Jeremiah 51:1 MEANING

Jeremiah 51:1

(1) I will raise up . . . a destroying wind.--Literally, the wind of a destroyer. In Haggai 1:14; Ezra 1:1; Ezra 1:5; 1 Chronicles 5:26 the phrase is used for "stirring up the spirit" of a man, and that may be its meaning here. The context, however, suggests, in the "fanners" of the next verse, the literal meaning of "wind," and it is quite possible that the phrase may have been used by Jeremiah in this sense, and afterwards acquired a figurative meaning. It does not appear in any earlier book of the Old Testament.

Against them that dwell in the midst of them that rise up against me.--Literally, in the heart of my adversaries. In the judgment of most commentators the Hebrew words Leb-kamai, which answer to the last ten words of the English, furnish another example of the Atbash or cypher-writing of which we have seen an instance in the Sheshach of Jeremiah 25:26. Interpreted by that cypher Leb-kamai becomes Chasdim or Chaldaeans. Obviously the significance of the cypher-words gives force to its employment here, and presents a parallel to the use of the names Merathaim and Pekod in Jeremiah 50:21. Some commentators, indeed, rest in that significance without recognising the hidden meaning of the Atbash. The LXX. and Syriac versions translate "against the Chaldaeans," as recognising the use of the cypher. Both this and Sheshach had probably become familiar in the correspondence between the exiles and those of their countrymen who remained in Judaea, and so both would understand them when used by Jeremiah.

Verse 1. - Against them that dwell in the midst of them that rise up against me. The Hebrew has leb-kamai, which is Kasdim, or Chaldea, written in the cypher called Athbash (see on Jeremiah 25:26); just as Sheshach in ver. 41 is equivalent to Babel. The question arises whether the prophet himself is responsible for this covert way of writing, or a scribe in later times (so Ewald). In favour of the former view it may be urged that Babylon and Chaldea receive symbolic names (though not in Athbash) in the connected chapter (Jeremiah 50:21, 31, 32); in favour of the latter, that the Septuagint has Ξαλδαίους in ver. 1, and does not express Sheshach in ver. 41, also that the clause to which Sheshach belongs in Jeremiah 25:26 is of very dubious genuineness. A destroying wind; rather, the spirit (ruakh) of a destroyer (or perhaps, of destruction). The verb rendered in this verse "raise up," when used in connection with ruakh, always means "to excite the spirit of any one" (ver. 11; Haggai 1:14; 1 Chronicles 5:26).

51:1-58 The particulars of this prophecy are dispersed and interwoven, and the same things left and returned to again. Babylon is abundant in treasures, yet neither her waters nor her wealth shall secure her. Destruction comes when they did not think of it. Wherever we are, in the greatest depths, at the greatest distances, we are to remember the Lord our God; and in the times of the greatest fears and hopes, it is most needful to remember the Lord. The feeling excited by Babylon's fall is the same with the New Testament Babylon, Re 18:9,19. The ruin of all who support idolatry, infidelity, and superstition, is needful for the revival of true godliness; and the threatening prophecies of Scripture yield comfort in this view. The great seat of antichristian tyranny, idolatry, and superstition, the persecutor of true Christians, is as certainly doomed to destruction as ancient Babylon. Then will vast multitudes mourn for sin, and seek the Lord. Then will the lost sheep of the house of Israel be brought back to the fold of the good Shepherd, and stray no more. And the exact fulfilment of these ancient prophecies encourages us to faith in all the promises and prophecies of the sacred Scriptures.Thus saith the Lord, behold, I will raise up against Babylon,.... This is not a new prophecy, but a continuation of the former, and an enlargement of it. The Babylonians being the last and most notorious enemies of the Jews, their destruction is the longer dwelt upon; and as they were against the Lord's people the Lord was against them, and threatens to raise up instruments of his vengeance against them:

and against them that dwell in the midst of them that rise up against me; that dwell in Babylon, the metropolis of the Chaldeans, the seat and centre of the enemies of God and his people. It is a periphrasis of the Chaldeans; and, so the Targum renders it,

"against the inhabitants of the land of the Chaldeans;''

and so the Septuagint version, against the Chaldeans; and Jarchi and Kimchi observe that according to "athbash", a rule of interpretation with the Jews, the letters in "leb kame", rendered "the midst of them that rise up against me", answer to "Cashdim" or the Chaldeans; however they are no doubt designed; for they rose up against God, by setting up idols of their own; and against his people, by taking and carrying them captive: and now the Lord says he would raise up against them

a destroying wind; a northern one, the army of the Modes and Persians, which should sweep away all before it. The Targum is,

"people that are slayers; whose hearts are lifted up, and are beautiful in stature, and their spirit destroying.''

Courtesy of Open Bible