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Jeremiah, reproving the disobedience of the Jews to the prophets, foretelleth the seventy years captivity, and, after that, the destruction of Babylon. Under the type of a cup of wine, he foresheweth the destruction of all the nations. The howling of the shepherds.
Before Christ 606.
Jeremiah 25:1. The word that came to Jeremiah— This chapter contains a new discourse, different from that which precedes and follows it. The prophesy that it contains is prior in time to that in the former chapter, and posterior to that in the 26th. At the commencement of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, Jeremiah denounced the evils which this prince was to bring upon Judah and the neighbouring states. The prophet reproves the Jews for their disregard of the divine calls to repentance; Jeremiah 25:1-7. He foretells their subjugation, together with that of the neighbouring nations, to the king of Babylon for seventy years, and the fall of the Babylonish empire at that period; Jeremiah 25:8-14. The same is foreshewn under the symbol of the cup of God's wrath, with which Jeremiah is sent to all the nations, which are enumerated at large, to make them drink of it to their utter subversion; Jeremiah 25:15-29. And the like prophesy is the third time repeated in a strain of sublime and poetic imagery; Jer 25:30—to the end.
Jeremiah 25:10. The voice of the bridegroom, &c.— The song of the bridegroom, and the song of the bride; the songs of the mill, and the light of the lamp. By the songs of the mill, are meant the songs of those female slaves, who in ancient times used to grind at the mill. See Matthew 24:41. The ideas in Rev 18:23 are similar to those of our prophet; and the general meaning is, that every voice of gladness and of business shall be silent; and the whole land depopulated, and universal desolation reigning.
The sound of the milstones, and the light of the candle— Mr. Harmer has an excellent critical observation on this place, which I cannot do better than present the reader with at large.
"The time for grinding their corn is the morning; which consideration makes the prophet's selecting the noise of milstones, 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 notice of."
I am indebted to Sir John Chardin's Manuscript 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, one hears every where 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: Moreover I will take from thee the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride, the sound of milstones, 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. In the East, where no milstones are heard in the morning, no light seen in the evening, it must be a dreary dismal solitude." Ch. 4 Obs. 4. See also ch. 3 Obs. 18.
Jeremiah 25:11. Seventy years— Not only the captivity and restoration of the two tribes were foretold, but the precise time of that captivity and restoration was also prefixed and determined by our prophet. This prophesy was delivered in the fourth year of Jehoiakim; and this same year it began to be put in execution; for Nebuchadnezzar invaded Judaea, besieged and took Jerusalem, and made Jehoiakim his subject and tributary; transported the finest children of the royal family and of the nobility to Babylon, to be bred up there for eunuchs and slaves in his palace, and also carried away the vessels of the house of the Lord, and put them in the temple of his god at Babylon. Seventy years from this time will bring us down to the first year of Cyrus, when he made his proclamation for the restoration of the Jews, and for the rebuilding of the temple at Jerusalem. This computation of the seventy years appears to be the truest and most agreeable to Scripture. But if we fix the commencement of these seventy years at the time when Jerusalem was burned and destroyed, their conclusion will fall about the time when Darius issued his decree for rebuilding the temple, after the work had been stopped and suspended; or, if we fix their commencement at the time when Nebuzar-adan carried away the remainder of the people, and completed the desolation of the land, their conclusion will fall about the time when the temple was finished and dedicated, and the first passover solemnized in it. So that, as Dean Prideaux observes, taking it which way you will, and at what stage you please, the prophesy of Jeremiah will be fully and exactly completed concerning this matter. It may be said to have been accomplished at three different times, and in three different manners; and, therefore, possibly all might have been intended, though the first, without doubt, was the principal subject of the prophesy. See Bishop Newton's Dissertations, vol. 1: p. 201.
Jeremiah 25:14. For many nations— For of them, even of these, shall many nations and great kings exact service; and I will render to them, &c. Houbigant renders it, For powerful people, and mighty kings, shall reduce even those nations to servitude; and so, &c.
Jeremiah 25:15. Take the wine-cup, &c.— Take the cup of the wine of this wrath. There can be no doubt that what is here related passed in vision, and that Jeremiah relates simply what was represented to his view; which, putting into writing, he sent to the several nations where God ordered him to publish it. See the note on chap. Jeremiah 13:4. 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 his disciples 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 and afflictions as his Father had allotted for him. Matthew 20:22. And in the like sense he prays, Matthew 26:39, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me. Accordingly by this image of "the cup of the wine of God's wrath" we are to understand those dreadful and afflictive 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 cupbearer, 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, which should prevail among them. See Bishop Lowth's note on Isa 51:21 and compare Revelation 14:10; Revelation 16:19.
Jeremiah 25:20. All the mingled people— To all the Abyssenes, or people who passed from Arabia into Africa. Houbigant. See Boch. Geog. Sacr. lib. 2. cap. 23. Respecting Uz, see the note on Job 1:1.
Jeremiah 25:22. The isles, &c.— That is to say, The region about the Mediterranean sea.
Jeremiah 25:24. The mingled people that dwell in the desert— The Scenites or inhabitants of tents, who dwell, &c. Houbigant. That is, the mixture of people dwelling in that part of Arabia called the Desert; consisting of Nabathaeans, Amalekites, Midianites, and other nations, called in Scripture by the general name of the children of the East.
Jeremiah 25:26. And the king of Sheshach shall drink, &c.— By Sheshach is meant Babylon, as appears from chap. Jeremiah 51:41. Houbigant renders it, And king Sheshach, &c. whereby, says he, Nebuchadnezzar himself is meant, who is spoken of under the name of Sheshach, a king who reigned formerly in Babylon, and who was deified among that people. See Calmet.
Jeremiah 25:28. If they refuse to take the cup— "If they either do not believe thy threatenings, or disregard them, because they think themselves sufficiently provided against any hostile invasion, thou shalt let them know that the judgments denounced are irreversible."
Jeremiah 25:30. The Lord shall roar from on high— The metaphor in the first part of the verse is taken from a lion roaring over his prey, (see Jeremiah 25:38.) and in the latter from the triumphant shouts of the treaders of the grapes. The meaning is, that he should pronounce and execute a terrible judgment upon the temple, the place that he had chosen for his habitation.
Jeremiah 25:34. Howl, ye shepherds— See Jeremiah 25:30. By shepherds, as before, are meant the princes and chief men; and, pursuing the same metaphor, the principal of the flock, signify the great and wealthy men of this nation, against whom these judgments are denounced. By a pleasant or precious vessel, is meant a crystal glass, or any other brittle vessel, which is easily broken by falling. Houbigant renders the latter clause, For the days of your slaughter are fulfilled, and ye shall be broken in falling as a precious vessel.
Jeremiah 25:38. He hath forsaken his covert, &c.— For who would have dared to approach it, if he had thought good to protect it? if Jerusalem, if the temple, if Judaea, are delivered into the hand of the Chaldeans, it is because He who guarded and protected them hath forsaken and abandoned them.
REFLECTIONS.—1st, This prophesy bears date in the first year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, and the fourth of Jehoiakim; and it is directed to the people in general, probably when assembled at Jerusalem on one of the three annual feasts. If the princes will not hear, perhaps the people may; at least it will leave both inexcusable.
1. The prophet reminds them how long and how earnestly God had been exhorting them, by his ministers and others, to turn from the evil of their ways. Three-and-twenty years he had preached, from the 13th of Josiah, to the 4th of Jehoiakim, rising early, and speaking diligently, constantly, faithfully, while Michah, Nahum, and Habakkuk, had just preceded him, and Zephaniah was his cotemporary; besides many others whom God in mercy had sent to warn them, unwilling they should perish, and accompanying his admonitions with the most gracious promises. They are plainly told of their sins, and exhorted to repent of them; if they would return from their shameful idolatries, and from all their other evil works, then God's threatenings should not light upon them, but they should long and peaceably enjoy their good land. Note; (1.) God will remember against the sinner all the means of grace that he has abused, as one of his greatest condemnations in the day of judgment. (2.) They who are sent on God's messages need be earnest and diligent in delivering them, that they may at least be free from the blood of all men. (3.) God doth not strike without warning; but if we will not hear, we must perish.
2. The prophet upbraids them with their impenitence and hardness of heart. They hearkened not, nor inclined their ear; they would not so much as pay a moment's attention to the message, their heart was so averse to it; they resolved to abide in their sins and provocations, let the consequence be never so much to their hurt; and thus, as all impenitent sinners do, destroyed themselves.
2nd, The judgment is pronounced on the rebellious people of Judah, and their destroyers shall not go unpunished.
1. Judah shall be destroyed by the king of Babylon, God's servant in this behalf to execute vengeance on this devoted nation. Around his standard the families of the north are summoned, his victorious army marches, and desolation marks their way; Judaea falls; and all her neighbours, so far from affording her assistance, are involved in the general ruin; and so terrible the ravages, that they shall be an astonishment and an hissing, and perpetual desolations: during seventy years that their miseries should last, the voice of joy be never heard in the city, no nuptial songs, no sound of mirth, no provision should be left, no candle burn in it, but melancholy silence reign; the land uncultivated, destitute of inhabitants, and swept with the besom of destruction. Note; (1.) They who will not be ruled by God's word, must be ruined. (2.) God often uses wicked instruments to chastise his own people; and they are made to do his work, when meaning only to aggrandize themselves.
2. Babylon, the destroyer of others, shall herself also, after seventy years, be destroyed for her iniquity, her tyranny, pride, and cruelty to God's Israel; and the land of the Chaldeans shall be made perpetual desolations, when all the evil pronounced by Jeremiah, chap. xlvi-li. shall come upon them; and as she hath served herself of other nations, subduing and plundering them, God will recompense her in kind, and raise up many nations and great kings, the Medea, Persians, and their allies, to lay her waste, and enrich themselves with her spoils.
3rdly, Judgment begins at the house of God, but it spreads far and near. The neighbouring nations must drink of the same cup, and at last Babylon herself take it in turn.
1. The judgment is represented under a wine-cup of fury. The sins of all these nations had provoked God's wrath, and heavy it falls on them; like men intoxicated with liquor, without wisdom or might, they should become an easy conquest, and the sword of God devour them. Nor would their reluctance to submit to their doom avail any thing. The prophet is commanded to make them drink, denouncing the judgments of God, which would quite overwhelm them and sink them into ruin, from which they should never, or at least not for a long while, recover. Note; It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God: then all resistance is vain.
2. The nations who are the subjects of this prophesy are; first, Jerusalem and the cities of Judah: their sins being most aggravated, they suffer first. Egypt, on whom they placed dependence, next falls under the Babylonish yoke: then all the mingled people, the bordering nations; some, as Tyre and Zidon, that had been the friends; others, as Moab and Edom, who had been the inveterate foes of Judah, but now sink in the promiscuous ruin: far and wide the rapid conqueror spreads his arms, even to all the kingdoms of the then known world, at least to the whole extent of that great monarchy, which was termed, from its vast territory, universal. At last, the lofty queen of nations herself must be laid in the dust, and the king of Sheshach, or Babylon, must drink of the same cup, and perish as the kingdoms he had destroyed. It is added, as it is this day, in a parenthesis: probably that was inserted by Jeremiah, who lived to see the ruin of his country; or by him (whether Baruch or Ezra) who collected these prophesies when the event had verified the prediction.
3. If God spares not his own people, let not the rest of the nations of whom they have learned idolatry, think to go unpunished. His determination is fixed, and the accomplishment of it is inevitable. Note; (1.) When God arises to judge, the greatest nations are but as stubble before the whirlwind. (2.) Wherever sinners are, however many, however mighty, surely they shall not go unpunished.
4thly, The sword threatened is Nebuchadnezzar's; but the war is of God, who clothes him with his power, and ensures to him the victory. The terribleness of the judgment is described.
1. The tremendous voice of God shall be heard from on high in mighty thunderings. He shall roar upon his habitation, the earth in general, or Jerusalem in particular; or out of his habitation, from the heavens, where he hath placed his radiant throne. He shall give a shout, as when contending armies rush into the battle, and as those who tread the grapes at the vintage; and so loud the sound, that the most distant realms shall hear, even to the ends of the earth.
2. Righteous vengeance shall seize the wicked. The Lord hath a controversy with the nations for their wickedness, and he will plead with all flesh, will bring them to his tribunal; and he will give them that are wicked to the sword; from nation to nation the judge shall go in circuit. A great whirlwind shall be raised up from the coasts of the earth; the Chaldean army first, then the Medes, afterwards the Greeks, and lastly the Romans, all God's executioners of vengeance; and those who fall by their arms are the slain of the Lord, from one end of the earth to the other. Unlamented they shall fall for want of mourners, or because their friends and relations are so occupied with their own danger that they are insensible to every thing beside; unburied they shall lie as dung upon the earth, and no compassionate hand be found to gather the scattered corpses and hide them in a grave.
3. The shepherds are called upon to howl for these horrible desolations; either the kings of the earth in general, or the rulers of Judah in particular, to whom the words seem to be addressed. Wallow yourselves in the ashes, ye principal of the flock, in the deepest agony, most bitter sorrow, and hopeless misery, for the days of your slaughter and of your dispersions, are accomplished, like sheep before the wolf, torn, worried, and dispersed; and ye shall fall like a pleasant vessel, irreparably broken in pieces. Then flight will be vain, and all hope of escape desperate. See chap. Jeremiah 39:4-6. Shrieks shall ascend on every side, the heart of the mightiest fail, ruin and desolation universal be spread around, and even the peaceable habitations are cut down, the palaces where peace and plenty reigned; or, as is common in the ravages of war, they who lived inoffensively, and never provoked the scourge, share in the general calamity of the land, because of the fierce anger of the Lord, the cause of all these fearful judgments. He hath forsaken his covert as the lion; either God, going forth against the shepherds and their flocks to destroy them; or rather Nebuchadnezzar, roused up from Babylon; and the land is desolate, ravaged by his army, because of the fierceness of the oppressor, or oppressing sword, and because of his fierce anger; either the wrath of God or of the king of Babylon, rushing forth to the slaughter. Note; (1.) War is a dreadful scourge. (2.) The rulers, who were deepest in transgression, shall be chief in suffering. (3.) Woe unto the sinful soul against which God rises up as an enemy! May the judgment, of others be our warnings, that we may hear and fear, and do no more wickedly!
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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Jeremiah 25". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30