23. How is the hammer of the whole earth cut asunder and broken! how is Babylon become a desolation among the nations!
23. Quomodo excisus est et contritus malleus universes terrae? quomodo redacta est (fuit) in vastitatem Babylon inter gentes?
24. I have laid a snare for thee, and thou art also taken, O Babylon, and thou wast not aware: thou art found, and also caught, because thou hast striven against the Lord.
24. Illaqueavi to, atque etiam(vel atque, ideo, Mg, hic ponitur loco rationalis particuloe, ideo) capta es Babylon, et tu nescivisti; inventa es atque adeo deprehensa, quoniam contra Jehovam to miscuisti (litigasti.)
Here, in the first place, Jeremiah asks in astonishment how it happened that the hammer of the whole earth was broken, when it had before broken all nations. God afterwards gives an answer, even because "I am he who have taken Babylon." The question availed to rouse the people to a greater attention. We neglect God's judgments or are blind to them, even because we do not carefully consider them; for little things often excite us, when that which God works in an unusual manner is deemed by us as nothing. As then our apathy as to the works of God is so great, it is necessary to stimulate us. And this is what is done now by Jeremiah, when he says in astonishment, How? for he intimates that to cut down Babylon would be incredible, for no one could have thought that that monarchy could have ever fallen; for it had arrived to the highest eminence, and was surrounded on all sides by so many fortresses, that no danger could be feared. In short, all thought that Babylon could not be endangered without a concussion of heaven and earth.
Then the Prophet here wonders at a thing unusual, and says, How is the hammer of all the earth broken and shattered to pieces?1 and then, How has Babylon become a waste among the nations? for it had subjugated to itself not only the neighboring nations, but the remotest parts of the earth. And in this manner he animated the faithful to entertain hope, lest they should despond, for the power of that monarchy was terrible.
He then immediately answers in the person of God, I have ensnared thee, and therefore thou Babylon art taken. Here God declares, that though it could not be possible that Babylon and its empire should fall through human means, yet its destruction was in his hand. Thou, he says, art taken, even because I ensnared thee; as though he had said, that the Chaldeans would not have to do with men, because he himself would carry on the war and guide and direct the Persians and the Medes, and also endue them with power: He would, in short, fight himself until he had overcome the Babylonians.
When he says, thou knewest not, he not only reproves the insensibility of that people, but at the same time derides their security, as though he had said, "Thou thinkest thyself beyond the reach of harm, but thou wilt find that no one can escape my hand." We now then perceive the meaning of the Prophet. It is indeed true that the unbelieving, when God punishes them for their wickedness, do not acknowledge his hand; but the Prophet means another thing, -- that though Babylon trusted in its strength and feared nothing, it would yet be taken, because it could not evade the snares.
He adds, Thou art found and therefore caught; and he states the reason, because she had contended with God. We shall presently explain how Babylon contended or litigated with or against God, even because God had taken under his protection and patronage the Israelites. This, then, is said with reference to the Church, as I shall presently explain more at large. It must be here briefly observed, that God so undertakes the cause of his people, as though he himself were injured, according to what he promises that they would be to him as the apple of his eye. (Zechariah 2:8.) It now follows, --
23. How has the hammer of all the earth Been cast off and broken! How has Babylon become a wonder among nations!
"A wonder" or astonishment, for so the word is evidently to be taken here, according to the Syr., though rendered "extinction" by the Sept., and "desert" by the Vulg. and Targ. Blayney and Henderson render it "astonishment." -- Ed.