Jer 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 Da 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 (Jer 1:1), to the end of Josiah's reign, was nineteen years (2Ki 22:1); the three months 2 Kings 23.31) of Jehoahaz' reign, with the not quite complete four years of Jehoiakim (Jer 25:1), added to the nineteen years, make up twenty-three years in all.
4. rising early -- (See on Jer 7:13). |The prophets| refer 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 (De 32:21), yet it is not I, but yourselves, whom ye thereby hurt (Pr 8:36; 20:2).
9. the north -- (see on Jer 1:14, 15). The Medes and other northern peoples, confederate with Babylon, are included with the Chaldeans.
my servant -- My agent for punishing (Jer 27:6; 43:10; compare Jer 40:2). Compare Isa 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. (Jer 7:34; Re 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, Ex 11:5; Mt 24:41; in daily use in every house, and therefore forbidden to be taken in pledge, De 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 -- (Jer 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 (Le 26:34, 35; 2Ch 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 (Ezr 1:1). Daniel's seventy prophetic weeks are based on the seventy years of the captivity (compare Da 9:2, 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 (Jer 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 (Jer 36:1, 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 -- (Jer 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 (Jer 25:13), as having oppressed the Jews.
their deeds -- rather, |deed,| namely, their bad treatment of the Jews (Jer 50:29; 51:6, 24; compare 2Ch 36:17).
15. wine cup -- Compare Jer 13:12, 13, as to this image, to express stupefying judgments; also Jer 49:12; 51:7. Jeremiah often embodies the imagery of Isaiah in his prophecies (La 4:21; Isa 51:17-22; Re 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 (Na 3:11).
18. Jerusalem -- put first: for |judgment begins at the house of God|; they being most guilty whose religious privileges are greatest (1Pe 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 (Jer 46:2, 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]. (Compare Jer 50:37; see on Isa 19:2, 3; Isa 20:1; Eze 30:5. The term is first found in Ex 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 (La 4:21; see Ge 36:20, 28).
remnant of Ashdod -- called a |remnant,| because Ashdod had lost most of its inhabitants in the twenty-nine years siege by Psammetichus. Compare also see on Isa 20:1. Gath is not mentioned because it was overthrown in the same war.
21. Edom ... Moab ... Ammon -- joined together, as being related to Israel (see Jer 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 (Ps 72:10).
23. Dedan -- north of Arabia (Ge 25:3, 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 (see on Jer 9:26).
24. mingled people -- not in the same sense as in Jer 25:20; the |motley crowd,| so called in contempt (compare Jer 49:28, 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 (Ge 25:2).
Elam -- properly, west of Persia; but used for Persia in general.
26. Sheshach -- Babylon; as the parallelism in Jer 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 Jer 51:41) for concealment at the time of this prediction, in the fourth year of Jehoiakim, while Nebuchadnezzar was before Jerusalem. In Jer 51:41 there can be no concealment, as Babylon is expressly mentioned. Michaelis more simply explains the term |brazen-gated| (compare Isa 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 Jer 51:39, 57; Isa 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 (Eze 9:6; Ob 16; Lu 23:31; 1Pe 4:17).
be unpunished -- |be treated as innocent.|
30. roar -- image from a destructive lion (Isa 42:13; Joe 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| (Ps 100:3), and thence into heathen lands.
shout ... tread ... grapes -- (Jer 48:33; Isa 16:9, 10).
31. controversy -- cause at issue (Mic 6:2).
plead with all flesh -- (Isa 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 -- (Jer 16:4, 6).
neither gathered -- to their fathers, in their ancestral tombs (Jer 8:2).
dung -- (Ps 83:10).
34. shepherds -- princes (Jer 22:22). Here he returns to the Jews and their rulers, using the same image as in Jer 25:30, |pasture| (see on Jer 25:30).
wallow yourselves -- Cover yourselves as thickly with ashes, in token of sorrow, as one who rolls in them (Jer 6:26; Eze 27:30) [Maurer].
principal -- leaders. The Septuagint translates |rams,| carrying out the image (compare Isa 14:9, Margin; Zec 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 (see on Jer 22:28). |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. (Am 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| (see on Jer 25:30). The pasturages where, peaceably and 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 Jer 46:16; 50:16, is expressed (indeed, some manuscripts and the Septuagint read |sword| instead of |fierceness| here; probably interpolated from Jer 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 Jer 25:37)!