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50. Message About Babylon

The word that the Lord spake against Babylon and against the land of the Chaldeans by Jeremiah the prophet. 2Declare ye among the nations, and publish, and set up a standard; publish, and conceal not: say, Babylon is taken, Bel is confounded, Merodach is broken in pieces; her idols are confounded, her images are broken in pieces. 3For out of the north there cometh up a nation against her, which shall make her land desolate, and none shall dwell therein: they shall remove, they shall depart, both man and beast.

4In those days, and in that time, saith the Lord, the children of Israel shall come, they and the children of Judah together, going and weeping: they shall go, and seek the Lord their God. 5They shall ask the way to Zion with their faces thitherward, saying, Come, and let us join ourselves to the Lord in a perpetual covenant that shall not be forgotten. 6My people hath been lost sheep: their shepherds have caused them to go astray, they have turned them away on the mountains: they have gone from mountain to hill, they have forgotten their restingplace. 7All that found them have devoured them: and their adversaries said, We offend not, because they have sinned against the Lord, the habitation of justice, even the Lord, the hope of their fathers. 8Remove out of the midst of Babylon, and go forth out of the land of the Chaldeans, and be as the he goats before the flocks.

9For, lo, I will raise and cause to come up against Babylon an assembly of great nations from the north country: and they shall set themselves in array against her; from thence she shall be taken: their arrows shall be as of a mighty expert man; none shall return in vain. 10And Chaldea shall be a spoil: all that spoil her shall be satisfied, saith the Lord. 11Because ye were glad, because ye rejoiced, O ye destroyers of mine heritage, because ye are grown fat as the heifer at grass, and bellow as bulls; 12Your mother shall be sore confounded; she that bare you shall be ashamed: behold, the hindermost of the nations shall be a wilderness, a dry land, and a desert. 13Because of the wrath of the Lord it shall not be inhabited, but it shall be wholly desolate: every one that goeth by Babylon shall be astonished, and hiss at all her plagues. 14Put yourselves in array against Babylon round about: all ye that bend the bow, shoot at her, spare no arrows: for she hath sinned against the Lord. 15Shout against her round about: she hath given her hand: her foundations are fallen, her walls are thrown down: for it is the vengeance of the Lord: take vengeance upon her; as she hath done, do unto her. 16Cut off the sower from Babylon, and him that handleth the sickle in the time of harvest: for fear of the oppressing sword they shall turn every one to his people, and they shall flee every one to his own land.

17Israel is a scattered sheep; the lions have driven him away: first the king of Assyria hath devoured him; and last this Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon hath broken his bones. 18Therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will punish the king of Babylon and his land, as I have punished the king of Assyria. 19And I will bring Israel again to his habitation, and he shall feed on Carmel and Bashan, and his soul shall be satisfied upon mount Ephraim and Gilead. 20In those days, and in that time, saith the Lord, the iniquity of Israel shall be sought for, and there shall be none; and the sins of Judah, and they shall not be found: for I will pardon them whom I reserve.

21Go up against the land of Merathaim, even against it, and against the inhabitants of Pekod: waste and utterly destroy after them, saith the Lord, and do according to all that I have commanded thee. 22A sound of battle is in the land, and of great destruction. 23How is the hammer of the whole earth cut asunder and broken! how is Babylon become a desolation among the nations! 24I have laid a snare for thee, and thou art also taken, O Babylon, and thou wast not aware: thou art found, and also caught, because thou hast striven against the Lord. 25The Lord hath opened his armoury, and hath brought forth the weapons of his indignation: for this is the work of the Lord GOD of hosts in the land of the Chaldeans. 26Come against her from the utmost border, open her storehouses: cast her up as heaps, and destroy her utterly: let nothing of her be left. 27Slay all her bullocks; let them go down to the slaughter: woe unto them! for their day is come, the time of their visitation. 28The voice of them that flee and escape out of the land of Babylon, to declare in Zion the vengeance of the Lord our God, the vengeance of his temple. 29Call together the archers against Babylon: all ye that bend the bow, camp against it round about; let none thereof escape: recompense her according to her work; according to all that she hath done, do unto her: for she hath been proud against the Lord, against the Holy One of Israel. 30Therefore shall her young men fall in the streets, and all her men of war shall be cut off in that day, saith the Lord. 31Behold, I am against thee, O thou most proud, saith the Lord GOD of hosts: for thy day is come, the time that I will visit thee. 32And the most proud shall stumble and fall, and none shall raise him up: and I will kindle a fire in his cities, and it shall devour all round about him.

33Thus saith the Lord of hosts; The children of Israel and the children of Judah were oppressed together: and all that took them captives held them fast; they refused to let them go. 34Their Redeemer is strong; the Lord of hosts is his name: he shall throughly plead their cause, that he may give rest to the land, and disquiet the inhabitants of Babylon.

35A sword is upon the Chaldeans, saith the Lord, and upon the inhabitants of Babylon, and upon her princes, and upon her wise men. 36A sword is upon the liars; and they shall dote: a sword is upon her mighty men; and they shall be dismayed. 37A sword is upon their horses, and upon their chariots, and upon all the mingled people that are in the midst of her; and they shall become as women: a sword is upon her treasures; and they shall be robbed. 38A drought is upon her waters; and they shall be dried up: for it is the land of graven images, and they are mad upon their idols. 39Therefore the wild beasts of the desert with the wild beasts of the islands shall dwell there, and the owls shall dwell therein: and it shall be no more inhabited for ever; neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation. 40As God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah and the neighbour cities thereof, saith the Lord; so shall no man abide there, neither shall any son of man dwell therein. 41Behold, a people shall come from the north, and a great nation, and many kings shall be raised up from the coasts of the earth. 42They shall hold the bow and the lance: they are cruel, and will not shew mercy: their voice shall roar like the sea, and they shall ride upon horses, every one put in array, like a man to the battle, against thee, O daughter of Babylon. 43The king of Babylon hath heard the report of them, and his hands waxed feeble: anguish took hold of him, and pangs as of a woman in travail. 44Behold, he shall come up like a lion from the swelling of Jordan unto the habitation of the strong: but I will make them suddenly run away from her: and who is a chosen man, that I may appoint over her? for who is like me? and who will appoint me the time? and who is that shepherd that will stand before me? 45Therefore hear ye the counsel of the Lord, that he hath taken against Babylon; and his purposes, that he hath purposed against the land of the Chaldeans: Surely the least of the flock shall draw them out: surely he shall make their habitation desolate with them. 46At the noise of the taking of Babylon the earth is moved, and the cry is heard among the nations.

Jeremiah proceeds in exhorting the Persians and the Medes, not that he had ever spoken to them; but this mode of speaking, as it has been said, availed to confirm the minds of the godly, so that they might feel assured that what had proceeded from the mouth of Jeremiah was not vain. Here, then, he assumes the person of God himself, and with authority commands the Persians and the Medes as to what they were to do. He says again, Cry aloud against her. By crying aloud or shouting, he means the cry of triumph which soldiers send forth when a city is taken, or rather, as I think, the encouraging cries, by which soldiers rouse one another when they make an attack; for battles are never without shoutings, nor the storming of cities. God titan bids the soldiers to animate one another in their usual way to make a strenuous effort. Shout, he says, and then adds, all around.

He then says, She hath given her hand By these words he intimates that Babylon would not be able to resist. Hands are wont to be given as a token of union; but he is also said to give his hand who confesses himself to be conquered. In this sense we may take the words of Jeremiah, that Babylon had given her hand, because she could not defend herself against the Medes and Persians. But as we know flint the city was taken by treachery, in this manner also was fulfilled what Jeremiah had announced, when two Satraps, in order to revenge private wrongs, sent for Cyrus: for thus it happened that Babylon, or those within it, willingly stretched forth the hands.

It is added, her foundations have fallen, and her walls have been overthrown; not that Cyrus attacked the city with warlike engines, for he entered in by the fords; but still the soldiers readily mounted the walls. Jeremiah then speaks figuratively, as though he had said, that the Chaldeans were mistaken in thinking that they had strong fortresses, because the walls would avail them nothing, however high and wide they were. And we know what ancient historians relate of these walls and towers. The event was almost incredible; for no one could have thought it possible that a city so fortified could be taken by assault. But the Prophet derides this confidence, and declares that the walls would be overthrown, together with their foundations 6060     Rather “battlements” or ramparts, as given by the Sept.; for it is not proper to say that “foundations” have fallen. — Ed. But as it was a thing difficult to be believed, he again adds a confirmation, that it would be the vengeance of Jehovah; as though he had said, that the destruction of Babylon ought not to be estimated according to the thoughts of men, because God would there put forth his wonderful power. In the meantime, he animates again the Persians and the Medes to take vengeance, and to render to the Babylonians what they had deserved. The Prophet in short intimates that the Persians and the Medes would be armed to execute God’s vengeance on the Babylonians.

But we must notice the last clause, Do to her as she has done to others; for we hence learn, what we have also observed elsewhere, that a reward is rendered to every one, so that they who have been cruel to others, do find how dreadful is God’s judgment. God does not always execute his judgment by men; but still this is ever true,

“Woe to thee who plunderest, for thou shalt be plundered;”

and also this,

“Judgment without mercy shall be to him
who hath showed no mercy;”

and still further,

“With what measure any one measures,
the same shall be rendered to him.”

(Isaiah 33:1; James 2:13; Matthew 7:2.) This truth, then, remains fixed and unchangeable. But God in various ways renders to the ungodly their reward; for he sometimes punishes them by the hand of man, and sometimes he suspends his judgment. Here he shows that the Persians and the Medes would be the executioners of his vengeance, even as the Chaldeans themselves had been as it were his scourges when he chastised his people for their sins; for he had employed the Chaldeans in carrying on war against the Jews. But God has many ways by which he calls each one to an account. Thus at length he punished the Chaldeans, because they indulged only their avarice and ambition in oppressing the Jews; for it was not their purpose to punish the Jews as they deserved; but their own lust, as I have just said, led them to cruelty and slaughter. It was, therefore, but just that they should in their turn be chastised by God’s hand. It follows, —


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