26. And all the kings of the north, far and near, one with another, and all the kingdoms of the world, which are upon the face of the earth: and the king of Sheshath shall drink after them.
26. Et omnibus regibus Aquilonis tam iis ui propinqui sunt quam qui remoti, viro (hoc est, cuique) contra fratrem suum, et omnibus regnis terrae, quae sunt super faciem terrae (mutatur quidem nomen, ponit
The Prophet speaks now of the kings of the north who bordered on the king of Babylon; for as to Judea, Babylon was northward. He calls all those who were towards Chaldea the kings of the north. He then says,
I have already reminded you that this was not predicted for the sake of the Jews, that they might derive any alleviation to their grief from the circumstance of having associates, because the condition of others was nothing better; but that God's design was another, that is, that in so great a confusion of all things, when heaven and earth, as they say, were blended together, they might know that nothing happens through the blind will of fortune. For God had already testified by the mouth of his servant what he would do, and from this prophecy it was easy to conclude that all these changes and violent commotions were the effects of God's judgment.
The Prophet, after having shewn that the most grievous calamities were nigh all the nations who were neighbors to the Jews, and whose fame had reached them, says, in the last place, that the
Respecting the king of Babylon being called the
"How is Sheshach demolished! how fallen is the glory (or praise) of the whole earth! how overthrown is Babylon!"
There, no doubt, the Prophet explains himself; there is therefore no need to seek any other interpretation. It is a common thing, as we know, with the prophets to repeat the same thing in other words; as he had mentioned Sheshach in the first clause, to prevent any doubt he afterwards mentioned Babylon.
But here a question arises; why did not the Prophet openly and plainly denounce ruin on the king as well as on the Chaldean nation? Many think that this was done prudently, that he might not create an ill-will towards his own people; and Jerome brings forward a passage from Paul, but absurdly, where he says,
"Until a defection shall come," (2 Thessalonians 2:3)
but he did not understand that passage, for he thought that Paul spoke of the Roman empire. One error brings another; he supposed that Paul was cautious that he might not excite the fury of the Roman Emperor against the Church; but it was no such thing. Now, they who reject the opinion, which is the most correct, that Sheshach was Babylon, make use of this argument, -- that the Prophet was not afraid to speak of Babylon, because he had declared openly of it what he had to say, as we have already seen in other places, and as it will appear more clearly hereafter. But I do not allow that the Prophet was afraid to speak of Babylon, for we find that he boldly obeyed God, so that he stood firm, as we may say, in the midst of many deaths; but I think that he concealed the name for another reason, even that the Jews might know that they had no cause to be in a hurry, though the punishment of Babylon had been predicted, for the prophecy was, as it were, buried, inasmuch as the Prophet withheld the very name of Babylon. It was not, then, his purpose to provide for the peace of the Church, nor was he afraid of the Chaldeans, lest he should kindle their fury against God's people; he had no such thing in view, but wished rather to restrain too much haste.
And this appears from the context;
1 Both Venema and Gataker regard this as one of the vagaries of the Rabbins, though countenanced by Jerome. Various have been the reasons assigned for calling Babylon Sheshach. Some derive the word from
But the most probable account is that given by Gataker, that Babylon was thus called from an idol in great repute in the city, named Sheshach or Shach, and that it was on the festival of this idol that the city was taken. This accounts for this name being given to it, when its destruction is especially referred to. Mishael, which terminated with God's name, was changed into Meschach, or rather Mishach, which contained the name of the Babylonian idol. (Daniel 1:7.) -- Ed
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