JEREMIAH CHAPTER 49 Part 5 (verses 34-39): The hunter can be hunted.
The message to Elam:
Elamites were descendants of one of Noah’s son, Shem (Genesis 10:22). While so many historians refer this Elam country to Persia, many sources emphasize that we take it as simply that part of Persia that was close to Judea. Thus Elymaites, though was close to Persia and bordering Media, is considered to have been part of Assyria. According to Isaiah 22:6, Elam served under Sennacherib, King of Assyria when he besieged Jerusalem which partly confirms that it was for Assyria. According to commentator Jamieson et al, this country was idolatrous compared to the proper Persia that was monotheistic. However, during the expansion days of Babylon under King Nebuchadnezzar, it was also conquered.As we earlier saw in other chapters, Assyria was later defeated by Babylon too and so the states that she controlled, the country of elamites inclusive. According to the exposition writings of John Gill, it is true that during the times of King Belshazzar of Babylon, Susa (the area of Elam) was a seat for Babylon (see Daniel 8:2). The prophecy was delivered in the beginnings of king Zedekiah of Judah (597 BC) and was later to be fulfilled as we will see. What was the message?
The prophecy says that the Lord was going to punish Elam by first breaking their hope, their bows. As history says, the Elamites were talented in archery. Just like our days when our hopes are in our education, money and businesses, political power or even children, the past historical people had their achievements too and sometimes they would trust in such accomplishments instead of trusting God. So the Lord swore that He was going to bring the Babylonians, comparing to such invasion as the heavy wind blowing from all corners and disposing off the population in all corners of the world (verses 35-36).
On such days of punishment, even the greatest men of the city would be terrified and think of nothing but running away. The Lord would make them panic before their attacking enemy and their fear would cause no resistance at all. It is not only that, God was determined in this case that he would chase after them, make sure they are killed up to the last. I think, this verse simply says that most of them would die but not necessarily complete destruction for this would be a contradiction to verse 36 that says the immigrants will scatter to all nations and last verse (39) that says that God would restore the elamites. Writing on this same point, John Gill cites Targum’s insight, “these should go after those that fled, and destroy them, till the greater part of them were consumed; for all of them that were taken were not destroyed; or otherwise there would have been none to return from captivity, as is promised at the close of this prophecy”.
Verses 38-39 tell that God would set up His own throne in Elam and destroy its sovereignty and administrative offices (38). We will look at this shortly. And then verse 39 closes that besides everything, God would restore its glory or save the remnants. Like in all other chapters or readings, we need to seek and understand the reason for its punishment. The last verse simply shows that there is always restoration to those who believe and trust in it. According to so many commentators, the latter days of which the lord promises the restoration of some people or cities simply points to Jesus Christ’s second coming. But before that, there are glimpses these. For example, so many captives of Babylon were set free during the times of King Cyrus. Also, in the times of Jesus’ ministry on earth, so many of these remnants received the gospel of grace (Acts 2:9).
Historically, the great empire of Assyria (911-612 BC) was the greatest empire in the Mesopotamian region in around 8th century, eclipsing any rising or shining from Egypt or Babylon. In times of king Ashurbanipal, Assyria expanded beyond measure attacked and annexed on its size so many other states. According to so many sources, Elam was subdued completely around 639 BC. The clashes between Elam and Assyria had long started in 721 BC and they were mainly politically oriented for Elam offered help to Babylon, a big competitor of Assyria. Then it is around 648 BC that the city of Elam, Susa, was razed to the ground by Assyrians who later moved in their whole army in 639 BC finishing off Elam. From that time to the times of Babylonian expansion, Elam had been part of Assyria empire (see the introduction).
However, Assyria later was defeated by Babylon following its Egypt-Assyria united revolts against Babylon. What is surprising is that one of the reasons for the fall of Assyria is its fights with Elam that almost lasted for 34 years (who deceived you that one party loses during a fight or war? The two parties lose). According to the writings of Georges Roux, trying to maintain power in Egypt, the long term and costly fights with Elam, and death of King Ashurbanipal spearheaded its downfall. The main internal civil wars following the death of the king and external fights of states to breakaway imposed great decline on Assyria and provided support for Babylon preparing for Babylonian empire. So around 616 BC, during the reign of Nabopolassar of Babylon, the 12 year struggle started and ended with the defeat of Assyria and the greatest city of the times, Nineveh, following the collaboration of Babylon with Medes, Persians, Cimmerians and more. That was around 612 BC. It is said that one of Assyrian kings, King Ashur-Uballit managed to escape and built himself up at Harran, but was completely defeated later after Assyria united with Egypt againts Babylon (608-605 BC), a deal that ended badly marking the total collapse of Assyria in 605 BC (see our earlier expositions). With Assyria out of the way, Elamites lost their independence to Babylon during the attacks of King Nebuchadnezzar. This, according to me, could have happened after the fall of Jerusalem to Babylon. Why get punished? Like most of other neighboring states of Judea, Elam had helped Nebuchadnezzar during his fights against the people of God.
What is the lesson today? The hunter can be hunted. Elam helped Nebuchadnezzar and they together hunted Judah. Later, Elam is hunted by Nebuchadnezzar. However, it happens that Babylon is later hunted too by Persian empire of which Elam is part of. I think it very wise not to hunt anyone at all. Who are you harassing? Who is crying because of your threats or mistreatment? Do we ever imagine the same way we treat others happening to us too? The hunter can be hunted and he would probably be safe by not hunting in the first place. God be with you.
Just like of many out there, I am sorry that I have probably been a hunter of some people’s lives and I really pray to be easy with others just as I pray to be given path too. I can never end without inviting you to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and savior. Say this prayer with me: “Oh God, I am sorry I have wronged you. I now see you sent your only son to die for me so I can live forever in happiness. I am a sinner and I regret it all. Please, forgive me Jesus and receive me in your family as your child. Thank you for loving me. In the name of Jesus Christ I pray. Amen”. If you have prayed this prayer, we believe you have been saved. Find a true church near and be part of it.
Let us use the words of the writers of Wiersbe Bible Commentary to mark the end of this chapter that has judgments against many nations, “As you studied these chapters, perhaps you became weary of reading the same message: Judgment is coming and there’s no escape. There’s a sameness about what God said about these nine nations, and if we aren’t careful, that sameness can produce “tameness” and cause us to lose a heart sensitive to the Lord’s message. Keep in mind, however, that these prophecies were written about real men, women, and children, and that what Jeremiah wrote actually came true. Whole civilizations were wiped out because of their sins, and eventually Babylon itself was destroyed. This means that multitudes of people died and went into an eternity of darkness. God sees what the nations do, and He rewards them justly.
What King Hezekiah said about the Lord needs to be emphasized today: “O Lord Almighty, God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, you alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth” (Isa. 37:16). Joshua called Him “the Lord of all the earth” (Josh. 3:11), and both Jesus and Paul called Him “Lord of heaven and earth” (Luke 10:21; Acts 17:24).
God never gave the law of Moses to any of the nations that Jeremiah addressed, but He still held them accountable for the sins they committed against Him and against humanity. Because of the witness of creation around them and conscience within them, they were without excuse (Rom. 1:17–32, especially v. 20) and guilty before God.
In recent history, the nations haven’t acted any better than the ones recorded in Jeremiah 46—49. Innocent blood is shed legally as millions of babies are aborted in their mothers’ wombs. International terror- ism, genocide, exploitation of people and material resources, war, crime, the abuse of children, and a host of other sins have stained the hands of nations with blood. What will they do when the Judge becomes angry and starts to avenge the innocent? “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb. 10:31)”.
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