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The Humiliation of Babylon


Come down and sit in the dust,

virgin daughter Babylon!

Sit on the ground without a throne,

daughter Chaldea!

For you shall no more be called

tender and delicate.


Take the millstones and grind meal,

remove your veil,

strip off your robe, uncover your legs,

pass through the rivers.


Your nakedness shall be uncovered,

and your shame shall be seen.

I will take vengeance,

and I will spare no one.


Our Redeemer—the L ord of hosts is his name—

is the Holy One of Israel.



Sit in silence, and go into darkness,

daughter Chaldea!

For you shall no more be called

the mistress of kingdoms.


I was angry with my people,

I profaned my heritage;

I gave them into your hand,

you showed them no mercy;

on the aged you made your yoke

exceedingly heavy.


You said, “I shall be mistress forever,”

so that you did not lay these things to heart

or remember their end.



Now therefore hear this, you lover of pleasures,

who sit securely,

who say in your heart,

“I am, and there is no one besides me;

I shall not sit as a widow

or know the loss of children”—


both these things shall come upon you

in a moment, in one day:

the loss of children and widowhood

shall come upon you in full measure,

in spite of your many sorceries

and the great power of your enchantments.



You felt secure in your wickedness;

you said, “No one sees me.”

Your wisdom and your knowledge

led you astray,

and you said in your heart,

“I am, and there is no one besides me.”


But evil shall come upon you,

which you cannot charm away;

disaster shall fall upon you,

which you will not be able to ward off;

and ruin shall come on you suddenly,

of which you know nothing.



Stand fast in your enchantments

and your many sorceries,

with which you have labored from your youth;

perhaps you may be able to succeed,

perhaps you may inspire terror.


You are wearied with your many consultations;

let those who study the heavens

stand up and save you,

those who gaze at the stars,

and at each new moon predict

what shall befall you.



See, they are like stubble,

the fire consumes them;

they cannot deliver themselves

from the power of the flame.

No coal for warming oneself is this,

no fire to sit before!


Such to you are those with whom you have labored,

who have trafficked with you from your youth;

they all wander about in their own paths;

there is no one to save you.


8. And now hear this, thou delicate woman. The Prophet again threatens the destruction of Babylon, and employs appropriate words for strengthening the hearts of believers, that the prosperity of the Babylonians may not stupify and lead them to despondency; and yet he does not address Babylon in order to produce an impression upon her, but to comfort believers. He adds, that she was intoxicated with pleasures; for prosperity, being the gift of God, ought not in itself to be condemned, but it is well known how prone the children of the world are, to pass from luxury to insolence.

Who saith in her heart. He now explains what is meant by the word to say, of which we spoke in the exposition of the preceding verse, namely, that one convinces himself and believes that it will be thus and thus, as proud and insolent men commonly do, although they often conceal it through pretended modesty, and do not wish it to be publicly known.

I am, and there is none besides me. This arrogance, by which she prefers herself to the whole world, is intolerable. First, she thinks that she is; secondly, she imagines that the rest of the world does not deserve to be compared to her; thirdly, she promises to herself everlasting repose, for she says, I shall not sit as a widow. As to the first, there is none of whom it can be said with truth that he is, but God alone, who has a right to say, “I am what I am,” (Exodus 3:14;) for by this mark he is distinguished from the creatures. Thus, he who thinks that he subsists by his own power robs God of the honor due to him, and so Babylon, by exalting herself, made war with God. Secondly, she treated the whole world with contempt, when she preferred herself to it. In this manner proud men begin with God, by representing him to be their enemy, and they end by making all men, without exception, their enemies, through their haughtiness. The third clause, which may be regarded as the copestone of her pride, is, that she considers her condition to be eternal, and does not take into account the liability of the affairs of men to undergo change; for the higher men have been exalted, they sometimes on that account sink the lower.

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