9. For, lo, I will raise, and cause to come up against Babylon, an assembly of great nations from the north country: and they shall set themselves in array against her; from thence she shall be taken: their arrows shall be as of a mighty expert man; none shall return in vain.
9. Quia ecce ego excito (excitans, ad verbum, et adducens) et adduco super Babylonem congregationem gentium magnarum e terra aquilonis, et ordinabunt contra eam(aciem scilicet.)unde capietur; sagittae ejus tanquam fortis prudenter agentis; non redibit frustra,
Here, again, God declares that enemies would come and overthrow the monarchy of Babylon; but what has been before referred to is here more clearly expressed. For he says, first, that he would be the leader of that war -- that the Persians and Medes would fight under his authority. I, he says (the pronoun ykna, anki, is here emphatical,) I am he, says God, who rouse and bring, and then he adds, an, assembly of great nations. The Chaldeans, as we know, had devoured many kingdoms, for Babylon had subjugated all the neighboring nations. Except, then, this had been distinctly expressed, they might have disregarded the prophetic threatenings. But Jeremiah speaks here of the assembly of great nations, lest the Chaldeans, relying on their power, the largeness of the monarchy, and the multitude of their men, should promise themselves victory, and thus lie asleep in their indulgences. God then, in these words, shortly intimates that there would be ready at hand those who in number and power would surpass the Chaldeans.
He afterwards adds, They will set in order against her. Something is to be here supplied -- that they would set the battle in order. Now, by this expression, the Prophet sets forth the boldness of the Persians and Medes, as they would be immediately ready for the conflict; they would not long consult, but quickly advance to the fight. In short, he refers to the quickness and boldness of the Persians and Medes, when he says, They shall set in order against her; for they who distrust their own strength, take convenient positions, or contrive ambushes, or withdraw for a time until they know all the plans of their enemies; but the Prophet says that the Persians would by no means be such, because they would be prepared for battle at the first onset, and have the army set in order against the Babylonians.
It follows, thence taken shall be Babylon. The word Msm, mesham, means from that place. But the Prophet intimates that the Persians would become conquerors by one battle only, so that the Chaldeans would no more dare to resist. We indeed know that those once put to flight, do often prepare new forces and renew the battle; this is indeed usually the case, and it seldom happens that any one is conquered in one battle. But the Prophet here declares that Babylon would be taken at one time; as soon, he says, as the fight begins, the enemies shall not only overcome, but shall by one assault take Babylon, so as to make it captive.
We now, then, perceive the design of the Prophet; but, doubtless, this prophecy was a derision to the unbelieving, for he seemed to speak of a thing impossible: thus he sang a fable to the deaf. But God, however, did not without reason predict that Babylon would be so taken, that it would, as it were, in one moment fall into the hands of enemies. We said, indeed, yesterday, that it was long besieged and taken by treachery in the night; but we also said that this prophecy is not to be confined to one period; for Babylon was often taken. It was taken through the contrivance of Zopyrus, as we said yesterday, when it thought itself sufficiently strong to resist, and Darius had nearly despaired. We shall therefore find nothing inconsistent in this prophecy, when we consider how great and how supine was the security of that people even at the time when they were suddenly overthrown.
He now adds, Its arrows as of a valiant man; some render it, as of a bereaving man, because some put the point on the right side and some on the left. The word lks, shecal, means to act prudently, to be prosperous, and also to be bereaved. But I agree with those who take the first sense, for it immediately follows, it shall not return in vain. Those who render the word "bereaved," understand thereby that the arrows of the Persians would be deadly or fatal. But the context does not correspond, for an explanation is afterwards given, that it would not return in vain. It seems, then, that by this word Jeremiah denotes their dexterity, as though he had said that the Persians would be so skillful in throwing arrows, that they would not discharge one arrow in vain; as those who are well exercised in that art always aim directly at an enemy, and never shoot their arrows here and there without effect. So then the Prophet says that the arrows of the Persians would be those of men shooting skillfully, who know how to take a right aim.1 And he calls them valiant or strong; for it is not enough to send arrows straight against an enemy, except there be also nerve and strength to shoot them; for arrows might touch one, but not penetrate into his body, or hardly hurt his skin. But the Prophet refers to both these things -- that arrows would be hurled with sufficient force to strike and wound the Chaldeans -- and that they would also have always a direct aim, so that no one would miss its object. It afterwards follows, --