Final *Prophecies and Final Words
An EasyEnglish Bible Version and Commentary (2800 word vocabulary) on Jeremiah
chapters 45 to 52
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Verses 1-3 These verses are not in the right order of time. They should follow Jeremiah 36:1-8. These verses describe how Baruch wrote the *scroll. But this chapter is a suitable end to the *prophecies about Israel and Judah. It is not easy to serve the *LORD and to serve other people. These verses emphasise that. Both the body and the emotions can suffer.
Baruch recorded Jeremiah's *prophecy about the punishment of Judah. As a result, Baruch became unhappy. He imagined how his country would have troubles. Also he became very worried about his own future. His grandfather, Maaseiah, had been the ruler of Jerusalem (2 Chronicles chapter 34 and Jeremiah 32:12). His brother, Seriah, became an important officer in Zedekiah's service (Jeremiah 51:59). So Baruch may have had personal ambitions. Like Jeremiah, Baruch became so miserable that he protested to the *LORD.
Verses 4-5 Jeremiah reminded Baruch that the *LORD had built up the nation. The *LORD wanted it to grow. He had planted the nation and he built it up. So the *LORD would be sad to destroy it. The great trouble that the *LORD would bring would affect everyone. The situation was very serious. The people would have troubles wherever they lived. Baruch should forget about his personal ambition. He should be happy still to be alive.
Baruch escaped death in Egypt. But we do not know what happened to him after that. He may have gone back to Judah. Or he may have joined the *exiles in Babylon. But his description of his time with Jeremiah is a valuable record. It describes events during the final years of the *kingdom of Judah.
Chapters 46-51 are *prophecies of punishment against the nations. The *LORD had called Jeremiah to be a *prophet 'to the nations' (Jeremiah 1:5). He believed that the *LORD would judge them because of their *sins. The *prophecies begin with Egypt. They end with Babylon. Those two countries were the two great powers at that time.
Verse 2 The battle of Carchemish happened in 605 *BC. It was a very important battle. It meant that Egypt lost its power. Babylon ruled Judah and Syria. The *Egyptian army of *Pharaoh Necho was marching to help Assyria. Josiah tried to stop him. But someone killed him at Megiddo in 608 *BC. After three months, his son, Jehoahaz, went into *exile in Egypt. Jehoiakim became the king of Judah. At first Jehoiakim came under the control of Egypt. But then he came under the control of Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon.
Verses 3-4 The officers gave brief orders to their soldiers. This showed how urgent the situation was. Some soldiers marched. Other soldiers drove special carts. All the soldiers needed to be ready. *Shields were flat pieces of equipment that protected the body. The soldier held the *shield in front of him. Some *shields were small and round. Some were large enough to cover the whole body. A cart was a vehicle with two wheels that horses pulled. Long narrow pieces of leather attached a horse to its cart. Egypt was famous for its horses and carts (1 Kings 10:26). Hard hats protected people’s heads. Probably people made them from leather. The sharp sticks were long pieces of wood with very sharp metal points. Soldiers could throw them from a distance. Soldiers polished the points to keep them sharp. Everyone had to wear clothes that protected him.
Verses 5-6 The *Egyptians knew that they were losing the battle. They were so frightened that they rushed away. They did not hesitate and look back. They were in a hurry. So they tripped and they fell. They wanted to escape from the *Babylonian army. Carchemish was near to the River Euphrates. They had nowhere to escape.
'Terror is everywhere.’ Jeremiah used that phrase several times (Jeremiah 6:25; 20:10, 49; 49:29; Lamentations 2:22).
Verses 7-8 Isaiah had warned Judah about the power of Assyria. It was like the River Euphrates that flowed all over the land (Isaiah 8:7-8). The River Nile flowed over the land in Egypt every year. Jeremiah said that Egypt was so proud. Egypt was like the River Nile. Egypt wanted to flow over all the earth. It wanted to destroy the cities and their inhabitants.
Verses 9-10 Soldiers from other countries had joined the *Egyptian army for pay. Soldiers came from Cush, which is Ethiopia. They came from Put, which might be Libya. Other soldiers may have been African men who were living in Libya. Or they came from Lydia in Asia Minor. The soldiers from there were skilful with bows (Isaiah 66:19). But it is the *LORD who will win the battle against his enemies. He will punish Egypt because of its *sins. In battles, people used swords to kill the enemy. Jeremiah described a sword like a hungry animal. A hungry animal eats until no food is left. The sword will kill all the people. It will kill people until it has done enough.
The defeat of the *Egyptians is like a ‘*sacrifice’ that the *LORD had at Carchemish. Some *sacrifices were special big dinners. Often the people thanked the *LORD because he had given plenty of food to them. So ‘the *LORD, the powerful *LORD, will give a *sacrifice’ may mean this. ‘The powerful *LORD has a special big dinner’.
Verses 11-12 Gilead was famous for its medicine called balm. Balm was oil that had a sweet smell. It reduced pain and healed an injury. Egypt had many years of medical knowledge. However, Egypt was unable to heal its own injuries. Jeremiah had described his own people as a sick nation (Jeremiah 8:22; 30:12). Even medicine from Gilead would not help Egypt. The *Egyptian soldiers would cry out as they tripped over each other. Other nations would hear what was happening. Everyone would know about the shame of Egypt's defeat.
Verse 13 After the battle of Carchemish, Nebuchadnezzar prepared to attack Egypt. He did not begin to attack until 568 or 567 *BC. But Egypt would be unable to help itself.
Verse 14 Migdol and Tahpanhes were towns on the border of the country. An enemy would reach those towns first. Memphis was the capital of Lower Egypt, in the north of the country. The *LORD called the *Egyptian soldiers to prepare for battle.
Verses 15-16 Apis was one of the *Egyptian false gods. It had the shape of a strong bull. But that false god could not help the soldiers because the *LORD defeated it. Some soldiers had come to earn money in the *Egyptian army. But they realised that there was no hope. So they decided to return to their own countries for safety.
Verse 17 *Pharaoh had praised his own power. But he had missed the opportunity to win the battle. People called him, 'Noisy one who does nothing'. Isaiah had called Egypt 'the animal who does nothing' (Isaiah 30:7).
Verses 18-19 Tabor is a high mountain in northern Israel. It rises above the plain called Jezreel. *Mount Carmel is near to the Mediterranean Sea. It is also a high mountain. These two mountains are higher than other mountains in Israel. In a similar way, Nebuchadnezzar, is greater than other kings. The people in Egypt will have to pack up their possessions. They should be ready for the journey into *exile. The *Babylonians will destroy Memphis. It was the capital city of Lower Egypt.
Verses 20-21 There is a large fly that stings cows. This causes trouble for the cows. In a similar way, Nebuchadnezzar will cause trouble for Egypt. The army needed to increase its number, so it hired soldiers. Young cows become fat when the farmer looks after them well. The army looked after the soldiers well. But they would be of no use when trouble came. They would run away. They would behave like animals when something frightened them.
Verses 22-24 The snake was one of the false gods of Egypt. The *Pharaoh wore a type of crown on his head. And he had a metal snake on the front of it. This showed that he had power as king. A snake makes an angry noise as it slides away. In a similar way, Egypt would not be happy as it tried to escape from the *Babylonian army.
Also the *Babylonian soldiers were like men who cut down trees with axes. The forest may be big, but the men would chop down all the trees. *Locusts are insects that come together suddenly in enormous numbers. They fly over the land. Nobody can stop them. They eat and destroy all the trees and all the plants. The *Babylonian army was like a huge crowd of *locusts that nobody could stop.
The *LORD would hand over Egypt to the people from the north (Babylon). The *Babylonians would defeat Egypt and put it to shame.
Verses 25-26 Amon was the chief false god of Thebes, the capital city of Upper Egypt. The *LORD was punishing, rather than destroying Egypt. Egypt would remain as a country. In the future, people would live in Egypt again.
Verses 27-28 These verses are the same as Jeremiah 30:10-11. Perhaps they are here because the *LORD had promised a future for Egypt. Certainly the *LORD would bring back his own people from *exile. The *LORD would punish his own people to correct them. But whatever he did to the nation would be fair.
Verse 1 Originally the *Philistines came from Caphtor, which was the island called Crete (Amos 9:7). It is from their name that we call the country 'Palestine'. We do not know when *Pharaoh attacked Gaza. It may have been about 609 *BC. That was when *Pharaoh Necho was marching to help Assyria against Babylon.
Verses 2-3 In Jeremiah 46:7-8, Jeremiah had described the proud *Egyptians. They were like the River Nile when it was flooding the land. Here, the *Babylonians are like a flood that would flow over the country. People would hear the sounds of the horses and carts as they approached. And the people would cry out because they are afraid. Fathers would run away because they felt so weak. They would not return, even to rescue their children.
Verses 4-5 Tyre and Sidon were two cities in the region called Phoenicia. The *Babylonians stopped the people so that they could not help the *Philistines. People shaved their heads when they were very sad. And they cut their bodies too. They also did those things when they felt despair. A record in Babylon mentions that fact. The kings from Tyre, Sidon, Gaza and Ashdod were at the palace of King Nebuchadnezzar. Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Ashkelon in 604 *BC. As a result, King Jehoiakim ordered the people in Jerusalem to go without food. Then Baruch had the opportunity to read Jeremiah's *scroll (Jeremiah 36:4). A list from a prison in Babylon mentions the amount of food that prisoners had each day. The names on the list include the king of Ashkelon and Jehoiachin, king of Judah (Jeremiah 52:34).
Verses 6-7 It was of no use to ask how long the war would last. The *LORD had ordered the attack on Ashkelon and the other cities near to the coast. Amos mentions 4 of the 5 *Philistine cities that the *LORD would destroy because of their *sins (Amos 1:6-8).
Verse 1 The country of Moab was on the east side of the Dead Sea. It was an area of mountains and a high plain. Moses allowed the *tribe of Reuben to live there (Numbers 32:33-38). Nebo was one of the cities that they rebuilt. Also they rebuilt the cities called Kiriathaim and Heshbon.
Verses 2-3 In the 9th century *BC, Mesha was the king of Moab. He had to pay Israel's King Omri thousands of sheep and also wool. There is a stone called the *Moabite Stone. It records that payment. It records the names of some of the *Moabite cities. After the death of Omri and his son Ahab, Moab did not pay Israel any longer. Then there was a war in which Israel defeated Moab (2 Kings 3:4-27). Later, Moab became a free country again.
In the *Hebrew language, the words ‘Heshbon' and 'they plotted' are very similar. Also the name of the city of mad men sounds like the *Hebrew words for 'make you silent'.
Verses 4-5 The name of the city of Horonaim appears on the *Moabite Stone. The city was probably in the deep valley of the River Jordan and the Dead Sea. The people will cry. And the sound will reach from high up in the mountains of Moab to the city far below. Verse 5 is almost the same as Isaiah 15:5.
Verse 6 The people had to run away to a lonely place in the desert if they wanted to remain alive.
Verse 7 Moab trusted its works and its wealth. But those things would not protect it from its enemies. People *worshipped the national false god Chemosh. It included the *sacrifice of children (2 Kings 3:27; 21:6). Solomon had built a place high up where his *Moabite women could *worship Chemosh (1 Kings 11:7). King Josiah destroyed that place (2 Kings 23:13). Chemosh would not be able to help to Moab. The enemy would carry off his image into *exile. Isaiah mentions that animals had to carry *idols into *exile. He says that the *idols were of no use (Isaiah 46:1-2).
Verses 8-9 *Destruction would be everywhere, from the mountains to the valleys. If you put salt on land, that land will fail to grow anything. Abimelech did that to show that he had defeated the city called Shechem (Judges 9:45).
Verse 10 The enemy, who destroyed Moab, was doing the *LORD's work. So the enemy had to carry out his work properly. If he did not, bad things would happen to him.
Verses 11-12 Other countries had controlled Moab in the past. However, its people had never had to go into *exile. It was like wine that nobody had moved. Sometimes people had to pour wine from one jar into another jar. But that affected its taste and its smell. But Moab had not become any different. Moab had become satisfied with what was happening. Amos spoke about Moab’s *sins (Amos 2:1). And Isaiah spoke about Moab’s pride. The *LORD had compared Moab with wine. That was a suitable way to describe the country. It was famous because of its *vineyards and its wine (Isaiah 16:8-11).
Verse 13 An enemy would come and would destroy Moab. The enemy would be like people who pour away wine. And then they destroy the jugs that had contained the wine. Then the people in Moab would realise that their false god, Chemosh, could not help them. Bethel was in Israel. King Jereboam had put *idols there for people to *worship. But the *Assyrians defeated Israel in 721 *BC. And they destroyed Bethel. That showed that the false god at Bethel was of no use.
Verses 14-15 All the brave soldiers from Moab would die in battle. And all the best young men would die too.
Verses 16-17 It would not be long before an enemy came to destroy Moab. The nations round Moab had to cry about the fate of that famous country. The special stick was the evidence of the strength and authority of Moab's ruler. But his power would come to an end. The *LORD was the King and he was the judge of the nation.
Verse 18 Proud people did not sit on the ground. So that was the evidence that the *LORD was destroying Moab's pride. Isaiah describes how Babylon would have to sit in the dust (Isaiah 47:1). Dibon was a city with strong walls. It was the place where people found the *Moabite Stone in 1868.
Verse 19 Aroer was to the south east of Dibon. The people in Aroer would want to know what was happening. So they would wait by the road. They would ask the people why they were running away.
Verses 20-24 These verses give the answer. People were running away because the enemy had destroyed the country called Moab. Five of the towns in these verses have their names on the *Moabite Stone. They are the towns called Jahzah, Beth Diblathaim, Beth Meon, Kerioth and Bozrah.
Verse 25 An ‘arm’ often refers to strength. Moab may have been strong, but an enemy would remove its power completely.
Verses 26-27 Jeremiah had described the *LORD's anger. It was like a cup of wine that the sinful nations had to drink. Verse 26 describes a man who has drunk too much wine. He is sick. He does not know what he is doing. The *LORD's anger would make Moab behave like that. It would cause them to fall down. Moab is among the nations that would receive the *LORD's punishment (Jeremiah 25:15-25). It would make people laugh at Moab. Moab had once joked about Israel. Moab had behaved towards Israel as if Israel were a thief.
Verse 28 Now, the people of Moab will have troubles. They will run away from the cities. They will look for shelter in caves in the mountains. They will live like the wild birds.
Verses 29-30 The cause of Moab's trouble was its pride. Jeremiah uses several different *Hebrew words that all mean the same. He wanted to emphasise how proud the nation was. Moab was so proud that it spoke badly about the *LORD and about other countries. But Moab’s pride could not help it when the enemy attacked.
Verses 31-33 The area of Sibmah and Jazer was famous for its *vineyards. They extended towards the Dead Sea. But the enemy would come and take all their fruit. People pressed *grapes with their feet. It made the juice flow. And the people would shout because they were so happy. But that would not happen. Instead, they would shout because soldiers were coming to attack them. There is a similar description about the *destruction of Moab's *vineyards in Isaiah 16:8-10.
Verse 34 Probably Zoar was a different place to where Lot went (Genesis 19:18-22). The water at Nimrim entered the Dead Sea from either its southern or its northern end.
Verse 35 It was of no use for Moab to give *sacrifices to its false gods. It would make no difference even if they *worshipped. Definitely the *LORD would destroy Moab.
Verses 36-37 The flute is a thin musical instrument that people blow. People made it from the hollow stem of a plant that grows in water. People would blow a flute to make music on either happy or sad occasions. Moab had lost everything. So the writer felt like a flute that was playing a sad song. People have done all the usual things to show their sad feelings. Jeremiah mentions that they shaved their heads. They cut off their beards. And they cut themselves (Jeremiah 41:5). Also people put rough material round the middle of their bodies. And they took off their fine clothes.
Verses 38-39 The people were crying. The people were crying in their houses. They were crying in public places. There were no sounds of ordinary life in Moab. Jeremiah had described King Jehoiachin. He was like a broken pot that had no use (Jeremiah 22:28). Now Jeremiah says that Moab was a broken nation. It has no use. All Moab's neighbours would joke about the proud country. But they would be afraid when they thought about Moab’s fate.
Verses 40-44 An *eagle is a large, strong bird. It can fly very high. Then suddenly it can fly down very quickly to catch an animal for food. It was a description of Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon. He would come from a country far away in the north. He would come suddenly and he would destroy Moab.
Nebuchadnezzar would destroy Moab's cities, even those cities with strong walls. Moab's soldiers would be very frightened. The phrase 'terror, deep hole and trap' appears also in Isaiah 24:17-18. It meant that they could not escape the *LORD's punishment. Amos believed that too. He spoke about a man who was trying to run away from a lion. But the man met a bear instead. If he felt safe in a house, a snake would bite him (Amos 5:19).
Verses 45-46 These verses come from Numbers 21:28-29 and from Numbers 24:17. They are part of Balaam's *prophecy against Moab. Sihon was the king of the Amorites in the time of Moses (Numbers 21:21). His capital city was Heshbon. But in Jeremiah’s time, the *Ammonites controlled the city. The people from Moab were trying to escape from the enemy. But they could do nothing to help themselves. 'Fire' describes the *LORD's punishment. To ‘burn the head’ described the terrible death of the people in Moab. Moab had praised itself because of its power. But the *Babylonian army would destroy its pride. Chemosh, the false god of Moab, would not prevent the *destruction of the country. Some people would go into *exile. The *Babylonians would take their daughters as prisoners.
Verse 47 There is hope. At some future time, the *LORD would bring success to Moab again. This ends the record of the *LORD's punishment on Moab.
Verse 1 Like the *Moabites, the *Ammonites were *descendants from Lot (Genesis 19:38). The *tribe of Gad had settled east of the River Jordan. They had the country called Ammon as a neighbour. The national false god in Ammon was called Molech. People *worshipped Molech. As part of their *worship sometimes they *sacrificed their children. Their capital city was Rabbah-Ammon. Today it is called Amman. It is the capital city of the country that now we call Jordan. The *Assyrians took people from Gad into *exile (2 Kings 15:29). And the *Ammonites lived in some of their cities. They did not think that the people would return. They did not think that the people from Gad would reclaim their towns. Amos described how cruel the *Ammonites were in the 8th century *BC (Amos 1:13-15).
Verses 2-3 The time would come when Rabbah and the villages round it would become a heap of stones. The *Ammonites had lived in the towns. But Israel would be able to make them leave those towns. The people in Rabbah and Heshbon had to wear rough cloth. That would show how unhappy they were. Their false god, Molech, would go into *exile. The priests and all people who helped with Molech’s *religious ceremonies would go into *exile with their false god. People inside the city would rush round because they would be confused.
Verses 4-5 Ammon had tried to persuade Zedekiah so that he would not be loyal to Babylon. The *Babylonians had made Gedaliah the ruler of Judah. The *Ammonite king, called Baalis, had encouraged people to murder Gedaliah. Nebuchadnezzar punished Ammon because of those acts. Nebuchadnezzar entered the country in 582 *BC (Jeremiah 52:30).
Ammon spoke proudly about its military strength. It trusted the wealth that it gained from the fruit in its valleys. The people thought that they were safe. They thought that nobody could attack their country. But when the *LORD punished Ammon, the people would run away in terror. They would not go back. They would not try to help people who remained.
Verse 6 The promise is similar to the promise to Egypt (Jeremiah 46:26) and to Moab (Jeremiah 48:47). We know that there was a local ruler called Tobiah in the time of Nehemiah (Nehemiah 2:10,19; 4:7). Members of Tobiah's family continued to rule in the second century *BC. So they had gained some political freedom.
Verses 7-8 The people from Edom were the *descendants of Esau (Genesis 36:9). Teman was Esau's grandson (Genesis 36:11). The town called Teman was an important town. Sometimes people used the name Teman for the whole *tribe. Edom was in an area to the south of the Dead Sea. It had high mountains. Obadiah, the *prophet, has verses very similar to Jeremiah's. He speaks about the country that made its home 'among the stars'. It was like a big bird’s nest (Obadiah 4). For a very long time Edom had hated Israel. Dedan was an area that was in the south part of Edom. There used to be a *tribe of Arab merchants called Dedanites. They may have made their home in that part of Edom (Ezekiel 27:20).
Verses 9-11 are almost the same as Obadiah v5-6. People who picked *grapes used to leave a few *grapes on the plant. They left them for the poor people to collect. Thieves do not steal more than they want. They leave the rest. But when the *LORD punished Edom, nothing would remain. He would discover all the places where people are hiding. They would die. Edom would have no inhabitants.
Verse 11 A kind person who was alive still may have spoken those words. He promised to look after the people who were alone and weak.
Verses 12-13 These two verses are not in poetry. Jeremiah had described that picture already. He imagined the *LORD's anger in a cup (Jeremiah 25:15-17). All the nations had to drink it. Now it is time for Edom to receive the *LORD’s punishment. Everyone had troubles when the enemy came. But not all the people deserved it. Often the innocent people have troubles when there is war in a nation. But the people from Edom deserved the *LORD's punishment. Moses had made a polite request to Edom. When the *Israelites came out from Egypt, Moses wanted to travel through Edom. But Edom had refused and they prepared to attack the *Israelites (Numbers 20:14-21). Amos mentions Edom's attacks on Israel (Amos 1:11-12). Nebuchadnezzar attacked Judah in 588 *BC or 587 *BC. Edom did not help Judah. Instead, Edom helped the *Babylonians. Edom encouraged them (Psalm 137:7). Edom entered Jerusalem and stole some of its goods. Some of the inhabitants of Jerusalem ran away. But people from Edom stopped them and handed them over to the *Babylonians (Obadiah 11-14). Bozrah was an important town because it was the capital of Edom.
Verses 14-17 Edom felt safe because its people lived very high up in the mountains. They had caused terror among all the nations. They were very proud because of their strength. They felt safe and confident. But those feelings were false. The *LORD would cause all other nations to fight against Edom. Then they would lose their safety. Other nations would laugh because Edom had troubles. And they would become a weak nation.
Verse 18 Sodom and Gomorrah were two wicked cities in the time of Abraham. Admah and Zeboiim were two towns near to them. The *LORD destroyed those cities completely. Also the *LORD would destroy Edom completely (Genesis 19:23-28; Deuteronomy 29:23-25). Nobody would be able to live there. This happened when Arab *tribes defeated Edom. They forced Edom to go into the south of the country of Judah.
Verses 19-21 These verses are repeated in the *prophecy against Babylon (Jeremiah 50:44-46). The *LORD is like a lion. He is coming up from the thick bushes by the River Jordan. Lions lived in that area in *Old Testament times. The *LORD had come to destroy Edom, in the same way that a lion came to attack the sheep. The *LORD would use an enemy to carry out his plan. No leader in Edom could ask the *LORD to explain his actions. A lion would drag away the young sheep and, therefore, destroy the whole group. In the same way, an enemy would take away Edom's young men. That would destroy their country. The people in Edom would be frightened. They would cry aloud. Their loud, sad noise would reach as far as the Red Sea. Even the earth would shake because an enemy had destroyed the nation.
Verse 22 This verse uses an example that the people in Edom would have understood. An *eagle flies round to find something to eat. Then it flies down very fast to catch its food. In a similar way, an enemy would come quickly to destroy Bozrah. Edom's soldiers would feel afraid and weak. When a woman has a baby, often she feels afraid because of the pain.
Verse 23 Damascus was the capital city of the country called Syria. Hamath was an important city. It was by the River Orontes, about 100 miles (160 kilometres) to the north of Damascus. It was on one of the main routes for the people who trade goods. Arpad was in northern Syria. Assyria had defeated Syria in the 8th century. But after the battle of Carchemish in 605 *BC, Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, ruled them. Probably they were so frightened because they had heard the bad news. The *Babylonian army was on its way.
Verses 24-25 In the past, Damascus had been a powerful city, but now it was weak. This may refer to the time in 732 *BC. Then the *Assyrians made Damascus part of the *Assyrian region of Hamath. A citizen from Damascus may have made the remark in verse 25. The person was sad about the fate of the city.
Verses 26-27 Verse 26 is also in Jeremiah 50:30. The young men are the soldiers who will die in battle. Verse 27 is the same as Amos 1:4. Ben-Hadad was the king of Syria who fought against Israel on several occasions. In the past, Ahab, king of Israel, had defeated Ben-Hadad. As a result, he had to allow Israel to trade in the markets in Damascus (1 Kings 20:1-34). When Elisha was the *prophet, Ben-Hadad attacked the country called Samaria. And many people died because they starved (2 Kings chapters 6-7).
But the *LORD would destroy Damascus and all the other strong cities in Syria that belonged to Ben-Hadad.
Verses 28-29 Kedar was a *descendant of Ishmael (Genesis 15:13). It was the name of one of the Arab *tribes that lived in the desert in Syria. Syria was to the east of Palestine. The Arabs wandered in the desert with their sheep (Isaiah 60:7). And they traded their sheep with people in Tyre (Ezekiel 27:21). They were skilful in the use of their bows and arrows (Isaiah 21:16-17).
Hazor was not the famous town in the north of Palestine. The word 'Hazor ' probably refers to an area of small villages to the east of the River Jordan. Arab *tribes lived there. But sometimes they wandered to other places to find food for their animals.
In the book of the Judges, the *tribes in the east had joined the Midianites to attack Israel (Judges 6:3). The *Assyrians had attacked those *tribes in the east several times. Nebuchadnezzar had to deal with those *tribes when *Assyrian power ended. He attacked them in 599 *BC. This attack is probably the reason for Jeremiah's *prophecy.
‘There is terror all round you.' This is a phrase that Jeremiah uses several times. Here, the *Babylonian soldiers shouted it as they approached the people in the desert.
Verses 30-33 Moab was satisfied with itself. Already Jeremiah had spoken about that (Jeremiah 48:11, 29). Also the people in the desert were free from worry. They felt safe. They did not think that people would go into their villages. So their villages had no gates that they could lock. But the people in the desert should have escaped. They should have hidden in caves. Nebuchadnezzar's armies were preparing to attack them. His armies would take away their large groups of animals. And the armies would scatter their people. He would end their power. Hazor would become a lonely and empty place.
Verses 34-35 Elam was an ancient *kingdom. It was south west of the country that we call Iran. It had military strength because its soldiers were skilful with bows and arrows (Isaiah 22:6). Zedekiah became king in 597 *BC. The *Assyrian king called Asshurbanipal (or Osnapar) defeated Elam. He took the inhabitants from their capital city, Susa, into *exile in Samaria (Ezra 4:9-10). After Asshurbanipal died, Elam became free again. About 560 *BC Elam helped to defeat Babylon. Susa became the capital city of the king of Persia. Elam's skilful men with bows and arrows became part of the army in Persia.
Verses 36-38 ‘Four winds’ describes military strength. The *LORD will bring military powers upon Elam to destroy it as a nation. A king set up his royal seat in a country. This showed that he has defeated the country. Jeremiah used that description in Jeremiah 1:15 and 43:8-13.
Verse 39 The *LORD promised a future of success to Elam. He had promised that already to Moab and to Ammon. We are not sure about the history of Elam. However, we know that people from Elam were in the crowd in Jerusalem on the special day called Pentecost (Acts 2:9).
Chapters 50-51 deal with the defeat of Babylon. Babylon was the means by which the *LORD would punish Judah. But later, Babylon would not continue to be powerful in the world. This was because of its own *sins. There is a similar *prophecy in Isaiah 13-14:23. In Revelation 17-18, the name ‘Babylon’ refers to the world's wealth. It refers to the power that opposes the *LORD's people. Babylon’s power is like the power of all proud enemies of the *LORD. It will end.
Verses 1-2 The important period in Babylon's history was 612-539 *BC. Jeremiah announces what will happen to Babylon. Their false gods would not protect them. 'Bel' means '*LORD'. It was how they used to describe the storm false god, Enlil. 'Marduk' was the chief of the *Babylonian false gods. The word for '*idols' in verse 2 is a *Hebrew word. It means 'the small balls of waste stuff that come from birds and animals'. This was a way to show disgust at those *pagan false gods. Ezekiel uses the same word more than 38 times.
Verse 3 For the *Israelites, the north was the place from which enemies came. Often it did not refer to a particular country.
Verses 4-5 In an ideal future, the nations of Israel and Judah would unite again (Jeremiah 30:3). They would weep because of their *sins. They would return to the *LORD (Jeremiah 31:6, 9). They would renew their *covenant with the *LORD, that they had not obeyed. And in the future, they would always obey it (Jeremiah 31:31-33).
Verse 6 The '*shepherds' are the kings, the priests, and the false *prophets. They have caused the people, the sheep, to go the wrong way. So the people have gone to the high hills where they *worshipped the *Baals (for example Jeremiah 2:20). People had forgotten that the *LORD was their true *shepherd. The *LORD had provided everything that they needed.
Verse 7 The enemy would destroy Israel. Then the enemy would say that they were not guilty. They had done no wrong things. They were attacking Israel because Israel had *sinned against the *LORD. He was the *LORD who gave everything to Israel. Their *ancestors knew that they could trust the *LORD all the time. So they had been loyal to him.
Verses 8-9 *Shepherds keep a group of goats together. When they have to move to somewhere else, the male goats leave the place first. In a similar way, the people from Judah had to be the first of the prisoners to leave Babylon. The group of powerful nations would include the soldiers who were skilful with their bows and their arrows. They would return from the battle. They would know that they had been successful.
Verse 10 The nations would take away Babylon's wealth and its goods.
Verse 11 The *LORD speaks to Babylon. The *Babylonian people have been very happy to steal the country called Israel. The country belonged to the *LORD. It was like the property that people hand down from one *ancestor to another *ancestor. The *Babylonians had defeated Jerusalem and Judah. The two descriptions emphasised how happy they were. The *Babylonians were as happy as young cows that jump about on the grass. They were like male horses. The horses made a noise when they were ready to mate.
Verses 12-13 The 'mother' refers to the city called Babylon. People referred to it as a person. It was like the 'mother' to all its inhabitants. In the past, Babylon had been so powerful. But it would become the least important nation. It would become a waste place. Nobody would live in Babylon. People would see the city. They would be astonished because of what had happened to it. They would laugh at it.
Verses 14-15 The forces, who were attacking Babylon, received their instructions. They had to make sure that they defeated the city. So Babylon would be the city to give in to an enemy. In the past, Babylon had broken down walls and destroyed high buildings in other countries (2 Kings 25:4,10). Now the same would happen to Babylon. The enemy would defeat Babylon. This would be the *LORD's punishment because of Babylon’s *sins.
Verse 16 The *Babylonians had destroyed the farms and the farmers. Now the writer wants the same to happen to Babylon. Nobody would remain. So nobody would plant or harvest crops. When the enemy attacked, Babylon's prisoners would be able to escape. They would return to their own countries.
Verses 17-18 The people from Israel were like the sheep that the lions attacked. They scattered the sheep. The first 'lion' was Sargon II, king of Assyria. He took the northern *kingdom of Israel into *exile in 721 *BC. The last 'lion' was Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon. He destroyed Judah in 587 *BC. The *LORD judged Assyria because it was proud and cruel. So the *LORD would judge Babylon too.
Verses 19-20 The *LORD would bring back Israel to its own country. The *LORD would look after the people. He would be like a *shepherd who feeds his sheep on good grass. *Mount Carmel was near the Mediterranean Sea. It was an area that produced many crops. Bashan was an area to the east of the Sea of Galilee. It was famous because of its trees called oak trees (Ezekiel 27:6). It was especially famous because of its fat cows and its sheep (Deuteronomy 32:14; Amos 4:1).
The *LORD would forgive the *Israelites who remained alive. Israel and Judah may be in despair. They knew that they were very guilty (Ezekiel 33:10-11). But the *LORD would forgive their *sins. Then they need not feel guilty. He would remove their *sins 'as far away as the east is from the west' (Psalm 103:12). Micah says that the *LORD would 'throw their *sins into the deepest sea' (Micah 7:18-19).
Verse 21 The *LORD speaks those words to the enemies of Babylon. Merathaim was a district in southern Babylon. Pekod refers to the people who lived on the east of the River Tigris. Ezekiel 23:23 mentions the men of 'Pekod'. There is an unusual use of the names of those two areas. Merathaim means 'they completely oppose the authority’ (of the *LORD). Pekod means ‘punishment' (from the *LORD). 'Destroy them completely' was an order. The enemy had to destroy everyone and everything after a battle. This order came because all the people and the goods belonged to the *LORD. Joshua gave such an order before the battle against Ai (Judges 8:26).
Verses 22-23 Babylon was like a hammer that broke cities into pieces. Now an enemy will make much noise as it destroys Babylon's cities. The enemy will break Babylon into pieces. It will destroy Babylon. The city will become empty and lonely.
Verses 24-25 A hunter catches birds in a trap. In a similar way, Babylon had caught other nations. But now Babylon had fallen into a trap before it was aware of it. Babylon had been proud of its power. It had opposed the *LORD. So the *LORD used the army from Persia to attack Babylon. Cyrus, the king of Persia, was 'the one that the *LORD has chosen' (Isaiah 44:28; 45:1). He entered Babylon in October 539 *BC. Cyrus said that the false god Marduk had helped him to win easily. But Jeremiah believed that the *LORD was using Cyrus to punish Babylon.
Verses 26-27 The end of Babylon is like someone who is breaking into a store of grain. They make the grain into a heap ready to steal it. The enemy had to destroy Babylon completely. Nobody should remain alive. The young soldiers would die, although they were as strong as *bulls.
Verse 28 The *Jews, who had run away from Babylon, took their message to Jerusalem. The proud *Babylonians had insulted the *LORD when they pulled down the *Temple. The *Temple was the central place where the *LORD was present among his people. The *Jews were very happy to report that the *LORD had defeated Babylon. He had made Babylon have troubles because they had destroyed the *Temple.
Verse 29 The soldiers built up slopes against the walls round the city. On those slopes, they had special equipment. They kept knocking it against the walls until they fell down. The enemy would use bows and arrows to protect their soldiers. The army would camp round the city. And nobody from inside the city would be able to escape. The 'Holy God of Israel' was Isaiah's favourite way to describe the *LORD (for example, Isaiah 1:4). Jeremiah uses the phrase only here and in Jeremiah 51:5. Jeremiah's favourite phrase seems to be the 'powerful *LORD'. Proud Babylon thought that the *LORD had no authority over her.
Verse 30 is the same as Jeremiah 49:26. There the words were about Damascus. All Babylon's young soldiers would die.
Verses 31-32 In the past, Babylon destroyed many towns, especially Jerusalem and towns in Judah. Now nobody will help Babylon when the enemy attacks. The enemy will destroy Babylon's towns and burn them.
Verses 33-34 This verse mentions Israel and Judah together. It emphasises the promise that one day they will unite. The people from Israel had been prisoners in Egypt. In the same way, the *Israelites were prisoners in Babylon. A 'rescuer' was a person who would act on behalf of a relative. He would act to protect or to free the relative. Also he would help a person to obtain what belonged to him. The *LORD was a strong Rescuer. He had rescued his people from Egypt. So he would rescue his people from Babylon. The *LORD was also like a lawyer. He spoke in court against people who had behaved badly towards Israel. He would be successful. And he would bring peace to Israel. But the people from Babylon would have no peace.
Verses 35-38 These verses are the *LORD’s punishment on Babylon. 'A sword is coming to fight against the *Babylonians.' This phrase means that the enemy was coming to fight with their swords. It repeats in short statements the *prophecy against everyone in Babylon. The whole series of sentences sounds like an army. Suddenly the army was approaching Babylon to destroy it. The citizens, the wise men and the officials would experience the *LORD's punishment. False *prophets had *prophesied peace (Jeremiah 6:14; 23:16-19). But they would look foolish when war came. Young soldiers would be very frightened. The army trusted their horses and carts. But they would be of no use. The army hired soldiers. But they would behave like women, who are not as strong as men. The enemy would steal everything of value. The canals brought water to the city. But they would dry up. Probably this was because the people neglected them. They could not look after them while they were fighting. The *Hebrew word for 'lack of water' is almost the same as the *Hebrew word for 'sword'. Babylon's *idols would not be able to save the country.
Verses 39-40 The land of Babylon will become a desert. Nobody will live there again. Instead, only wild animals will live there. ‘Animals from the desert' might refer to evil *spirits. People believed that those evil *spirits lived among broken cities. Owls are birds with large eyes. They hunt at night and make a strange noise. Sometimes people heard the owl’s noise. People thought that it warned about trouble. Isaiah uses a similar description. He showed how lonely Babylon would become (Isaiah 13:10-22).
Sodom and Gomorrah were cities near the Dead Sea. The *LORD destroyed them completely in the time of Abraham (Genesis 19:24-25). Jeremiah had used them already as an example in Jeremiah 49:18.
Verses 41-43 In Jeremiah 6:22-24, Babylon is a nation from the north that brings terror to Judah. Now an enemy from the north would bring terror to Babylon. The enemy was Persia. The 'many kings' were those kings who had to fight with the king of Persia.
Verses 44-46 is the same as 49:19-21, in the *prophecy against Edom. There is the same language that describes the *LORD as a lion. The army from Persia would take away the young people of Babylon. They would be like a lion when it drags away young sheep. Babylon attacked Edom. The people, who lived near the Red Sea, would hear the cries from the people in Edom. But Persia would attack Babylon. And the cries from the people would go further. All the nations would hear them. Babylon’s fate would be far worse than Edom’s fate. All the nations would know what had happened to Babylon.
Verse 1 'The people of Babylon' is 'Leb-kamai' in the original language. It is a secret way to refer to Chaldea or Babylon. It may be an insult.
Verse 2 A wind can separate straw from grain. But if the wind is too strong, it can blow away the grain in all directions. In a similar way, strong nations would scatter the people in Babylon (Jeremiah 49:36). The enemy would destroy the country completely.
Verses 3-4 The enemy would attack very quickly. And the *Babylonian soldiers would have no time to prepare their equipment. They would have no time to protect themselves. The young soldiers would die. Or they would receive terrible injuries that would kill them. The enemy armies would destroy Babylon's army completely.
Verse 5 Both Israel and Judah had sinned against the *LORD. But he had not left them like a woman whose husband had left her (Isaiah 54:4-8). The *LORD would continue to protect them because he was 'their' God.
Verse 6 The people of Judah had to run away. Otherwise they would have troubles when the *LORD's punishment falls on Babylon. The *LORD would deal with Babylon as it deserved.
Verse 7 This describes Babylon as a gold cup in the *LORD's hands. It is gold because of Babylon's wealth. Nebuchadnezzar had a dream about a statue (model). The gold head referred to Babylon (Daniel 2:32, 37-38). Often Jeremiah described the *LORD's anger like a cup of wine. People drink too much wine. Then they do not know what they are doing. They behave like someone who is mad. A 'mad' nation would not know how to protect itself from danger. There had been a time when Babylon had given the cup to other nations (Jeremiah 25:15-26). The nations included Judah and Jerusalem (Isaiah 51:17) and Edom (Jeremiah 49:12). Now Babylon itself would have to drink the cup of the *LORD's anger (Jeremiah 25:26).
Verses 8-9 A cup breaks into pieces when someone drops it. In the same way, an enemy would cause the nation of Babylon to break up suddenly.
Nobody can heal Babylon's injuries. There is no remedy to cure its *sins. Babylon was an enemy that attacked Judah. Babylon caused difficulties for Judah. Nothing could heal Babylon. So the people in *exile decided that they should leave Babylon. They should return to their own countries. The *LORD would punish Babylon severely. The poetry uses language to describe that punishment. It would be complete. But perhaps that reminded them about a high building. The proud people in Babylon said that the building would reach to the sky (Genesis 11:1-9).
Verse 10 The people from Judah would return to Jerusalem. They would tell everyone how they were at peace with the *LORD again. Judah had been guilty because it had sinned against the *LORD. But it had received the *LORD's punishment because of its *sins (Isaiah 40:2). Then the *LORD was punishing Babylon. That would show that the people in Judah were the *LORD’s people. They would return to live in their own country.
Verse 11 The enemy had to be ready to attack the city of Babylon. They had to put on clothes that protected their body. Arrows had to be sharp. A soldier held the *shield in front of him to protect him from the arrows. The Medes were powerful people who fought together with the people from Persia. The *LORD would use them to punish the *Babylonians. The *LORD was angry because the *Babylonians had destroyed his *Temple in Jerusalem.
Verse 12 Extra soldiers had to be on duty to watch the city. The inhabitants might try to escape. But the soldiers would prevent that. They would hide. And they would seize anyone who was leaving the city.
Verse 13 The ‘water’ in Babylon refers to the River Euphrates. And it refers to the canals that brought water to the city and to the crops. Also it may refer to what the *Babylonians believed. They thought that there was a great sea under the earth. They thought that it was the source of the streams on earth. Babylon's valuable possessions had come from the *temples and the special rooms in other nations (for example, 2 Kings 24:13). The enemy was like someone who had been making cloth. He had finished his work, so he cut the cotton. The enemy would 'cut off' Babylon like the man cuts off the cotton.
Verse 14 The *LORD would bring soldiers into the city. They would be like a great cloud of insects called *locusts. *Locusts fly together in huge numbers. They eat all the leaves from the trees and the plants. The soldiers would destroy everything in Babylon. They would be happy and they would shout. They would be like the people who make wine. Those people shout when they press the *grapes (Jeremiah 25:30). Perhaps those words suggested that the enemy had prepared the 'cup of wine'. They were showing the *LORD's anger.
Verses 15-18 These verses are the same as Jeremiah 10:12-16, apart from the word 'Israel’ in verse 16. The *LORD spoke to Israel. He reminded the people about his power. He had created the world. The *idols, that they were *worshipping, were of no use. They were objects that a man had made. Here in chapter 51, they show that the *Babylonian false gods would have no power. They could not save Babylon. The *LORD, who created the world, would carry out his plan. He would destroy Babylon.
Verse 19 The 'God of Jacob' means that Israel belonged to God. He had decided that Israel would belong to him. So there was a close relationship between the *LORD and his people.
Verses 20-23 To 'break’ means to break into small pieces. The *LORD would use Babylon to destroy completely the wicked nations and their inhabitants. The *prophets saw that the *LORD used different people and different nations. He used them to punish wicked *kingdoms. Isaiah called Assyria the *LORD's stick that punished Israel (Isaiah 10:5). Babylon was the *LORD's hammer (Jeremiah 50:3). And Nebuchadnezzar was the *LORD's servant (Jeremiah 27:6). King Cyrus, the king of Persia, would be the *LORD's *shepherd. He was also the one that the *LORD had chosen (Isaiah 44:28; 45:1).
Verse 24 This introduces the poem in verse 25-26, which describes the *LORD's punishment of Babylon. Like Assyria, Babylon was so proud. It had used its power to seize wealth for itself. It had destroyed the *Temple in Jerusalem.
Verses 25-26 Babylon is like a 'mountain that destroys'. This refers to its great power. It was like the power of a volcano. A volcano is a mountain with a hole at the top. It blows out steam and ash from inside the earth. It may do that all the time or occasionally. The steam and the ash that it blows out destroys everything. But in the end, Babylon would have no power. It would be like a volcano that no longer can destroy anything. The 'mountain' will burn so completely that its stones will be of no use. They will be of no use as the important stones at the base of a building. Babylon would become a lonely, waste place for always.
Verses 27-28 A flag and the sound of a *trumpet, were the signals to begin the battle against Babylon. The nations would prepare with their own *religious ceremonies. The *LORD had chosen them to carry out his plans. The three nations were all in the region that now we call Armenia. The *Assyrian records mentioned those nations. The captain was the chief military officer who led the groups of people. *Locusts fly round in huge groups. They destroy every green plant. So that means that the enemy would have many horses in its army. And the army would destroy everything. The Medes, with their leaders and their officials, were the leaders of the three nations.
Verses 29-30 The *LORD would approach Babylon to destroy it. And even the earth would shake with fear. Nahum wrote that the earth trembled. That happened when the *LORD came to destroy Nineveh, the capital city of Assyria (Nahum 1:5). Nothing would prevent the *LORD's plan. He would make Babylon into a lonely desert. Babylon's army had lost its power. The soldiers had stopped and they were not fighting. They had lost their courage and they would not leave their strong buildings. They had become like weak women.
The enemy had started to burn all the buildings in the city. Usually the gates of the city keep out the enemy. But the enemy had broken the bars on the gates. And the enemy had entered the city.
Verses 31-32 Special men used to run to the king with news from a battle. A man from Ethiopia ran with the news about Absalom's death to King David (2 Samuel 18:21). Babylon's men who ran with news, were famous. They ran to the king from all directions. They told him that the enemy had defeated the city. The people used to cross the River Euphrates and other rivers at particular places. But now the enemy controlled all those places. The wet areas of land were low places near the rivers where tall plants grew. It would be a good place to hide. So the enemy burned those areas. Then they could discover anyone who had escaped from the city.
Verse 33 A farmer has to separate the straw from the grain at the time of harvest. A farmer's animals would walk round a flat area. They would pull a large piece of wood with nails or sharp stones fixed in it. This would tear apart the straw and the grain. This was a way to describe the *LORD's punishment.
Verses 34-35 These verses describe the way in which Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, had defeated Jerusalem. They describe him like a greedy person. He was eating like a hungry animal. He had eaten Jerusalem. He had left Jerusalem empty. It was like a jar of wine that he had drunk. Also he was like a great sea snake that had filled its stomach with rich food. The rich food was the wealth from Jerusalem that Nebuchadnezzar had taken. Perhaps the people remembered the story about Jonah. A great fish swallowed Jonah. In a similar way, Babylon took into its country everything that had belonged to Israel. Jonah returned to land when the fish coughed him out.
Verses 36-37 The *LORD would act like a person in a law court. He would speak on Israel's behalf. He would send punishment because of the way in which Babylon had behaved towards Jerusalem. Babylon would become a heap of stones. There would be no buildings left. All the people would show their shock at Babylon's fate. They would laugh because Babylon was no longer powerful. Both the sea and Babylon's water supply would become dry. Babylon depended on its rivers and its canals. People need water to remain alive. And the wide rivers gave them protection. They believed that there was a sea below the earth. And that sea was the source of water.
Verses 38-40 The *Babylonians were like young lions. They were roaring and they made a loud noise. This sound showed that they were hungry. The *LORD would prepare a splendid meal for Babylon. There would be so much to drink for the *Babylonians. They would be like people who had drunk too much wine. They would fall asleep and they would never wake up again. Again here is the language that describes the cup of the *LORD's anger.
The people in Babylon would be like young sheep, male sheep and goats. People led away those animals to *sacrifice them. The young people were like the young sheep. And the strong people were like the male sheep and goats. But all of them would die.
Verses 41-43 Sheshach is a secret word for Babylon. Perhaps the people in Babylon used it themselves. It uses letters from the end of the *Hebrew alphabet. They replaced letters from the start of the word Babel. Everyone had heard about the splendid city. But the enemy would defeat it. Then everyone would think about Babylon with disgust.
Probably the sea refers to the ancient *Babylonian story. It says that the false god Marduk created the world. He fought the waters of Tiamat, which was an ancient sea. He destroyed Tiamat. The end of Babylon would be like the opposite of that defeat. Babylon's enemies would rise up like the noisy waves of the ancient sea. The enemy would go all over the country. They would be like a flood that destroyed Babylon. It would become a place where nobody lived. People would avoid the country and they would not travel through it.
Verse 44 The name Bel means lord. It was a name for Marduk, the king of the *Babylonian false gods. Bel would have to cough out what he has swallowed. That refers to verse 34. That verse describes Nebuchadnezzar as a great snake that swallowed Jerusalem. Bel would lose all his wealth and the prisoners would return home. The nations would no longer go in a constant stream to Babylon. The politicians from other countries, the people who trade and the prisoners used to go in great numbers. But that would stop.
When the walls of the city of Babylon fell down, it would astonish everyone. There were two very thick walls, an outer wall and an inner wall. The inner wall was so wide that people could ride horses and carts along the top. There were high buildings at regular spaces. Outside there was a ditch full of water from the River Euphrates. The city felt safe.
Verses 45 and 50 The *exiles who are in Babylon had to hurry to escape. The *LORD is very angry with Babylon. Some of the *exiles may have preferred to stay in Babylon. They had become comfortable there. They were like the men who married Lot's daughters. Those men refused to leave Sodom before the *LORD destroyed it (Genesis 19:14-16). Revelation 18:4 refers to the wicked country called Babylon. The name ‘Babylon’ refers to the wicked world that opposes the *LORD. Christians may hesitate to leave. They are prisoners of the wealth and the pleasures in the world. The people from Judah should not forget their *LORD and Jerusalem. In a similar way, Christians must not forget that their true home is in heaven. Definitely, the *LORD would judge Babylon because it was proud and cruel. And it wanted power. The *LORD will judge the world because of its *sins.
Verse 46 The *LORD tells the *exiles to remain calm, whatever reports they hear. The reports may or they may not, be true. There was trouble in Babylon. Outside Babylon, there were plots. The plots came from countries like Edom, Moab and Ammon (Jeremiah 27:1-7). Inside the country, there were struggles for power.
Verses 47-48 Certainly the time would come when the *LORD would destroy Babylon and its *idols. An enemy from the north would come to attack Babylon. As a result, even heaven and earth would be happy.
Verse 49 Babylon was responsible for many deaths. They had killed many people from Judah. And they had killed many people from other countries in the world. So it was the time for Babylon to die.
Verse 51 The *exiles spoke about the shame that they had. People had insulted them. They were worried because Nebuchadnezzar and his soldiers had gone into the holy places in the *Temple. The *exiles were wondering why the *LORD had not protected his special house. The same thing happened in 168 *BC, when Antiochus Epiphanes took away its sacred character. The army from Rome did the same to the *Temple in 70 *AD.
Verses 52-53 The *LORD would punish Babylon's *idols. The soldiers who had entered the holy places in Jerusalem would have injuries. Enemies would destroy the strongest buildings. The tall buildings may be the buildings called ziggurats. Men made hills. They had slopes that led up to a *temple on the top. The tower of Babel was probably like that. In their pride, the people in Babylon decided to build a tall building that 'reached the heavens' (Genesis 11:2-4). But, even if the buildings were strong, the enemy would destroy them all.
Verses 54-55 The people would cry for help. There would be noise as the enemy destroyed the buildings. That would mean the end of Babylon. The soldiers of the enemy came from the north. They came like great, noisy waves of the sea. The soldiers went over all the country to destroy it. Jeremiah had used that description already in verse 42. The attack was terrible. It was like the sea under the earth that suddenly burst out on the earth.
Verse 56 The enemy would seize Babylon's soldiers and would break their equipment. Without bows, the *Babylonians could not shoot arrows.
Verse 57 ‘A cup of wine’ often described the *LORD's anger. All people who drink from the cup would fall down. They would sleep and they would never wake up. That meant that they would die because of the *LORD’s anger.
Verse 58 Two very thick walls and large, strong gates protected the city of Babylon. But the enemy would destroy the walls and they would burn the gates. The people who were Babylon's prisoners had worn themselves out. They had worked to build Nebuchadnezzar's buildings. Their efforts were in vain. The enemy would burn everything and destroy it. 'The nations wear themselves out for nothing.' This may have been a popular way to speak about wasted effort. It appears again in Habbakuk 2:13.
Verse 59 The 4th year of Zedekiah’s rule was 594 or 593 *BC. Probably Zedekiah had to go to Babylon. He had to show that he was loyal. The *Babylonians may have heard about plots against them (Jeremiah 27:1-7). Seriah was the officer who made the arrangements. They had to camp when they stopped on the way to Babylon. Seriah was the brother of Baruch. So Jeremiah could trust Seriah.
Verses 60-61 Jeremiah told Seriah to take the *scroll. It contained his *prophecy about Babylon's fate. When Seriah arrived in Babylon, he had to read it aloud. It does not say who heard him. It was probably some of the *exiles. It may have been dangerous to read it in public. But Jeremiah sent different men with his letter to the *exiles. And Jeremiah had suggested that Babylon would continue for quite a long time (Jeremiah 29:10).
Verses 62-64 Seriah had to declare that the *LORD would destroy Babylon. Then he had to tie a stone to the *scroll, so that it would sink. He had to throw the *scroll into the River Euphrates. That would show what would happen to Babylon. Babylon would end. That acted the message. And the same act appears again in Revelation 18:21. A powerful heavenly person threw a great stone into the sea. The heavenly person destroyed the world that opposes the *LORD. It would never recover.
The person who collected Jeremiah's *prophecies added a note. He said that they were Jeremiah's last words. The note separated the *prophecy against Babylon from the records of history in chapter 52. In the 10th year of Zedekiah's rule, Jeremiah emphasised the future hope for Israel. That would come after the *LORD had used Babylon to punish his people (Jeremiah chapter 32).
This chapter is a longer account of the events that chapter 39 described. It records the history of the last days of Jerusalem. Probably it came from a larger record which the writer or writers of 2 Kings 24:18-25, 30 used. The writer of Jeremiah chapter 52 may have been Baruch. The writer would have known and used that larger record. It showed that Jeremiah's *prophecies happened. The record is in 4 parts.
1. Verses 1-16 The defeat of the city and Zedekiah's fate
2. Verses 17-23 Details of the equipment that the enemy took from the *Temple
3. Verses 24-30 The numbers of people that the enemy took away into Babylon
4. Verses 31-34 The king of Babylon frees Jehoiachin.
Verses 1-3 Nebuchadnezzar had taken King Jehoiachin to Babylon. And Nebuchadnezzar appointed Zedekiah as ruler. Zedekiah's mother was Hamutal, from Libnah. Hamutal's father, Jeremiah, was not the same as Jeremiah, the *prophet. Zedekiah was not suitable to be a king. He sinned against the *LORD. He did not do what he had promised. He was not loyal to Nebuchadnezzar. He freed slaves. Then he allowed their owners to take back the slaves again (Jeremiah 34:8, 16, 21). He did not prevent his officials when they tried to kill Jeremiah (Jeremiah 38:4-5).
Verses 4-5 Sometimes, for a period of time, an enemy camps outside a city with strong walls. Then the people in the city would not be able to get food supplies. They might become so hungry that they would give in to the enemy. An enemy camped round Samaria (2 Kings 6:26-29) and round Jerusalem (Lamentations 4:10). During that time the people in the city became desperate. They were prepared even to eat their own children. At the same time, the enemy would build up slopes of earth and stones against the walls. Then they would use a machine with large beams. They swung the beams so that they hit the walls again and again. This would make the walls weak. In the end, the walls would break and fall down.
The *Babylonian army began the siege of Jerusalem in January 588 *BC. They continued until July 587 *BC. July was the 4th month in the *Babylonian year, which began in March or April. So the siege lasted for 18 months. It caused the people in Jerusalem to have great troubles.
Verses 6-8 The *Babylonian army broke down the wall round the city. There was no food left in Jerusalem when they went into the city. The soldiers and the king escaped at night through a gate in the city wall. They went towards the valley of the River Jordan. Perhaps they intended to cross the river, to the east of the River Jordan. The army scattered, perhaps because they could not remain together in the dark. Or they may have been very frightened when they heard the *Babylonians. So the army ran away in all directions. There may be a reference to that in Lamentations 4:19. 'Those people who chased us over the mountains were faster than very fast birds.'
Verses 9-11 The *Babylonian soldiers seized Zedekiah. Nebuchadnezzar was waiting at Riblah. It was an important city in Syria, by the River Orontes. Nebuchadnezzar punished Zedekiah in a cruel way. He made Zedekiah watch while men murdered his sons. Then he made Zedekiah blind. Then Nebuchadnezzar tied up Zedekiah in metal chains. We do not know how long Zedekiah lived as a prisoner in Babylon. He had suffered mental worry for a long time during the *Babylonian attack. The events at Riblah would have caused him more terrible worry.
Verses 12-16 Nebuzaradan arrived in August 587 *BC. to act on behalf of Nebuchadnezzar. Nebuzaradan ordered the army to destroy the walls completely. And they had to burn all the buildings. That included the *Temple and the royal palace. Some of the workers with skills had gone into *exile in 597 *BC (Jeremiah 24:1). Nebuzaradan took the rest of the workers with skills, as they would be useful in Babylon. He also took the people who had already joined the Babylonians. And he took some of the poor people from among people who remained. But he left behind some of the poorest people to work on the farms. Perhaps they had to work without pay for the *Babylonians.
Verses 17-23 There is a brief reference in 2 Kings 24:13 to the items that Nebuchadnezzar took away from the *Temple in 597 *BC. Jeremiah says that Nebuchadnezzar did not take the two columns, the huge basin and the stands with wheels (Jeremiah 27:19-20). The account of what Nebuzaradan took away 10 years later has fewer details in 2 Kings than in Jeremiah's account (2 Kings 25:13-17; Jeremiah 52:17-23). 1 Kings 7:13-50 describes in detail everything that Solomon had made for the *Temple.
Verses 17 and 21-22 *Bronze is a brown metal. It is a mixture of two metals, copper and tin. Solomon had used Huram to make the *bronze things. Huram came from Tyre. He had skill to work with metal. Huram did that work in the valley of the River Jordan (1 Kings 7:13-14, 45-46). The *Babylonians broke up the large *bronze things. They were too heavy to carry in one piece. They would melt them in Babylon and use the metal again.
The *bronze columns were called Jachin and Boaz. They stood at the entrance to the *Temple. They were hollow. *Pomegranates are fruit about the size of an orange. They were the usual way to make something look beautiful. The outer coat of the high priest had *pomegranates round the bottom edge (Exodus 28:33).
The *bronze basin was a huge basin. It rested on 4 groups of *bronze *bulls. Each group of three bulls was looking in the 4 directions, north, south, east and west (1 Kings 7:25-26). The basin contained an enormous quantity of water. The priests used the water to wash themselves (2 Chronicles 4:6). The stands with wheels held basins that contained water. This water was to clean parts of the animals for the *burnt offerings. There were 10 of those stands, 5 stands on one side and 5 stands on the other side (2 Chronicles 4:6).
Verses 18-19 The priests used the small spades to remove the ashes from the *altar. They put the ashes in the pots (Exodus 27:3).The lamps had wicks. The wick was a piece of material that kept the flame of a lamp burning. They used up the oil, which supplied the light. And the priests needed to cut the wicks regularly. Bowls and dishes would contain water or blood so that the priest could scatter it in small drops. The large spoons were for the *incense. This substance smelled sweet. The priest burnt it as part of an *offering (Leviticus 2:1-2).
The posts for the lamps were pure gold. There were 10 of them, 5 on each side of the *Temple. They lit the holy place (1 Kings 7:49).
Jeremiah's brief record shows how the *Babylonians moved a great quantity of *bronze, gold and silver from the *Temple. Jeremiah had *prophesied that one day some of the *Temple equipment would go back to Judah. This happened when Cyrus, the king of Persia, sent back gold and silver things (Ezra 1:7-11).
Verses 24-30. This account appears also in 2 Kings 25:18-21.
Verse 24 Seriah was the grandson of Hilkiah, the high priest. Hilkiah had discovered the book of the law during Josiah's rule (2 Kings 22:8). Seriah was the grandfather of Joshua, son of Jehozadak (1 Chronicles 6:14). Joshua was high priest after the *exile (Haggai 1:1). So Seriah's family continued after his death. Zephaniah was probably the priest who took messages to King Zedekiah (Jeremiah 21:1; 37:3). He read the letter to Jeremiah that Shemaiah sent from Babylon (Jeremiah 29:24-29). The three men who guarded the doors were important priests. They were responsible for the security of the *Temple.
Verse 25 Nebuzaradan took the most important officials in the government. He took 7 men who advised the king. He took the chief military officer. He took the secretary, who made people join the army. The 60 people might be people whom he had forced to join the army.
Verses 26-27 Nebuzaradan took all those prisoners to the king of Babylon at Riblah. Nebuchadnezzar would have ordered men to kill them all.
Verses 28-30 The record gives the number of prisoners that went into *exile on three separate occasions.
1. 598 or 597 *BC The 7th year of Nebuchadnezzar's rule. This was in the way that the *Babylonians counted. The number 3,023 is different from that in 2 Kings 24:14, which says 10,000. This is possibly because 3,023 is the exact number of adult males. Probably 10,000 was a rough number that included everyone, families as well.
2. 587 or 586 *BC The 18th year of Nebuchadnezzar’s rule. This was in the way that the *Babylonians counted. 832 is a much smaller number. But many people would have died when the enemy camped round the city, and in the final attack. And Nebuchadnezzar killed some people as a punishment.
3. 582 or 581 *BC The 23rd year of Nebuchadnezzar's rule. Nebuzaradan took 745 prisoners to Babylon. This may have been because they tried to oppose Babylon again. Or it may have been a late punishment because of the murder of Gedaliah.
The total of 4,600 seems small, even if it was only the adult males. But however small the number, those *exiles would be the people from whom the *LORD would build a new Israel.
Verse 31 Evil-Merodach became king in 561 *BC, after the death of his father, Nebuchadnezzar. Jehoiachin had been in prison for 37 years. When a new king began to rule, they were often more kind.
Verses 32-34 Evil-Merodach gave Jehoiachin respect and security. He was able to remove his prison clothes. The new king gave honour to Jehoiachin. And Jehoiachin ate his meals with the king. The regular provision was for Jehoiachin and his family. He had 5 sons. People have found pieces of *clay on which people wrote in Babylon. One piece is very interesting. It describes the amounts of oil and grain that the king gave to 'Yaukin, king of Judah, and his sons.' ‘Yaukin’ refers to Jehoiachin.
This information means that the book of Jeremiah and the book of Kings end on a message of hope. Jeremiah's *prophecies had happened. The *LORD punished his wicked people. He allowed Babylon to defeat them. Also Jeremiah had *prophesied that the *LORD would bring back his people to their own country (Jeremiah 24:4-7). Jehoiachin's freedom showed that the other *exiles would have their freedom one day. They would be able to establish the nation of Israel again in their own country.
AD ~ refers to the years after Christ was born.
altar ~ a block of wood or stone with a flat top. People gave gifts or *sacrifices on it to God or to a false god.
Ammonite ~ people who live in or come from the country called Ammon; anything connected with Ammon.
ancestors ~ members of your family who lived in the past.
Assyrian ~ people who live in, or come from, the country called Assyria; anything connected with Assyria.
Baal ~ a local false god. People thought that these false gods made crops grow.
Babylonian ~ people who live in, or come from, the country called Babylon; anything connected with Babylon.
BC ~ refers to the years before Christ was born.
bless ~ to say or to do good things to a person.
bronze ~ a brown metal that is a mixture of two metals called copper and tin.
bull ~ male farm animal; the female of which is called a cow.
burnt offerings ~ see ‘offerings’.
clay ~ a type of earth from which people made pots.
covenant ~ the special promise that the *LORD made to his people, the *Israelites. The *LORD’s covenant with the *Israelites established a special relationship between him and them. But they had to obey him.
descendants ~ members of your family who live after you live.
destruction ~ the damage that people cause when they destroy something.
eagle ~ a large strong bird that can fly fast.
Egyptian ~ a person who comes from the country called Egypt; something that has a connection with Egypt.
exile ~ absence from the country where usually you live. Usually somebody forces a person to go into exile.
grapes ~ the fruit of a plant called a *vine. People eat grapes. Also they use grapes to make wine.
Greek ~ the language in which the authors wrote the *New Testament.
Hebrew ~ the language in which the authors wrote the *Old Testament. The language that the *Israelites spoke. Another name for a *Jew or an *Israelite.
idol ~ an image of a false god that people *worship instead of the *LORD.
incense ~ a substance that gives a sweet smell when people burn it.
Israelites ~ people from the nation called Israel; another name for the *Jews.
Jew ~ a *descendant of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
kingdom ~ a country where a king rules.
locust ~ an insect that flies and eats green plants; locusts usually fly together in huge groups and they look like a dark cloud.
LORD ~ a special name for God. In the *Hebrew Bible it translates the word YHWH. Probably YHWH (Yahweh) means ‘he is always alive’.
Moabite ~ a person who comes from the country called Moab; something that has a connection with Moab.
Mount ~ another name for mountain.
New Testament ~ the last part of the Bible that the writers wrote after the life of Jesus.
offering ~ a gift to
please the *LORD or a false god.
burnt offering ~ the *Israelite priest burnt the whole animal on the *altar.
Old Testament ~ the first part of the Bible that the writers wrote before the life of Jesus.
pagan ~ a person who loves a false god or false gods; something that has a connection with a false god.
Pharaoh ~ a name for the king or the ruler in Egypt.
Philistines ~ a nation that fought against the people in Israel and in Judah.
pomegranate ~ a type of fruit than contains many seeds and much juice.
prophecy/prophecies ~ the words that a *prophet speaks or writes.
prophesy ~ to speak or write about things that will happen in the future; to speak on behalf of God or on behalf of a false god.
prophet ~ a person who declares God's message.
prostitute ~ a person who sells their body for sex.
religious ~ something that has a connection with religion.
sacrifice ~ an *offering to God or to false gods. The *Israelites had to give sacrifices to the *LORD when they asked him to forgive their *sins. Usually the priest had to kill a special animal and burn it on the *altar. Sometimes *pagans killed a child as a sacrifice.
scroll ~ a long piece of paper or the skin of an animal on which people wrote.
shepherds ~ men who look after sheep. Sometimes leaders in Israel were called shepherds.
shield ~ a large flat object that a man holds in front of him when he is fighting. It protects him from sharp arrows.
sin ~ when a person does or says bad things against God or against other people; the bad things that a person does or says when they do not obey God.
temple ~ a building where people *worship a false god.
Temple ~ the most important building in Jerusalem where the *Jews *worshipped God.
throne ~ a magnificent royal seat on which a king or ruler sits.
tribe ~ group of people that have the same *ancestor.
trumpet ~ a musical instrument that people blow into to make a sound; men used it to sound an alarm for war.
vine ~ the plant on which *grapes grow.
vineyard ~ the place where *vines grow.
worship ~ to show honour to God or to a false god. People may sing or pray when they worship. Or they may kneel or give a gift to God.
worthless ~ of no value.
R.K. Harrison ~ Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries: Jeremiah and Lamentations ~ Tyndale Press 1973
Derek Kidner ~ The Bible Speaks Today: The Message of Jeremiah ~ IVP 2003 reprint
Alan Millard ~ Discoveries from Bible Times ~ Lion Publishing 1997
J A Thompson ~ New International Commentary on the *Old Testament: The Book of Jeremiah ~ Eerdmans 1980
New International Version ~1st published 1979
New International Readers Version ~ 1998
New International Version Study Bible ~ 1987
New English Bible ~ 1970
Jerusalem Bible ~ 1974
Today's English Version ~ 1976
Concise Oxford Chambers 21st Century
Thesaurus ~ Geddes and Grosset ~ 1999
© 2014, Wycliffe Associates (UK)
This publication is in EasyEnglish Level B (2800 words).
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