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Jeremiah 51:9

9. We would have healed Babylon, but she is not healed: forsake her, and let us go every one into his own country: for her judgment reacheth unto heaven, and is lifted up even to the skies.

9. Curavimus Babylonem (idem est quidera verbum, אפר, quod significat sanare et mederi, quia non semper est in medico relevetur ut oeger, nec semper foeliciter succedit, ideo dicit Propheta, medicati sumus, vel, remedia attulimus ad curandum Babylonem,) et non sanata fuit; derelinquite eam, et proficiseamur quisque in terram suam; quia pertigit ad coelos judicium ejus, et elevatum est usque ad nubes.


The Prophet assumes different characters; he speaks here in the person of those who of themselves brought help to the Babylonians. And many, no doubt, would have been ready to assist them, had King Belshazzar wished to accept aid; and we know also, that the city had a large army. He compares, then, the nations subject to the Babylonians, and also the hired and foreign soldiers, to physicians, as though he had said, “Babylon has been, with great care, healed.” As when a great prince is taken ill, he sends here and there for the best and most skillful physicians; but when the disease is incurable, they all strive in vain to save his life: so now the Prophet speaks, using a metaphor; but he speaks in the person of those who either had set to hire their services, or had come from a sense of duty to heal Babylon. “See,” they said, “the fault is not with us, for we have faithfully and carefully done our best to heal her, but she has not been healed.”

He then adds, Leave her, and let us depart, every one to his own land. This was the language of foreign soldiers and mercenaries. When they saw that the safety of the city was hopeless, they began to counsel one another, “What do we? Ought we not rather to consult our own safety? for our efforts are wholly useless. It is then time for every one to return to his own country, for the end of Babylon is come.” But the change of person has much more force than if the Prophet had spoken thus, “The time shall come when the auxiliaries shall flee away, for they will see that it would be all in vain to defend her.” But when he compares them to physicians, this similitude more fully illustrates the case; and then when he speaks in their person, this renders what is said still more emphatieal.

He at length adds, For her judgment has reached to the heavens, and has been elevated to the clouds. Jeremiah could not have properly addressed what he said to the unbelieving, if you explain this of God being adverse and hostile to the Babylonians; for it never occurred to the hired soldiers,

that Babylon perished through the just judgment of God. But the Prophet, according to a usual mode of speaking, says, Her judgment (that is, her destruction) reached to the heavens, and has been elevated to the clouds; that is, no aid shall be found under heaven, which can deliver Babylon, — how so? because it will be the same as though destruction came from heaven itself, and from the clouds. For when danger is nigh either from behind or from before us, we can turn aside either to the right hand or to the left, so that we may escape the evils which men may bring on us: but when heaven itself seems to threaten our heads, then an escape is attempted in vain. This then is the reason why the Prophet says that the judgment of Babylon had reached to the heavens and had been elevated to the clouds. 8484     Another view has been given of this clause: It is a mode of speaking to express the greatness of a thing; see Psalm 36:5; Ezra 9:6. The judgement or punishment of Babylon would be so great, that it might be compared to what may reach to the heavens, and to the ethereal regions; for such is the meaning of the last word, and is rendered “stars,” by the Sept., —
   For to the heavens has reached her judgement,
And it has risen up to the ethereal regions.

   By “heavens,” are often meant the skies. — Ed.
It follows, —

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