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Bible Commentaries

Ironside's Notes on Selected Books
Jeremiah 49

 

 

Verses 1-39

The burden of the neighboring kingdom of the

AMMONITES

is much briefer, the six opening verses of the next chapter giving it all.

As before noted, they descended from the younger daughter of Lot, and typically speak of practically the same thing as Moab, only that they might also suggest those who prey upon the true Church of GOD, like Simon Magus and his numberless kin. They ever seem to have been a warlike people, and possibly had thus been considerably decimated, as we never find them occupying as large a place as the nation we have just been considering. Restless, predatory and nomadic, they did not possess the number of fenced cities, neither did they enjoy the high state of civilization characteristic of the Moabites.

From the first they were the enemies of Israel, even though Moses sought to placate them, and directed the people to "distress them not" (Deuteronomy 2:19), as in the case of Moab also.

In the times of Jeremiah they dwelt in several of the cities of Gad, and possibly also of Reuben and Benjamin; their own capital being Rabbath as of old, which was just across the border from Gad. Bold and fearless, but with no great cities, they could not be characterized by the pride of national glory that we have seen in Moab; but the indictment here brought against them is that she "trusted in her treasures, saying, Who shall come unto me?" (Jeremiah 49:4) They were thus independent of GOD equally with their more cultured neighbors.

In verse 1 the Lord asks, "Hath Israel no sons? Hath he no heir? Why then doth their king inherit Gad, and his people dwell in his cities?" (Jeremiah 49:1)

The Ammonites had taken advantage of the captivity of Israel and their manifold afflictions to enrich themselves, and to occupy the territory contiguous to their own land.

"Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will cause an alarm of war to be heard in Rabbah of the Ammonites; and it shall be a desolate heap, and her daughters shall be burned with fire: then shall Israel be heir unto them that were his heirs, saith the Lord" (Jeremiah 49:2).

That is, the power of Ammon was soon to be broken, and Israel made once more to occupy the cities that had been wrested from them. This has already had a partial fulfilment. It will have a more complete one in the Millennium, when Israel shall dwell in his own land, with none to make him afraid.

Lamentation and mourning, the prophet declared, should take the place of Ammon's proud boasting and conceit; for her king should go into captivity with the princes and priests, and their whole people that were spared from the sword should be driven out of their land, with none to "gather up him that wandereth." Afterward, when the chastisement shall have been productive of blessing, the children of Ammon will be restored, as in the case of Moab (Jeremiah 49:3-6).

Somewhat more lengthy is the prophetic word concerning

EDOM

The descendants of "Esau, which is Edom," had ever been the enemies of the descendants of his brother Jacob.

By comparing the short prophecy of Obadiah with the passage before us, the reader will get a full account of the sin and the doom of this high-handed race. In type, we have the flesh symbolized - ever lusting against the Spirit. Hence there is no restoration for Edom. They were to be utterly cut off. Human wisdom could not avail to save this proud nation. All their counsels were in vain. "The calamity of Edom" (Jeremiah 49:8) was near at hand. GOD had decreed it. None of the men should be spared. Grape-gatherers leave some gleaning grapes upon the vines. Midnight robbers do not utterly despoil those whom they wrong. But in the case of the children of Esau they would be utterly destroyed, so far as nationality is concerned (Jeremiah 49:7-10).

It is touching to find in this connection the precious message that has been a source of untold comfort to many a tried saint in later days. "Leave thy fatherless children, I will preserve them alive; and let thy widows trust in Me" (Jeremiah 49:11). This was GOD's gracious provision for the helpless and feeble even of Edom. How blessedly it tells out the real compassion of His heart! Judgment is His strange work. His holiness demands that sin be dealt with. In His righteous government the nations that have practiced iniquity must perish. But He forgets not the cry of the lowly; He ever remembers the poor and the needy. The widow and the fatherless have a special claim upon His love and mercy. Never was that claim pleaded in vain.

This is the only bright light in the dark picture of Edom's woes. They could not go unpunished, but must assuredly drink of the cup of the Lord's wrath. The surrounding nations' were to be the instruments used to bring this about. Though Edom should make his nest as high as the eagle, the Lord would bring him down from thence, giving up his cities and fortresses to desolation. The ruin was to be as complete as that of Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities of the plains. Like a lion coming out from the swellings of Jordan, the enemy would rise up against the habitation of the strong till the heart of his mighty men became as the heart of a woman in her pangs (Jeremiah 49:12-22). With this the prophet abruptly concludes. There is no word of recovery. It is a ruin complete and irrevocable, as Obadiah also testifies.

DAMASCUS

is next told of her impending doom. Already this once great city was being bereft of her glory, the Syrian empire paling before Nebuchadrezzar's rising sun. Hamath and Arpad, famous in their day, were confounded. Evil tidings had reached them of the overthrow of the Syrian armies. "There is sorrow on the sea; it cannot be quiet." The restlessness of the sobbing surf was but a picture of the state of their inhabitants. Damascus, waxing feeble, sought to flee; but "anguish and sorrows have taken her, as a woman in travail" (Jeremiah 49:23-24). It is too late to escape. The conqueror is at the door. "Therefore her young men shall fall in her streets, and all the men of war shall be cut off in that day, saith the Lord of hosts." The city was to be burned, and the palaces of Ben-Hadad, Israel's old enemy, destroyed (Jeremiah 49:25-27). Thus briefly, in the space of five verses, does the prophet portray the downfall of one of the greatest powers of ancient times.

ARABIA

with its various tribes, is likewise apprised of Nebuchadrezzar's purpose and ultimate victory. Kedar and Hazor are to be smitten. Fear shall be on every side. The flocks and herds of these pastoral people shall feed the conqueror's armies. All their treasures shall be seized for a spoil: "And Hazor shall be a dwelling for dragons, and a desolation forever: there shall no man abide there, nor any son of man dwell in it" (Jeremiah 49:28-33). (The word for "dragons" means "jackals").

These fierce Arabian tribes' father was Ishmael, Abraham's first-born, by Hagar. As outlined in Galatians, they picture those who, born after the flesh, seek to obtain a place of blessing through legal works, only to find that "the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the free woman" (Galatians 4:30).

ELAM

In the beginning of the reign of the unstable Zedekiah, the Word of the Lord had come to Jeremiah against the rising power of Elam, destined to play an important part in the history of nations, as an ally of the mighty kingdom of Persia, afterwards allied with Media, assuming an imperial place under Cyrus (Jeremiah 49:34). It was at this time a Babylonian province (Daniel 8:2), though in years gone by it had flourished as an independent kingdom (Genesis 14:1-12). As being part of the prophet's testimony to the nations, the burden of Elam is introduced here in connection with the preceding kingdoms and tribes.

The Lord was to "break the bow of Elam, the chief of their might;" (Jeremiah 49:35) and by means of the four winds He should scatter them toward every quarter of heaven, so that there should "be no nation whither the outcasts of Elam" (Jeremiah 49:36) should not come.

Dismayed before their enemies, they should know the fierce anger of the Lord, who would send a sword after them until He had consumed them. His throne should be set in Elam, when their king and princes should be destroyed. It is the same thing as in the case of Nebuchadrezzar; they should know that "the heavens do rule" (Jeremiah 49:35-38).

This was fulfilled when the victorious Macedonians and their allies drove the luxurious Persian armies before them, under Alexander the Great. Yet between this time and the time when the prophecy was uttered, Elam rose from the position of an insignificant kingdom to an integral part of one of the mightiest empires the world had known, overthrowing the Babylonians and ruling the entire known world, with the exception of the feeble states of Europe. In GOD's appointed time all her power availed nothing, and she became but another witness to the truth of prophecy.

There is hope in her latter end however, for the Lord has pledged Himself to bring again her captivity.

So we see the very same people existing today, despite the changes of the centuries; and in the coming kingdom of our Lord the remnant of Elam shall have a place, when the nations that are spared shall own Messiah's benignant yet righteous sway (Jeremiah 49:39).

Thus GOD had revealed "things to come" concerning the Gentile nations surrounding Immanuel's land. From one to another the cup of His vengeance should be passed. Judgment began at the house of GOD, when Israel and Judah were given up to captivity. Their heathen neighbors rejoiced in their discomfiture. But they too must drink of that cup, and learn that "those that walk in pride He is able to abase." (Daniel 4:37)

Egypt and her daughter Philistia; together with Moab, Ammon and Edom, so closely related to Israel; as also Syria, Arabia and Elam, must all alike be swept with the besom of His wrath. Jeremiah foretold it long before it became a matter of history, as it has become since.

For one more nation He has a similar word - for the very power used to chastise Judah when she departed from the living GOD: Babylon must be destroyed when her iniquity has come to the full. But we reserve this for another chapter.

 

~ end of chapter 24 ~

 

 

 


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Bibliography Information
Ironside, H. A. "Commentary on Jeremiah 49:4". Ironside's Notes on Selected Books. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/isn/jeremiah-49.html. 1914.

Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, August 17th, 2019
the Week of Proper 14 / Ordinary 19
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