LECTURE ONE HUNDRED AND NINETY THIRD
57. And I will make drunk her princes, and her wise men, her captains, and her rulers, and her mighty men: and they shall sleep a perpetual sleep, and not wake, saith the King, whose name is the Lord of hosts.
57. Et inebriabo principes ejus et sapientes ejus et duces ejus et praefectos ejus et fortes ejus; et dormient somnum perpetuum, et non expergefient, dicit rex, cujus nomen est Jehova exercituum.
Jeremiah pursues the same subject, he said yesterday that desolators would come to destroy Babylon. He now confirms this by a similitude; and God himself speaks, I will inebriate the princes and captains as well as the soldiers and all the counselors. He seems here to allude to that feast of which Daniel speaks, and of which heathen authors have written. (Daniel 5:1) For while the feast was celebrated by the Babylonians, the city was that night taken, not only through the contrivance and valor of Cyrus, but also through the treachery of those who had revolted from Belshazzar. As, then, they were taken while at the feast, and as the king was that night slain together with his satraps, God seems to refer to this event when he declares, that when he had inebriated them, they would be overtaken with perpetual sleep; for death immediately followed that feasting. They had prolonged their feast to the middle of the night; and while they were sitting at table, a tumult arose suddenly in the city, and the king heard that he was in the hand of his enemies. As, then, feasting and death followed in close succession, it is a striking allusion given by the Prophet, when God threatens the Babylonians with perpetual sleep, after having inebriated them.
But he mentions here the rulers and the captains, as well as the counsellors and the wise men. We, indeed, know that the Babylonians were inflated by a twofold confidence, -- they thought themselves endued with consummate wisdom, and also that they possessed warlike valor. This is the reason why the Prophet expresses so distinctly, that all the captains and rulers in Babylon, however superior in acuteness and prudence, would yet be overtaken with perpetual sleep before they rose from their table. And we must observe that Jeremiah had many years thus prophesied of Babylon; and hence we conclude that his mind as well as his tongue was guided by the Spirit of God, for he could not have possibly conjectured what would be after eighty years: yet so long a time intervened between the prediction and its accomplishment, as we shall presently see.
Moreover, the Prophet uses here a mode of speaking which often occurs in Scripture, even that insensibility is a kind of drunkenness by which God dementates men through his hidden judgment. It ought, then, to be noticed, that whatever prudence and skill there is in the world, they are in such a way the gifts of God, that whenever he pleases the wisest are blinded, and, like the drunken, they either go astray or fall. But we must bear in mind what I have already said, that the Prophet alludes to that very history, for there was then an immediate transition from feasting to death. It now follows,