Jeremiah 49:1

1. Concerning the Ammonites, thus saith the Lord, Hath Israel no sons? hath he no heir? why then doth their king inherit Gad, and his people dwell in his cities?

1. Ad filios Ammon: Sic dicit Jehova, An filii non sunt Israeli? An haeres non est ei? quare haereditate possidet rex eorum Gad et populus ejus in urbibus ejus habitat?


We have said that the Ammonites were not only contiguous to the Moabites, but had also derived their origin from Lot, and were thus connected with them by blood. Their origin was indeed base and shameful, for they were, as it is well known, the offspring of incest. There was, however, the bond of fraternity between them, because both nations had the same father. God had spared them when he brought up his people from Egypt; for in remembrance of the holy man Lot, he would have both peoples to remain uninjured. But ingratitude doubled their crime, for these impious men ceased not in various ways to harass the children of Abraham.: For this reason, therefore, does Jeremiah now prophesy against them.

And we see here, again, the object of this prophecy and the design of the Holy Spirit in announcing it, even that the Israelites might know that they were not so completely cast away by God, but that there remained some remnants of his paternal favor; for if the Moabites and the Ammonites had been free from all evils, it would have been a most grievous trial; it would have been enough to overwhelm weak minds to see a people whom God had adopted, miserably oppressed and severely chastised, while heathen nations were remaining quiet in the enjoyment of their pleasures, and exulting also over the calamities of others. God, then, in order to mitigate the grief and sorrow which the children of Israel derived from their troubles and calamities, shews that he would yet show them favor, because he would carry on war against their enemies, and become the avenger of all the wrongs which they had suffered. It was no common consolation for the Israelites to hear that they were still the objects of God's care, who, nevertheless, seemed in various ways to have poured forth his wrath upon them in a full stream. We now, then, see the reason why Jeremiah denounced destruction on the Ammonites, as he did before on the Moabites.

Then he says, To the children of Ammon:1 Are there no children to Israel? Hath he no heir? It was a trial very grievous to the miserable Israelites to see a part of the inheritance promised them by God forcibly taken from them by the Ammonites; for what must have come to their minds but that they had been deceived by vain promises? But it had happened, that the Ammonites had deprived the children of Israel of a part of their inheritance. Hence the Prophet teaches us here, that though God connived for a time, and passed by this robbery, he yet would not suffer the Ammonites to go unpunished for having taken to themselves what justly belonged to others. Hence it is added, Why doth their king inherit Gad?

I know not why Jerome rendered Mklm, melkam, as though it were the name of an idol, as the word is found in the Prophet Amos.2 But it is evident that Jeremiah speaks here of the king, for immediately after he adds, his people. Their king, then, he says, inherits Gad. Gad is not the name of a place, as some think, but Mount Gilead, which had been given to that tribe. The Prophet says that they possessed the country of the Gadites; for they had been ejected from their portion, and the children of Ammon had occupied what had been given by God to them. And this is confirmed by the Prophet Amos, when he says,

"For three of the transgressions of the children of Ammon, and for four, I will not be propitious to them, because they have cut off the mountain of Gilead."3 (Amos 1:13)

He speaks there metaphorically, because God had fixed the limits between the tribe of Gad and the children of Ammon, so that both might be satisfied with their own inheritance. But the children of Ammon had broken through and expelled the tribe of Gad from the cities of Mount Gilead. This, then, is what now our Prophet means, even that they had taken to themselves that part of the land which had been allotted to the children of Gad; for it immediately follows, and his people dwell in his cities, even in the cities which had been given by lot to that tribe; for we know that a possession beyond Jordan had been given to the children of Gad. We now, then, perceive the meaning of the words.

God, then, shews that he had not forgotten his covenant, though he had for a time suffered the Ammonites to invade the inheritance which he had conferred on the children of Israel; yet the Gaddites would at length recover what had been unjustly taken from them. For it was a robbery not to be endured, that the Ammonites should have dared to take to themselves that land, which was not the property of men, but rather of God himself, for he had called it his rest, because he would have his people to dwell there. And though God inflicted a just punishment on the Gaddites when he expelled them from their inheritance, yet he afterwards punished the children of Ammon, as he is wont to chastise his own children by the hand of the wicked, and at length to render them also their just reward. It now follows --

1 Literally it is, "To the children of Ammon thus saith Jehovah:" so the Sept., the Vulg., and the Targ. There are prophecies concerning Ammon in Ezekiel 21:28-32; 25:2-7; Amos 1:13-15; and in Zephaniah 2:8-11. -- Ed.

2 "Milcom" is given by the Sept., the Vulg., and the Syr.; but "their king" by the Targ. In Amos 1:15, the Vulg. and Syr. are the same; but the Sept. have "kings," and the Targ. is the same as here. There was a king of Ammon, Jeremiah 27:3; and there is one passage in which the possession of a country is ascribed to a heathen god, to Chemosh, see Judges 11:24. But "inheriting" is more suitably applied to a king than to an idol; and the contrast in the next verse is with Israel and not with God, "Israel shall be heir," etc. Most probably, then, the king is meant, and not the idol. -- Ed.

3 The quotation is not literally given, but the meaning of the passage. -- Ed.


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