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51. Message About Babylon

Thus saith the Lord; Behold, I will raise up against Babylon, and against them that dwell in the midst of them that rise up against me, a destroying wind; 2And will send unto Babylon fanners, that shall fan her, and shall empty her land: for in the day of trouble they shall be against her round about. 3Against him that bendeth let the archer bend his bow, and against him that lifteth himself up in his brigandine: and spare ye not her young men; destroy ye utterly all her host. 4Thus the slain shall fall in the land of the Chaldeans, and they that are thrust through in her streets. 5For Israel hath not been forsaken, nor Judah of his God, of the Lord of hosts; though their land was filled with sin against the Holy One of Israel. 6Flee out of the midst of Babylon, and deliver every man his soul: be not cut off in her iniquity; for this is the time of the Lord’S vengeance; he will render unto her a recompence. 7Babylon hath been a golden cup in the Lord’S hand, that made all the earth drunken: the nations have drunken of her wine; therefore the nations are mad. 8Babylon is suddenly fallen and destroyed: howl for her; take balm for her pain, if so she may be healed. 9We would have healed Babylon, but she is not healed: forsake her, and let us go every one into his own country: for her judgment reacheth unto heaven, and is lifted up even to the skies. 10The Lord hath brought forth our righteousness: come, and let us declare in Zion the work of the Lord our God. 11Make bright the arrows; gather the shields: the Lord hath raised up the spirit of the kings of the Medes: for his device is against Babylon, to destroy it; because it is the vengeance of the Lord, the vengeance of his temple. 12Set up the standard upon the walls of Babylon, make the watch strong, set up the watchmen, prepare the ambushes: for the Lord hath both devised and done that which he spake against the inhabitants of Babylon. 13O thou that dwellest upon many waters, abundant in treasures, thine end is come, and the measure of thy covetousness. 14The Lord of hosts hath sworn by himself, saying, Surely I will fill thee with men, as with caterpillers; and they shall lift up a shout against thee. 15He hath made the earth by his power, he hath established the world by his wisdom, and hath stretched out the heaven by his understanding. 16When he uttereth his voice, there is a multitude of waters in the heavens; and he causeth the vapors to ascend from the ends of the earth: he maketh lightnings with rain, and bringeth forth the wind out of his treasures. 17Every man is brutish by his knowledge; every founder is confounded by the graven image: for his molten image is falsehood, and there is no breath in them. 18They are vanity, the work of errors: in the time of their visitation they shall perish. 19The portion of Jacob is not like them; for he is the former of all things: and Israel is the rod of his inheritance: the Lord of hosts is his name. 20Thou art my battle axe and weapons of war: for with thee will I break in pieces the nations, and with thee will I destroy kingdoms; 21And with thee will I break in pieces the horse and his rider; and with thee will I break in pieces the chariot and his rider; 22With thee also will I break in pieces man and woman; and with thee will I break in pieces old and young; and with thee will I break in pieces the young man and the maid; 23I will also break in pieces with thee the shepherd and his flock; and with thee will I break in pieces the husbandman and his yoke of oxen; and with thee will I break in pieces captains and rulers. 24And I will render unto Babylon and to all the inhabitants of Chaldea all their evil that they have done in Zion in your sight, saith the Lord. 25Behold, I am against thee, O destroying mountain, saith the Lord, which destroyest all the earth: and I will stretch out mine hand upon thee, and roll thee down from the rocks, and will make thee a burnt mountain. 26And they shall not take of thee a stone for a corner, nor a stone for foundations; but thou shalt be desolate for ever, saith the Lord. 27Set ye up a standard in the land, blow the trumpet among the nations, prepare the nations against her, call together against her the kingdoms of Ararat, Minni, and Ashchenaz; appoint a captain against her; cause the horses to come up as the rough caterpillers. 28Prepare against her the nations with the kings of the Medes, the captains thereof, and all the rulers thereof, and all the land of his dominion. 29And the land shall tremble and sorrow: for every purpose of the Lord shall be performed against Babylon, to make the land of Babylon a desolation without an inhabitant. 30The mighty men of Babylon have forborn to fight, they have remained in their holds: their might hath failed; they became as women: they have burned her dwellingplaces; her bars are broken. 31One post shall run to meet another, and one messenger to meet another, to shew the king of Babylon that his city is taken at one end, 32And that the passages are stopped, and the reeds they have burned with fire, and the men of war are affrighted. 33For thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; The daughter of Babylon is like a threshingfloor, it is time to thresh her: yet a little while, and the time of her harvest shall come. 34Nebuchadrezzar the king of Babylon hath devoured me, he hath crushed me, he hath made me an empty vessel, he hath swallowed me up like a dragon, he hath filled his belly with my delicates, he hath cast me out. 35The violence done to me and to my flesh be upon Babylon, shall the inhabitant of Zion say; and my blood upon the inhabitants of Chaldea, shall Jerusalem say. 36Therefore thus saith the Lord; Behold, I will plead thy cause, and take vengeance for thee; and I will dry up her sea, and make her springs dry. 37And Babylon shall become heaps, a dwelling place for dragons, an astonishment, and an hissing, without an inhabitant. 38They shall roar together like lions: they shall yell as lions’ whelps. 39In their heat I will make their feasts, and I will make them drunken, that they may rejoice, and sleep a perpetual sleep, and not wake, saith the Lord. 40I will bring them down like lambs to the slaughter, like rams with he goats. 41How is Sheshach taken! and how is the praise of the whole earth surprised! how is Babylon become an astonishment among the nations! 42The sea is come up upon Babylon: she is covered with the multitude of the waves thereof. 43Her cities are a desolation, a dry land, and a wilderness, a land wherein no man dwelleth, neither doth any son of man pass thereby. 44And I will punish Bel in Babylon, and I will bring forth out of his mouth that which he hath swallowed up: and the nations shall not flow together any more unto him: yea, the wall of Babylon shall fall. 45My people, go ye out of the midst of her, and deliver ye every man his soul from the fierce anger of the Lord. 46And lest your heart faint, and ye fear for the rumour that shall be heard in the land; a rumour shall both come one year, and after that in another year shall come a rumour, and violence in the land, ruler against ruler. 47Therefore, behold, the days come, that I will do judgment upon the graven images of Babylon: and her whole land shall be confounded, and all her slain shall fall in the midst of her. 48Then the heaven and the earth, and all that is therein, shall sing for Babylon: for the spoilers shall come unto her from the north, saith the Lord. 49As Babylon hath caused the slain of Israel to fall, so at Babylon shall fall the slain of all the earth. 50Ye that have escaped the sword, go away, stand not still: remember the Lord afar off, and let Jerusalem come into your mind. 51We are confounded, because we have heard reproach: shame hath covered our faces: for strangers are come into the sanctuaries of the Lord’S house. 52Wherefore, behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will do judgment upon her graven images: and through all her land the wounded shall groan. 53Though Babylon should mount up to heaven, and though she should fortify the height of her strength, yet from me shall spoilers come unto her, saith the Lord. 54A sound of a cry cometh from Babylon, and great destruction from the land of the Chaldeans: 55Because the Lord hath spoiled Babylon, and destroyed out of her the great voice; when her waves do roar like great waters, a noise of their voice is uttered: 56Because the spoiler is come upon her, even upon Babylon, and her mighty men are taken, every one of their bows is broken: for the Lord God of recompences shall surely requite. 57And I will make drunk her princes, and her wise men, her captains, and her rulers, and her mighty men: and they shall sleep a perpetual sleep, and not wake, saith the King, whose name is the Lord of hosts. 58Thus saith the Lord of hosts; The broad walls of Babylon shall be utterly broken, and her high gates shall be burned with fire; and the people shall labour in vain, and the folk in the fire, and they shall be weary.

59The 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. 60So Jeremiah wrote in a book all the evil that should come upon Babylon, even all these words that are written against Babylon. 61And Jeremiah said to Seraiah, When thou comest to Babylon, and shalt see, and shalt read all these words; 62Then shalt thou say, O Lord, thou hast spoken against this place, to cut it off, that none shall remain in it, neither man nor beast, but that it shall be desolate for ever. 63And 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 Euphrates: 64And thou shalt say, Thus shall Babylon sink, and shall not rise from the evil that I will bring upon her: and they shall be weary. Thus far are the words of Jeremiah.

BY this similitude the Prophet confirms what he had before said, even that God would be the avenger of his Church, and would justly punish the Babylonians, but at the suitable time, which is usually called in Scripture the time of visitation, He then compares Babylon to a threshing-floor, not indeed in the sense which interpreters have imagined, but because the threshing-floor only serves for the time of harvest, and is afterwards closed up and not used. Babylon, then, had been for a long time like a threshing-floor, because there had been no treading there, that is, no noise or shouting. But God declares that the time of harvest would come, when the threshing-floor would be used. Oxen did then tread the corn; for the corn was not beaten out with flails, as with us and in most places in France, though the inhabitants of Provence still use the treading. In Judea they tread out the corn on floors, and oxen were used for the purpose. Now, the reason for the similitude seems evident; for the time would come when God would smite Babylon, as oxen after harvest tread out with their feet the corn on the threshing-floor, which for the rest of the year is not wanted, but remains closed up and quiet. Hence I have said that what we have before seen as to the time of visitation is confirmed; for it was strange at the first view to promise deliverance to the Jews, while yet Babylon was increasing more and more and extending the limits of its monarchy. (Isaiah 28:24-26.) God shows in that passage that it was no matter of wonder if he did not daily exercise his judgments in an equal degree; and he bids us to consider how husbandmen act, for they do not sow at the same time wheat and barley and other kinds of grain; nor do they always plough, or always reap, but wait for seasonable times. “Since, then, husbandmen are endowed with so much care and foresight as I have taught them, why may not I also have my times rightly distributed, so that there may be now the harvest, and then the treading or threshing? and should I not at one time sow wheat, and at another cumin?” for the Prophet adds these several sorts. The same is the mode of reasoning in this place, though the Prophet speaks more briefly.

He then says that Babylon would be like a threshing-foor, and how? because it had been as a place closed up and wholly quiet; for God had spared the Chaldeans, and, as we shall hereafter see, they had been so inebriated with pleasures that they feared no danger.

And then immediately he explains himself, — it is time to tread or thresh her. Then Babylon became like a threshing-fioor, for she had not been trodden or threshed for a long time, as the threshing-floor is not used for nine or ten months through the whole year. But he adds, yet a little while, and come will her harvest

We learn from this and other passages that treading or threshing was in use among the Jews and other eastern nations only during harvest. In other places, corn is often kept in the ears for five and six years. Some thresh the corn after six, or eight, or nine months, as it suits their convenience. But there are many countries where the corn is immediately threshed; it is not stored up, but is immediately conveyed to the threshing-floor, and there it is trodden by oxen or threshed with flails. As then it was usual immediately to tread the corn, hence God declares that the time of harvest would come when Babylon would be trodden, as the threshing-floor is trodden after harvest. 9595     By identifying the time of threshing and the time of harvest, it is that we can see the meaning of this verse. Mention is first made of threshing or treading — the punishment prepared for Babylon; then it is said that what led to that — the harvest, would shortly come. The verb “come” is to be understood in the third line, it being given only in the last, —
   33. For thus saith Jehovah of hosts, the God of Israel, — Babylon shall be like a threshing-floor; Come shall the time of threshing her; Yet a little while, and come to her shall the time of harvest.

   The order as to the threshing and harvest is similar to what is often found in the prophets, — the last thing, being the main thing, is mentioned first, and then what precedes or leads to it. — Ed.

We must observe that a little while is not to be understood according to the notions of men; for though God suspends his judgments, he yet never delays beyond the time; on the contrary, he performs his work with all due celerity The Prophet Haggai says,

“Yet a little while, and I will shake the heaven and the earth.”
(Haggai 2:7)

But this was not fulfilled till many years after. But we must remember what is in Habakkuk, —

“If the vision delays, wait for it, for it will come
and will not be slow.” (Habakkuk 2:5)

He says that prophecies delay, that is, according to the judgment of men, who make too much haste, and are even carried away headlong by their own desires. But God performs his work with sufficient celerity, provided we allow him to arrange the times according to his own will, as it is just and right for us to do. Whenever, then, the ungodly enjoy ease and securely indulge themselves, let this fact come to our own minds, that the threshing-floor is not always trodden, but that the time of harvest will come whenever it pleases God. This is the use we ought to make of what is here said. It follows, —


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