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JEREMIAH CHAPTER 25
Their disobedience to the prophets reproved, Jeremiah 25:1-7. The seventy years of captivity foretold, Jeremiah 25:8-11; and after that the destruction of Babylon, Jeremiah 25:12-14. By a cup of wine is fore shown the destruction of all nations, Jeremiah 25:15-33. The howling of the shepherds, Jeremiah 25:34-38.
The fourth year of Jehoiakim was seven years and odd months before Jeconiah or Jehoiachin his son was carried into captivity, as appears from 2 Kings 23:36; 2 Kings 24:8,2 Kings 24:15, and eighteen years before the taking of the city, and the more general captivity; which argueth that this prophecy is misplaced, and set after the former, whereas in order of time it was sixteen or seventeen years before it. This is said to be
the first year of Nebuchadrezzar (called by Ptolemy, Nabopolassar). It is said, Daniel 1:1, that this Nebuchadrezzar came up in the third year of Jehoiakim; to which is answered, that the first year of Nebuchadrezzar’s reign must be understood of his absolute reign, which concurred partly with the third, partly with the fourth year of Jehoiakim; they say he was before a sharer in the kingly government with his father, but this was the first year that he had the name of king entirely given unto him.
That is, the word concerned them all, and he spake it to so many of them as he met with in any public assembly at Jerusalem or elsewhere.
We read, Jeremiah 1:2, that Jeremiah began to prophesy in the thirteenth year of Josiah. Josiah reigned thirty-one years, 2 Kings 22:1; so that taking in the thirteenth year, Jeremiah prophesied nineteen years during the life of Josiah, to which adding the four of Jehoiakim’s reign, it maketh twenty-three. These twenty-three years, saith the prophet, I have been a preacher to you, and I have not been negligent in my work; but like men that get up early in the morning to despatch their business, so have I been in the discharge of my prophetical office.
Nor am I the only prophet whom the Lord hath sent you, and whom you have neglected and despised; God hath sent you many more, and you have despised as many as he hath sent, though the Lord hath made it his business to send you one after another from time to time. This contempt of the Lord’s messengers is made the proximate cause of God’s wrath coming upon this people, till there was no remedy, 2 Chronicles 36:16.
The substance both of their and my sermons hath been to persuade you to leave off those sinful courses wherein you have lived, and which you might have amended by virtue of that common grace which I did not deny you. We have not differed in our doctrine, to the practice of which you have also been encouraged both by them and me, with an assurance from God that if you did it, you should enjoy this good land, which the Lord promised and gave to you and your fathers, and you have now possessed from age to age.
Gods; idols, which indeed are no gods, but so called by idolaters.
To serve them, and to worship them; to pay any divine homage unto them.
And provoke me not to anger by idols, which are the work of men’s hands (no uncreated beings). Or more generally, any works which are contrary to the law of God. If you do this, I will by my providence do you no harm, you shall yet enjoy your own land and prosper.
Ye heard me and other the Lord’s prophets thus speaking to you, but you did not obey and hearken. As if you had done it on purpose to incense me against you, who am of myself slow to wrath, and must be provoked to execute vindictive justice by men’s own wicked works; which do not otherwise affect or hurt me, but are to their hurt who do them.
That is, because you have not hearkened to and obeyed my words; for it is manifest they had heard Jeremiah and the other prophets.
I will put it into the heart of all those kings whose territories lie northward of Judea, and particularly into the heart of
Nebuchadrezzar the king of Babylon, who in this work shall be
my servant; though you will not be my servants in obeying my commands, yet he shall serve me, Jeremiah 27:6; Jeremiah 43:10. I will bring them and their armies up against this people, and I will put you out of hopes from your alliances with other nations, for he shall first bring them under his command: thus we read, 2 Kings 24:7, that the
king of Babylon had invaded the Egyptian dominions, and taken from the river of Egypt unto the river Euphrates all that pertained to the king of Egypt. And I will make the inhabitants of Jerusalem, not only a desolation, but a scorn, and reproach, and wonderment to the world. See Jeremiah 19:8.
I will take away all your mirth and jollity, whether used at weddings, or at any of your merry meetings; I will leave you nothing to rejoice in; your very wedding times shall be times of mourning and lamentation. Nay, I will not only deprive you of your mirth, but of those things that are necessary for you, as necessary as bread and light; the millstone shall not move; you shall not have the light so much as of a candle. See the like expressions Revelation 18:22,Revelation 18:23. God here threatens not only to take away their superfluities, and what he had hitherto lent them for their pleasure and delight, but also what they had for their necessary sustenance, and to capacitate them to do their ordinary works.
This prophecy is a famous prophecy in regard of its fixing the particular space of time in which the Jews abode in the captivity of Babylon, viz.
seventy years. When they determined we are plainly enough told, Ezra 1:1, in the first year of Cyrus the king of Persia, but when they commenced is more disputed; for we read of three carryings into that captivity: the one in the third and fourth year of Jehoiakim, when it should seem that Nebuchadrezzar only carried away some few persons to be bred in his court, amongst whom were Daniel and the three children, Daniel 1:1,Daniel 1:2, &c.; a second seven years after, in Jeconiah’s time, 2 Kings 24:15,2 Kings 24:16; the last and most general eleven years after, in the eleventh year of Zedekiah: it seemeth most probable that the seventy years must be reckoned from the second; for Jeremiah, Jeremiah 29:1, &c., writing to those then in captivity, tells them, that when seventy years should be accomplished, God would bring them back. This is confirmed by Ezekiel, Ezekiel 40:1, where the fourteenth year after the taking of the city is expressly said to be the twenty-fifth year of their captivity.
When seventy years are accomplished; seventy years accounted from the time that the Jews were carried away in the time of Jeconiah or Jehoiachin, 2 Kings 24:15,2 Kings 24:16. This was fulfilled by Darius the king of Persia, Daniel 4:31. Of these seventy Nebuchadnezzar reigned thirty-six, 2 Kings 25:27, Evil-merodach thirty-two, and Belshazzar at least two, Daniel 8:1. Though God, whose all the creation is, and who is the Lord of all the hosts of his creatures, doth often make use of heathens and other wicked men to punish his own people, yet he will at last punish them too; and ordinarily when he doth punish them, it is with a more severe and grievous destruction than that by which he punisheth his people, Isaiah 27:7; thus he threatens to make the Chaldeans a perpetual desolation.
That land; the land of the Babylonians and Chaldeans.
God threateneth the destruction of that monarchy by the Persians, according to the prophecy of this prophet, and declareth that their destruction was of themselves, God did but recompense unto them their own deeds, and the works of their hands; which is not to be restrained to their excesses in executing Divine vengeance, and the cruelty they used to the Israelites, but more generally interpreted of all their wicked courses.
God’s judgments are often in Scripture expressed under the notion of a cup of hot and intoxicating drink, and their suffering is set out under the notion of drinking such a cup, as Psalms 75:8; Job 21:20; Isaiah 51:17; Psalms 11:6; Psalms 60:3; Lamentations 4:21; Ezekiel 23:32,Ezekiel 23:34. God made Jeremiah to see the appearance of such a cup in a vision, and bade him to carry it to the nations to whom he sent him, to signify to them that his wrath should be poured out on them, and they should drink of it.
Whether they will or no, they shall drink it, and be disturbed, and be mad, and rage like men overcome with wine, because of those dreadful judgments which I shall send amongst them.
That is, in the vision; for it cannot be thought that the Lord made the prophet to travel up and down to all the nations afterward named with a cup of wine in his hand.
Judgment usually beginneth at the house of God, 1 Peter 4:17. God hath more known them and done them more good than other people, therefore their sins are higher provocations, and they are less excusable. By the kings here mentioned are to be understood Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, and Zedekiah; these princes with their people God threatens to punish to astonishment, and so as men should mock at them, and curse them; which expressions we have before met with in the same cause. But here ariseth a doubt how the prophet saith,
as it is this day, whereas this prophecy, Jeremiah 25:1, was in the fourth year of Jehoiakim, but Jerusalem was not made such a desolation till the eleventh year of Zedekiah, which was eighteen years after. Some think that though the thing were yet to come, yet the prophet speaketh of it as past, because of the certainty of it, which is but what is ordinary in the prophetical writings. Others think that these words were added after the captivity of Jeremiah, writing over his former prophecies. Others from these words judge that this part of the chapter was a prophecy at some other time following what was in the beginning of this chapter. Others think that he adds these words because the carrying into captivity was at this time begun, though not completed until the eleventh year of Zedekiah.
The Egyptians being that people whom the Jews most trusted to for help, are named as the first to whom the prophet was sent with the wine-cup of God’s fury, to let the Jews know, that if they trusted to them, their confidence was vain; for they should themselves be destroyed, which was fulfilled within the twelve years after the death of Josiah unto the time of Jehoiachin, as appears from 2 Kings 24:6,2 Kings 24:7, for the king of Egypt made Jehoiakim king, 2 Kings 23:34.
It is of no great moment to determine whether God by
the mingled people, here mentioned, intended the various nations afterwards particularly expressed by their names, or some people that were not native Egyptians, but lived mingled with them, or some other people of several nations who lived near Judea or the Arabians.
By the kings of the land of Uz, it is most probably judged are to be understood those kings who ruled over that people, who descended from Dishan, Genesis 36:28, and are judged to have inhabited some part of Arabia Petraea, near to Idumea. The cities of the Philistines are reckoned afterward.
Azzah, Ekron, Ashdod, and Ashkelon were four of them; the fifth, which was Gath, is not here named. See 1 Samuel 6:17. It had a king in former times, to whom David fled, 1 Samuel 21:10; but before this time it was destroyed, either by Psammeticus, father to Pharaoh-nechoh, or by Tartan, captain-general to Sargon king of Assyria, of whom read Isaiah 20:1, that he took Ashdod, which may be the reason that here mention is made of no more than
the remnant of Ashdod.
The Edomites were the posterity of Esau the son of Isaac, to whom God had given a land which they inherited, and he would not suffer the Israelites to make their way through them by force, when they denied them a passage through their country; now he threatens their ruin, as also Jeremiah 49:7; and Obadiah’s prophecy was against them, where their triumphing in the captivity of the Jews is mentioned as one thing that had provoked God against them. The Moabites and Ammonites were descended from Lot. Jeremiah 48:0 is an entire prophecy against Moab; they had lived in long prosperity, as appears there, Jeremiah 25:12; so had the Ammonites, against whom also Jeremiah prophesied particularly, Jeremiah 49:1-7.
Tyrus was a strong city upon the borders of the tribe of Asher, Joshua 19:29; 2 Samuel 24:7, a very rich city, and a kingdom, with the king of which (who was Hiram) Solomon in his time traded much, 2 Chronicles 2:3. Isaiah prophesied its ruin, Jeremiah 23:1; so did Ezekiel, Ezekiel 27:28,Ezekiel 27:29; it was destroyed by Nebuchadrezzar, Ezekiel 29:18.
Zidon was nigh to it, therefore we shall ordinarily find Tyre and Zidon joined together in Scripture: both Isaiah and Ezekiel, as well as this prophet, prophesied their ruin. By
the isles beyond the sea, some understand Greece and Italy; others Rhodes, Cyprus, and Crete; but others think Nebuchadnezzar never conquered these, and rather understand those parts of Syria that coasted upon the midland sea.
We read of a Dedan the issue of Ham, Genesis 10:7. The other the posterity of Abraham by Jokshan, Genesis 25:3. It seemeth to be a city of Idumea, Jeremiah 49:8. Tema descended from Ishmael, Genesis 25:15; his posterity inhabited in Arabia, Isaiah 21:14, where they are joined with those of Dedan. Buz was one of the posterity of Nahor, Genesis 22:21. These were people mixed with the Saracens or Arabians.
All that are in the utmost corners; that dwell in the corners or furthest parts of the world. Some interpret it of the fashion of their cutting their beards, as the Saracens did: see Leviticus 19:27, where God forbade his people that fashion.
All the kings of Arabia; there were several kings in Arabia, 2 Chronicles 9:14.
All the kings of the mingled people that dwell in the desert; people of several nations that were got together in the desert, and had made to themselves several kings or chief rulers.
All the kings of Zimri; those descended from Zimran, Abraham’s son by Keturah, Genesis 25:2 (the Zamarens, as some think, mentioned by Pliny). By the Elamites are meant the Persians, descended from Shem, Genesis 10:22. Elam is also mentioned Isaiah 22:6. See also Jeremiah 49:34. The Medes came from Madai the son of Japheth, Genesis 10:2; they are usually joined with the Persians, Daniel 5:28.
All the kings of the north, far and near; all under the government of the Chaldeans, or (as others) all those princes that have dominions between the north and east.
All the kingdoms of the world, which are upon the face of the earth; that is, in those parts of the world which were at that time known, with whom there was ordinary commerce.
And the king of Sheshach shall drink after them; and the king of Babylon, who was last of all to drink of this cup of the Lord’s fury. That he is here meant is plain from Jeremiah 51:41, where Sheshach is thus interpreted. But why Babylon is called Sheshach is a harder question, and not easily resolved. Those who think the prophet gives Babylon here another name to avoid an odium fresh the king of Babylon, at this time their enemy, neither consider the usual courage of this prophet, nor that he speaks plainly enough, Jeremiah 51:41, where he mentioneth both Babylon and Sheshach, and expoundeth the latter by the former. It is thought that Babylon is called Sheshach from the name of an idol called Shach which they worshipped, to whose honour they yearly kept a festival for five days together, which they called Shace, and they say that during this festival Cyrus took Babylon. But these are all uncertain guesses; it is enough for us to know that by the king of Sheshach is meant the king of Babel, as the prophet expounds himself, Jeremiah 51:41.
The meaning of these two verses is no more than this; God let Jeremiah in a vision know that it was his will that he should prophesy a certain and unavoidable ruin to all these nations, which was brought upon all the rest by the king of Babylon, whom God made his instrument to execute his vengeance upon them; and last of all upon the king of Babylon himself by Cyrus the king of Persia. This judgment which he telleth them should be by the sword he expresseth by the effects, falling and rising no more, and commands them to drink it, to comport with the metaphor of the wine-cup of God’s fury, mentioned Jeremiah 25:15; the drinking of cups of heady, intoxicating wine ordinarily producing such effects as spewing and falling, &c. This cup of the Lord’s fury he assures them they should not turn by, but should most certainly drink it.
By the city called by his name, or upon which his name was called, he means Jerusalem, elsewhere called the holy city. The apostle, 1 Peter 4:17, speaketh much to this purpose, The time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God; and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? If God spareth not the green tree, how shall he spare those that are dry and withered? Atheists and lewd and profane persons have little reason to promise themselves an escape from God’s righteous judgment, when they see God not sparing those that make the highest profession of him, and stand in some relation to him.
For I will call for a sword upon all the inhabitants of the earth; it is in vain for you to promise yourselves an escape, for God is about to punish all your neighhours.
Reveal my will unto them presently, to revenge myself upon them, in words to this sense or purpose; tell them that I, who hitherto have been toward them as a lamb, will now be to them as a lion; so Joel 3:16; Amos 1:2; Amos 3:8; and, as a lion, will roar from heaven; for though the temple be sometimes called his holy habitation, yet the foregoing words, from, on high, expound this term in this place otherwise. Upon his habitation, or in his habitation, which is more likely to be understood, in heaven, (as the former,) than, in Jerusalem, as divers would have it; for God is here revealing his wrath against foreign nations, upon some of which these judgments came after God had done roaring in or upon Jerusalem.
He shall give a shout, as they that tread the grapes, against all the inhabitants of the earth; a shout, such as soldiers use to give when they storm a city, or assault their enemies, to encourage their fellows, and to dishearten their enemies; like the shout of those that tread the grapes, singing one to another, or rejoicing and triumphing in the vintage.
There shall be such confusion, and noises as shall ring over all the world; for God’s quarrel is not against the Jews only, but other nations also. Nor will he in any thing he doth act unjustly; if they will join issue with him, he will plead with them, and make it appear to all that he acteth righteously. He will give up many to the sword, but they shall be such only as by their wickedness have deserved it, recompensing to them their own works and evil doings.
It is much the same thing which was said before, only repeated for the greater terror in a variety of expressions. He tells them that the judgment should be like a contagion, going from one nation to another, or like a fire catching hold of another house before the first is burned down, like a
whirlwind that blows from all sides, cometh suddenly, and devoureth dreadfully.
That those who should be slain by commission from the Lord in this time of his judgments should be in all places, and so numerous, that there should be none left to lament for or to bury the dead; but the dead bodies should lie and rot upon the surface of the earth, and be as muck to it. See the like phrases Jeremiah 16:4.
Shepherds, and the
principal of the flock, are in this place of the same significancy, by both he means the civil rulers; so the word is used Jeremiah 22:22; Jeremiah 23:1. These he calls aforehand to bewail their fate; for the days were now come when they should be slain and scattered. And he tells them their fall should be like the fall of a crystal glass, or some delicate tender vessel, which when it falleth breaketh in pieces, and cannot again be set together.
In ordinary dispensations of judgment, there is some way left to escape, and if there be any way of escape, great men are likeliest to find it; but he telleth them that the greatest men should find no way to flee from or escape this terrible dispensation of God.
That is, there shall be heard a great outcry of the princes and rulers, when they shall see how the Lord hath spoiled the cities in which, and their people upon which, they have lived, and amongst whom they were wont to feed securely.
That is, the places where these great men were wont to live splendidly, and dwell peaceably and securely, shall be as surely destroyed, through the Lord’s anger, as if it were already done.
God had before compared himself to a lion, Jeremiah 25:30; here he declares himself to be about to move like a lion, who when he goeth out to seek his prey, leaveth his covert: see Jeremiah 50:44. The effects of this rising up of God out of his covert is the desolation of the land through the fierceness of the enemy, caused from the fierce anger of God now ready to be poured out upon this people.
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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Jeremiah 25". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29