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Jeremiah 51:32

32. And that the passages are stopped, and the reeds they have burned with fire, and the men of war are affrighted.

32. Et vada capta sunt, e stagna exusta sunt igni, et viri proelii (hoc est, bellicosi) conterriti sunt.


This verse most clearly proves that Jeremiah was God’s herald, and that his language was under the guidance of the celestial Spirit; for he sets forth the manner in which Babylon was taken, as though he had witnessed it with his own eyes.

He says that the fords were taken, and that the pools were burnt with fire. We do not read that Cyrus had made use of fire; and some render pools, reeds, but there is no reason to constrain us so to render the word; for the Prophet speaks metaphorically. Their object was to give a literal rendering, by saying that reeds were burnt; but the Prophet shows, speaking hyperbolically, that the fords of the Euphrates were dried up, as though one burned wood by applying fire to it. This, indeed, is not suitable to water; but he, by a hyperbole, expresses more fully the miracle which might have otherwise exceeded human comprehension. He then says, that the fords were dried up, and then adds, that the pools were burnt. The same thing is expressed twice, but in a different way; and as I have already said, he states hyperbolically, that such was the skill of Cyrus and his army, that he made dry the fords and the pools, as though one collected a large heap of wood and consumed it with fire. 9494     The word אגמים, properly pools, is probably a metonomy for what they grow, even reeds or bulrushes, especially as the same word, in somewhat another form, אגמן, clearly means a reed. See Isaiah 9:14; Isaiah 19:15. But what these reeds were, authors are at a loss to know. It is said in the thirtieth verse, that they “burnt her habitations;” may it not have been, that they were such as were made of reeds? Then the whole verse appears intelligible; the passages (that is, the entrances from the river, whose streams were diverted) were seized on, and such houses as were in part built of reeds were set on fire; hence the men were frightened. — Ed We now perceive the design of the Prophet.

He afterwards adds, that the men of war were broken in pieces For though the fords were made dry, that is, the streams which were drawn from the Euphrates, vet. the guards of the city might have still kept possession of a part of it, and have manfully resisted, so as to prevent the soldiers of Cyrus from advancing farther; but the city was so craftily taken, that the Babylonians were so terrified as not to dare to raise up a finger, when yet they might have defended a part of the city, though one part of it was taken.

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