New Defender's Study Bible Notes
49:6 Ammon. Ammon was the brother of Moab, both being sons of Lot by his two daughters (Genesis 19:36-38). The Ammonites lived north and east of the Moabites, and were even more perpetually at enmity with Israel than the Moabites. Like the latter, they were fiercely defeated by Nebuchadnezzar, but continued to exist as a minor nation until sometime after Christ and eventually disappearing. Their descendants, like the Moabites and others in the region, eventually became amalgamated with the Arabs and now are represented mainly by the nation called Jordan. Their chief god was the cruel Molech, often a stumbling block to Israel. Presumably because of their ancestral relation to Israel, both Moab and Ammon will be revived as nations in the latter days (see also Jeremiah 48:47). The modern-day capital of Jordan is Amman, the same as the once-desolate Rabbath-Ammon, the ancient capital before its takeover by “the men of the east” (Ezekiel 25:4).
49:16 clefts of the rock. This seems clearly to be a reference to the famous rock city of the Edomites known as Petra, or Sela (Isaiah 16:1), now uninhabited but frequently visited by tourists. In ancient times, it was a chief city of the Edomites and the Nabateans, prosperous because of its proximity to an important trade route.
49:17 shall be a desolation. Edom, south of the Dead Sea, is indeed now desolate. However, it was once a prosperous nation, descended from Esau, brother of Jacob, and thus closely related to Israel. Almost perpetual enemies of the Israelites, the Edomites even aided Nebuchadnezzar in his invasion of the Israelite land (note Psalm 137:1,7). Nebuchadnezzar then permitted them to occupy the southern portion of Israel—the region thence becoming known as Idumaea—about the same time the Nabateans were driving them out of their own land. Both the original Edomites and the Nabateans have disappeared from history, and their regions are now largely desert, with the descendants presumably amalgamated with the Arabs, Jordanians and Palestinians.
49:23 Damascus. Damascus, the ancient capital of Syria, along with the other cities Arpad and Hamath and all of Syria, had already been subjugated by Assyria, which in turn had been conquered by Babylonia. Nevertheless, the invading Babylonians still further humiliated the Syrians, as Jeremiah warned.
49:33 Hazor. Hazor and Kedar (Jeremiah 49:28) were evidently small Arabian kingdoms that were also destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar.
49:33 dragons. Hebrew tannin probably refers to dinosaurs; small populations still existed in remote areas at this time.
49:35 Elam. Elam was one of the most ancient nations, originally established by a son of Shem (Genesis 10:22). At the time of Jeremiah, in spite of its long and eminent history, it had been subjugated by the Assyrians and then the Babylonians. Eventually, however, with its capital Susa (or Shushan), it would become the key section of what would expand into the great empire of Persia. Then the combined empire of Media and Persia would finally conquer Babylon itself.