Jeremiah 25:1. The word that came to Jeremiah in the fourth year of Jehoiakim — It is probable this revelation was made to the prophet in the early part of that year; for the defeat of the Egyptians at Carchemish, and the subsequent taking of Jerusalem, are both placed in the same year: but from Jeremiah 25:9 it appears that Nebuchadnezzar had but just entered upon his expedition when the Lord sent this word to Jeremiah, and had not yet carried into execution any of those designs for which God there says he would take and send him. The reader will observe, the fourth year of Jehoiakim was seven years and some months before Jeconiah was carried into captivity, as appears from 2 Kings 23:36; 2 Kings 24:8-15, and eighteen years before the taking of the city and the more general captivity; which shows that this prophecy was delivered at least six or seven years before that in the preceding chapter. That was the first year of Nebuchadnezzar — That is, according to the Jewish mode of computing his reign, from the time of his being associated with his father in the empire before he set out on his Syrian expedition. But the Babylonians do not reckon his reign to have begun till two years after, upon his father’s death.
Jeremiah 25:2-3. Which Jeremiah spake to all the people of Judah — That is, the word which he spake concerned them all, and he spake it to as many of them as he met with in any public assembly at Jerusalem or elsewhere. From the thirteenth year of Josiah — In which year, as we read, Jeremiah 1:2, Jeremiah began to prophesy; Josiah reigned thirty-one years, 2 Kings 22:1; so that, taking in the thirteenth year, he prophesied nineteen years during the life of Josiah, to which the four years of Jehoiakim’s reign being added, make the number twenty-three. These twenty-three years, says the prophet, I have been a preacher to you, and I have not been negligent in my work, but, like men that rise early in the morning to despatch their business, I have been attentive and laborious in the discharge of my prophetic office.
Jeremiah 25:4-7. And the Lord hath sent unto you all his servants, &c. — 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. 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. They said, Turn ye again now, &c. — The substance, both of their and my sermons, hath been to persuade you to abandon those sinful courses, wherein you have lived, and which you might have amended, by virtue of that grace which God 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 obeyed it, you should enjoy this good land which the Lord promised, and gave to you and your fathers, and which you have now possessed for many ages. And go not after other gods — Though the Jews were guilty of many other sins, yet their most heinous sin was idolatry, as it was a direct renouncing of God’s authority, who had, by so many miracles of mercy, set them apart for himself and his own service, and had bestowed so many signal privileges and blessings upon them. And provoke me not with the works of your hands — By worshipping, as gods, the images which your own hands have made, or with any works which are contrary to my law. And I will do you no hurt — You shall yet enjoy your own land and prosper. Yet ye have not hearkened unto me — Ye heard me, and other the Lord’s prophets, thus speaking to you, but you have not obeyed; that ye might provoke me, &c. — As if you had disobeyed with a design to incense me against you; to your own hurt — For the sinful actions of men do not affect or injure me, but are to the hurt of those who do them.
Jeremiah 25:8-9. Therefore, because ye have not heard — That is, because ye have not hearkened to, nor obeyed my words, Behold, I will send and take all the families of the north, &c. — All those kings whose territories lie northward of Judea, and particularly Nebuchadnezzar, who, in this work, shall be my servant; and will bring them against this land, &c. — I will lead, as commander in chief, them and their armies up against this people; and I will deprive you of all hopes of safety from your alliances with other nations, for the king of Babylon shall first subdue them. See 2 Kings 24:7. And will utterly destroy them, and make them an astonishment — Will make these countries, and their inhabitants, the objects of men’s scorn and reproach. See note on Jeremiah 24:9. And a perpetual desolation — It is often observed, that the Hebrew word עולם, here rendered perpetual, does not always imply eternity, or perpetuity, in a strict sense; but is sometimes taken for such a duration as had a remarkable period to conclude it. Thus it is said of a servant, in a certain case, Exodus 21:6, That he shall serve his master for ever — Which the Jews interpret as meaning, “till the next jubilee.” So here the sense of the word is to be restrained to the period of seventy years, mentioned Jeremiah 25:11.
Jeremiah 25:10. Moreover, I will take from them the voice of mirth, &c. — See the note on Jeremiah 7:34; Jeremiah 16:9. The sound of the millstones and the light of the candle — There shall be no longer any marks of trade carried on, even respecting the common necessaries of life, such as the grinding of corn; and there will be no use of candles, where the inhabitants are dispersed and destroyed; nor will there be occasion for such illuminations as are usual on festival solemnities, in the time of general desolation, Jeremiah 25:11. See the like expressions used, Revelation 18:22; where we may observe that St. John exactly follows the Hebrew text; whereas the LXX., in this place, instead of the sound of the millstones, read οσμην μυρου, the smell of ointment. From which, and several other places of the New Testament, it appears that the apostles and evangelists did not implicitly follow the Greek translation, but only when they thought it consistent with the original text. See Lowth. Mr. Harmer has an excellent observation on this place, which the reader will be glad to see. “The time for grinding their corn is in the morning; which consideration makes the prophet’s selecting the noise of millstones, and the lighting up of candles, as circumstances belonging to inhabited places, appear in a view which no commentators, that I have examined, have taken any notice of. I am indebted to Sir John Chardin’s MS. for the knowledge of this fact. It informs us that ‘in the East they grind their corn at break of day; and that when one goes out in a morning, he hears everywhere the noise of the mill, and that it is the noise that often awakens people.’ It has been commonly known that they bake every day; and that they usually grind their corn as they want it; but this passage informs us, that it is the first work done in a morning, as well as that this grinding of their mills makes a considerable noise, and attracts every ear; and as the lighting up of candles begins the evening, there is an agreeable contrast observable in these words, I will take from thee, &c., the sound of millstones and the light of the candle. And their whole land shall be a desolation — Gloomy shall be the silence of the morning, melancholy the shadows of the evening; no cheerful noise to animate the one, no enlivening ray to soften the gloom of the other. Desolation shall every where reign. A land may abound with habitations, and furnish an agreeable abode, where the voice of mirth is not heard; none of the songs, the music, and the dances of nuptial solemnities; but in the East, where no millstones are heard in the morning, no light seen in the evening, it must be a dreary dismal solitude.” — Chap. 4. obs. 4. See also chap. 3. obs. 18.
Jeremiah 25:11. These nations shall serve the king of Babylon — That is, Nebuchadnezzar and his successors, collectively considered; seventy years — “This period of the nation’s servitude must be computed from the defeat of the Egyptians at Carchemish, in the same year that this prophecy was given, when Nebuchadnezzar reduced the neighbouring nations of Syria and Palestine, as well as Jerusalem, under his subjection. This was near two years before the heathen chronologers in general begin his reign, his father being still living. After his father’s death, according to Ptolemy’s canon, he reigned forty-three years; Ilverodamus, or Evil-merodach, his son two, Neriglissar four, and Nabonadius, supposed to be Belshazzar, the grandson of Nebuchadnezzar, seventeen; to which, if we add two years of Darius the Mede, who is said, Daniel 9:1, to have been made king over the realm of the Chaldeans, we shall find the nations to have continued all that time, nearly seventy years, in subjection, more or less, to the king of Babylon. But after the accession of Cyrus, who put an end to the Babylonish monarchy, the nations could serve the king of Babylon no longer, because there was no longer a king of Babylon to serve; for the kings of Persia were never called kings of Babylon; but Babylon became itself a subject and dependant province, under a subordinate governor, and began from that instant to experience, in some degree, those divine visitations which terminated at length in what is so justly called, in the next verse, perpetual desolations.” — Blaney. See notes on Jeremiah 29:10; and Ezra 1:1.
Jeremiah 25:12-14. When seventy years are accomplished, I will punish the king of Babylon — “God often punishes the persons whom he makes instruments of his vengeance upon others for those very things which they did by his appointment, because their intention was merely to carry on their own ambitious and cruel purposes, and not at all to fulfil God’s will, or advance his glory. So that the evil they did was altogether their own, and the good that was brought out of it was to be ascribed solely to God.” — Lowth. See notes on Isaiah 10:5-7. And that nation for their iniquity — For their pride, ambition, luxury, tyranny, and cruelty, as well as for their various idolatries, which, after Daniel’s interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dreams, and the miracles wrought by the God of Israel, in favour of Shadrach and his companions, not to mention the testimony borne to the true religion by many other pious Jews, were greatly aggravated, and without all excuse. And the land of the Chaldeans, and make it perpetual desolations — Chaldee was not reduced to desolation immediately upon the taking of Babylon, and the conquest of the country by the Medes and Persians, but its power was then broken, and the sources of its prosperity greatly diminished, and by degrees the country was turned into a solitude. Of the steps whereby this was effected, see notes on Isaiah 13:19-22, and Jeremiah 50:40. All that is written in this book, which Jeremiah hath prophesied against all nations — Those prophecies are meant which are to be found all together from chap. 46. to chap. 51. inclusively; and which the LXX. have introduced in this place. For many nations, &c., shall serve themselves of them also — Namely, the nations and kings who were confederates with Cyrus. Houbigant renders the clause, For powerful people, and mighty kings, shall reduce even those nations to servitude, and so, &c. And Blaney to nearly the same sense, thus: For of them, even of these, shall many nations and great kings exact service; and I will render, &c.
Jeremiah 25:15-16. Thus saith the Lord, Take the wine-cup of this fury, &c. — “Those circumstances which constitute the good and evil of human life are often represented in Scripture as the ingredients of a cup, which God, as master of a feast, mixes up, and distributes to the several guests as he thinks fit. Hence, when our Saviour asks James and John, whether they were able to drink of the cup which he was to drink of, he means, whether they had resolution and patience to undergo the like sufferings as his Father had allotted for him. And in the like sense he prays, If it be possible let this cup pass from me. Accordingly, by this image of the wine-cup of God’s wrath, we are to understand those dreadful judgments which an incensed God was about to inflict on the objects of his displeasure. And Jeremiah the prophet, who announced them, is considered as acting the part of a cup-bearer, carrying the cup round to those who were appointed to drink of it; the effects of which were to appear in the intoxication, that is, the terror and astonishment, the confusion and desolation, that should prevail among them.” — Blaney. See notes on Psalms 11:6; Psalms 75:8; Isaiah 51:21.
Jeremiah 25:17. Then took I the cup — It is not to be imagined that Jeremiah went round in person to all the nations and kings here enumerated, with a cup of wine in his hand, but, doubtless, what is here related passed in a vision, in which it was represented to his view. This, either by writing, or by some special messenger, he communicated to the several kings and nations to which God ordered him to publish it. Or, he himself actually did what is figuratively designed, that is, he publicly announced the judgments of God severally against them, as we find in the chapters mentioned in the note on Jeremiah 25:13.
Jeremiah 25:18-21. To wit, Jerusalem and the cities thereof — The Jews are mentioned first, because Jeremiah, as well as the rest of the prophets, was in the first place sent to them, and they were to have the greatest share in the judgments denounced. As it is this day — This clause speaks of the desolation of Judah and Jerusalem; when all that Jeremiah had foretold against them was fulfilled; and therefore must have been added either by Baruch, his amanuensis, or else by Ezra: or whoever it was that collected Jeremiah’s prophecies into one volume, who, it is likely, added the fifty- second chapter. Pharaoh king of Egypt — Whose army Nebuchadnezzar overcame before he took Jerusalem. And all the mingled people — Or, intermingled, as Blaney translates הערב, joining the expression with the preceding verse, and understanding thereby all the foreigners resident in Egypt, who had, by intermarriages, formed connections with the Egyptians. St. Jerome takes the word in the same sense. Our translators, however, seem to have understood by it a mixture of several nations, dwelling either upon the coasts of the Mediterranean, or of the Red sea. And all the kings of the land of Uz — This was the country of Job; but concerning its situation different opinions are entertained. It was most probably on the confines of Idumea, if not a part of it. The daughter of Edom is said to dwell in the land of Uz, Lamentations 4:21 : see note on Job 1:1. Those who were leaders, or governors of different tribes or families, seem to have had the name of kings: they are now called emirs. And all the kings of the Philistines — The princes of the different districts, or cities, into which Philistia was divided, namely, Ashkelon and Azzah, &c. And the remnant of Ashdod — Or Azotus, which had been very much ruined by two sieges in which it was taken, the one by Tartan, the Assyrian general, mentioned Isaiah 20:1; the other by Psammitichus, king of Egypt, who retook it after the longest siege that had even been known in those times: Herodot. lib. 2. c. 157. The prophecy respecting the Philistines is contained in chap. 47. Edom — Or rather, And Edom — As the LXX., Syr., and Vul. read, with seven MSS. For the prophecies concerning Edom, Moab, and the Ammonites, see chap. 48. and Jeremiah 49:1-22.
Jeremiah 25:22-24. And all the kings of Tyrus and Zidon — The nobles, or chief men of each city, seem to be meant by kings here, for neither of these cities had more than one king. And the kings of the isles, which are beyond the sea — Cyprus, &c., which Nebuchadnezzar subjected. Or, as the Hebrew, האי בעבר הים, is rendered in the margin, The region by the sea-side. For that אי, rendered isle in the text, does not always signify an island, properly so called, is manifest from many passages. Dedan, and Tema, and Buz — A person called Dedan was descended from Abraham by Keturah, Genesis 25:3. Probably he founded the city Dedan; which, however, in process of time, seems to have been annexed to Edom: see Jeremiah 49:8; Ezekiel 25:13. Tema was one of the sons of Ishmael, Genesis 25:15, and a city, or district, called after him, was situate near the mountains which separate Arabia from Chaldea. — An. Univ. Hist., vol. 7. p. 230, fol. Buz was the brother of Uz, Genesis 22:21, and settled most probably, in his neighbourhood. Elihu, the wisest of Job’s friends, was a Buzite, Job 32:2. And all that are in the utmost corners — Or, all that have the coast insulated, as Blaney translates it: see note on Jeremiah 9:26. These, he supposes, to be the inhabitants of the peninsula of Arabia, especially those situate toward the bottom, or narrow part of it. And all the kings of Arabia — “The whole country to which we give the general name of Arabia seems to have been thrown, in Scripture, into two great divisions, one of which is called properly ערבה, Arabah, the other קדם, Kedem, according to their respective situations; Arabah, signifying the west, as Kedem does the east. Each of these had their subdivisions; the first, comprehending that which geographers have distinguished by the name of Arabia Petræa, and also, perhaps, those parts along the western coast of the Red sea bordering upon Egypt. The other part, called Kedem, comprehended Arabia Felix, and Arabia Deserta; the former of which the Scripture seems to have distinguished by the name of קצוצי פאת, those that have their coast insulated, mentioned in the preceding verse; and the latter in this verse, by the mingled race of those that dwell in the desert, meaning such as inhabited the great desert country, lying between Mesopotamia and Palestine. These may have been so called from the manner of inhabiting the desert promiscuously and in common, without any fixed property or abode, settling, for a time, where they found pasture, and then removing with their flocks to another place; or, from their being made up of people of different descents.” — Blaney.
Jeremiah 25:25-26. All the kings of Zimri — Those descended from Zimran, one of Abraham’s sons, by Keturah; all of whom he sent to settle in the east country, Genesis 25:2; Genesis 25:6. It is probable that these descendants of Zimran were the same that Pliny mentions among the inhabitants of Arabia, by the name of Zamareni. And all the kings of Elam — Namely, of Persia. And all the kings of the Medes — Who were descended from Madai, the son of Japhet. The Medes and Persians were commonly confederates and partakers of the same prosperity or adversity. And all the kings of the north far and near — “By the kings of the north that were near, the kings of Syria are probably meant: see Jeremiah 49:23. Those that were afar off may mean the Hyrcanians and Bactrians, who are reckoned in Xenophon’s Cyropœdia, lib. 1., among them that were subjected or oppressed by the king of Babylon, and perhaps others besides of the neighbouring nations that were compelled to submit to the Babylonian yoke. All these lay to the north of Judea, and at a great distance.” And all the kingdoms of the world, &c. — It is justly observed by Blaney, that this must be understood with a limitation to that part of the continent with which the Jews had some correspondence, or acquaintance; just as πασα η οικουμενη stands for the whole Roman empire, Luke 2:1. “The ambition of a prince like Nebuchadnezzar, who aimed at universal monarchy, could not but occasion great confusion and distress, both among those who felt, and among those who dreaded, the power of his arms.” And the king of Sheshach shall drink after them — Here the speech of Jehovah is resumed, which was broken off at the end of Jeremiah 25:16. That Sheshach means Babylon, appears clearly from Jeremiah 51:41. “But, among the reasons that have been assigned for this name,” says Blaney,” I have met with none that I think satisfactory. שׁכךְ, signifies to subside, and sink down; and may perhaps allude to the low situation of Babylon, which did not derive its strength from being built, like many other great cities, upon the heights of a rock, but stood upon a large flat, or plain, cowering, as it were, amidst the waters that surrounded it, and by which it was rendered in some parts inaccessible to an enemy.”
Jeremiah 25:27-29. Drink ye and be drunken — The imperative is here put for the future: see the like mode of speaking, Isaiah 2:9; Isaiah 6:9; Isaiah 23:16. The cup being metaphorically put for calamity, to be drunken with it, and fall, &c., must signify extreme calamity, or destruction. If they refuse to take the cup, &c. — “If they either do not believe thy threatenings, or disregard them, as thinking themselves sufficiently provided against any hostile invasion, thou shalt let them know that the judgments denounced against them are God’s irreversible decree,” which shall certainly be executed, and that it will be in vain for them to hope to escape the threatened ruin. For lo, I bring evil on the city called by my name, &c. — “Judgment often begins at the house of God, for the correction of his people, and to be a warning to others; but the heaviest strokes of it are reserved for the ungodly:” see Lowth, and Jeremiah 49:12; 1 Peter 4:17-18. And should ye be utterly unpunished? — No: if this be done in the green tree, what shall be done in the dry? If they that have some good in them smart so severely for the evil that is found in them, can they expect to escape that have worse evils and no good found among them? If Jerusalem be punished for learning idolatry of the nations, shall not the nations be punished of whom they learned it? No doubt they shall; for, says the Lord, I will call for a sword upon all the inhabitants of the earth — For they have helped to corrupt the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
Jeremiah 25:30-33. The Lord shall roar from on high — Shall manifest his anger from heaven. God speaks by his judgments, and those, when they are very terrible, may be fitly compared to the roaring of a lion, which strikes a consternation into those that hear it. He shall mightily roar upon his habitation — He shall pronounce and execute a terrible judgment upon his temple, the place on earth which he hath chosen for his residence: see 1 Kings 8:29. He shall give a shout as they that tread the grapes — That is, He shall utter his voice before his army, as Joel expresses it, Joel 2:11. Like a leader or general, he shall encourage them to give the onset upon their enemies, which is usually performed with a shout, as great as that which the treaders of grapes use at the time of the vintage. A noise shall come to the ends of the earth — The report of these calamities and confusions shall reach the most distant countries. For the Lord hath a controversy with the nations — God enters into judgment with men for their impieties, as being so many injuries to his honour, for which he demands satisfaction, Hosea 4:1; Micah 6:2. He will plead with all flesh — Namely, with fire and sword, as Isaiah expresses it, Isaiah 66:16. He will give the wicked to the sword — His quarrel with men is for their wickedness, for their contempt of him, of his authority over them, and kindness to them. They have provoked him to anger, and thence comes all this destruction. Behold, evil shall go forth from nation to nation — As the cup of God’s wrath goes round, every nation shall have its share, and take its turn, because one doth not take warning, by the calamities of another, to repent and reform. A great whirlwind shall be raised up, &c. — The Chaldean army shall come like a hurricane, raised in the north, and thence carried forward with incredible fierceness and swiftness, bearing down all before it. God’s vengeance is often compared to a whirlwind, and is here said to come from the coasts, or sides of the earth, because Chaldea was, at that time, thought to be one of the most remote regions. And the slain of the Lord, &c. — Multitudes shall fall by the sword of the merciless Chaldeans, so that the dead shall be everywhere found, here termed, the slain of the Lord, because slain by commission from him, and sacrificed to his justice. They shall not be lamented — They shall fall in such great numbers that the usual funeral rites and lamentations shall not be paid them, and many of them will lie unburied.
Jeremiah 25:34-35. Howl, ye shepherds, and cry — The imperative is here also put for the future: see Jeremiah 25:27. Shepherds are here the same with kings, princes, or generals. In pursuance of the same metaphor, by the principal of the flock are meant the great and rich men of each nation. Though such are wont to be the most courageous and secure, yet of these it is foretold, that their hearts should so fail them that they should howl, and cry, and wallow in ashes. Seeing themselves utterly unable to make head against the enemy, and seeing their country, which they had the charge of, and for the protection and prosperity of which they were concerned, inevitably ruined, they should abandon themselves to despair, sorrow, and lamentation. For the days of your slaughter, &c., are accomplished — The time fixed in the divine counsel for the slaughter of some, and the dispersion of the rest, is fully come. And ye shall fall like a pleasant vessel — Ye shall be utterly destroyed, as a crystal glass when it is dashed against the ground. The shepherds shall have no way to flee, &c. — The enemy will be so numerous, so furious, so sedulous, and the extent of their army so vast, that it will be impossible to avoid falling into their hands.
Jeremiah 25:36-38. A voice of the cry of the shepherds — Those are great calamities indeed that strike such a terror upon great men, and put them into this mighty consternation. For the Lord hath spoiled their pasture — In which they fed their flock, and out of which they fed themselves; the spoiling of this makes them cry out thus. Carrying on the metaphor of a lion roaring, the prophet alludes to the great fright into which shepherds are put when they hear a roaring lion coming toward them, and find that neither they nor their flocks can escape. And the peaceable habitations are cut down — Those that used to be quiet and not molested, who had long dwelt in peace and safety, shall now be exposed to all the calamities of war, and shall be thereby destroyed; or, those that used to be peaceable, and not to molest any of their neighbours, nor give provocation to any, shall yet not escape. This is one of the direful effects of war, that even those that are most harmless and inoffensive, often suffer hard things. Blessed be God, there is a peaceable habitation above for all the sons of peace, which is out of the reach of fire and sword.
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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Jeremiah 25". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany