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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Jeremiah 51:59

 

 

The message which Jeremiah the prophet commanded Seraiah the son of Neriah, the grandson of Mahseiah, when he went with Zedekiah the king of Judah to Babylon in the fourth year of his reign. (Now Seraiah was quartermaster.)

Adam Clarke Commentary

The word which Jeremiah - On account of the message sent by Jeremiah to the Jewish captives in Babylon.


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Bibliography
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Jeremiah 51:59". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/jeremiah-51.html. 1832.

Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible

"The word which Jeremiah the prophet commanded Seraiah the son of Neriah, the son of Mahseiah, when he went with Zedekiah the king of Judah to Babylon in the fourth year of his reign. Now Seraiah was chief chamberlain. And Jeremiah wrote in a book all the evil that should come upon Babylon, even all these words that are written concerning Babylon. And Jeremiah said to Seraiah, When thou comest to Babylon, then see that thou read all these words, and say, O Jehovah, thou hast spoken concerning this place, to cut it off, that none shall dwell therein, neither man nor beast, but that it shall be desolate forever. And it shall be, when thou hast made an end of reading this book, that thou shalt bind a stone to it, and cast it into the midst of the Euphrates: and thou shalt say, Thus shall Babylon sink, and shall not rise again because of the evil that I will bring upon her; and they shall be weary. Thus far are the words of Jeremiah."

"Seraiah... the chamberlain ..." (Jeremiah 51:59). This man was a brother of Baruch; and his being called the chamberlain indicates that he had charge of such things as accommodations and travel arrangements when Zedekiah made that trip to Babylon in the fourth year of his tenure as vassal king under Nebuchadnezzar, "in 593 B.C."[23]

"Jeremiah gave Seraiah a scroll upon which was written a prophecy against Babylon."[24] This comment is incorrect, because the scroll had not "a prophecy" against Babylon, but, it had all that Jeremiah said, "even all these words" (Jeremiah 51:60). This proves that all the prophecies of Jeremiah against Babylon came early in the reign of Zedekiah (593 B.C.). Jeremiah wrote many other prophecies after that date, but all the prophecies against Babylon were concluded before the event mentioned in this paragraph. "There is no valid reason for questioning either the act recorded here or the account of it. It is dated in the fourth year of the reign of Zedekiah (594-593 B.C.).[25]

As he did in Jeremiah 18:1-17 when he visited the house of the potter, and again in Jeremiah 32:6-15 when he bought a field, Jeremiah here reinforced his prophecy against Babylon by a symbolical action carried out for him by Seriah who read the prophecies first (publicly) and then tied a stone to the scroll and cast it into the middle of the Euphrates.

The importance of this action is seen in the Book of Revelation (Revelation 18:21), where a similar action by a mighty angel of God symbolized the overthrow and destruction of Mystery Babylon the Great.

With regard to that trip which Zedekiah made to Babylon on that occasion in his fourth year as king, Smith sheds some light.

"Zedekiah made that trip possibly with the hope of receiving some favor from Nebuchadnezzar, or because Nebuchadnezzar summoned him to be present for some state occasion; and it is even possible that Nebuchadnezzar suspected the loyalty of Zedekiah and demanded that he appear in Babylon with an explanation of why the ambassadors that year (Jeremiah 27:3) were assembled in Jerusalem from Moab, Ammon, Edom and Phoenicia."[26]

"Thus far the words of Jeremiah ..." (Jeremiah 51:64). This is called a Colophon,[27] an editorial note probably inserted by the scribe who connected Jeremiah 52 to Jeremiah as an historical appendix. Very frequently in our Bible studies, we encounter allegations that editors, redactors, and interpolators have added this or that; but here we really have such an example; and let it be noted, that the addition is clearly distinguished from the words of the author. "Whoever it was that added Jeremiah 52 evidently felt that it was his duty to point out that it was not written by Jeremiah. It is an instance of the scrupulous care the Jews took in guarding the integrity of their sacred books, which God committed to their keeping."[28]

The fact of this comment's appearance here demonstrates that the postulation widely accepted by radical critics that all kinds of comments and additions were added to the original writings of the prophets is simply false. The attitude of the nameless scribe who wrote the final sentence of Jeremiah 51:64 effectively disproves it.


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James Burton Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.

Bibliography
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Jeremiah 51:59". "Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/jeremiah-51.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

The word which Jeremiah the prophet commanded Seraiah,.... This word is no other than the above prophecy concerning the destruction of Babylon, contained in this and the preceding chapter; or rather the order the prophet gave this prince to take a copy of it with him to Babylon, and there read it, and their cast it into the river Euphrates, with a stone bound it. Of this Seraiah we read nowhere else: he is further described as

the son of Neriah, the son of Maaseiah, when he went with Zedekiah the king of Judah into Babylon, in the fourth year of his reign; the Jews sayF9Seder Olam Rabba, c. 25. p. 72, 73. that Zedekiah, in the fourth year of his reign, went to Babylon, to reconcile himself to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and took Seraiah with him, and returned and came to his kingdom in Jerusalem; but we have no account in Scripture of any such journey he took. The Septuagint and Arabic versions render it, "when he went from Zedekiah"; as this particle is sometimesF11Vid. L'Empereur, Not. in Mosis Kimchii, οδοιπορια, p. 254, 255. & Noldii Concordant. Ebr, p. 114. No. 577. elsewhere rendered, Genesis 4:1; and so the Targum explains it,

"when he went on an embassy of Zedekiah;'

and Abarbinel, by the command of the king; it seems he was ambassador from the king of Judah to the king of Babylon upon some business or another; and Jeremiah took this opportunity of sending a copy of the above prophecy by him, for the ends before mentioned: this was in the fourth year of Zedekiah's reign, seven years before the destruction of Jerusalem, and sixty years before the taking of Babylon; so long before was it prophesied of. The Syriac version wrongly reads it "in the eleventh year"; the year of Jerusalem's destruction; supposing that Seraiah's going with Zedekiah to Babylon was his going with him into captivity:

and this Seraiah was a quiet prince; one of a peaceable disposition, that did not love war, or persecution of good men; and so a fit person for Zedekiah to send upon an embassy of peace; and for Jeremiah to employ in such service as he did; for, had he been a hot and haughty prince, he would have despised his orders and commands. Some render it, "prince of Menuchah"F12שר מנוחה "princeps Menuchae", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator. ; taking it to be the proper name of a place of which he was governor; thought to be the same with Manahath, 1 Chronicles 8:6. The Targum and Septuagint version call him "the prince of gifts": one by whom such were introduced into the king's presence that brought treasure, gifts, or presents to him, as Jarchi interprets it; according to Kimchi, he was the king's familiar favourite, with whom he used to converse and delight himself when he was at rest and at leisure from business. Some take him to be the lord of the bedchamber, or lord chamberlain; and others lord chief justice of peace. The first sense seems most agreeable.


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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rightes Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855

Bibliography
Gill, John. "Commentary on Jeremiah 51:59". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/jeremiah-51.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

The word which Jeremiah the prophet commanded Seraiah the son of Neriah, the son of Maaseiah, when he went with Zedekiah the king of Judah into Babylon in the k fourth year of his reign. And [this] Seraiah [was] a quiet prince.

(k) This was not in the time of his captivity but seven years before, when he went either to congratulate Nebuchadnezzar or to intreat of some matters.

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Bibliography
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Jeremiah 51:59". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/jeremiah-51.html. 1599-1645.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

The word which Jeremiah the prophet commanded Seraiah the son of Neriah, the son of Maaseiah, when he went with Zedekiah the king of Judah into Babylon in the fourth year of his reign. And this Seraiah was a quiet prince.

In the fourth year — This circumstance lets us know that this prophecy was many years before Babylon was destroyed; for it was seven years before Jerusalem was taken; so as it must be above sixty years before it was fulfilled in the first degree.


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Bibliography
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Jeremiah 51:59". "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

This is a remarkable sealing of the whole of what we have hitherto found said respecting the destruction of Babylon; for the Prophet not only spoke and promulgated what the Spirit of God had dictated, but also put it down in a book; and not contented with this, he delivered the book to Seraiah the son of Neriah, when he went to Babylon by the command of Zedekiah the king, that he might read it there, east it into the Euphrates, and strengthen himself in the hope of all those things which had been divinely predicted.

He says first that he commanded Seraiah what he was to do, even to read the volume and to throw it into the Euphrates, as we shall hereafter see. But he points out the time and mentions the disposition of Seraiah, that we might not think it strange that the Prophet dared to give an authoritative command to the king’s messenger, which a man of another character would have refused. As to the time, it was the fourth year of the reign of Zedekiah; seven years before the city was taken, being besieged the ninth year and taken the eleventh. Then seven years before the destruction and ruin of the city, Seraiah was sent by the king to Babylon. There is no doubt but that the message was sent to pacify the king of Babylon, who had been offended with the fickleness and perfidy of King Zedekiah; an ambassador was then sent to seek pardon. But what the Jews say, that Zedekiah went to Babylon, is wholly groundless; and we know that Sederola, whence they have taken this, is full of all kinds of fables and trifles; and on such a point as this, sacred history would not have been silent, for it was a thing of great moment; and then the particle את, at, expresses no such thing, but may be rendered in this sense, that the messenger was sent for, or by, or in the place of Zedekiah. Let us then be satisfied with this simple and obvious explanation, that Seraiah was the king’s messenger sent to remove the offenses taken by the Babylonians. (110) And this happened in the fourth year of Zedekiah.

Now, by calling Seraiah a prince of quietness, I doubt not but that a reference is made to his gentleness and meekness; and I wonder that in so plain a thing interpreters have toiled so much. One renders it, even the Chaldean paraphrase, “the prince of the oblations,” as though he was set over to examine the presents offered to the king. Others imagine that he was a facetious man who amused the king in his fears; and others think that he was called “prince of quietness,” because he preserved the city in a quiet state. But all these things are groundless. (111) No other view, then, seems to me right, but that he was a prince of a quiet disposition. Therefore the word “quietness” ought not to be referred to any office, but a noun in the genitive case used instead of an adjective. He was, then, a quiet prince, or one of a placid disposition. And this commendation was not without reason added, because we know how haughtily the princes rejected everything commanded them by the servants of God. Seraiah might have objected, and said that he was sent to Babylon, not by a private person, and one of the common people, but by the king himself. He might then have haughtily reproved the Prophet for taking too much liberty with him, “Who art thou, that thou darest to command me, when I sustain the person of the king? and when I am going in his name to the king of Babylon? and then thou seekest to create disturbances by ordering me to read this volume. What if it be found on me? what if some were to suspect that I carry such a thing to Babylon? would I not, in the first place, carry death in my bosom? and would I not, in the second place, be perfidious to my king? for thus my message would be extremely disliked.”

As then Seraiah might have stated all these things, and have rejected the command which Jeremiah gave him, his gentleness is expressly mentioned, even that he was a meek man, and who withheld not his service — who, in short, was ready to obey God and his servant. What, in a word, is here commended, is the meekness of Seraiah, that he received the Prophet with so much readiness, — that he suffered himself to be commanded by him, and that he also hesitated not to execute what he had commanded, when yet it might have been a capital offense, and it might especially have been adverse to his mission, which was to reconcile the king of Babylon. And surely it is an example worthy of being noticed, that Seraiah was not deterred by danger from rendering immediate obedience to the Prophet’s command, nor did he regard himself nor the omee committed to him, so as to reject the Prophet, according to the usual conduct of princes, under the pretext of their own dignity; but laying aside his own honor and forgetting all his greatness, he became a disciple to Jeremiah, who yet, as it is well known, had been long despised by the people, and had sometimes been nearly brought to death. It was, then, a remarkable instance of virtue in Seraiah, that he received with so much modesty and readiness what had been said to him by the Prophet, and that he obeyed his command, to the evident danger of his own life. It now follows, —


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Bibliography
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Jeremiah 51:59". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/jeremiah-51.html. 1840-57.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Jeremiah 51:59 The word which Jeremiah the prophet commanded Seraiah the son of Neriah, the son of Maaseiah, when he went with Zedekiah the king of Judah into Babylon in the fourth year of his reign. And [this] Seraiah [was] a quiet prince.

Ver. 59. The word which Jeremiah the prophet commanded Seraiah.] This is now the last part, viz., a type used for confirmation of this long time preceding prophecy, uttered at Jerusalem haply in the fourth year of Jehoiakim, which was the first of Nebuchadnezzar, and now to be read at Babylon in the fourth year of Zedekiah, which was seven years before the destruction of Jerusalem, and above sixty years before the destruction of Babylon. God loveth to foresignify, but Babylon would not be warned, which was a just both desert and presage of her ruin.

When he went with Zedekiah.] In company with him, say some, out of the Jews’ chronicle. At which time Nebuchadnezzar, who had made him king, took an oath of him to be true to him, which he afterward brake, and was punished accordingly. [2 Chronicles 36:13] Others think that Seraiah went not with Zedekiah, but for him, and from him, with a present to Nebuchadnezzar, that he might keep his favour, or that he might he reconciled unto him after his revolt from him. [2 Kings 24:20]

And this Seraiah was a great prince.] One that opposed the rebellion against Nebuchadnezzar, or a peace maker at court, or the great chamberlain. Heb., A prince of rest; or, Prince of Menucha, a place so called, [ 20:43] or a quiet, honest, and humble prince; otherwise he would not have been thus commanded by a poor prophet, especially in a matter of so great danger, as it might have proved if publicly noticed.


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Bibliography
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Jeremiah 51:59". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/jeremiah-51.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Jeremiah 51:59. The word, &c.— This was the commandment which Jeremiah the prophet gave to Seraiah,—when he went in the retinue of Zedekiah, &c. But this Seraiah was the chief chamberlain, Jeremiah 51:60. For Jeremiah, after he had written, &c. Jeremiah 51:61, said to Seraiah, &c. Houbigant.


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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Jeremiah 51:59". 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

Of this

Seraiah we read no more than we have in this verse, though, Jeremiah 36:26, there be mention made of another Seraiah.

When he went with Zedekiah the king of Judah into Babylon: we no where read of any journey Zedekiah made into Babylon till he was carried a prisoner thither, it is therefore probable that with should be translated from, as the same particle is in other places, Genesis 4:1 44:4, it being not usual with great princes to make visits one to another at such distances, though the Jews tell us a story of some such thing.

In the fourth year of his reign: the expressing of this circumstance of time lets us know that this prophecy was many years before Babylon was destroyed, for it was seven years before Jerusalem was taken; so as it must be above sixty years before it was fulfilled in the first degree.

And this Seraiah was a quiet prince: the Hebrew word admits of various interpretations; some think that Menucha was a place over which Seraiah had some authority under Zedekiah, the same with Manahath, 1 Chronicles 8:6. Others think it was a name of office, and signified lord chamberlain; but the best interpreters see no reason to vary from our translation, the sense of which is, that he was a man of a moderate, quiet temper, that persuaded to peace.


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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Jeremiah 51:59". 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

59. The word, etc. — This is the caption of the brief historical appendage comprised in Jeremiah 51:59-64, which was sent to the captives at Babylon by Zedekiah. As to the reasons of Zedekiah’s visit to Babylon we have no intimation. In the Records of the Past, 3:107, 120, we have a copy of a document from which we learn that Esar-haddon assembled twenty-two kings of Syria at the commencement of his great palace in Nineveh, and this may suggest how, for some similar reason of pomp and state, Zedekiah may have been summoned to Babylon. Or it may be, that his fidelity was suspected, and so he had to go to Babylon to vindicate himself.

A quiet prince — Literally, prince of the resting place. The plural of this word is rendered “resting places” in Isaiah 32:18. This officer answers to the modern quarter-master, his duty being to go forward and select the places where the king and his train would stop for refreshments, and also where they would pass the night.


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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Jeremiah 51:59". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/jeremiah-51.html. 1874-1909.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

The following message was one that Jeremiah gave to Seraiah the son of Neriah when he accompanied King Zedekiah on a visit to Babylon in593 B.C. Nebuchadnezzar may have summoned his vassal kings to Babylon, at this time, in order to reaffirm their loyalty, following an attempted revolt in his empire a year earlier. [Note: William H. Shea, " Daniel 3 : Extra-Biblical Texts and the Convocation on the Plain of Dura," Andrews University Seminary Studies20 (Spring1982):29-52.] Seraiah was Baruch"s brother (cf. Jeremiah 32:12). The title he held, "quartermaster," probably describes the official responsible for providing quarters for the king and his companions, each night as they traveled on their journey.


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Bibliography
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Jeremiah 51:59". "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 51:59. The word which Jeremiah commanded Seraiah. when he went with Zedekiah — The Hebrew בלכתו את צדקיהו, is rendered by the LXX., οτε επορευετο παρα σεδεκιου, when he went from Zedekiah, on his behalf, or by virtue of his commission; which seems to be the meaning of the clause; for we have no reason to suppose that Zedekiah went in person to Babylon at that time. Instead of, This Seraiah was a quiet prince, as our translators render שׁר מנוחה, the LXX. read, αρχων δωρων, a prince, or chief master of gifts, which Blaney interprets to mean, chief of the embassy, or who had the principal charge of the present sent from Zedekiah to the king of Babylon, judging, that in these words is specified the business on which Seraiah was sent. He was employed to carry the present, or customary tribute, which Zedekiah was obliged to pay to the king of Babylon, in acknowledgment of his subjection and vassalage.


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Bibliography
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Jeremiah 51:59". Joseph Benson's Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/jeremiah-51.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

With. Hebrew also, (Calmet) "on behalf of." (Protestant marginal note) (Haydock) --- It is no where else asserted that Sedecias went in person, and Septuagint, Chaldean, &c., explain it in this manner. Baruch accompanied his brother Sararias, and probably took the letter, Baruch i. 2. Saraias went to petition for the sacred vessels. --- Prophecy, or of the embassy to speak (Calmet) in the king's name. Hebrew menucha, was a caution of Benjamin. It means, "rest;" whence some have inferred that he was chamberlain, (Canticle of Canticles iii. 8.) or a favourite. Most translate, "chief of the presents," Septuagint and Chaldean, as if they they had read mincha, which he carried as a tribute to Babylon. Jeremias gave him charge of the parcel, perhaps before Baruch had determined to go.


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Bibliography
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Jeremiah 51:59". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/jeremiah-51.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

The Fifty-First Prophecy of Jeremiah (see book comments for Jeremiah).

Seraiah. The brother of Baruch(Jeremiah 32:12. Compare Jeremiah 45:1).

when he went, &c. Probably to renew his oath of allegiance. Compare Jeremiah 27:1; Jeremiah 28:1.

quiet prince. Probably chief chamberlain. Revised Version margin, "quartermaster. "Hebrew = quiet resting-place (Isaiah 32:18). Probably his office was to prepare the night"s camping place during the journey to Babylon.


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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Jeremiah 51:59". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/jeremiah-51.html. 1909-1922.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(59) Seraiah the son of Neriah.—The great prophecy has reached its close, and the remainder of the chapter is of the nature of an historical appendix. The mention of both father and grandfather leaves no doubt that Seraiah was the brother of Jeremiah’s friend and secretary, Baruch (Jeremiah 32:13). It was, therefore, natural that the prophet should select him as the depository of the great prediction. The term “quiet prince,” which the Authorised version adopts from Luther, means really prince of the resting-place, and describes an office like that of our quartermaster-general. He would seem to have been attendant on Zedekiah, probably appointed by Nebuchadnezzar to regulate the details of the journey to Babylon, and arrange the resting-places at its several stages. The versions seem to have been perplexed by the unusual title, the LXX. giving “ruler of the gifts,” and the Vulgate “prince of prophecy.” The prediction would seem to have been of the nature of a parting gift to him.

In the fourth year of his reign.—The date is significant as giving a missing link in the history. The beginning of Zedekiah’s reign was memorable for the gathering at Jerusalem of ambassadors from the kings of Edom, Moab, Ammon, Tyre, and Zidon, obviously for the purpose of forming a confederacy against Nebuchadnezzar, and Jeremiah had condemned all such schemes as contrary to the will of Jehovah (Jeremiah 27:1-13). It is probable that Nebuchadnezzar summoned the king of Judah to Babylon to question him as to this scheme, and to demand an act of renewed homage. On this journey he was accompanied by the brother of the prophet’s friend and fellow-worker, and Jeremiah takes the opportunity of committing to his charge what we may call an esoteric prophecy, lifting up the veil of the future. He counselled submission for the present, because resistance was premature, and would prove futile. He looked forward to the time when the law of retribution would be fulfilled in Babylon as it had been fulfilled in Jerusalem. The whole proceeding was in perfect harmony with the prediction of Jeremiah 27:7, that all nations should serve Nebuchadnezzar and his son and his son’s son till the “very time of his land” should come. It lies in the nature of the case that a duplicate copy was kept by Baruch or Jeremiah, of which the present text of Jeremiah 50, 51 is a transcript.


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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Jeremiah 51:59". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/jeremiah-51.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

The word which Jeremiah the prophet commanded Seraiah the son of Neriah, the son of Maaseiah, when he went with Zedekiah the king of Judah into Babylon in the fourth year of his reign. And this Seraiah was a quiet prince.
Neriah
32:12; 36:4; 45:1
with
or, on the behalf of. quiet prince. or, prince of Menucha, or chief chamberlain.

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Jeremiah 51:59". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/jeremiah-51.html.

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