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  • JAMIESON-FAUSSET-BROWN - JEREMIAH 51
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    CHAPTER 51

    Jer 51:1-64. CONTINUATION OF THE PROPHECY AGAINST BABYLON BEGUN IN THE FIFTIETH CHAPTER.

    1. in the midst of them that rise . . . against me--literally, "in the heart" of them. Compare Ps 46:2, "the midst of the sea," Margin; Eze 27:4, "the heart of the seas"; Margin; Mt 12:40. In the center of the Chaldeans. "Against Me," because they persecute My people. The cabalistic mode of interpreting Hebrew words (by taking the letters in the inverse order of the alphabet, the last letter representing the first, and so on, Jer 25:26) would give the very word Chaldeans here; but the mystical method cannot be intended, as "Babylon" is plainly so called in the immediately preceding parallel clause.
    - wind--God needs not warlike weapons to "destroy" His foes; a wind or blast is sufficient; though, no doubt, the "wind" here is the invading host of Medes and Persians (Jer 4:11; 2Ki 19:7).

    2. fanners--(See on Jer 15:7). The fanners separate the wheat from the chaff; so God's judgments shall sweep away guilty Babylon as chaff (Ps 1:4).

    3. Against him that bendeth--namely, the bow; that is, the Babylonian archer.
    - let the archer bend--that is, the Persian archer (Jer 50:4). The Chaldean version and JEROME, by changing the vowel points, read, "Let not him (the Babylonian) who bendeth his bow bend it." But the close of the verse is addressed to the Median invaders; therefore it is more likely that the first part of the verse is addressed to them, as in English Version, not to the Babylonians, to warn them against resistance as vain, as in the Chaldean version. The word "bend" is thrice repeated: "Against him that bendeth let him that bendeth bend," to imply the utmost straining of the bow.

    4. (See on Jer 49:26; Jer 50:30; Jer 50:37).

    5. forsaken--as a widow (Hebrew). Israel is not severed from her husband, Jehovah (Isa 54:5-7), by a perpetual divorce.
    - though . . . sin--though the land of Israel has been filled with sin, that is, with the punishment of their sin, devastation. But, as the Hebrew means "for," or "and therefore," not "though," translate, "and therefore their (the Chaldeans') land has been filled with (the penal consequences of) their sin" [GROTIUS].

    6. Warning to the Israelite captives to flee from Babylon, lest they should be involved in the punishment of her "iniquity." So as to spiritual Babylon and her captives (Re 18:4).

    7. Babylon is compared to a cup, because she was the vessel in the hand of God, to make drunken with His vengeance the other peoples (Jer 13:12; 25:15, 16). Compare as to spiritual Babylon, Re 14:8; 17:4. The cup is termed "golden," to express the splendor and opulence of Babylon; whence also in the image seen by Nebuchadnezzar (Da 2:38) the head representing Babylon is of gold (compare Isa 14:4).

    8, 9. Her friends and confederates, who behold her fall, are invited to her aid. They reply, her case is incurable, and that they must leave her to her fate. (Isa 21:9; Re 14:8; 18:2, 9).
    - balm-- (Jer 8:22; 46:11).

    9. We would have healed--We attempted to heal.
    - her judgment--her crimes provoking God's "judgments" [GROTIUS].
    - reacheth unto heaven-- (Ge 18:21; Jon 1:2; Re 18:5). Even the heathen nations perceive that her awful fall must be God's judgment for her crying sins (Ps 9:16; 64:9).

    10. Next after the speech of the confederates of Babylon, comes that of the Jews celebrating with thanksgivings the promise-keeping faithfulness of their covenant God.
    - brought forth, &c.-- (Ps 37:6).
    - our righteousness--not the Jews' merits, but God's faithfulness to Himself and to His covenant, which constituted the "righteousness" of His people, that is, their justification in their controversy with Babylon, the cruel enemy of God and His people. Compare Jer 23:6, "The Lord our righteousness"; Mic 7:9. Their righteousness is His righteousness.
    - declare in Zion-- (Ps 102:13-21).

    11. Make bright--literally, "pure." Polish and sharpen.
    - gather--literally, "fill"; that is, gather in full number, so that none be wanting. So, "gave in full tale" (1Sa 18:27). GESENIUS, not so well, translates, "Fill with your bodies the shields" (compare So 4:4). He means to tell the Babylonians, Make what preparations you will, all will be in vain (compare Jer 46:3-6).
    - kings of . . . Medes--He names the Medes rather than the Persians, because Darius, or Cyaxares, was above Cyrus in power and the greatness of his kingdom.
    - temple-- (Jer 50:28).

    12. With all your efforts, your city shall be taken.
    - standard--to summon the defenders together to any point threatened by the besiegers.

    13. waters-- (Jer 51:32, 36; see on Isa 21:1). The Euphrates surrounded the city and, being divided into many channels, formed islands. Compare as to spiritual Babylon "waters," that is, "many peoples," Re 17:1, 15. A large lake also was near Babylon.
    - measure--literally, "cubit," which was the most common measure, and therefore is used for a measure in general. The time for putting a limit to thy covetousness [GESENIUS]. There is no "and" in the Hebrew: translate, "thine end, the retribution for thy covetousness" [GROTIUS]. MAURER takes the image to be from weaving: "the cubit where thou art to be cut off"; for the web is cut off, when the required number of cubits is completed (Isa 38:12).

    14. by himself--literally, "by His soul" (2Sa 15:21; Heb 6:13).
    - fill . . . with caterpillars--locusts (Na 3:15). Numerous as are the citizens of Babylon, the invaders shall be more numerous.

    15-19. Repeated from Jer 10:12-16; except that "Israel" is not in the Hebrew of Jer 51:19, which ought, therefore, to be translated, "He is the Former of all things, and (therefore) of the rod of His inheritance" (that is, of the nation peculiarly His own). In Jer 10:1-25 the contrast is between the idols and God; here it is between the power of populous Babylon and that of God: "Thou dwellest upon many waters" (Jer 51:13); but God can, by merely "uttering His voice," create "many waters" (Jer 51:16). The "earth" (in its material aspect) is the result of His "power"; the "world" (viewed in its orderly system) is the result of His "wisdom," &c. (Jer 51:15). Such an Almighty Being can be at no loss for resources to effect His purpose against Babylon.

    20. (See on Jer 50:23). "Break in pieces" refers to the "hammer" there (compare Na 2:1, Margin). The club also was often used by ancient warriors.

    22. old and young-- (2Ch 36:17).

    24. The detail of particulars (Jer 51:20-23) is in order to express the indiscriminate slaughters perpetrated by Babylon on Zion, which, in just retribution, are all to befall her in turn (Jer 50:15, 29).
    - in your sight--addressed to the Jews.

    25. destroying mountain--called so, not from its position, for it lay low (Jer 51:13; Ge 11:2, 9), but from its eminence above other nations, many of which it had "destroyed"; also, because of its lofty palaces, towers, hanging gardens resting on arches, and walls, fifty royal cubits broad and two hundred high.
    - roll thee down from the rocks--that is, from thy rock-like fortifications and walls.
    - burnt mountain-- (Re 8:8). A volcano, which, after having spent itself in pouring its "destroying" lava on all the country around, falls into the vacuum and becomes extinct, the surrounding "rocks" alone marking where the crater had been. Such was the appearance of Babylon after its destruction, and as the pumice stones of the volcano are left in their place, being unfit for building, so Babylon should never rise from its ruins.

    26. corner . . . stone . . . foundations--The corner-stone was the most important one in the building, the foundation-stones came next in importance (Eph 2:20). So the sense is, even as there shall be no stones useful for building left of thee, so no leading prince, or governors, shall come forth from thy inhabitants.

    27. (Jer 50:29). As in Jer 51:12 the Babylonians were told to "set up the standard," so here her foes are told to do so: the latter, to good purpose; the former, in vain.
    - Ararat--Upper or Major Armenia, the regions about Mount Ararat.
    - Minni--Lower or Lesser Armenia. RAWLINSON says that Van was the capital of Minni. It was conquered by Tettarrassa, the general of Tetembar II, the Assyrian king whose wars are recorded on the black obelisk now in the British Museum.
    - Ashchenaz--a descendant of Japheth (Ge 10:3), who gave his name to the sea now called the Black Sea; the region bordering on it is probably here meant, namely, Asia Minor, including places named Ascania in Phrygia and Bithynia. Cyrus had subdued Asia Minor and the neighboring regions, and from these he drew levies in proceeding against Babylon.
    - rough caterpillars--The horsemen in multitude, and in appearance bristling with javelins and with crests, resemble "rough caterpillars," or locusts of the hairy-crested kind (Na 3:15).

    28. kings of . . . Medes-- (Jer 51:11). The satraps and tributary kings under Darius, or Cyaxares.
    - his dominion--the king of Media's dominion.

    29. land shall tremble . . . every purpose of . . . Lord shall be performed--elegant antithesis between the trembling of the land or earth, and the stability of "every purpose of the Lord" (compare Ps 46:1-3).

    30. forborne to fight--for the city was not taken by force of arms, but by stratagem, according to the counsel given to Cyrus by two eunuchs of Belshazzar who deserted.
    - remained in . . . holds--not daring to go forth to fight; many, with Nabonidus, withdrew to the fortified city Borsippa.

    31. (See on Jer 50:24).
    - One post--One courier after another shall announce the capture of the city. The couriers despatched from the walls, where Cyrus enters, shall "meet" those sent by the king. Their confused running to and fro would result from the sudden panic at the entrance of Cyrus into the city, which he had so long besieged ineffectually; the Babylonians had laughed at his attempts and were feasting at the time without fear.
    - taken at one end--which was not known for a long time to the king and his courtiers feasting in the middle of the city; so great was its extent that, when the city was already three days in the enemy's hands, the fact was not known in some parts of the city [ARISTOTLE, Politics, 3.2].

    32. passages are stopped--The guarded fords of the Euphrates are occupied by the enemy (see on Jer 50:38).
    - reeds . . . burned--literally, "the marsh." After draining off the river, Cyrus "burned" the stockade of dense tree-like "reeds" on its banks, forming the outworks of the city's fortifications. The burning of these would give the appearance of the marsh or river itself being on "fire."

    33. like a threshing-floor, it is time to thresh her--rather, "like a threshing-floor at the time of threshing," or "at the time when it is trodden." The treading, or threshing, here put before the harvest, out of the natural order, because the prominent thought is the treading down or destruction of Babylon. In the East the treading out of the corn took place only at harvest-time. Babylon is like a threshing-floor not trodden for a long time; but the time of harvest, when her citizens shall be trodden under foot, shall come [CALVIN]. "Like a threshing-floor full of corn, so is Babylon now full of riches, but the time of harvest shall come, when all her prosperity shall be cut off" [L

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