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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible
Jeremiah 49

 

 

Verse 1

PROPHECY AGAINST AMMON, Jeremiah 49:1-6.

1. Concerning the Ammonites — In descent and character the Ammonites were twin people with the Moabites, but probably less civilized, being largely nomadic, while the Moabites were a more settled people. The Ammonites laid claim to a portion of the territory which Sihon, king of the Amorites, had wrested from them, and which at his death was won by the Israelites, and were constantly seeking to recover it from the children of God to whom it had been apportioned. After the Gileadites were carried into captivity by Tiglath-pileser, the Ammonites succeeded to much of their territory, and from that time became more formidable than ever. Hath Israel no sons, etc. — This is a question of reproach against the Ammonites, who had taken possession of Gilead as though the territory did not belong to the Gadites.

Their king — The leading ancient Versions — the Septuagint, Syriac, and Vulgate — understand by the original here a proper name — Melcom, the chief deity of the Ammonites, as does also the margin of the English Bible. The sense is not materially affected, though it must be confessed that it is more impressive to understand Melcom here as standing in the same relation as Chemosh in the prophecy concerning Moab. (See chap. Jeremiah 48:13.)

Gad — The territory apportioned by Moses to this tribe.

Inherit — Rather, take possession of.


Verse 2

2. Rabbah — Its full name was”The great city of the sons of Ammon,” though it was usually called simply Rabbah — the Great. Later it was called Philadelphia, after Ptolemy Philadelphus. It was situated on or near the brook Jabbok.

Her daughters — The unwalled villages dependent on her.

Be heir — The tables will be turned. The Ammonites have taken possession of the Israelites’ territory, but shall be driven from it.


Verse 3

3. Heshbon was formerly the residence of Sihon, king of the Amorites, but it seems at this time to have been in possession of the Ammonites. No city Ai is known to have been in this region, and there is serious, but certainly no insuperable, difficulty in this fact. Some conjectures of change in the text have been made, but they should not be entertained. We have no list of Ammonite cities, and so no presumption against the existence of such a city arises from our ignorance.

Hedges — Some understand sheep-folds, but this is an undue limitation of the original word. Enclosures, embracing sheep-folds, vineyards, etc., are meant.

Their king — Margin. Melcom, the name of their tutelar divinity. That this is right the mention of his priests almost demonstrates.


Verse 4

4. Valleys — The territory of the Ammonites is largely made up of elevated tablelands, crossed by fertile valleys made by streams which make their way to the Jordan. The singular, thy flowing valley, probably may have reference to that one in which Rabbah was situated.


Verse 5

5. Every man right forth — In the most precipitate flight, looking neither to the right nor left.


Verse 6

6. Afterward I will bring again the captivity of the children of Ammon — They shall not be utterly exterminated; but again their fortunes shall revive, as in the case of Moab, Jeremiah 48:47. From Nehemiah 4:1, etc., we learn that they kept up their hostile spirit against the Jews; this was true in the Maccabean age. They disappear from history early in the Christian age.


Verse 7

PROPHECY AGAINST EDOM, Jeremiah 49:7-22.

7. Concerning Edom — This prophecy is based on the first nine verses of Obadiah, but with many changes. The country of Edom held a relation to the kingdom of Judah not unlike that which Moab held to Israel. It extended from Moab and the Dead Sea, on the west to the Mediterranean, on the east to the desert, thus skirting the entire southern boundary of Judah. There are signs of a peculiar antipathy between the descendants of Esau and those of Jacob. This was so strong at the time of the giving of the law as to require special enactment, and hence that somewhat singular clause inserted in the Mosaic law, “Thou shalt not abhor an Edomite, for he is thy brother.” Even that most sad and plaintive of all the psalms, commencing, “By the rivers of Babylon,” etc., does not close without giving evidence of the same state of feeling: “Remember, O Lord, the children of Edom in the day of Jerusalem; who said, Rase it, rase it, even to the foundation thereof.” And hence this name of Edom came to be a generic one for the enemies of the Church; so that when the divine Conqueror is described, it is in such language as this: “Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah?” There are many prophecies directed against Edom, but of only one of these does Jeremiah make use, namely, that in Obadiah, already specified. Teman was in the north-eastern part of Idumea, but is here put for the whole country. It was the home of the wise Eliphaz of the book of Job, and hence, probably, was famed for wisdom; so that here is doubtless somewhat of irony.


Verse 8

8. Dwell deep — Retire into the depth of the desert — the hidden and inaccessible places, where the enemy may not find and destroy you. Esau was the ancestor of the Edomites.


Verse 9-10

9, 10. If grapegatherers come… leave some gleaning — “Grape gatherers” and even thieves leave something behind them, but the Chaldeans will strip them utterly bare.

His seed — His family.

His brethren — The related peoples who were intermingled with them — the Simeonites, Horites, etc., etc.


Verse 11

11. Thy fatherless children, I will preserve — God’s mercy then, is not taken away from them, but restrained. In this there is an impressive intimation of their swiftly coming helplessness and desolation, and at the same time of God’s pity and care.


Verse 12

12. They whose judgment, etc. — Namely, the Israelites, who, in falling under the judgments of God, had departed utterly from their proper normal experience. “And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?”

Have… drunken — Rather, will certainly drink.


Verse 13

13. Bozrah — At that time the capital of the Edomites. It was situated on an eminence south of the Dead Sea, on the site of the present village of Buseirah. It is of course not to be identified with the Bozrah of Jeremiah 48:24, which was of Moab.


Verse 14

14. Rumour — Tidings.

Ambassador — Herald.


Verse 15

15. Heathen — The nations.


Verse 16

16. Thy terribleness — The terror which thou dost inspire. The original word is used nowhere else, and has been variously translated, but this sense stands most fully commended. Dwellest in the clefts of the rock…

holdest the height of the hill… nest as high as the eagle. These very characteristic and intelligible descriptions apply not only to Bozrah, but especially to Petra, which was literally cut in the rocks.


Verse 18

18. As… Sodom and Gomorrah — Not the manner, but the fact, and the utterness of the overthrow is the point of comparison. As Edom was in the immediate neighborhood of Sodom, the comparison was natural.

No man… son of man — This language is universal, and not limited to the Idumeans, as Fausset claims without any warrant.


Verse 19

19. He shall come up like a lion — This verse is bold, effective, and perfectly intelligible in its general imagery. There are, however, in it difficulties both lexical and grammatical, which have led to different translations. These, for the most part, arise not from the words themselves, but from their relations to each other and to the whole. Without discussing minutely the various points involved, we must be content with indicating the translation which seems to us to stand most fully commended, and at the same time gives a sense most appropriate and serviceable: Behold, he shall come up like a lion from the pride of Jordan against the enduring habitation; but in a moment I will drive him away from it, and will appoint over it him who is chosen; for who is like me, and who will summon me (to trial)? And what shepherd shall stand before me?


Verse 20

20. The least of the flock shall draw them out — The latter part of this verse is not intelligibly rendered in the Authorized Version. It should be, They shall worry them, the feeble ones of the flock; surely he shall lay waste their habitation over them.


Verse 21

21. The earth is moved — Better, At the noise of their fall earth quakes; the cry, to the Red Sea, the sound is heard.

Red sea — Literally, Sea of sedge — its ordinary designation. The appellation comes from the sedge on its banks.


Verse 22

22. Come up… as the eagle — Not as the eagle rises in the air, but as an enemy to the attack.


Verse 23

23. Concerning Damascus — The kingdom of Damascus was destroyed by Tiglath-pileser, but the city itself remained, and was probably at this time the most important center of influence in all Syria. This district of country could hardly fail to be involved in the troubles which are the burden of this book, and Damascus is given a place in this picture as the most conspicuous and representative city.

Hamath — This place was the capital of Northern Aram, and Arpad is usually associated with it.

Sorrow on the sea — Among the multitude of people. Some prefer sorrow to the sea, but this leaves the following sentence unintelligible.


Verse 28

28. Concerning Kedar — In chap. Jeremiah 2:10, “Kedar” is evidently a general name for the people of the East; here the name is somewhat more definitely restricted to the nomadic peoples of Arabia.

Kingdoms of Hazor — “Hazor” is kindred with hazer — an unwalled village. Here the term is used to designate those Arabians who dwelt in villages. Go up to Kedar is addressed to the enemy.


Verse 29

29. Tents and flocks, curtains and vessels and camels make up the wealth of nomads. By “curtains” are meant the hangings of the tent; and by “vessels,” the simple cooking utensils of these wanderers.


Verse 30

30. Dwell deep — See on Jeremiah 49:8.


Verse 31

31. Wealthy nation — Rather, nation at ease.

Neither gates nor bars — A truthful and graphic picture of these dwellers in tents, who not only have no city walls, but they are also without houses.

Dwell alone — An important additional feature.


Verse 32

32. Utmost corners — All shall be sought out and dispersed.


Verse 33

33. Hazor represents the settled tribes, as Kedar does the nomadic. These shall become the habitation of jackals, (not dragons.)


Verse 34

34. The word… against Elam — “Elam” was a region to the southeast of Babylonia on the Persian Gulf, inhabited by a Shemitic people. This region comes prominently into history a hundred years later; but in the time of Jeremiah we have little definite information as to its civil history and relations. It can hardly be doubted that it was at one time embraced within the limits of the Assyrian empire, as it was later in the Chaldean. But it is probable that it maintained, more or less, an independent national life, which was affected to a greater or less degree by the agitations and disturbances of this period. This prophecy does not sustain a close relation to those preceding, bearing, as it does, a later date, and referring to a people very distant from those already mentioned. There is observable, however, a geographical order in this group of prophecies. Moab, Ammon, Edom, Damascus, Kedar and Hazor, Elam.


Verse 35

35. Bow of Elam — The national weapon of the Elamites.


Verse 36

36. Four winds from the four quarters — Truthful description of a terrific storm, which, in its destructive fury, seems to come from all quarters at once.

Outcasts of Elam — A singular error has crept into the written text, consisting in substituting a vav ( ו) for a yodh, ( י) so that the actual reading is outcasts of eternity. It is perfectly obvious that it is a mere mistake, and the Versions so treat it. The only value it has, however, is to illustrate the possibility of a case in which the internal evidence as to a reading may quite overbear the external; and this gives some protection to conjectural emendations in other places.


Verse 38

38. I will set my throne — Of judgment, to punish king and princes, (not, as in the text, “the king and the princes.”)


Verse 39

39. In the latter days — The end of days; the Messianic reign. The beginning of this promise was seen at Pentecost.

 


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Bibliography Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Jeremiah 49:4". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/jeremiah-49.html. 1874-1909.

Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, November 16th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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