King James Bible
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Jeremiah 51

Babylon’s doom; God’s controversy with her; encouragements from thence to the Israel of God. (1-58) The confirming of this. (59-64)

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Babylon’s doom; God’s controversy with her; encouragements from thence to the Israel of God

1 Thus saith the LORD; Behold, I will raise up against Babylon, and against them that dwell in the midst of them that rise up against me, a destroying wind;

2 And will send unto Babylon fanners, that shall fan her, and shall empty her land: for in the day of trouble they shall be against her round about.

3 Against him that bendeth let the archer bend his bow, and against him that lifteth himself up in his brigandine: and spare ye not her young men; destroy ye utterly all her host.

4 Thus the slain shall fall in the land of the Chaldeans, and they that are thrust through in her streets.

5 For Israel hath not been forsaken, nor Judah of his God, of the LORD of hosts; though their land was filled with sin against the Holy One of Israel.

6 Flee out of the midst of Babylon, and deliver every man his soul: be not cut off in her iniquity; for this is the time of the LORD’s vengeance; he will render unto her a recompence.

7 Babylon hath been a golden cup in the LORD’s hand, that made all the earth drunken: the nations have drunken of her wine; therefore the nations are mad.

8 Babylon is suddenly fallen and destroyed: howl for her; take balm for her pain, if so be she may be healed.

9 We would have healed Babylon, but she is not healed: forsake her, and let us go every one into his own country: for her judgment reacheth unto heaven, and is lifted up even to the skies.

10 The LORD hath brought forth our righteousness: come, and let us declare in Zion the work of the LORD our God.

11 Make bright the arrows; gather the shields: the LORD hath raised up the spirit of the kings of the Medes: for his device is against Babylon, to destroy it; because it is the vengeance of the LORD, the vengeance of his temple.

12 Set up the standard upon the walls of Babylon, make the watch strong, set up the watchmen, prepare the ambushes: for the LORD hath both devised and done that which he spake against the inhabitants of Babylon.

13 O thou that dwellest upon many waters, abundant in treasures, thine end is come, and the measure of thy covetousness.

14 The LORD of hosts hath sworn by himself, saying, Surely I will fill thee with men, as with caterpillers; and they shall lift up a shout against thee.

15 He hath made the earth by his power, he hath established the world by his wisdom, and hath stretched out the heaven by his understanding.

16 When he uttereth his voice, there is a multitude of waters in the heavens; and he causeth the vapours to ascend from the ends of the earth: he maketh lightnings with rain, and bringeth forth the wind out of his treasures.

17 Every man is brutish by his knowledge; every founder is confounded by the graven image: for his molten image is falsehood, and there is no breath in them.

18 They are vanity, the work of errors: in the time of their visitation they shall perish.

19 The portion of Jacob is not like them; for he is the former of all things: and Israel is the rod of his inheritance: the LORD of hosts is his name.

20 Thou art my battle axe and weapons of war: for with thee will I break in pieces the nations, and with thee will I destroy kingdoms;

21 And with thee will I break in pieces the horse and his rider; and with thee will I break in pieces the chariot and his rider;

22 With thee also will I break in pieces man and woman; and with thee will I break in pieces old and young; and with thee will I break in pieces the young man and the maid;

23 I will also break in pieces with thee the shepherd and his flock; and with thee will I break in pieces the husbandman and his yoke of oxen; and with thee will I break in pieces captains and rulers.

24 And I will render unto Babylon and to all the inhabitants of Chaldea all their evil that they have done in Zion in your sight, saith the LORD.

25 Behold, I am against thee, O destroying mountain, saith the LORD, which destroyest all the earth: and I will stretch out mine hand upon thee, and roll thee down from the rocks, and will make thee a burnt mountain.

26 And they shall not take of thee a stone for a corner, nor a stone for foundations; but thou shalt be desolate for ever, saith the LORD.

27 Set ye up a standard in the land, blow the trumpet among the nations, prepare the nations against her, call together against her the kingdoms of Ararat, Minni, and Ashchenaz; appoint a captain against her; cause the horses to come up as the rough caterpillers.

28 Prepare against her the nations with the kings of the Medes, the captains thereof, and all the rulers thereof, and all the land of his dominion.

29 And the land shall tremble and sorrow: for every purpose of the LORD shall be performed against Babylon, to make the land of Babylon a desolation without an inhabitant.

30 The mighty men of Babylon have forborn to fight, they have remained in their holds: their might hath failed; they became as women: they have burned her dwellingplaces; her bars are broken.

31 One post shall run to meet another, and one messenger to meet another, to shew the king of Babylon that his city is taken at one end,

32 And that the passages are stopped, and the reeds they have burned with fire, and the men of war are affrighted.

33 For thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; The daughter of Babylon is like a threshingfloor, it is time to thresh her: yet a little while, and the time of her harvest shall come.

34 Nebuchadrezzar the king of Babylon hath devoured me, he hath crushed me, he hath made me an empty vessel, he hath swallowed me up like a dragon, he hath filled his belly with my delicates, he hath cast me out.

35 The violence done to me and to my flesh be upon Babylon, shall the inhabitant of Zion say; and my blood upon the inhabitants of Chaldea, shall Jerusalem say.

36 Therefore thus saith the LORD; Behold, I will plead thy cause, and take vengeance for thee; and I will dry up her sea, and make her springs dry.

37 And Babylon shall become heaps, a dwellingplace for dragons, an astonishment, and an hissing, without an inhabitant.

38 They shall roar together like lions: they shall yell as lions’ whelps.

39 In their heat I will make their feasts, and I will make them drunken, that they may rejoice, and sleep a perpetual sleep, and not wake, saith the LORD.

40 I will bring them down like lambs to the slaughter, like rams with he goats.

41 How is Sheshach taken! and how is the praise of the whole earth surprised! how is Babylon become an astonishment among the nations!

42 The sea is come up upon Babylon: she is covered with the multitude of the waves thereof.

43 Her cities are a desolation, a dry land, and a wilderness, a land wherein no man dwelleth, neither doth any son of man pass thereby.

44 And I will punish Bel in Babylon, and I will bring forth out of his mouth that which he hath swallowed up: and the nations shall not flow together any more unto him: yea, the wall of Babylon shall fall.

45 My people, go ye out of the midst of her, and deliver ye every man his soul from the fierce anger of the LORD.

46 And lest your heart faint, and ye fear for the rumour that shall be heard in the land; a rumour shall both come one year, and after that in another year shall come a rumour, and violence in the land, ruler against ruler.

47 Therefore, behold, the days come, that I will do judgment upon the graven images of Babylon: and her whole land shall be confounded, and all her slain shall fall in the midst of her.

48 Then the heaven and the earth, and all that is therein, shall sing for Babylon: for the spoilers shall come unto her from the north, saith the LORD.

49 As Babylon hath caused the slain of Israel to fall, so at Babylon shall fall the slain of all the earth.

50 Ye that have escaped the sword, go away, stand not still: remember the LORD afar off, and let Jerusalem come into your mind.

51 We are confounded, because we have heard reproach: shame hath covered our faces: for strangers are come into the sanctuaries of the LORD’s house.

52 Wherefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will do judgment upon her graven images: and through all her land the wounded shall groan.

53 Though Babylon should mount up to heaven, and though she should fortify the height of her strength, yet from me shall spoilers come unto her, saith the LORD.

54 A sound of a cry cometh from Babylon, and great destruction from the land of the Chaldeans:

55 Because the LORD hath spoiled Babylon, and destroyed out of her the great voice; when her waves do roar like great waters, a noise of their voice is uttered:

56 Because the spoiler is come upon her, even upon Babylon, and her mighty men are taken, every one of their bows is broken: for the LORD God of recompences shall surely requite.

57 And I will make drunk her princes, and her wise men, her captains, and her rulers, and her mighty men: and they shall sleep a perpetual sleep, and not wake, saith the King, whose name is the LORD of hosts.

58 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; The broad walls of Babylon shall be utterly broken, and her high gates shall be burned with fire; and the people shall labour in vain, and the folk in the fire, and they shall be weary.

The confirming of this

59 The word which Jeremiah the prophet commanded Seraiah the son of Neriah, the son of Maaseiah, when he went with Zedekiah the king of Judah into Babylon in the fourth year of his reign. And this Seraiah was a quiet prince.

60 So Jeremiah wrote in a book all the evil that should come upon Babylon, even all these words that are written against Babylon.

61 And Jeremiah said to Seraiah, When thou comest to Babylon, and shalt see, and shalt read all these words;

62 Then shalt thou say, O LORD, thou hast spoken against this place, to cut it off, that none shall remain in it, neither man nor beast, but that it shall be desolate for ever.

63 And it shall be, when thou hast made an end of reading this book, that thou shalt bind a stone to it, and cast it into the midst of Euphrates:

64 And thou shalt say, Thus shall Babylon sink, and shall not rise from the evil that I will bring upon her: and they shall be weary. Thus far are the words of Jeremiah.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 1. Thereof. Heb. leb kamai, “of the heart, rising up against me.” H. — Many take Leb-kamai to be the enigmatical name of the Chaldees, by a secret combination of letters, (Kimchi. Grot.) as if they were not clearly designated in the sequel. C. — The prophet expresses more pointedly what he had declared in the preceding chapter. W.

Ver. 2. Fan her. After the corn was trodden out, it was heaved into the wind. This custom would insinuate the distress and captivity of the Chaldees. Sept. “I will send…scoffers, and they shall treat her with scorn, kathubriousin. H. — They have read (C.) zedim for zarim.

Ver. 3. Mail. There will be little or no resistance made. C. l. 3. H. — The Persians denounce destruction to all taken in arms; or, according to Sept. and Syr. they exhort each other to fight. C. — “Let him,” &c. H. — Heb. of the Masorets, “you who bend…spare not.” C. — Prot. “against him that bendeth let the archer bend his bow,” &c. H. — Heb. is printed ne tendat tendat tendans. The second word is properly omitted in some MSS. Thus (1 Chron. xxiv. 6.) we read taken taken, achuz having been put erroneously for achad, one. Kennicott.

Ver. 5. Forsaken, as a widow, viduatus. H. — God still considers the nation as his spouse. — Their land. That of the Chaldees, (C.) or of the Jews. Theodoret. — Sin, or punishment.

Ver. 6. Silent. Jews proclaim that Babylon is justly punished, (C.) lest you partake in her crimes. Apoc. xviii. 4. Prot. “be not cut off in her,” &c. H.

Ver. 7. Cup. She has exercised the vengeance of the Lord on Juda, Egypt, &c.

Ver. 8. Suddenly. She has not lost many battles; but is fallen at once from being the greatest city of the East.

Ver. 9. We. The guardian angels, or Jews reply. Miracles are lost on her. — Heavens. Her crimes call for punishment. Gen. xviii. 21. and Jon. i. 2.

Ver. 10. Justices. We had not injured the Chaldees, though we had offended God.

Ver. 11. Sharpen. He addresses ironically the citizens of Babylon. — Medes. Thus the subjects of the Persian monarchs are commonly styled. C.

Ver. 12. Standard. Call together thy subjects and allies. H. — This must be explained of Babylon. M. — Yet all will be in vain. v. 11. H. — Ambushes. Herein the valour and genius of heroes was most displayed. Jos. viii. 2. Homer.

Ver. 13. Waters. Not far from the Tigris, and divided into two parts by the Euphrates. C. — Entire, being cut up by the roots, pedalis, (Lyran.) or according to the measure of thy crimes. Delrio. C. — Sept. “thy end is truly come into thy bowels.” H.

Ver. 14. Himself. Sept. “his hand” lifted up, or by his power. — Locusts. Their ravages were equally dreaded. Joel ii. 4. Judg. vi. 5.

Ver. 16. Rain. Thunder and lightning are usually followed by showers. C.

Ver. 17. Every man, &c. That is, every maker of idols, however he boasts of his knowledge and skill, does but shew himself a fool in pretending to make a god. Ch. Wisd. xiv. 18. — By his, or “by default of knowledge;” (a scientia. H.) as the Heb. may also mean. The Babylonians were so confounded, they knew not what to do. C. — Prot. “Every man is brutish by his knowledge.” Marg. or “is more brutish than to know.” C. x. 14. H.

Ver. 20. Thou, Cyrus, (Grot.) or more commonly the Chaldees are understood.

Ver. 25. Mountain. So Babylon is styled in derision. See C. xxi. 13. Is. i. 10. and xx. 6. and xxii. 1. The city stood on a plain. Some think that its palace and walls are designated. — Burnt; unfruitful. This happened long after Cyrus, though it then ceased to be the capital, and became only a shadow of its former greatness.

Ver. 26. Corner. No king or conqueror shall spring thence. Alexander thought of making it the seat of his empire, but was prevented by death. Strabo xv.

Ver. 27. Prepare. Lit. “sanctify.” H. — Call together all nations to fight against Babylon. W. — Many religious ceremonies were used. — Ararat, where the ark rested, (Gen. viii. 4.) near the Araxes, (S. Jer. in Is. xxxvii.) or in the Gordyean mountains, in Armenia, where the Menni dwelt. — Ascenez, or Ascantes, (C.) near the Tanais. Pliny vi. 7. — Taphsar, “the prince.” Nah. iii. 17. Pagn. “Warriors.” Chal. “Machines” Sept. — Caterpillar, or “locust,” (bruchum. H.) which resembles more a body of cavalry. C. — Sept. “Push forward the cavalry against her, as a multitude of locusts.” H.

Ver. 28. Prepare; “sanctify.” H. — Media. Cyrus. v. 11. — Captains: generals. C. — Rulers. Lit. “magistrates.” H. — Heb. Seganim, a title used once by Isaias, and frequently by those who wrote after the Assyrians (C.) commenced their invasion. H.

Ver. 30. Bars, fastening the gates. C. — Those who entered by the channel of the river, would seize the gates to let their companions enter. H.

Ver. 31. King, feasting in his palace, (Herod. i. 191.) or at Borsippe. Berosus. He sent to make inquiries, (C.) or his subjects hastened to convey the doleful tidings, and thus met each other. H.

Ver. 32. Fords. Thus the enemy entered. — Marches. Heb. “sedges,” which grew to the size of trees, and were burnt when the waters of the river and lakes were drained. Herodotus (i. 185. 178.) specifies a lake four hundred and twenty stadia square, and says the ditches round the city were full of water.

Ver. 33. Threshing, performed by oxen treading, and by rollers, &c. Judg. viii. 16. and 2 K. xii. 31. — Little; about fifty-six years.

Ver. 34. Dragon, or huge fish, which swallows without chewing. Sion is here venting her complaint. Ps. cxxxvi. 8. C. — She shews that Babylon is justly punished for her cruelty towards God’s people. W.

Ver. 36. Spring; commerce, the source of her riches; or rather the waters shall be brought out of their usual channels. For many ages (C.) the Euphrates has been lost in sands, and reaches not the Persian Gulph. Pliny vii. 27. Cellar. iii. 16.

Ver. 37. Dragons. This has been the case for above sixteen centuries. C. l. 31. Is. xiii. 21.

Ver. 38. Roar. They shall retain their haughty air and threaten others, when they themselves shall fall (C.) in the midst of their feasting. Dan. v. 30. Xen. vii.

Ver. 41. Search, the city which worshipped the moon, (C. xxv. 26.) Bel, (C. l. 2.) &c.

Ver. 42. Sea: numerous armies of Cyrus, or the waters of the Euphrates let loose. C. — In the days of Alexander, many tombs of the kings were inundated. Strabo xv.

Ver. 44. Down. His priests pretended that he eat, (Dan. xiv. 11.) and a woman of their choice slept in the most retired part of the temple. Herod. i. 181. — The prophet derides this notion. The idol, or rather his votaries, (H.) shall be forced to let go the Israelites. C. — Fall, by means of Cyrus and of Darius. C. l. 3. H.

Ver. 46. Faint. You may apprehend that your miseries will increase in the midst of such confusion; but no, Baltassar, the last of your oppressor’s race, shall be assassinated by Neriglissor, who will be succeeded by Laborosoarchod and Nabonides. This last shall yield to Cyrus, who well grant you liberty. Baltassar reigned two years, Neriglissor four, his ill-tempered infant son nine months, when his followers murdered him, and gave the crown to a Babylonian called Nabonides, who kept it seventeen years, till Cyrus took him prisoner. This we learn from Berosus, quoted by Josephus, c. Ap. i. On the other hand Daniel makes Darius, the Mede, succeed Baltassar, and after him Cyrus reigned. To these changes and continual alarms the prophet alludes.

Ver. 47. Idols; Bel, &c. v. 41. — Slain. Heb. “dancers.” The people were feasting. C. — It means also “slain,” (Prot.) or “soldiers.”

Ver. 48. Praise, for the just punishment. H. — The crimes were public. C.

Ver. 50. Mind. Offer sacrifices of thanks on Sion, (H.) both Jews and other nations. C.

Ver. 51. We. The Jews answer: we are ashamed when we think of these places. M.

Ver. 53. High. Her fortifications and ditches will prove fruitless. C. xlviii. 7. 18.

Ver. 55. Great voice, or boasting and songs of joy, usual at public meetings. — Noise. They groan under affliction.

Ver. 57. Drunk, with the wine of fury. v. 39. C. xxv. 26.

Ver. 58. Broad wall. The pagan historians agree not in the dimensions, but allow it was excessively broad and lofty. C. — Six chariots might go abreast. It was 360 stadia long, (Ctesias); or 480 (Herod. i. 178.) that is above 23 leagues, allowing 2,500 paces for each. This author says the breadth was fifty cubits of the king, three inches larger than the common one, or about twenty-one inches. Pliny (vi. 26.) improperly applies this to Roman feet, and says the walls were two hundred feet high; while Herodotus assigns so many cubits. C. — There were three different walls. Curt. v. — Cyrus demolished the outer one. Beros. — What remained, (C.) with the hundred brazen gates, Darius treated in like manner. Herod. i. 179. and iii. 159. — Thus was the prediction fulfilled, and the works of so many captive nations brought to nothing. It is asserted that 200,000 (C.) daily finished a stadium, (Curt. v.) or 125 paces. C.

Ver. 59. With. Heb. also, (C.) “on behalf of.” Prot. marg. H. — It is no where else asserted that Sedecias went in person, and Sept. Chal. &c. explain it in this manner. Baruch accompanied his brother Sararias, and probably took the letter. Bar. i. 2. Saraias went to petition for the sacred vessels. — Prophecy, or of the embassy to speak (C.) in the king’s name. Heb. menucha, was a caution of Benjamin. It means, “rest;” whence some have inferred that he was chamberlain, (Cant. iii. 8.) or a favourite. Most translate, “chief of the presents,” Sept. and Chal. as if they they had read mincha, which he carried as a tribute to Babylon. Jeremias gave him charge of the parcel, perhaps before Baruch had determined to go.

Ver. 64. Sink. The angel did the like; (Apoc. xviii. 21. C.) and the Phoceans, leaving their country, swore that they would return no more till a piece of red hot iron, which they threw into the sea, should swim. Herod. i. 165. — Thus, &c. was added by the compiler. Sept. omit the sentence, as what relates to Babylon is place C. xxviii. in their copies. C. — Yet Grabe puts it in a different character. H. — Jeremias wrote a great deal, after the 4th year of Sedecias, v. 59. C. — He here finished his predictions against Babylon. W. — This does not mean that he did not write the next chapter, (M.) as Cappel allows, (Houbig.) though this may still be doubted. H.