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Matthew Henry's Commentary – Verses 28–33
Verses 28–33

These verses foretell the desolation that Nebuchadnezzar and his forces should make among the people of Kedar (who descended from Kedar the son of Ishmael, and inhabited a part of Arabia the Stony), and of the kingdoms, the petty principalities, of Hazor, that joined to them, who perhaps were originally Canaanites, of the kingdom of Hazor, in the north of Canaan, which had Jabin for its king, but, being driven thence, settled in the deserts of Arabia and associated themselves with the Kedarenes. Concerning this people we may here observe,

I. What was their present state and posture? They dwelt in tents and had no walls, but curtains (Jer. 49:20), no fortified cities; they had neither gates nor bars, Jer. 49:31. They were shepherds, and had no treasures, but stock upon land, no money, but flocks and camels. They had no soldiers among them, for they were in no fear of invaders, no merchants, for they dwelt alone, Jer. 49:31. Those of other nations neither came among them nor traded with them; but they lived within themselves, content with the products and pleasures of their own country. This was their manner of living, very different from that of the nations that were round about them. And, 1. They were very rich; though they had not trade, no treasures, yet they are here said to be a wealthy nation (Jer. 49:31), because they had a sufficiency to answer all the occasions of human life and they were content with it. Note, Those are truly rich who have enough to supply their necessities, and know when they have enough. We need not go to the treasures of kings and provinces, or to the cash of merchants, to look for wealthy people; they may be found among shepherds that dwell in tents. 2. They were very easy: They dwelt without care. Their wealth was such as nobody envied them, or, if any did, they might come peaceably and enjoy the like; and therefore they feared nobody. Note, Those that live innocently and honestly may live very securely, though they have neither gates nor bars.

II. The design of the king of Babylon against them and the descent he make upon them: He has taken counsel against you and has conceived a purpose against you, Jer. 49:30. That proud man resolves it shall never be said that he, who had conquered so many strong cities, will leave those unconquered that dwell in tents. It was strange that that eagle should stoop to catch these flies, that so great a prince should play at such small game; but all is fish that comes to the ambitious covetous man’s net. Note, It will not always secure men from suffering wrong to be able to say that they have done no wrong; not to have given offence will not be a defence against such men as Nebuchadnezzar. Yet, how unrighteous soever he was in doing it, God was righteous in directing it. These people had lived inoffensively among their neighbours, as many do, who yet, like them, are guilty before God; and it was to punish them for their offences against him that God said (Jer. 49:28): Arise, go up to Kedar, and spoil the men of the east. They will do it to gratify their own covetousness and ambition, but God orders it for the correcting of an unthankful people, and for warning to a careless world to expect trouble when they seem to be most safe. God says to the Chaldeans (Jer. 49:31): “Arise, get up to the wealthy nation that dwells without care; go and give them an alarm, that none may imagine their mountain stands so strong that it cannot be moved.”

III. The great amazement that this put them into, and the great desolation hereby made among them: They shall cry unto them; those on the borders shall send the alarm into all parts of the country, which shall be put into the utmost confusion by it; they shall cry, “Fear is on every side—We are surrounded by the enemy.” the very terror of which shall drive them all to their feet and they shall none of them have any heart to make resistance. The enemy shall proclaim fear upon them, or against them, on every side. They need not strike a stroke; they shall shout them out of their tents, Jer. 49:29. Upon the first alarm, they shall flee, get far off, and dwell deep (Jer. 49:30), as the Edomites, Jer. 49:8. And it will be found that this fear on every side is not groundless, for their calamity shall be brought from all sides thereof, Jer. 49:31. No marvel there are fears on every side when there are foes on every side. The issue will be, 1. What they have will be a prey to the Chaldeans; they shall take to themselves their curtains and vessels; though they are but plain and coarse, and they have better of their own, yet they shall take them for spite, and spoil for spoiling sake. They shall carry away their tents and their flocks, Jer. 49:29. Their camels shall be a booty to those that came for nothing else, Jer. 49:31. 2. It is not said that any of them shall be slain, for they attempt not to make any resistance and their tents and flocks are accepted as a ransom for their lives; but they shall be dislodged and dispersed; though now they dwell in the utmost corners, out of the way, and therefore they think out of the reach, of danger (by this character those people were distinguished, Jer. 9:23, 25, 26), yet they shall be scattered thence into all winds, into all parts of the world. Note, Privacy and obscurity are not always a protection and security. Many that affect to be strangers to the world may yet by unthought-of providences be forced into it; and those that live most retired may have the same lot with those that thrust themselves forth and lie most exposed. 3. Their country shall lie uninhabited; for, lying remote and out of all high roads, and having neither cities nor lands inviting to strangers, none shall care to succeed them, so that Hazor shall be a desolation for ever, Jer. 49:33. If busy men be displaced, many strive to get into their placed, because they lived great; but here are easy quiet men displaced, and no man cared to abide where they did, because they lived meanly.