The nations are disquieted over Syria
verse by verse through Jeremiah 49:23-27
By Craig C. White
The prophet Jeremiah asks the question “How is Damascus not there?”. Damascus is the oldest continually inhabited city in the world. One day it will no longer exist.
Jeremiah 49:23 Concerning Damascus. Hamath is confounded, and Arpad: for they have heard evil tidings: they are fainthearted; there is sorrow on the sea; it cannot be quiet.
What is Jeremiah telling us? Obviously this prophecy is concerning Damascus, Syria. In the verse above Jeremiah mentions two cities. Hamath and Arpad (Tell Erfad or Tell Rifaat) are both located in northwestern Syria. Today Hamah is Syria’s fifth largest city with a population of 313 thousand. Hamah is further south but still close to the Turkish border. Arpad is modern Tell Rifaat about 25 miles north of Aleppo and about 20 miles south of the Turkish border. These cities are along the path of an invasion launched from Turkey headed towards Damascus.
The people of northwestern Syria have heard intelligence reports that the Turkish army is about to invade Syria. The army’s target is Damascus and they are coming through their cities! The people of northwestern Syria are terrified. Their hearts faint with fear
There is sorrow on the sea; it cannot be quiet. The sea in Bible prophecy can refer to the Mediterranean Sea when it is accompanied with the definite article “the”. The sea can also refer to the nations. There is no article used here in the original Hebrew. I think that Jeremiah is saying that the nations will have great anxiety over the coming Turkish invasion into Syria. The Hebrew word translated sorrow means anxiety, fearfulness, carefulness, or heaviness.
So the nations will be very nervous concerning the coming Turkish invasion into Syria. The Turkish army’s goal is the destruction of Damascus. The English says it well here. The nations will not be able to be still. The Hebrew word translated quiet is defined below. The nations of the world will not be able to be at rest. I think that they are already feeling uneasy concerning Syria.
quiet – shâqat, shaw-kat’
A primitive root; to repose (usually figuratively): – appease, idleness, (at, be at, be in, give) quiet (-ness), (be at, be in, give, have, take) rest, settle, be still.
Jeremiah 49:24 Damascus is waxed feeble, and turneth herself to flee, and fear hath seized on her: anguish and sorrows have taken her, as a woman in travail.
Damascus is waxed feeble. This is the idea of failing in your old age. Damascus is about to die. Damascus turneth herself to flee. This could refer to the city preparing to relinquish its life and it could also refer to the cities inhabitants as they attempt to escape.
The Hebrew word translated fear means to tremble with terror. Anguish and sorrows have taken her, as a woman in travail; literally Damascus is feeling a localized tightness like a woman about to give birth.
Jeremiah 49:25 How is the city of praise not left, the city of my joy!
Two different Hebrew words for city are used in the verse above. The city of praise is a fortified city that has been celebrated in song. When God says “how is the city not left” he could be communicating his astonishment that even after a terrible assault on Damascus, the city has still not surrendered. When God calls Damascus “the city of my joy!” he is specifically saying that he delights in the cities old buildings. So we are looking for the destruction of the old part of the city. Damascus is the oldest continually inhabited city on earth. It was founded by the Aramaeans over four thousand years ago, and was inhabited two thousand years before that. Damascus is a living depiction of human history.
Jeremiah 49:26 Therefore her young men shall fall in her streets, and all the men of war shall be cut off in that day, saith the LORD of hosts.
In this verse the young men are contrasted to the men of war. The men of war obviously represent the Syrian Army. Lately Syrian citizens have joined Assad and the Syrian army to help defend their country. The Syrian National Defense Force is a newly formed civilian guard. I think that the Syrian National Defense Force are represented by the young men in this verse.
It sounds like the young men of Damascus will stay behind to defend the city. Perhaps they will be the first line of defense. The young men of Damascus will die in its streets. The Syrian army will be bunkered in Damascus. When God says that all the men of war shall be cut off he means that every Syrian soldier will die defending Damascus.. Jeremiah isn’t necessarily saying that this assault on Damascus will last only one day. That day refers to the entire duration be it one day or longer.
Jeremiah 49:27 And I will kindle a fire in the wall of Damascus, and it shall consume the palaces of Benhadad.
Let’s remember that this prophecy refers to two separate invasions of Damascus. The first invasion happened in 734 BC. The Assyrian empire invaded Syria, overthrowing several cities as they marched toward Damascus. The Assyrian army conquered Damascus but did not destroy the city. I think that Jeremiah is also prophesying about a second invasion of Damascus that seems to be forming now. God used the terminology kindle a fire to mean that the Assyrian army would besiege the city. Just as the ancient Assyrians assaulted the city in 734 BC, I think that the Turkish army will do likewise soon. The palaces of Benhadad refer to the ancient thrones of Syrian Kings in Damascus. Like the ancient invasion, this future invasion will also destroy Syria’s seat of government in the neighborhood of Old Damascus.
So the Turkish army will march down from Syria’s northwestern border terrorizing cities along the way. Their goal is the destruction of Damascus. The nations of the world will be in a tumult. They will not be able to calm down. Damascus will prepare to die. The people will flee and the young men and army will fight to the death never surrendering. The oldest city on earth will be destroyed along with its historical buildings. Jeremiah describes a city under siege not a city obliterated by a single bomb.