Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, by Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsh, [1857-78], at sacred-texts.com
Concerning Ammon, Edom, Damascus, Kedar, Hazor, Elam
Concerning the Children of Ammon. - The Ammonites were, not merely as regards descent, but also as to their character and their relation to Israel, the twin-people with the Moabites. From them, too, as well as from the Moabites, Sihon the king of the Ammonites had wrenched a portion of their territory, which the Israelites received for a possession after Sihon had been subdued. This territory they sought every opportunity of retaking from the Israelites, whom they as constantly endeavoured to humiliate when they could. Besides their connection with Eglon the Moabite king (Jdg 3:13), they oppressed Israel during the period of the judges for eighteen years, not only in Gilead, but also on this side of Jordan, since they fought against Ephraim, Benjamin, and Judah (Jdg 10:7., Jer 11:12 -32). During Samuel's time, their king Nahash besieged Jabesh-gilead, and demanded the surrender of the city under shameful conditions, in consequence of which they were defeated by Saul (1 Sam 2). During the time of David they disgracefully treated his ambassadors, who had come to comfort King Hanun over the death of his father; they then united with the Syrians against Israel, but were defeated by Joab, and, after the taking of their capital, Rabbah, severely chastised (Sa2 10:1 to Sa2 11:1, and Sa2 12:26-31). Under the reign of Jehoshaphat, also, in company with the Moabites, they invaded Judah (2 Chron 20); and when, later, the Israelites were heavily oppressed by the Syrians under Hazael, the Ammonites practised cruelties on them in Gilead, for which the prophet Amos (Amo 1:13-15) threatens them with devastation of their country and foreign captivity. After the death of Jeroboam II, who had restored the borders of Israel as far as the Dead Sea (Kg2 14:25), the Ammonites must have made fresh attempts to enlarge their territory during the interregnum that had begun in the kingdom of the ten tribes; for it is mentioned in Ch2 26:8 that they brought presents to King Uzziah, i.e., paid tribute, and had thus been rendered tributary to him: it is also stated in Ch2 27:5 that his son Jotham marched against them in order to enforce the payment of the tribute. But when, soon afterwards, Tiglath-pileser the Assyrian carried away the tribes of Israel on the east of the Jordan (Kg2 15:29; Ch1 5:26), the Ammonites seized possession of the depopulated country of the tribes of Gad and Reuben, while they also seized Heshbon on the border of these two tribal territories. This unjust appropriation of Israelitish territory forms the starting-point of the prophecy now before us.
Ammon has taken possession of the inheritance of Gad, therefore must his cities be destroyed by war, that Israel may again obtain his own property (Jer 49:1, Jer 49:2). Ammon will sorrow deeply, for his god will go with his princes into captivity (Jer 49:2-4). His trust in the wealth of his land will not help him, but his people will be frightened away through terror on every side, yet they will be restored in the future (Jer 49:5, Jer 49:6).
"Concerning the children of Ammon, thus saith Jahveh: Hath Israel no sons, or hath he no heir? Why doth their king inherit Gad, and his people dwell in his cities? Jer 49:2. Therefore, behold, days are coming, saith Jahveh, when I will cause to be heard against Rabbah of the children of Ammon a war-cry; and it shall become a heap of ruins, and her daughters shall be burned with fire: and Israel shall heir those who heired him, saith Jahveh. Jer 49:3. Howl, O Heshbon! for Ai is laid waste. Cry! ye daughters of Rabbah, gird yourselves with sackcloth; lament, and run up and down among the enclosures: for their king shall go into captivity, his priests and his princes together. Jer 49:4. Why dost thou glory in the valleys? Thy valley flows away, O thou rebellious daughter, that trusted in her treasures, [saying], Who shall come to me? Jer 49:5. Behold, I will bring a fear upon thee, saith the Lord Jahveh of hosts, from all that is round thee; and ye shall be driven each one before him, and there shall be none to gather together the fugitives. Jer 49:6. But afterwards I will turn the captivity of the children of Ammon, saith Jahveh."
The address begins with a question full of reproach: "Has Israel, then, no sons who could take possession of his land as their inheritance, that the king of the Ammonites has taken possession of Gad (i.e., of the hereditary portion of the tribe of Gad), and dwells in the cities of Gad?" The question presupposes that the Israelites had been carried away by Tiglath-pileser, but at the same time, also, that the country still belongs to the Gadites, for they certainly have sons who shall again receive the inheritance of their fathers. Since Jeremiah, as is clear from Jer 49:3, had Amo 1:13-15 in his mind, he evidently uses מלכּם in a double sense, not merely in Jer 49:3, but even in Jer 49:1 also, with a reference to Amo 1:15, meaning the king and god of the Ammonites. As in Amos, Aquila, Symmachus, Jerome, and the Syriac, so in this passage also, the lxx, Vulgate, and Syriac have understood מלכּם of the god מלכּם; with them agree Ewald, Hitzig, and Graf. But the reasons alleged for the change of מלכּם into מלכּם are quite as insufficient here as in Amo 1:15. Just as, in the last-named passage, מלכּם first of all refers to the king of the Ammonites, so is it here. It is not the god, but the king, of the Ammonites that has taken possession of the territory of Gad. It is not till Jer 49:3 that the reference to the god Milcom plainly comes out. Jer 49:2. Therefore shall Rabbah, the capital of the Ammonites, hear the cry of war, and be changed into a heap of ruins. רבּת בּני , "The great (city) of the sons of Ammon," is the full name of the Ammonite capital (cf. Deu 3:11), which is usually called, briefly, רבּה (Amo 1:14; Sa2 11:1, etc.); it was afterwards called Philadelphia, probably after Ptolemy Philadelphus, in Polybius' ̔Ραββατάμανα, in Abulfeda Amn, which is the name still given to its ruins on the Nahr Ammn, i.e., the Upper Jabbok; see on Deu 3:11. "A cry of war," as in Jer 4:19; cf. Amo 1:14. "A will of desolation," i.e., a heap of ruins; cf. Jos 8:28; Deu 13:17. "her daughters" are the smaller cities dependent on the capital, - here, all the remaining cities of the Ammonites; cf. Num 21:25; Jos 15:45, etc. "Israel shall heir those who heired him," i.e., receive back the property of those who have appropriated his land.
The cities of the Ammonites, i.e., their inhabitants, shall howl and lament over this calamity. The summons given to Heshbon to howl implies that this city, formerly the residence of Sihon, was then in possession of the Ammonites. There is obscurity in the clause announcing the reason, "for עי (lxx Γαΐ́) is laid waste:" the word seems to be a proper noun, but there is no city of this name known in the Ammonite country, or the land east of the Jordan; while we must not think of Ai (העי, Jos 7:2.), which was situated on the west side of the Jordan. Venema and Ewald are inclined to take the word as an appellative, synonymous with תּל, "ruins" (which is the meaning of עי), and regard it as the subject of Rabbah, the capital, "because it has been laid in ruins." But a comparison of Jer 48:20; Jer 4:20; Zac 11:3, rather favours our taking עי as the subject. Graf and others would therefore change עי into ער, as (they say) the capital of the Ammonites was called by the Israelites. But there are no historical traces of this designation of Rabbah. There remains hardly any other course open than to consider עי as the name of an important Ammonite city. The mere fact that it is mentioned nowhere else cannot form a strong foundation for the objection against this assumption, for we do not find anywhere a list of the Ammonite cities. The inhabitants of the other towns are to put on signs of sorrow, and go about mourning "in the enclosures," i.e., in the open country, since the cities, being reduced to ashes, no longer afford shelter. Most expositors understand גּדרות as meaning sheep-folds (Num 32:16, Num 32:24, Num 32:36); but there is no reason for taking this special view of the meaning of the word, according to which גּדרות would stand for גּדרות צאן. גּדרה and גּדר also mean the wall of a vineyard, or the hedges of the vineyards, and in Num 22:24 specially the enclosure of the vineyards at the cross-roads in the country east of the Jordan. This is the meaning here. We must not, with Ngelsbach, think of city walls on which one could run up and down, for the purpose of taking measures for defence: the words to not signify the walls of a city. The carrying away into exile of Malcam with his priests and princes gives the reason for the sorrow. מלכּם is here not the earthly king, but the god Milcom viewed as the king of the Ammonites, as is clear from the addition כּהניו noitidd, and from the parallel passage in Jer 48:7. The clause is copied from Amo 1:15, but הוּא has been substituted for כּהניו, in order that מלכּם may be understood of Milcom, the chief deity (see on Kg1 11:5).
Thus shall the empty boasting of the Ammonites and their trust in their riches come to nothing. "Why dost thou boast of the valleys?" i.e., of the splendid fruitful valleys and plains which, being well watered, produced large crops of corn and wheat.
(Note: The lxx have in this passage, as in Jer 47:5, changed עמק for ענק, and translated τὶ ἀγαλλιᾶσθε ὲν τοῖς πεδίοις ̓Εννακείμ; here it remains doubtful whether they have expressed בּעמקים or עמקך by ̓Εννακείμ. On the ground of this arbitrary paraphrase, Hitzig would at once change עמקים into ענקים, without considering that the giant races of that region, to which Og the king of Bashan had also belonged (Deu 3:11), were not called ענקים at all, but זמזמּים by the Ammonites, and אימים by the Moabites (Deu 2:10, Deu 2:20).)
זב is viewed by some as an antithesis to what immediately precedes: "thy valley flows, sc. with the blood of the slain" (Rosenmller and Gesenius still view it thus); or, "it flows away," i.e., thy valley (viz., its inhabitants) is scattered, dispersed. But it is quite arbitrary to supply "with blood;" and even the other explanation - which Hitzig justifies on the ground that valley or river-bottom stands for what it contains, i.e., the inhabitants of the valley, and that the population is represented under the figure of a mass of water running, flowing away - is very far-fetched. The words cannot form an antithesis to what precedes (because the description of the confidence shown is still continued, and the antithesis does not follow till Jer 49:5), but merely a further extension of the preceding clause. We may, then, either translate, "thy valley flows, overflows," so that the words shall be subordinated to what precedes; or we may take זב, with Ewald and Graf, as a noun, in which case we must repeat the preposition בּ, "the abundance of thy valley." The singular, "thy valley," means, together with the other valleys of the country, perhaps the valley of Rabbah; for Ammn lies in a broad valley along with banks of the Moiet Ammn, which has its source in a pool two hundred paces from the south-west end of the city (Burckhardt's Syria, p. 355). Regarding the vicinity, Abulfeda writes (Tabulae Syr. ed. Mich. p. 92), circumjecta regio arva sativa sunt ac terra bona et abundans. The direct address, "O rebellious daughter," used of Israel in Jer 31:22, is here transferred to the inhabitants of Rabbah, with reference to the fact that the Ammonites, denying their descent from Lot, behaved like enemies towards Jahveh and His people. In trusting their riches, they are like the Moabites, Jer 48:7. In this confidence they said, "Who will come unto us?" i.e., attack us as enemies. Thereupon the Lord replies, "I will bring on thee fear, terror from all that is round thee," all the nations that dwell about thee (cf. Jer 48:17, Jer 48:39), whose distress or overthrow will put thee in terror. אישׁ = אישׁ לפניו, "every one before him" (cf. Jos 6:5; Amo 4:3), without looking about him, or turning round (cf. Jer 46:5), i.e., in the most precipitate flight, with no one to rally the fugitives. לנּדר is collective.
Yet afterwards, the fortunes of Ammon also shall be changed, as it was with Moab. Jer 48:47.
Regarding the fulfilment of this prophecy (just as in the case of Moab), we have no further information than that of Josephus (Ant. x. 9. 7), that Nebuchadnezzar defeated and subdued the Ammonites in the fifth year after the destruction of Jerusalem. Shortly before, their king Baalis had got Gedaliah the governor put out of the way (Jer 40:14). Even after the exile they kept up their hostile spirit against the Israelites and the Jews, inasmuch as they tried to hinder the building of the city walls at Jerusalem (Neh 4:1.), and in the Maccabean age were still making war against the Jews; 1 Macc. 5:6, 30-43. Their name was preserved till the time of Justin Martyr ( ̓Αμμανιτῶν ἐστι νῦν πολὺ πλῆθος, Dial. Tryph. p. 272). But Origen already comprehends their country under the general name Arabia (lib. 1 in Jobum).
Concerning Edom. - To the Edomites, whom Israel were to leave undisturbed in their possession, since they were a kindred nations (Deu 2:4), Balaam announces that "Edom shall become a possession," i.e., shall be taken possession of by the ruler rising out of Israel. We have shown, in the explanation given of Num 24:18, that up to the time of the exile this utterance had been fulfilled merely by feeble attacks being made, since the Edomites were only temporarily subdued by the Israelites, then soon made themselves independent again, and made war on Israel. On account of their implacable hostility towards the people of God, Ezekiel (Eze 25:12.), as well as Jeremiah in this prophecy, announces ruin to them. The contents of the prophecy before us are as follow: The far-famed wisdom of Teman will not preserve Edom from the destruction with which Jahveh will visit it. The judgment of desolation that has been decreed shall inevitably come on it (Jer 49:7-13). The nations shall wage war against it, and make it small; because of its proud trust in the strength of its dwelling-place, it shall become the laughing-stock of every passer-by (Jer 49:14-18). As a lion from the reedy places of Jordan suddenly attacks a herd, the Lord will drag the Edomites from their rocky dwelling, so that the earth shall quake with the crash of their fall, and the anguish of death shall seize their heroes (Jer 49:19-22). In this prophecy Jeremiah has relied much on Obadiah, Oba 1:1-9, and reproduced much of his expressions regarding the fall of Edom.
(Note: The use made of Obadiah by Jeremiah has been so convincingly proved, especially by Caspari in his commentary on Obadiah, that even Ewald and Graf, who place the prophecy of Obadiah in the time of the exile, acknowledge this use that has been made of it, and therefore hold that the first part of the book of Obadiah is a fragment of an older oracle. This is a hypothesis which we have already shown, in the introduction to Obadiah, to be untenable.)
According to what has been said, his address falls into three strophes. In the first (Jer 49:7-13), the judgment breaking over Edom is depicted as one that cannot be averted, and as having been irrevocably decreed by the Lord; in the second (Jer 49:14-18), it is set forth as to its nature and the occasion of its occurrence; and in the third (Jer 49:19-22), as to its completion and consequences.
The judgment as inevitable. - Jer 49:7. "Thus saith Jahveh of hosts: Is there no more wisdom in Teman? has wisdom perished from those of understanding? is their wisdom [all] poured out? Jer 49:8. Flee, turn ye! hide yourselves, ye inhabitants of Dedan; for I bring the destruction of Esau upon him, the time [when] I visit him. Jer 49:9. If grape-gatherers come to thee, they will not leave gleanings; if thieves by night, they destroy what suffices them. Jer 49:10. For I have stripped Esau, I have uncovered his secret places, and he cannot cover himself; his seed is destroyed, and his brethren, and his neighbours, and he is not. Jer 49:11. Leave thine orphans, I will keep them alive; and let thy widows trust me. Jer 49:12. For thus saith Jahveh: Behold, they whose judgment was not to drink the cup shall certainly drink it: and art thou he [who] shall be quite unpunished? thou shalt not be unpunished, but shalt certainly drink. Jer 49:13. For by myself have I sworn, saith Jahveh, that Bozrah shall become a desolation, a reproach, a waste, and a curse; and all its cities shall become everlasting wastes."
In order to frighten Edom out of his carnal security, the prophet begins by depicting the horror of the judgment coming down on this people, before which his wise men shall stand not knowing what to advise, and unable to find out any means for averting the evil. Teman, the home of the wise Eliphaz (Job 2:11), is here, as in Amo 1:12, Oba 1:9, the region of that name in Gebalene, the northern district of Idumea; see on Amo 1:12. The question, "Is there no longer wisdom in Teman?" is ironical, and has a negative meaning. The following clauses also are to be taken as questions, not as assent to the question, as Hitzig and Graf infer from the omission of בּנים אם is not the plural of בּן, "son," but the participle of בּוּן fo elpici or בּין, and equivalent to נבנים; cf. Isa 29:14.
The Dedanites, whose caravans march in peace through Edom (see on Jer 25:23), must flee, and hide themselves in deeply concealed hiding-places, in order to escape the evil befalling Edom. The form הפנוּ, which only occurs besides in Eze 9:2, in the sense of being "turned, directed," is here preferred to the Hiphil (cf. Jer 49:24, Jer 46:21, etc.), in order to indicate the constraint under which they must change their route. העמיקוּ is also an imperative, in spite of the Segol in the first syllable, which is found there, in some forms, instead of a; cf. Ewald, 226, a. העמיקוּ לשׁבת, "make deep to stay," i.e., withdraw yourselves into deep or hidden places, where the enemy does not see and discover you. "For the destruction of Esau," i.e., the destruction determined on Esau, or Edom, "I bring on him;" on this matter, cf. Eze 46:21.
Jer 49:9 is a reproduction of Oba 1:5, but in such a way that what Obadiah brings forward as a comparison is directly applied by Jeremiah to the enemy: our prophet represents the enemy as grape-gatherers who leave nothing to glean, and as nocturnal thieves who destroy what is sufficient for them, i.e., destroy till they have enough, drag away and destroy as much as they can. The after-clauses, "they will not leave," etc., "they destroy," etc., are thus not to be taken as questions. The reference to Obadiah does not entitle us to supply הלוא from that passage. The connection here is somewhat different. The following verse is joined by means of כּי, "for;" and the thought, "for I have stripped Esau, I have discovered his secret places," shows that the enemy is to be understood by the grape-gatherers and nocturnal thieves: he will leave nothing to glean - will plunder all the goods and treasures of Edom, even those that have been hidden. On this subject, cf. Oba 1:6. חשׂף, "to strip off leaves, make bare" (Jer 13:26), has been chosen with a regard to נחפּשׂוּ in Obadiah. ונחבּה לא יוּכל, lit., "and he hides himself, he will not be able to do it;" i.e., Esau (Edom) tries to hide himself; he will not be able to do it - he will not remain concealed from the enemy. There are not sufficient grounds for changing the perf. נחבּה =נחבּא into the inf. abs. נחבּה, as Ewald and Graf do. "His seed is destroyed," i.e., his family, the posterity of Esau, the Edomites, his brethren," the descendants of nations related to the family, and of others similar who had intermingled with them, as the Amalekites, Gen 36:12, Horites, Gen 36:20., Simeonites, Ch1 4:42, "and his neighbours," the neighbouring tribes, as Dedan, Jer 49:8, Thema and Buz, Jer 25:23. "And he is not" is added to give intensity, as in Isa 19:7; cf. Jer 31:15. The last idea is made more intensive by Jer 49:11, "Leave your orphans and widows." Edom is addressed, and the imperative expresses what must happen. The men of Edom will be obliged to leave their wives and children, and these will be left behind as widows and orphans, because the men fall in battle. Yet the Lord will care for them, so that they shall not perish. In this comfort there is contained a very bitter truth for the Edomites who hated Jahveh. עזבה is the imperative (Ewald, 228, a), not infinitive (Hitzig); and תּבטחוּ is a rare form of the jussive for תּבטחנה, as in Eze 37:7; cf. Ewald, 191, b. Reasons are given for these threats in Jer 49:12 and Jer 49:13, first in the thought that Edom cannot continue to be the only one unpunished, then in the bringing forward of the solemnly uttered purpose of God. "Those who should not be compelled to drink." Those meant are the Israelites, who, as the people of God, ought to have been free from the penal judgment with which the Lord visits the nations. If, now, these are not left (spared such an infliction), still less can Edom, as a heathen nation, lay claim to exemption. By this Jeremiah does not mean to say that nay injustice befalls the Jews if they are obliged to drink the cup of the wrath of God, but merely that their having been chosen to be the people of God does not give them any right to exemption from the judgments of God on the world, i.e., if they make themselves like the heathen through their sins and vices. The inf. abs. שׁתו for שׁתה intensifies: "ye shall (must) drink." The idea is founded on that pervading Jer 25, and there is use made of the words in Jer 25:29. The כּי in Jer 49:13 is mainly dependent on the clause immediately preceding: "thou shalt certainly drink." On "by myself have I sworn" cf. Jer 22:5. In the threat that Edom shall be laid waste there is an accumulation of words corresponding to the excitement of feeling accompanying an utterance under solemn oath. חרב is used instead of the more common חרבּה; cf. Jer 25:18; Jer 44:22, etc. חרבות עולם, as in Jer 25:9. Bozrah was at that time the capital of the Edomites (cf. Jer 49:22); it lay south from the Dead Sea, on the site of the village Buseireh (Little Bozrah), in Jebal, which is still surrounded by a castle and with ruins of considerable extent, and is situated on an eminence; see on Amo 1:12 and Gen 36:33. "And all its cities," i.e., the rest of the cities of Idumea; cf. וּבנותיה, Jer 49:2.
The nature and occasion of the judgment decreed. - Jer 49:14. "I have heard tidings from Jahveh, and a messenger has been sent among the nations: Gather yourselves together, and go against her, and arise to the battle! Jer 49:15. For, behold, I have made thee small among the nations, despised among men. Jer 49:16. Thy terribleness hath deceived thee, the pride of thy heart, O thou that dwellest in the hiding-places of the rock, that holdest the height of the hill. Though thou makest thy nest high like the eagle, thence will I bring thee down, saith Jahveh. Jer 49:17. And Edom shall become an astonishment; every passer-by shall be astonished at her, and shall hiss at all her plagues. Jer 49:18. As [it was in] the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah, saith Jahveh, no man shall dwell there, nor shall a son of man sojourn there."
This judgment will immediately take place. The nations who are to make Edom small and despised have been already summoned by the Lord to the war. Jeremiah has taken this idea from Oba 1:1, Oba 1:2. The subject in "I have heard" is the prophet, who has heard the information from Jahveh. In Obadiah is found the plural, "we have heard," because the prophet includes himself among the people; this is to show that the news serves as a consolation to Israel, because Edom shall be punished for his crimes committed against Judah. This view was not before the mind of Jeremiah; with him the prevailing representation is, that judgment, from which Edom cannot be excepted, is passed upon all nations. Therefore he has chosen the singular, "I have heard." In the succeeding clause the perf. Pual שׁלּח has been changed into שׁלוּח, as the more usual form. The messenger is to be considered as having been sent by the Lord for the purpose of summoning the nations to war, as he actually does in the second hemistich. The message agrees, in the nature of its contents, with Oba 1:1; but Jeremiah has dealt somewhat freely with its form. The statement with regard to the object of the war, Jer 49:15, agrees pretty exactly with Oba 1:2. The account, too, which is given of the cause of the judgment, i.e., the guilt of Edom arising from his trusting in the impregnable character of his habitation, is derived from Oba 1:3, Oba 1:4. Jeremiah has intensified the idea by the additional use of תּפלצתּך, but has also made certain limitations of the expression by omitting some clauses found in Obadiah. The word just named is ἅπ. λεγ., and has been variously explained. The verb פּלץ occurs only in Job 9:6, with the meaning of quaking, trembling; and the noun פּלּצוּת pretty frequently in the sense of fear, shuddering, horror; further, מפלצת is used in Kg1 15:13; Ch2 15:16, of an idol, monster, object of horror. Hence Rabbinical writers have been inclined to understand תּפלצת as meaning idolatry; in this they are followed by J. D. Michaelis, Meier, and Ngelsbach. The last-named writer translates, "Thy monster (idol) led thee astray." But even though this meaning were better established from the use of language than it is, yet the mention of idolatry, or even of an idol, is quite unsuitable in this passage. The lxx render ἡ παιγνία σου i.e., risus or jocus tuus, Chald. טפשׁוּתך, "thy folly," - evidently a mere guess from the context. The best ascertained translation is, "Thy terror," i.e., the terror which thou dost inspire, or the fear of thee, "hath misled thee, the pride of thine heart," so that "the pride," etc., forms an apposition to "thy terror." The combination of the fem. תּפלצתּך with the verb השּׁיא in the masc. is not decisive against this. Following the example of Schleussner (O arrogantiam tuam), Hitzig and Graf would take the word as an exclamation, "Terror to thee! horror on thee!" and thy point for support to הפכּכם, Isa 29:16. But an exclamation is out of place here, and incompatible with the derivation of the following words from Obadiah. Since Jeremiah appropriates from Obadiah the thought, "thy pride hath misled thee," תּפלצתּך may possibly be meant as a mere intensification of זדוי לבּך. The pride of Edom increased because the other nations were afraid to make war on him in his rocky dwelling, so difficult of access. On שׂכני בּחגוי הסּלע, see on Oba 1:3. The succeeding apposition-clause מרום שׁבתּו, found in Obadiah, is modified by Jeremiah into תּפשׂי מרום גּבעה otni , "thou that seizest, or holdest (as in Jer 40:10), the height of the hill." In the expression חגוי there is perhaps implied an allusion to the rock-city סלע, or Petra, in the Wady Musa (see on Kg2 14:7), and in מרום גּבעה ni dn another allusion to Bozrah, which lay on a hill; see on Jer 49:13. On Jer 49:16, cf. Oba 1:4. Jeremiah has omitted the hyperbolic addition, "among the stars." In Jer 49:17 and Jer 49:18 the devastation of Edom is further portrayed. On Jer 49:17, cf. Jer 25:11, Jer 25:38; with 17b agrees Jer 19:8, almost word for word. The comparison with Sodom, etc., is a reminiscence from Deu 29:22, and is repeated in the prophecy concerning Babylon, 50:40; cf. Isa 13:19; Amo 4:11. "Her neighbours" are Admah and Zeboim, Deu 29:22; Hos 11:8. The comparison with Sodom is not so to be understood as if it indicated that Edom shall be destroyed in the same manner as Sodom; it is merely stated that the land of Edom shall become a desert waste, like the region of the Dead Sea, uninhabited, and with no human beings in it; cf. Jer 49:33 and Jer 50:40.
"The execution of the judgment, and fall of Edom. - Jer 49:19. "Behold, he shall come up like a lion from the glory of Jordan, to the dwelling or rock: but in a moment will I drive him away from her, and will appoint over her him who is chosen; for who is like me? and who will summon me [before the judge]? and what shepherd shall stand before me? Jer 49:20. Therefore hear the counsel of Jahveh which He hath counselled against Edom, and His purposes which He has purposed against the inhabitants of Teman: Surely they shall drag them about, the little ones of the flock; surely he shall lay waste their dwelling over them. Jer 49:21. At the noise of their fall the earth trembles; a cry - its noise is heard in the Red Sea. Jer 49:22. Behold, he shall come like the eagle and dart after [his prey], and spread his wings over Bozrah; and the heart of the mighty men of Edom in that day shall become like the heart of a woman travailing."
As a lion coming up out of the thicket of reeds at the Jordan (נּאון היּרדּן, see on Jer 12:5) suddenly attacks a flock, so shall he who executes the judgment attack the Edomites in their strong habitations, and at once put them to flight. The foe or general who executes the judgment is here no further pointed out, as in Jer 46:18; Jer 48:20; but he is merely set forth as a lion, and in Jer 49:22 as an eagle that in its flight darts down on its prey. נוה איתן, pasture or dwelling of permanence; as איתן is used in Num 24:21 of the rocky range of Sinai, so is it used here of the rocky range of Seir (חגוי הסּלע, Jer 49:16). The translation "evergreen pasture" (Graf, Ngelsbach) cannot be defended; for neither איתן, "continual, enduring," nor נוה, "pasture-ground, dwelling," includes the notion of green grass. Quite baseless is the assumption of Hitzig, that the former word means the "shepherd" as remaining with the flock. ארגּיעה, "I shall wink," stands for the adverb, "immediately, at once." מעליה אריצנּוּ, "I will make him (Edom) run," i.e., drive him, "from it," his habitation (which is construed as fem. ad sensum). Jahveh sends the lion; Jahveh is not compared with the lion (Hitzig). In מי בּחוּר the former word is not the interrogative pronoun, but the indefinite quicunque, as in Exo 24:14; cf. Ewald, 332, b. And the latter word is not "the valiant shepherd" (Hitzig), but signifies "chosen." אליה is used instead of עליה; and פּקד על means to "set over" something, as the chief, superior. The idea is, that God will frighten away the Edomites out of their land by a lion, and appoint him as the shepherd whom He chooses for that purpose. None can prevent this, for there is none like Jahveh in strength or power, and none can call Him to account for His doing. יעידנּוּ (from יעד), in Hiphil, to "summon before the court of justice," i.e., to call on one to make a defence; cf. Job 9:19. Nor can any shepherd stand before Jahveh, i.e., defend his flock. These words are directed against the rulers of Edom, who foolishly imagined they were secure, and could not be touched in their rock-fortresses. The words, moreover, contain general truths, so that we cannot apply בּחוּר to historical persons, such as Nebuchadnezzar or Alexander the Great.
This truth the Edomites are to lay to heart, and to hear, i.e., consider the purpose which the Lord has formed regarding Edom. Teman is not synonymous with Edom, but the inhabitants of Teman are specially named together with Edom in the parallel member, because they were particularly famous for their wisdom (Jer 49:7), and in their pride over this wisdom, held the counsels of God in very small esteem. The counsel of God, the thoughts which He has conceived regarding Edom, follow in the clauses which are introduced with solemn assurance. יסחבוּם is rendered by the Vulgate, si non dejecerint eos parvuli gregis, which Luther follows in his translation, "if the shepherd-boys will not drag them away." And C. B. Michaelis and Hהvernick (on Ezekiel, p. 415) still view the words as meaning that "the least of the flock" will drag away Edom; i.e., the covenant people, weak and miserable though they are, will be victorious over Edom: in support of this rendering they point to Eze 25:14. But though Ezekiel clearly declares that the Lord will satisfy His revenge on Edom by means of His people Israel, yet it does not follow from this that Ezekiel had this passage of Jeremiah in his mind, and sought so to apply it. In spite of the clearness with which the thought is expressed by Obadiah and Ezekiel, that Edom will at last become the prey of the people of God, we would expect to find it in Jeremiah only as a simple inference from his words; for Jeremiah does not, like Obadiah and Ezekiel, mention the enmity of Edom to Israel as the cause of his guilt, but only the pride of his heart. Against taking "the little ones of the flock" as the subject of the clause, we find these considerations: (1) סחב, "to pull, drag away," does not well apply to sheep, but rather points to dogs (Jer 15:3) or lions, which drag away their prey. (2) The context is far from leading us to understand, by the little ones of the sheep, Israel or the people of God, either here or where the words are repeated, 50:45; while Zac 2:7 and Zac 13:7 are passages which cannot be held as regulating this verse. In Jer 49:19 the rulers of Edom are viewed as shepherds: in accordance with this figure, the Edomites are in Jer 49:20 called sheep, and weak, helpless ones too. The subject of יסחבוּם is indefinite: "the enemy will advance like a lion out of the jungle of the Jordan;" the suffix precedes the noun, as in Jer 48:44, etc. The fate of Edom will be so terrible, that their pasture-ground, their habitation will be astonished at it. The Hiphil ישּׁים is formed, like נשּׁים in Num 21:20, from שׁמם; not, however, with the sense of "laying waste," which the construction with על of a person does not suit, but with the meaning of "making astonished," as in Eze 32:10, and only here with the directly causative sense of manifesting, showing astonishment or amazement.
The fall of Edom will be so fearful, that the earth will tremble, and the cry of anguish from the perishing people will be heard on the Red Sea. נפלם is the inf. Kal with suffix. The threatening concludes, in Jer 49:22, with the same though through which destruction is threatened to the Moabites, Jer 48:40. The comparison of the enemy to an eagle is continued in the expression, "he shall come up;" the coming up, however, does not mean the rising of the eagle into the air, but refers to the enemy: to march as an enemy against Edom.
With reference to the fulfilment of this prophecy, we have already pointed out, on Num 24:18, and at the close of the exposition in Obadiah, that the threatened devastation of the land of Edom was brought about by the Chaldeans, as is clear from Mal 1:3; but the annihilation of the people was commenced by the Maccabeans, and completed by the Romans, about the time of the Jewish war.
Concerning Damascus. - Aram, on this side of the Euphrates, or Syria, was divided, in the times of Saul and David, into the kingdoms of Damascus, Zobah, and Hamath, of which the second, extending between Damascus and Hamath (see on Sa2 8:3), or situated north-eastward from Damascus, between the Orontes and the Euphrates, was the most powerful; its kings were defeated by Saul (Sa1 14:47), and afterwards conquered and made tributary to the kingdom of Israel by David, who did the same to the Syrians of Damascus that had come to the assistance of Hadadezer king of Zobah (2 Sam 8 and 10). After the death of David and during the time of Solomon, a freebooter named Rezon, who had broken away from Hadadezer during the war, established himself in Damascus (see on Kg1 11:23-25), and became the founder of a dynasty which afterwards made vassals of all the smaller kings of Syria, whose number is given Kg1 20:1. This dynasty also, under the powerful rulers Benhadad I and II and Hazael, long pressed hard on the kingdom of Israel, and conquered a great part of the Israelite territory (Kg1 15:18., Jer 20:1., Jer 22:3.; Kg2 5:1., Jer 6:8., 8:28f., 10:32f., 12:18ff., Jer 13:3.). At last, King Joash, after the death of Hazael, succeeded in retaking the conquered cities from his son, Benhadad III (Kg2 13:19.); and Jeroboam II was able to restore the ancient frontiers of Israel as far as Hamath (Kg2 14:25). Some decades alter, Rezin king of Damascus, in alliance with Pekah of Israel, undertook a war of conquest against Judah during the time of Ahaz, who therefore called to his aid the Assyrian king Tiglath-pileser. This monarch conquered Damascus, and put an end to the Syrian kingdom, by carrying away the people to Kir (Kg2 15:37; Kg2 16:5-9). This kingdom of Syria is called "Damascus" in the prophets, after its capital. We find threats of destruction and ruin pronounced against it even by such early prophets as Amos (Amo 1:3-5), for its cruelty committed against Israel, and Isaiah (Isa 17:1.), because of its having combined with Israel to destroy Judah. According to the use of language just referred to, "Damascus," mentioned in the heading of this prophecy, is not the city, but the kingdom of Syria, which has been named after its capital, and to which, besides Damascus, belonged the powerful cities of Hamath and Arpad, wxich formerly had kings of their own (Isa 37:13). Jeremiah does not mention any special offence. In the judgment to come on all nations, Aram-Damascus cannot remain exempt.
"Hamath is ashamed, and Arpad, for they have heard evil tidings: they despair; there is trouble on the sea; no one can rest. Jer 49:24. Damascus has become discouraged, she has turned to flee: terror has seized her; distress and pains have laid hold on her, like a woman in childbirth. Jer 49:25. How is the city of praise not left, the city of my delight? Jer 49:26. Therefore shall her young men fall in her streets, and all the man of war shall be silent in that day, saith Jahveh of hosts. Jer 49:27. And I will kindle a fire in the wall of Damascus, and it shall devour the palaces of Benhadad."
The largest cities of Aram are seized with consternation and discouragement. Damascus would flee, but its men of war fall by the sword of the enemy, and the city is in flames. The description of the terror which overpowers the inhabitants of Aram begins with Hamath (Epiphaneia of the Greeks, now called Hamah), which lies north from Hums (Emesa), on the Orontes (el 'Asi); see on Gen 10:17 and Num 34:8. Arpad is always mentioned in connection with Hamath (Isa 10:9; Isa 36:19; Isa 37:13; Kg2 18:34 and Kg2 19:13): in the list of Assyrian synonyms published by Oppert and Schrader, it is sounded Arpadda; and judging by the name, it still remains in the large village of Arfd, mentioned by Maras., about fifteen miles north from Haleb (Aleppo); see on Kg2 18:34. The bad news which Hamath and Arpad have heard is about the approach of a hostile army. "She is ashamed," i.e., disappointed in her hope and trust (cf. Jer 17:13), with the accessory idea of being confounded. נמוג, to be fainthearted from fear and anxiety; cf. Jos 2:9, Jos 2:24; Exo 15:15, etc. There is a difficulty with the expression בּים, from the mention of the sea. Ewald has therefore invented a new word, בּי, which is stated to signify mind, heart; and he translates, "their heart is in trouble." Graf very rightly remarks, against this, that there was no occasion whatever for the employment of a word which occurs nowhere else. The simplest explanation is that of J. D. Michaelis, Rosenmller, and Maurer: "on the sea," i.e., onwards to the sea, "anxiety prevails." The objection of Graf, that on this view there is no nominative to יוּכל, cannot make this explanation doubtful, because the subject (Ger. man, Fr. on, Eng. people, they) is easily obtained from the context. The words השׁקט לא יוּכל form a reminiscence from Isa 57:20, where they are used of the sea when stirred up, to which the wicked are compared. But it does not follow from this that the words are to be understood in this passage also of the sea, and to be translated accordingly: "in the sea there is no rest," i.e., the sea itself is in ceaseless motion (Hitzig); or with a change of בּים into כּים, "there is a tumult like the sea, which cannot keep quiet" (Graf). As little warrant is there for concluding, from passages like Jer 17:12., where the surging of the Assyrian power is compared to the roaring of the waves of the sea, that the unrest of the inhabitants of Syria, who are in a state of anxious solicitude, is here compared to the restless surging and roaring of the sea (Umbreit). For such a purpose, דּאגה, "concern, solicitude," is much too weak, or rather inappropriate.
רפתה דמּשׁק, "Damascus has become slack," i.e., discouraged; she turns to flee, and cannot escape, being seized with trembling and anxiety. החזיקה is not the third pers. fem., prehendit terrorem, but stands for החזיקהּ, with Mappik omitted, because the tone is retracted in consequence of the Athnach; cf. Jer 6:24; Jer 8:21, etc. "Terror has seized Damascus." In the last clause וחבלים is subsumed along with צרה; hence the verb is put in the singular. - Jer 49:25. The question, "How is not," etc., has been differently explained. Eichhorn, Gesenius, Ewald, and Umbreit take the words according to the German usage, in the sense, "How is the city forsaken?" or laid waste. But this Germanism is foreign to the Hebrew; and it is not obviated by C. B. Michaelis taking "how" in the sense of quam inopinato et quam horribiliter non deserta est, so that the words would mean nullus est modus desertionis aut gradus quem Damascus non sit experta, because איך לא does not express the kind and manner, or the degree of an action. In the only other passage where איך לא occurs (Sa2 1:14) the negative has its full meaning. Others (Calvin, Schnurrer, J. D. Michaelis, Rosenmller, Maurer) take עזב in the sense of leaving free, untouched: "How has she not been left untouched?" i.e., been spared. But this meaning of the verb is nowhere found. There is no other course left than, with Ngelsbach, to take the verb as referring to the desertion of the city through the flight of the inhabitants, as in Jer 4:29, etc., and to take the words thus: "How is (i.e., how has it happened that) the famous city (is) not forsaken?" According to this view, it is not the desolation of the city that is bewailed, but the fact that the inhabitants have not saved their lives by flight. The way is prepared for this thought by Jer 49:24, where it is said that the inhabitants of Damascus wish to flee, but are seized with convulsive terror; in Jer 49:25 also there is a more specific reason given for it, where it is stated that the youths (the young warriors) and all the men of war shall fall in the streets of the city, and be slain by foes. The suffix in "my delight" refers to the prophet, and expresses his sympathy for the fall of the glorious city (see on Jer 48:31); because not only does its population perish, but the city itself also (Jer 49:27) is to be burned to ashes.
Jer 49:27 has been imitated from Amo 1:4 and Jer 49:14 conjointly. בּחמת, not "on," but "in," i.e., "within the wall." "The palaces of Benhadad" are the palaces of the Syrian kings generally, because three kings of Damascus bore this name.
The fulfilment of this threat cannot be proved historically, from want of information. Since Pharaoh-Necho had conquered Syria as far as the Euphrates, it is very possible that, after the defeat of the Egyptians at Carchemish, in the conquest of Syria by Nebuchadnezzar, Damascus was harshly treated. The prophecy is, however, so general in its statement, that we need not confine its fulfilment to the conquest by Nebuchadnezzar.
"Concerning Kedar and the Kingdoms of Hazor, which Nebuchadrezzar the king of Babylon smote." (The Kethib נבוּכדראצּור is perhaps merely an error in transcription occasioned by the occurrence of the preceding חצור). Kedar, the Kedarenes, a Bedouin nation descended from Ishmael, dwelling in tents throughout the region between Arabia Petraea and Babylonia (see on Gen 25:13 and Eze 27:21), is here, no doubt, a general name for all the nomadic tribes and shepherd nations of Arabia. Hazor elsewhere occurs only as the name of various cities in Palestine (Jos 11:1; Jos 15:23, Jos 15:25; Jos 19:23; Nah. 11:33), of which we need not think here, since it is Arabians who are spoken of. No locality or region of this name in Arabia is known. Jeremiah appears to have formed the name for the purpose of designating those Arabians who dwelt in חצרים, "courts" or "villages," and who thus differed from the Bedouins proper, or nomads and dwellers in tents; cf. Isa 42:11 with Gen 25:16. The settled Arabians are to this day called Hadarijeh, in contrast with Wabarijeh, who dwell in tents. "Hadar, חצר, is the settled dwelling-place, in contrast with bedû, the steppe, where the tents are pitched, sometimes here, sometimes there, and only for a time" (Delitzsch on Isa 42:11). "The kingdoms of Hazor" are the regions of the settled tribes, ruled by their own princes or sheiks; cf. Jer 25:24.
(Note: According to Mrc. v. Niebuhr, Gesch. Ass. u. Bab. p. 210, "Hazor is the modern Hajar, a region which occupies the whole north-eastern corner of the Nejed, and to which, in the wider sense, Lascha, the region on the coast, also belongs" But חצור, from חצר, which corresponds to Arab. htsr or hdr, is fundamentally different from Arab. hjr or ḥjr.)
In the prophecy, the general designation, "children of the east," i.e., Orientals, alternates with Kedar: the former is the most common name given to the tribes living to the east of Palestine, in the wilderness: cf. Jdg 6:3; Job 1:3; Eze 25:4. Instead of this name, Josephus uses the designation "Arabians" (Ant. Eze 25:6. 1); later, "Nabateans" or "Kedarenes" became common. Here also (Jer 49:32) is used the special designation קצוּצי פאה cut (at) the corner (of the hair), which points to the custom, usual among several of these Bedouin tribes, of cropping the hair of the head and beard; see on Jer 9:25 and Jer 25:23.
"Thus saith Jahveh, Arise, go up to Kedar, and destroy the children of the east. Jer 49:29. Their tents and their flocks shall they take: their curtains, and all their vessels, and their camels shall they carry away for themselves; and they shall cry over them, Fear is on every side. Jer 49:30. Flee! wander far, dwell deep, ye inhabitants of Hazor, saith Jahveh; for Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon hath taken counsel against you, and hath devised a plan against them. Jer 49:31. Arise! go up against a nation at ease, dwelling carelessly, saith Jahveh; it has no gates nor bars - they dwell alone. Jer 49:32. And their camels shall be a prey, and the multitude of their herds a spoil; and I will scatter them to every wind who have cut the corner [of their beards], and from all sides will I bring their destruction, saith Jahveh. Jer 49:33. And Hazor shall be an habitation of jackals, a desolation for ever. No man shall dwell there, nor shall a son of man sojourn in it."
This prophecy consists of two brief strophes, which begin with a summons to the army of the enemy to wage war on the Arabians (Jer 49:28 and Jer 49:31), and then announce the execution of this order; the arrangement, moreover, is such that there is attached to the first strophe a summons to the Arabians to save themselves by flight (Jer 49:30), while the other concludes with the threat that their territory shall be destroyed (Jer 49:33).
עלה is used with אל instead of על, to signify hostile advance against a nation or city. שׁדדוּ with Qametz-Hatuph (without Metheg) is imperative; cf. Ewald, 227, i, with 251, c. The verbs יקּחוּ and ישׂאוּ in Jer 49:29 are not jussives (Ewald, Umbreit, etc.), but imperfects, describing what takes place in consequence of the order given. Tents and flocks of sheep and goats, curtains and vessels, together with camels, form the property and wealth of the nomads. נשׂא, to take away, carry off; להם, sibi. They call out over them, as if it were a watch-cry, "Horror around:" on this expression, see Jer 6:25. This justifies the call addressed to them, "Flee," etc. To נסוּ is added נדוּ for the purpose of intensifying, and this again is further strengthened by appending מאד: "Use every effort to flee." העמיקוּ as in Jer 49:8. A reason is given for the summons, in the statement that Nebuchadnezzar, as the instrument of Jahveh, has formed a plan against them; cf. Jer 49:20 and Jer 18:11. Instead of עליהם, many MSS and the ancient versions have עליכם, in conformity with the first member. In all probability, the original reading is "against them," inasmuch as "the discourse, as in other instances, makes a transition, in the last portion, from direct address to a calmer style of speaking" (Ewald).
Jer 49:31 does not declare the plan of the king of Babylon; but the words, "Arise, go ye up," etc., are once more the summons of the Lord, as is shown by the expression "saith Jahveh." The enemy is to march against a peaceful nation, dwelling securely, that has neither doors nor bars, i.e., does not live in cities surrounded by walls with gates and bars (cf. Sa1 23:7; Deu 3:5), whose territory, therefore, is easily conquered. They dwell alone, apart from others, without connection and intercourse with other nations, from which they could obtain help and support. שׁליו, like זעיר, Job 36:2; Dan 7:8, is a Chaldaizing form; elsewhere it is written שׁליו, Job 21:23, or שׁלו, Job 16:12. As to living securely, cf. Jdg 18:7; Eze 38:11; on living alone, 15:17. This last is elsewhere said only of Israel, Num 23:9; Deu 33:28. Their possessions will become the spoil of the enemy; God will scatter them to every wind (cf. Eze 5:12; Eze 12:14), and bring destruction on them from every side (on עבריו, cf. Kg1 5:4).
The dwelling-places of the settled tribes (Hazor) shall become the habitation of jackals (cf. Jer 9:10), an uninhabited desolation for ever. Jer 49:33 is in part a repetition of Jer 49:18.
With regard to the fulfilment of this prophecy, it follows from the latter part of the title that Nebuchadnezzar had smitten the Arabian tribes, i.e., defeated them, and subjected them to his sway. But we have no historical information as to the time when this took place. M. von Niebuhr (Gesch. Assyr. u. Bab. S. 209) and Duncker (Gesch. d. Alterth. i. S. 427) suppose that Nebuchadnezzar, after he had returned home to Babylon from Hither Asia, having heard of the death of his father, after his victory at Carchemish, and after he had ascended the throne, "as it seems," first thought of extending his authority over the Arabians on the lower portion of the Euphrates, in North Arabia, and in the Syrian desert. This supposition may possibly be true, but cannot be raised to historic probability; moreover, it is connected, by the above-mentioned historians, with theories regarding the campaigns against Hither Asia which rest upon statements of Josephus that are very uncertain, and some of which can be proved to be incorrect. Such is the statement in Antt. x. 6. 1, that Nebuchadnezzar, after his victory at Carchemish, in pursuing the Egyptians to the borders of their country, did not touch Judea. The only notice we have, apart from Scripture, of the conquest of Arabia by Nebuchadnezzar, is that furnished by Josephus (contra Ap. i. 19) from Berosus: κρατῆσαι δέ φησί τὸν Βαβυλώνιον (i.e., Nebuchadnezzar) Αἰγύπτου Συρίας Φοινίκης ̓Αραβίας. But this notice is stated in such indefinite and general terms, that nothing more specific can be inferred from it regarding the time and circumstances of the conquest of Arabians.
Concerning Elam. - By the title (on the form of which, cf. Jer 46:1; Jer 47:1, and Jer 14:1), the utterance regarding Elam is placed "in the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah king of Judah;" hence it was published later than the prophecies in Jer 48 and in 49:1-33, and not long before the prophecy regarding Babylon in Jer 50. Elam, a Shemitic people in Elymais, the Persian province of Susiana (the modern Husistn), which, except in Gen 14:1, only appears in history when it had no longer a Shemitic but an Aryan language (see on Gen 10:22 and Dan 8:2), is mentioned in Isa 22:6 as serving in the Assyrian army, and in Isa 21:6 as being, together with Madai (the Medes), the executors of judgment against Babylon. That Elam still belonged, in the time of Esarhaddon, to the kingdom of Assyria, follows from Ezr 4:9, where Elamites are mentioned among the colonists whom this Assyrian king transplanted into the depopulated kingdom of the ten tribes. But whether Elam, after the revolt of Media, also made itself independent of Assyria, or remained subject to this kingdom till it fell, we have no historical data to determine. The same must be said regarding the question whether, after the fall of Nineveh and the destruction of the Assyrian kingdom by the united armies of Nabopolassar from Babylon and Cyaxares from Media, Elam was incorporated with the Median or the Babylonian kingdom; for nothing more specific has been transmitted to us regarding the division of the conquered kingdom among the two victors. Judging from its geographical situation, we must probably come to the conclusion that Elam fell to the lot of the Medes. Seeing that there is an utter want, in other respects, of facts regarding the earlier history of Elam, neither can a historical occasion be made out for this prophecy. The supposition of Ewald, "that the wild and warlike Elamites (Isa 22:6) had shortly before taken part with the Chaldeans as their allies in the deposition of Jehoiachin and the first great exile of the people, and had therein shown themselves particularly cruel," has no support of any kind, either in the contents of the prophecy or in the time when it was composed. The prophecy itself contains not the slightest indication of any hostility on the part of the Elamites towards Judah; nor is anything proved regarding this by the fact that the chastisement is not said to proceed from Nebuchadnezzar, but directly from Jahveh, since, in the oracles concerning Philistia, Edom, and Damascus also, Nebuchadnezzar is not mentioned, but Jahveh is named as the one who destroys these peoples and burns up their cities; cf. Jer 47:4; Jer 49:10, Jer 49:13., 27. Add to this, that the assumption of Elamites being in Nebuchadnezzar's army is devoid of historic probability, since Elam, as has already been stated, hardly belonged to the Chaldean kingdom.
(Note: No valid reason has been adduced for calling in question the statement in the title regarding the time when this prophecy was composed; yet this has been done by Movers, Hitzig, and Ngelsbach. "That the lxx have given the heading twice, the first time briefly, and then fully at the end of the piece, merely shows that two different readings have now been combined in it" (Ewald). And Ngelsbach has yet to bring proof of the assurance given us when he says, "I consider it quite impossible that Jeremiah, in the beginning of Zedekiah's reign, should have thought of any other than Nebuchadnezzar as the instrument to be employed in executing judgment, or that he should even have left this matter in suspenso." If Jeremiah, as a prophet of the Lord, does not announce, as the word of Jahveh, mere human conjectures regarding the future, but only what the Spirit of the Lord suggested to him, neither could he set forth his own conjectures regarding the question by whom God the Lord was to scatter the Elamites to the four winds, but must leave it in suspenso, if the Spirit of the Lord had revealed nothing to him regarding it.)
"Thus saith Jahveh of hosts: Behold, I will break the bow of Elam, the chief part of their strength. Jer 49:36. And I will bring upon Elam four winds from the four ends of the heaven, and I will scatter them towards all these winds; and there shall be no nation where the scattered ones of Elam shall not come. Jer 49:37. And I will make Elam terrified before their enemies, and before those who seek their life; and I will bring on them evil, the heat of my wrath, saith Jahveh; and I will send after them the sword, until I consume them. Jer 49:38. And I will place my throne in Elam, and will destroy thence king and princes, saith Jahveh. Jer 49:39. But it shall be in the end of the days, that I will turn the captivity of Elam, saith Jahveh."
Elam's martial power is to be destroyed, and its population scattered to the four winds among all nations (Jer 49:25.). The Lord will make them terrified before their enemies, and let them be pursued by the sword till they are swept away (Jer 49:37). In the country itself He will hold a tribunal, and destroy king and priests out of it (Jer 49:38). In Jer 49:35, the bow, as the chief weapon of the Elamites (cf. Isa 22:6), is mentioned, by synecdoche, instead of all offensive and defensive weapons, for all the means of resistance and attack employed by this warlike nation. This, indeed, is shown by the apposition, "the first-fruits (i.e., the chief part) of their strength" or valour. To break the bow in pieces is thus equivalent to rendering defenceless. The plural suffix in גּבוּרתם points to Elam as a nation - the Elamites. Hitzig, Graf, and older expositors make an assumption which is both unnecessary and incapable of proof, that קשׁת stands for גבּורים, and means "the valiant, brave people of war," as in Isa 21:17 and Sa1 2:4; but neither in these passages can the alleged meaning be fully made out.
Through the working of God's power, the Elamites shall be dispersed to all the four winds, i.e., to all parts of the earth. This exercise of power is represented under the figure of the four winds. The wind is the most appropriate among all earthly things for symbolizing the Spirit of God, or the energy of the divine operation; cf. Zac 6:5; Dan 7:2. The Kethib עולם in Jer 49:36 has evidently been written by mistake for עילם. The meaning of the figure is this: Elam is to be attacked on all sides by enemies, and be scattered in every direction. This is evident from Jer 49:37, where the figurative is changed for the literal, and the thought further extended. החתּתּי, Hiphil from חתת, be broken to pieces, in Hiphil to dispirit through fear and terror; cf. Jer 1:17. On the form of the text, which is shortened from החתּותי through the shifting of the tone to the last syllable, cf. Ewald, 234, e. רעה, "evil, misfortune," is marked by the apposition, "the heat of mine anger," as the emanation of God's judgment of wrath. On 37b, cf. Jer 9:15. The Lord will sit in judgment on king and princes, and punish them with death. The throne is set for the Judge to sit in judgment; see Jer 43:10. Yet (Jer 49:39), in the Messianic future, blessing shall come on Elam; cf. Jer 49:6; Jer 48:7.
If we compare this prophecy with the remaining prophecies of Jeremiah regarding the heathen nations, we shall find that it contains no reference whatever to any execution by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon of the judgment with which the Elamites are threatened; but it announces the fall of Elam and the dispersion of its inhabitants by enemies in a way so general, that, as Hvernick (on Daniel, p. 549) has remarked, it is an arbitrary addition for any one to make, if he thinks definitely of the Chaldeans as the enemies of Elam, because, correctly viewed, the contents rather declare against a conquest by Nebuchadnezzar. "Jeremiah," says Hvernick, "announces the utter extinction of the state as such, a general dispersion and annihilation of the people, a tribunal of punishment which the Lord Himself will hold over them, - features which are far too strongly marked, and far too grand, to let us think that Elam is merely to be rendered tributary and incorporated into a new state. If we connect with this the deliverance of Elam mentioned at the close of Jer 49:39, viz., his conversion, then we will not hesitate to take the meaning of the oracle, in a more general way, as referring to the gradual fall of this heathen nation, for which, however, a future deliverance is in store, as is fully shown by the issue." This view is at least much more correct than the current tone, still maintained by Ewald, Hitzig, Graf, etc., according to which the prophecy refers to a conquest of Elam by Nebuchadnezzar. M. von Niebuhr (Gesch. Assyr. und Bab. S. 210) attempts to show its probability from a notice in Strabo (xi. 524), and (on S. 212) from the intimation given in the book of Judith, Jer 1, of a war between Nebuchadnezzar and Media, which was successfully concluded in the twelfth year of his reign. But the statement in Strabo, that the Kossaites, a nation of robbers, once sent 13,000 archers to help the Elamites against the Susites and Babylonians, is far too indefinite for us to be able to apply it to a war which Nebuchadnezzar in company with Media carried on against Elam; for the Susites are at least not Medes. And the notice in the book of Judith is self-evidently unhistorical; for it says that Nebuchadnezzar was king of the Assyrians and resided in the great city of Nineveh, and that he defeated Arphaxad the king of Media in the seventeenth year of his reign (Judith 1:1, 13). But Nebuchadnezzar neither resided in Nineveh, which had been destroyed shortly before; nor could he have made war on Arphaxad king of Media in the seventeenth year of his reign, because he had in that year begun to besiege Jerusalem with all his forces. But the additional considerations which Niebuhr brings forward in support of his hypothesis can as little stand the test. Neither Jer 25:25, where the kings of Media and Elam are mentioned among those who are to drink the cup of wrath, nor Eze 32:24., where Elam and the whole multitude of its people are brought forward as among those who were slain, and who sank into the nether parts of the earth, furnish proofs of the conquest and destruction of Elam by Nebuchadnezzar, or of a war between that king and Media. For the funeral-song in Ezekiel bears a thoroughly ideal character, and announces the fall of all the heathen powers, without any regard to Nebuchadnezzar. This holds, too, in a sense, of Jer 25, where Nebuchadnezzar is certainly mentioned as the ruler into whose power all the nations are to be delivered for the space of seventy years, inasmuch as this announcement also launches out into the idea of a judgment of all nations; so that we are not entitled to assume that all the kingdoms of the earth, to whom the cup of wrath is presented, were to be conquered and brought under subjection by Nebuchadnezzar. Still less reason is there for inferring from Jer 27:3, that Nebuchadnezzar was involved in a war with Media at a time when, as is there stated, at the beginning of Zedekiah's reign, the kings of Edom, Moab, Ammon, and Phoenicia sent ambassadors to Jerusalem to recommend a coalition against the power of Babylon. Even if Nebuchadnezzar were then occupied in the eastern portion of his kingdom, yet there is nothing at all to prove that he was involved in war with Media or Elam. History says nothing of a war waged by Nebuchadnezzar on Elam, nor does this prophecy furnish any support for such an assumption. Although it does not set before us a "gradual ruin" of Elam (Hvernick), but rather a catastrophe brought on by God, yet the description is given in terms so general, that nothing more specific can be inferred from it regarding the time and the circumstances of this catastrophe. In this prophecy, Elam is not considered in its historical relation to the people of Israel, but as the representative of the heathen world lying beyond, which has not hitherto come into any relation towards the people of Israel, but which nevertheless, along with it, falls under the judgment coming on all nations, in order that, through the judgment, it may be led to the knowledge of the true God, and share in His salvation.