15. Shout against her round about: she hath given her hand: her foundations are fallen, her walls are thrown down; for it is the vengeance of the Lord: take vengeance upon her; as she hath done, do unto her.
15. Vociferamini contra eam per circuitum; dedit manum suam; ceciderunt fundamenta ejus, diruti sunt muri ejus, quia ultio Jehovae haec; ultionem sumite de ea; quemadmodum fecit, facite ei.
Jeremiah proceeds in exhorting the Persians and the Medes, not that he had ever spoken to them; but this mode of speaking, as it has been said, availed to confirm the minds of the godly, so that they might feel assured that what had proceeded from the mouth of Jeremiah was not vain. Here, then, he assumes the person of God himself, and with authority commands the Persians and the Medes as to what they were to do. He says again, Cry aloud against her. By crying aloud or shouting, he means the cry of triumph which soldiers send forth when a city is taken, or rather, as I think, the encouraging cries, by which soldiers rouse one another when they make an attack; for battles are never without shoutings, nor the storming of cities. God titan bids the soldiers to animate one another in their usual way to make a strenuous effort. Shout, he says, and then adds, all around.
He then says, She hath given her hand. By these words he intimates that Babylon would not be able to resist. Hands are wont to be given as a token of union; but he is also said to give his hand who confesses himself to be conquered. In this sense we may take the words of Jeremiah, that Babylon had given her hand, because she could not defend herself against the Medes and Persians. But as we know flint the city was taken by treachery, in this manner also was fulfilled what Jeremiah had announced, when two Satraps, in order to revenge private wrongs, sent for Cyrus: for thus it happened that Babylon, or those within it, willingly stretched forth the hands.
It is added, her foundations have fallen, and her walls have been overthrown; not that Cyrus attacked the city with warlike engines, for he entered in by the fords; but still the soldiers readily mounted the walls. Jeremiah then speaks figuratively, as though he had said, that the Chaldeans were mistaken in thinking that they had strong fortresses, because the walls would avail them nothing, however high and wide they were. And we know what ancient historians relate of these walls and towers. The event was almost incredible; for no one could have thought it possible that a city so fortified could be taken by assault. But the Prophet derides this confidence, and declares that the walls would be overthrown, together with their foundations.1 But as it was a thing difficult to be believed, he again adds a confirmation, that it would be the vengeance of Jehovah; as though he had said, that the destruction of Babylon ought not to be estimated according to the thoughts of men, because God would there put forth his wonderful power. In the meantime, he animates again the Persians and the Medes to take vengeance, and to render to the Babylonians what they had deserved. The Prophet in short intimates that the Persians and the Medes would be armed to execute God's vengeance on the Babylonians.
But we must notice the last clause, Do to her as she has done to others; for we hence learn, what we have also observed elsewhere, that a reward is rendered to every one, so that they who have been cruel to others, do find how dreadful is God's judgment. God does not always execute his judgment by men; but still this is ever true,
"Woe to thee who plunderest, for thou shalt be plundered;"
and also this,
"Judgment without mercy shall be to him
who hath showed no mercy;"
and still further,
"With what measure any one measures,
the same shall be rendered to him."
(Isaiah 33:1; James 2:13; Matthew 7:2.) This truth, then, remains fixed and unchangeable. But God in various ways renders to the ungodly their reward; for he sometimes punishes them by the hand of man, and sometimes he suspends his judgment. Here he shows that the Persians and the Medes would be the executioners of his vengeance, even as the Chaldeans themselves had been as it were his scourges when he chastised his people for their sins; for he had employed the Chaldeans in carrying on war against the Jews. But God has many ways by which he calls each one to an account. Thus at length he punished the Chaldeans, because they indulged only their avarice and ambition in oppressing the Jews; for it was not their purpose to punish the Jews as they deserved; but their own lust, as I have just said, led them to cruelty and slaughter. It was, therefore, but just that they should in their turn be chastised by God's hand. It follows, --