A Commentary, Critical, Practical, and Explanatory on the Old and New Testaments, by Robert Jamieson, A.R. Fausset and David Brown  at sacred-texts.com
jer 50:1BABYLON'S COMING DOWNFALL; ISRAEL'S REDEMPTION. (Jer. 50:1-46)
Compare Isa. 45:1-47:15. But as the time of fulfilment drew nearer, the prophecies are now proportionally more distinct than then.
jer 50:2Declare . . . among . . . nations--who would rejoice at the fall of Babylon their oppressor.
standard--to indicate the place of meeting to the nations where they were to hear the good news of Babylon's fall [ROSENMULLER]; or, the signal to summon the nations together against Babylon (Jer 51:12, Jer 51:27), [MAURER].
Bel--the tutelary god of Babylon; the same idol as the PhÅnician Baal, that is, lord, the sun (Isa 46:1).
confounded--because unable to defend the city under their protection.
Merodach--another Babylonian idol; meaning in Syria "little lord"; from which Merodach-baladan took his name.
jer 50:3a nation--the Medes, north of Babylon (Jer 51:48). The devastation of Babylon here foretold includes not only that by Cyrus, but also that more utter one by Darius, who took Babylon by artifice when it had revolted from Persia, and mercilessly slaughtered the inhabitants, hanging four thousand of the nobles; also the final desertion of Babylon, owing to Seleucia having been built close by under Seleucus Nicanor.
jer 50:4Fulfilled only in part when some few of the ten tribes of "Israel" joined Judah in a "covenant" with God, at the restoration of Judah to its land (Neh 9:38; Neh 10:29). The full event is yet to come (Jer 31:9; Hos 1:11; Zac 12:10).
weeping--with joy at their restoration beyond all hope; and with sorrow at the remembrance of their sins and sufferings (Ezr 3:12-13; Psa 126:5-6).
seek . . . Lord-- (Hos 3:5).
jer 50:5thitherward--rather, "hitherward," Jeremiah's prophetical standpoint being at Zion. "Faces hitherward" implies their steadfastness of purpose not to be turned aside by any difficulties on the way.
perpetual covenant--in contrast to the old covenant "which they brake" (Jer 31:31, &c.; Jer 32:40). They shall return to their God first, then to their own land.
jer 50:6(Isa 53:6).
on the mountains--whereon they sacrificed to idols (Jer 2:20; Jer 3:6, Jer 3:23).
resting-place--for the "sheep," continuing the image; Jehovah is the resting-place of His sheep (Mat 11:28). They rest in His "bosom" (Isa 40:11). Also His temple at Zion, their "rest," because it is His (Psa 132:8, Psa 132:14).
jer 50:7devoured-- (Psa 79:7). "Found them" implies that they were exposed to the attacks of those whoever happened to meet them.
adversaries said--for instance, Nebuzara-dan (Jer 40:2-3; compare Zac 11:5). The Gentiles acknowledged some supreme divinity. The Jews' guilt was so palpable that they were condemned even in the judgment of heathens. Some knowledge of God's peculiar relation to Judea reached its heathen invaders from the prophets (Jer 2:3; Dan 9:16); hence the strong language they use of Jehovah here, not as worshippers of Him themselves, but as believing Him to be the tutelary God of Judah ("the hope of their fathers," Psa 22:4; they do not say our hope), as each country was thought to have its local god, whose power extended no farther.
habitation-- (Psa 90:1; Psa 91:1). Alluding to the tabernacle, or, as in Eze 34:14, "fold," which carries out the image in Jer 50:6, "resting-place" of the "sheep." But it can only mean "habitation" (Jer 31:23), which confirms English Version here.
hope of their fathers--This especially condemned the Jews that their apostasy was from that God whose faithfulness their fathers had experienced. At the same time these "adversaries" unconsciously use language which corrects their own notions. The covenant with the Jews' "fathers" is not utterly set aside by their sin, as their adversaries thought; there is still "a habitation" or refuge for them with the God of their fathers.
jer 50:8(Jer 51:6, Jer 51:45; Isa 48:20; Zac 2:6-7; Rev 18:4). Immediately avail yourselves of the opportunity of escape.
be as . . . he-goats before . . . flocks--Let each try to be foremost in returning, animating the weak, as he-goats lead the flock; such were the companions of Ezra (Ezr 1:5-6).
jer 50:9from thence--that is, from the north country.
expert--literally, "prosperous." Besides "might," "expertness" is needed, that an arrow may do execution. The Margin has a different Hebrew reading; "destroying," literally, "bereaving, childless-making" (Jer 15:7). The Septuagint and Syriac support English Version.
In vain--without killing him at whom it was aimed (Sa2 1:22).
jer 50:11(Isa 47:6).
grown fat--and so, skip wantonly.
at grass--fat and frisky. But there is a disagreement of gender in Hebrew reading thus. The Keri is better: "a heifer threshing"; the strongest were used for threshing, and as the law did not allow their mouth to be muzzled in threshing (Deu 25:4), they waxed wanton with eating.
bellow as bulls--rather, "neigh as steeds," literally, "strong ones," a poetical expression for steeds (see on Jer 8:16) [MAURER].
jer 50:12Your mother--Babylon, the metropolis of the empire.
hindermost--marvellous change, that Babylon, once the queen of the world, should be now the hindermost of nations, and at last, becoming "a desert," cease to be a nation!
jer 50:13(Isa 13:20).
jer 50:14Summons to the Median army to attack Babylon.
against the Lord--By oppressing His people, their cause is His cause. Also by profaning His sacred vessels (Dan 5:2).
jer 50:15Shout--Inspirit one another to the onset with the battle cry.
given . . . hand--an idiom for, "submitted to" the conquerors (Ch1 29:24, Margin; Lam 5:6).
as she hath done, do unto her--just retribution in kind. She had destroyed many, so must she be destroyed (Psa 137:8). So as to spiritual Babylon (Rev 18:6). This is right because "it is the vengeance of the Lord"; but this will not justify private revenge in kind (Mat 5:44; Rom 12:19-21); even the Old Testament law forbade this, though breathing a sterner spirit than the New Testament (Exo 23:4-5; Pro 25:21-22).
jer 50:16Babylon had the extent rather of a nation than of a city. Therefore grain was grown within the city wall sufficient to last for a long siege [ARISTOTLE, Politics, 3.2; PLINY, 18.17]. Conquerors usually spare agriculturists, but in this case all alike were to be "cut off."
for fear of . . . oppressing sword--because of the sword of the oppressor.
every one to his people--from which they had been removed to Babylon from all quarters by the Chaldean conquerors (Jer 51:9; Isa 13:14).
jer 50:17lions--hostile kings (Jer 4:7; Jer 49:19).
Assyria-- (Kg2 17:6, Shalmaneser; Ezr 4:2, Esar-haddon).
Nebuchadnezzar-- (Kg2 24:10, Kg2 24:14).
jer 50:18punish . . . king of Babylon--Nabonidus, or Labynitus.
as . . . punished . . . Assyrian--Sennacherib and other kings [GROTIUS] (Kg2 19:37).
jer 50:19(Isa 65:10; Eze 34:13-14).
jer 50:20The specification of "Israel," as well as Judah, shows the reference is to times yet to come.
iniquity . . . none--not merely idolatry, which ceased among the Jews ever since the Babylonian captivity, but chiefly their rejection of Messiah. As in a cancelled debt, it shall be as if it had never been; God, for Christ's sake, shall treat them as innocent (Jer 31:34). Without cleansing away of sin, remission of punishment would be neither to the honor of God nor to the highest interests of the elect.
whom I reserve--the elect "remnant" (Isa 1:9). The "residue" (Zac 14:2; Zac 13:8-9).
jer 50:21Merathaim--a symbolical name for Babylon, the doubly rebellious, namely, against God. Compare Jer 50:24, "thou hast striven against the Lord"; and Jer 50:29, "proud against the Lord." The "doubly" refers to: first, the Assyrian's oppression of Israel; next, the kindred Chaldean's oppression of Judah (compare Jer 50:17-20, Jer 50:33; especially Jer 50:18).
Pekod-- (Eze 23:23); a chief province of Assyria, in which Nineveh, now overthrown, once lay. But, as in Merathaim, the allusion is to the meaning of Pekod, namely, "visitation"; the inhabitants whose time of deserved visitation in punishment is come; not, however, without reference to the now Babylonian province, Pekod. The visitation on Babylon was a following up of that on Assyria.
after them--even their posterity, and all that is still left of Babylon, until the very name is extinct [GROTIUS]. Devastate the city, after its inhabitants have deserted it.
all . . . I . . . commanded--by Isaiah (Isa 13:1, &c.).
jer 50:23hammer--that is, Babylon, so called because of its ponderous destructive power; just as "Martel," that is, "a little hammer," was the surname of a king of the Franks (Isa 14:6).
jer 50:24I--Thou hast to do with God, not merely with men.
taken . . . not aware--HERODOTUS relates that one half of the city was taken before those in the other half were "aware" of it. Cyrus turned the waters of the Euphrates where it was defended into a different channel, and so entered the city by the dried-up channel at night, by the upper and lower gates (Dan 5:30-31).
jer 50:25weapons of his indignation--the Medes and Persians (Isa 13:5).
jer 50:26from the utmost border--namely, of the earth. Or, from all sides LUDOVICUS DE DIEU].
storehouses--or, "her houses filled with men and goods" [MICHAELIS]. When Cyrus took it, the provisions found there were enough to have lasted for many years.
as heaps--make of the once glorious city heaps of ruins. Vast mounds of rubbish now mark the site of ancient Babylon. "Tread her as heaps of corn which are wont to be trodden down in the threshing-floor" [GROTIUS].
jer 50:27bullocks--that is, princes and strong warriors (Jer 46:21; Psa 22:12; Isa 34:7).
go down to . . . slaughter--The slaughterhouses lay low beside the river; therefore it is said, "go down"; appropriate to Babylon on the Euphrates, the avenue through which the slaughterers entered the city.
jer 50:28declare in Zion . . . temple--Some Jews "fleeing" from Babylon at its fall shall tell in Judea how God avenged the cause of Zion and her temple that had been profaned (Jer 52:13; Dan 1:2; Dan 5:2).
jer 50:29archers--literally, "very many and powerful"; hence the Hebrew word is used of archers (Job 16:13) from the multitude and force of their arrows.
according to all that she hath done--(See on Jer 50:15).
proud against the Lord--not merely cruel towards men (Isa 47:10).
jer 50:30(See on Jer 49:26).
in the streets--The Babylonians were so discouraged by having lost some battles that they retired within their walls and would not again meet Cyrus in the field.
jer 50:31most proud--literally, "pride"; that is, man of pride; the king of Babylon.
visit--punish (Jer 50:27).
jer 50:33Israel and . . . Judah were oppressed--He anticipates an objection, in order to answer it: Ye have been, no doubt, "oppressed," therefore ye despair of deliverance; but, remember your "Redeemer is strong," and therefore can and will deliver you.
jer 50:34strong--as opposed to the power of Israel's oppressor (Rev 18:8).
plead . . . cause--as their advocate. Image from a court of justice; appropriate as God delivers His people not by mere might, but by righteousness. His plea against Satan and all their enemies is His own everlasting love, reconciling mercy and justice in the Redeemer's work and person (Mic 7:9; Zac 3:1-5; Jo1 2:1).
give rest . . . disquiet--There is a play on the similarity of sounds in the two Hebrew verbs to express more vividly the contrast: "that He may give quiet to the land of Judah (heretofore disquieted by Babylon); but disquiet to the inhabitants of Babylon" (heretofore quietly secure) (Isa 14:6-8).
jer 50:35The repetition of "A sword" in the beginning of each verse, by the figure anaphora, heightens the effect; the reiterated judgment is universal; the same sad stroke of the sword is upon each and all connected with guilty Babylon.
wise men-- (Isa 47:13). Babylon boasted that it was the peculiar seat of wisdom and wise men, especially in astronomy and astrology.
jer 50:36liars--Those whom he before termed "wise men," he here calls "liars" (impostors), namely, the astrologers (compare Isa 44:25; Rom 1:21-25; Co1 1:20).
jer 50:37as women--divested of all manliness (Nah 3:13).
jer 50:38drought--Altering the pointing, this verse will begin as the three previous verses, "A sword." However, all the pointed manuscripts read, "A drought," as English Version. Cyrus turned off the waters of the Euphrates into a new channel and so marched through the dried-up bed into the city (Jer 51:32). Babylonia once was famed for its corn, which often yielded from one to two hundredfold [HERODOTUS]. This was due to its network of water-courses from the Euphrates for irrigation, traces of which [LAYARD] are seen still on all sides, but dry and barren (Isa 44:27).
their idols--literally, "terrors." They are mad after idols that are more calculated to frighten than to attract (Jer 51:44, Jer 51:47, Jer 51:52; Dan 3:1). Mere bugbears with which to frighten children.
jer 50:39wild beasts of the desert--wild cats, remarkable for their howl [BOCHART].
wild beasts of the islands--jackals (See on Isa 13:21).
owls--rather, "female ostriches"; they delight in solitary places. Literally, "daughters of crying." Compare as to spiritual Babylon, Rev 18:2.
no more inhabited for ever--The accumulation of phrases is to express the final and utter extinction of Babylon; fulfilled not immediately, but by degrees; Cyrus took away its supremacy. Darius Hystaspes deprived it, when it had rebelled, of its fortifications. Seleucus Nicanor removed its citizens and wealth to Seleucia, which he founded in the neighborhood; and the Parthians removed all that was left to Ctesiphon. Nothing but its walls was left under the Roman emperor Adrian.
jer 50:40(Isa 13:19). Repeated from Jer 49:18.
jer 50:41(Compare Jer 6:22-24). The very language used to describe the calamities which Babylon inflicted on Zion is that here employed to describe Babylon's own calamity inflicted by the Medes. Retribution in kind.
kinds--the allies and satraps of the various provinces of the Medo-Persian empire: Armenia, Hyrcania, Lydia, &c.
coasts--the remote parts.
jer 50:42cruel--the character of the Persians, and even of Cyrus, notwithstanding his wish to be thought magnanimous (Isa 13:18).
like a man--So orderly and united is their "array," that the whole army moves to battle as one man [GROTIUS].
jer 50:43hands waxed feeble--attempted no resistance; immediately was overcome, as HERODOTUS tells us.
jer 50:44Repeated mainly from Jer 49:19-21. The identity of God's principle in His dealing with Edom, and in that with Babylon, is implied by the similarity of language as to both.
jer 50:46cry . . . among the nations--In Edom's case it is, "at the cry the noise thereof was heard in the Red Sea." The change implies the wider extent to which the crash of Babylon's downfall shall be heard.