This prophecy is dated in the beginning of Zedekiah’s reign; it is probable that the other prophecies against the Gentiles, going before, were at the same time. The Elamites were the Persians, descended from Elam the son of Shem (Gen. 10:22); yet some think it was only that part of Persia which lay nearest to the Jews which was called Elymais, and adjoined to Media-Elam, which, say they, had acted against God’s Israel, bore the quiver in an expedition against them (Isa. 22:6), and therefore must be reckoned with among the rest. It is here foretold, in general, that God will bring evil upon them, even his fierce anger, and that is evil enough, it has all evil in it, Jer. 49:37. In particular, 1. Their forces shall be disabled, and rendered incapable of doing them any service. The Elamites were famous archers, but, Behold, I will break the bow of Elam (Jer. 49:35), will ruin their artillery, and then the chief of their might is gone. God often orders it so that that which we most trust to first fails us, and that which was the chief of our might proves the least of our help. 2. Their people shall be dispersed. There shall come enemies against them from all parts of the world, and they shall all carry some of them away captive into their respective countries; while others shall flee, some one way and some another, to shift for themselves, so that there shall be no nation whither the outcasts of Elam shall not come, Jer. 49:36. The four winds shall be brought upon them; the storm shall come sometimes from one point and sometimes from another, to toss and hurry them several ways. We know not from what point the wind of trouble may blow; but, if God encompass us with his favour, we are safe, and may be easy, which way soever the storm comes. Fear shall drive them into other countries; they shall be dismayed before their enemies; but, as if that were not enough, I will send the sword after them, Jer. 49:37. Note, God can make his judgments follow those that think by flight to escape them and to get out of the reach of them. Evil pursues sinners. 3. Their princes shall be destroyed and the government quite changed (Jer. 49:38): I will set my throne in Elam. The throne of Nebuchadnezzar shall be set there, or the throne of Cyrus, who began his conquests with Elymais. Or it may be meant of the throne on which God sits for judgment; he will make them know that he reigns, that he judges in the earth, that kings and princes are accountable to him, and that high as they are he is above them. The king of Elam was famous of old, Gen. 14:1. Chedorlaomer was king of Elam, and a mighty man he was in his day; the nations about him served him; his successors, we may suppose, made a great figure; but the king of Elam is no more to God than another man. When God sets his throne in Elam he will destroy thence the king and the princes that are, and set up whom he pleases. 4. Yet the destruction of Elam shall not be perpetual (Jer. 49:39): In the latter days I will bring again the captivity of Elam. When Cyrus had destroyed Babylon, brought the empire into the hands of the Persians, the Elamites no doubt returned in triumph out of all the countries whither they were scattered, and settled again in their own country. But this promise was to have its full and principal accomplishment in the days of the Messiah, when we find Elamites particularly among those who, when the Holy Ghost was given, heard spoken in their own tongues the wonderful works of God (Acts 2:9, 11), and that is the most desirable return of the captivity. If the Son make you free, then you shall be free indeed.
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