Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary, 1859 edition.

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JEREMIAS - Chapter 51

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Jeremias li.

Notes & Commentary:

Ver. 1. Thereof. Hebrew leb kamai, "of the heart, rising up against me." (Haydock) --- Many take Leb-kamai to be the enigmatical name of the Chaldeans, by a secret combination of letters, (Kimchi; Grotius) as if they were not clearly designated in the sequel. (Calmet) --- The prophet expresses more pointedly what he had declared in the preceding chapter. (Worthington)

Ver. 2. Fan her. After the corn was trodden out, it was heaved into the wind. This custom would insinuate the distress and captivity of the Chaldeans. Septuagint, "I will send....scoffers, and they shall treat her with scorn, kathubriousin. (Haydock) --- They have read (Calmet) zedim for zarim.

Ver. 3. Mail. There will be little or no resistance made, chap. l. 3. (Haydock) --- The Persians denounce destruction to all taken in arms; or, according to Septuagint and Syriac they exhort each other to fight. (Calmet) --- "Let him," &c. (Haydock) --- Hebrew of the Masorets, "you who bend....spare not." (Calmet) --- Protestants, "against him that bendeth let the archer bend his bow," &c. (Haydock) --- Hebrew is printed ne tendat tendat tendans. The second word is properly omitted in some manuscripts. Thus (1 Chronicles xxiv. 6.) we read taken taken, achuz having been put erroneously for achad, one. (Kennicott)

Ver. 5. Forsaken, as a widow, viduatus. (Haydock) --- God still considers the nation as his spouse. --- Their land. That of the Chaldeans, (Calmet) or of the Jews. (Theodoret) --- Sin, or punishment.

Ver. 6. Silent. Jews proclaim that Babylon is justly punished, (Calmet) lest you partake in her crimes, Apocalypse xviii. 4. Protestants, "be not cut off in her," &c. (Haydock)

Ver. 7. Cup. She has exercised the vengeance of the Lord on Juda, Egypt, &c.

Ver. 8. Suddenly. She has not lost many battles; but is fallen at once from being the greatest city of the East.

Ver. 9. We. The guardian angels, or Jews reply. Miracles are lost on her. --- Heavens. Her crimes call for punishment, Genesis xviii. 21., and Jonas i. 2.

Ver. 10. Justices. We had not injured the Chaldeans, though we had offended God.

Ver. 11. Sharpen. He addresses ironically the citizens of Babylon. --- Medes. Thus the subjects of the Persian monarchs are commonly styled. (Calmet)

Ver. 12. Standard. Call together thy subjects and allies. (Haydock) --- This must be explained of Babylon. (Menochius) --- Yet all will be in vain, ver. 11. (Haydock) --- Ambushes. Herein the valour and genius of heroes was most displayed, Josue viii. 2. (Homer)

Ver. 13. Waters. Not far from the Tigris, and divided into two parts by the Euphrates. (Calmet) --- Entire, being cut up by the roots, pedalis, (Lyranus) or according to the measure of thy crimes. (Delrio) (Calmet) --- Septuagint, "thy end is truly come into thy bowels." (Haydock)

Ver. 14. Himself. Septuagint, "his hand" lifted up, or by his power. --- Locusts. Their ravages were equally dreaded, Joel ii. 4., and Judges vi. 5.

Ver. 16. Rain. Thunder and lightning are usually followed by showers. (Calmet)

Ver. 17. Every man, &c. That is, every maker of idols, however he boasts of his knowledge and skill, does but shew himself a fool in pretending to make a god. (Challoner) (Wisdom xiv. 18.) --- By his, or "by default of knowledge;" (a scientia. Haydock) as the Hebrew may also mean. The Babylonians were so confounded, they knew not what to do. (Calmet) --- Protestants, "Every man is brutish by his knowledge." Marginal note, or "is more brutish than to know," chap. x. 14. (Haydock)

Ver. 20. Thou, Cyrus, (Grotius) or more commonly the Chaldeans are understood.

Ver. 25. Mountain. So Babylon is styled in derision. See chap. xxi. 13., and Isaias i. 10., and xx. 6., and xxii. 1. The city stood on a plain. Some think that its palace and walls are designated. --- Burnt; unfruitful. This happened long after Cyrus, though it then ceased to be the capital, and became only a shadow of its former greatness.

Ver. 26. Corner. No king or conqueror shall spring thence. Alexander [the Great] thought of making it the seat of his empire, but was prevented by death. (Strabo xv.)

Ver. 27. Prepare. Literally, "sanctify." (Haydock) --- Call together all nations to fight against Babylon. (Worthington) --- Many religious ceremonies were used. --- Ararat, where the ark rested, (Genesis viii. 4.) near the Araxes, (St. Jerome, in Isaias xxxvii.) or in the Gordyean mountains, in Armenia, where the Menni dwelt. --- Ascenez, or Ascantes, (Calmet) near the Tanais. (Pliny, [Natural History?] vi. 7.) --- Taphsar, "the prince," Nahum iii. 17. (Pagnin) "Warriors." (Chaldean) "Machines" (Septuagint) --- Caterpillar, or "locust," (bruchum. Haydock) which resembles more a body of cavalry. (Calmet) --- Septuagint, "Push forward the cavalry against her, as a multitude of locusts." (Haydock)

Ver. 28. Prepare; "sanctify." (Haydock) --- Media. Cyrus, ver. 11. --- Captains: generals. (Calmet) --- Rulers. Literally, "magistrates." (Haydock) --- Hebrew Seganim, a title used once by Isaias, and frequently by those who wrote after the Assyrians (Calmet) commenced their invasion. (Haydock)

Ver. 30. Bars, fastening the gates. (Calmet) --- Those who entered by the channel of the river, would seize the gates to let their companions enter. (Haydock)

Ver. 31. King, feasting in his palace, (Herodotus i. 191.) or at Borsippe. (Berosus) He sent to make inquiries, (Calmet) or his subjects hastened to convey the doleful tidings, and thus met each other. (Haydock)

Ver. 32. Fords. Thus the enemy entered. --- Marches. Hebrew, "sedges," which grew to the size of trees, and were burnt when the waters of the river and lakes were drained. Herodotus (i. 185, 178.) specifies a lake four hundred and twenty stadia square, and says the ditches round the city were full of water.

Ver. 33. Threshing, performed by oxen treading, and by rollers, &c., Judges viii. 16., and 2 Kings xii. 31. --- Little; about fifty-six years.

Ver. 34. Dragon, or huge fish, which swallows without chewing. Sion is here venting her complaint, Psalm cxxxvi. 8. (Calmet) --- She shews that Babylon is justly punished for her cruelty towards God's people. (Worthington)

Ver. 36. Spring; commerce, the source of her riches; or rather the waters shall be brought out of their usual channels. For many ages (Calmet) the Euphrates has been lost in sands, and reaches not the Persian Gulf. (Pliny, [Natural History?] vii. 27.) (Cellar. iii. 16.)

Ver. 37. Dragons. This has been the case for above sixteen centuries, chap. l. 31., and Isaias xiii. 21.

Ver. 38. Roar. They shall retain their haughty air and threaten others, when they themselves shall fall (Calmet) in the midst of their feasting, Daniel v. 30. (Xenophon vii.)

Ver. 41. Sesach, the city which worshipped the moon, (chap. xxv. 26.) Bel, (chap. l. 2.) &c.

Ver. 42. Sea: numerous armies of Cyrus, or the waters of the Euphrates let loose. (Calmet) --- In the days of Alexander [the Great], many tombs of the kings were inundated. (Strabo xv.)

Ver. 44. Down. His priests pretended that he eat, (Daniel xiv. 11.) and a woman of their choice slept in the most retired part of the temple. (Herodotus i. 181.) --- The prophet derides this notion. The idol, or rather his votaries, (Haydock) shall be forced to let go the Israelites. (Calmet) --- Fall, by means of Cyrus and of Darius, chap. l. 3. (Haydock)

Ver. 46. Faint. You may apprehend that your miseries will increase in the midst of such confusion; but no, Baltassar, the last of your oppressor's race, shall be assassinated by Neriglissor, who will be succeeded by Laborosoarchod and Nabonides. This last shall yield to Cyrus, who will grant you liberty. Baltassar reigned two years, Neriglissor four, his ill-tempered infant son nine months, when his followers murdered him, and gave the crown to a Babylonian called Nabonides, who kept it seventeen years, till Cyrus took him prisoner. This we learn from Berosus, quoted by Josephus, contra Apion i. On the other hand Daniel makes Darius, the Mede, succeed Baltassar, and after him Cyrus reigned. To these changes and continual alarms the prophet alludes.

Ver. 47. Idols; Bel, &c., ver. 41. --- Slain. Hebrew, "dancers." The people were feasting. (Calmet) --- It means also "slain," (Protestants) or "soldiers."

Ver. 48. Praise, for the just punishment. (Haydock) --- The crimes were public. (Calmet)

Ver. 50. Mind. Offer sacrifices of thanks on Sion, (Haydock) both Jews and other nations. (Calmet)

Ver. 51. We. The Jews answer: we are ashamed when we think of these places. (Menochius)

Ver. 53. High. Her fortifications and ditches will prove fruitless, chap. xlviii. 7, 18.

Ver. 55. Great voice, or boasting and songs of joy, usual at public meetings. --- Noise. They groan under affliction.

Ver. 57. Drunk, with the wine of fury, ver. 39., and chap. xxv. 26.

Ver. 58. Broad wall. The pagan historians agree not in the dimensions, but allow it was excessively broad and lofty. (Calmet) --- Six chariots might go abreast. It was 360 stadia long, (Ctesias); or 480 (Herodotus i. 178.) that is above 23 leagues, allowing 2,500 paces for each. This author says the breadth was fifty cubits of the king, three inches larger than the common one, or about twenty-one inches. Pliny ([Natural History?] vi. 26.) improperly applies this to Roman feet, and says the walls were two hundred feet high; while Herodotus assigns so many cubits. (Calmet) --- There were three different walls. (Curt. v.) --- Cyrus demolished the outer one. (Berosus) --- What remained, (Calmet) with the hundred brazen gates, Darius treated in like manner. (Herodotus i. 179., and iii. 159.) --- Thus was the prediction fulfilled, and the works of so many captive nations brought to nothing. It is asserted that 200,000 (Calmet) daily finished a stadium, (Curt. v.) or 125 paces. (Calmet)

Ver. 59. With. Hebrew also, (Calmet) "on behalf of." (Protestant marginal note) (Haydock) --- It is no where else asserted that Sedecias went in person, and Septuagint, Chaldean, &c., explain it in this manner. Baruch accompanied his brother Saraias, and probably took the letter, Baruch i. 2. Saraias went to petition for the sacred vessels. --- Prophecy, or of the embassy to speak (Calmet) in the king's name. Hebrew menucha, was a caution of Benjamin. It means, "rest;" whence some have inferred that he was chamberlain, (Canticle of Canticles iii. 8.) or a favourite. Most translate, "chief of the presents," Septuagint and Chaldean, as if they they had read mincha, which he carried as a tribute to Babylon. Jeremias gave him charge of the parcel, perhaps before Baruch had determined to go.

Ver. 64. Sink. The angel did the like; (Apocalypse xviii. 21.; Calmet) and the Phoceans, leaving their country, swore that they would return no more till a piece of red hot iron, which they threw into the sea, should swim. (Herodotus i. 165.) --- Thus, &c., was added by the compiler. Septuagint omit the sentence, as what relates to Babylon is placed [in] chap. xxviii. in their copies. (Calmet) --- Yet Grabe puts it in a different character. (Haydock) --- Jeremias wrote a great deal, after the 4th year of Sedecias, ver. 59. (Calmet) --- He here finished his predictions against Babylon. (Worthington) --- This does not mean that he did not write the next chapter, (Menochius) as Cappel allows, (Houbigant) though this may still be doubted. (Haydock)

Bible Text & Cross-references:
The miseries that shall fall upon Babylon, from the Medes: the destruction of her idols.

1 Thus saith the Lord: *Behold I will raise up as it were a pestilential wind against Babylon, and against the inhabitants thereof, who have lifted up their heart against me.

2 And I will send to Babylon fanners, and they shall fan her, and shall destroy her land: for they are come upon her on every side in the day of her affliction.

3 Let not him that bendeth, bend his bow, and let not him go up that is armed with a coat of mail: spare not her young men, destroy all her army.

4 And the slain shall fall in the land of the Chaldeans, and the wounded in the regions thereof.

5 For Israel and Juda have not been forsaken by their God, the Lord of hosts: but their land hath been filled with sin against the holy One of Israel.

6 Flee ye from the midst of Babylon, and let every one save his own life: be not silent upon her iniquity: for it is the time of revenge from the Lord, he will render unto her what she hath deserved.

7 Babylon hath been a golden cup in the hand of the Lord, that made all the earth drunk: the nations have drunk of her wine, and therefore they have staggered.

8 *Babylon is suddenly fallen, and destroyed: howl for her, take balm for her pain, if so she may be healed.

9 We would have cured Babylon, but she is not healed: let us forsake her, and let us go every man to his own land: because her judgment hath reached even to the heavens, and is lifted up to the clouds.

10 The Lord hath brought forth our justices: come, and let us declare in Sion the work of the Lord our God.

11 Sharpen the arrows, fill the quivers: the Lord hath raised up the spirit of the kings of the Medes: and his mind is against Babylon, to destroy it, because it is the vengeance of the Lord, the vengeance of his temple.

12 Upon the walls of Babylon set up the standard, strengthen the watch: set up the watchmen, prepare the ambushes: for the Lord hath both purposed, and done all that he spoke against the inhabitants of Babylon.

13 O thou that dwellest upon many waters, rich in treasures, thy end is come for thy entire destruction.

14 *The Lord of hosts hath sworn by himself, saying: I will fill thee with men as with locusts, and they shall lift up a joyful shout against thee.

15 *He that made the earth by his power, that hath prepared the world by his wisdom, and stretched out the heavens by his understanding.

16 When he uttereth his voice the waters are multiplied in heaven: he lifteth up the clouds from the ends of the earth; he hath turned lightning into rain; and hath brought forth the wind out of his treasures.

17 Every man is become foolish by his knowledge; every founder is confounded by his idol, for what he hath cast is a lie, and there is no breath in them.

18 They are vain works, and worthy to be laughed at; in the time of their visitation, they shall perish.

19 The portion of Jacob is not like them: for he that made all things, he it is, and Israel is the sceptre of his inheritance: the Lord of hosts is his name.

20 Thou dashest together for me the weapons of war, and with thee I will dash nations together, and with thee I will destroy kingdoms:

21 And with thee I will break in pieces the horse, and his rider: and with thee I will break in pieces the chariot, and him that getteth up into it.

22 And with thee I will break in pieces man and woman, and with thee I will break in pieces the old man and the child, and with thee I will break in pieces the young man and the virgin:

23 And with thee I will break in pieces the shepherd and his flock, and with thee I will break in pieces the husbandman and his yoke of oxen, and with thee I will break in pieces captains and rulers.

24 And I will render to Babylon, and to all the inhabitants of Chaldea, all their evil that they have done in Sion, before your eyes, saith the Lord.

25 Behold I come against thee, thou destroying mountain, saith the Lord, which corruptest the whole earth: and I will stretch out my hand upon thee, and will roll thee down from the rocks, and will make thee a burnt mountain.

26 And they shall not take of thee a stone for the corner, nor a stone for foundations, but thou shalt be destroyed for ever, saith the Lord.

27 Set ye up a standard in the land; sound with a trumpet among the nations; prepare the nations against her; call together against her the kings of Ararat, Menni, and Ascenez: number Taphsar against her; bring the horse as the stinging locust.

28 Prepare the nations against her, the kings of Media, their captains, and all the rulers, and all the land of their dominion.

29 And the land shall be in a commotion, and shall be troubled; for the design of the Lord against Babylon shall awake, to make the land of Babylon desert and uninhabitable.

30 The valiant men of Babylon have forborne to fight, they have dwelt in holds: their strength hath failed, and they are become as women; her dwelling places are burnt, her bars are broken.

31 One running post shall meet another, and messenger shall meet messenger, to tell the king of Babylon that his city is taken from one end to the other:

32 And that the fords are taken, and the marshes are burnt with fire, and the men of war are affrighted.

33 For thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: The daughter of Babylon is like a thrashing-floor; this is the time of her thrashing: yet a little while, and the time of her harvest shall come.

34 Nabuchodonosor, king of Babylon, hath eaten me up, he hath devoured me; he hath made me as an empty vessel; he hath swallowed me up like a dragon, he hath filled his belly with my delicate meats, and he hath cast me out.

35 The wrong done to me, and my flesh, be upon Babylon, saith the habitation of Sion; and my blood upon the inhabitants of Chaldea, saith Jerusalem.

36 Therefore, thus saith the Lord: Behold, I will judge thy cause, and will take vengeance for thee, and I will make her sea desolate, *and will dry up her spring.

37 And Babylon shall be reduced to heaps, a dwelling-place for dragons, an astonishment and a hissing, because there is no inhabitant.

38 They shall roar together like lions, they shall shake their manes like young lions.

39 In their heat I will set them drink; and I will make them drunk, *that they may slumber, and sleep an everlasting sleep, and awake no more, saith the Lord.

40 I will bring them down like lambs to the slaughter, and like rams with kids.

41 How is Sesach taken, and the renowned one of all the earth surprised? How is Babylon become an astonishment among the nations?

42 The sea is come up over Babylon: she is covered with the multitude of the waves thereof.

43 Her cities are become an astonishment, a land uninhabited and desolate, a land wherein none can dwell, nor son of man pass through it.

44 And I will visit against Bel in Babylon, and I will bring forth out of his mouth that which he had swallowed down: and the nations shall no more flow together to him, for the wall also of Babylon shall fall.

45 Go out of the midst of her, my people; that every man may save his life from the fierce wrath of the Lord.

46 And lest your hearts faint, and ye fear for the rumour that shall be heard in the land: and a rumour shall come in one year, and after this year another rumour: and iniquity in the land, and ruler upon ruler.

47 Therefore, behold the days come, and I will visit the idols of Babylon: and her whole land shall be confounded, and all her slain shall fall in the midst of her.

48 And the heavens and the earth, and all things that are in them shall give praise for Babylon: for spoilers shall come to her from the north, saith the Lord.

49 And as Babylon caused that there should fall slain in Israel; so of Babylon there shall fall slain in all the earth.

50 You that have escaped the sword, come away, stand not still; remember the Lord afar off, and let Jerusalem come into your mind.

51 We are confounded, because we have heard reproach; shame hath covered our faces; because strangers are come upon the sanctuary of the house of the Lord.

52 Therefore, behold the days come, saith the Lord, and I will visit her graven things, and in all her land the wounded shall groan.

53 If Babylon should mount up to heaven, and establish her strength on high; from me there should come spoilers upon her, saith the Lord.

54 The noise of a cry from Babylon, and great destruction from the land of the Chaldeans:

55 Because the Lord hath laid Babylon waste, and destroyed out of her the great voice; and their wave shall roar like many waters; their voice hath made a noise:

56 Because the spoiler is come upon her, that is, upon Babylon, and her valiant men are taken, and their bow is weakened, because the Lord, who is a strong revenger, will surely repay.

57 And I will make her princes drunk, and her wise men, and her captains, and her rulers, and her valiant men; and they shall sleep an everlasting sleep, and shall awake no more, saith the king, whose name is Lord of hosts.

58 Thus saith the Lord of hosts: That broad wall of Babylon shall be utterly broken down, and her high gates shall be burnt with fire, and the labours of the people shall come to nothing, and of the nations shall go to the fire and shall perish.

59 The word that Jeremias, the prophet, commanded Saraias, the son of Nerias, the son of Naasias, when he went with king Sedecias, to Babylon, in the fourth year of his reign: now Saraias was chief over the prophecy.

60 And Jeremias wrote in one book all the evil that was to come upon Babylon: all these words that are written against Babylon.

61 And Jeremias said to Saraias: When thou shalt come into Babylon, and shalt see, and shalt read all these words,

62 Thou shalt say, O Lord, thou hast spoken against this place to destroy it; so that there should be neither man nor beast to dwell therein, and that it should be desolate for ever.

63 And when thou shalt have made an end of reading this book, thou shalt tie a stone to it, and shalt throw it into the midst of the Euphrates:

64 And thou shalt say: Thus shall Babylon sink, and she shall not rise up from the affliction that I will bring upon her, and she shall be utterly destroyed. Thus far are the words of Jeremias.



1: Year of the World 3409.

8: Isaias xxi. 9.; Apocalypse xiv. 8.

14: Amos vi. 8.

15: Genesis i. 1.

36: Jeremias l. 38.

39: Jeremias li. 57.