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The New Oxford Annotated Bible New Revised Standard Study Bible that provides essential scholarship and guidance for Bible readers.

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Commentary on Jeremiah

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Commentary spanning earlier chapters

46.1–51.64 : Oracles against foreign nations

(cf. Isa 13–23; Ezek 25–32 ). There are no widely acceptedcriteria for determining if these oracles are by Jeremiah. Comparison of the Hebrew and the Greek textsof the book (see Introduction and 25.13n .) indicates that the oracles once comprised an independent unitwith its own composition history and that, in both versions of the book, these oracles play a significanttheological role in relation to the theme of Jeremiah's ministry to the nations. The God who broughtBabylon against his people in judgment for their sins also judges Egypt and Babylon. The headings( 46.2,13; 47.1; 48.1 ; etc.) were added after the events detailed in the oracles. Like the book of Jeremiah as a whole, these prophecies function not as predictions of the future, but as theological interpretationsof history.

50.1–51.64 : Against Babylon.

This collection of oracles contains two main themes: the fall of Babylon(sometimes represented as accomplished, sometimes represented as still in the future) and the return ofthe exiles (cf. 24.6; 29.10 ). The attitude toward Babylon is harsher ( 50.14 ,24) than elsewhere in the book( 27.6; 43.10 ), but is not unprecedented (e.g., 25.12–14 ). The oracles concerning Judah (Israel) are markedin the following comments with the letters (a) to (f).

50.1 :

By the prophet Jeremiah, lit. “by the hand ofJeremiah the prophet,” an idiom found also in Hag 1.1; Mal 1.1 ; contrast Jer 46.1; 49.34 .

2–3 :

Thedownfall of Babylon. The nation out of the north, patterned on Jeremiah's expression ( 4.6 ), may or maynot refer to Cyrus and Persia, before whom Babylon fell in October 539 BCE. Bel, 51.44; Isa 46.1 ,originally chief god of Nippur, later identified in Babylon with the great cosmic god Marduk (Merodach). 4–5,6–7: (a) An apostrophe on Israel's homecoming ( 31.7–9) and guilt (2.20; 23.1–2 ). Contrast v. 7 with 2.3 .

8–16 :

The residents are urged to flee before Babylon's approaching doom ( 13.14 ) and desolation( 18.16 ).

12 :

Your mother, the city of Babylon is personified here as the mother of her people.

13 :

Hiss, see 18.6n.

17–20 :

(b) Though successively subject to Assyria and Babylonia, Israel will be restored ( 31.4–5; 33.8 ) and Babylon, as Assyria was earlier, will be destroyed ( 25.12 ). Carmel … Bashan,agriculturally rich areas in Israel (Isa 33.9 ;Am 4.1 ).

21–32 :

God's judgment against Babylon. Merathaim,“double rebellion” is a play on the name of southern Babylonia, “mât marrâti,” “land of the lagoons.”Pekod, “visitation,” is a play on the name “Puqûdu,” an east Babylonian tribe (Ezek 23.23 ). The writerderides Babylon as a smashed hammer and a captured bird (cf. 5.26–27 ). He sees the destruction of theTemple as an affront to God which must and will be avenged ( 21.14 ;Am 2.2 ).

33–34 :

(c) While Israel is helpless, God, her Redeemer (Isa 47.4 ), will deliver her and discomfit her oppressors. 35–37 : The oracle of the sword.

38–40 :

Babylon will lie as a desert, unproductive, and inhabited only by wild animals (Isa 34.13–14 ). Sodom and Gomorrah, see Gen 18–19; cf. Jer 49.18 .

41–46 :

This oracle reuses and reappliesmaterial from elsewhere in the book of Jeremiah. Babylon, once the foe from the north ( 6.22–24 ), nowstands in dread anticipation of a foe from the north. As Edom could not escape her punishment ( 49.19–21 ), neither can Babylon. There is no king (shepherd) who can successfully defy God.

44 :

Thickets of the Jordan, see 12.5 n.; 49.19 .

51.1–64 :

God's judgment against Babylon.

1–4 :

As grain is winnowed, so will Babylon be cut downand winnowed (see 15.7n. ). Leb& qamai is an atbash cipher (see 25.26n .) for “Chaldea,” i.e., Babylonia.

5–10 :

(d) A note reminding Israel that while they have hope, Babylon's case is hopeless ( 50.33–34 ).Babylon was the golden cup from which the nations would drink of God's wrath (see 25.15–29n .), butnow that cup is smashed; she stands desolate ( 46.11; Ezek 27.27 ) as God delivers his people. 11–19: Terse military commands precede the attack by the Medes; either a reference to Media, northeast of Babylonia,which participated in the overthrow of Assyria and was a threat to Babylonia during this period, or anoblique reference to Persia. Media became a Persian province in 549 BCE. The phrase mighty waters refersto the Euphrates and the network of canals around Babylon.

15–19 :

In connection with God's judgmenton Babylon, the writer appends the oracle against the idols from 10.12–16 (see 50.38 ).

20–23 :

This oracleof the hammer (see 50.23 ) addresses the destroying enemy of Babylon.

24–26 :

Destroying mountain may reflect the great ziggurat or temple tower of Babylon. Burned& out mountain, perhaps “mountain of burntbricks” (Gen 11.3 ).

27–33 :

As Babylon subdued the nations ( 25.15–26 ), so the nations will gather againstBabylon. Ararat, ancient Urartu, modern Armenia, north of Lake Van. Minni, Mannaeans living southof Lake Urmia. Ashkenaz, the Scythians. All were defeated by the Medes in the early sixth century BCE.

34–40 :

(e) Again Jerusalem's deliverance is viewed as a mighty act of God ( 50.34 ); he will make Babyloniaa desert ( 9.10 ); the once mighty lion will become drunk ( 25.15–16 ) and fall into a helpless, permanentsleep.

35 :

Note the poetic pattern: Babylon/inhabitants of Zion//inhabitants of Chaldea/Jerusalem orcity/people//people/city.

37 :

Hissing, see 18.6n .

41–43 :

Babylon (written Sheshach, an atbash cipher; see 25.26 n.), will be inundated by the waves of her attackers ( 46.7–8; Isa 8.7–8 ); when the flood recedes, shewill be a trackless wasteland.

44–49 :

In antiquity, the fall of a land was viewed as the defeat of its god(s)(Isa 37.12 ).

44 :

Bel, see 50.2–3n .

50–58 :

(f) The doubts raised by the destruction of the Temple shouldbe allayed by God's assurance of certain punishment for Babylon, which desecrated the holy places.

59–64 :

The oracles are written in a book and taken to Babylon. Though we know of no journey ofZedekiah, he may have gone to renew his fealty after the abortive plot of 593 BCE (chs 27–28 ) becameknown to Nebuchadrezzar. Seraiah, brother of Baruch ( 32.12 ).

60 :

This is the fourth reference to adistinct scroll authored by Jeremiah ( 30.1; 36.1; 45.2; 51.60 ). As the book itself acknowledges, the historyof the book's growth was complicated indeed.

63 :

By a symbolic act the oracle against Babylon isemphasized; this oracle may have been the causative factor for the composition of 50.1–51.58 . Thus far are the words of Jeremiah, an additional comment calling attention to the supplementary character of thehistorical appendix in ch 52 .

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