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Bible Commentaries
Jeremiah 49

Benson's Commentary of the Old and New TestamentsBenson's Commentary


A.M. 3404. B.C. 600.

This chapter contains a collection of prophecies against several of those nations against which Jeremiah received a general commission to declare God’s judgments, Jeremiah 25:13 .

(1,) Against the Ammonites, Jeremiah 49:1-6 .

(2,) The Edomites, Jeremiah 49:7-22 .

(3,) The Syrians, Jeremiah 49:23-27 .

(4,) The Arabians of Kedar and Hazor, Jeremiah 49:28-33 .

(5,) The Elamites, 34-39. Concerning the time of the fulfilment of these prophecies, see the note on Jeremiah 48:1 .

Verse 1

Jeremiah 49:1. Hath Israel no sons? Why then doth their king inherit Gad? Is there no posterity of Israel, that the king of the Ammonites hath taken possession of Gad, as if he had a right to it, and his people dwell in the cities of it? Instead of their king, here, Blaney reads Milcom, and Dr. Waterland and Houbigant Malkam, the idol of the Ammonites. “God sorely afflicted those parts of the kingdom of Israel that lay eastward of Jordan, first by Hazael, 2 Kings 10:33; afterward by Tiglath-pileser, chap. 2 Kings 15:29; and then delivered up the whole kingdom to be carried captive by Shalmaneser, chap. 17.; after which, it is probable, the Ammonites took occasion to possess themselves of Gad, that lay near their territories. But God’s dispossessing the Israelites gave the Ammonites no right to invade their inheritance, (see Zephaniah 2:8,) especially as they had been so tender of the Ammonites’ right as not to invade their possessions in their march toward the land of Canaan.” See Lowth, and Deuteronomy 4:19; 2 Chronicles 20:10. It is probable, as the king of Ammon had instigated Ishmael to kill Gedaliah, that the reason which induced Nebuchadnezzar to make war upon the Ammonites was to revenge that murder.

Verse 2

Jeremiah 49:2. Therefore I will cause the noise of war to be heard in Rabbah, &c. The principal city of that country. Her daughters shall be burned with fire That is, the lesser cities, which are reckoned so many daughters to the mother city. Then shall Israel be heir unto them that were his heirs Hebrew, וירשׁ את ירשׁיו , Possidebit possessores suos, Vulgate, shall possess his possessors: or, as Blaney renders it, shall take to their possessions who have taken to his. “This is understood,” says he, “to have been fulfilled when Judas Maccabeus defeated the Ammonites, and took their towns, 1Ma 5:6 , &c. Zephaniah speaks in like manner, Jeremiah 2:9, The residue of my people shall spoil them, and the remnant of my people shall possess them. But both prophets may, perhaps, refer to still future times, when Israel shall be finally restored to their own land, as is frequently foretold of them, and not only recover their own ancient possessions, but succeed, likewise, to the vacant possessions of their once hostile neighbours, long since extinct and irrecoverably lost.”

Verse 3

Jeremiah 49:3. Howl, O Heshbon, for Ai is spoiled This “Ai must be a different city from that taken by Joshua, chap. 8., which lay on the west side of Jordan. Grotius mentions another city, called Gaia by Ptolemy; which, being near Heshbon, the destruction of it was matter of concern to the neighbouring city.” Lament, and run to and fro by the hedges Try to hide yourselves in the thickets, and remove from one place to another, for fear of being discovered. But by גדרות , here rendered hedges, Blaney thinks, are meant, “those fences or enclosures round the lesser towns, which served to secure them against thieves and robbers, but were not dignified with the name of walls, capable of resisting the attack of a regular enemy.” The psalmist, he supposes, distinguishes these from the fortifications of cities, Psalms 89:40, terming the former גדרתיו , his fences, and the latter מבצריו , his strong holds, or walled fortresses. According to this interpretation, therefore, the prophet here foretels that “the inhabitants of the lesser towns should run to and fro, like persons distracted with fear, within their enclosures, not daring to step beyond them, lest they should fall in with the enemy, whose approach they dreaded.” For their king Or, Milcom, their idol; shall go into captivity, and his priests and princes together “Here the same is said of Milcom,” says Blaney, “as was of Chemosh, chap. Jeremiah 48:7, which shows that the word is properly used as the name of the Ammonitish idol.”

Verses 4-6

Jeremiah 49:4-6. Wherefore gloriest thou in the valleys? That is, in the riches of thy fat and plentiful valleys, which overflow with abundance of all things: compare Isaiah 28:1; Isaiah 28:4. Though they be fruitful, yet glory not therein, for, notwithstanding their fertility, they shall be no security to thee against the terror which I shall bring upon thee. Behold, I will bring fear upon thee When God gives up a people to destruction, he commonly takes from them their usual courage. But the word fear here may denote a hostile army, the cause of fear and terror. And ye shall be driven out every man right forth That is, so as not to dare to look back, or stop to consider which way to go, but flee for your lives that way which lies next. And none shall gather up him that wandereth None shall bring him that flees from the enemy to his house, or afford him any shelter or accommodation. And afterward I will bring again the captivity of Ammon. See note on Jeremiah 48:47.

Verse 7

Jeremiah 49:7. Concerning Edom The destruction of Edom, or Idumea, is likewise foretold by Ezekiel, Joel, Amos, and Obadiah: see the margin. Is wisdom no more in Teman “The eastern part of the world (by which is chiefly meant Arabia and the adjacent countries) was famous for the study of wisdom, or philosophy, as it was called in later times: see 1 Kings 4:30. The Edomites put in their claim to this prerogative, as appears from what is said here, and in the parallel place of Obadiah, Jeremiah 49:8, as also from the book of Job, where Eliphaz, one of the disputants, is called the Temanite, as being descended from Teman, Esau’s grandson, who gave name to the city or country of Teman, elsewhere mentioned. Is counsel perished from the prudent? When God designs a people for destruction, he deprives them of that common prudence and foresight which are requisite for the due management of their affairs.” Lowth. Here Edom, which boasted itself, and whose fame was spread abroad for wisdom and prudence, is described acting as if all its wisdom and prudence were gone.

Verse 8

Jeremiah 49:8. Flee ye, turn back, dwell deep “When the Arabs,” says Harmer, “have drawn upon themselves such a general resentment of the more fixed inhabitants of those countries that they think themselves unable to stand against them, they withdraw into the depths of the great wilderness, where none can follow them with hopes of success.” D’Arvieux tells us, “they will be quite ready to decamp upon less than two hours’ warning, and, retiring immediately into the deserts, render it impossible for other nations, even the most powerful, to conquer them, they not daring to venture far into the deserts, where the Arabs alone know how to steer their course, so as to hit upon places of water and forage. Is it not then most probable that the dwelling deep, which Jeremiah here recommends to the Arab tribes, means this plunging far into the deserts, rather than going into deep caves and dens, as Grotius and other commentators suppose?” O inhabitants of Dedan The Dedanites were Arabians of the posterity of Dedan, a grandson of Abraham, Genesis 25:3. They seem by this place to have been, in latter times, subdued by the Idumeans, and incorporated with them.

Verses 9-10

Jeremiah 49:9-10. If grape-gatherers come to thee, &c. The vintage is not usually gathered so clean but there will be a gleaning left, Isaiah 17:6; and house-breakers, or thieves, commonly leave something behind. But I have made Esau bare But the destruction coming upon thee will be so entire that scarcely a remnant shall be preserved. I have uncovered his secret places I have taken from him every thing that might be a refuge or defence to him, and laid open all the recesses wherein he might conceal himself, or his riches. His seed is spoiled, &c. The calamity shall also extend to his family, and to all that he has any connection with. And he is not He is utterly ruined and undone.

Verse 11

Jeremiah 49:11. Leave thy fatherless children, I will preserve them, &c. The Chaldee paraphrast understands this of the Jews, to whom the following words do certainly belong, as if it contained God’s promise to take care of their families, in that distressed and forlorn state to which the captivity had reduced them. Some, who apply it to the Edomites, understand it as spoken by way of irony, in which light they understand Isaiah 16:4. “But there is nothing in the context,” says Houbigant, “which can lead to this interpretation. I rather understand it as a prophecy; nor was it any thing wonderful that the conquerors should spare the little children and widows, from whom they had nothing to fear; nor that the Edomites should forsake both the one and the other, when compelled to a precipitate flight.” Or, it is a promise that God would not wholly destroy the race of Esau, but protect and preserve a remnant of them; and that, at the time when he sent these his judgments on the proud and self-confident, and all their boasted strength was cast down, the weak and helpless should be remembered by him, the Father of mercies.

Verses 12-13

Jeremiah 49:12-13. They whose judgment was not to drink of the cup Namely, of God’s wrath: see note on Jeremiah 25:15; have assuredly drunken The Israelites, God’s peculiar people, who, in regard to the gracious promises which he had made to them and to their fathers, the near relation in which they stood to him, and the many pious persons who, from age to age, were found among them, might, in all human appearance, have expected mercy at God’s hands, have, nevertheless, suffered dreadful judgments. And art thou he that shall altogether go unpunished? Is Edom the righteous nation, which, above all others, deserves to be exempted from punishment? There is a peculiar emphasis, says Blaney, in the pronoun הוא , he, which denotes that Edom was he, the people, to which the punishment was peculiarly due: see note on Jeremiah 25:29. I have sworn by myself I have confirmed my threatening, as I have frequently confirmed my promises, by an oath; that Bozrah shall become a desolation, &c. Bozrah, one of the chief cities of Idumea, is here put for that country in general, it being usual with the prophets to describe the destruction of a whole nation by the ruin of some one or more of its principal cities: see Jeremiah 49:23; Amos 1:8; Amos 1:12-14.

Verses 14-16

Jeremiah 49:14-16. I have heard a rumour Hebrew, שׁמועה , a report or message, from the Lord, and an ambassador is sent unto the heathen. Obadiah begins his prophecy against Edom in similar words. The prophets, it must be observed, “often represent God as summoning armies, and setting them in array of battle against those people whom he has decreed to destroy. And his stirring up men’s spirits to invade such countries, is described here as if he had sent an ambassador to the Chaldeans and their confederates, to engage them in a war against the Idumeans; according to the methods which earthly princes use to engage their allies.” Lowth. For lo, I will make thee small, &c. I will bring thee low and make thee very contemptible. Thy terribleness hath deceived thee “Thou hast been formerly terrible to all about thee, and looked upon as impregnable; and the confidence thou hast had in this thy strength hath made thee careless and secure, and thereby given thy enemies an advantage against thee.” O thou that dwellest in the clefts, &c. St. Jerome, who lived in the neighbourhood, tells us, in his commentary upon Obadiah, “that Idumea was a rocky mountainous country, and that the inhabitants dwelt in caves dug out of the rocks and hills.” Though thou shouldest make thy nest as high as the eagle The greatest height or strength cannot place thee out of the reach of divine vengeance. The eagle is remarkable for its flying high, and making its nest in very high and inaccessible rocks: see note on Job 39:27-28.

Verses 17-19

Jeremiah 49:17-19. Edom shall be a desolation; every one shall hiss, &c. See note on Jeremiah 18:16. As in the overthrow of Sodom, &c. A proverbial expression, denoting an utter destruction. Behold, he shall come up like a lion, &c. This is a description of Nebuchadnezzar’s marching with his army against Idumea, whom the prophet compares to a lion coming out of his den near Jordan. When that river swells, in the time of harvest, the lions, that lie in the thickets on the river side, are raised out of their coverts, and infest the country: see note on Jeremiah 12:5, and Maundrell’s Travels, pp. 81, 82. Against the habitation of the strong Hebrew, אל נוה איתן , the strong folds, or rough pastures. The LXX. read εις τοπον Αιθαμ , to the place Aitham, considering the word which we render strong as a proper name. But I will suddenly make him run away from her This clause should rather be rendered, I will rouse him up and make him, run upon her, the preposition מעל , here rendered from likewise signifying upon, and being so rendered by our translators, 1 Kings 9:5. To this purpose the Vulgate, quia subito currere faciam eum ad illam, because I will cause him to run suddenly against her. And who is a chosen man that I may appoint over her? Namely, to spoil and destroy her. What select man shall I employ for this purpose? for it must be one who will do it effectually. Nebuchadnezzar, or his captain-general Nebuzar- adan, seems to be here meant. For who is like me? Who is able, like me, to prepare instruments to perform his work? And who will appoint me the time? and who is that shepherd? &c. Who will challenge me to meet him in the field, as if we were upon equal terms? or what leader or general can enter the lists with me? “The word shepherd often signifies a prince, or commander. But here it is used in opposition to the lion mentioned before; as if he had said, A shepherd may as well encounter a lion as the best appointed warrior contend with the Almighty, or those whom he makes the instruments of his vengeance.” Lowth.

Verses 20-22

Jeremiah 49:20-22. Therefore hear the counsel of the Lord Let them, the Edomites, hear and consider what God hath purposed against them. Surely the least of the flock shall draw them out By the least of the flock, may be here understood the common soldiers in the Chaldean army, any one of whom, he says, shall have courage and strength enough to conquer the Idumeans, and draw them to slaughter or captivity. The earth is moved at the noise of their fall The neighbouring countries are astonished at it. The prophet compares the destruction of Idumea to the fall of a great building, which affrights those that are near it. The noise thereof was heard in the Red sea The borders of Idumea reached to the Red sea. Behold he shall fly as the eagle The suddenness and rapidity with which Nebuchadnezzar, or his general, Nebuzar-adan, marched and fell upon Edom, are described in this verse: see note on Jeremiah 48:40-41.

Verse 23

Jeremiah 49:23 . Concerning Damascus “Damascus was the capital of the kingdom of Syria: and had seemingly at this time swallowed up all the other petty sovereignties of that country. Isaiah had before uttered a prophecy concerning it, of a calamitous import, (chap. 17,) which had been fulfilled by Tiglath-pileser’s taking it, and carrying the people captive to Kir, 2 Kings 16:9. Amos also had foretold the same event, Amos 1:3-5. But it had recovered itself after the fall of the Assyrian empire, and is here doomed to suffer again the like calamities from the resentment of Nebuchadnezzar, probably about the same time with the other neighbouring nations: see note on chap. Jeremiah 48:1. Hamath is confounded, and Arpad Hamath and Arpad are elsewhere joined together: see 2 Kings 18:34; 2 Kings 19:13; Isaiah 10:9. Hamath was the capital of a part of Syria. bearing the same name, and which formed once an independent kingdom. It was situate on the northern frontier of the land of Israel, Whence we find frequent mention of the entrance of Hamath, Numbers 34:8, &c. The city of Hamath, Josephus tells us, was that which the Macedonians afterward called Epiphania: Ant., lib. 1. cap. 6. And Jerome, in his commentary on Isaiah 10:9, says the same. Hemath, quam Syri usque hodie Epiphanium vocant Aphad, or Arvad, is with good reason held to be the island of Aradus, in the Mediterranean sea; as those who are called הארודי , Genesis 10:18, are by the LXX. rendered Αραδιοι , in the Vulgate, Aradii. This island was not far from the shore, and nearly opposite to Hamath.” Blaney. They heard evil tidings Tidings of the approach of a hostile army; they are faint-hearted Their courage fails them. Their sorrow is on the sea Or, as on the sea, namely, when a storm arises and the sea is tempestuous. Houbigant reads, They fluctuate as the sea; they cannot be at rest: compare Isaiah 57:20-21. But Blaney renders נמגו נים דאגה , They are melted into a sea of solicitude: observing, “This is a literal translation of the text; and appears to me preferable in sense to any of the interpretations I have hitherto met with.”

Verses 24-27

Jeremiah 49:24-27. Damascus is waxed feeble That is, the inhabitants of Damascus. They have lost their ancient courage and valour; they were wont to be formidable to their enemies, but now they flee before them. Fear, or rather, trembling, or, horror, as רשׂשׂ , properly signifies, hath seized on her, distress and pangs, Hebrew, צרה וחבלים , have taken her, as a woman in travail Great anguish and sorrow are ordinarily expressed by this similitude in the Scriptures. How is the city of praise That is, a city of fame and renown; not left Namely, not spared, or left untouched by the enemy. This is thought to be spoken in the person of the king, or some other inhabitant of Damascus. Therefore her young men Or, surely her young men, as the particle לכן is rendered Jeremiah 5:2; shall fall in her streets Or, broad places, as the Hebrew word signifies. A fire shall consume the palaces of Benhadad The name of several kings of Syria.

Verses 28-29

Jeremiah 49:28-29. Concerning Kedar and the kingdoms of Hazor Kedar is well known to have been one of the sons of Ishmael, Genesis 25:13, who settled in Arabia. But of Hazor we find no satisfactory account given by commentators. There is, indeed, a city called Hazor, mentioned Joshua 11:10, and in other parts of Scripture: but this was in the land of Canaan; whereas the kingdoms of Hazor, here mentioned, were evidently in Arabia, in the neighbourhood, at least, of Kedar. Among the sons of Joktan, however, who were prior to the Ishmaelites in Arabia, and whose descendants are therefore looked on as the only genuine Arabs, we find one whose name was Hazar-maveth, Genesis 10:26-30. And, as by Kedar all the descendants of Ishmael are probably here designed, so all the other branches of the family of Joktan may, in like manner, be included under the general name of Hazor. And perhaps the most probable reason why the Arabians are called a mingled people is, that they were thus made up of the people of different descents; some of them being sprung from Joktan, others from Ishmael, to whom must be added the sons of Abraham by Keturah, who are also said to have been settled in Kedem, or the east country, Genesis 25:6, and perhaps other families besides. All these were divided into petty sovereign ties under certain chiefs or princes, which explains what is to be understood by the kingdoms of Hazor: see Blaney. Arise ye, go up to Kedar, &c. Here the prophet foretels that Nebuchadnezzar should conquer these kingdoms, and spoil the men of the East, as the Arabians are called in the Scriptures. Their tents and their flock shall they Namely, the Chaldeans; take away Their substance consisted in their cattle and their tents, from whence the country itself is called the tents of Kedar, Psalms 120:5: with these they removed from place to place for the convenience of pasture. They shall take to themselves their curtains Those elegant coverings of which their tents were made. and which were much superior to those of any other people. And they shall cry unto them Hebrew, וקראו , Let them call for, or command, that is, as Blaney renders it, Let them bring, upon them terror from every side.

Verses 30-33

Jeremiah 49:30-33 . Flee ye, get you far off Hebrew, נדו מאד ; Vulgate, Abite vehementer, Go away with eagerness, or, haste. Dwell deep, or, “retire deep for to dwell:” see note on Jeremiah 49:8. Arise, get you up unto the wealthy nation The prophet here gives the Chaldeans a commission from God to undertake this expedition, and seize upon the wealth of the inhabitants of Hazor; which have neither gates nor bars Who have never been attacked, and therefore live securely without walls or ramparts for their defence; which dwell alone Solitarie habitant, dwell solitarily, as Buxtorf renders בדד ישׁכנו . “Their habitations are isolated,” as some interpret it. “They do not live in cities, towns, or villages, where the houses are contiguous; but each family has its mansion apart from the rest, with land about it sufficient for the subsistence of their cattle. In this dispersed state they were, of course, less provided with the means of defending themselves from the incursions of the enemy.” I will scatter into all winds Into all the quarters of heaven; them, that are in the utmost corners Or, those that inhabit the insulated coast, namely, the peninsula of Arabia: see notes on Jeremiah 9:26; Jeremiah 25:23.

Verse 34

Jeremiah 49:34. The word that came to Jeremiah against Elam Elam we find to have been an independent, and even powerful kingdom, in the days of Abraham, Genesis 14:1. “But I am not of opinion with those writers,” says Blaney, “who hold that by Elam, in Scripture, Persia is always meant. There is no doubt but that when the monarchy of Persia was established under Cyrus, Elam was blended into and formed a part of it. But before that time Elam and Persia were two distinct kingdoms: of which this may be admitted for proof, that the kingdom of Persia, if Xenophon may be credited as an historian, was never subdued under the dominion of Nebuchadnezzar, but preserved its liberty in alliance with the Medes. Elam, on the contrary, is not only here prophesied of, as destined to become a part of the Babylonian conquests, but is actually spoken of, (Daniel 8:2,) as a province of the Babylonish empire; over which Daniel seems to have presided, having Shushan for the seat of his government. We may therefore conclude Elam to have been, as the name itself would lead us to suppose, the country called by heathen writers Elymais, which Pliny, in conformity with Daniel, describes as separated from Susiana, by the river Eulæus, or Ulay; Nat. Hist., lib. 6. cap. 31.”

Verses 35-38

Jeremiah 49:35-38. Behold, I will break the bow of Elam The Elamites were famous archers, as this expression intimates, as also Isaiah’s words, Isaiah 22:6; And Elam bare the quiver. Strabo also says, that the mountainous parts of Elymais bred chiefly archers; στρατιωτας τρεφει τοξοτας τους πλειστους , lib. 16. p. 744. Livy, and other heathen writers, also speak of the Elymæan archers. Upon Elam will I bring the four winds, &c. I will bring enemies upon Elam from every quarter; and scatter them to every quarter. Wars and commotions are metaphorically denoted by winds. And I will send the sword after them Even after they are driven out of their own country, my judgments shall pursue them. And I will set my throne in Elam As Nebuchadnezzar acted under the commission of God, and had authority from him to conquer this and the neighbouring nations, and is called God’s servant, the establishing of his power was in effect the setting up of the throne or dominion of Jehovah. Some, however, think this is spoken of the Persian monarchy, established there by Cyrus, who is expressly called, in Scripture, God’s anointed one, whom he had particularly chosen.

Verse 39

Jeremiah 49:39. In the latter days, I will bring again the captivity of Elam This is supposed to relate to the times of the Lagi and Seleucidæ, when the Elamites recovered their liberty. Or, if we consider what is said in the foregoing verse to relate to Nebuchadnezzar, this may be understood of Cyrus’s setting them free from the Babylonish yoke; for we find from Isaiah 22:6, that the Elamites assisted Cyrus in the conquest of Babylon; and Shushan, the chief city of Elam, was made the metropolis of the Persian empire.

Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Jeremiah 49". Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rbc/jeremiah-49.html. 1857.
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