Notes on the Bible, by Albert Barnes, , at sacred-texts.com
It was immediately after the battle of Carchemish (605 b.c.) between Egypt and Babylon, and probably before Nebuchadnezzar and his victorious army appeared in Palestine, that Jeremiah delivered this prophecy Jer. 25, orally perhaps at first to the people, but soon afterward committed to writing; it formed part of Jehoiakim's scroll Jer 36:29. It belongs to the year of Jeremiah's greatest activity, when he was using his utmost efforts to detach Jehoiakim from Egypt, and prevail upon him to accept frankly the position of a king subject to Nebuchadnezzar, not only as a matter of policy but of religious duty. It was this latter aspect of the appeal that made the king reject it. He burned the prophet's scroll, tried to slay the prophet, and heard the voice of God no more during the rest of his reign.
The fourth year - See Dan 1:1 note. This invasion of Judaea, in which Daniel was carried captive to Babylon, was according to the date of the years the fourth, but according to the actual time the third, year of the Jewish king. Nebuchadnezzar was not yet fully king, but associated with his father Nabopalassar.
The three and twentieth year - i. e., nineteen under Josiah, and four under Jehoiakim. This prophecy divides itself into three parts,
(1) the judgment of Judah Jer 25:3-11, and Babylon's doom Jer 25:12-14;
(2) the wine-cup of fury Jer 25:15-29;
(3) the judgment of the world Jer 25:30-38.
Turn ye - i. e., Repent ye; the great summons of God to mankind at all times (Luk 24:47; Act 2:38; compare Mat 3:2).
The term families is probably used here to signify the widespread empire of Nebuchadnezzar.
My servant - This title, so remarkable in the Old Testament as the especial epithet, first of Moses, and then of the Messiah, is thrice given to Nebuchadnezzar, and marks the greatness of the commission entrusted to him.
Take from them ... the sound of the millstones, and the light of the candle - (or, lamp). To denote the entire cessation of domestic life. The one was the sign of the preparation of the daily meal, the other of the assembling of the family after the labors of the day were over.
Seventy years - The duration of the Babylonian empire was really a little short of this period. But the 70 years are usually calculated down to the time when the Jews were permitted to return to their country (compare Jer 29:10).
Perpetual desolations - The ruins of Babylon form its only lasting memorial.
The Septuagint places a full stop after "book," and take the rest as a title "what Jeremiah prophesied against the nations," which series there immediately follows. In the Masoretic Text, this series is deferred to the end Jer. 46-49, and with Jer. 50-51, forms one entire series. Other reasons make it probable that the Septuagint has preserved for us an earlier text, in which all direct mention of the king of Babylon is omitted and the 70 years are given as the duration of Judah's captivity, and not of the Babylonian empire. The fuller text of the Masorites is to be explained by the dislocation which Jehoiakim's scroll evidently suffered.
Shall serve themselves of them also - i. e., shall impose forced labor upon the Chaldaeans, and reduce them also to servitude.
Saith - Or, hath said. This prophecy - placed by the Septuagint after those against the nations - forms an impressive statement of the manner in which the new kingdom of Babylon was to execute Yahweh's wrath upon the nations far and near.
Be moved - Rather, stagger.
Then took I the cup - Not actually offering the wine-cup - Holy Scripture has suffered much from this materialistic way of explaining it: but publicly proclaiming this prophecy in Jerusalem, as the central spot of God's dealings with men, and leaving it to find its way to the neighboring states.
As it is this day - Words omitted by the Septuagint, and probably added by Jeremiah after the murder of Gedaliah had completed the ruin of the land.
The arrangement is remarkable. Jeremiah begins with the south, Egypt; next Uz on the southeast, and Philistia on the southwest; next, Edom, Moab, and Ammon on the east, and Tyre, and Sidon, and the isles of the Mediterranean on the west; next, in the Far East, various Arabian nations, then northward to Media and Elam, and finally the kings of the north far and near.
The mingled people - Either auxiliaries; or, rather, a constituent portion of the people of Egypt, who were not of pure blood.
Azzah - i. e., Gaza.
The remnant of Ashdod - A sentence which none but a contemporary writer could have used. Psammetichus, after a siege of 29 years, had captured and destroyed Ashdod, except for a feeble remnant.
The isles - Rightly explained in the margin; it probably refers here to Cyprus.
Dedan - See the Isa 21:13 note.
Buz - See Job 32:2 note.
All that are ... - See the marginal reference note.
Arabia - That part which bordered on Palestine, and was inhabited mainly by Ishmaelites.
The mingled people - Compare the Jer 25:20 note. In Arabia there seem to have been many tribes of Cushite origin, who by intermarriage with other tribes had become of mixed blood.
Zimri - Probably a district between Arabia and Persia. "Elam" is put in Scripture for the whole of Persia.
All the kingdoms of the world ... - In accordance with the usage of Holy Scripture this universality is limited. It is moral and not geographical.
Sheshach - Jerome says that this is the name Babel written in cypher, the letters being transposed. Another example occurs in Jer 51:1, where the words "the heart of my risers up" become the Chaldaeans. The Septuagint omits the clause containing the name.
The metaphors denote the helplessness to which the nations are reduced by drinking the wine-cup of fury Jer 25:15.
Yahweh has risen like a lion from His covert, and at His roaring the whole world is filled with terror and confusion.
Upon his habitation - Against His pasture; i. e., Judaea. Yahweh comes forth as the lion to destroy the sheep which lie terrified within the circle of the tents.
A shout - The vintage-shout, here used for the war-cry. Compare Isa 16:9; Isa 63:3.
A noise - The trampling of an army in motion. Compare Amo 2:2.
A controversy - i. e., a suit at law.
Will plead - Or, will hold judgment. As judge He delivers the wicked to the sword.
A great whirlwind - Or, storm.
The coasts of the earth - See Jer 6:22 note. The thunderstorm seen first on the edge of the horizon overspreads the heaven, and travels from nation to nation in its destructive course.
Lamented - See the marginal reference and Jer 8:2.
Principal of the flock - i. e., noble ones.
Wallow yourselves in the ashes - Rather, roll yourselves on the ground.
For ... - Read; "for your days for being slaughtered are accomplished, and I will scatter you" (or, (dash you in pieces).
Fall like a pleasant vessel - The comparison suggests the idea of change from a thing of value into worthless fragments.
Hath spoiled - Or, spoileth.
The peaceable habitations - The pastures of peace, the peaceable fields where the flocks lately dwelt in security. See Jer 25:30 note.
Yahweh has risen up, like a lion that leaves its covert, eager for prey, that He may execute judgment upon the wicked.