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JEREMIAH CHAPTER 49
The judgment of the Ammonites, Jeremiah 49:1-5; their restoration, Jeremiah 49:6. The judgment of Edom, Jeremiah 49:7-22; of Damascus, Jeremiah 49:23-27; of Kedar and Hazor, Jeremiah 49:28-33; of Elam, and its restoration, Jeremiah 49:34-39.
The Ammonites were the posterity of Ben-ammi, Lot’s incestuous child, by his younger daughter, Genesis 19:38. Their country was near the Jews’ country. The Jews, in their journey from Egypt to Canaan to possess it, passed by their country, but were by God forbidden to meddle with it, because he had given it to the children of Lot, Deuteronomy 2:19; but they proved bad neighbours to the Israelites when in Canaan. They assisted the king of Moab against them, Judges 3:13, and made war against them, Judges 10:9; Judges 11:4. Nahash their king made an inroad upon them, 1 Samuel 12:12. David fought with them in his time, 2 Samuel 8:12, and destroyed them, 2 Samuel 11:1. Jehoshaphat also and Jotham fought with them, 2 Chronicles 20:1; 2 Chronicles 27:5. During the long tract of time that there were wars betwixt the Jews and Ammonites, the laud of Gad and Reuben, which lay beyond Jordan, fell into the hand of the Syrians, Moabites, and Ammonites (whence it is that in the former chapter we read of many cities of Moab, which were, upon the division of Canaan, in the lot of Gad and Reuben). This prophecy cannot be well understood without a previous understanding this. Hence it is that the prophet saith, Hath Israel no sons? God had given that country of Gilead to Manasseh, and Reuben, and Gad, Numbers 32:40; Joshua 13:29-31; and as men’s estates ought to descend to their heirs, so this land should have continued and descended to the posterity of these tribes, but the Ammonites had by force taken away a part, and Melcom possessed it. Melcom is their king, or the name of their idol to whom they gave the name of king, as other heathens called their idol Baal, that is, lord. And the people of the king of the Ammonites, or of Melcom the idol of the Ammonites, dwelt in the cities belonging to Gad, which was one of the tribes of Israel.
Because the Ammonites had violently seized upon some part of the Jews’ land, and (as we have it, Amos 1:13,Amos 1:14) cruelly ripped up the women with child in Gilead, that they might enlarge their border, God threatens a war to Rabbah, Amos 1:14, calls it a fire, which should make Rabbah a heap. Of this Rabbah, as the head city of the Ammonites, we read Deuteronomy 3:11; Joshua 13:25; Joshua 15:60. It was there where, in David’s time, Uriah was slain, 2 Samuel 11:1,2 Samuel 11:17; 2 Samuel 12:26. It is threatened by Jeremiah in this chapter, and Ezekiel 25:5; Amos 1:13,Amos 1:14. We read not how or when this prophecy was fulfilled, whether by the Maccabees, 1Ma 5:6, or rather after the coming of Christ, when most of these nations were destroyed. God threatens not only their metropolis, which was Rabbah their mother city, but all the other cities belonging to the Ammonites, which were as it were daughters to Rabbah. But how the last clause of this prophecy was ever fulfilled, if it were not in the time of the Maccabees, I cannot understand; for though they were swallowed up afterward by the Roman empire, yet Israel being also subdued by them, and scattered into all parts, it is not likely that many of them were suffered to, abide in any considerable numbers in a country so near their own.
Heshbon was formerly a city of the Amorites, of whom Sihon was king, who resided here (but it appears by Jeremiah 49:26 that it was taken from Moab); it is probable that it was at this time a city of Moab: the prophet calls to them to howl
for Ai a city of the Ammonites, not the same mentioned Joshua 7:2, for that was on the other side of Jordan. It is uncertain whether by the
daughters of Rabbah be to be understood other lesser cities, or the younger women that inhabited Rabbah: he calls to them all to mourn; and for all the indications or signs of mourning, such as girding with sackcloth, running up and down, like persons distracted, by the hedges, where they might be hidden, and not so easily seen. For they shall all go together into captivity; their Melcom, which may signify their idol to whom they gave that name, or their
king, or else their supreme magistrate, with their
priests and nobles, all orders of persons.
It should seem that this country was full of very fruitful valleys, which we know are always the most fertile places, lying lower and at a greater distance from the sun than mountains, and also receiving at second hand the moisture that falls upon the hills, and being usually watered with rivers; from whence they may be called
flowing valleys, either as flowing with receptacles of water, or plenty of corn and grass; though some read it, (and it seems rather more agreeable to the Hebrew,) thy valley floweth, either with the blood of men slain, or floweth away, the fertility of it ceaseth or decayeth. Or, floods of waters shall destroy the fruit of thy rich valleys, &c. O backsliding daughter: Ammon having never been in covenant with God, the word in the Hebrew (though it comes from שוב which signifies to return) seemeth ill translated backsliding, thou that hast turned thyself away from God.
That trusted in her treasures, saying, Who shall come unto me? thou that trustedst in thy riches, or in thy valleys full of riches, and promisedst thyself security from the situation of thy rich country, thinking none could come at thee.
As secure as you think yourselves, I will cause you to be afraid, and your enemies shall be all those that are round about you. And you shall be driven out every man, either right forth, into some country opposite to you, or apart one from another, or so that you shall be glad to flee right forth, and never look back, but only forward, for any place of safety that appeareth next before you. And when you are wandering, being driven by your enemies, you shall find none who will be willing to receive or entertain you.
Such a promise we read of Jeremiah 48:47, concerning Moab, but when this was fulfilled the Scripture saith not. Josephus tells us something; but it is rather thought to refer to the conversion of some of the Ammonites as well as other heathens unto Christ.
The Edomites were the posterity of Esau the eldest son of Isaac, but disinherited, the blessing being given to his younger brother Jacob, who was the head of the twelve tribes of the Israelites, Genesis 27:29. God there, Genesis 27:39, promised him that he should have a fat and plentiful country, though his brother should be his lord, and foretold that he should break his brother’s yoke from off his neck; the land of Seir was his country, Genesis 32:3. The Edomites coasted southward upon Canaan, the Israelites passed by their coasts to go into Canaan; their way lay through Edom, but their king refusing to suffer them to go through, God ordered them to go another way. Balaam prophesied their ruin, Numbers 24:18. They were enemies to the Israelites in Saul’s time, 1 Samuel 14:47, and in David’s time, 2 Samuel 8:14, and in Amaziah’s time, 2 Kings 14:7, who slew of them ten thousand, and took Selah, calling it Jokteel. Many of the prophets foretold their ruin. Jeremiah in this place, Ezekiel 25:12-14; Joel 3:19; Amos 9:12; Obadiah 1:8; Malachi 1:4.
Teman was a city of Edom, mentioned also Ezekiel 25:13; Amos 1:12; Obadiah 1:9. Eliphaz, Job’s friend, was of this place, Job 2:11. It was a place famous for wise and prudent men, of which Eliphaz was not the meanest. The prophet asks what was become of all their counsel and wisdom, for which the Arabians, the Temanites in particular, were so famous. Now they were at their wits’ end.
Dedan was the son of Jokshan, 1 Chronicles 1:32, from which it is probable that the city
Dedan had its name; it is reckoned, Jeremiah 25:23, with Tema and Buz, and is mentioned Ezekiel 27:15,Ezekiel 27:20; Ezekiel 38:13. It was a city of Arabia joining on Idumea, Isaiah 21:13. They being neighbours to the Edomites, are called to flee, and to get into caves and holes of the earth, where they might dwell deep in the earth, and be in some security, which they would not be in their own city, so near to the Edomites’ country, for God was resolved to bring misery upon the Edomites, a time of calamity in which he would visit them with his judgments. There are other critical readings of these words, but this seemeth to be the plain sense of them.
We have much the same Obadiah 1:5. The scope of the prophet in this place is only to show that Edom should be totally destroyed; their destruction should not be like the gleaning of grapes, where the gatherers content themselves with taking the principal clusters, but for single grapes, or small clusters, they leave them; nor yet like the robbings of thieves, who take for their hunger, and when they have got enough leave the rest.
But the Edomites should be left bare; and though they sought to hide themselves in secret places, yet God would there find them out, and there should be no places sufficient to hide them. All their children should be destroyed, and the Moabites their kinsmen, and the Philistines their neighbours, should be ruined as well as they.
The only question upon this verse is, whether, in the whole of it, it be a promise or a threatening: if it be a promise, the sense is, that though this great destruction should come upon the body of the Edomites, yet God would take care of some of their
fatherless children, whose parents being carried into captivity, they had none to provide for them: if it be taken as an ironical threatening, it soundeth ruin to those as well as the rest, and
I will is as much as I will not. But others think that these are rather to be understood with the supply of some other words, There is not, or there shall be none to say, Leave thy fatherless children, &c.; and whoso considereth those words in the tenth verse, his seed shall be spoiled, will see reason to judge it rather a threatening (whether by way of irony or no) than a promise.
the cup is meant the wine cup of the Lord’s wrath, and that by those whose judgment was not to drink of it are meant the Jews, is not to be doubted; but the question is, how the prophet saith that it was not the judgment of the Jews to drink of this cup? The word here used is of so various significations as makes the fixing the sense of it here difficult; it cannot here signify justice, for in that sense it was the Jews’ judgment to drink of it; nor can it here (as it often doth) signify the effect of justice, God’s judicial dispensation; for they had drank of it, so it was their judgment. It must be taken in the most favourable sense imaginable. Either they who in regard of their relation to God, and God’s relation to them, might have looked upon it as none of their portion, yet have drank of it; or, they who in comparison with others did not deserve to drink of the cup, yet have drank of it: and can you think to escape? No, thou shalt not escape, but most surely drink of it. 1 Peter 4:17, The time is come that judgment is begun at the house of God; and if it first begin with that, where shall the end of others be? When an Israelite hath not escaped the justice of God, an Edomite must not expect it.
As men, when they would confirm their promise or threatening to do any thing, add an oath to it, so doth God, who, having no greater to swear by, swears by himself, Jeremiah 44:26. That which God would here confirm was his threatening against Edom, expressed under the notion of
Bozrah, ( a part for the whole,) Bozrah being its principal city, Isaiah 63:1, as well as a city of Moab (as we found in the foregoing chapter); and that which he threatens it with was not being a reproach, a waste, and a curse for a time, but for ever.
I have heard a rumour from the Lord: Obadiah beginneth his prophecy much with such words. God hath revealed his will to me in a vision or a dream.
An ambassador is sent unto the heathen: he speaks after the manner of earthly princes, who use to send their ambassadors to other princes to declare their minds to them.
Saying, Gather ye together, and come against her, and rise up to the battle: the meaning is, God hath made such impressions upon other nations, he hath inclined them, or set them on work, to get together in armies to come against Edom in battle.
Obadiah, in his prophecy against Edom, Obadiah 1:2, hath much the same words, importing that God would bring the Edomites very low, and make them very contemptible.
Thy terribleness hath deceived thee, and the pride of thine heart: Obadiah in his prophecy against Edom useth much the same expressions, Obadiah 1:3,Obadiah 1:4. The word that is here used being of the number of those which are but once found in Scripture, hath given interpreters liberty to abound in their senses of it; some translating it arrogance, some, thine idol; but the best interpreters understand by it their terribleness to others, their being so potent that others were all afraid of them; this deceived them, making them to conclude themselves secure, and out of danger; to which is also added the pride of the heart. The country of Edom being mountainous, they are said to
dwell in the clefts of the rocks, that is, in places impregnable, and inaccessible as they thought, in the heights of the hill. But the Lord lets them know no place was to his power inaccessible or impregnable, for if they dwell as
high as the eagle, which the Scripture tells us, Job 39:27,Job 39:28, maketh her nest on high, and dwelleth and abideth upon the rock, upon the crag of the rock, yet he would bring them down.
The like is said of Babylon, Jeremiah 50:13; it appears from 1 Kings 9:8, that it was a kind of proverbial expression, when they would express a great desolation, or great plagues, that those who passed by such a place should be astonished, and hiss at it.
Sodom and Gomorrah and the neighbour cities were utterly destroyed, and therefore are set down, both here and Jeremiah 50:40, as patterns of an utter ruin and desolation.
This verse is very variously interpreted; some by
he understand the Jews, some understand Nebuchadnezzar, some understand the Edomites; I think the last is most probable to be here meant, because of the next words. The Edomites shall come out against the Chaldeans like a lion, as lions lurking about Jordan when it overfloweth come out to take their prey.
But I will suddenly make him run away from her: these words are variously understood, those who by he in the former part of the verse understand Nebuchadnezzar, interpret the running here mentioned of his running over the whole country of Edom; to me it appeareth a much more probable sense to interpret it of the Edomites running away from Nebuchadnezzar out of their own country, which seems to be understood by her; all that makes a difficulty is the particle from, which yet makes the sense good enough, if by her we understand the Edomites’ own land. In the Hebrew it is, I will break them, or I will quiet them, and make them to run. Who is a chosen man, that I may appoint over her? whom shall I set over Edom? Into whose hands shall I give that country, that he may rule over it?
For who is like me? for I can do whatsoever I please.
And who will appoint me a time to plead with men? so Job 9:19; or a time to fight?
Who is that shepherd that will stand before me? what is that king or potentate of the earth that will stand before me?
Edom and Teman in this verse signify both the same thing; God calls to men to hear the resolutions he had taken up against the Edomites, resolutions as wise and steady as if they had been taken upon the wisest counsels and deliberation.
Surely the least of the flock shall draw them out; God is resolved to drive out the Edomites, and the least of Nebuchadnezzar’s forces shall drag them out of their lurking-places; and God will make the place where they dwell a desolation.
That is, the ruin of the Edomites shall be so great, that all nations round about it shall be affected at the noise of their fall; and though the Red Sea, or the weedy sea, be at a great distance from them, yet their noise shall reach thither.
See Poole "Jeremiah 48:40", See Poole "Jeremiah 48:41", where the very same thing, and under the same phrases, was spoken against Moab. That which is threatened is the enemies coming swiftly upon the Edomites and preying upon them, and the fear that should surprise them, which should make their hearts faint as the heart of a woman that hath a hard labour.
The prophet comes to denounce the judgments of God against Syria, another nation of the Gentiles.
Damascus was the head city of Syria, Isaiah 7:8; Isaiah 17:3, or Aram, (as in the Hebrew,) because it was a country inhabited by the posterity of Aram, one of the sons of Shem; part of it lay betwixt Babylon and Arabia, and was called Mesopotamia, lying betwixt the two rivers of Tigris and Euphrates. Laban and Naaman were of this country. David had war with them, 2 Samuel 8:5; 2 Samuel 10:18. So had Ahab, 1 Kings 20:20; and Joram, 2 Kings 8:28; and Ahaz, Isaiah 7:2. After God’s long patience with them he threatens them with ruin, as by Jeremiah in this place, so by Amos, i. 5. Damascus being the head of this country, is sometimes put (as here) for the whole country. Hamath and Arpad were two cities also of Syria, 2 Kings 18:34. The prophet foretells that they also should hear of ill news, an enemy that is coming against them, and that they should be melted through fear, and their courage should fail them, they should be as troubled as the sea, is in a storm, or their inhabitants that lived near to the sea should be troubled.
Syria, whose head is Damascus, hath lost her old courage and valour; it was wont to be a formidable country to its neighbours, but now they flee before their enemies.
Fear hath seized on her; they are seized, and overpowered by their own fears.
Anguish and sorrows have taken her, as a woman in travail; great sorrows are ordinarily in Scripture expressed by the similitude of the pains of a woman in travail; we have met with it often in this prophecy, Jeremiah 6:24; Jeremiah 22:23; so Psalms 48:6; Micah 4:9.
It is called
the city of praise, because it was a city so much praised, a city of great renown, which the prophet seeing like to be destroyed, lamenteth either in the person of the king of Syria, or of the Syrian inhabitants, wondering that the conquerors should not spare so famous and renowned a city, in which so many did rejoice.
The Hebrew particles are not always well rendered in our translation, and our learned English Annotator hath rightly observed this place as one instance, for לכן cannot be here an iliative, but is much better translated surely, as a note of assertion. God threateneth the Syrians with a certain ruin and desolation.
I will bring a judgment that shall burn in Damascus like a consuming fire, and it shall reach to the royal seat of Benhadad; either that which was the royal seat of Ben-hadad, 2 Kings 8:7, or else Ben-hadad (signifying the son of Hadad, which was their idol) was the common name of all the kings of Syria, as Pharaoh was to the kings of Egypt, Amos 1:4
Kedar, Genesis 25:13, was one of the sons of Ishmael, whose posterity inhabited part of Arabia Petrea. See Isa, Isaiah 21:13,Isaiah 21:17. We read of it Psalms 120:5; Song of Solomon 1:5; Ezekiel 27:21. We read of
Hazor Joshua 11:1; Joshua 11:10, it was the head city to several kingdoms in Joshua’s time; Jabin was king of it in the times of Deborah, Judges 4:2. The prophet foretells that Nebuchadrezzar should also conquer these kingdoms; and saith he heard the Lord call to Nebuchadrezzar to go up against them.
That is, the Chaldeans shall take away the Kedarens’ tents; for they being a people whose cattle were their livelihood, had no fixed houses, but tents, which were movable habitations, covered with skins of beasts; and the curtains which they used to draw before those tents, and served them as sides, as gable ends of houses serve us; and all the furniture of their tents or tabernacles, and their cattle; and either their enemies should fright them with terrible noises and outcries, or they should themselves cry out that they were surrounded with objects of fear.
The words seem to be the prophet’s words of advice to this people, to make all the haste they could away, and to secure themselves as well as they could, because the king of Babylon had certainly been taking counsel against them, and was resolved to disturb them. See Jeremiah 49:8, where the like counsel is given to the Edomites.
The supposed result of Nebuchadnezzar’s counsels, giving charge to his armies to march against the Kedarens, which lived at case and quiet, and took no care; that had no cities, nor gates, nor bars to keep their enemies out, nor were near any neighbours that could assist them, nor very near to one another, living in tents, so might easily be overrun, and conquered, and made a prey to enemies.
And their camels shall be a booty, and the multitude of their cattle a spoil: these words sound like a part of the king of Babylon’s supposed speech encouraging his soldiers from the booty they should get, which should be a great multitude of camels and other cattle; the latter words are the words of the prophet, in the name of the Lord, threatening ruin to these Kedarens and Hazorites, though they lived in corners, and might upon that account think themselves secure; God saith he would fetch them out of their utmost corners, and bring calamity from all parts upon them.
That is, the whole country subject to the king of Hazor shall be desolate. See Isaiah 34:13; Jeremiah 9:11.
Elam was the son of Shem, Genesis 10:22, his posterity were called Elamites; these were the Persians, as is most probable, though some judge that the Persians were at too great a distance from the Jews to be the people meant here, but we read of no other Elam in Scripture but in Persia, Daniel 8:2; and though they were indeed at a great distance, yet it is probable that Nebuchadnezzar, having conquered the Assyrians, might also make some inroads into Persia, the emperor of which afterward conquered Babylon. This prophecy being in the first year of Zedekiah must needs be long before the thing was done, for it was ten years before the king of Babylon took Jerusalem.
All those Eastern people were famous for the use of the bow, the Elamites in special, Isaiah 22:6; those bows were the chief of their offensive armour, though by the chief of their might may also be meant their most mighty and strong warriors. This prophecy is probably judged to be fulfilled when the Persians made a defection from the king of the Medes, who was son-in-law to Nebuchadnezzar. Others think that this prophecy was accomplished by Alexander the emperor of Greece, or rather by his successors.
The prophet threateneth the destruction of the Persians by a confederacy of enemies, suppose Babylonians, Medes, &c., which should assault them on all sides, as when the wind blows at the same time from all quarters, which causeth a whirlwind, which driveth the dust every way hither and thither, so he saith the Persians should be scattered into all nations.
We met with the like threatenings Jeremiah 49:5,Jeremiah 49:24,Jeremiah 49:29, as to fear; and as to their destruction, we have often met with the like threatenings.
God here calls the throne of Nebuchadnezzar, or Cyrus, or Alexander, (whoever he was that conquered the Persians,) his throne:
1. Because God gave it the conqueror.
2. Or because God showed himself the Lord of hosts, or the Lord of the whole earth, by disposing the kingdom of Persia at his pleasure. He doth not threaten the destruction of the whole nation, but the making of it all tributary, so as it should have no kings nor princes of its own.
We had the like promise as to Moab, Jeremiah 48:47, and as to Ammon, Jeremiah 49:6; the same
latter days either signify after many days, or in the time of the Messias. In the former sense it may refer to Cyrus, who conquered Persia. In the latter sense it is referred to the spiritual liberty which some of these poor heathens were brought into by the gospel. We read, Acts 2:9, that some of these Elamites were at Jerusalem at Pentecost, and were some of those converted to Christ.
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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Jeremiah 49". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30