Jeremiah Chapter 49: The Destruction of Israel’s Enemies

Dec 26th, 2009 | By | Category: Jeremiah, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)

Jeremiah Chapter 49: The Destruction of Israel’s Enemies

Jer. 49:1 Concerning the Ammonites, thus saith the LORD; Hath Israel no sons? hath he no heir? why then doth their king inherit Gad, and his people dwell in his cities?

Jeremiah gave a judgment message against another Gentile nation: Ammon. Just before the Israelites entered the Promised Land, 2 1/2 tribes stayed east of the Jordan River: Reuben, Gad, and half of Manasseh. The 2 1/2 tribes were satisfied with the land of promise being on the far (or east) side of Jordan, so they brought the matter to Joshua’s attention. When Joshua took the matter to the Lord, they were told that the 2 1/2 tribes could inherit that land if the men participated with those of the other tribes in conquering the land west of Jordan, or Israel proper. Hence at that time, the territory was called Gad; it was also called Gilead at certain times in history.

Verse 1 suggests two takeovers. First, Gad displaced the Ammonites, and later the Ammonites, who were indigenous to the area, regained the land. Now the question was, “Why then doth their [the Ammonites’] king inherit Gad?” In other words, “What will be done about this situation, for the Ammonites dwell in what belongs to Gad?”

Jer. 49:2 Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will cause an alarm of war to be heard in Rabbah of the Ammonites; and it shall be a desolate heap, and her daughters shall be burned with fire: then shall Israel be heir unto them that were his heirs, saith the LORD.

Jer. 49:3 Howl, O Heshbon, for Ai is spoiled: cry, ye daughters of Rabbah, gird you with sackcloth; lament, and run to and fro by the hedges; for their king shall go into captivity, and his priests and his princes together.

Rabbah, Heshbon, and Ai were all chief cities of Ammon. The judgment was to be against all three of these fortified cities. Verse 2 is saying that Israel would once again occupy Gad and that the Ammonites would be soundly defeated through destruction by fire. Verse 3 tells that Ai had already been spoiled and Heshbon was next. Jeremiah told the women of Rabbah to lament and wear sackcloth and hide, for capture was coming. The leaders, religious and civil, would be spoiled. The formerly secure Rabbah would be in disarray and panic.

Q: Rabbah’s being burned with fire and becoming a desolate heap had a past fulfillment, but in regard to the future fulfillment of Psalm 83, these terms indicate that Israel’s strike on its Arab neighbors will be decisive. Is there a suggestion here that nuclear power might be used?

A: That is a possibility. Of course the imminent individual back there who would cause the land to be desolate was Nebuchadnezzar.

Q: Is Rabbah approximately where Amman is today?

A: That is possible, although the location cannot be precisely determined. Probably Heshbon is the more proper location of Amman because of its situation on a hill, whereas Rabbah was in a valley.

Verse 3 reminds us of Zedekiah’s being taken prisoner with his sons, wives, princes, and the priests who were confederate with him when they were captured down near Jericho. The same principle that occurred with Judah was operative in these other countries.

Jer. 49:4 Wherefore gloriest thou in the valleys, thy flowing valley, O backsliding daughter? that trusted in her treasures, saying, Who shall come unto me?

Verse 4 is a flashback prior to the battle and defeat prophesied in verses 1-3. The Ammonites were overconfident and unafraid in their security, fortifications, and wealth. Their valleys were fertile and full of verdure and crops. “Who shall come unto me?” they asked with confidence and pride.

Jer. 49:5 Behold, I will bring a fear upon thee, saith the Lord GOD of hosts, from all those that be about thee; and ye shall be driven out every man right forth; and none shall gather up him that wandereth.

The Ammonites would be driven out, expelled with force. “None shall gather up him that wandereth.” A “wanderer” is a deserter. In any battle of large, reasonably equal armies, a strategy could occur as follows. The front line engages in battle, and a few shock troops are kept in reserve to be directed toward any penetration of the line, that is, to reinforce a weakness. However, in this case, the reserve troops would desert; they would disobey orders, and the Ammonite king would not be able to get the support he was counting on.

Verse 5 is only a simple explanation that Ammon was to be devoid of inhabitants and that those who would escape actual death would go into the desert and perish. At least temporarily, the picture would be bleak.

Jer. 49:6 And afterward I will bring again the captivity of the children of Ammon, saith the LORD.

Although the same in principle, the prophecy against Ammon is terse compared to that against Moab. Another similarity is that the Ammonites who went into captivity would be restored to their land.

We usually think of “captivity” in a reverse order from the favorable way the Lord uses the word. To “bring again the captivity” can also mean that God will bring the individuals back from the captivity of the grave. From another standpoint, individuals can be in captivity to the Lord. As Christians, we hope to be in captivity to Him forevermore. The turnaround for the world is implied in these prophecies. The nuances will be manifestly pictured and dramatically understood in the Kingdom so that there will be no misunderstanding.

Egypt, Israel, Moab, and  Ammon would all be brought back from captivity but not Babylon (seeJeremiah 50 and 51). Chapters 46-49 give an overall view and general lessons of the coming experiences of Christendom. We should not particularize because Christendom will be destroyed forever.

Jer. 49:7 Concerning Edom, thus saith the LORD of hosts; Is wisdom no more in Teman? Is counsel perished from the prudent? is their wisdom vanished?

Edom would suffer the same fate as Moab and Ammon. It is interesting that Teman is associated with Edom, which was known for wisdom. Reading these terms in Bible prophecies helps us to identify their location with a little more distinction. Eliphaz, one of Job’s counselors, came from Teman, a city in Edom (Job 4:1).

These men of the desert, who were noted for their wisdom, had Middle Eastern understanding along natural lines, of which history today tells us little. There were very learned people in the past, but since our culture is Western, we lose a lot of the meaning. Their wisdom along natural lines was real.

The next several verses, which describe the destruction and end of Edom, are similar to the destruction and end of Esau personally. (Esau was a son of Isaac.) Edom was situated at the southern end of the Dead Sea. Moab and Ammon were a little farther north.

Jer. 49:8 Flee ye, turn back, dwell deep, O inhabitants of Dedan; for I will bring the calamity of Esau upon him, the time that I will visit him.

“I will bring the calamity of Esau [Edom] upon him [Dedan].” Edom is the land of Esau.

This Dedan is different from the one of Ezekiel 38:13, which prophesies that observer forces from Sheba (picturing the United States), Dedan (France), and Tarshish (England) will be in Israel at the end of the age. In other words, in Old Testament times, a Sheba and Dedan were in this location, and another Sheba and Dedan were in Africa.

Jer. 49:9 If grapegatherers come to thee, would they not leave some gleaning grapes? If thieves by night, they will destroy till they have enough.

Jer. 49:10 But I have made Esau bare, I have uncovered his secret places, and he shall not be able to hide himself: his seed is spoiled, and his brethren, and his neighbours, and he is not.

Verse 9 is a form of sarcasm. Would not grape gatherers normally leave some gleaning grapes on the vine? After all, if we picked grapes and took the time to gather every last grape off a vine, other grapes would remain unharvested. Time is too important to pick all the grapes. And even if the grape pickers did not have altruistic motives, the Law said that the corners of a field were to be left for the poor of the land to glean. God was saying that when King Nebuchadnezzar came down from the north, he would not act in the normal way, for he would strip the vine and take everything.

A thief is another example. He makes sure that he fills his bag with valuables and leaves the rest behind. But the king of Babylon would take all the silver, gold, etc.—everything precious and all the commodities. He would strip the land of Esau “bare,” leaving no inhabitants or goodies. “He [Esau] is not.” The land would be denuded of people, for any survivors would be taken into Babylonian captivity.

In the antitype, Edom pictures Christendom. Just as Esau sold his birthright, the Abrahamic promise, so Catholicism was a golden cup in the hand of the Lord but lost the stewardship because of improper use. True spiritual Israelites inherit the stewardship. Esau (Christendom) will be stripped. In the type, the people tried to hide in rocks and caves, but they were searched out. “He is not” means extinction. Accordingly, the beast and the false prophet will go into Second Death (permanent extinction).

At the end of the age, “grapes” will be thrown into the great winepress of the wrath of God. All will be stripped off the land. Grape pickers and thieves usually leave something but not in the case of Christendom. Egypt, Moab, Ammon, and Israel would return from captivity, but that statement was not made in regard to Edom because of the antitype. The natural Edomites will come forth from the grave in the general resurrection but not the nominal Church systems.

Jer. 49:11 Leave thy fatherless children, I will preserve them alive; and let thy widows trust in me.

The antitype continues. “Fatherless children” and “widows” will survive. The tares are being bundled to be burned later. Not all will literally die, but the systems will cease so that one will no longer be a Protestant or a Catholic. Another picture alludes to grapes; still another, to a slaughter in Christendom. The “fatherless children” are the Great Company, who will flee Babylon in the wintertime of the antitypical Sabbath day (Matt. 24:20). They will survive as Christians, whereas the tares will cease their professions.

Even though Esau lost the birthright, he was given some comfort in receiving a natural blessing from Isaac, his father. It is interesting that there were 12 tribes of Israel and 12 tribes of Esau.

Jer. 49:12 For thus saith the LORD; Behold, they whose judgment was not to drink of the cup have assuredly drunken; and art thou he that shall altogether go unpunished? thou shalt not go unpunished, but thou shalt surely drink of it.

“Behold, they whose judgment was not to drink of the cup have assuredly drunken.” When Jeremiah mentioned earlier about drinking the “cup,” Edom was one of the nations in the actual fulfillment (Jer. 25:17,21). When he sent out wooden yokes to those nations that were on the judgment list, Edom was included. Edom “shalt not go unpunished.” The king of Babylon went to Petra, even though it was a discomforting area, because the Lord wanted this prophecy to be fulfilled.

The clause “art thou he that shall altogether go unpunished?” applies to Edom. Similar wording elsewhere applies to Israel in the end time, showing that numerically speaking, the Holy Remnant will be a small element (Jer. 30:11; 46:28).

Jer. 49:13 For I have sworn by myself, saith the LORD, that Bozrah shall become a desolation, a reproach, a waste, and a curse; and all the cities thereof shall be perpetual wastes.

Bozrah, the capital of Edom, and its suburbs would become desolate. Bozrah pictures the Roman Catholic Church, the capital of Christendom (Isa. 34:6; 63:1). For example, Babylon was an empire, a nation, a province, and a city.

Jer. 49:14 I have heard a rumour from the LORD, and an ambassador is sent unto the heathen, saying, Gather ye together, and come against her, and rise up to the battle.

Jer. 49:15 For, lo, I will make thee small among the heathen, and despised among men.

When the king of Babylon came down from the north, people of other nations joined him and became confederate with his army. (The same is true of Gog, who will come down from the north at the time of Jacob’s Trouble.) The others were called “heathen” because they were not Babylonians and because outsiders were viewed as foreigners. These other confederate peoples, who were part of the northern army, had a bone to pick with Bozrah.

We should not spiritualize Edom except where the antitype is apparent. Bozrah, the capital of Edom, is to be considered spiritually in Isaiah 34:6, which mentions lambs, goats, and the fat of rams. Basically, Jeremiah 49 tells what happened when Nebuchadnezzar literally came down and destroyed Edom. However, little statements are sprinkled in the account that have a double application.

“I will make thee small among the heathen.” Today Edom is quite desolate except along the sides of the road going to Petra.

In regard to the Battle of Armageddon, a report, rumor, or premonition of foreboding evil will eventually come on the nominal Church system so that the people will sense a coming judgment. The universal Catholic Church will become as nothing. The fall of mystic Babylon will lead to anarchy.

Jer. 49:16 Thy terribleness hath deceived thee, and the pride of thine heart, O thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock, that holdest the height of the hill: though thou shouldest make thy nest as high as the eagle, I will bring thee down from thence, saith the LORD.

Satan is the son of pride, and Papacy is his organization. Edom felt secure (just as Papacy sits in the temple of God), but destruction cometh!

Jer. 49:17 Also Edom shall be a desolation: every one that goeth by it shall be astonished, and shall hiss at all the plagues thereof.

Egypt, Israel, Moab, Ammon, and Edom all had a period of desolation. “Every one that goeth by … shall hiss [whistle] at all the plagues thereof.” In former days, many people could whistle because the sound, which could be heard quite a distance away, was useful. Here the thought is that the desolation of Edom was so bad that people whistled loudly in amazement. Notice the word “plagues.” Edom received plagues, and so will mystic Babylon.

Jer. 49:18 As in the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah and the neighbour cities thereof, saith the LORD, no man shall abide there, neither shall a son of man dwell in it.

Edom would be overthrown like Sodom and Gomorrah. Sodom and Gomorrah have had no inhabitants ever since their destruction because they are underneath the Dead Sea. For the duration of Edom’s captivity to the king of Babylon, that area was without inhabitants like Sodom and Gomorrah. In the antitype, the two cities suggest Catholicism and Protestantism, respectively.

Jer. 49:19 Behold, he shall come up like a lion from the swelling of Jordan against the habitation of the strong: but I will suddenly make him run away from her: and who is a chosen man, that I may appoint over her? for who is like me? and who will appoint me the time? and who is that shepherd that will stand before me?

Nebuchadnezzar was the “lion” in the type, and he came up “like a lion from the swelling of Jordan against the habitation of the strong.” The Jordan River overflowed its banks at certain seasons of the year.

“But I will suddenly make him run away from her: and who is a chosen man, that I may appoint over her?” When the king of Babylon came down as a flood, Moab, Ammon, and Edom were very much concerned. He came to a place north of the Dead Sea where the land was shaped like a “Y,” and the question was which fork to take. He planned to attack Moab and Ammon first, but when he consulted the gods and the entrails of animals, the signs all indicated Jerusalem. Even necromancy pointed to Jerusalem, for the Lord overruled the demons. As a result, the lion turned “suddenly” and went down the fork toward Jerusalem.

Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the city and the Temple while the Moabites and the Ammonites watched and gloated from the hills. However, as the prophecies foretold, a yoke would be put on Moab and Ammon as well, and their defeat was next.

“Who is a chosen man, that I may appoint over her? for who is like me? and who will appoint me the time? and who is that shepherd that will stand before me?” The Edomites were confident because of the nature of the terrain, but nothing is impossible for Jehovah. He can use even a feeble person to overcome a giant.

From a human standpoint, a shepherd has to know all the nooks and crannies for survival. The sheep need pasturage and water, so he has to be familiar with the land. Like shepherds, those who lived in Edom certainly knew their own land. In that position of security, they felt it was impossible for an enemy to conquer them. But their counsel was brought to naught because the Lord would teach the ignorant “heathen” how to get up to the crevices, root out the Edomites, and denude the land. God chose the “lion” of judgment; that is, God used King Nebuchadnezzar to effect these judgments.

Q: Verse 19 is repeated almost verbatim in the next chapter: “Behold, he shall come up like a lion from the swelling of Jordan unto the habitation of the strong: but I will make them suddenly run away from her: and who is a chosen man, that I may appoint over her? for who is like me? and who will appoint me the time? and who is that shepherd that will stand before me?” (Jer. 50:44). Is Cyrus the shepherd in chapter 50, which pertains to Babylon?

A: Yes. The Edomites had their thinking, but God has His own purpose and thinking. There seems to be a play on words here. The Edomites were confident in their own wisdom, but what seemed impossible from their standpoint was an open book from God’s standpoint. If the Lord was with the enemy, nothing could frustrate His purpose.

The spiritual application shows that God’s judgment will be particularly on Christendom, but the heathen nations will have a time of trouble too. Cyrus (Jesus in antitype) is God’s “shepherd.” The antitype of the “lion” is the Lord’s great army, which will come up like a lion from the swelling of Jordan. (Jordan means “a judging down.”) Stated another way, the Time of Trouble will “swell,” or overflow. Anarchists will strike out particularly against the leaders.

Jer. 49:20 Therefore hear the counsel of the LORD, that he hath taken against Edom; and his purposes, that he hath purposed against the inhabitants of Teman: Surely the least of the flock shall draw them out: surely he shall make their habitations desolate with them.

The inhabitants of Edom felt secure in their position. For years, caravans loaded with rich goods going from Damascus to Egypt were like sitting ducks on the narrow road below, as the Edomites on the mountains prepared to attack. Because of the terrain, an army could not go down to Edom in the normal sense, so Nebuchadnezzar sent a diversionary force. That segment of Nebuchadnezzar’s army was effective, just as David was effective against Goliath.

What seemed to be humanly impossible was accomplished, as the Lord had predicted through Jeremiah.

Notice the emphasis on the words “counsel of the LORD” and “his purposes, that he hath purposed,” in contradistinction to the supposed wise counsel and counselors of Teman. When the nominal system falls in the antitype, some nobodies who have been deceived and used will be so bitter that they will cause great destruction. These “least of the flock” will draw out the leaders and destroy them.

Jer. 49:21 The earth is moved at the noise of their fall, at the cry the noise thereof was heard in the Red sea.

The noise of Edom’s fall would be so loud that it would be heard in the Red Sea. From a natural standpoint, the harbor of Edom is Aqaba on the Red Sea. Therefore, “at the noise,” those who were in boats in the vicinity of the mouth, or north end, of the Red Sea would certainly know about the fall of Edom. This language is similar to that pertaining to the fall of mystic Babylon.

What seemed to be impossible would be witnessed. That part of Edom—Aqaba, which was like a major city—was influential in the south. Those in the sea in boats who heard the noise of the fall of Edom would take this news wherever they went. Likewise with regard to the fall of Babylon in the next chapter, the news would be carried abroad from Phoenicia.

The noise of the trouble would be extensive. In the antitype, the “Red sea” symbolizes anarchy worldwide, not just in Christendom. Revelation 15:2 reads, “And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God.” The more-than-overcomers, the Little Flock, will be apart from the trouble.

Jer. 49:22 Behold, he shall come up and fly as the eagle, and spread his wings over Bozrah: and at that day shall the heart of the mighty men of Edom be as the heart of a woman in her pangs.

Nebuchadnezzar, the Lord’s eagle, would spread his wings over Bozrah. Similar wording was used with Moab (Jer. 48:40). The people of Bozrah would experience a trauma. “At that day shall the heart of the mighty men of Edom be as the heart of a woman in her pangs.” The king of Babylon was likened to a lion with eagle’s wings (Dan. 7:4). The reference is to the immense scope of his army, which caused fear in his enemies and enabled him to mount up as an eagle, as it were. This crude army, with all its weapons, horses, etc., could even get up on the top of a mountain. The Lord used the king of Babylon to accomplish His purpose. The tremendous army was spread out below, but a segment was sent to the top of the mountain with eagle’s wings to defeat those who felt they were unconquerable.

In the antitype, when those in Christendom see the handwriting on the wall, their hearts will fail them for fear. Thus far in the Book of Jeremiah, two nations have strongly pictured Christendom: Edom and Israel. Edom will not be recovered, spiritually speaking.

Jer. 49:23 Concerning Damascus. Hamath is confounded, and Arpad: for they have heard evil tidings: they are fainthearted; there is sorrow on the sea; it cannot be quiet.

Jeremiah continued to prophesy against Gentile nations. This time the judgment was against Damascus, Hamath, and Arpad. The very fact these three Syrian cities were mentioned together suggests they were relatively contiguous in the prophet’s day. Damascus is the capital of Syria today. (Incidentally, Assyria is not to be confused with Syria.)

“They have heard evil tidings: they are fainthearted.” Hamath and Arpad would be troubled because of the news of an impending attack. “There is sorrow on the sea.” The King James margin reads, “There is sorrow as on the sea.” As the waves of the sea are continuous, so the trouble could not be quelled. “It [the trouble] cannot be quiet”; a tumult was brewing that would eventually be a severe judgment on these powerful cities.

Jer. 49:24 Damascus is waxed feeble, and turneth herself to flee, and fear hath seized on her: anguish and sorrows have taken her, as a woman in travail.

Seeing that Judah and various Gentile nations were falling like kingpins, Damascus would wax feeble and fear what was coming. Paralyzed with fear, the inhabitants of the city would not be able to act normally.

Egypt’s army was defeated when it went out to war against Babylon. That defeat constituted the breaking of the first arm of Egypt, which was like an omen of what would happen later.

The final judgment occurred when the second arm was broken, and that breaking took place internally, that is, inside Egypt. Having seen the defeat of this great power and then the defeat of these other nations, one after another, the people of Damascus realized their city was next. They turned to flee, but their flight options were limited because Damascus was landlocked. “Anguish and sorrows have taken her [Damascus], as a woman in travail.” Likewise, the anguish and grief of the people of Moab and Edom were as the birth pangs of a woman (Jer. 48:41; 49:22).

Jer. 49:25 How is the city of praise not left, the city of my joy!

Damascus was the city of praise and joy. It was rich in vegetation, had a good climate, and claimed to be the oldest city in the world, but why was Damascus the city of God’s joy? There are several reasons. (1) Naaman the leper came from Damascus, Syria, to Elisha to be healed of his disease. As the prophet instructed, Naaman washed seven times in the Jordan River, and with the seventh dipping, his leprosy was cured (2 Kings 5:1-14). The seven washings are typical, showing that there will be seven stages in the Kingdom Age. (2) The Apostle Paul’s conversion took place near Damascus, and subsequently he preached boldly in that city (Acts 9:3-5,27). (3) Along another line, Elisha was in Damascus when the sick Ben-hadad, king of Syria, sent Hazael to the prophet to inquire about his health (2 Kings 8:7-9).

Apparently, Damascus was favorable in times past, before Jeremiah’s day, and it will be favorable again in the future in a way that is unknown to us at present. Perhaps because of the prominence Paul will have in the Kingdom Age as the chief of the apostles, his past association with Damascus makes it a city of joy from a prophetic standpoint. Similarly in principle, we associate Moses with Mount Sinai and Jesus with Bethlehem.

Jer. 49:26 Therefore her young men shall fall in her streets, and all the men of war shall be cut off in that day, saith the LORD of hosts.

Because Damascus was an enemy of Israel, it would be humiliated. Her men of war would be slaughtered.

Jer. 49:27 And I will kindle a fire in the wall of Damascus, and it shall consume the palaces of Ben-hadad.

A fire may have been started in the city wall and then spread to the king’s palaces, which were inside the wall. Ben-hadad was the title of the king of Syria. Its use was comparable to titles such as Caesar during the Roman Empire, Czar with the Russians, Pharaoh in Egypt, and Kaiser in Germany.

Jer. 49:28 Concerning Kedar, and concerning the kingdoms of Hazor, which Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon shall smite, thus saith the LORD; Arise ye, go up to Kedar, and spoil the men of the east.

Kedar was in Gilead near the Jordan River. Thus it is logical that when Damascus received judgment, this sister area would have the same experience. With Kedar being a nomadic center of power, its people were bedouins in the deserts. Hazor, a well-fortified city on a mountain, was also a center of a bedouin type of people.

The identification of the destroyer as Nebuchadnezzar shows that verse 28 had a past fulfillment. Through Jeremiah, God was talking to the king of Babylon: “Arise ye, go up to Kedar, and spoil the men of the east.”

Jer. 49:29 Their tents and their flocks shall they take away: they shall take to themselves their curtains, and all their vessels, and their camels; and they shall cry unto them, Fear is on every side.

All of Kedar’s possessions and flocks would be taken, even though they had little to begin with. “Fear” would envelop them.

The mention of Kedar’s curtains reminds us of the Song of Solomon, where the Bride class says, “I am black, but comely, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, as the tents of Kedar, as the curtains of Solomon” (Song 1:5). The curtains were black on the outside and luxuriously ornamented on the inside depending on the wealth of the occupant. To a person standing outside, the black-curtained tents looked ordinary, but inside was great wealth (verse 31).

Jer. 49:30 Flee, get you far off, dwell deep, O ye inhabitants of Hazor, saith the LORD; for  Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon hath taken counsel against you, and hath conceived a purpose against you.

“Flee … far off, dwell deep.” This expression was sarcasm, meaning, “Flee as far as you can— into the deep recesses of the desert—but it will do you no good. You will not escape!” This verse shows the tenacity of Nebuchadnezzar’s troops in their purpose.

Jer. 49:31 Arise, get you up unto the wealthy nation, that dwelleth without care, saith the LORD, which have neither gates nor bars, which dwell alone.

Jer. 49:32 And their camels shall be a booty, and the multitude of their cattle a spoil: and I will scatter into all winds them that are in the utmost corners; and I will bring their calamity from all sides thereof, saith the LORD.

Nebuchadnezzar was commanded, “Arise, get up unto the wealthy people who dwell at ease.”

He was told to go to these bedouins and get their wealth (oils, perfumes, frankincense etc.).

Having camels, which are known as ships of the desert, the bedouins could flee, yet the king of Babylon would be able to apprehend them. Even if the people fled to the remotest place, he had the capability to search them out.

The nomads lived in tents, yet they were “wealthy” because of the goods they transported. For “multitude of their cattle,” the NIV has “large herds,” and it is amazing that sheep and goats can graze sufficiently in these barren desert areas. The bedouins liked the desert life and seeing the stars at night. Their way of life had “neither gates nor bars,” for they dwelled alone. They felt walls were unnecessary, for who would go out in the desert to get them? However, Nebuchadnezzar was determined to conquer them, and he excelled at whatever he put his hand to do. Knowing the bedouins would flee, he and his army went around the fertile part of the land and waited for them on the other side.

Jer. 49:33 And Hazor shall be a dwelling for dragons, and a desolation for ever: there shall no man abide there, nor any son of man dwell in it.

Hazor, which was recognized as a strongly fortified city, would become “a dwelling [place] for dragons,” and it is a ruin to this day. The word “dragons” carries the thought of giant lizards (wild desert animals) or “jackals” in the NIV.

“There shall no man abide there, nor any son of man dwell in it.” Verse 33 shows complete desolation. Desert life took over the city and made it a real ghost town. The history of these places is of relatively little value to the Christian, but the lesson will be extremely valuable in the Kingdom Age.

Jer. 49:34 The word of the LORD that came to Jeremiah the prophet against Elam in the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah king of Judah, saying,

Elam is Persia (Iran and Iraq today). This prophecy about Elam came in the beginning of Zedekiah’s reign, whereas the preceding prophecies against Egypt, Moab, Ammon, Edom, Zoar, Damascus, etc., were more or less recorded in Jehoiakim’s day. These prophecies against Gentile nations were purposely separated out from those against Judah.

Elam and Media are often coupled, but Media became a part of the Persian Empire. For a short period earlier in history, Media was more powerful than Persia, but the second horn (Persia) grew even larger (Dan. 8:3).

Jer. 49:35 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Behold, I will break the bow of Elam, the chief of their might.

Jer. 49:36 And upon Elam will I bring the four winds from the four quarters of heaven, and will scatter them toward all those winds; and there shall be no nation whither the outcasts of Elam shall not come.

Jer. 49:37 For I will cause Elam to be dismayed before their enemies, and before them that seek their life: and I will bring evil upon them, even my fierce anger, saith the LORD; and I will send the sword after them, till I have consumed them:

Jer. 49:38 And I will set my throne in Elam, and will destroy from thence the king and the princes, saith the LORD.

Elam fought with bow and arrow (archery). But Elam would be scattered to the four winds and its leaders utterly consumed.

For chapter after chapter, it was prophesied that all these Gentile nations would fall. Each, in turn, would be given the “cup” to drink (Jer. 25:15). When the bedouins of Kedar and Hazor got on their camels, they fled to Elam, but in the meantime, Nebuchadnezzar dispatched his forces to Elam and conquered that land. Thus when the bedouins arrived, they were in the hands of Nebuchadnezzar and could not get away.

After the defeat of Elam, what Gentile power was left? Babylon remained, and it was prophesied that Babylon (Sheshach) would drink the cup of Jehovah’s anger last (Jer. 25:26).

The Lord used Nebuchadnezzar to visit judgment upon other Gentile nations, and this king had unbelievable capabilities to ferret out the people, subjugate them, and take captives back to his empire.

What was the duration of the Babylonian Empire? Nebuchadnezzar reigned 43-45 years. After his decease, the empire did not last much longer, so the “head of gold” was short timewise but most unusual.

Jer. 49:39 But it shall come to pass in the latter days, that I will bring again the captivity of Elam, saith the LORD.

After Elam’s total destruction, a restoration was promised, and there was a striking fulfillment through the Persian Empire. The few captives who were taken to Babylon went back to their homeland and started all over again. Today these places are occupied by their descendants but with different names. Iran and Iraq exist today where Elam was, and part of Iraq was formerly Babylon. The capital city of Babylon was an archaeological site that Saddam Hussein wanted to restore. Thus intellectual Arabs have a great deal of historical information of which we know little, for our depth of understanding pertains to European history and Western civilization.

The next two chapters, prophesying the doom of Babylon, are of much greater interest to the Christian because of the symbolism in both the Old Testament and the Book of Revelation.

(1981-1983 and 1998-2004 Studies)

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