The Jews rebuked for not obeying calls to repentance. (1-7) Their captivity during seventy years is expressly foretold. (8-14) Desolations upon the nations shown by the emblem of a cup of wrath. (15-29) The judgments again declared. (30-38)
Verses 1-7 The call to turn from evil ways to the worship and service of God, and for sinners to trust in Christ, and partake of his salvation, concerns all men. God keeps an account how long we possess the means of grace; and the longer we have them, the heavier will our account be if we have not improved them. Rising early, points out the earnest desire that this people should turn and live. Personal and particular reformation must be insisted on as necessary to a national deliverance; and every one must turn from his own evil way. Yet all was to no purpose. They would not take the right and only method to turn away the wrath of God.
Verses 8-14 The fixing of the time during which the Jewish captivity should last, would not only confirm the prophecy, but also comfort the people of God, and encourage faith and prayer. The ruin of Babylon is foretold: the rod will be thrown into the fire when the correcting work is done. When the set time to favour Zion is come, Babylon shall be punished for their iniquity, as other nations have been punished for their sins. Every threatening of the Scripture will certainly be accomplished.
Verses 15-29 The evil and the good events of life are often represented in Scripture as cups. Under this figure is represented the desolation then coming upon that part of the world, of which Nebuchadnezzar, who had just began to reign and act, was to be the instrument; but this destroying sword would come from the hand of God. The desolations the sword should make in all these kingdoms, are represented by the consequences of excessive drinking. This may make us loathe the sin of drunkenness, that the consequences of it are used to set forth such a woful condition. Drunkenness deprives men of the use of their reason, makes men as mad. It takes from them the valuable blessing, health; and is a sin which is its own punishment. This may also make us dread the judgments of war. It soon fills a nation with confusion. They will refuse to take the cup at thy hand. They will not believe Jeremiah; but he must tell them it is the word of the Lord of hosts, and it is in vain for them to struggle against Almighty power. And if God's judgments begin with backsliding professors, let not the wicked expect to escape.
Verses 30-38 The Lord has just ground of controversy with every nation and every person; and he will execute judgment on all the wicked. Who can avoid trembling when God speaks in displeasure? The days are fully come; the time fixed in the Divine counsels, which will make the nations wholly desolate. The tender and delicate shall share the common calamity. Even those who used to live in peace, and did nothing to provoke, shall not escape. Blessed be God, there is a peaceable habitation above, for all the sons of peace. The Lord will preserve his church and all believers in all changes; for nothing can separate them from his love.
Jeremiah 25:1-38 . PROPHECY OF THE SEVENTY YEARS CAPTIVITY; AND AFTER THAT THE DESTRUCTION OF BABYLON, AND OF ALL THE NATIONS THAT OPPRESSED THE JEWS.
1. fourth year of Jehoiakim--called the third year in Daniel 1:1 . But probably Jehoiakim was set on the throne by Pharaoh-necho on his return from Carchemish about July, whereas Nebuchadnezzar mounted the throne January 21, 604 B.C,; so that Nebuchadnezzar's first year was partly the third, partly the fourth, of Jehoiakim's. Here first Jeremiah gives specific dates. Nebuchadnezzar had previously entered Judea in the reign of his father Nabopolassar.
3. From the thirteenth year of Josiah, in which Jeremiah began to prophesy ( Jeremiah 1:1 ), to the end of Josiah's reign, was nineteen years ( 2 Kings 22:1 ) of Jehoahaz' reign, with the not quite complete four years of Jehoiakim ( Jeremiah 25:1 ), added to the nineteen years, make up twenty-three years in all.
to Urijah, Zephaniah, Habakkuk, &c. It aggravates their sin, that God sent not merely one but many messengers, and those messengers, prophets; and, that during all those years specified, Jeremiah and his fellow prophets spared no effort, late and early.
5. Turn . . . dwell--In Hebrew there is expressed by sameness of sounds the correspondence between their turning to God and God's turning to them to permit them to dwell in their land: Shubu . . . shebu, "Return" . . . so shall ye "remain."
every one from . . . evil--Each must separately repent and turn from his own sin. None is excepted, lest they should think their guilt extenuated because the evil is general.
6. He instances one sin, idolatry, as representative of all their sins; as nothing is dearer to God than a pure worship of Himself.
7. Though ye provoke Me to anger ( Deuteronomy 32:21 ), yet it is not I, but yourselves, whom ye thereby hurt ( Proverbs 8:36 , 20:2 ).
The Medes and other northern peoples, confederate with Babylon, are included with the Chaldeans. my servant
--My agent for punishing ( Jeremiah 27:6
; compare Jeremiah 40:2
). Compare Isaiah 44:28
; Cyrus, "My shepherd." God makes even unbelievers unconsciously to fulfil His designs. A reproof to the Jews, who boasted that they were the servants of God;
yet a heathen king is to be more the servant of God than they, and that as the agent of their punishment.
10. ( Jeremiah 7:34 , Revelation 18:23 ). The land shall be so desolated that even in the houses left standing there shall be no inhabitant; a terrible stillness shall prevail; no sound of the hand-mill (two circular stones, one above the other, for grinding corn, worked by two women, Exodus 11:5 , Matthew 24:41 ; in daily use in every house, and therefore forbidden to be taken in pledge, Deuteronomy 24:6 ); no night-light, so universal in the East that the poorest house has it, burning all night.
candle--lamp ( Job 21:17 , 18:6 ).
11. seventy years--( Jeremiah 27:7 ). The exact number of years of Sabbaths in four hundred ninety years, the period from Saul to the Babylonian captivity; righteous retribution for their violation of the Sabbath ( Leviticus 26:34 Leviticus 26:35 , 2 Chronicles 36:21 ). The seventy years probably begin from the fourth year of Jehoiakim, when Jerusalem was first captured, and many captives, as well as the treasures of the temple, were carried away; they end with the first year of Cyrus, who, on taking Babylon, issued an edict for the restoration of the Jews ( Ezra 1:1 ). Daniel's seventy prophetic weeks are based on the seventy years of the captivity (compare Daniel 9:2 Daniel 9:24 ).
13. all . . . written in this book, which Jeremiah . . . prophesied against all . . . nations--It follows from this, that the prophecies against foreign nations (forty-sixth through fifty-first chapters) must have been already written. Hence the Septuagint inserts here those prophecies. But if they had followed immediately ( Jeremiah 25:13 ), there would have been no propriety in the observation in the verse. The very wording of the reference shows that they existed in some other part of the book, and not in the immediate context. It was in this very year, the fourth of Jehoiakim ( Jeremiah 36:1 Jeremiah 36:2 ), that Jeremiah was directed to write in a regular book for the first time all that he had prophesied against Judah and foreign "nations" from the beginning of his ministry. Probably, at a subsequent time, when he completed the whole work, including the forty-sixth through fifty-first chapters, Jeremiah himself inserted the clause, "all that is written in this book, which Jeremiah hath prophesied against all the nations." The prophecies in question may have been repeated, as others in Jeremiah, more than once; so in the original smaller collection they may have stood in an earlier position; and, in the fuller subsequent collection, in their later and present position.
14. serve themselves--( Jeremiah 27:7 , 30:8 , 34:10 ). Avail themselves of their services as slaves.
them also--the Chaldees, who heretofore have made other nations their slaves, shall themselves also in their turn be slaves to them. MAURER translates, "shall impose servitude on them, even them."
recompense them--namely, the Chaldees and other nations against whom Jeremiah had prophesied ( Jeremiah 25:13 ), as having oppressed the Jews.
their deeds--rather, "deed," namely, their bad treatment of the Jews ( Jeremiah 50:29 , Jeremiah 51:6 Jeremiah 51:24 ; compare 2 Chronicles 36:17 ).
15. wine cup--Compare Jeremiah 13:12 Jeremiah 13:13 , as to this image, to express stupefying judgments; also Jeremiah 49:12 , 51:7 . Jeremiah often embodies the imagery of Isaiah in his prophecies ( Lamentations 4:21 , Isaiah 51:17-22 , Revelation 16:19 , 18:6 ). The wine cup was not literally given by Jeremiah to the representatives of the different nations; but only in symbolical vision.
16. be moved--reel ( Nahum 3:11 ).
18. Jerusalem--put first: for "judgment begins at the house of God"; they being most guilty whose religious privileges are greatest ( 1 Peter 4:17 ).
kings--Jehoiakim, Jeconiah, and Zedekiah.
as it is this day--The accomplishment of the curse had already begun under Jehoiakim. This clause, however, may have been inserted by Jeremiah at his final revision of his prophecies in Egypt.
19. Pharaoh--put next after Jerusalem, because the Jews had relied most on him, and Egypt and Judea stood on a common footing ( Jeremiah 46:2 Jeremiah 46:25 ).
20. mingled people--mercenary foreign troops serving under Pharaoh-hophra in the time of Jeremiah. The employment of these foreigners provoked the native Egyptians to overthrow him. Psammetichus, father of Pharaoh-necho, also had given a settlement in Egypt to Ionian and Carian adventurers [HERODOTUS, 2.152, 154]. Isaiah 19:2 Isaiah 19:3 , 20:1 , Ezekiel 30:5 . The term is first found in Exodus 12:38 .
Uz--in the geographical order here, between Egypt and the states along the Mediterranean; therefore not the "Uz" of Job 1:1 (north of Arabia-Deserta), but the northern part of Arabia-Petræa, between the sea and Idumea ( Lamentations 4:21 ; see Genesis 36:20 Genesis 36:28 ).
remnant of Ashdod--called a "remnant," because Ashdod had lost most of its inhabitants in the twenty-nine years siege by Psammetichus. was overthrown in the same war.
21. Edom . . . Moab . . . Ammon--joined together, as being related to Israel (see Jeremiah 48:1-49:39').
22. all the kings of Tyrus--the petty kings of the various dependencies of Tyre.
isles--a term including all maritime regions ( Psalms 72:10 ).
23. Dedan--north of Arabia ( Genesis 25:3 Genesis 25:4 ).
Tema . . . Buz--neighboring tribes north of Arabia ( Job 32:2 ).
all . . . in . . . utmost corners--rather, "having the hair cut in angles," a heathenish custom
24. mingled people--not in the same sense as in Jeremiah 25:20 ; the "motley crowd," so called in contempt (compare Jeremiah 49:28 Jeremiah 49:31 , 50:37 ). By a different pointing it may be translated the "Arabs"; but the repetition of the name is not likely. BLANEY thinks there were two divisions of what we call Arabia, the west (Araba) and the east. The west included Arabia-Petræa and the parts on the sea bordering on Egypt, the land of Cush; the east, Arabia-Felix and Deserta. The latter are "the mixed race" inhabiting the desert.
25. Zimri--perhaps the Zabra mentioned by PTOLEMY between Mecca and Medina. Zimran also, as Dedan, was one of Abraham's sons by Keturah ( Genesis 25:2 ).
Elam--properly, west of Persia; but used for Persia in general.
26. Sheshach--Babylon; as the parallelism in Jeremiah 51:41 proves. In the Cabalistic system (called Athbash, the first Hebrew letter in the alphabet being expressed by the last) Sheshach would exactly answer to Babel. Jeremiah may have used this system (as perhaps in Jeremiah 51:41 ) for concealment at the time of this prediction, in the fourth year of Jehoiakim, while Nebuchadnezzar was before Jerusalem. In Jeremiah 51:41 there can be no concealment, as Babylon is expressly mentioned. MICHAELIS more simply explains the term "brazen-gated" (compare Isaiah 45:2 ); others, "the house of a prince." Rather, it comes from the Babylonian goddess, Shach, by reduplication of the first letter; from her Misael was named Meshach by the Babylonians. The term Shace was applied to a festival at Babylon, alluded to in Jeremiah 51:39 Jeremiah 51:57 , Isaiah 21:5 . It was during this feast that Cyrus took Babylon [HERODOTUS, 1]. Thus Jeremiah mystically denotes the time of its capture by this term [GLASSIUS].
27. rise no more--The heathen nations in question should fall to rise no more. The Jews should fall but for a time, and then rise again. Therefore, the epithet is given, "the God of Israel."
28. if they refuse to take the cup--No effort of theirs to escape destruction will avail.
29. If I spared not Mine elect people on account of sin, much less will I spare you ( Ezekiel 9:6 , Obadiah 1:16 , Luke 23:31 , 1 Peter 4:17 ).
be unpunished--"be treated as innocent."
30. roar--image from a destructive lion ( Isaiah 42:13 , Joel 3:16 ).
upon his habitation--rather, "His pasturage"; keeping up the image of a lion roaring against the flock in the pasture. The roar was first to go forth over Judea wherein were "the sheep of His pasture" ( Psalms 100:3 ), and thence into heathen lands.
shout . . . tread . . . grapes--( Jeremiah 48:33 , Isaiah 16:9 Isaiah 16:10 ).
31. controversy--cause at issue ( Micah 6:2 ).
plead with all flesh--( Isaiah 66:16 ). God shows the whole world that He does what is altogether just in punishing.
32. from the coasts--rather, "from the uttermost regions." Like a storm which arises in one region and then diffuses itself far and wide, so God's judgments shall pass "from nation to nation," till all has been fulfilled; no distance shall prevent the fulfilment.
not be lamented--( Jeremiah 16:4 Jeremiah 16:6 ).
neither gathered--to their fathers, in their ancestral tombs ( Jeremiah 8:2 ).
dung--( Psalms 83:10 ).
34. shepherds--princes ( Jeremiah 22:22 ). Here he returns to the Jews and their rulers, using the same image as in Jeremiah 25:30 ,
wallow yourselves--Cover yourselves as thickly with ashes, in token of sorrow, as one who rolls in them ( Jeremiah 6:26 , Ezekiel 27:30 ) [MAURER].
principal--leaders. The Septuagint translates "rams," carrying out the image (compare Isaiah 14:9 , Margin; Zechariah 10:3 ).
days of your slaughter . . . of . . . dispersions--rather, "your days for slaughter (that is, the time of your being slain), and your dispersions (not 'of your dispersions'), are accomplished (are come)."
pleasant vessel--Ye were once a precious vessel, but ye shall fall, and so be a broken vessel "Your past excellency shall not render you safe now. I will turn to your ignominy whatever glory I conferred on you" [CALVIN].
35. Literally, "Flight shall fail the shepherds . . . escaping (shall fail) the principal," &c. ( Amos 2:14 ). The leaders will be the first objects for slaughter; escape by flight will be out of their power.
37. habitations--rather, carrying out the image "pastures" without incursion of wild beasts, the flocks have fed, shall be destroyed; that is, the regions where, heretofore, there was peace and security (alluding to the name Salem, or Jerusalem, "possessing peace").
38. his covert--the temple, where heretofore, like a lion, as its defender, by the mere terror of His voice He warded off the foe; but now He leaves it a prey to the Gentiles [CALVIN].
fierceness of . . . oppressor--rather, as the Hebrew, for "oppressor" is an adjective feminine, the word "sword" is understood, which, in Jeremiah 46:16 , 50:16 , is expressed (indeed, some manuscripts and the Septuagint read "sword" instead of "fierceness" here; probably interpolated from Jeremiah 46:16 ), "the oppressing sword." The Hebrew for "oppressing" means also a "dove": there may be, therefore, a covert allusion to the Chaldean standard bearing a dove on it, in honor of Semiramis, the first queen, said in popular superstition to have been nourished by doves when exposed at birth, and at death to have been transformed into a dove. Her name may come from a root referring to the cooing of a dove. That bird was held sacred to the goddess Venus. Vulgate so translates "the anger of the dove."
his . . . anger--If the anger of Nebuchadnezzar cannot be evaded, how much less that of God (compare Jeremiah 25:37 )!