The Judgment on Judah
v. 1. The word that came to Jeremiah concerning all the people of Judah in the fourth year of Jehoiakim, the son of Josiah, king of Judah, that was the first year of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, the year 606 B. C. the date being determined so exactly because it marked the final turning-point in the history of Judah as well as for the nations of the entire Orient, since Nebuchadnezzar at that time took charge of the Babylonian armies as king in fact, if not in name, although his aged father, Nabopolassar, was still living, defeated Pharaoh-Nechoh at Carchemish on the Euphrates, overran Canaan, took Jerusalem, and made Jehoiakim his vassal;
v. 2. the which, namely, the word of prophecy transmitted to him from the Lord, Jeremiah, the prophet, spake unto all the people of Judah and to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying,
v. 3. From the thirteenth year of Josiah, the son of Amon, king of Judah, who reigned from approximately 641 to 610 B. C. even unto this day, that is, the three and twentieth year, in other words, for twenty-three years, the word of the Lord hath come unto me, his public ministry having begun approximately in the year 629 B. C. and I have spoken unto you, rising early and speaking, devoting himself with all zeal and earnestness to his work; but ye have not hearkened, the same accusation being made here which he had been obliged to bring against them time and again.
v. 4. And the Lord hath sent unto you all His servants, the prophets, for Zephaniah and Habakkuk and the prophetess Huldah had also been active during this period, rising early and sending them, eagerly concerned about their welfare; but ye have not hearkened nor inclined your ear to hear, they had paid not the slightest attention, they had completely ignored His message.
v. 5. They said, literally, "saying," the word referring either to Jeremiah alone or to all the prophets, Turn ye again now every one from his evil way, from his wicked manner of living, and from the evil of your doings, their wickedness finding its expression in all the acts of their life, and dwell in the land that the Lord hath given unto you and to your fathers forever and ever, with the intention that they should always possess it;
v. 6. and go not after other gods to serve them and to worship them, in the idolatry which they had practiced so flagrantly and shamelessly, and provoke Me not to anger with the works of your hands, chiefly their idolatrous sacrifices, and I will do you no hurt, for all the prophets had told them time and again that their conduct would bring God's punishment upon them.
v. 7. Yet ye have not hearkened unto Me, saith the Lord; that ye might provoke Me to anger with the works of your hands, as the natural consequence of their obstinate disobedience, to your own hurt.
v. 8. Therefore, thus saith the Lord of hosts, whose sublime authority is unquestioned, Because ye have not heard My words,
v. 9. behold, I will send and take all the families of the North, saith the Lord, all the nations which were allies to the Chaldeans, and Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, My servant, who is so designated in this case because in this campaign he carried out the plans of the Lord, and will bring them against this land and against the inhabitants thereof and against all these nations round about, whom Judah had so often chosen as allies, and will utterly destroy them and make them an astonishment and an hissing and perpetual desolations, so that onlookers would be filled with horror, which, however, would quickly be changed to a sneer of satisfaction and malice as the former fruitful fields were gradually converted into a wilderness.
v. 10. Moreover, I will take from them the voice of mirth, of loud rejoicing, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the sound of the millstones, whose incessant grinding noise indicated a happy household in the Orient, and the light of the candle, even the poorest house in the East having an open oil-lamp with a linen or cotton wick burning all night. Cf Isa_24:7.
v. 11. And this whole land shall be a desolation, the territory not only of Judah, but of the surrounding nations as well, and an astonishment, a source of amazement to all beholders; and these nations, Judah and its neighbors, shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years, which, beginning with 606 B. C. was the length of the period during which the supremacy of Babylon was unquestioned. The exactness with which every detail of the prophecy is set forth is no more remarkable than the literal fulfillment of the Lord's prediction.
The Judgment on the Kingdoms
v. 12. And it shall come to pass, when seventy years are accomplished, namely, from the time of the first deportation to Babylon, that I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation, saith the Lord, for their iniquity, visiting their guilt upon them and the land of the Chaldeans, and will make it perpetual desolations, the enemies thus being punished in turn, even as it happened when the Medes and Persians under the command of Cyrus overthrew the Babylonian empire.
v. 13. And I will bring upon that land all My words which I have pronounced against it, carrying out His threats upon the entire country, even all that is written in this book, which Jeremiah hath prophesied against all the nations, for it was in this year that Jeremiah was, for the first time, told to write all his prophecies against the various foreign nations in a book, so that this remark was inserted when the collection was made.
v. 14. For many nations and great kings shall serve themselves of them also, that is, the Chaldeans themselves would, in turn, become servants to others, so that their masters would exact the service of vassals from them; and I will recompense them according to their deeds and according to the works of their own hands. This is further emphasized by the picture of the Lord's cup of fury.
v. 15. For thus saith the Lord God of Israel unto me, Take the wine-cup of this fury at My hand, a symbol of stupefying judgments, and cause all the nations to whom I send thee to drink it, a symbolical action which could be used to illustrate an important truth.
v. 16. And they shall drink and be moved, so that they would stagger and reel, and be mad, stunned and stupefied with the intoxicating effects of the liquid consumed, because of the sword that I will send among them, that is, the war which the Lord intended to bring upon these nations would be so severe, so horrible, that people would be stupefied by its terrors and perish in helpless confusion.
v. 17. Then took I the cup at the Lord's hand, all this in the vision which was vouchsafed him, and made all the nations to drink unto whom the Lord had sent me, namely, by making an open announcement of this intention on the part of Jehovah:
v. 18. to wit, Jerusalem and the cities of Judah, these two heading the list as the chief offenders against the Lord of the covenant, and the kings thereof and the princes thereof, to make them a desolation, an astonishment, an hissing, and a curse, objects of mockery and imprecations, as it is this day;
v. 19. Pharaoh, king of Egypt, upon whom the Jews had chiefly relied, and his servants and his princes and all his people,
v. 20. and all the mingled people, small tribes of a mixed population near the borders of Egypt and elsewhere, and all the kings of the land of Uz, in Northwestern Arabia, near the borders of Idumea and Egypt, and all the kings of the land of the Philistines, of the various Philistine city-states, and Ashkelon, and Azzah, or Gazah, and Ekron, and the remnant of Ash-dod, this city being very much reduced in size and influence on account of the Egyptian oppression, Gath, the fifth of the ancient city-states, not being mentioned, probably because it no longer was a separate capital,
v. 21. Edom, south of the Dead Sea, and Moab, east of the Dead Sea, and the children of Anunon, tribes to the northeast of Moab,
v. 22. and all the kings of Tyrus, and all the kings of Zidon, the representative cities of Phenicia on the Mediterranean Sea, and the kings of the isles which are beyond the sea, all the distant countries along the shores of the Mediterranean and the nations on its islands,
v. 23. Dedan, north of Arabia, and Tema, an Arabian city not far from Damascus, and Buz, another city and tribe in this neighborhood, and all that are in the utmost corners, the entire section of Arabia bordering on Palestine,
v. 24. and all the kings of Arabia, and all the kings of the mingled people that dwell in the desert, where tribes no longer were of pure blood,
v. 25. and all the kings of Zimri, probably a country toward the Euphrates, and all the kings of Elam, to the east of the Tigris, used for Persia in general, and all the kings of the Medes,
v. 26. and all the kings of the North, far and near, a general expression referring to all the empires in the valleys of the Euphrates and the Tigris and beyond, 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, Babylon itself being designated by this term and included in the list of those who were to be stunned by the wine of God's avenging fury.
v. 27. Therefore thou shall say unto them, Thus salth the Lord of hosts, whose majesty and power would here find expression, the God of Israel, Drink ye, namely, the cup of the Lord's fierce anger, and be drunken, and spue, vomiting as a result of their excessive drinking, and fall, and rise no more, being completely overcome by the powerful potion, because of the sword which I will send among you.
v. 28. And it shall be, if they refuse to take the cup at thine hand to drink, unwilling to let His punishment strike them, then shalt thou say unto them. Thus saith the Lord of hosts, Ye shall certainly drink, compelled to endure the destruction which had been resolved upon in their case.
v. 29. For, lo, I begin to bring evil on the city which is called by My name, revealed in the Word which had been proclaimed by His prophets from the early days, Jerusalem being the center of the true worship, and should ye be utterly unpunished? Should the Lord treat the others as innocent and forbear wreaking His vengeance upon them, if He did not spare the city which He had chosen as the place of His Sanctuary? Ye shall not be unpunished; for I will call for a sword upon all the inhabitants of the earth, saith the Lord of hosts. His patience was now exhausted, and He intended to include all His enemies in the punishment which was about to go forth.
The Judgment upon the World
v. 30. Therefore prophesy thou against them all these words, all nations being included in this address, and say unto them, The Lord shall roar from on high, with an angry voice, and utter His voice from His holy habitation, heaven being regarded as His dwelling-place. He shall mightily roar upon His habitation, or "against His pasturage," the picture of a lion roaring against the flock in the pasture being continued. He shall give a shout, a clear cry of exultation, as they that tread the grapes, to the accompaniment of a regular shout enabling them to keep time, against all the inhabitants of the earth, that is, of the land of Judah as beginning the judgment upon the whole world.
v. 31. A noise shall come even to the ends of the earth, that is, the tumult of enormous armies; for the Lord hath a controversy with the nations, a cause at issue before the tribunal of His justice; He will plead with all flesh, Cf Isa_66:16; He will, as the result of this just trial, give them that are wicked to the sword, saith the Lord, to be executed in battle at His command.
v. 32. Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the Commander of the heavenly armies. Behold, evil shall go forth from nation to nation, in a continual progress, and a great whirlwind shall be raised up from the coasts of the earth, a storm arising at its extremities, which gradually expands to cover the whole world and to sweep through all nations.
v. 33. And the slain of the Lord, those who have become the victims of His sword in the war brought upon them, shall be at that day from one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth, their corpses lying everywhere; they shall not be lamented, neither gathered nor burled, Cf. Jer_16:4-6; they shall be dung upon the ground, their decaying bodies acting as fertilizer. Since neither rank nor station escapes the fury of the Lord, the prophet now addresses himself to the leaders of the people, bidding them mourn.
v. 34. Howl, ye shepherds, the kings and rulers of the earth, and cry, and wallow yourselves in the ashes, as a token of great sorrow, ye principal of the flock, the strong ones, the nobles, the wealthy among the people; for the days of your slaughter and of your dispersion are accomplished, rather, "And I scatter you, so that one part of the flock is dispersed, the other part slaughtered"; and ye shall fall like a pleasant vessel, like a dainty piece of pottery, to be utterly shattered.
v. 35. And the shepherds shall have no way to flee, literally, "And there vanishes the refuge away from the shepherds," so that they cannot depend upon it, nor the principal of the flock to escape, the flock being destroyed together with its leaders.
v. 36. A voice of the cry of the shepherds and an howling of the principal of the flock shall be heard; for the Lord hath spoiled their pasture, utterly destroying the meadows which they thought inexhaustible by the blast of His burning wrath.
v. 37. And the peaceable habitations are cut down because of the fierce anger of the Lord, rendered desolate as He gave vent to His fury. The description once more returns to the picture of a lion.
v. 38. He hath forsaken His covert as the lion, leaving the thicknesses where his den is located; for their land is desolate because of the fierceness of the oppressor, before the fury of the destroyer sent by God, and because of His fierce anger, the Lord Himself having gone forth to punish His enemies.
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Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Jeremiah 25". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the First Week after Epiphany