Jeremiah 49 COMMENTARY (Pulpit)

Jeremiah 49
Pulpit Commentary
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?
Verses 1-3. - The violence of the Ammonites shall be severely punished. Verse 1. - Hath Israel no sons! The violent seizure, perpetrated before his eyes, of parts of the sacred territory, forces the indignant question from the prophet, "How can these things be?" It was so on a former occasion (see Jeremiah 2:14), and it is so again, now that the Ammonites are occupying the land of the Gadites. True, the present generation has lost its property, but the next is the heir to all its rights and privileges. Their king; rather, their King - their Melech or Moloch; it is the heavenly, not the earthly king who is referred to (so in Amos 1:15; Zephaniah 1:5). The Septuagint, the Syriac, and the Vulgate, however, read Milcom, which was the name of the Ammonite deity; this is only a different vocalizing of the consonants of the text. The actual vowel points give "malcam." This reading may, of course, be interpreted of the earthly king of the Ammonites. But this view ignores the obvious parallelism of Jeremiah 48:7, "Chemosh shall go forth into captivity." Inherit. The primary meaning of the word is "to take possession of, especially by force, 1 Kings 21:6" (Gesenius, ad voc.), and this is the sense evidently required here (comp. Jeremiah 8:10).
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.
Verse 2. - The punishment of Ammon. Its capital, Rabbah (see 2 Samuel 12:26, 27), and the "daughter" cities (comp. Numbers 21:25, margin; Joshua 15:45 and Joshua 17:11 in the Hebrew), shall be laid waste. The alarm of war ("alarm" equivalent to "shout"), as in Jeremiah 4:19. A desolate heap. Fortified towns were built on "heaps, or slight elevations (comp. on Jeremiah 30:18), the Hebrew name for which (in the singular) is tel. The "heap" and the ruins of the town together are aptly called a "heap of desolation." Then shall Israel be heir, etc.; rather, then shall Israel dispossess those who dispossessed him (comp. ver. 1). The form of the phrase reminds us of Isaiah 14:2.
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.
Verse 3. - Heshbon. Here mentioned as de jure a Gadite, but de facto an Ammonitish, town; in Numbers 21:26 it appears as "the city of Sihon" the Amorite. In Isaiah 15:4 and Isaiah 16:9 it is reckoned to the Moabites. There was a continual warfare between the neigh-bouring tribes of Reuben and Gad on the one hand, and the Moabites and Ammonites on the other. Let Heshbon lament, because Ai is spoiled. The introduction of At, which is only known to us as a Canaanitish town, near Bethel, on the wrong side of the Jordan for Moab, is startling. It is replied that we have no list of the Ammonitish cities, and that there may have been another town named At. The reply is valid; but loaves a second difficulty untouched, viz. that the mention of a third place destroys the continuity of thought. First, we are made acquainted with the fall of Rabbah; then Heshbon (probably the second place in the country) is called upon to wail because x has been taken by storm; then the populations of the "daughter" cities are summoned to join in the lamentation over Rabbah; - is it not reasonable to conclude that the subject of the mourning is one and the same? Now, it is well known that the received text abounds in small errors arising from the confusion of similar Hebrew letters, and that among the letters most easily confounded are yod and resh. Is it not an obvious conclusion that for Ai we should rather read Ar ("the city"), a name as suitable for the capital of Ammon as for that of Moab? It is true that we have no example elsewhere of Rabbah being called by the name of Ar; but in 2 Samuel 10:3, 14 it is described as "the city," and we have to be on our guard against the argument a silentio - that favourite weapon of destructive criticism! Since a conjecture must be made, it is more respectful to the prophet to choose the one which is most suitable to the context. Daughters of Rabbah; i.e. unwalled towns (as in ver. 2). Run to and fro by the hedges; rather, by the enclosures; i.e. wander about in the open country, seeking a lodging place in the enclosures of the sheepfolds (so Numbers 32:24, Hebrew) or the vineyards (so Numbers 22:24, Hebrew). Their king; or, Milcom (see on ver. 1).
Wherefore gloriest thou in the valleys, thy flowing valley, O backsliding daughter? that trusted in her treasures, saying, Who shall come unto me?
Verse 4. - The valleys; i.e. long extended plains, such as were suitable for cornfields (Isaiah 17:5; Psalm 65:14), and such as characterized the territory of the Ammonites. Thy flowing valley. "Flowing;" that is, abounding with rich crops. The meaning of the phrase, however, is only probable.
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.
Verse 5. - The Ammonitish community dissolved; every one earing for himself. Every man right forth; i.e. straight before him, in a wild panic which expels every thought but that of self-preservation. Him that wandereth. Collectively for "the wanderers," i.e. the fugitives. So it is said of the Babylonians, that they are "like sheep with none to gather them."
And afterward I will bring again the captivity of the children of Ammon, saith the LORD.
Verse 6. - Revival of the Ammonites (see on Jeremiah 48:47).
Concerning Edom, thus saith the LORD of hosts; Is wisdom no more in Teman? is counsel perished from the prudent? is their wisdom vanished?
Verses 7-10. - A startling picture of the judgment impending over Edom, the severity of which is to be inferred from the behaviour of the sufferers. Observe, no allusion is made by Jeremiah to any special bitter feeling of the Edomites towards the Israelites, such as is implied in Isaiah 34; Ezekiel 35, and other passages. With regard to the fulfilment of the prophecy, we may fairly quote in the first place Malachi 1:2-4. The agents in the desolation there referred to (still fresh in Malachi's recollection) are probably the Nabathaeans (an Arab race, though writing Aramaic), who, after occupying Edom, dropped their nomad habits, devoted themselves to commerce, and founded the kingdom of Arabia Petraea. Meantime the Edomites maintained an independent existence in the midst of the Jewish colonists, till John Hyrcanus compelled them to accept circumcision about B.C. 130. In spite of this enforced religious and political union, the Edomites remained perfectly conscious of their nationality, and we find them mentioned as a distinct factor in the community in Josephus' account of the great Jewish war. They pass away from history after the destruction of Jerusalem, A.D. 70. Verse 7. - Teman was celebrated for its "wisdom," i.e. for a practical moral philosophy, similar to that which we find in the less distinctly religions portions of the Book of Proverbs. It was this "wisdom" which formed the common element in the higher culture of the Semitic peoples, and of which the sacred narrator speaks when he says that "Solomon's wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the children of the east country" (1 Kings 4:30). One of Job's friends, Eliphaz, was a Temanite (Job 2:11). From ver. 20, however, it appears that Teman is here used for Edom in general, of which it formed a part. "Wisdom" was doubtless cultivated throughout Idumaea (Obadiah 1:8), the "land of Uz," in which Job dwelt, was probably in the east of Edom (see on Jeremiah 25:20). Is their wisdom vanished? The Hebrew, with its characteristic love for material symbols, has, "Is their wisdom poured out?" So in Jeremiah 19:7, "I will pour out [a different word, however, is used] the counsel of Judah." The body being regarded as a vessel, it was natural to represent the principle of life, both physical (Isaiah 53:12) and intellectual (as here), under the symbol of a liquid.
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.
Verse 8. - Turn back. The grammatical form is peculiar (literally, be made to turn back). If the punctuation is not an oversight the object is to suggest the compulsiveness of the change of route of the Dedanites. Dwell deep; i.e. tarry in the deepest recesses ye can find, so as to avoid the calamities of the Edomites. The Dedanites, it will be remembered, were a tribe devoted to commerce (see on Jeremiah 25:23). Isaiah had already, on an earlier occasion, given the same advice as Jeremiah, viz. to leave the beaten track and take refuge in a less exposed part of the desert, where shrubs and thorn bushes ("the forest," or rather, "the thickets") would secure them to some extent from observation (Isaiah 21:13). See, however, ver. 10.
If grapegatherers come to thee, would they not leave some gleaning grapes? if thieves by night, they will destroy till they have enough.
Verse 9. - If grape gatherers, etc. Jeremiah modifies his original in Obadiah 1:5; the interrogative clauses here become affirmative. Render, If vintagers come to thee, they will not leave any gleanings: if thieves by night, they destroy what is sufficient for them.
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 neighbours, and he is not.
Verse 10. - But, etc.; rather, for. The verse gives the reason why the destruction is so complete. "It is I, Jehovah, who made Esau bare," etc. "Esau," i.e. Edom (Genesis 25:30). His seed; i.e. the Edomites. His brethren, or kinsmen; i.e. the Amalekites (Genesis 36:12). His neighbours; i.e. the tribes of Dedan, Terns, and Buz (Jeremiah 25:23).
Leave thy fatherless children, I will preserve them alive; and let thy widows trust in me.
Verses 11-13. - A merciful mitigation of the prophet's stern threat. The true God will provide for the widows and orphans, if Edom will but commit them to him. And let not Edom think it strange that he is punished; for even Israel, the chosen people, has drunk of the bitter cup. Yea, Jehovah has sworn "by himself" that all Edom's cities shall be laid waste. Verse 11. - Leave thy fatherless children, etc. The invitation means more than might be supposed. It is equivalent to a promise of the revival of the Edomitish people (comp. on Jeremiah 46:26; 48:47).
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.
Verse 12. - Whose judgment was not, etc.; rather, to whom it was not due, etc. Jehovah condescends to speak from a human point of view. 'So, in Isaiah 28:21, the punishment of Jerusalem is celled his "strange work." Have assuredly drunken; rather, shall surely drink.
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.
Verse 13. - Bozrah. This seems to have been at one time the capital of Edom (see Amos 1:12; Isaiah 34:6; Isaiah 63:1). It was a hill city (comp. on ver. 16); a village called Busaira (i.e. little Bozrah) now stands among its ruins. Perpetual wastes. A phrase characteristic of Jeremiah (see also Jeremiah 25:9) and of the second part of Isaiah (Isaiah 58:12; Isaiah 61:4).
I have heard a rumour 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.
Verses 14-18. - Based at first on the older prophecy (see Obadiah 1:1-4); then follow two verses in Jeremiah's peculiar manner. As yet Edom feels himself secure in his rocky home. But a Divine impulse already stirs the nation, through whom Jehovah wills to humble the proud. Edom shall become a second Sodom. Verse 14. - I have heard a rumour. In Obadiah it is "we have heard," i.e. the company of prophets (comp. Isaiah 53:1, "Who hath believed our report?" according to one interpretation). Jeremiah, to justify his adoption of the outward form of his prophecy, declares that he is personally responsible for its substance. "Rumour," or as the word is elsewhere rendered, "report," is a technical term for a prophetic revelation (Obadiah 1:1; Isaiah 28:9, 19; Isaiah 53:1; comp. Isaiah 21:10; Isaiah 28:22); and it is from this Old Testament usage that ἀκοή acquires its special meaning in Romans 10:16, 17. In fact, ἀκοή, or bearing, is a more exact equivalent of the original. A prophet is one who has "listened in the council of God" (Job 15:8, corrected version; comp. Amos 3:7), and "when the Lord Jehovah hath spoken, who can but prophesy?" (Amos 3:8). Prophetic perception of Divine truth is so exceptional a thing that it can only be expressed approximately in terms of everyday life. One while it may be called a "hearing," a "report," another while a "vision" or "intuition." He who makes to hear or see is, of course, Jehovah, through the objective influence of his Spirit. It is important to study the Biblical phraseology, which has a depth of meaning too often overlooked, owing to the blunter edge which time has given to our modern speech. An ambassador; rather, a herald. Unto the heathen; rather, unto the nations. There is no religious idea involved; the word goyim literally means "nations," and there is no reason for deviating from the primary sense. In the next verse it is even more necessary to make this correction.
For, lo, I will make thee small among the heathen, and despised among men.
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.
Verse 16. - Thy terribleness. This is certainly the best rendering of this ἅπαξ λεγόμενον. The "terribleness" of Edom consisted in the fact that the other nations shrank from disturbing her in her rocky fastness. In the clefts of the rock. Probably with an allusion to the rock city Sela, or Petra ("rock"); as perhaps in "the height of the hill" to the situation of Bozrah; see on ver. 13 (Graf). As the eagle. Not any eagle is meant, but the griffon (Gypsfulvus), or great vulture (Tristram).
Also Edom shall be a desolation: every one that goeth by it shall be astonished, and shall hiss at all the plagues thereof.
Verse 17. - A desolation; rather, an astonishment. The word is from the same root as the following verb. The phrase is characteristic of Jeremiah, who has no scruple in repeating a forcible expression, and so enforcing an important truth (comp. Jeremiah 25:11, 38; Jeremiah 50:23; Jeremiah 51:43). What so "astonishing" as the reverses of once flourishing kingdoms! For the Bible knows nothing of the "necessity" of the decay and death of nations. The "covenant" which Jehovah offers contains the pledge of indestructibility. Everyone that goeth by it, etc. Another self-reminiscence (see Jeremiah 19:8).
As in the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah and the neighbour cities thereof, saith the LORD, no man shall abide there, neither shall a son of man dwell in it.
Verse 18. - As in the overthrow, etc.; comp. Deuteronomy 29:2, which explains the reference in "the neighbour cities" (Admah and Zeboim). The verse is repeated in Jeremiah 50:40; It does not, of course, mean that rite and brimstone should be the agents of destruction (nor is even Isaiah 34:9 to be understood literally), but that the desolate appearance of Edom should remind of that of the neighbourhood of the Dead Sea (comp. Isaiah 13:19; Amos 4:11).
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?
Verses 19-22. - Figures descriptive of the unique physical qualities of the destined conqueror of Edom. Both figures have been used before (see Jeremiah 4:7; Jeremiah 48:40). Verse 19. - He shall some. The subject is withheld, as in ch. 46:18 (see note); 48:40. The swelling of Jordan; rather, the pride of Jordan; i.e. the luxuriant thickets on its banks. See on Jeremiah 12:5, where the phrase first occurs. Against the habitation of the strong; rather, to the evergreen pasture. The word rendered "evergreen" is one of those which are the despair of interpreters, from their fulness of meaning. The root-meaning is simply "continuance," whether it be continuance of strength (comp. Micah 6:2, Hebrew) or of the flow of a stream (Deuteronomy 21:4; Amos 5:24), or, as here, of the perennial verdure of a well watered pasturage. But I will suddenly make him run away from her. Make whom? The lion? Such is the natural inference from the Authorized Version, but the context absolutely forbids it. It seems useless to mention the crowd of explanations which have been offered of this "obscure and much-vexed passage," as old Matthew Poole calls it, since in Jeremiah 50:44 we have precisely the same phrase, but with another suffix, which clears up the meaning. We may, therefore, either read (with the Septuagint and the Syriac Version), "For I will suddenly make them run away from it" (viz. the pasture), or keep the old reading "him" for "them," and explain "him" as meaning the Edomites. The expression used for "suddenly" is very forcible; we might render, with Ewald, "in the twinkling of an eye." And who is a chosen man, etc.? A still more difficult clause. If the text is correct, which cannot be assumed as certain, we should probably render, with Ewald, "and will appoint over it [i.e. the land of Edom] him who is chosen," viz. Nebuchadnezzar. Who will appoint me the time? The same phrase is rendered in Job 9:19, "Who shall set me a time to plead?" (comp. the Latin phrase dicur dicere). To drag a defendant before the tribunal implies equality of rank. One might venture to do this with Nebuchadnezzar, if he were not the representative of One still mightier. Finally, Who is that shepherd that will stand before me? The land of Edom has been likened to a pasture; it is natural that the ruler should be now described as a shepherd (comp. Jeremiah 29:34)
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.
Verse 20. - The counsel of the Lord. At first sight this appears to detract from the perfection of Jehovah. But another prophet declares that the Divine "counsels" are "framed" from eternity (Isaiah 22:11; Isaiah 37:26). Surely the least, etc.; rather, Surely they shall drag them along, the weak ones of the flock; surely their pasture shall be appalled at them. Such is the sad fate of the sheep, now that the resistance of their shepherd has been overpowered. "The weak ones of the flock" is a phrase quite in Jeremiah's manner; its opposite is "the noble ones of the flock" (Jeremiah 25:34).
The earth is moved at the noise of their fall, at the cry the noise thereof was heard in the Red sea.
Verse 21. - Is moved; rather, quaketh (as Jeremiah 8:16). It is a pity that the Authorized Version has not preserved the present tense throughout the verse. The prophet seems to see his prediction realized before him. In the Red Sea; rather, beside the Bed Sea; comp. 1 Kings 9:26, "Eloth, on the shore of the Red Sea, in the land of Edom."
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.
Verse 22. - Behold, he shall come up... Bozrah. Repeated from Jeremiah 48:40, with the substitution of "Bozrah" for "Moab," and the addition of "and he shall come up" from ver. 19. For "Bozrah," see on ver. 13. And at that day. Repeated from Jeremiah 48:41 (latter half), with the exception that "Edom" stands for "Moab."
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.
Verses 23-27. - The heading Concerning Damascus is too limited (like that of the partly parallel prophecy in Isaiah 17:1-11); for the prophecy relates, not only to Damascus, the capital of the kingdom of southeastern Aram (or Syria), but to Hamath, the capital of the northern kingdom. (The third of the Aramaean kingdoms, that of Zobah, had ceased to exist.) Damascus had already been threatened by Amos (Amos 1:3-5), and by Isaiah (Isaiah 17:1-11). We may infer from the prophecy that Damascus had provoked the hostility of Nebuchadnezzar, but we have as yet no monumental evidence as to the facts. Verse 23. - Hamath. Still an important city under the name of Hamah, situated to the north of Hums (Emesa), on the Orontes. It formed nominally the boundary of the kingdom of Israel (Numbers 34:8; Joshua 13:5), was actually a part of the empire of Solomon (2 Chronicles 8:4), and was conquered for a short time by Jeroboam II. (2 Kings 14:25). Under Sargon it was fully incorporated into the Assyrian empire (comp. Isaiah 10:9); rebellious populations were repeatedly transplanted into the territory of Hamath. Arpad. Always mentioned together with Hamath, whose fate it appears to have shared (Isaiah 10:9). A tell, or hill, with ruins, about three (German) miles from Aleppo, still bears the name Erfad (Zeitschrift of the German Oriental Society, 25:655). There is sorrow on the sea, etc.; i.e. even the sea participates in the agitation of that troublous time: somewhat as in Habakkuk 3:10 the sea is represented as sympathizing in the terror produced by a Divine manifestation. But by the slightest possible emendation (viz. of caph into beth) we obtain a more natural sense - "with an unrest as of the sea, which cannot be quiet." In Isaiah 57:20 we read, "For the ungodly are like the troubled sea, for it cannot be quiet;" and it can hardly be doubted that Jeremiah is alluding to this passage. If he altered it at all, it would be in the direction of greater smoothness rather than the reverse. Not a few manuscripts of Jeremiah actually have this corrected reading, which should probably be adopted.
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.
How is the city of praise not left, the city of my joy!
Verse 25. - Hew is the city of praise not left, etc.! A difficult passage. The construction, indeed, is plain. "How is not," etc. I can only mean "How is it that the city of praise is not," etc.?(comp. 2 Samuel 1:14). The difficulty lies in the word rendered "left." The ordinary meaning of the verb, when applied to cities, is certainly "to leave without inhabitants;" e.g. Jeremiah 4:29; Isaiah 7:16; Isaiah 32:14. This, however, does not suit the context, which shows that "the daughter of Damascus" personified is the speaker, so that ver. 25 ought rather to mean, "How is it that the city of praise is [not, 'is not'] forsaken?" Either, then, we must suppose that "not" has been inserted by mistake - a too arbitrary step, seeing that there is no negative in the context to account for the insertion (the case is different, therefore, from Job 21:30; Job 27:15, where such an insertion is at any rate justifiable); or else we must give uzzebhah the sense of "let go free" (comp. Exodus 23:5; Deuteronomy 32:36; Job 10:1). It is the obstinate incredulity of love which refuses to admit the possibility of the destruction of the loved object. The city of praise. The city which is my "praise," or boast. Few cities, in fact, have had so long and brilliant an existence as Damascus.
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.
And I will kindle a fire in the wall of Damascus, and it shall consume the palaces of Benhadad.
Verse 27. - And I will kindly, etc. A combination of clauses from Amos 1:14 and Amos 1:4. Three several kings of Damascus bore the name of Ben-hadad: one the contemporary of King Baasha of Samaria; another, of Ahab; a third, of Joash. (Ben-hadad, however, should rather be Ben-hadar, agreeably to the Assyrian inscriptions and the Septuagint.)
Concerning Kedar, and concerning the kingdoms of Hazor, which Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon shall smite, thus saith the LORD; Arise ye, go up to Kedar, and spoil the men of the east.
Verses 28-33. - Against the nomad and partly settled Arabs - the former described under the name Kedar (see on Jeremiah 2:10), the latter under that of Hazor (connected with hazer, an unwalled village; comp. Leviticus 25:31). This use of Hazer is remarkable; elsewhere the name denotes towns in Palestine (Joshua 11:1; Joshua 15:23; Nehemiah 11:33). There are two plainly marked strophes, vers. 28-30 and 31-33, both beginning with a summons to the foe to take the field. Verse 28. - Hazer (i.e. the settled Arabs) is said to have kingdoms. "King" is used in Hebrew in a wider sense than we are accustomed to (comp. Jeremiah 25:24, "All the kings of Arabia"). The "kings" of Hazer would be mere sheikhs or emirs. Shall smite; rather, smote. There is no justification whatever for the future. The statement is obviously a later addition, to show that the prophecy was fulfilled. On the form "Nebuchadrezzar," see on Jeremiah 21:2. The men of the east. A general designation of the inhabitants of all the countries in the east of Palestine (Genesis 29:1; Judges 6:3; Job 1:3).
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.
Verse 29. - All the possessions of the nomad are here mentioned - first his tents and his flocks; then the hangings of which the tent is composed (Jeremiah 4:20; Jeremiah 10:20), and the vessels which it contains; and finally the camels which the Arab rides, not to mention their other uses. All this shall be ruthlessly appropriated by the Chaldean invaders. Fear is on every side. Again Jeremiah's motto recurs (see on Jeremiah 6:25). It expresses here, not the war cry itself, but the result produced by it.
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.
Verse 30. - The prophet turns to the Arabs in villages who have still more to tempt the cupidity of plunderers, and urges them to flee while there is still time. Dwell deep (see on ver. 8). Against you. This is the reading of the Septuagint (Alex. MS.), the Targum, the Vulgate, and many extant Hebrew manuscripts. The received text, however, has "against them." Such alternations of person have met us again and again, and there is no occasion to doubt the ordinary reading.
Arise, get you up unto the wealthy nation, that dwelleth without care, saith the LORD, which have neither gates nor bars, which dwell alone.
Verse 31. - How easy is the expedition to which the Chaldean army is invited! - it is a mere holiday march. Resistance is impossible, for an enemy has never been dreamed cf. The tribes of Hazer are not, indeed, a wealthy nation, for they have but little wealth to tempt either the conqueror or the merchant; they "live alone;" they are an uncommercial and unwarlike, but a profoundly "tranquil, nation, that dwelleth securely [or, 'confidently']" - a description reminding us of Judges 8:7; Ezekiel 38:11. In their idyllic, patriarchal state they feel no need of walls with their accompanying double gates (the gates of ancient cities were so large that they were divided) and bars. Like Israel in the prophetic vision (Numbers 23:9), "they dwell alone."
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.
Verse 32. - Them that are in the utmost corners. Another of Jeremiah's characteristic phrases, which should rather be tendered, the corner clipped (i.e. having the hair cut off about the ears and temples; see on Jeremiah 9:26). From all sides. "Nebuchadnezzar will so arrange his troops that the Bedaween [but the people of Hazer were not Bedaween, i.e. desert Arabs] will be surrounded on all sides, and, being thus unable to escape in a body, will be scattered to 'all the winds,' to the four quarters of the earth" (Dr. Payne Smith).
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.
Verse 33. - The same fate predicted for Hazor as for Edom (ver. 18). Dragons; rather, jackals (see on Jeremiah 10:22).
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,
Verses 34-39. - Concerning Elam. The title places this prophecy later than these in Jeremiah 48:1-49:33; viz. at the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah. From this filet, and from the absence of any reference to Nebuchadnezzar as the instrument of Elam's humiliation, Ewald conjectures that the Elamites had been concerned in the events which led to the dethronement and captivity of Jehoiachin. Dr. Payne Smith is inclined to accept this hypothesis, remarking that the Elamites "appear perpetually as the allies of Merodach-baladan and his sons in their struggles for independence." We are not yet, however, in possession of information as to the relations of Elam to the great Babylonian empire which rose upon the ruins of the Assyrian. Ewald's conjecture is a possibility, and no more. And what was Elam? One of the most ancient kingdoms in the world (see Genesis 14.). Geographically it was the tract of country., partly mountainous, partly lowland, lying south of Assyria and east of Persia proper, to which Herodotus gives the name of Cissia, and the classical geographers that of Tusis or Tusiaua. This is clear, says Sehrader, from the Persian text of the Behistun inscription of Darius. It is fro-quently mentioned under the name "Ilam," or "Ilamti," in the Assyrian inscriptions, especially in those of Sargon, Sennacherib, and Assurbauipal. In B.C 721 Sargon states that he annexed a district or province of Elam (and hence, perhaps, we must explain the mention of the Elamites in the Assyrian army in Isaiah 22:6), which was, doubtless, one cause of the embittered feeling towards Assyria of the portion which remained independent. The annals of the heroic struggle of Merodach-baladan contain repeated reference to the King of Elam. Assurbanipal made no less than three invasions of Elam, and the singular pretext for the third is, curiously enough, associated with the remarkable fourteenth chapter of Genesis. It was this - that the Elamite king had refused to deliver up an image of the goddess Nana, which Kudur-nankhundi, an ancient Elamite monarch, had carried oft, and which had remained 1635 or (perhaps) 1535 years in Elam. This king has been plausibly conjectured to be a member of the same dynasty as "Chedorlaomer [ = Kudur-Lagamar] King of Elam." This time it was all over with Elam; Shushan itself was plundered and destroyed, and far and wide the country was laid waste. That so restless and courageous a people should have become famous among the surrounding nations was only to be expected; and it is a striking proof of this that Ezekiel, in describing the companions whom fallen Egypt would meet with in Hades, mentions "Elam and all her multitude" (Ezekiel 32:24). The fact that the Septuagint has the heading twice over - first very briefly (in Jeremiah 25:14, where it is followed by this prophecy), and then at full length (in Jeremiah 26:1, at the end of the prophecy of Elam) - has been variously explained. It is, at any rate, clear that there is some confusion in the present text of this translation. In connection with this prediction it is interesting to notice one of the results of a new cuneiform discovery among some tablets acquired in 1878 by the British Museum. At the very time when Nebuchadnezzar was taking an oath of allegiance from Zedekiah, he was also engaged in hostilities against Elam. "We do not know," says Mr. Pinches, "what brought the Babylonians into hostilities with the Elamites, but the result of the expedition was to bring the whole kingdom of Elam within the boundaries of the Babylonian monarchy" (Transactions of the Society of Biblical Archaeology, 7:214).
Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Behold, I will break the bow of Elam, the chief of their might.
Verse 35. - The bow of Elam. So Isaiah in prophetic vision, "And Elam bare the quiver" (Isaiah 22:6).
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.
Verse 36. - An emblem of the utter hopelessness of escape. The four winds (figuratively spoken of by Zechariah (Zechariah 6:5) as "presenting themselves" before God, to receive his commissions) shall combine their forces to scatter the doomed nation. The outcasts of Elam. This is the marginal reading in the Hebrew Bible; the text has, "the perpetual outcasts." No philological eye can doubt that the correction should be admitted (a yod for a vav).
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:
And I will set my throne in Elam, and will destroy from thence the king and the princes, saith the LORD.
Verse 38. - I will set my throne; i.e. my tribunal (as Jeremiah 43:10). The king and the princes; rather, king and princes. The threat is not merely that the reigning king shall be dethroned, but that Elam shall lose its native rulers altogether.
But it shall come to pass in the latter days, that I will bring again the captivity of Elam, saith the LORD.
Verse 39. - But... in the latter days; i.e. presumably in the Messianic age. Into the fulfilment of this promise we need not inquire in too prosaic a spirit. It is true that "Elamites" are mentioned among the persons present on the great "day of Pentecost" (Acts 2:9). But this would be a meagre fulfilment indeed. The fact is that, both in the narrative in the Acts and in this prophecy, the Elamites are chiefly mentioned as representatives of the distant and less civilized Gentile nations, and the fulfilment is granted whenever a similar people to the Elamites is brought to the knowledge of the true religion.

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