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Bible Commentaries

Kingcomments on the Whole Bible

Jeremiah 49

Verses 1-6

Prophecy Concerning Ammon

The Ammonites, after their brother people the Moabites in the previous chapter, are now the subject of a prophecy (Jeremiah 49:1). They too are related to Israel through Lot (Genesis 19:38). In Ammon we see the spirit of greed. Malcam, the god of the Ammonites, is given credit that the Ammonites now own the cities of Gad, a tribe with an inheritance in the region on the other side of the Jordan. There is no respect for what God has given someone, in this case His people, as a possession. In the name of Malcam, they moderate themselves to be heirs of Gad. In doing so, they ignore that Israel itself has children who are heirs.

Ammon shows no respect for a family heirloom. Assyria carried Gad away into exile (1 Chronicles 5:26) and the Ammonites moved in. This brings God’s judgment on Rabbah, the capital of Ammon (Jeremiah 49:2). Enemies, under shouts of war, will destroy the city and burn the villages with fire (cf. Amos 1:13-Ezra :; Ezekiel 25:3-Deuteronomy :; Ezekiel 25:10). Those who live in it will become booty for the Israelites who return, who will thereby receive compensation for all that Ammon took from them. This will happen in the future.

Ai will also be destroyed (Jeremiah 49:3). This will hurt Heshbon and the daughters of Rabbah. They are called to wail and cry out. Another reason to mourn and walk around dazed is the exile of their god Malcam, together with his priests and princes. Thus the entire idolatry will be judged and its worthlessness demonstrated. Malcam, whom they first honored as the heir of Gad (Jeremiah 49:1), turns out to be nothing more than a piece of wood that can be taken away.

Like Moab, Ammon is not free from pride (Jeremiah 49:4; Jeremiah 48:29). Their valleys gave rich harvests, but there is nothing left of them. Ammon trusts in treasures and boasts that they fear no enemy. ‘Well’, declares “the Lord GOD of hosts”, ‘I will make you afraid (Jeremiah 49:5). An enemy is coming and will surround you. Wherever you look, fear will overtake you. You will flee and be torn apart.’ It is every man for himself, with no chance of reunion.

Yet there is recovery for Ammon as well (Jeremiah 49:6). When the LORD’s discipline has done its work, He will bring a reversal in the captivity of the Ammonites. Then He will bring them back to their land.

Verses 7-22

Prophecy Concerning Edom

Edom – that’s Esau (Genesis 36:8) – is next in line to hear what the LORD has to say about him (Jeremiah 49:7). His land is located – as seen from Israel – on the other side of the Dead Sea, south of Moab. Edom is known for its boundless hatred of God’s people that stems from envy. Edom is also known for its wisdom (Ezekiel 25:13), with Teman as its center.

But their wisdom does not avail when God comes to judge. Then He mockingly asks if there is no wisdom left and if the counsel of the wise has perished or if wisdom is simply superfluous. The judgment announced on Edom is also found in Obadiah (Obadiah 1:1-Psalms :). This two-fold description of the judgment on Edom does show how much God’s anger rests on this people and how much Edom deserves it.

Then suddenly the call to Dedan to flee is heard (Jeremiah 49:8). Dedan is a tribe that lives in the south of Edom and is known for its trade (Jeremiah 25:23). They must give up their usual contacts with Edom, lest they be drawn into the destruction that is coming upon him. If they do, it will testify to wisdom. For the LORD is bringing “the disaster of Esau upon him”, His just punishment.

A grape gatherer always leaves some grapes hanging for a gleaning (Jeremiah 49:9; Leviticus 19:10). Thieves steal only what is of value and leave the rest. However, it will not be like that when the LORD judges Esau (Jeremiah 49:10). He will completely destroy him; there will be no place where he will be safe from His judgment. No one will escape, except for a few orphans and widows. Them the LORD will keep in life if they trust in Him (Jeremiah 49:11).

Edom has made himself far more guilty than other nations and therefore will certainly not be held innocent (Jeremiah 49:12). He will have to drink the cup of God’s wrath. Edom has made it so that the LORD has sworn by Himself that He will destroy Bozrah and all its cities and make them perpetual ruins (Jeremiah 49:13). This means that there will be no restoration for Esau.

Jeremiah then speaks of a message he heard from the LORD (Jeremiah 49:14). This message reads that an envoy is sent among the nations to say to gather themselves together and get ready for battle. The nations see Edom as a small people and despise him (Jeremiah 49:15). This has been wrought by the LORD. Edom himself thinks it is the other way around and that the nations fear him (Jeremiah 49:16). This self-deception comes from the hubris of his heart. He believes that he lives in an impregnable fortress. But the LORD will bring him down from his height.

He will make Edom an object of horror (Jeremiah 49:17). Those who see him will make sounds of horror. Edom will perish as happened with Sodom and Gomorrah about twelve hundred years earlier (Jeremiah 49:18). Just as no one dwells there anymore, so in Edom no one will reside, no son of man.

Then the prophet tells of the enemy who is coming to destroy Edom (Jeremiah 49:19). That enemy is coming like a lion. The LORD will send him quickly. He has chosen this instrument. Who will be able to argue against it or call Him to account about it? Who will be able to stand up as a protector of Esau that he might stand before Him? Here the LORD impressively announces that the judgment He has set out to execute on Edom is perfectly just and unalterable.

Then He will make known His plan that He has made against Edom and the purposes which He has purposed against the inhabitants of Teman (Jeremiah 49:20). It will not take much force to drag them away. Their habitation in the high mountains will be destroyed. Their fall will be great; the earth will quaked at the noise of their downfall (Jeremiah 49:21). Their outcry will be heard from a great distance.

The picture of the lion (Jeremiah 49:19) now changes to that of an eagle. They have compared themselves to an eagle that builds its nest high on the rocks (Jeremiah 49:16). But when the enemy comes soaring like an eagle and spreads his wings over Bozrah, the heart of the mighty men of Edom will become like the heart of a woman in labor (Jeremiah 49:22). The enemy will totally overwhelm them and take possession of everything, while they will stand paralyzed with fear.

Verses 23-27

Prophecy Concerning Damascus

Judgment is also pronounced on Damascus (Jeremiah 49:23). Damascus is the capital of Syria, the land from which Israel – and Judah in particular – suffered greatly. It is also the city to which the grace of God is attached through the conversion of Saul when he is on his way there and where he also stays for some time as a converted Jew (Acts 9:1-Lamentations :).

Hamath and Arpad are cities in northern Syria, taken first by Assyria and later by Nebuchadnezzar (Isaiah 36:19). When these cities hear the news of an impending war, they melt away in fear. The inhabitants by the sea, to which they owe their prosperity, become filled with anxiety and restlessness that they cannot get rid of. Restlessness is a disaster in the life of a people and of an individual and a cause of much misery.

There is no courage to resist the enemy who is coming (Jeremiah 49:24). All one can do is turn away and flee. The fear is deep, the distress is great and is compared to the contractions of a laboring woman. The city on which they have boasted and where they have had fun lies deserted by their flight (Jeremiah 49:25). The fame and pleasure they think back on with melancholy is fame and pleasure without any thought of God. Therefore, it cannot endure.

The Babylonians will come and kill the strength of the city, the young men and the men of war (Jeremiah 49:26). This says the LORD of hosts, Who governs all this. He will execute judgment on the city of their fame and the palaces of Benhadad, their king (Jeremiah 49:27; Amos 1:4). Several kings of Syria bear the name Benhadad. It is a title, as the kings of Egypt are called Pharaohs. Hadad is one of the gods of Syria and Ben means son. So they are called “son of Hadad.

Verses 28-33

Prophecy Concerning Kedar and Hazor

Next comes the word of the LORD concerning Kedar and the kingdoms of Hazor (Jeremiah 49:28). Kedar is a son of Ishmael (Genesis 25:13). His descendants live in the wilderness of Arabia, trading (Ezekiel 27:21). The LORD commands Nebuchadnezzar to advance on Kedar and devastate it. Their tents, their merchandise (flocks), and their possessions are taken from them (Jeremiah 49:29). They will also take their camels. They will be surrounded by the war cries of their enemies so that terror will grip them.

The inhabitants of Hazor are urgently advised by the LORD to flee as quickly as possible and to hide as deeply as possible (Jeremiah 49:30). Here we see the grace of God, Who always gives a warning before His judgment comes. This is also true now. Judgment is coming, but He still gives man the opportunity to repent. Here He makes the plans of Nebuchadnezzar known to them, so that they are warned.

He knows those plans and makes use of them (Jeremiah 49:31). Nebuchadnezzar is an instrument in His hand. Here we see the convergence of man’s plans and God’s counsel. The nation on which His judgment comes is a nation which is at ease. They do not care about anyone and go their own way. They also do not care about God and rely on their own strength.

But their lives, which revolve only around themselves, will be turned upside down (Jeremiah 49:32). All their possessions will be taken from them, becoming booty for the enemy. They themselves will be scattered to all directions. Regardless of the safety of the group, they will perish there. The LORD says so and so it happens.

The depopulated Hazor will be populated by jackals (Jeremiah 49:33). It will not be rebuilt to be a city with inhabitants again. It is emphatically said that no one will dwell there and no son of man will reside there, forever. That is the fate of what has been built up without God.

Verses 34-39

Prophecy Concerning Elam

The chapter concludes with a word of prophecy from the LORD concerning Elam, which is Persia, today’s Iran (Jeremiah 49:34). It comes to Jeremiah when Zedekiah is just becoming king of Judah. It is the time when Babylon is in the process of developing into a world power. Elam is one of the lands he will conquer.

The soldiers of Elam are skilled archers (Isaiah 22:6), but the LORD will break their bow and with it their fighting power (Jeremiah 49:35). Judgment will come on Elam from all sides so that they will be scattered to all sides, so that they will be found among all nations (Jeremiah 49:36). They will become powerless, for the calamity that befalls them comes from the LORD (Jeremiah 49:37). The LORD will deal with them. He will show that He rules by setting up His throne in Elam and judging them (Jeremiah 49:38).

Then comes the reversal (Jeremiah 49:39). Elam will be brought back to its land. Possibly this is as a reward for defeating Babylon and allowing God’s people to return to their land.

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Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Jeremiah 49". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kng/jeremiah-49.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniƫl', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.