JEREMIAH CHAPTER 49.
Prophecies against Ammon, Idumea, Damascus, and Other Nations.
AGAINST AMMON. — V. 1. Concerning the Ammonites, literally, "Against the children of Ammon," thus saith the Lord, Hath Israel no sons? Hath he no heir? someone who may legitimately take possession of the land which was now left vacant, since Israel had been led away into exile. Why, then, doth their king, the ruler of the Ammonites, inherit Gad, the territory of this tribe, east of the Jordan, and his people dwell in his cities? "Judah was by right of kindred the heir, not Ammon; but Ammon joined with Nebuchadnezzar against Judah and Jerusalem, 2 Kings 24, 2, and exulted over its fall, Ps. 83, 4-7. 8; Zeph. 2, 8. 9. It had already in the days of Jeroboam, in Israel's affliction, tried to enlarge its border, 2 Kings 14, 26; Amos 1, 1." V. 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, their capital; and it shall be a desolate heap, literally, "a hill of desolation," a pile of ruins; and her daughters, her suburbs, the smaller cities and towns within her sphere of influence, shall be burned with fire; then shall Israel be heir unto them that were his heirs, saith the Lord, be in a position once more to occupy the land which the Ammonites had gotten by unfair means. On account of this misfortune, wailing and lamenting would be in order in the land of the Ammonites. V. 3. Howl, O Heshbon, at that time occupied by the Ammonites, for Ai is spoiled, had already been subdued by the invaders; cry, ye daughters of Rabbah, the towns and villages near the capital, gird you with sackcloth, in token of deep mourning; lament and run to and fro by the hedges, in the fenced encampment, such as were quickly erected out in the open fields, since the cities no longer offered any protection; for their king shall go into captivity, in this case their idol Melchom, with whom the heathen king was pleased to identify himself, and his priests and his princes together. Cp. Amos 1, 15. The reason for the Lord's punishment upon Ammon is now set forth, as the prophet pictures the pride, the stubbornness, and the security of its inhabitants. V. 4. Wherefore gloriest thou in the valleys, thy flowing valley, flowing with abundance, with milk and honey, O backsliding daughter? so called because the children of Ammon had denied their descent from Lot and had turned to idolatry, that trusted in her treasures, in her wealth of resources and goods, saying, Who shall come unto me? namely, in a hostile attack. The Ammonites boasted that no enemy could successfully launch a campaign against their land. V. 5. Behold, I will bring a fear upon thee, saith the Lord God of hosts, from all those that be about thee, whose misfortune and overthrow would bring terror upon them; and ye shall be driven out, every man, right forth, straight ahead, without turning; and none shall gather up him that wandereth, make any attempt to bring about so much as a semblance of order among the scattered fugitives. According to secular accounts the overthrow of Ammon took place in the fifth year after the destruction of Jerusalem, after King Baalis had executed the murder of Gedaliah, chap. 40, 14. V. 6. And afterward I will bring again the captivity of the children of Ammon, saith the Lord, for in their case also the Messianic promises were held out to all those who would return to the Lord in true repentance.
AGAINST EDOM. — V. 7. Concerning Edom, thus saith the Lord of hosts, Is wisdom no more in Teman? a city on the boundary of Idumea and Arabia, the home of Eliphaz, Job 2, 11. Is counsel perished from the prudent? from those who formerly showed intelligence. Is their wisdom vanished? The rhetorical question has, of course, a strong negative significance: Wisdom and common sense seem to have disappeared entirely. V. 8. Flee ye, turn back, dwell deep, hiding in caves and remote places, O inhabitants of Dedan, a nomad tribe tributary to Edom; for I will bring the calamity of Esau upon him, the time that I will visit him, that is, the misfortune which would strike Edom would come upon Dedan as well. Cp. Obad. 1-9. V. 9. If grape-gatherers, the usual vintagers, come to thee, would they not leave some gleaning grapes? according to the custom of the Orient to leave a few berries for the poor; if thieves by night, they will destroy till they have enough, leaving the rest behind. The Chaldeans, however, would be less considerate in their treatment of Idumea. V. 10. But I, so Jehovah says, have made Esau bare, by using the Chaldeans as instruments in carrying out His punishment, I have uncovered his secret places, where his treasures were hidden, and he shall not be able to hide himself; his seed is spoiled, his direct descendants ceased from being a nation, and his brethren, the nations related to him, and his neighbors, the nations tributary to him, and he is not. Edom ceased to be a factor politically at the time of the Romans. V. 11. Leave thy fatherless children, I will preserve them alive; and let thy widows trust in Me; for Jehovah, whom Edom had forsaken for false gods, would be the Help of the orphans and widows after the men would have fallen in battle. The words imply an exhibition of mercy on the part of the Lord toward all those who, in true sorrow over their sins, turn to Him for help. V. 12. For thus saith the Lord, Behold, they whose judgment was not to drink of the cup, the children of Israel, in whose case it was an abnormal thing to be obliged to drink the cup of God's wrath, since they were Jehovah's own people, have assuredly drunken; and art thou he that shall altogether go unpunished? Even the fact that Israel had been chosen as God's people did not give them exemption and deliverance from God's punishment if they took part in the idolatry of the heathen; how much more, then, would the heathen be subject to the judgment of Jehovah! Thou shalt not go unpunished, but thou shalt surely drink of it; the punishment had fully been determined upon by God. V. 13. For I have sworn by Myself, saith the Lord, in His most solemn oath, that Bozrah, at that time the capital of Idumea, shall become a desolation, a reproach, a waste, and a curse, an object of execration; and all the cities thereof, the other towns of Edom, shall be perpetual wastes. V. 14. I have heard a rumor from the Lord, a report from Jehovah, and an ambassador is sent unto the heathen, saying, Gather ye together, assembling in armies, and come against her, and rise up to the battle, ready for war against Edom. V. 15. For, lo, so the Lord takes up the message in person, I will make thee small among the heathen and despised among men, in just retribution for Edom's pride. V. 16. Thy terrible-ness hath deceived thee, the fact that other nations seemed to stand in awe of Edom had caused him to think that he was really formidable, and the pride of thine heart, insolence usually having this influence upon the heart of the proud, to deceive them, wherefore the Lord now calls out, O thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock, that boldest the height of the hill, some of the forts of Idumea being situated on almost inaccessible cliffs, though thou shouldest make thy nest as high as the eagle, I will bring thee down from thence, saith the Lord, showing that before Him no stronghold is impregnable. V. 17. Also Edom shall be a desolation; every one that goeth by it shall be astonished, filled with horrified surprise at the total overthrow of the country, and shall hiss at all the plagues thereof, with a sound expressing derision and mockery. V. 18. As in the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah and the neighbor cities thereof, namely, Admah and Zeboim, saith the Lord, no man shall abide there, neither shall a son of man dwell in it, it would be an uninhabited desert. V. 19. Behold, he, the conqueror sent by Jehovah, shall come up like a lion from the swelling of Jordan, from his den in the thickets of the river, against the habitation of the strong, into the meadow of the rocks, where Idumea was situated; but I will suddenly make him, Edom, run away from her, from the fine meadow which is his home; and who is a chosen man that I may appoint over her? The Lord would make the man of His choice ruler of Idumea. For who is like Me? And who will appoint Me the time? Who will dare to call Him to account for it? And who is that shepherd that will stand before Me? attempting to protect his flock against the wrath of Jehovah. V. 20. Therefore hear the counsel of the Lord that He hath taken against Edom, a decree which is already firmly resolved upon, and His purposes that He hath purposed against the inhabitants of Teman, v. 7: Surely the least of the flock shall draw them out, literally, "Most certainly they will be dragged away, the feeble of the flock," the Edomites being helpless before the attack of the invaders; surely he shall make their habitations desolate with them, or, "Certainly their pasturage will be astounded at them," their own land being horrified at the misfortune which had befallen them. V. 21. The earth is moved at the noise of their fall, quaking with its intensity, at the cry the noise thereof was heard in the Red Sea, or, "a crying - the noise of it is heard at the Red Sea." V. 22. Behold, he, the conqueror, shall come up and fly as the eagle and spread his wings over Bozrah, to pounce down upon the whole country; and at that day shall the heart of the mighty men of Edom be as the heart of a woman in her pangs. No matter how impregnable the position of God's enemies may seem in the eyes of human beings, they will quickly fall before the attack of the Lord.
AGAINST DAMASCUS, HAZOK, AND ELAM. — V. 23. Concerning Damascus. Hamath, a powerful city on the Orontes and formerly the capital of a country of the same name, is confounded, and Arpad, another mighty city, both of them now within the confines of Syria, for they have heard evil tidings; they are faint-hearted, full of concern on account of the reports which they have heard; there is sorrow on the sea, terror among the inhabitants along its shores; it cannot be quiet, there is no rest for worry over the outlook. V. 24. Damascus is waxed feeble, utterly discouraged and enfeebled; and turneth herself to flee, and fear hath seized on her, anguish and sorrows have taken her, as a woman in travail, the terror of utter despair. V. 25. How is the city of praise not left, the city of my joy? How was it that the place of delight, as Damascus was called of old, was not abandoned by its inhabitants, so that they might have saved their lives by a speedy flight? V. 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. So great had been their terror at the approach of the enemy that they had not even had recourse to flight and so were cut down in the very streets of their city. V. 27. And I will kindle a fire in the wall of Damascus, inside the walls, and it shall consume the palaces of Benhadad, the royal dwellings, and therewith at least a part, if not all, of the city. V. 28. Concerning Kedar, a tribe of Bedouins, descendants of Ishmael found in Northern Arabia, and concerning the kingdoms of Hazor, a district in Northeastern Arabia, which Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, shall smite, thus saith the Lord, Arise ye, go up to Kedar, and spoil the men of the East, as the people of Canaan designated all the wilderness dwellers of Arabia. V. 29. Their tents and their flocks, the chief possessions of nomads, shall they take away; they shall take to themselves their curtains, the costly woven goods and the hangings of their tents, and all their vessels, household utensils as well as such pieces of furniture and adornment as comprised their wealth, and their camels; and they, the invading forces, shall cry unto them, in a shout of war, Fear is on every side. V. 30. Flee, get you far off, run apace, dwell deep, hiding themselves in remote places, O ye inhabitants of Hazor! saith the Lord; for Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, hath taken counsel against you, devised a plan to subdue them, and hath conceived a purpose against you. This warning is addressed to the wilderness dwellers, since no conqueror would venture to follow them into the trackless wastes of the desert. In the next words the Lord once more turns to the enemies, bidding them continue their work of destruction. V.31. Arise, get you up unto the wealthy nation, a tranquil tribe, having no presentiment of evil, that dwelleth without care, in calm security, saith the Lord, which have neither gates nor bars, not dwelling in fenced and fortified cities, which dwell alone, with little or no intercourse with other nations or tribes, from which they might expect assistance in case of an attack. V. 32. And their camels shall be a booty and the multitude of their cattle a spoil, a welcome bit of plunder for the enemies; and I will scatter into all winds them that are in the utmost corners, those who have the edges of their hair trimmed; for these tribes had the custom of clipping the hair of head and beard in a peculiar angle; and I will bring their calamity from all sides thereof, saith the Lord. V. 33. And Hazor shall be a dwelling for dragons, the habitation of jackals, and a desolation forever; there shall no man abide there, nor any son of man dwell in it. This prophecy was fulfilled when the Chaldeans, on their way to the West and South, sent detachments of troops to bring these nomadic tribes into subjection. V. 34. The word of the Lord that came to Jeremiah, the prophet, against Elam, a Semitic tribe in the Persian province of Susiana, especially that section nearest to Palestine, in the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah, king of Judah, at the beginning of the sixth century B. C., saying, v. 35. Thus saith the Lord of hosts, Behold, I will break the bow of Elam, for the skilful use of which the Elamites were known, the chief of their might, thus rendering them helpless before their enemies. V. 36. And upon Elam will I bring the four winds from the four quarters of heaven and will scatter them toward all those winds, so that their power would be definitely and finally broken; and there shall be no nation whither the outcasts of Elam shall not come. V. 37. For I will cause Elam to be dismayed before their enemies and before them that seek their life, no specific enemy being named, but all of them included; 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, so that their identity as a separate nation, would be lost; v. 38. and I will set My throne in Elam, Jehovah showing Himself as King by His judgments there, and will destroy from thence the king and the princes, saith the Lord. V. 39. But it shall come to pass in the latter days, an expression used invariably of the Messianic era, that I will bring again the captivity of Elam, saith the Lord, so that from this country also there were some who accepted the Messiah as their Lord and Savior. It is interesting to note that among the strangers present on the great day of Pentecost to hear the sermon of Peter there were also people of Elam. Cp. Acts 2, 9.