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Matthew Henry's Commentary – Verses 59–64
Verses 59–64

We have been long attending the judgment of Babylon in this and the foregoing chapter; now here we have the conclusion of that whole matter. 1. A copy is taken of this prophecy, it should seem by Jeremiah himself, for Baruch his scribe is not mentioned here (Jer. 51:60): Jeremiah wrote in a book all these words that are here written against Babylon. He received this notice that he might give it to all whom it might concern. It is of great advantage both to the propagating and to the perpetuating of the word of God to have it written, and to have copies taken of the law, prophets, and epistles. 2. It is sent to Babylon, to the captives there, by the hand of Seraiah, who went there attendant on or ambassador for king Zedekiah, in the fourth year of his reign, Jer. 51:59. He went with Zedekiah, or (as the margin reads it) on the behalf of Zedekiah, into Babylon. The character given of him is observable, that this Seraiah was a quiet prince, a prince of rest. He was in honour and power, but not, as most f the princes then were, hot and heady, making parties, and heading factions, and driving things furiously. He was of a calm temper, studied the things that made for peace, endeavoured to preserve a good understanding between the king his master and the king of Babylon, and to keep his master from rebelling. He was no persecutor of God’s prophets, but a moderate man. Zedekiah was happy in the choice of such a man to be his envoy to the king of Babylon, and Jeremiah might safely entrust such a man with his errand too. Note, it is the real honour of great men to be quiet men, and it is the wisdom of princes to put such into places of trust. 3. Seraiah is desired to read it to his countrymen that had already gone into captivity: “When thou shalt come to Babylon, and shalt see what a magnificent place it is, how large a city, how strong, how rich, and how well fortified, and shalt therefore be tempted to think, Surely, it will stand forever” (as the disciples, when they observed the buildings of the temple, concluded that nothing would throw them down but the end of the world, Matt. 24:3), “then thou shalt read all these words to thyself and thy particular friends, for their encouragement in their captivity: let them with an eye of faith see to the end of these threatening powers, and comfort themselves and one another herewith.” 4. He is directed to make a solemn protestation of the divine authority and unquestionable certainty of that which he had read (Jer. 51:62): Then thou shalt look up to God, and say, O Lord! it is thou that hast spoken against this place, to cut it off. This is like the angel’s protestation concerning the destruction of the New-Testament Babylon. These are the true sayings of God, Rev. 19:9. These words are true and faithful, Rev. 21:5. Though Seraiah sees Babylon flourishing, having read this prophecy he must foresee Babylon falling, and by virtue of it must curse its habitation, though it be taking root (Job 5:3): “O Lord! thou hast spoken against this place, and I believe what thou hast spoken, that, as thou knowest every thing, so thou canst do every thing. Thou hast passed sentence upon Babylon, and it shall be executed. Thou hast spoken against this place, to cut it off, and therefore we will neither envy its pomp nor fear its power.” When we see what this world is, how glittering its shows are and how flattering its proposals, let us read in the book of the Lord that its fashion passes away, and it shall shortly be cut off and be desolate for ever, and we shall learn to look upon it with a holy contempt. Observe here, When we have been reading the word of God it becomes us to direct to him whose word it is a humble believing acknowledgment of the truth, equity, and goodness, of what we have read. 5. He must then tie a stone to the book and throw it into the midst of the river Euphrates, as a confirming sign of the things contained in it, saying, “Thus shall Babylon sink, and not rise; for they shall be weary, they shall perfectly succumb, as men tired with a burden, under the load of the evil that I will bring upon them, which they shall never shake off, nor get from under,” Jer. 51:53, 64. In the sign it was the stone that sunk the book, which otherwise would have swum. But in the thing signified it was rather the book that sunk the stone; it was the divine sentence passed upon Babylon in this prophecy that sunk that city, which seemed as firm as a stone. The fall of the New-Testament Babylon was represented by something like this, but much more magnificent, Rev. 18:21. A mighty angel cast a great millstone into the sea, saying, Thus shall Babylon fall. Those that sink under the weight of God’s wrath and curse sink irrecoverably. The last words of the chapter seal up the vision and prophecy of this book: Thus far are the words of Jeremiah. Not that this prophecy against Babylon was the last of his prophecies; for it was dated in the fourth year of Zedekiah (Jer. 51:59), long before he finished his testimony; but this is recorded last of his prophecies because it was to be last accomplished of all his prophecies against the Gentiles, Jer. 46:1. And the chapter which remains is purely historical, and, as some think, was added by some other hand.