confidence in the power and grace of the Lord, so that they might bear calamity with patience and self-devotion as a chastisement necessary to their well-being, without taking false views of God's covenant promises or being overwhelmed by their distresses.
The seventy years' Chaldean bondage of Judah and the peoples. - Jeremiah 25:3 . "From the thirteenth year of Josiah, son of Amon king of Judah, unto this day, these three and twenty years, came the word of Jahveh to me, and I spake to you, from early morn onwards speaking, but ye hearkened not. Jeremiah 25:4 . And Jahveh sent to you all His servants, the prophets, from early morning on sending them, but ye hearkened not, and inclined not your ear to hear. Jeremiah 25:5 . They said: Turn ye now each from his evil way and from the evil of your doings, so shall ye abide in the land which Jahveh hath given to your fathers from everlasting to everlasting. Jeremiah 25:6 . And go not after other gods, to serve them and to worship them, that ye provoke me not with the work of your hands, and that I do you no evil. Jeremiah 25:7 . But ye hearkened not to me, to provoke me by the work of your hands, to your own hurt. Jeremiah 25:8 . Therefore thus hath said Jahveh of hosts: Because ye have not heard my words, Jeremiah 25:9 . Behold, I send and take all the families of the north, saith Jahveh, and to Nebuchadrezzar my servant (I send), and bring them upon this land, and upon its inhabitants, and upon all these peoples round about, and ban them, and make them an astonishment and a derision and everlasting desolations, Jeremiah 25:10. And destroy from among them the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the sound of the mill and the light of the lamp. Jeremiah 25:11. And this land shall become a desert, a desolation, and these peoples shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years."
The very beginning of this discourse points to the great crisis in the fortunes of Judah. Jeremiah recalls into the memory of the people not merely the whole time of his own labours hitherto, but also the labours of many other prophets, who, like himself, have unremittingly preached repentance to the people, called on them to forsake idolatry and their evil ways, and to return to the God of their fathers - but in vain (Jeremiah 25:3-7). The 23 years, from the 13th of Josiah till the 4th of Jehoiakim, are thus made up: 19 years of Josiah and 4 years of Jehoiakim, including the 3 months' reign of Jehoahaz. The form אשׁכּים might be an Aramaism; but it is more probably a clerical error, since we have השׁכּם everywhere else; cf. Jeremiah 25:4, Jeremiah 7:13; Jeremiah 35:14, etc., and Olsh. Gramm . §191, g . For syntactical reasons it cannot be 1st pers. imperf ., as Hitz. thinks it is. On the significance of this infin. abs. see on Jeremiah 7:13. As to the thought of Jeremiah 25:4 cf. Jeremiah 7:25. and Jeremiah 11:7. לאמר introduces the contents of the discourses of Jeremiah and the other prophets, though formally it is connected with ושׁלח, Jeremiah 25:4. As to the fact, cf. Jeremiah 35:15. וּשׁבוּ, so shall ye dwell, cf. Jeremiah 7:7. - With Jeremiah 25:6 cf. Jeremiah 7:6; Jeremiah 1:16, etc. ( ארע, imperf. Hiph . from רעע ). הכעסוּני cannot be the reading of its Chet ., for the 3rd person will not do. The ו seems to have found its way in by an error in writing and the Keri to be the proper reading, since למען is construed with the infinitive.
For this obstinate resistance the Lord will cause the nations of the north, under Nebuchadrezzar's leadership, to come and lay Judah waste. "All the families of the north" points back to all the tribes of the kingdoms of the north, Jeremiah 1:14. ואל נבוך cannot be joined with "and take," but must depend from שׁלח in such a way that that verb is again repeated in thought. Ew. proposes to read ואת according to some codd ., especially as Syr., Chald., Vulg. have rendered by an accusative. Against this Graf has justly objected, that then Nebuchadnezzar would be merely mentioned by the way as in addition to the various races, whereas it is he that brings these races and is the instrument of destruction in God's hand. Ew.'s reading is therefore to be unhesitatingly rejected. No valid reason appears for pronouncing the words: and to Nebuchadrezzar...my servant, to be a later interpolation (Hitz., Gr.) because they are not in the lxx. There is prominence given to Nebuchadnezzar by the very change of the construction, another "send" requiring to be repeated before "to Nebuchadrezzar." God calls Nebuchadnezzar His servant, as the executor of His will on Judah, cf. Jeremiah 27:6 and Jeremiah 43:10. The "them" in "and bring them" refers to Nebuchadnezzar and the races of the north. "This land" is Judah, the הזּאת being δεικτικῶς ; so too the corresponding האלּה, "all these peoples round about;" so that we need have no doubt of the genuineness of the demonstrative. The peoples meant are those found about Judah, that are specified in Jeremiah 25:19-25. החרמתּים, used frequently in Deuteronomy and Joshua for the extirpation of the Canaanites, is used by Jeremiah, besides here, only in the prophecy against Babylon, Jeremiah 50:21, Jeremiah 50:26; Jeremiah 51:3. With לשׁמּה ולשׁרקה cf. Jeremiah 19:8; Jeremiah 18:16; the words cannot be used of the peoples, but of the countries, which have been comprehended in the mention of the peoples. With "everlasting desolations," cf. Jeremiah 49:13, Isaiah 58:12; Isaiah 61:4. - With Jeremiah 25:10 cf. Jeremiah 16:9; Jeremiah 7:34. But here the thought is strengthened by the addition: the sound of the mill and the light of the lamp. Not merely every sound of joyfulness shall vanish, but even every sign of life, such as could make known the presence of inhabitants.
The land of Judah shall be made waste and desolate, and these peoples shall serve the king of Babylon for seventy years. The time indicated appertains to both clauses. "This land" is not, with Nהg., to be referred to the countries inhabited by all the peoples mentioned in Jeremiah 25:9, but, as in Jeremiah 25:9, to be understood of the land of Judah; and "all these peoples" are those who dwelt around Judah. The meaning is unquestionably, that Judah and the countries of the adjoining peoples shall lie waste, and that Judah and these peoples shall serve the king of Babylon; but the thought is so distributed amongst the parallel members of the verse, that the desolation is predicated of Judah only, the serving only of the peoples - it being necessary to complete each of the parallel members from the other.
The term of seventy years mentioned is not a so-called round number, but a chronologically exact prediction of the duration of Chaldean supremacy over Judah. So the number is understood in 2 Chronicles 36:21-22; so too by the prophet Daniel, when, Daniel 9:2, in the first year of the Median king Darius, he took note of the seventy years which God, according to the prophecy of Jeremiah, would accomplish for the desolation of Jerusalem. The seventy years may be reckoned chronologically. From the 4th year of Jehoiakim, i.e., 606 b.c., till the 1st year of the sole supremacy of Cyrus over Babylon, i.e., 536 b.c., gives a period of 70 years. This number is arrived at by means of the dates given by profane authors as well as those of the historians of Scripture. Nebuchadnezzar reigned 43 years, his son Evil-Merodach 2 years, Neriglissor 4 years, Labrosoarchad (according to Berosus) 9 months, and Naboned 17 years (43 + 2 + 4 + 17 years and 9 months are 66 years and 9 months). Add to this 1 year - that namely which elapsed between the time when Jerusalem was first taken by Nebuchadnezzar, and the death of Nabopolassar and Nebuchadnezzar's accession - add further the 2 years of the reign of Darius the Mede (see on Daniel 6:1), and we have 69 3/4 years. With this the biblical accounts also agree. Of Jehoiakim's reign these give 7 years (from his 4th till his 11th year), for Jehoiachin's 3 months, for the captivity of Jehoiachin in Babylon until the accession of Evil-Merodach 37 years (see 2 Kings 25:27, according to which Evil-Merodach, when he became king, set Jehoiachin at liberty on the 27th day of the 12th months, in the 37th year after he had been carried away). Thus, till the beginning of Evil-Merodach's reign, we would have 44 years and 3 months to reckon, thence till the fall of the Babylonian empire 23 years and 9 months, and 2 years of Darius the Mede, i.e., in all 70 years complete. - But although this number corresponds so exactly with history, it is less its arithmetical value that is of account in Jeremiah; it is rather its symbolical significance as the number of perfection for God's works. This significance lies in the contrast of seven, as the characteristic number for works of God, with ten, the number that marks earthly completeness; and hereby prophecy makes good its distinguishing character as contrasted with soothsaying, or the prediction of contingent matters. The symbolical value of the number comes clearly out in the following verses, where the fall of Babylon is announced to come in seventy years, although it took place two years earlier.
The overthrow of the king of Babylon's sovereignty. - Jeremiah 25:12. "But when seventy years are accomplished, I will visit their iniquity upon the king of Babylon and upon that people, saith Jahveh, and upon the land of the Chaldeans, and will make it everlasting desolations. Jeremiah 25:13. And I bring upon that land all my words which I have spoken concerning it, all that is written in this book, that Jeremiah hath prophesied concerning all peoples. Jeremiah 25:14. For of them also shall many nations and great kings serve themselves, and I will requite them according to their doing and according to the work of their hands."
The punishment or visitation of its iniquity upon Babylon was executed when the city was taken, after a long and difficult siege, by the allied Medes and Persians under Cyrus' command. This was in b.c. 538, just 68 years after Jerusalem was taken by Nebuchadnezzar for the first time. From the time of the fall of Babylon the sovereignty passed to the Medes and Persians; so that the dominion of Babylon over Judah and the surrounding nations, taken exactly, last 68 years, for which the symbolically significant number 70 is used. The Masoretes have changed the Chet . הבאתי into הבאתי ( Keri ), because the latter is the usual form and is that which alone elsewhere occurs in Jeremiah, cf. Jeremiah 3:14; Jeremiah 36:31; Jeremiah 49:36.; whereas in Jeremiah 25:9 they have pointed הבאתים, because this form is found in Isaiah 56:7; Ezekiel 34:13, and Nehemiah 1:9. - The second half of the Jeremiah 25:13, from "all that is written" onwards, was not, of course, spoken by Jeremiah to the people, but was first added to explain "all my words," etc., when his prophecies were written down and published.
The perfect עבדוּ is to be regarded as a prophetic present. עבד בּ, impose labour, servitude on one, cf. Jeremiah 22:13, i.e., reduce one to servitude. גּם המּה is an emphatic repetition of the pronoun בּם, cf. Gesen. §121, 3. Upon them, too (the Chaldeans), shall many peoples and great kings impose service, i.e., they shall make the Chaldeans bondsmen, reduce them to subjection. With "I will requite them," cf. Jeremiah 50:29; Jeremiah 51:24, where this idea is repeatedly expressed.
(Note: Jeremiah 25:11-14 are pronounced by Hitz., Ew., Graf to be spurious and interpolated; but Hitz. excepts the second half of Jeremiah 25:14, and proposes to set it immediately after the first half of Jeremiah 25:11. Their main argument is the dogmatic prejudice, that in the fourth year of Jehoiakim Jeremiah could not have foretold the fall of Babylon after seventy years' domination. The years foretold, says Hitz., "would coincide by all but two years, or, if Darius the Mede be a historical person, perhaps quite entirely. Such correspondence between history and prophecy would be a surprising accident, or else Jeremiah must have known beforehand the number of years during which the subjection to Babylon would last." Now the seventy years of Babylon's sovereignty are mentioned against in Jeremiah 29:10, where Jeremiah promises the exiles that after seventy years they shall return to their native land, and no doubt is thrown by the above-mentioned critics on this statement; but there the seventy years are said to be a so-called round number, because that prophecy was composed nine years later than the present one. But on the other hand, almost all comm. have remarked that the utterance of Jeremiah 29:10 : "when as for Babylon seventy years are accomplished, will I visit you," points directly back to the prophecy before us (25), and so gives a testimony to the genuineness of our 11th verse. And thus at the same time the assertion is disposed of, that in Jeremiah 29:10 the years given are a round number; for it is not there said that seventy years will be accomplished from the time of that letter addressed by the prophet to those in Babylon, but the terminus a quo of the seventy years is assumed as known already from the present twenty-fifth chap. - The other arguments brought forward by Hitz. against the genuineness of the verse have already been pronounced inconclusive by Näg. Nevertheless Näg. himself asserts the spuriousness, not indeed of Jeremiah 25:11 (the seventy years' duration of Judah's Babylonian bondage), but of Jeremiah 25:12-14, and on the following grounds: - 1. Although in Jeremiah 25:11, and below in Jeremiah 25:26, it is indicated that Babylon itself will not be left untouched by the judgment of the Lord, yet (he says) it is incredible that in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the prophet could have spoken of the fall of Babylon in such a full and emphatic manner as is the case in Jeremiah 25:12-14. But no obvious reason can be discovered why this should be incredible. For though in Jeremiah 25:26 Jeremiah makes use of the name Sheshach for Babylon, it does not hence follow that at that moment he desired to speak of it only in a disguised manner. In the statement that the Jews should serve the king of Babylon seventy years, it was surely clearly enough implied that after the seventy years Babylon's sovereignty should come to an end. Still less had Jeremiah occasion to fear that the announcement of the fall of Babylon after seventy years would confirm the Jews in their defiant determination not to be tributary to Babylon. The prophets of the Lord did not suffer themselves to be regulated in their prophesyings by such reasons of human expediency. - 2. Of more weight are his other two arguments. Jeremiah 25:12 and Jeremiah 25:13 presume the existence of the prophecy against Babylon, Jer 50 and 51, which was not composed till the fourth year of Zedekiah; and the second half of Jeremiah 25:13 presumes the existence of the other prophecies against the nations, and that too as a ספר . And although the greater number of these prophecies are older than the time of the battle at Carchemish, yet we may see (says Näg.) from the relation of apposition in which the second half of Jeremiah 25:13 stands to the first, that here that Sepher against the peoples is meant in which the prophecy against Babylon was already contained. But from all this nothing further follows than that the words: "all that is written in this book and that Jeremiah prophesied against the peoples," were not uttered by Jeremiah in the fourth year of Jehoiakim, but were first appended at the editing of the prophecies or the writing of them down in the book which has come down to us. The demonstrative הזּה does by no means show that he who wrote it regarded the present passage, namely Jer 25, as belonging to the Sepher against the peoples, or that the prophecies against the peoples must have stood in immediate connection with Jer 25. It only shows that the prophecies against the peoples too were found in the book which contained Jer 25. Again, it is true that the first half of Jeremiah 25:14 occurs again somewhat literally in Jeremiah 27:7; but we do not at all see in this reliable evidence that Jeremiah could not have written Jeremiah 25:14. Näg. founds this conclusion mainly on the allegation that the perf . עבדוּ is wrong, whereas in Jeremiah 27:7 it is joined regularly by ו consec . to the indication of time which precedes. But the perfect is here to be regarded as the prophetic present, marking the future as already accomplished in the divine counsel; just as in Jeremiah 27:6 the categorical נתתּי represents as accomplished that which in reality yet awaited its fulfilment. Accordingly we regard none of these arguments as conclusive. On the other hand, the fact that the Alexandrian translators have rendered Jeremiah 25:12 and Jeremiah 25:13, and have made the last clause of Jeremiah 25:13 the heading to the oracles against the peoples, furnishes an unexceptionable testimony to the genuineness of all three verses. Nor is this testimony weakened by the omission in that translation of Jeremiah 25:14; for this verse could not but be omitted when the last clause of Jeremiah 25:13 had been taken as a heading, since the contents of Jeremiah 25:14 were incompatible with that view.)
The cup of God's fury. - Jeremiah 25:15. "For thus hath Jahveh, the God of Israel, said to me: Take this cup of the wine of fury at my hand, and give it to drink to all the peoples to whom I send thee, Jeremiah 25:16. That they may drink, and reel, and be mad, because of the sword that I send amongst them. Jeremiah 25:17. And I took the cup at the hand of Jahveh, and made all the peoples drink it to whom Jahveh had sent me: Jeremiah 25:18. Jerusalem and the cities of Judah, and her kings, her princes, to make them a desolation and an astonishment, an hissing and a curse, as it is this day; Jeremiah 25:19. Pharaoh the king of Egypt, and his servants, and his princes, and all his people; Jeremiah 25:20. And all the mixed races and all the kings of the land of Uz, and all the kings of the land of the Philistines, Ashkelon, Gaza, Ekron, and the remnant of Ashdod; Jeremiah 25:21. Edom, and Moab, and the sons of Ammon; Jeremiah 25:22. All the kings of Tyre, all the kings of Sidon, and the kings of the islands beyond the sea; Jeremiah 25:23. Dedan, and Tema, and Buz, and all with the corners of their hair polled; Jeremiah 25:24. And all the kings of Arabia, and all the kings of the mixed races that dwell in the wilderness; Jeremiah 25:25. All the kings of Zimri, and all the kings of Elam, and all the kings of Media; Jeremiah 25:26. And all the kings of the north, near and far, one with another, and all the kingdoms of the world, which are upon the face of the earth; and the king of Sheshach shall drink after them. Jeremiah 25:27. And say to them: Thus hath Jahveh, the God of Israel, said: Drink and be drunken, and spue, and fall and rise not up again, because of the sword which I send among you. Jeremiah 25:28. And if it be that they refuse to take the cup out of thine hand to drink, then say to them: Thus hath Jahveh of hosts said: Drink ye shall. Jeremiah 25:29. For, behold, on the city upon which my name is named I begin to bring evil, and ye think to go unpunished? Ye shall not go unpunished; for I call the sword against all inhabitants of the earth, saith Jahveh of hosts."
To illustrate more fully the threatening against Judah and all peoples, Jeremiah 25:9., the judgment the Lord is about to execute on all the world is set forth under the similitude of a flagon filled with wrath, which the prophet is to hand to all the kings and peoples, one after another, and which he does give them to drink. The symbolical action imposed upon the prophet and, acc. to Jeremiah 25:17, performed by him, serves to give emphasis to the threatening, and is therefore introduced by כּי ; of which Graf erroneously affirms that it conveys a meaning only when Jeremiah 25:11-14 are omitted. Giving the peoples to drink of the cup of wrath is a figure not uncommon with the prophets for divine chastisements to be inflicted; cf. Jeremiah 49:12; Jeremiah 51:7; Isaiah 51:17, Isaiah 51:22; Ezekiel 23:31., Habakkuk 2:15; Psalms 60:5; Psalms 75:9, etc. The cup of wine which is wrath (fury). החמּה is an explanatory apposition to "wine." The wine with which the cup is filled is the wrath of God. הזּאת belongs to כּוּס, which is fem., cf. Ezekiel 23:32, Ezekiel 23:34; Lamentations 4:21, whereas אותו belongs to the wine which is wrath. In Jeremiah 25:16, where the purpose with which the cup of wrath is to be presented is given, figure is exchanged for fact: they shall reel and become mad because of the sword which the Lord sends amidst them. To reel, sway to and fro, like drunken men. התהלל, demean oneself insanely, be mad. The sword as a weapon of war stands often for war, and the thought is: war with its horrors will stupefy the peoples, so that they perish helpless and powerless.
This duty imposed by the Lord Jeremiah performs; he takes the cup and makes all peoples drink it. Here the question has been suggested, how Jeremiah performed this commission: whether he made journeys to the various kings and peoples, or, as J. D. Mich. thought, gave the cup to ambassadors, who were perhaps then in Jerusalem. This question is the result of an imperfect understanding of the case. The prophet does not receive from god a flagon filled with wine which he is to give, as a symbol of divine wrath, to the kings and peoples; he receives a cup filled with the wrath of God, which is to intoxicate those that drink of it. As the wrath of God is no essence that may be drunk by the bodily act, so manifestly the cup is no material cup, and the drinking of it no act of the outer, physical reality. The whole action is accordingly only emblematical of a real work of God wrought on kings and peoples, and is performed by Jeremiah when he announces what he is commanded. And the announcement he accomplished not by travelling to each of the nations named, but by declaring to the king and his princes in Jerusalem the divine decree of judgment.
The enumeration begins with Judah, Jeremiah 25:18, on which first judgment is to come. Along with it are named Jerusalem, the capital, and the other cities, and then the kings and princes; whereas in what follows, for the most part only the kings, or, alternating with them, the peoples, are mentioned, to show that kings and peoples alike must fall before the coming judgment. The plural "kings of Judah" is used as in Jeremiah 19:3. The consequence of the judgment: to make them a desolation, etc., runs as in Jeremiah 25:9, Jeremiah 25:11, Jeremiah 19:8; Jeremiah 24:9. כּיּום הזּה has here the force: as is now about to happen.
The enumeration of the heathen nations begins with Egypt and goes northwards, the peoples dwelling to the east and west of Judah being ranged alongside one another. First we have in Jeremiah 25:20 the races of Arabia and Philistia that bordered on Egypt to the east and west; and then in Jeremiah 25:21 the Edomites, Moabites, and Ammonites to the east, and, Jeremiah 25:22, the Phoenicians with their colonies to the west. Next we have the Arabian tribes of the desert extending eastwards from Palestine to the Euphrates (Jeremiah 25:23, Jeremiah 25:24); then the Elamites and Medes in the distant east (Jeremiah 25:25), the near and distant kings of the north, and all kingdoms upon earth; last of all the king of Babylon (Jeremiah 25:26). כּל־הערב, lxx: πάντας τοῦς συμμίκτους, and Jerome: cunctusque qui non est Aegyptius, sed in ejus regionibus commoratur . The word means originally a mixed multitude of different races that attach themselves to one people and dwell as strangers amongst them; cf. Exodus 12:38 and Nehemiah 13:3. Here it is races that in part dwelt on the borders of Egypt and were in subjection to that people. It is rendered accordingly "vassals" by Ew.; an interpretation that suits the present verse very well, but will not do in Jeremiah 25:24. It is certainly too narrow a view, to confine the reference of the word to the mercenaries or Ionian and Carian troops by whose help Necho's father Psammetichus acquired sole supremacy (Graf), although this be the reference of the same word in Ezekiel 30:5. The land of Uz is, acc. to the present passage and to Lamentations 4:21, where the daughter of Edom dwells in the land of Uz, to be sought for in the neighbourhood of Idumaea and the Egyptian border. To delete the words "and all the kings of the land of Uz" as a gloss, with Hitz. and Gr., because they are not in the lxx, is an exercise of critical violence. The lxx omitted them for the same reason as that on which Hitz. still lays stress - namely, that they manifestly do not belong to this place, but to Jeremiah 25:23. And this argument is based on the idea that the land of Uz ( ̓Αυσῖτις ) lies much farther to the north in Arabia Deserta, in the Hauran or the region of Damascus, or that it is a collective name for the whole northern region of Arabia Deserta that stretches from Idumaea as far as Syria; see Del. on Job 1:1, and Wetzstein in Del.'s Job, S. 536f. This is an assumption for which valid proofs are not before us. The late oriental legends as to Job's native country do not suffice for this. The kings of the land of the Philistines are the kings of the four towns next in order mentioned, with their territories, cf. Joshua 13:3; 1 Samuel 6:4. The fifth of the towns of the lords of the Philistines, Gath, is omitted here as it was before this, in Amos 1:7. and Zephaniah 2:4, and later in Zechariah 9:5, not because Gath had already fallen into premature decay; for in Amos' time Gath was still a very important city. It is rather, apparently, because Gath had ceased to be the capital of a separate kingdom or principality. There is remaining now only a remnant of Ashdod; for after a twenty-nine years' siege, this town was taken by Psammetichus and destroyed (Herod. ii. 157), so that thus the whole territory great lost its importance. Jeremiah 25:21. On Edom, Moab, and the Ammonites, cf. Jer 49:7-22; Jeremiah 48:1; Jeremiah 49:1-6. Jeremiah 25:22. The plural: "kings of Tyre and Sidon," is to be understood as in Jeremiah 25:18. With them are mentioned "the kings of the island" or "of the coast" land, that is, beyond the (Mediterranean) Sea. האי is not Κύπρος (Cyprus), but means, generally, the Phoenician colonies in and upon the Mediterranean. Of the Arabian tribes mentioned in Jeremiah 25:23, the Dedanites are those descended from the Cushite Dedan and living ear Edom, with whom, however, the Abrahamic Dedanite had probably mingled; a famous commercial people, Isaiah 21:13; Ezekiel 27:15, Ezekiel 27:20; Ezekiel 38:13; Job 6:19. Tema is not Têmâ beyond the Hauran (Wetzst. Reiseber . S. 21 and 93ff.; cf. on the other hand, the same in Del.'s Job, S. 526), but Temâ situated on the pilgrims' route from Damascus to Mecca, between Tebûk and Wadi el Kora, see Del. on Isaiah 21:14; here, accordingly, the Arabian tribe settled there. Buz is the Arabian race sprung from the second son of Nahor. As to "hair-corners polled," see on Jeremiah 9:25. - The two appellations ערב and "the mixed races that dwell in the wilderness" comprehend the whole of the Arabian races, not merely those that are left after deducting the already (Jeremiah 25:23) mentioned nomad tribes. The latter also dwelt in the wilderness, and the word ערב is a general name, not for the whole of Arabia, but for the nomadic Arabs, see on Ezekiel 27:21, whose tribal chieftains, here called kings, are in Ezek. called נשׂיאים . In Jeremiah 25:25 come three very remote peoples of the east and north-east: Zimri, Elamites, and Medes. The name Zimri is found only here, and has been connected by the Syr. and most comm. with Zimran, Genesis 25:2, a son of Abraham and Keturah. Accordingly זמרי would stand for זמרני, and might be identified with Ζαβράμ, Ptol. vi. 7, §5, a people which occupied a territory between the Arabs and Persians - which would seem to suit our passage. The reference is certainly not to the Ζεμβρῖται in Ethiopia, in the region of the later priestly city Meroë (Strabo, 786). On Elam, see on Jeremiah 49:34.
Finally, to make the list complete, Jeremiah 25:26 mentions the kings of the north, those near and those far, and all the kingdoms of the earth. המּמלכות with the article in stat. constr . against the rule. Hence Hitz. and Graf infer that הארץ may not be genuine, it being at the same time superfluous and not given in the lxx. This may be possible, but it is not certain; for in Isaiah 23:17 we find the same pleonastic mode of expression, and there are precedents for the article with the nomen regens . "The one to (or with) the other" means: according as the kingdoms of the north stand in relation to one another, far or near. - After the mention of all the kings and peoples on whom the king of Babylon is to execute judgment, it is said that he himself must at last drink the cup of wrath. שׁשׁך is, according to Jeremiah 51:41, a name for Babylon, as Jerome states, presumably on the authority of his Jewish teacher, who followed the tradition. The name is formed acc. to the Canon Atbash, in virtue of which the letters of the alphabet were put one for the other in the inverse order ( ת for א, שׁ for ב, etc.); thus שׁ would correspond to ב and כ to ל . Cf. Buxtorf, Lex. talm. s.v. אתבשׁ and de abbreviaturis hebr . p. 41. A like example is found in Jeremiah 51:1, where כּשׂדּים is represented by לב קמי yb d . The assertion of Gesen. that this way of playing with words was not then in use, is groundless, as it also Hitz.'s, when he says it appeared first during the exile, and is consequently none of Jeremiah's work. It is also erroneous when many comm. remark, that Jeremiah made use of the mysterious name from the fear of weakening the impression of terror which the name of Babylon ought to make on their minds. These assumptions are refuted by Jeremiah 25:12, where there is threatening of the punishment of spoliation made against the king of Babylon and the land of the Chaldeans; and by Jeremiah 51:41, where alongside of Sheshach we find in parallelism Babylon. The Atbash is, both originally and in the present case, no mere playing with words, but a transposition of the letters so as to gain a significant meaning, as may plainly be seen in the transposition to לב, Jeremiah 51:1. This is the case with Sheshach also, which would be a contraction of שׁכשׁך (see Ew. §158, c ), from שׁכך, to sink (of the water, Genesis 8:1), to crouch (of the bird-catcher, Jeremiah 5:26). The sig. is therefore a sinking down, so that the threatening, Jeremiah 51:64 : Babel shall sink and not rise again, constitutes a commentary on the name; cf. Hgstb. Christ . iii. p. 377. The name does not sig. humiliation, in support of which Graf has recourse partly to שׁחה, partly to the Arabic usage. For other arbitrary interpretations, see in Ges. thes . p. 1486.
(Note: As has been done with the whole or with parts of Jeremiah 25:12-14, so too the last clause of Jeremiah 25:26 is pronounced by Ew., Hitz., and Graf to be spurious, a gloss that had ultimately found its way into the text. This is affirmed because the clause is wanting in the lxx, and because the prophet could not fitly threaten Babylon along with the other nations (Hitz.); or because "the specification of a single kingdom seems very much out of place, after the enumeration of the countries that are to drink the cup of wrath has been concluded by the preceding comprehensive intimation, 'all the kingdoms of the earth' " (Gr.). Both reasons are valueless. By "shall drink after them" Babylon is sufficiently distinguished from the other kings and countries mentioned, and the reason is given why Babylon is not put on the same footing with them, but is to be made to drink after them.)
From Jeremiah 25:27 onwards the commission from God (Jeremiah 25:15.) is still more completely communicated to Jeremiah, so that the record of its fulfilment (Jeremiah 25:17-26), together with the enumeration of the various peoples, is to be regarded as an explanatory parenthesis. These might the less unsuitably be inserted after Jeremiah 25:16, inasmuch as what there is further of the divine command in Jeremiah 25:27-29 is, if we examine its substance, little else than an enforcement of the command. The prophet is not merely to declare to them what is the meaning of this drinking of wrath (Hitz.), but is to tell them that they are to drink the cup of wrath to the bottom, so that they shall fall for drunkenness and not be able to stand again (Jeremiah 25:27); and that they must drink, because when once Jahveh has begun judgment on His own people, He is determined not to spare any other people. קיוּ from קיה = קוא serves to strengthen the שׁכרוּ ; in the second hemistich the figurative statement passes into the real, as at Jeremiah 25:16. In Jeremiah 25:28 שׁתו תשׁתּוּ is a peremptory command; ye shall = must drink. Jeremiah 25:29 gives the reason; since God spares not His own people, then the heathen people need not count on immunity. "And ye think to go unpunished" is a question of surprise. Judgment is to be extended over all the inhabitants of the earth.
As to the fulfilment of this prophecy, see detail sin the exposition of the oracles against the nations, Jer 46-51. Hence it appears that most of the nations here mentioned were subject to Nebuchadnezzar. Only of Elam is no express mention there made; and as to Media, Jeremiah has given no special prophecy. As to both these peoples, it is very questionable whether Nebuchadnezzar ever subdued them. For more on this, see on Jeremiah 49:34-39. Although it is said in Jeremiah 25:9 of the present chapter and in Jeremiah 27:5. that God has given all peoples, all the lands of the earth, into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar, yet it does not follow thence that Nebuchadnezzar really conquered all. The meaning of the prophetic announcement is simply that the king of Babylon will obtain dominion over the world for the coming period, and that when his time is run, he too must fall beneath the judgment. The judgment executed by Nebuchadnezzar on the nations is the beginning of that upon the whole earth, before which, in course of time, all inhabitants of the earth fall, even those whom Nebuchadnezzar's sword has not reached. In the beginning of the Chaldean judgment the prophet sees the beginning of judgment upon the whole earth.
"But do thou prophesy to them all these words, and say unto them: Jahveh will roar from on high, and from His holy habitation let His voice resound; He will roar against His pasture, raise a shout like treaders of grapes against all the inhabitants of the earth. Jeremiah 25:31. Noise reacheth to the end of the earth, for controversy hath Jahveh with the nations; contend will He with all flesh; the wicked He gives to the sword, is the saying of Jahveh. Jeremiah 25:32. Thus saith Jahveh of hosts: Behold, evil goeth forth from nation to nation, and (a) great storm shall raise itself from the utmost coasts of the earth. Jeremiah 25:33. And the slain of Jahveh shall lie on that day from one end of the earth unto the other, shall not be lamented, neither gathered nor buried; for dung shall they be upon the ground. Jeremiah 25:34. Howl, ye shepherds, and cry! and sprinkle you (with ashes), ye lordliest of the flock! For your days are filled for the slaughter; and I scatter you so that ye shall fall like a precious vessel. Jeremiah 25:35. Lost is flight to the shepherds, and escape to the lordliest of the flock. Jeremiah 25:36. Hark! Crying of the shepherds and howling of the lordliest of the flock; for Jahveh layeth waste their pasture. Jeremiah 25:37. Desolated are the pastures of peace because of the heat of Jahveh's anger. Jeremiah 25:38. He hath forsaken like a young lion his covert; for their land is become a desert, because of the oppressing sword, and because of the heath of His anger."
In this passage the emblem of the cup of the Lord's anger (Jeremiah 25:25-29) is explained by a description of the dreadful judgment God is to inflict on all the inhabitants of the earth. This is not the judgment on the world at large as distinguished from that proclaimed in Jeremiah 25:15-29 against the kingdom of God and the kingdoms of the world, as Nהg. supposes. It is the nature of this same judgment that is here discussed, not regard being here paid to the successive steps of its fulfilment. Jeremiah 25:30 and Jeremiah 25:31 are only a further expansion of the second half of Jeremiah 25:29. "All these words" refers to what follows. The clause"Jahveh will roar" to "let His voice resound" is a reminiscence from Joel 3:16 and Amos 1:2; but instead of "out of Zion and out of Jerusalem" in those passages, we have here "from on high," i.e., heaven, and out of His holy habitation (in heaven), because the judgment is not to fall on the heathen only, but on the theocracy in a special manner, and on the earthly sanctuary, the temple itself, so that it can come only from heaven or the upper sanctuary. Jahveh will roar like a lion against His pasture (the pasture or meadow where His flock feeds, cf. Jeremiah 10:25); a name for the holy land, including Jerusalem and the temple; not: the world subject to Him (Ew.). ' הידד, He will answer Hedad like treaders of grapes; i.e., raise a shout as they do. Answer; inasmuch as the shout or wary-cry of Jahveh is the answer to the words and deeds of the wicked. Grammatically הידד is accus . and object to the verb: Hedad he gives as answer. The word is from הדד, crash, and signifies the loud cry with which those that tread grapes keep time in the alternate raising and thrusting of the feet. Ew. is accordingly correct, though far from happy, in rendering the word "tramping-song;" see on Isaiah 16:9. As to the figure of the treader of grapes, cf. Isaiah 63:3.
שׁאון is the din of war, the noise of great armies, cf. Isaiah 17:12., etc. For the Lord conducts a controversy, a cause at law, with the nations, with all flesh, i.e., with all mankind; cf. Jeremiah 2:9, Jeremiah 2:35. - הרשׁעים is for the sake of emphasis put first and resumed again in the suffix to נתנם . "Give to the sword" as in Jeremiah 15:9.
As a fierce storm (cf. Jeremiah 23:19) rises from the ends of the earth on the horizon, so will evil burst forth and seize on one nation after another. Those slain by Jahveh will then lie, unmourned and unburied, from one end of the earth to the other; cf. Jeremiah 8:2; Jeremiah 16:4. With "slain of Jahveh," cf. Isaiah 66:16. Jahveh slays them by the sword in war.
No rank is spared. This is intimated in the summons to howl and lament addressed to the shepherds, i.e., the kings and rulers on earth (cf. Jeremiah 10:21; Jeremiah 22:22, etc.), and to the lordly or glorious of the flock, i.e., to the illustrious, powerful, and wealthy. With "sprinkle you," cf. Jeremiah 6:26. Your days are full or filled for the slaughter, i.e., the days of your life are full, so that ye shall be slain; cf. Lamentations 4:18. וּתפוצותיכם is obscure and hard to explain. It is so read by the Masora, while many codd . and editt . have וּתפוּצותיכם . According to this latter form, Jerome, Rashi, Kimchi, lately Maur. and Umbr., hold the word for a substantive: your dispersions. But whether we connect this with what precedes or what follows, we fail to obtain a fitting sense from it. Your days are full and your dispersions, for: the time is come when ye shall be slain and dispersed, cannot be maintained, because "dispersions" is not in keeping with "are full." Again: as regards your dispersions, ye shall fall, would give a good meaning, only if "your dispersions" meant: the flock dispersed by the fault of the shepherds; and with this the second pers. "ye shall fall" does not agree. The sig. of fatness given by Ew. to the word is wholly arbitrary. Hitz., Gr. and Näg. take the word to be a Tiphil (like תהרה, Jeremiah 12:5; Jeremiah 22:15), and read תּפיצותיכם, I scatter you. This gives a suitable sense; and there is no valid reason for attaching to the word, as Hitz. and Gr. do, the force of פּצץ or נפץ, smite in pieces. The thought, that one part of the flock shall be slain, the other scattered, seems quite apt; so also is that which follows, that they are scattered shall fall and break like precious, i.e., fine, ornamental vases. Hence there was no occasion for Ew.'s conjectural emendation, כּכרי, like precious lambs. Nor does the lxx rendering: ἥωσπερ οἱ κριοὶ οἱ ἐκλεκτοί, give it any support; for כּרים does not mean rams, but lambs. The similar comparison of Jechoniah to a worthless vessel (22:28) tells in favour of the reading in the text (Graf). - In Jeremiah 25:35 the threatening is made more woeful by the thought, that the shepherds shall find no refuge, and that no escape will be open to the sheep.
The prophet is already hearing in spirit the lamentation to which in Jeremiah 25:34 he has called them, because Jahveh has laid waste the pastures of the shepherds and their flocks, and destroyed the peaceful meadows by the heat of His anger. - In Jeremiah 25:38, finally, the discourse is rounded off by a repetition and expansion of the thought with which the description of the judgment was begun in Jeremiah 25:30. As a young lion forsakes his covert to seek for prey, so Jahveh has gone forth out of His heavenly habitation to hold judgment on the people; for their (the shepherds') land becomes a desert. The perff. are prophetic. כּי has grounding force. The desolation of the land gives proof that the Lord has arisen to do judgment. חרון היּונה seems strange, since the adjective היּונה never occurs independently, but only in connection with חרב (Jeremiah 46:16; Jeremiah 50:16, and with עיר, Zechariah 3:1). חרון, again, is regularly joined with ' אף י, and only three times besides with a suffix referring to Jahveh (Exodus 15:7; Psalms 2:5; Ezekiel 7:14). In this we find justification for the conjecture of Hitz., Ew., Gr., etc., that we should read with the lxx and Chald. חרב . The article with the adj. after the subst. without one, here and in Jeremiah 46:16; Jeremiah 50:16, is to be explained by the looseness of connection between the participle and its noun; cf. Ew. §335, a .
The Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary is a derivative of a public domain electronic edition.
Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on Jeremiah 25". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany