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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Jeremiah 51:44

 

 

"I will punish Bel in Babylon, And I will make what he has swallowed come out of his mouth; And the nations will no longer stream to him. Even the wall of Babylon has fallen down!

Adam Clarke Commentary

I will punish Bel in Babylon - Bel or Belus was their supreme deity.

That which he hath swallowed up - The sacred vessels of the temple of Jerusalem, which were taken thence by Nebuchadnezzar, and dedicated to him in his temple at Babylon.

The wall of Babylon shall fall - It shall cease to be a defense; and shall moulder away until, in process of time, it shall not be discernible.


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Bibliography
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Jeremiah 51:44". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/jeremiah-51.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

The sacred vessels plundered from Jerusalem, and laid up in the very temple of Bel, should be restored; the men and women dragged from other lands to people the city, released; and its wall falling would show the insignificance to which it should be reduced.


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Bibliography
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Jeremiah 51:44". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/jeremiah-51.html. 1870.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And I will punish Bel in Babylon,.... The idol of the Babylonians, who had a temple in Babylon, where he was worshipped: the same is called Belus by AelianusF7Var. Hist. l. 13. c. 3. , CurtiusF8Hist. l. 5. c. 1. , and PausaniasF9L. 1. sive Attica, p. 29. ; perhaps the same HerodianF11Hist. l. 8. c. 7. calls Belis, and says some take him to be Apollo; for more of him; see Gill on Isaiah 46:1; and See Gill on Jeremiah 50:2; who was punished when his temple was demolished, and plundered of its wealth; this golden image of Belus was broke to pieces, and the gold of it carried away. The Targum is,

"I will visit or punish them that worship Bel in Babylon:'

and I will bring forth out of his mouth that which he hath swallowed up; the rich offerings made to him when victories were obtained; all success being ascribed to him; and the spoils of conquered enemies, which were brought and laid up in his temple, particularly the vessels of the sanctuary at Jerusalem, which were deposited there; see 2 Chronicles 36:7; and which were restored by Cyrus, Ezra 1:7; which restoration of them greatly fulfilled this prophecy; and was a refunding of what was lodged with him, or a vomiting what he had swallowed up; compare with this the story of "Bel and the dragon":

and the nations shall not flow together any more unto him; either to worship him, or bring their presents to him, to ingratiate themselves with the king of Babylon:

yea, the wall of Babylon shall fall; which Bel was not able to defend; and therefore should be deserted by his worshippers. The Targum renders it in the plural, the walls of Babylon; of which; see Gill on Jeremiah 51:58. Some think that not the wall of the city is here meant: but the temple of Bel, which was as a wall or fortress to the city; but now should fall, and be so no more; since it is not easy to give a reason why mention here should be made of the fall of the walls of the city; and seeing express mention is made of this afterwards.


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Bibliography
Gill, John. "Commentary on Jeremiah 51:44". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/jeremiah-51.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

And I will punish Bel in Babylon, and I will bring forth out of his mouth that which a he hath swallowed: and the nations shall not flow together any more to him: even the wall of Babylon shall fall.

(a) That is, his gifts and presents which he had received as part of the spoil of other nations, and which the idolaters brought to him from all countries.

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Bibliography
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Jeremiah 51:44". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/jeremiah-51.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

swallowed — in allusion to the many sacrifices to the idol which its priests pretended it swallowed at night; or rather, the precious gifts taken from other nations and offered to it (which it is said to have “swallowed”; compare “devoured,” “swallowed,” Jeremiah 51:34; Jeremiah 50:17), which it should have to disgorge (compare Jeremiah 51:13; Jeremiah 50:37). Of these gifts were the vessels of Jehovah‘s temple in Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 36:7; Daniel 1:2). The restoration of these, as foretold here, is recorded in Ezra 1:7-11.

flow — as a river; fitly depicting the influx of pilgrims of all “nations” to the idol.


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Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Jeremiah 51:44". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/jeremiah-51.html. 1871-8.

Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament

With the conquest of Babylon, Bel, the chief deity of the Babylonians (see on Jeremiah 50:2), is punished; and not only is his prey torn from him, but his fame also, which attracted the nations, is destroyed. Under the prey which Bel has swallowed, and which is to be torn out of his mouth, we must include not merely the sacred vessels which had been deposited in the temple of Belus (Daniel 1:3), and the voluntary offerings presented him (Hitzig), but all the property which Babylon had taken as spoil from the nations; and the nations themselves, with life and property, Babylon has swallowed (see 34 and Jeremiah 50:17). All this is now to be torn out of his jaws. Bel falls with the fall of Babylon (cf. Isaiah 46:1), so that nations no longer come in streams to him, to dedicate their goods and treasures to him. The description ends with the sentence, "the wall of Babylon also is fallen," which Hitzig and Graf wrongly suspect, on the ground that it is insipid. Ewald, on the contrary, perceives in the very same expression a brief and emphatic conclusion; because the famous wall of Babylon, strong in every part, was the main defence of this great city of the world. For explaining this sentence, therefore, it is unnecessary to assume that the walls of Babylon seem to have been regarded as sacred to Bel, as Nהgelsbach is inclined to infer from the names which are said to be given to these walls in an inscription translated by Oppert.

(Note: Cf. J. Oppert, Expédition en Mésopot . i. p. 227, where, on the strength of an inscription of Asarhaddon, which is read, " Imgur-Bel is its (Babylon's) chief wall, Ninivitti-Bel its rampart ," the expressions found in the inscriptions of Nebuchadnezzar before the mention of the walls - viz. "Imgur-Bel" (may Bel-Dagon protect him) and "Ninivitti-Bel" (the abode of Bel) - have been explained by Rawlinson and Oppert as names of the first and second lines of fortification round Babylon.)


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Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on Jeremiah 51:44". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/kdo/jeremiah-51.html. 1854-1889.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

And I will punish Bel in Babylon, and I will bring forth out of his mouth that which he hath swallowed up: and the nations shall not flow together any more unto him: yea, the wall of Babylon shall fall.

Bel — Bel was the principal Babylonian idol.

Bring forth — All the vessels of the temple, 2 Chronicles 36:7, and whatever gifts the Babylonians had presented to him.

The wall — And the city of Babylon shall be also ruined.


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Bibliography
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Jeremiah 51:44". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/jeremiah-51.html. 1765.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

God again declares that he would take vengeance on the idols of Babylon; not that God is properly incensed against idols, for they are nothing but things made by men; but that he might show how much he detests all superstitious and idolatrous worship. But he speaks of Bel as though it was an enemy to himself; yet God had no quarrel with a dead figure, void of reason and feeling; and such a contest would have been ridiculous. God, however, thus rises up against Bel for the sake of men, and declares that it was an enemy to himself, not because the idol, as we have said, of itself deserved any punishment.

But we hence learn how detestable was that corruption and that false religion. It appears evident from beathen writers that Bel was the supreme god of the Chaldean nation; nay, that idol was worshipped throughout all Assyria, as all testify with one consent. They thought that there had been a king skillful in the knowledge of the stars, and hence he was placed by erring men among the gods. But we learn from the prophets that this was a very ancient superstition; and it is hardly probable that there had been any king of this name — for otherwise Isaiah and Jeremiah, when predicting the ruin of this idol, would not have been silent on the subject. That common opinion, then, does not appear to me probable; but I think that on the contrary this name was given to the idol according to the fancies of men; for no reason can be found why heathen nations so named their false gods. It is indeed certain that divine honor was given to mortals by the Greeks and the Romans, and by barbarous nations. But the worship of Bel was more ancient than the time when such a thing was done. And in such veneration was that idol held, that from it they called some of their precious stones. They consecrated the eye-stone to the god of the Assyrians, because it was a gem of great price. (See Plin. lib. 37, chap. 10.)

Jeremiah, then, now declares that Bel would be exposed to God’s vengeance, not that God, as we have said, was angry with that statue, but he intended in this way to testify how much he abominated the ungodly worship in which the Chaldeans delighted. Nor did he so much regard the Chaldeans as the Jews; for I have often reminded you that it was a hard trial, which might have easily endangered the faith of the people, to think that the Chaldeans had not obtained so many and so remarkable victories, except God had favored them. The Jews might on this account have had some doubts respecting the temple and the law itself. As then the Babylonians triumphed when success accompanied them, it was necessary to fortify the minds, of the godly, that they might remain firm, though the Babylonians boasted of their victories. Lest the faithful should succumb under their trials, the prophets supplied a suitable remedy, which is done here by Jeremiah. God then declares that he would visit Bel; for what reason and to what purpose? that the Jews might be convinced that that idol could do nothing, but that they had been afflicted by the Babylonians on account of their sins. That true religion, then, might not be discredited, God testified that he would some time not only take vengeance on the Chaldeans themselves, but also on their idol, which they had devised for themselves; I will then visit Bel in Babylon

And he adds, and I will bring or draw out of his mouth what he has swallowed The word בעי, belo, means indeed what is devoured; but the Prophet refers here to the sacred offerings by which Bel was honored until that time. And there is no doubt but that many nations presented gifts to that idol for the sake of the Chaldean nation, as we find that gifts were brought from all parts of the world to Jupiter Capitolinus when the Roman empire flourished; for when the Greeks, the Asiatics, or the Egyptians, wished to obtain some favor, they sent golden crowns, or chandeliers, or some precious vessels; and they sought it as the highest privilege to dedicate their gifts to Jupiter Capitolinus. So, then, there is no doubt but that many nations offered their gifts to Bel, when they wished to flatter the Chaldeans. And hence the Prophet declares that when God visited that idol, he would make it disgorge what it had before swallowed. This is indeed not said with strict propriety; but the Prophet had regard to the Jews, who might have doubted whether the God of Israel was the only true God, while he permitted that empty image to be honored with so many precious offerings; for this was to transfer the honor of the true God to a dead figure. Then he says, I will draw out, as though Bel had swallowed what had been offered to it, — I will draw out from its mouth what it has swallowed Though the language is not strictly correct, yet we see that it was needful, so it might not disturb the minds of the Jews, that almost all nations regarded that idol with so much veneration.

He afterwards expresses his meaning more clearly by adding, the nations shall no more flow together (103) We hence then see what he meant by the voracity of Bel, even because there was a resort from all parts to this temple, for the nations, seeking to ingratiate themselves with the Babylonians, directed their attention to their god. We, indeed, know that the temple of Bel remained even after the city was conquered; there is yet no doubt but that the predictions of Jeremiah and of Isaiah have been accomplished. For Isaiah says,

“Lie prostrate does Bel, Nebo is broken.” (Isaiah 46:1)

He names some other god, who is not made known by heathen writers; but it is sufficiently evident from this testimony that Bel was in high repute. He afterwards says that it would “be a burden to the beasts even to weariness.” We hence learn that Bel was carried away, not that it was worshipped by the Medes and the Persians, but because all the wealth was removed, and probably that idol was made of gold.

It afterwards follows, Even the wall of Babylon has fallen We have said elsewhere that this prophecy ought not to be restricted to the first overthrow of Babylon, for its walls were not then pulled down except in part, where the army entered, after the streams of the Euphrates had been diverted. However, the ancient splendor of the city still continued. But when Babylon was recovered by Darius, the son of Hystaspes, then the walls were pulled down to their foundations, as Herodotus writes, with whom other heathen authors agree. For Babylon had revolted together with the Assyrians when the Magi obtained the government; but when Darius recovered the kingdom, he prepared an army against the Assyrians who had resorted to Babylon; and their barbarous cruelty is narrated, for they strangled all the women that they might not consume the provisions. Each one was allowed to keep one woman as a servant to prepare food and to serve as a cook; but they spared neither matrons nor wives, nor their own daughters. For a time the Persians were stoutly repulsed by them. At length, through the contrivance of Zopyrus, Darius entered the city; he then demolished the walls and the gates, and afterwards Babylon was no better than a village. Then also he hung the chief men of the city, tothe number of three or four thousand, which would be incredible were we not to consider the extent of the city; for such a slaughter would be horrible in a city of moderate size, even were men of all orders put to death. But it hence appears what an atrocious cruelty it must have been, when all the chief men were hung or fixed to crosses; and then also the walls were demolished, though they were, as it has been elsewhere stated, of incredible height and width. Their width was fifty feet; Herodotus names fifty cubits, but I rather think they were feet; and yet their feet were longer than common.

As, then, Jeremiah now says, that the wall of Babylon had fallen, there is no doubt but his prophecy includes this second calamity, which happened under Darius; and this confirms what I have referred to elsewhere. It now follows, —


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Bibliography
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Jeremiah 51:44". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/jeremiah-51.html. 1840-57.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Jeremiah 51:44 And I will punish Bel in Babylon, and I will bring forth out of his mouth that which he hath swallowed up: and the nations shall not flow together any more unto him: yea, the wall of Babylon shall fall.

Ver. 44. And I will punish Bel in Babylon.] Nimrod was after his death called the Babylonian Saturn; Belus, who succeeded him, the Babylonian Jupiter, as Berosus testifieth. This idol of massy gold, and of a huge size, was carried away by Cyrus; thus Bel was punished.

And I will bring forth out of his mouth that which he hath swallowed up.] Bolum ex ore Bell. Such an elegance there is also in the original. (a) Of the rich presents, spoils, costly furniture found in Bel’s temple, see Diodore, lib. ii. Those taken from God’s temple at Jerusalem, and laid up in his, [2 Chronicles 36:7] he was forced to regurgitate. [Ezra 1:7; Ezra 5:14 Job 20:12; Job 20:15]

Yea, the wall of Babylon shall fall.] Which yet was strong to a miracle, as being two hundred cubits high - of the king’s cubits, which were larger than ordinary - and fifty cubits thick, having a hundred brazen gates, and many stately towers, &c.; all shall down, saith the prophet.


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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Jeremiah 51:44". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/jeremiah-51.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Jeremiah 51:44. And I will punish Bel And I do take vengeance or judgment upon Bel in Babylon, and I will draw his morsel out of his mouth; and the nations, &c. That is, the presents which have been brought to his temple from foreign nations shall be restored; which was particularly verified with respect to the holy vessels of the temple at Jerusalem. Xerxes too plundered the temple of Belus of immense wealth. This passage may be further explained from the apocryphal history of Bel and the Dragon. This verse, I apprehend, should close with the words, shall not flow any more unto him; and the 45th begin, The very walls of Babylon shall fall; go ye therefore, my people, out of the midst, &c.


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Bibliography
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Jeremiah 51:44". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/jeremiah-51.html. 1801-1803.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

And I will punish Bel and Babylon: Bel was the principal Babylonian idol, of which see what is noted Jer 1 2.

And I will bring forth out of his mouth that which he hath swallowed up; all the vessels of the temple, 2 Chronicles 36:7, and whatever gifts the Babylonians had presented to him.

And the nations shall not flow together any more unto him: it was the custom of other nations to send presents to the gods of those nations whom they were in subjection to, or whom they would appease, whence it is that we read the Philistines when they had the ark would not send it home without a present, 1 Samuel 6:11. God by his prophet foretelleth that the time should come when the nations should come no more to Babylon, neither to pay a homage to their chief idol, nor yet to bring offerings unto him.

Yea, the wall of Babylon shall fall; and the city of Babylon should be also ruined.


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Bibliography
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Jeremiah 51:44". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/jeremiah-51.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

44. Swallowed up — The sacred vessels, the spoil taken from other nations, and the voluntary offerings of the people.


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Bibliography
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Jeremiah 51:44". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/jeremiah-51.html. 1874-1909.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

Yahweh would humiliate Bel (lit. lord; cf. Jeremiah 50:2), the representative god of Babylon. The nation, personified as Bel and the Dragon , would regurgitate or give back what it had taken from other nations (cf. Jeremiah 51:34). Nations would no longer seek Babylon out because it would become weak and vulnerable to attack. Even her walls, which enclosed an area of200 miles, would fall down. [Note: See Herodotus, 1:178-81.]

"The city wall proper was of double construction. The outer component was12feet thick, so that is [sic] was wide enough to allow several chariots to drive abreast along the walls. Towers were set into the walls at intervals of about60 feet. Outside the walls lay a ditch lined with bricks and bitumen and kept filled with water from the Euphrates." [Note: Thompson, p765.]


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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Jeremiah 51:44". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/jeremiah-51.html. 2012.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Jeremiah 51:44. And I will punish Bel in Babylon — The heathen ascribed the honour of all their successes to their idols; and, upon any great victory, offered the best part of the spoils to their gods, and deposited them in their temples, as a grateful acknowledgment that the success was owing to their assistance. So Nebuchadnezzar, upon every victory over the Jews, carried away part of the furniture of the sanctuary and put it in the temple of his idol: see 2 Chronicles 36:7; Daniel 1:2. The restoring of the holy vessels to their right owner, and to their former use, is what is here foretold by bringing forth out of his mouth that which he hath swallowed, which was done by Cyrus, upon his proclamation for rebuilding the temple, Ezra 1:7. But the full accomplishment of this prediction Dr. Prideaux places in Xerxes’ demolishing the temple of Belus, and plundering it of its vast wealth, which, from Diodorus Siculus’s account of it, he computes to amount to twenty-one millions of our money: see his Connect., pp. 100, 101. And the nations shall not flow together any more unto him — There shall be no more costly presents brought by foreign nations unto the temple of Bel, as a compliment to that monarchy; just as, under the Roman empire, people that were conquered by it, sent golden crowns to Jupiter Capitolinus: see Lowth.


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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Jeremiah 51:44". Joseph Benson's Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/jeremiah-51.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

CHAPTER LI.

Down. His priests pretended that he eat, (Daniel xiv. 11.) and a woman of their choice slept in the most retired part of the temple. (Herodotus i. 181.) --- The prophet derides this notion. The idol, or rather his votaries, (Haydock) shall be forced to let go the Israelites. (Calmet) --- Fall, by means of Cyrus and of Darius, chap. l. 3. (Haydock)


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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Jeremiah 51:44". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/jeremiah-51.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

the wall of Babylon. Now recently laid bare by excavations.


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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Jeremiah 51:44". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/jeremiah-51.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

And I will punish Bel in Babylon, and I will bring forth out of his mouth that which he hath swallowed up: and the nations shall not flow together any more unto him: yea, the wall of Babylon shall fall.

Bel ... I will bring forth out of his mouth that which he hath swallowed - in allusion to the many sacrifices to the idol, which its priests pretended it swallowed at night; or, rather, the precious gifts taken from other nations and offered to it, which it is said to have "swallowed" (cf. "devoured," "swallowed," Jeremiah 51:34; Jeremiah 50:17), which it should have to disgorge (cf. Jeremiah 51:13; Jeremiah 50:37). Of these gifts were the vessels of Yahweh's temple in Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 36:7; Daniel 1:2). The restoration of these to Sheshbazzar, the prince of Judah, for the temple, by the direction of Cyrus, as foretold here, is recorded Ezra 1:7-11.

The nations shall not flow together anymore unto him - they "shall not flow" as a river; fitly depicting the influx of pilgrims of all "nations" to the idol.


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Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Jeremiah 51:44". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/jeremiah-51.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(44) And I will punish Bel in Babylon.—See Note on Jeremiah 50:2. The god whom Babylon worshipped is, as before, thought of as sharing her downfall. He is made to disgorge his spoil, the vessels of the Temple of Jehovah that had been placed in his temple (Daniel 5:2; Ezra 1:7).

The wall of Babylon shall fall.—The words, though they repeat the statement of Jeremiah 50:15, have here a special significance. The two great walls of the city bore, as has been stated above, the names of Imgur-Bel (= Bel protects) and Nimetti-Bel (= the dwelling of Bel), and were thus specially consecrated to him as their tutelary deity (Oppert, Expédit. en Mésop., i. p. 227; Records of the Past, v. 124). The name of the last king of Babylon, Belshazzar, is a further indication of the reverence felt for him as the supreme object of worship.


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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Jeremiah 51:44". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/jeremiah-51.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

And I will punish Bel in Babylon, and I will bring forth out of his mouth that which he hath swallowed up: and the nations shall not flow together any more unto him: yea, the wall of Babylon shall fall.
I will punish
18,47; 50:2; Isaiah 46:1,2
I will bring
34; 2 Chronicles 36:7; Ezra 1:7; Daniel 1:2; 5:2-4,26
the nations
Isaiah 2:2; 60:5; Daniel 3:2,3,29; 4:1,22; 5:19,31; Revelation 18:9-19
the wall
53,58

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Jeremiah 51:44". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/jeremiah-51.html.

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