CRITICAL AND EXEGETICAL NOTES.—1. Chronology of the Chapter.—The prophecies against Ammon, Edom, Damascus, and Kedar. Jer are synchronous with the previous chapter, but the section (Jer 49:34-39) against Elam has its own date given, "In the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah;" therefore seven years later than those preceding it, and coinciding with chaps. Jer 27:1, Jer 28:1, which see.
2. Geographical References.—Jer . "AMMON." Their country lay north of Moab. "Gad:" the country west of the Ammonites, between them and the Jordan. Jer 49:2. "Rabbah:" the fortified metropolis of Ammon. Jer 49:3. "Ai:" an Ammonite city whose location is not known.
Jer . "EDOM:" their country stretched south of Judah. "Teman:" Jerome places it south of Idumea; Keil and Furst suggest N.E. of Edom. Jer 49:8. Dedan: the name of an Arabian tribe bordering on Idumea. Jer 49:13. "Bozrah:" see Gen 36:33; 1Ch 1:44. Jer 49:18. "The neighbour cities" of Sodom and Gomorrah were Admah and Zeboim.
Jer . "DAMASCUS:" Aram, called by us Syria, was divided into the northern part, of which "Hamath" was the capital; and the territory south-east belonging to "Damascus." "Arpad:" a Syrian city.
Jer . "KEDAR:" a wide range of country between the Red Sea and the Euphrates. Vide on chap. Jer 2:10. "Hazor:" a country contiguous to that of the Kedarenes—Arabia Deserta.
Jer . "ELAM:" The Elymais of the Greeks and Romans, forming part of the ancient Susiana, on the west of Persia, separated from Chaldea by the Tigris.
3. Personal Allusions.—Jer . Their king: properly Melcom (see marg.): the tutelary idol (Zep 1:5). Jehovah was their true King; this Melchom or Moloch was a usurper-king. Jer 49:27. "Palaces of Benhadad." "Benhadad" was a common name of several Syrian kings, and should not be identified with the Benhadad of 2Ki 13:3; Amo 1:4. (Cf. 1Ki 15:18).
4. Literary Criticisms.—Jer . "Thy flowing valley:" or "thy valley flows," either with abundance or with the blood of the slain. Jer 49:12. "They whose judgment was not to drink:" i.e., whose habit or experience, &c. It was not God's people's usual experience to drink of the cup of His wrath.
Jer . "Against the habitation of the strong:" rather, to the ever-verdant pasturage; for אֵיתָן means durableness, from יָתַן, to be constant, perennial.
Jer . "Sorrow on the sea:" Many MSS. read "sorrow like the sea," changing כ for ב; and the corresponding passage in Isa 57:20 reads "like the sea"—in which passage the sea is used for the agitations of men's hearts. Here it might mean, sorrow in the agitated hearts of the Syrians, for all the versions read "in the sea" in this text.
Jer . "How is the city of praise not left?" rather, "Would that the city of praise were not abandoned!" So Graf. Damascus was "the city of praise" for its beauty.
HOMILIES ON VERSES OF CHAPTER 49
Note on Jer . "Hath Israel no sons?" When the Ammonites seized Gad, on Israel's being carried into captivity by the Assyrians, they acted as if the country had no rightful heir, as if the banished ones should never return to claim their country.
Jer . Theme: THE VANQUISHED RAISED INTO VICTORS.
I. Scorners revel in Israel's overthrow. Seize on their treasures as spoil. Exult in their hopeless defeat. Profit by their temporary reverses.
II. The heritage of God's people is Inalienable. Foes may appropriate it for a while, but Israel shall repossess her lost heritage, and her foes shall be abject.
III. Final triumph to the oppressed Church.
1. They who despoil our peace shall be overthrown.
2. They who arrogantly appropriate the privileges exclusively belonging to the godly shall be driven forth into desolation.
3. They who make gain of our difficulties and sorrows, which God permits for our chastening and profit, shall feel in due time the punishments of Heaven.
Or thus (as Naegelsbach suggests):—
I. The Church's lament over lost territory. Melcom's possession of Israel's inheritance. So now Mohammed's possession of the territory of the Christian Church in Asia and Europe. And, in general, heathenism in possession of lands and hearts which should be held for Christ.
II. The Church's hope of ultimate repossession.
1. As to the overcoming of her opponents.
2. As to the reacquisition of the lost.
Jer . Theme: FUTILITY OF HUMAN WISDOM.
i. The people of Teman had an ancient and remote fame for their wisdom (Gen ; 1Ki 4:30; Job 2:11. Teman was the home of Eliphaz). Celebrated for their skill in dark sayings and proverbs.
ii. Eminent sagacity affords no security against God's designs. "Their wisdom vanished." Thus God puts to shame those who trust to "their own craftiness" (1Co ).
Jer . Theme: A FATHER'S DYING CONSOLATIONS. "Leave thy fatherless children; I will preserve them alive: and let thy widows trust in me."
I. A most affecting situation is supposed. "Fatherless and widows."
1. Desertion: their strong human helper gone!
2. Bereavement: who supply the place?
3. Defencelessness: who will be their safeguard?
4. Anguish of spirit: lonely, heart-stricken, home desolated!
II. A most consoling promise annexed.
1. An exhortation precedes the promise. "Leave," &c. An exhortation which breathes into the dying man the spirit of Resignation.
2. It is an exhortation to confidence. As he is compelled to leave them another POWER springs up to protect those dearer than life—confidence for himself—confidence for his family.
3. The exhortation is full of Comfort. The latter clause addressed not to the dying man but to the widow—"let thy widows trust"—it binds up the heart of the desolate.
III. A most tender appeal is addressed. "Let thy widows trust in Me."
1. Trust the Divine Faithfulness; 2. the Divine Tenderness; 3. the Divine Vigilance.
IV. A most gracious service is guaranteed. "I will preserve," &c.
1. Keep them from evil
2. Supply their wants.
3. Carry them through life.
4. Receive them to glory.
Jer . Theme: COMFORT IN BEREAVEMENT. "Leave thy fatherless children, and let thy widows trust in me."
We must always regard it as a grand peculiarity of the religion that comes from God that it brings relief and comfort under trials for which the world has no balm, and throws light upon dispensations which would be otherwise clouded with a hopeless and impenetrable gloom. The religion of Jesus comes as a comforter when other oracles are silent; comes as a star of promise and of hope when every other lamp is extinguished; comes to breathe upon our ear its still small voice of mercy, when we hear nothing besides but the earthquake, and the fire, and the great and strong wind; and clothes with a mantle of celestial light the darkest appearances of this lower world.
I. The mournful changes of human life.
The text refers to the overthrow of Edom, to the calamities of war, to the domestic calamities produced by that event, and brings in the father of a family, about to leave his children for ever to the hard mercies of the world. Here are collected around you a sad group of sufferers—a dying father, mourning children, a widowed mother, addressed by a pitying and gracious God.
1. Of these changes God proclaims himself the Author: whether they come by war, by invasion, by pestilence, by famine, or by the ordinary progress of human decay, the hand of God is to be seen and acknowledged in them. "I will bring the calamity of Esau upon him—the time that I will visit him. I have made Esau bare, he shall not be able to hide himself, his seed is spoiled, and his brethren, and his neighbours, and he is not."
The worldling often views his calamities as coming unbidden and unblest, as contingent and casual, as evils which he must either resolutely resist or sullenly endure; and the consequence is that he either "despises the chastening of the Lord, or faints when he is rebuked of Him." But the Christian views them as coming from a Father's hand, for purposes which he may not be able to fathom, indeed, but which he certainly knows to be sent in love. The Christian knows no such Deity as Chance or Fate, and is at no loss to assign the Author of the trial. Afflictions fall upon mankind in a manner too regular for the agency of chance, but in a manner not stated and regular enough to have a blind Fatality for their author. They are not only consistent with God's love, but they actually flow from it.
This is the universal creed of the Church of God. Amos says, "Can there be evil in the city and the Lord hath not done it?" Naomi: "I went out full, and the Lord hath brought me home empty." True, the famine was the procuring cause, and the anxiety of that period may have brought on diseases which swept her husband and her two sons into an untimely grave; but she sees the hand of God in all: "The Almighty hath afflicted me; the Lord hath testified against me." What more uncertain than a casual flight of the arrow in the battlefield? But if a certain man drew a bow at a venture, his hand was strengthened by an Omnipotent Arm, and the arrow directed by an unerring Eye. What we term accident and casualty is in reality Providence accomplishing deliberate designs, but concealing its own interposition. What can be more trivial than the fall of a sparrow? But "not one of these falls to the ground without your Father." And if a sparrow falls not without God, certainly one of His own children cannot. One is hurried away by a burning fever, one by a lingering consumption, one by some unforeseen accident, one by pestilence, one by war. But God says, "I will bring the calamity of Esau upon him; the time that I shall visit," &c.
2. From the prospect of these changes feeble human nature shrinks and recoils.
Where is the father who does not tremble at the idea of leaving his children orphans and his home desolate? Where are the children who do not dread the thought of the hour when father and mother shall be removed from their embrace? Think of the picture drawn in the text—the anxiety of a dying father—the breaking-up of family ties—the darkened chamber—the silent home—the waking in the morning to a bereaved and forsaken world—and you bearing a weight of grief in your bosom, in comparison with which a mountain would be light.
Why do we refer to these points, but to teach children to value the privileges they possess in having parents to guide and protect them, and to remind Christian parents of their high responsibilities before it be too late. I can conceive that death will make strange revelations. The light of eternity which glares upon a death-bed, and shows the value of your own soul, may show you the value of the souls of your children, and your own responsibility to the God of the families of the whole earth.
II. The compassion of a gracious God. "Leave thy fatherless children."
God sympathises with all the fears, all the sorrows, and all the painful emotions of the human bosom. His POWER enables, His LOVE inclines, His FAITHFULNESS pledges Him to your guidance and direction. God, who has made the parent's heart what it is, knows how to meet its awakened susceptibility and care. God, who sends the calamity, knows how to send the support with it.
The history of the Church tells out wonderful instances of compassion to parents and children. Look at the first mission of an angel to a world; was it not to deserted and widowed Hagar before the birth of her first child? and was not the second visit of an angel to Hagar and Ishmael when the Lord heard the voice of the lad? Did not the angel descend to wrestle with Jacob when involved in trouble for his family, lest Esau come and smite the mother with the children? Was it not to the widow of Zarephath Elisha was sent? Was not Elijah's greatest miracle employed on behalf of that pious mother mourning for her only Son? Was not the Lord with Joseph when separated from his father? with Moses when left to the bulrushes? Look at our Lord's miracles.
III. The privilege of enlightened faith. Let your widows trust.
1. Trust in the use of appointed means.
2. Trust when outward means appear to fail.
3. When Providence appears to oppose promises.
4. When death and eternity are at hand.—Rev. S. Thodey, A.D. 1844.
Jer . Theme: THE CUP OF SUFFERING FOR GODLY AND GUILTY. See Lit. Criticism on verse supra. If the godly are made to drink it, shall the ungodly escape? Will not Jehovah deal judgment to His people's foes?
I. A fact for Wonder: God's people suffer punishment. "Behold, they whose judgment was not to drink of the cup have assuredly drunken."
1. It is not the ordinary experience of God's people "to drink of the cup."
2. Yet it has befallen Israel that he has "assuredly drunken." God's people are sometimes severely chastened.
3. The good among the people suffered with the disobedient. For there were many pious and righteous men in Israel who zealously strove to keep the nation from apostasy, as with Daniel, Ezekiel, Jeremiah; yet they were entailed in the griefs of exile.
II. A fact full of Admonition: the ungodly shall not escape punishment.
"Art thou he that shall altogether go unpunished? Thou shalt not go unpunished, but thou shalt surely drink of it."
1. How can the wicked expect to escape when the people God loves are made to suffer for their faults?
2. The affections of the righteous are purifying, but those of the guilty are punitive.
3. Surely it may be expected that God will be lenient with and forgive His sons sooner than aliens.
4. If the godly are banished from their land and life's privileges for their wrong, shall not the "wicked be turned into hell," and be banished from all the covenant favours of Heaven?
(a.) The cup of affliction is placed in the hands of us all.
(b.) None can claim to be exempted because of his covenant relationship.
(c.) The Christian's natural enjoyment of grace leads to surprise when the cup is placed in his hands.
(d.) Yet the justice which will not spare the beloved child forewarns the rebel of certain punishment of wilful sin.
Jer . Theme: FORTIFIED AGAINST GOD'S POWER. "Thy terribleness hath deceived thee, and the pride of thine heart, O thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock," &c.
I. Such startling boastfulness against God can be accounted for only as resulting from remarkable delusions.
A soul must have become strangely elevated in mood and defiance to be capable of such arrogance. Men often wish themselves protected from the reach of God's power; but few indeed ever become so deluded as to believe and to boast that they are so protected. What explains it?
1. Arrogance fostered by successes. "Thy terribleness hath deceived thee; i.e., at first the fear inspired into others by her power rendered her proudly confident, as if none would dare to assail her; for success and sway over others tend to foster this inflated sense of importance and power. Beware of the "deceiving" influence of success and power!
2. Vanity, which fed itself upon the obsequious subjection of others. "The pride of thy heart." And such vanity grows as it is gratified.
3. Self-created resources of strength and security. "Clefts of the rock—the height of the hill." Sinners build their houses against the coming flood, and think themselves safe in them.
II. It is a frequent effort of irreligious men to fortify themselves against the reach of God.
1. Against the reverses of His providence. So they place their fortune in safest securities, in various sure undertakings, in order to have a guarantee that, should one fail, they will be right with the rest. Thus they plan that "riches shall not take to themselves wings and fly away."
2. Against the afflictions of His hand. They choose healthy localities for their houses, with every sanitary appliance for the security of health. They command ablest physicians in illness. They seek the most salubrious and invigorating climates for the different seasons of the year. They command every luxury and comfort for the ease and security of life.
3. Against the agencies of death. They "make their nest as high as the eagles." They climb up away from the grim shadow—take great pains to elude the last enemy.
4. Against the penalties of sin. Give money in their wills to religious societies, as a bribe to their consciences. Leave wealth to Popish priests to pray their souls out of purgatory. Fortify themselves in atheism or rationalistic theories, to satisfy themselves that there is no penalty for sin, or no hereafter.
III. God's mighty hand will be laid upon even the proudest boaster.
1. Misfortunes pursue men in all their sure retreats.
2. Death mounts over all "rocks," climbs up into all "nests."
3. Terror will seize and shatter the confidence of every sinner in the day of God's righteous judgment.
4. There will be an awful "bringing down" of the lofty when the Almighty puts forth His hand to destroy men's "refuges of lies." See Isa ; Rev 6:15.
Note—There is a cleft of a Rock in which the soul may securely hide.
"Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee!"
Jer . "Like a lion from the swelling of Jordan," See Homily on chap. Jer 12:5, and Notes on chap. Jer 4:7.
Jer . Theme: THE SEA: ITS RAVAGES AND TRAGEDIES. "They have heard eviltidings: they are faint-hearted; there is sorrow on the sea; it cannot be quiet."
I. The sea has its stories of heartrending disaster.
II. The stories of the sea's ravages fill us with trembling and grief.
III. The perils of the deep witness to the awful power and presence of God.
IV. How urgently should prayer be made for and by those who traverse the ocean.
"When through the torn sails the wild tempest is streaming,
When o'er the dark wave the red lightning is gleaming,
Nor hope lends a ray the poor seaman to cherish,
We fly to our Saviour:—‘Save, Lord, or we perish!"
"O Jesus, once rocked on the breast of the billow,
Aroused by the shriek of despair from Thy pillow,
Now seated in glory, the mariner cherish,
Who cries in his anguish, ‘Save, Lord, or we perish!'
"And oh, when the whirlwind of passion is raging,
When sin in our hearts its wild warfare is waging,
Then send down Thy grace Thy redeemed to cherish;
Rebuke the destroyer:—‘Save, Lord, or we perish!'"
V. The sea's wildest tumult is under the control of God. "It cannot be quiet," says this text: but once over the furious sea, where terror-stricken men dreaded death, Jesus sent out His word—and "there was a great calm." "Then are they glad because they be quiet; so He bringeth them to their desired haven" (Psa ).
Jer . "PALACE OF BENHADAD:" whence so many cruelties against Israel emanated: thus indicating the reason for the overthrow of Damascus. God traces guilt to its source!
Jer . "CRY, FEAR IS ON EVERY SIDE." Jeremiah's watchword again, "Magor-Missabib:" cf. chap. Jer 20:3; Jer 20:10; Psa 31:13. The mere "cry" of the foe—"Fear," &c., shall discomfort the Kedarenes.
Jer . "ARISE, GET YOU UP UNTO THE WEALTHY NATION," &c.
i. They who possess worldly plenty do not have all advantages on their side, for their "wealth" courts the envy of the covetous and the assaults of the spoiler.
ii. An easy self-security lays men open to the invasions of trouble and loss. Better to be secure in Christ, "your life hid with Christ in God," than to enjoy a fancied security in the wealth and possessions of earth.
Jer . "THE WORD OF THE LORD AGAINST ELAM." "In the cuneiform inscriptions we find the Elamites in perpetual war with Nineveh, with whom they contested possession of the country of Rasi (probably the country mentioned in Eze 38:2; Eze 39:1). With Babylon, on the contrary, they were on friendly terms, and they appear perpetually as the allies of Merodach-Baladan and his sons in their struggles for independence. The suggestion, therefore, of Ewald, that they served as auxiliaries in the Chaldean army in the expedition which ended in the fall of Jehoiakim and the deportation of Jeconiah and the best of the land to Babylon, is not improbable, though there is nothing to justify us in laying to their charge any extraordinary cruelty."—Dr. Payne Smith.
"When the monarchy of Persia was established under Cyrus, Elam was blended into and formed a part of it; but before that time they were two distinct kingdoms. According to the present prophecy, Elam is spoken of as having actually become a province of the Babylonish empire (Dan ); and Daniel appears to have presided over it, having Shushan for the seat of his government."—Dr. Blayney.
Jer . "I WILL SET MY THRONE IN ELAM:" God would show Himself the Ruling and Omnipotent King by His judgments there.
Jer . "IN THE LATTER DAYS, I will bring again the captivity of Elam." The full restoration belongs to Gospel times: and "Elamites" were among the first who heard and accepted the Gospel. Their presence at the Pentecost shows that the Elamites were still preserved by the Divine Providence, and were there among the representatives of the Gentile world to whom the Evangel of Christ was proclaimed.
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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Jeremiah 49". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany