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Proclamation against Babylon


The oracle concerning Babylon that Isaiah son of Amoz saw.



On a bare hill raise a signal,

cry aloud to them;

wave the hand for them to enter

the gates of the nobles.


I myself have commanded my consecrated ones,

have summoned my warriors, my proudly exulting ones,

to execute my anger.



Listen, a tumult on the mountains

as of a great multitude!

Listen, an uproar of kingdoms,

of nations gathering together!

The L ord of hosts is mustering

an army for battle.


They come from a distant land,

from the end of the heavens,

the L ord and the weapons of his indignation,

to destroy the whole earth.



Wail, for the day of the L ord is near;

it will come like destruction from the Almighty!


Therefore all hands will be feeble,

and every human heart will melt,


and they will be dismayed.

Pangs and agony will seize them;

they will be in anguish like a woman in labor.

They will look aghast at one another;

their faces will be aflame.


See, the day of the L ord comes,

cruel, with wrath and fierce anger,

to make the earth a desolation,

and to destroy its sinners from it.


For the stars of the heavens and their constellations

will not give their light;

the sun will be dark at its rising,

and the moon will not shed its light.


I will punish the world for its evil,

and the wicked for their iniquity;

I will put an end to the pride of the arrogant,

and lay low the insolence of tyrants.


I will make mortals more rare than fine gold,

and humans than the gold of Ophir.


Therefore I will make the heavens tremble,

and the earth will be shaken out of its place,

at the wrath of the L ord of hosts

in the day of his fierce anger.


Like a hunted gazelle,

or like sheep with no one to gather them,

all will turn to their own people,

and all will flee to their own lands.


Whoever is found will be thrust through,

and whoever is caught will fall by the sword.


Their infants will be dashed to pieces

before their eyes;

their houses will be plundered,

and their wives ravished.


See, I am stirring up the Medes against them,

who have no regard for silver

and do not delight in gold.


Their bows will slaughter the young men;

they will have no mercy on the fruit of the womb;

their eyes will not pity children.


And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms,

the splendor and pride of the Chaldeans,

will be like Sodom and Gomorrah

when God overthrew them.


It will never be inhabited

or lived in for all generations;

Arabs will not pitch their tents there,

shepherds will not make their flocks lie down there.


But wild animals will lie down there,

and its houses will be full of howling creatures;

there ostriches will live,

and there goat-demons will dance.


Hyenas will cry in its towers,

and jackals in the pleasant palaces;

its time is close at hand,

and its days will not be prolonged.

9. Behold the day of the Lord will come cruel. He repeats what he had slightly noticed a little before, that though the inhabitants of Babylon are now at ease, and rely on their wealth, the day of the Lord is at hand, to terrify those who are at ease.

But a question might here be raised, Why is the day of the Lord called cruel, since nothing is more desirable than to have God present with us; for his presence alone makes us truly happy? I answer, we ought always to consider who they are that are addressed by the Prophet; for it is customary with the prophets to give various descriptions of God corresponding to the diversity of the hearers. In like manner, David also declares that God is

merciful to the merciful, and cruel and severe to the ungodly. (Psalm 18:25,26.)

What could wicked men imagine to be in God but the utmost severity? And therefore the slightest mention of God fills them with terror.

The godly, on the other hand, whenever the name of God is mentioned, derive the greatest delight and joy from hearing it; so that nothing can be more highly gratifying. Thus, when the prophets address the godly, as soon as they have mentioned God, they speak of joy and gladness, because the godly will feel that he is gracious and merciful to them; but when they address the ungodly, they hold out the judgment of God, and speak of grief and mourning. As the godly are cheered by the presence of God, because by faith they behold his goodness; so the ungodly are terrified, because the testimony of their conscience reproves and convinces them that he comes as a severe Judge. Since even hypocrites pretend that they eagerly long for the day of the Lord, and boast that he will assist them, the prophets tear off from them this disguise, and show that to them the day of the Lord will be dreadful and alarming. (Amos 5:18,20.)

Isaiah applies the usual description to this prophecy, in order to show more fully how much we ought to dread the wrath of God; for, being by nature slow, or rather stupid, we would not be powerfully affected if the Lord spoke in plain terms about his judgments. Since, therefore, an unadorned style would be too cold, he contrived new modes of expression, that by means of them he might shake off our sluggishness. When he says, and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it, he means by sinners not all men without distinction, but the ungodly and wicked men who inhabited Babylon.

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