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Jeremiah 51:49

49. As Babylon hath caused the slain of Israel to fall, so at Babylon shall fall the slain of all the earth.

49. Sicuti Babylon ut caderent (hoc est, fecit ut caderent, subaudiendum est aliquid,) interfecti Israelis, sic Babyloni cadent interfecti totius terrae.

 

THE words literally read thus, “As Babylon, that they might fall, the slain of Israel, so for Babylon they shall fall, the slain of all the lands.” Some, omitting the ל, lamed, in the second clause, render the passage thus, “As the slain of Israel have fallen through Babylon, so by Babylon shall they fall: “and others render the last like the first, “through Babylon.” But the simpler rendering is that which I have given, even that this would be the reward which God would render Babylon, that they would fall everywhere through its whole land, as it had slain the people of Israel. For the Prophet no doubt had this in view, to alleviate the sorrow of the godly by some consolation; and the ground of consolation was, that God would be the avenger of all the evils which the Babylonians had brought on them. For it is a heavy trial when we think that we are disregarded by God, and that our enemies with impunity oppress us according to their own will. The Prophet, then, testifies that God would by no means suffer that so many of the Israelites should perish unpunished, for he would at length render to the Babylonians what they deserved, even that they who destroyed others should in their turn be destroyed.

We may now easily gather what the Prophet means, “As Babylon,” he says, “has made many in Israel to fall, so now the Babylonians themselves shall fall.” To render ל, lamed, by “through,” or, on account of, is improper. Then he says the Babylonians themselves shall fall, the slain of the whole land. By the whole land, I do not understand the whole world, as other interpreters, but Chaldea only. Then everywhere in Chaldea, they who had been so cruel as to shed innocent blood everywhere would perish. 106106     This verse may be deemed as the shouting song at the fall of Babylon, —
   “As Babylon made to fall the slain of Israel, So for Babylon have fallen the slain of all the land.”

   It is said before, in Jeremiah 51:47, that her slain should fall in the midst of her land. “For Babylon” means, on account of what she had done. But if it be “in Babylon,” means, on account of what she had done. But of Babylon; and the intimation is, that there would be none led captive, but slain in the land, except “all” be taken, as is often the case, as signifying a large number. — Ed.
And though that saying is generally true, Whoso sheddeth man’s blood shall be punished; yet the word is especially addressed to the Church. God, then, avenges all slaughters, because he cannot bear his own image to be violated, which he has impressed on men. But as he has a paternal care for his Church, he is in an especial manner the avenger of that cruelty which the ungodly exercise towards the faithful.

In short, the Prophet means, that though God may suffer for a time the ungodly to rage against his Church, yet he will be at the suitable season its avenger, so that they shall everywhere be slain who have been thus cruel.

But we hence learn that we ought by no means to despair when God allows so much liberty to the ungodly, so that they slay the miserable and the innocent, for the same thing happened formerly to the ancient people. It was the Church of God in which the Chaldeans committed that carnage of which the Prophet speaks: the children of God were then slain as sheep. If the same thing should happen to us at this day, there would be no reason for us to despond, but to wait for the time of vengeance of which the Prophet speaks here; for experience will then show how precious to God is the life of all the godly. It now follows, —


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