Jeremiah 49 Bible Commentary

Jamieson, Faussett, and Brown

(Read all of Jeremiah 49)


The event of the prophecy as to Ammon preceded that as to Moab (see on Jer 49:3); and in Eze 21:26-28, the destruction of Ammon is subjoined to the deposition of Zedekiah.

1. Hath Israel . . . no heir?--namely, to occupy the land of Gad, after it itself has been carried away captive by Shalmaneser. Ammon, like Moab, descended from Lot, lay north of Moab, from which it was separated by the river Arnon, and east of Reuben and Gad (Jos 13:24, 25) on the same side of Jordan. It seized on Gad when Israel was carried captive. Judah was by the right of kindred the heir, not Ammon; but Ammon joined with Nebuchadnezzar against Judah and Jerusalem (2Ki 24:2) and exulted over its fall (Ps 83:4-7, 8; Zep 2:8, 9). It had already, in the days of Jeroboam, in Israel's affliction, tried to "enlarge its border" (2Ki 14:26; Am 1:1, 13).
their king-- (Am 1:15); referring to Melchom, their tutelary idol (Zep 1:5); and so the Septuagint reads it here as a proper name (1Ki 11:5, 33; 2Ki 23:13). The Ammonite god is said to do what they do, namely, occupy the Israelite land of Gad. To Jehovah, the theocratic "King" of Israel, the land belonged of right; so that their Molech or Melchom was a usurper-king.
his people--the people of Melchom, "their king." Compare "people of Chemosh," Jer 48:46.

2. Rabbah--"the great," metropolis of Ammon (2Sa 12:26-30). Its destruction is foretold also in Eze 25:5; Am 1:14, 15.
her daughters--the towns and villages, dependencies of the metropolis (Jos 15:45).
shall . . . be heir--shall possess those who possessed him. The full accomplishment of this is still future; partially fulfilled under the Maccabees (1 Maccabees 5:6).

3. Heshbon . . . Ai--Nebuchadnezzar, coming from the north, first attacked Ammon, then its brother and neighbor, Moab. As Ai of Ammon had already suffered destruction, Heshbon of Moab being near it might well fear the same fate.
hedges--Their cities being destroyed, the outcasts have no place of shelter save behind the "hedges" of vineyards and gardens; or else the enclosures of their villages.
their king--Melchom, the idol, as the mention of "his priests" shows (compare Jer 48:7).

4. thy flowing valley--rather, "thy valley shall flow," namely with the blood of the slain; in sad contrast to their "valleys" in which they had heretofore "gloried," as flowing with milk and honey [GROTIUS]. Or else, as Margin, "shall flow away."
backsliding--apostate from Jehovah, the God of their father Lot, to Molech.
treasures--her resources for resisting the foe.
Who shall, &c.--Who can come . . . (Jer 21:13).

5. every man right forth--whithersoever chance may lead him (Jer 46:5; Ge 19:17); straight before him, onwards at random (Am 4:3).
none . . . gather up him, &c.--There shall be none to gather together the wandering fugitives, so as to care for them and restore them to their own homes.

6. (Compare Jer 48:47). For the sake of "righteous" Lot their progenitor. Partially fulfilled under Cyrus; in gospel times more fully.

7. Concerning Edom--a distinct prophecy, copied in part from Obadiah, but with the freedom of one himself inspired and foretelling a later calamity. Obadiah's was fulfilled probably in Sennacherib's time (compare Isa 34:5; Am 1:11); Jeremiah's about the same time as his preceding prophecies (Jer 49:12; Eze 25:12).
wisdom--for which the Arabs and the people of Teman (a city of Edom) in particular, were famed (Ge 36:15; 1Ki 4:30; see Job, everywhere; Ob 8).
vanished--literally, "poured out," that is, exhausted (compare Isa 19:3, Margin) [MAURER]. Or, as the kindred Ethiopic word means, "worn out" [LUDOVICUS DE DIEU].

8. turn--namely, your backs in flight.
dwell deep--in deep defiles and caves [GROTIUS], which abound in Idumea. Others refer it to the Arab custom of retiring into the depth of the desert when avoiding an offended foe (Jer 49:30).
Dedan--a tribe bordering on and made subject by Idumea; descended from Jokshan, son of Abraham and Keturah (Ge 25:1-3).
Esau--The naming of Edom's progenitor, reprobated by God, recalls the remembrance of the old curse on him for his profanity, both his sin and its punishment being perpetuated in his descendants (Heb 12:16, 17).

9. (Ob 5). Grape gatherers, yea even thieves, leave something behind them; but the Chaldeans will sweep Idumea clean of everything.

10. Edom became politically extinct after the time of the Romans.
uncovered his secret places--where he hid himself (Jer 49:8) and his treasures (Isa 45:3). I have caused that nothing should be so hidden as that the conqueror should not find it.
neighbours--the Philistines.

11. 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; Jer 48:47); the extinction of the adult males is the prominent idea (compare Jer 49:12).

12. (Compare Jer 25:15, 16, 29).
they whose judgment was not to drink of the cup--the Jews to whom, by virtue of the covenant relation, it did not belong to drink the cup. It might have been expected that they would be spared. He regards not the merits of the Jews, for they were as bad or worse than others: but the grace and adoption of God; it is just and natural ("judgment") that God should pardon His sons sooner than aliens [CALVIN].

13. Bozrah--(See on Jer 48:24).

14. (Ob 1-3).
ambassador . . . unto the heathen--a messenger from God to stir up the Chaldeans against Edom.

15. David and Joab had already humbled Edom (2Sa 8:14).

16. terribleness--the terror which thou didst inspire into others.
deceived thee--rendered thee proudly confident, as if none would dare to assail thee.
dwellest in . . . rock--Petra, the chief of Idumea, was cut in the rocks; its ruins are very remarkable. The whole south of Idumea abounds in cave dwellings and rocks.
though . . . nest . . . eagle-- (Job 39:27; Ob 3, 4). The eagle builds its nest in the highest craggy eyry.

17. (Compare 1Ki 9:8).

18. (Jer 50:40; De 29:23; Am 4:11).
no man shall abide there--that is, of the Idumeans. The Romans had a garrison there.

19. he--Nebuchadnezzar, or Nebuzara-dan; the name would at once suggest itself to the minds of the hearers (Jer 48:40; 46:18).
swelling--as a lion which the overflow of the Jordan forced out of his lair on the banks, to ascend the neighboring heights [CALVIN]. See as to the translation, "pride of the Jordan," see on Jer 12:5.
habitation of . . . strong--the fastnesses of Idumea (compare Nu 24:21). MAURER translates, "An ever verdant (literally, 'perennial') pasturage," that is, Idumea heretofore having enjoyed uninterrupted tranquillity; so in Jer 49:20 the image is retained, the Idumeans being compared to "a flock," and their king to "a shepherd," in this verse, and the enemy to "a lion" (compare Jer 50:17-19). English Version accords more with the Hebrew.
suddenly--"in the twinkling of an eye," as the Hebrew implies.
him . . . her--I will make Nebuzara-dan enter Idumea, and then, having in the twinkling of an eye effected the conquest, go away speedily: elsewhere. Instead of "but," translate, "for." GROTIUS translates, "run upon her," or "to her," instead of "run away from her." MAURER understands it, "I will make him (the Idumean) run away from her" (that is, from his own land); the similar change of reference of the pronouns (Jer 50:44) favors this.
who is a chosen man, &c.--God calls the choicest warriors to Him, to set "over" the work of devastating Idumea. God will surely execute His purpose, for He can call forth from all sides the agents He chooses.
who is like me?-- (Ex 15:11).
who will appoint me the time?--namely, for entering into a trial in judgment with Me (see Margin). Image from law courts (Job 9:19).
shepherd--leader of the Idumeans; following up the previous image, "a lion"; no Idumean shepherd shall withstand the lion sent by Jehovah (Job 41:10), or save the Idumean flock.

20. least of the flock--the weakest and humblest of the Chaldean host. Compare Jer 6:3, where the hostile leaders and their hosts are called "shepherds and their flocks."
draw . . . out--"shall drag them away captive" [GROTIUS]; shall drag them to and fro, as a lion (Jer 49:19) does feeble sheep [MAURER].
with them--that is, the habitation which they possess.

21. was heard in--that is, shall be heard at.
Red Sea--a considerable distance from Idumea; though the district at the Elantic bay of the Red Sea originally belonged to Idumea, and the sea itself was called from Edom, that is, "red" (Ge 25:30, Margin). Others translate, "the weedy sea" (Margin), and derive the name, "Red Sea," from its red weeds; the former view is preferable.

22. (Compare Jer 48:40, 41).
Bozrah--(See on Jer 48:24).

23. Prophecy as to Damascus, &c. (Isa 17:1; 10:9). The kingdom of Damascus was destroyed by Assyria, but the city revived, and it is as to the latter Jeremiah now prophesies. The fulfilment was probably about five years after the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar [JOSEPHUS, Antiquities, 10.9,7].
Hamath is confounded--at the tidings of the overthrow of the neighboring Damascus.
on the sea--that is, at the sea; the dwellers there are alarmed. Other manuscripts read, "like the sea." "There is anxiety (restless) as is the sea: they cannot quiet it," that is, it cannot be quieted (Isa 57:20).
it--Whatever dwellers are there "cannot be quiet."

25. city of praise--The prophet, in the person of a citizen of Damascus deploring its calamity, calls it "the city of praise," that is, celebrated with praises everywhere for its beauty (Jer 33:9; 51:41). "How is it possible that such a city has not been left whole--has not been spared by the foe?" Compare left, Lu 17:35, 36. So Israel "left" standing some of the Canaanite cities (Jos 11:13).
of my joy--that is, in which I delighted.

26. Therefore--that is, Since Damascus is doomed to fall, therefore, &c.

27. palaces of Ben-hadad--that palace from which so many evils and such cruelty to Israel emanated; thus implying the cause of Damascus' overthrow. Not the Ben-hadad of 2Ki 13:3; Am 1:4; it was a common name of the Syrian kings (compare 1Ki 15:18; meaning "son of Hadad," the idol).

28. Kedar--son of Ishmael (Ge 25:13). The Kedarenes led a wandering predatory life in Arabia-Petræa, as the Bedouin Arabs (2Ch 21:16, 17; Ps 120:5). Kedar means "blackness" (So 1:5).
Hazor--not the city in Palestine, but a district in Arabia-Petræa. "Kingdoms" refer to the several combinations of clans, each under its own sheik.
men of the east--Kedar and Hazor were east of Judea (Jud 6:3; Job 1:3).

29. tents--in which they dwelt, from which they are called Scenites, that is, tent dwellers.
curtains--namely, with which the tents were covered (Jer 4:20; 10:20; Ps 104:2).
they shall cry unto them, Fear, &c.--The foe, on crying, Fear . . ., shall discomfit them (the Kedarenes) by their mere cry.

30. (See on Jer 49:8). No conqueror would venture to follow them into the desert.

31. wealthy--rather, "tranquil" (1Ch 4:40).
neither gates nor bars--The Arabs, lying out of the track of the contending powers of Asia and Africa, took no measures of defense and had neither walled cities nor gates (Eze 38:11). They thought their scanty resources and wilderness position would tempt no foe.
alone--separated from other nations, without allies; and from one another scattered asunder. So as to Israel's isolation (Nu 23:9; De 33:28; Mic 7:14).

32. camels--their chief possessions; not fields or vineyards.
in utmost . . . corners--who seemed least likely to be dispersed. Or else, "having the hair shaven (or clipped) in angles" (Jer 9:26; 25:23) [GROTIUS].
calamity from all sides--which will force even those in "corners" to "scatter" themselves.

33. (Mal 1:3).

34. Elam--part of Susiana, west of Persia proper, but used to designate Persia in general. Elam proper, or Elymais, nearer Judea than Persia, is probably here meant; it had helped Nebuchadnezzar against Judea; hence its punishment. It may have been idolatrous, whereas Persia proper was mainly monotheistic.

35. bow--Elam was famed for its bowmen (Isa 22:6).
chief of their might--in opposition to "bow," that is, bowmen, who constituted their main strength.

36. four winds, &c.--Nebuchadnezzar's army containing soldiers from the four quarters.

37. consumed--as a distinct nation (Da 8:2-27). Fulfilled under Alexander and his successors.

38. I will show Myself King by My judgments there, as though My tribunal were erected there. The throne of Cyrus, God's instrument, set up over Media, of which Elam was a part, may be meant [GROTIUS]; or rather, that of Nebuchadnezzar (Jer 43:10). Then the restoration of Elam (Jer 49:39) will refer partly to that which took place on the reduction of Babylon by Cyrus, prince of Persia and Media.

39. latter days--The full restoration belongs to gospel times. Elamites were among the first who heard and accepted it (Ac 2:9).