Jeremiah Chapter 49
Verses 1-6: “Concerning the Ammonites” (compare Ezek. 25:1-7; Amos 1:13-15; Zeph. 2:8-11). These people descended from Lot (compare Gen. 19:38), and lived north of Moab. Though Israel had people who were heirs to Transjordan, i.e., Gad, Reuben, and one half of Manasseh (compare Joshua 22:1-9). The Ammonites, whose god was Milcham or Molech, were chided for having usurped the area (verse 1), when the northern kingdom was taken captive by Shalmaneser.
The Ammonites were descendants of Lot, who lived to the east of the Jordan River (Gen. 19:38). They had sent delegates to Jerusalem (in 593 B.C.; 27:3), as part of a coalition against Babylon. Jeremiah’s oracles against the nations would remind Judah that these alliances were doomed to failure.
Jeremiah 49:1 “Concerning the Ammonites, thus saith the LORD; Hath Israel no sons? hath he no heir? why [then] doth their king inherit Gad, and his people dwell in his cities?”
The history of this people was, to a great extent, parallel with that of the Moabites. They had been conquered by Sihon, the great Amorite king, and when that monarch was, in his turn, conquered by the Israelites (Num. 21:21-31). Their territory was assigned to the tribes of Gad and Reuben (Num. 32:34-38).
(In Judges 11:12-33), we have the record of an unsuccessful attempt to recover their lost territory, and like attempts appear to have been made by Nahash (1 Sam. 11:1-11), and Hanun (2 Sam. 10:6-14; 12:26-31). On the deportation of the Trans-jordanic tribes by Tiglath-pileser (2 Kings 15:29; 1 Chron. 5:6; 5:26), they made a more successful effort. and their king Baalis appears as prompting the conspiracy of Ishmael, the son of Nethaniah (Jer. 40:14). The prophecy on which we now enter was probably delivered before that time, in or about the fourth year of Jehoiakim (Jer. 25:21). Its opening words recall the long-standing territorial controversy.
“Hath Israel no sons?” Was the land he had occupied so long to pass into the possession of a stranger?
“Why then doth their king inherit Gad”: The name all but identical with the “Malcham” of (Zeph. 1:5), and connected with Moloch, was that of the god of the Ammonites, as Chemosh was that of the Moabite deity. He, as his very name implied, was their true king; and the complaint of the prophet is that he inherits Gad, which had been in the possession of Israel.
The Ammonites were a violent people. The Ammonites have moved into the area of the Gadites. The “king” here is speaking of a false god, probably Molech. The meaning of “inherit” in the verse above, is “take possession of”. This means they have taken land that was given to Gad by God. This land belonged to the Israelites and their children for all generations.
Jeremiah 49:2 “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.”
“An alarm of war”: Nebuchadnezzar defeated Ammon in the fifth year after the destruction of Jerusalem (around 582/581 B.C.).
God will burn these oppressors with fire and they will leave the land to the Israelites, who it belonged to in the first place.
Jeremiah 49:3 ” Howl, O Heshbon, for Ai is spoiled: cry, ye daughters of Rabbah, gird you with sackcloth; lament, and run to and fro by the hedges; for their king shall go into captivity, [and] his priests and his princes together.”
Which was a city of Moab, though it formerly belonged to the Amorites (see Jer. 48:2). It was upon the border of Ammon, and near to Ai, which was now destroyed. And therefore, is called upon to howl and lament, because its destruction also was near at hand, and might be expected. Hence Kimchi gathers, that the Ammonites were destroyed before the Moabites. But some have thought that Heshbon was a double city, divided by a river, which ran through it. And that that city which was on one side of the river belonged to Moab, and that on the other side to Ammon.
“For Ai is spoiled”: Not that which was near Jericho in the land of Canaan, but a city in the land of Ammon, thought to be the Gaia of Ptolemy. This seems to be the first city in the country of Ammon that Nebuchadnezzar would lay waste.
“Cry, ye daughters of Rabbah”: The royal city before mentioned; (see Jer. 49:2). Either the inhabitants of it, particularly the women, especially the younger women, who would be in the utmost distress on hearing the enemy was so near them, and what had befallen Ai. Or the villages about Rabbah, as Kimchi interprets it. That is, as the Targum says, “the inhabitants of the villages of Rabbah:” gird ye with sackcloth; as a token of calamity and mourning for it, as was usual:
“Lament, and run to and fro by the hedges”: Which Jarchi, Kimchi, and Ben Melech, understand of the enclosures or fences of villages. Like those of gardens, fields, and folds, in distinction from walls of cities, and fortified places. But rather it signifies the hedges in the fields, whither, being driven from their habitations, they would seek unto for shelter, and run about among them for safety, lamenting their unhappy case.
“For their king shall go into captivity”: Be taken and carried captive. Either their principal governor; or rather Milcom their god, since it follows.
“And his priests and his princes together”: Both such as offered sacrifices to him, and attended on and supported his worship. The same is said of Chemosh, the god of the Moabites (Jer. 48:7).
Heshbon is a city located in the land of Gad, but inhabited by the Ammonites. Daughters of Rabbah are speaking of their un-walled cities. This says run, because your false god cannot help you.
Jeremiah 49:4 “Wherefore gloriest thou in the valleys, thy flowing valley, O backsliding daughter? that trusted in her treasures, [saying], Who shall come unto me?”
“Thy flowing valley”: Flowing with the blood of the slain.
“Backsliding” (see note on Prov. 14:14).
These Ammonites were the offspring of Lot and his daughter. This family started with an incestuous affair. They were related to Abraham, because Lot was Abraham’s nephew. This is the only connection I can make with them being a daughter. They certainly were backslidden from several generations back. They certainly had forsaken the God of Lot. They worshipped the false god Molech. To put trust in a false god is a hopeless thing. It seems they trusted in riches as well. In time of God’s judgement, neither one are of much use. The only God to go to, is the great I Am.
Jeremiah 49:5 Behold, I will bring a fear upon thee, saith the Lord GOD of hosts, from all those that be about thee; and ye shall be driven out every man right forth; and none shall gather up him that wandereth.
The terrible army of the Chaldeans, which should strike them with a panic. Who thought themselves so secure in their fortresses, trusting in their riches.
“From all those that be about thee”: Meaning either from the Chaldeans, and the neighboring nations, that should join and surround the Ammonites on all sides. Or from all the borders of Ammon round about, whence they should come. They would be a “terror”, “a fear all round” (Jer. 20:3).
“And ye shall be driven out every man right forth”: Driven out of their houses, and cities, and villages, and steer their course forward, and never look behind to see what had become of their families and their friends. Everyone having enough to do to provide for their own safety.
“And none shall gather up him that wandereth”: That is straggling about, and knows not which way to take, and whither to flee for safety. All will be so intent on their own safety, that they will not concern themselves for others or to take them under their care. To take those that are on foot upon their horses or carriages, whom they overtake; or into their houses, as they pass by.
We see the cities and towns being abandoned. People were running for fear of things to come.
Jeremiah 49:6 “And afterward I will bring again the captivity of the children of Ammon, saith the LORD.”
“I will bring again”: As with Moab (compare 48:47 and see note there), God promised that captives would have an opportunity to return. This was partially fulfilled under Cyrus, but will be more fully fulfilled in the coming kingdom of Messiah (compare 48:47).
“Ammon”, like Moab, was descended from “Esau” (Gen. 36:1; 6-8). Although they maintained their identity by helping Nebuchadrezzar invade Judah (compare Lam. 4:21-22), and even expanded their territory into southern Judah, thus forming the land of Idumea. Edom proper, was eventually overrun by the Nabateans in the fourth century B.C. Thereafter, the Edomites were largely identified with the Idumeans. They become involved in the events of the Maccabean Wars and the political affairs that took place during the Roman occupation of Syro-Palestine. With the fall of Jerusalem, they disappear from history. However, Obadiah seems to hold out hope for the area in the last days (Obad. 21).
This is speaking of the time when Cyrus releases the captives in Babylon and they return to their homeland.
Verses 7-22: “Concerning Edom” (compare Isa. 21:11-12; Ezek. 25:12-14; Amos 1:11-12; Obad. 1). This prophecy is closely related to Obadiah. These people descended from Esau (compare Gen. 36:1-19), and lived south of the Dead Sea. Perpetual desolation is ahead for Edom (verse 13). God will make it bare (verses 10, 18). The destroyer is probably Babylon (in (588 to 586 B.C.; or 552 to 581 B.C.). As (verse 19), has descriptions used of Babylon against Judah (lion, 4:7); flooding of the Jordan (12:5). Also “fly as the eagle” (verse 22), is used of Babylon (Hab. 1:8). There is no prophecy of a future restoration.
The Edomites were descendants of Esau and long-time rivals of Israel and Judah (Gen. 36:1-43). Their judgment is a common theme in the Old Testament prophets (Isa. Chapter 34; 63:1-6; Ezek. Chapter 35; Mal. 1:2-5), and this passage closely parallels Obadiah’s prophecies against Edom. The judgment of this nation is representative of how God will judge all His enemies in the end times.
Jeremiah 49:7 “Concerning Edom, thus saith the LORD of hosts; [Is] wisdom no more in Teman? is counsel perished from the prudent? Is their wisdom vanished?”
The destruction of Edom, or Idumea, is likewise foretold by Ezekiel, Joel, Amos, and Obadiah. The Edomites were old enemies of Israel. But their day is now at hand. It is foretold, not only to warn Edom, but also to warn Israel, whose afflictions were aggravated by them. Thus, Divine judgments go round from nation to nation. The earth is full of commotion, and nothing can escape the ministers of Divine vengeance. The righteousness of God is to be observed amidst the violence of men.
“Is wisdom no more in Teman”: “The eastern part of the world (by which is chiefly meant Arabia and the adjacent countries), was famous for the study of wisdom, or philosophy, as it was called in later times (see 1 Kings 4:30). As also from the book of Job, where Eliphaz, one of the disputants, is called the Temanite, as being descended from Teman, Esau’s grandson, who gave name to the city or country of Teman, elsewhere mentioned. Genesis 36:11: “And the sons of Eliphaz were Teman”: This was his firstborn, and from him, the city of Teman in Edom or Idumea had its name. Eliphaz is called the Temanite from hence (Job 2:11); four more sons are mentioned.
“Is counsel perished from the prudent?” When God designs a people for destruction, he deprives them of that common prudence and foresight which are requisite for the due management of their affairs.” Here Edom, which boasted of itself, and whose fame was spread abroad for wisdom and prudence, is described as acting as if all its wisdom and prudence were gone.
The Edomites are the descendants of Esau, who sold his birthright for a bowl of soup. They were not hostile to the Israelites like the Ammonites were. The reason for their destruction is because of their unfaithfulness to God. The Edomites were known for their great wisdom. The question here, is why are they not using that wisdom and making better decisions? The first biblical mention of the Temanites is in Genesis. One of Job’s friends was a Temanite.
Jeremiah 49:8 “Flee ye, turn back, dwell deep, O inhabitants of Dedan; for I will bring the calamity of Esau upon him, the time [that] I will visit him.”
“Esau”: He was cursed for his godlessness and his punishment was perpetuated in his descendants (compare Heb.12:11, 17).
The inhabitants of Dedan were commercially minded. This destruction leads to Dedan as well. The Edomites were fleeing for safety away from the towns. They came through Dedan to safety. They would hide in caves, or in the desert.
Jeremiah 49:9 “If grape gatherers come to thee, would they not leave [some] gleaning grapes? if thieves by night, they will destroy till they have enough.”
If gatherers of grapes, at the time of the vintage, should come into thy fields to gather the grapes, being ripe, would not they leave some for the poor to glean? Certainly they would, and not take every cluster.
“If thieves by night, they will destroy till they have enough”: Who break into houses by night, these will eat and drink as much as is sufficient, and carry off what serves their turn. But they seldom take away everything they find in a house. They leave some things behind them. But it is suggested that the Chaldeans should take away all from the Edomites, and leave them nothing (see Obad. 1:5).
This is just saying that grape gathers hired by the owner of the vineyard, would conform to the wishes of the owner to leave a remnant of grapes for the poor. When a robber comes, they have no regard for the owner or the poor. They take all they want and destroy the rest.
Jeremiah 49:10 “But I have made Esau bare, I have uncovered his secret places, and he shall not be able to hide himself: his seed is spoiled, and his brethren, and his neighbors, and he [is] not.”
The reason why the invaders destroy Edom so completely. His secret places are the hiding-places in the mountains of Seir.
“His seed”: Esau’s seed, the Edomites. His brethren are the nations joined with him in the possession of the land, Amalek, and perhaps the Simeonites. His neighbors are Dedan, Tema and Buz.
“He is not”: Edom was politically extinct after the Roman conquest.
This is speaking of the judgement of God being like a robber who leaves nothing. They had hidden in caves before, but even this will not be hidden from God who sent the invaders. All the men will be caught and killed or taken into captivity.
Jeremiah 49:11 Leave thy fatherless children, I will preserve [them] alive; and let thy widows trust in me.”
Thy fatherless and widows must rest their hope in God alone, as none of the adult males shall be left alive, so desperate will be the affairs of Edom. The verse also, besides this threat, implies a promise of mercy to Esau in God’s good time, as there was to Moab and Ammon (Jer. 49:6; 48:47). The extinction of the adult males is the prominent idea (compare Jer. 49:12).
This was because no adult men will be left to care for them (see the note on 7:6).
The LORD had sworn that all of Edom’s cities would be laid waste. He is also promising here, to take care of the widows and orphans if the Edomites will leave them. God has always cared for the fatherless and the widows.
Jeremiah 49:12 “For thus saith the LORD; Behold, they whose judgment [was] not to drink of the cup have assuredly drunken; and [art] thou he [that] shall altogether go unpunished? thou shalt not go unpunished, but thou shalt surely drink [of it].”
“They … not to drink of the cup … surely drink of it”: This refers to the Jews who had a covenant relation to God. What will happen to a nation that has no such pledge?
For the “cup” (see the note on 25:28).
If God punishes His beloved Israel, He will surely punish their enemies as well. The cup spoken of here, is the cup of God’s wrath.
Jeremiah 49:13 “For I have sworn by myself, saith the LORD, that Bozrah shall become a desolation, a reproach, a waste, and a curse; and all the cities thereof shall be perpetual wastes.”
This he did, because he could swear by none greater, and to show the certain and infallible accomplishment of the event, and the importance of it. And which was so extraordinary, that it was scarce thought credible, and therefore an oath is used to confirm it.
“That Bozrah shall become a desolation, a reproach, a waste, and a curse”: Bozrah of Idumea (Isa. 63:1). The royal city of Edom, as Kimchi; this should be utterly destroyed, and be spoken of contemptibly, and used proverbially, to express a curse. The LORD curse thee as Bozrah is cursed. It may be put for the whole country of Edom, of which it was the metropolis, since it follows:
“And all the cities thereof shall be perpetual wastes”: Either those in the neighborhood of it, and belonging to it, it being the capital or mother city. Or all the cities in the land of Edom; so general should be the desolation.
The LORD swore by Himself, because there was none greater to swear by. Bozrah was a fortress of the metropolis of North Edom. Bozrah is mentioned because of its fortress. Since Bozrah, which was so heavily fortified, was destroyed, all the other cities less fortified would be too. They were all turned into useless waste.
Jeremiah 49:14 “I have heard a rumor from the LORD, and an ambassador is sent unto the heathen, [saying], Gather ye together, and come against her, and rise up to the battle.”
Edom had sent envoys to Jerusalem as part of the doomed conspiracy against Babylon (in 593 B.C.; 27:3). The LORD has sent His own “ambassador”, calling for an enemy attack on Edom.
Jeremiah is giving some of his own statements in this verse. He is aware God has contacted a heathen nation to come against them. He is trying to make them understand that this is very near. God is sending the heathen nation, that is the important message here.
Verses 15-16: The LORD would make Edom small among the nations in part because they participated with Babylon in the assault on Jerusalem.
Jeremiah 49:15 “For, lo, I will make thee small among the heathen, [and] despised among men.”
Or, “I have given thee”, or “made thee”. As if it respected what Edom was at first, a people few in number, and their country not large, as Aben Ezra and Kimchi, and after them Abarbinel. But it rather intends what Edom should be. And which was the reason of gathering the Chaldeans against them, to reduce their number, weaken their strength, and destroy their substance. And so, make them a small, feeble, and contemptible people; as follows:
“And despised among men”: For the fewness of their men, the desolation of their country. The consumption of their wealth and riches, their poverty and meanness (see Obad. 1:2).
They had been highly thought of because of their wisdom in the past. The invasion and conquering of them, would take away the prestige they had.
Verses 16-17: Edom was situated in high and rugged mountains and thus, convinced it was invincible. But the ruin will come and be irreversible.
Jeremiah 49:16 “Thy terribleness hath deceived thee, [and] the pride of thine heart, O thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock, that holdest the height of the hill: though thou shouldest make thy nest as high as the eagle, I will bring thee down from thence, saith the LORD.”
Obadiah in his prophecy against Edom uses much the same expressions (Obad. 1:3-4). The word that is here used being of the number of those which are but once found in Scripture, hath given interpreters liberty to abound in their senses of it. Some translating it “arrogance”, some, “thine idol”. But the best interpreters understand by it their terribleness to others, their being so potent that others were all afraid of them. This deceived them, making them to conclude themselves secure, and out of danger. To which is also added the pride of the heart. The country of Edom being mountainous, they are said to:
“Dwell in the clefts of the rocks”: That is, in places impregnable, and inaccessible as they thought, in the heights of the hill. But the LORD lets them know that no place was inaccessible or impregnable to His power, for if they dwell as:
“High as the eagle”: Which the Scripture tells us (Job 39:27-28), maketh her nest on high, and dwelleth and abideth upon the rock, upon the crag of the rock, yet He would bring them down.
It seems their pride was their downfall. In their hearts they thought themselves better than the Israelites. This grieved God. There is no mountain high enough or no cave deep enough to hide from God. Be sure, He will find you out.
Jeremiah 49:17 “Also Edom shall be a desolation: every one that goeth by it shall be astonished, and shall hiss at all the plagues thereof.”
The likes are said of Babylon (Jer. 50:13): It appears from (1 Kings 9:8), that it was a kind of proverbial expression, when they would express a great desolation, or great plagues, that those who passed by such a place should be astonished, and hiss at it.
This destruction is very near when Jeremiah is speaking, but there is another desolation about 70 A.D. when Edom fades away altogether. Perhaps both times are mentioned here. Those who had been praised for their greatness will now be hissed for their weakness.
Jeremiah 49:18 “As in the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah and the neighbor [cities] thereof, saith the LORD, no man shall abide there, neither shall a son of man dwell in it.”
Which was so sudden and general, that nothing was left, or any spared. So should it be with Edom.
“And the neighbor cities thereof, saith the LORD”: The cities that were in the plain, Admah and Zeboim.
“No man shall abide there, neither shall a son of man dwell in it”: That is, of the race of Edom. No Idumean should inhabit it. Otherwise those who conquered it should, and doubtless did. There seems to be some allusion to the Dead Sea, these cities became, to which Edom is compared, and so were quite uninhabitable.
Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by fire and brimstone which fell from the heavens. This will be a different cause of destruction, but with the same results. No Sodomites will ever call Sodom home again after the destruction (in 70 A. D).
Verses 19-21: These words are repeated (in 50:44-46), where they refer to Babylon.
Jeremiah 49:19 “Behold, he shall come up like a lion from the swelling of Jordan against the habitation of the strong: but I will suddenly make him run away from her: and who [is] a chosen [man, that] I may appoint over her? for who [is] like me? and who will appoint me the time? and who [is] that shepherd that will stand before me?”
The fall of Edom is compared to the state of a flock worried by an enemy strong as a lion (Jer. 4:7), “and fly as the eagle” (Jer.49:22).
“The swelling of Jordan”: Or, the pride of Jordan, the thickets on his banks.
“Against the habitation of the strong”: Or, to the abiding pasturage. The lion stalks forth from the jungle to attack the fold, sure to find sheep there because of the perennial (evergreen), pasturage. “But I will suddenly make him (the flock, Edom), run away from her (or it, the pasturage).”
“And who is a chosen man that I may appoint over her”? A choice person in Nebuchadnezzar’s army, fit to be made a deputy governor over the land of Edom:
“Who will appoint Me the time?” The plaintiff, in giving notice of a suit, had to mention the time when the defendant must appear. Yahweh identifies himself with Nebuchadnezzar (Jer. 25:9), and shows the hopelessness of Edom’s cause. For who is like Yahweh, His equal in power and might? Who will dare litigate with Him, and question His right?
The shepherd in this is probably speaking of the ruler of Edom, since Edom was known as a pastureland. Nebuchadnezzar comes up like a lion, roaring across the land as if nothing were there. They come like a flood that cannot be stopped against Edom. This could be looking on down until the later invasion about 70 A.D., when the Edomites as a people are no more. There will be a new people appointed for the land at that time. God is “Me” in the verse above. No one can resist the LORD. The ruler of Edom, like all, will stand before the LORD to be judged.
Jeremiah 49:20 “Therefore hear the counsel of the LORD, that he hath taken against Edom; and his purposes, that he hath purposed against the inhabitants of Teman: Surely the least of the flock shall draw them out: surely he shall make their habitations desolate with them.”
“The least of the flock”: The weakest of the Chaldeans shall drag them away captive.
The divine counsels I believe, are those we read about in:
1 John 5:7 “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.”
This counsel was set from the foundation of the world. God foreknew all that would happen in every instance. “The least” is probably speaking of a heathen nation.
Jeremiah 49:21 “The earth is moved at the noise of their fall, at the cry the noise thereof was heard in the Red sea.”
That is, the ruin of the Edomites shall be so great, that all nations round about it shall be affected at the noise of their fall. And though the Red Sea, or the weedy sea, be at a great distance from them, yet their noise shall reach thither.
Their fall was great and terrible. The earth moving speaks of an earthquake so strong it will be heard in the Red Sea. Whether this is a literal earthquake or just something terrible that appears to be an earthquake is not known.
Jeremiah 49:22 “Behold, he shall come up and fly as the eagle, and spread his wings over Bozrah: and at that day shall the heart of the mighty men of Edom be as the heart of a woman in her pangs.”
The Targum states, “behold, as an eagle comes up and flies, so shall a king come up with his army.” The king of Babylon with his army, compared to an eagle for his swiftness and voraciousness. As before, to a lion for his strength and fierceness.
“And spread his wings over Bozrah”: Besiege that city, surround to prevent escape, and seize upon it. Very fitly are the wings of an army expressed by the wings of this bird, denoting both their extent and force. The same is said concerning Moab (Jer. 48:40).
“And at that day shall the heart of the mighty men of Moab be as the heart of a woman in her pangs”: When just ready to be delivered. Not only weak and timorous, but full of anguish, and quite dispirited (see Jer. 48:41).
The eagle swoops down and takes his prey. This is a sudden destruction that comes. Women’s pains of childbirth come on them suddenly. They are frightened during the birth. This is what is mentioned about the men here. The destruction comes so suddenly, and so does their fear.
Verses 23-27: “Concerning Damascus” (compare Isa. 17:1-3; Amos 1:3-5). Hamath, a city on the Orontes River that marked the northern limit of Solomon’s rule (2 Chron. 8:4), 110 miles north of Damascus in southern Syria. And Arpad, 105 miles southwest of the modern Aleppo in northern Syria, were to fall, as well as Damascus, Syria’s capital. Nebuchadnezzar conquered them in 605 B.C.
“Damascus” was the capital of the Aramean kingdom, a powerful enemy of Israel throughout its history until its near destruction by the Assyrians (in 732 B.C.). The LORD would use Babylon to further decimate its armies and destroy its palaces and fortresses.
Jeremiah 49:23 “Concerning Damascus. Hamath is confounded, and Arpad: for they have heard evil tidings: they are fainthearted; [there is] sorrow on the sea; it cannot be quiet.”
Or, “unto Damascus”; or, “against Damascus”. That is, “thus saith the LORD”; which is to be repeated from the foregoing instances (Jer. 49:1). This is to be understood, not only of the city of Damascus, but of the whole kingdom of Syria, of which Damascus was the metropolis (see Isa. 7:8).
“Hamath is confounded, and Arpad”: Two cities in Syria. The first is generally thought to be Antioch of Syria, sometimes called Epiphania. And the other the same with Arvad These, that is, the inhabitants of them, as the Targum, were covered with shame, thrown into the utmost confusion and consternation.
“For they have heard evil tidings”: Of the Chaldean army invading the land of Syria, and of their coming against them. And perhaps of their taking of Damascus their capital city. All which must be bad news unto them, and give them great uneasiness.
“They are fainthearted”: Or “melted”; their hearts melted like wax, and flowed like water. They had no heart nor spirit left in them, through fear of the enemy.
“There is sorrow in the sea, it cannot be quiet”. The Targum says, “fear in the sea, carefulness hath taken hold on them, behold, as those that go down to the sea to rest, and cannot rest;” or, as others, cannot flee. And the sense this, that the inhabitants of the above places were either like the troubled sea itself, which cannot rest. Or like persons in a storm at sea, who are in the utmost uneasiness and distress.
Damascus is on the border of the desert. Hamath is on the border of Israel. The mention of the sea has to do with the restlessness of the sea.
Jeremiah 49:24 “Damascus is waxed feeble, [and] turneth herself to flee, and fear hath seized on [her]: anguish and sorrows have taken her, as a woman in travail.”
Syria, whose head is Damascus, hath lost her old courage and valor. It was accustomed to being a formidable country to its neighbors, but now they flee before their enemies.
“Fear hath seized on her”: They are seized and overpowered by their own fears.
“Anguish and sorrows have taken her, as a woman in travail”: Great sorrows are ordinarily in Scripture expressed by the similitude of the pains of a woman in travail. We have met with it often in this prophecy (Jer. 6:24; 22:23; Psalm 48:6; Micah 4:9).
Damascus was a very worldly city. Pleasures of the world were the things you always think of when you think of Damascus. They were a mixture of people who were not following after the one true God. The destruction of the enemy is sudden; as a woman in travail. Her sorrows come in a day. She has been judged and condemned.
Jeremiah 49:25 “How is the city of praise not left, the city of my joy!”
“City of praise … my joy”: Could be translated, “the city of renown”, famous due to its situation in a spacious oasis and its trade (as in Ezek. 27:18).
This city of praise and joy is Damascus. The revelry and worldly praise and joy are what is spoken of here.
Jeremiah 49:26 “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.”
Or “verily” so Jarchi interprets it as an oath. Jehovah swearing that so it should be; that her young men, her choice ones such who were the flower of the city, and on whom its future prosperity depended. These should fall by the sword of the Chaldeans in the streets of the city, when having entered, and taken it.
“And all the men of war shall be cut off in that day, saith the LORD of hosts. Soldiers and officers, men of strength and valor in whom the inhabitants of Damascus trusted for their defense. These should be cut off by the sword of the enemy at the time of the siege, and taking of it.
This just speaks of the entire army being destroyed.
Verses 27-28: “Damascus”, the age-old home of the Arameans, and “Kedar”, an important Arabian tribe (compare Isa. 21:16-17; 42:11; 60:7; Ezek. 27:21), as well as “Hazor”. Apparently, a center of Arabian concentration, all felt the heels of the conquering Babylonian forces under Nebuchadrezzar.
Jeremiah 49:27 “And I will kindle a fire in the wall of Damascus, and it shall consume the palaces of Ben-hadad.”
“The palaces of Ben-hadad”: Here was the place where so many cruel evils against Israel were devised, thus the reason for its overthrow. The name is common among Syrian kings, meaning Son of Hadad, an idol, so it does not refer to the Ben-hadad of (2 Kings 13:3 and Amos 1:4).
We see from this that even the palaces will not be spared. The whole city shall be burned.
Verses 28-33: Concerning Kedar … Hazor” (compare Isa. 21:13-17). These areas in the Arabian Desert east of Judah were to be laid waste (as a different Hazor was a few miles northwest of the Sea of Galilee). Kedar was an Ishmaelite tribe (compare Gen. 25:13; Ezek. 27:21). The conqueror was Nebuchadnezzar (in 599/598 B.C.), as recounted in an ancient record, the Babylonian Chronicle. It was shortly after this that Babylon seized Jerusalem (in 598/597 B.C.).
God’s judgment would extend to the Arabian tribes of “Kedar” and “Hazor”, and Nebuchadnezzar attacked Arabia (in 599 B.C.; Isa. 60:7), promises that the descendants of Ishmael will be participants in God’s future kingdom.
Jeremiah 49:28 “Concerning Kedar, and concerning the kingdoms of Hazor, which Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon shall smite, thus saith the LORD; Arise ye, go up to Kedar, and spoil the men of the east.”
“Kedar”: (Gen. 25:13). Was one of the sons of Ishmael, whose posterity inhabited part of Arabia Petraea (see Isa. 21:13, 17). We read of it (in Psalm 120:5; SOS 1:5; Ezek. 27:21). We read of:
“Hazor”: (Joshua 11:1; 11:10). It was the head city to several kingdoms in Joshua’s time. Jabin was king of it in the times of Deborah (Judges 4:2). The prophet foretells that Nebuchadrezzar should also conquer these kingdoms; and saith he heard the LORD call to Nebuchadrezzar to go up against them.
Kedar represents the Arabs who are nomads in this area. The name “Kedar” means to be dark. This is probably speaking of the dark Arab skin. They were descendants of Ishmael. Hazor was a district in Arabia. These were settled Arabs not like the nomads of Kedar. We see from this, that God is not letting anyone off without punishment for their sins.
Jeremiah 49:29 “Their tents and their flocks shall they take away: they shall take to themselves their curtains, and all their vessels, and their camels; and they shall cry unto them, Fear [is] on every side.”
That is, the Chaldeans shall take away the Kedarens’ tents. For they, being a people whose cattle were their livelihood, had no fixed houses, but tents. Which were movable habitations, covered with skins of beasts. And the curtains which they used to draw before those tents, and served them as sides, as gable ends of houses serve us. And all the furniture of their tents or tabernacles, and their cattle. And either their enemies should frighten them with terrible noises and outcries, or they should themselves cry out that they were surrounded with objects of fear.
The tents were their homes. Just as the houses had been burned in Israel, these tents are taken here. They will leave them nothing to live in. They utterly spoil them.
Jeremiah 49:30 “Flee, get you far off, dwell deep, O ye inhabitants of Hazor, saith the LORD; for Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon hath taken counsel against you, and hath conceived a purpose against you.”
The same is said to the inhabitants of Dedan (see Jer. 49:8).
“For Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon hath taken counsel against you, and hath conceived a purpose against you”: Had determined upon their destruction, and had consulted and contrived ways and means to effect it. And therefore, since so powerful an enemy had such a design upon them, it was high time to flee, and get as far off as they could. And hide themselves in the caverns of the earth.
We see from this that the army is the army of Babylon. This is a message to the Arabs which are in the villages, to hurry and get out while there is still time. This army will be sweeping through this area and the only chance they have is to flee.
Jeremiah 49:31 “Arise, get you up unto the wealthy nation, that dwelleth without care, saith the LORD, which have neither gates nor bars, [which] dwell alone.”
“Neither gates nor bars”: These nomads were out of the way of contending powers in Asia and Africa.
This wealthy nation spoken of here are these Arabs. They do not have an army and do not even have walled cities, so it will be no trouble to overcome them. They had been wealthy in the fact that they had been at peace. They had not been fighters, so they had no army.
Jeremiah 49:32 “And their camels shall be a booty, and the multitude of their cattle a spoil: and I will scatter into all winds them [that are] in the utmost corners; and I will bring their calamity from all sides thereof, saith the LORD.”
These words sound like a part of the king of Babylon’s supposed speech encouraging his soldiers from the booty they should get, which should be a great multitude of camels and other cattle. The latter words are the words of the prophet, in the name of the LORD, threatening ruin to these Kedarens and Hazorites. Though they lived in corners, and might upon that account think themselves secure. God saith he would fetch them out of their utmost corners, and bring calamity from all parts upon them.
It appears they had many cattle and camels. This would be the booty for the conqueror. The camels were used much in the way our early settlers used horses. They were a mode of transportation. Cattle were food. It appears there will be no way of escape for them because the enemy will come from all around them.
Jeremiah 49:33 “And Hazor shall be a dwelling for dragons, [and] a desolation for ever: there shall no man abide there, nor [any] son of man dwell in it.”
The city of Hazor, as well as the kingdoms of it. The royal city, where their king and principal men dwelt. Even this should be no more inhabited by men, but by dragons, and the wild beasts of the field. And so, remain forever, or at least a long time (see Isa. 13:20).
“There shall no man abide there, nor any son of man dwell in it”: Signifying the utter desolation of it (see Jer. 49:18).
This is the very same fate as for Hazor. There will be utter destruction.
Verses 34-39: “Elam” (as in 25:25). Elam (200 miles east of Babylon and west of the Tigris River), was to be defeated. Babylon fulfilled this (in 596 B.C.). Later, Cyrus of Persia conquered Elam and incorporated Elamites into the Persian forces that conquered Babylon (in 539 B.C.). Its capital, Susa, was the residence of Darius and became the center of the Persian Empire (Neh. 1:1; Dan. 8:2).
“Elam” was east of Babylon in modern Iran. The Elamites’ skills as archers (Isa. 22:6), would not protect them when the LORD brought judgment and exile upon them.
Jeremiah 49:34 “The word of the LORD that came to Jeremiah the prophet against Elam in the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah king of Judah, saying,”
The Persians, as it is commonly understood, who descended from Elam, the son of Shem (Gen. 10:22). According to Josephus; the country of Elymais, is here designed. Which, though in the times of Cyrus, was added to, and made a part of, the Persian Empire, yet was a country distinct both from Persia and Media. And it seems very manifest that Elam served under Sennacherib, king of Assyria, when he besieged Jerusalem (Isa. 22:6). And afterwards fell into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and became subject to him, which is the calamity here threatening them. For certain it is, that, in Belshazzar’s time, Shushan in Elam was the royal seat of the kings of Babylon, (Dan. 8:2). Now this prophecy against Elam was delivered out;
“In the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah king of Judah”: Perhaps in the first year of his reign, ten or eleven years before the destruction of Jerusalem. How long before it had its accomplishment is not certain.
Jeremiah 49:35 “Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Behold, I will break the bow of Elam, the chief of their might.”
“Break the bow”: Elamites were famous archers (compare Isa. 22:6).
Elam was one of the most ancient kingdoms in the world. It was south of Assyria. It was east of Persia. The man, Elam, was the first son of Shem. This Elam probably got its name from him. He was the father of the Elamites. Elam was a land of bowmen. This is just saying, they will break the bow so they cannot fight.
Jeremiah 49:36 “And upon Elam will I bring the four winds from the four quarters of heaven, and will scatter them toward all those winds; and there shall be no nation whither the outcasts of Elam shall not come.”
In the times of Nebuchadnezzar, who should bring with him, in his army, people that dwelt in the several parts of the world, comparable to the winds for their swiftness and strength. Whose blast would be so great as to drive the Elamites to every part of the world, as every light thing is by the wind.
“And will scatter them towards all those winds”: Those four winds, east, west, north, and south.
“And there shall be no nation whither the outcasts of Elam shall not come”: Those that are driven out of it, forced to flee from it, or are taken captive, should come into the several nations of the world. So that there would not be any in which an Elamite was not.
This is very similar to the scattering of the Jews to every country. They will be scattered to all lands. They would be a dispersed people to all nations.
Verses 37-39: “Elam” lay east of Babylon in southwestern Persia. A broken text in the Babylonian Chronicles indicates that Nebuchadrezzar defeated an Elamite invasion of Babylon (in about 596 B.C.). As in the case of Moab (48:47), and Ammon (49:6), there is also given a note of future hope for Elam.
Jeremiah 49:37 “For I will cause Elam to be dismayed before their enemies, and before them that seek their life: and I will bring evil upon them, [even] my fierce anger, saith the LORD; and I will send the sword after them, till I have consumed them:”
Frightened; thrown into the utmost consternation, so that they shall have no heart nor spirit to go out against them, and meet them, and defend themselves. But make all haste imaginable to flee from them, such a panic would seize them.
“And before them that seek their life”: A further description of their enemies; they being such, who, not content with their substance, sought to take away their lives. Nothing less would satisfy them, being: cruel and bloodthirsty ones.
“And I will bring evil upon them, even my fierce anger, saith the LORD”: And a greater evil than that cannot be; signifying that the destruction that should be made among them would be the effect of the wrath of God upon them for their sins.
“And I will send the sword after them, till I have consumed them”: That is, those that slay with the sword, says the Targum. These should go after those that fled, and destroy them, till the greater part of them were consumed. For all of them that were taken were not destroyed; or otherwise there would have been none to return from captivity, as is promised at the close of this prophecy.
We do not read of why the wrath of God is upon them, but we know it is not without just cause. We do know at one point that they were opposed to rebuilding the temple in the time of Ezra. This is explanation enough for me. God has every right to do with them as He wishes.
Jeremiah 49:38 “And I will set my throne in Elam, and will destroy from thence the king and the princes, saith the LORD.”
Either when Alexander subdued it, or Cyrus. Or rather Nebuchadnezzar, whose palace probably was, as it is certain his successors was, in Shushan in Elam, as before observed from (Dan. 8:2). This is called the LORD’s throne, because He gave it to him. His conquest of Elam, and his dominion over it, were from Him.
“And will destroy from thence the king and the princes, saith the LORD “: So that there should be no more kings of Elam, and princes and nobles of their own, after this time. And because mention is made of the kings of Elam in the times of Nebuchadnezzar (Jer. 25:25). Though that is observed in the first year of his reign, some have thought that it is best to understand it or Cyrus, the LORD’s servant and anointed. And whose throne might well be called the throne of God. Which He gave him, and set him on in an eminent manner, not only there, but elsewhere (see Ezra 1:2). And when this country of Elam, or Elymais, became a part of the Persian empire, and never had any more kings to reign over it separately.
The throne is speaking of His tribunal. Elam’s king will reign no more. There will be strangers on the throne.
Jeremiah 49:39 “But it shall come to pass in the latter days, [that] I will bring again the captivity of Elam, saith the LORD.”
“I will bring again”: As with certain other peoples in this section of nations, God would allow Elamites to return to their homeland. (In Acts 2:9), Elamites were among the group present at the Pentecost event. This has eschatological implications as well.
The latter days are speaking of the end times. In the following Scripture that speaks of all the nationalities of people at Pentecost, we see the Elamites mentioned.
Acts 2:9 “Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia”.
Seth was not from the family of Cain. He was the son of Adam and Eve, who the spiritual blessings came through. God never totally destroys this line. They will return possibly during the Messianic age.
Jeremiah Chapter 49 Questions
- Who is verse 1 addressed to?
- The Ammonites had moved into the area of _________.
- What false god is intended by “king” in verse 1?
- This land belonged to whom?
- Rabbah was of whom?
- Heshbon is a city located in the land of _______.
- The Ammonites were the offspring of whom?
- To put trust in a false god, is ___________.
- They trusted in ________, as well.
- The only God to go to is whom?
- Why were the people running?
- What time is verse 6 speaking of?
- Who are the Edomites descended from?
- He sold his birthright for a _______ of ______.
- The Edomites were thought of as being _______ men.
- Where are the Temanites mentioned the first time?
- The inhabitants of Dedan were ________________ minded.
- What is verse 9 saying?
- What will happen to Edom’s fatherless children?
- Who did the LORD swear by?
- Where was Bozrah?
- What is Jeremiah giving in verse 14?
- When is a time of destruction of Edom, besides the near one in Jeremiah’s time?
- Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed with _______ and ______________.
- Who is the shepherd in verse 19?
- Who will the king of Edom stand before to be judged?
- Who are the divine counsel of verse 20?
- The earth moving speaks of an _______________.
- The _______ swoops down and takes his prey.
- Describe the morals of Damascus?
- What happens to the palace of Ben-hadad?
- Who does Kedar represent?
- The name “Kedar” means what?
- These tents were their _______.
- What is the wealthy nation speaking of?
- Who was Elam?
- What happens to the Elamites?
- When will God Bring Elam back?
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