The kingdom of Syria lay north of Canaan, as that of Edom lay south, and thither we must now remove and take a view of the approaching fate of that kingdom, which had been often vexatious to the Israel of God. Damascus was the metropolis of that kingdom, and the ruin of the whole is supposed in the ruin of that: yet Hamath and Arpad, two other considerable cities, are names (Jer. 49:23), and the palaces of Ben-hadad, which he built, are particularly marked for ruin, Jer. 49:27; see also Amos 1:4. Some think Ben-hadad (the son of Hadad, either their idol, or one of their ancient kings, whence the rest descended) was a common name of the kings of Syria, as Pharaoh of the kings of Egypt. Now observe concerning the judgment of Damascus, 1. It begins with a terrible fright and faint-heartedness. They hear evil tidings, that the king of Babylon, with all his force, is coming against them, and they are confounded; they know not what measures to take for their own safety, their souls are melted, they are faint-hearted, they have no spirit left them, they are like the troubled sea, that cannot be quiet (Isa. 57:20), or like men in a storm at sea (Ps. 107:26); or the sorrow that begins in the city shall go to the sea-coast, Jer. 49:23. See how easily God can dispirit those nations that have been most celebrated for valour. Damascus now waxes feeble (Jer. 49:24), a city that thought she could 4994 look the most formidable enemy in the face now turns herself to flee, and owns it is to no more purpose to think of contending with her fate than for a woman in labour to contend with her pains, which she cannot escape, but must yield to. It was a city of praise (Jer. 49:25), not praise to God, but to herself, a city much commended and admired by all strangers that visited it. It was a city of joy, where there was an affluence and confluence of all the delights of the sons of men, and abundance of mirth in the enjoyment of them. We read it (though there is no necessity for this) the city of my joy, which the prophet himself had sometimes visited with pleasure. Or it may be the speech of the king lamenting the ruin of the city of his joy. But now it is all overwhelmed with fear and grief. Note, Those deceive themselves who place their happiness in carnal joys; for God in his providence can soon cast a damp upon them and put an end to them. He can soon make a city of praise to be a reproach and a city of joy to be a terror to itself. 2. It ends with a terrible fall and fire. (1.) The inhabitants are slain (Jer. 49:26): The young men, who should fight the enemy and defend the city, shall fall by the sword in her streets; and all the men of war, mighty men, expert in war, and engaged in the service of their country, shall be cut off. (2.) The city is laid in ashes (Jer. 49:27): The fire is kindled by the besiegers in the wall, but it shall devour all before it, the palaces of Ben-hadad particularly, where so much mischief had formerly been hatched against God’s Israel, for which it is now thus visited.
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