Jeremiah 25 Commentary

Seventy years captivity (25:1-14)

Babylon conquered Egypt in 605 BC (the fourth year of Jehoiakim’s reign according to Judean reckoning, the third year of his reign according to Babylonian reckoning; cf. Dan 1:1-6). Judah therefore came for the first time under the direct control of Babylon. Jeremiah now clearly sees his prophecies being fulfilled before his eyes. He reminds the people that for over twenty years he has been bringing God’s message to them but they have not listened (25:1-3). He has urged them to turn from their sin and idolatry, promising that if they did, God would allow them to remain in their land. But they have ignored his words and as a result brought harm upon themselves (4-7).

God is now going to punish Judah, and will use Babylon as his instrument of punishment. Joy and gladness will cease from Judah, the land will be left in ruins, and the people will be taken captive to Babylon. They will remain under Babylon’s rule for seventy years (8-11).

However, Babylon has no right to do as it pleases. When it acts as if it is greater than God, it too will be destroyed. The outcome of this will be the release of God’s people, so that after their seventy years of captivity, they will be able to return to their homeland (12-14).

Judgment on various nations (25:15-38)

God is righteous and holy, and in justice pours out his wrath on those who arrogantly defy his authority. His judgment upon wicked nations is likened to a cup of wine given to a person to make him drunk so that he staggers and falls (15-16). Through the spreading conquests of the Babylonian armies, God has punished Judah (17-18), along with a variety of other nations far and near (19-25). But in the end Babylon, the agent God has used to carry out his judgment, will itself be the object of God’s wrath (26.

Sheshach is another name for Babylon). No nation can escape once God has determined to punish it (27- 28), and Judah, God’s chosen nation, will be the first to suffer (29).

A further picture of the terrible judgment to fall on the wicked is that of a lion’s attack on a flock of sheep. When the judge of all the earth acts in his holy judgment, the wicked will find no place of refuge (30-31). The bodies of the dead will lie rotting and stinking in the sun, like manure (32-33). The leaders


of the people (shepherds of the flock) will look for a way of escape when the day of disaster comes, but they too will perish (34-35). As shepherds cry out when they see violence at work within their peaceful pastures, so Judah’s leaders will wail when they see the Babylonian armies desolating their land (36-38).

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