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Judgment on Babylon


The word that the L ord spoke concerning Babylon, concerning the land of the Chaldeans, by the prophet Jeremiah:


Declare among the nations and proclaim,

set up a banner and proclaim,

do not conceal it, say:

Babylon is taken,

Bel is put to shame,

Merodach is dismayed.

Her images are put to shame,

her idols are dismayed.

3 For out of the north a nation has come up against her; it shall make her land a desolation, and no one shall live in it; both human beings and animals shall flee away.


4 In those days and in that time, says the L ord, the people of Israel shall come, they and the people of Judah together; they shall come weeping as they seek the L ord their God. 5They shall ask the way to Zion, with faces turned toward it, and they shall come and join themselves to the L ord by an everlasting covenant that will never be forgotten.


6 My people have been lost sheep; their shepherds have led them astray, turning them away on the mountains; from mountain to hill they have gone, they have forgotten their fold. 7All who found them have devoured them, and their enemies have said, “We are not guilty, because they have sinned against the L ord, the true pasture, the L ord, the hope of their ancestors.”


8 Flee from Babylon, and go out of the land of the Chaldeans, and be like male goats leading the flock. 9For I am going to stir up and bring against Babylon a company of great nations from the land of the north; and they shall array themselves against her; from there she shall be taken. Their arrows are like the arrows of a skilled warrior who does not return empty-handed. 10Chaldea shall be plundered; all who plunder her shall be sated, says the L ord.



Though you rejoice, though you exult,

O plunderers of my heritage,

though you frisk about like a heifer on the grass,

and neigh like stallions,


your mother shall be utterly shamed,

and she who bore you shall be disgraced.

Lo, she shall be the last of the nations,

a wilderness, dry land, and a desert.


Because of the wrath of the L ord she shall not be inhabited,

but shall be an utter desolation;

everyone who passes by Babylon shall be appalled

and hiss because of all her wounds.


Take up your positions around Babylon,

all you that bend the bow;

shoot at her, spare no arrows,

for she has sinned against the L ord.


Raise a shout against her from all sides,

“She has surrendered;

her bulwarks have fallen,

her walls are thrown down.”

For this is the vengeance of the L ord:

take vengeance on her,

do to her as she has done.


Cut off from Babylon the sower,

and the wielder of the sickle in time of harvest;

because of the destroying sword

all of them shall return to their own people,

and all of them shall flee to their own land.


17 Israel is a hunted sheep driven away by lions. First the king of Assyria devoured it, and now at the end King Nebuchadrezzar of Babylon has gnawed its bones. 18Therefore, thus says the L ord of hosts, the God of Israel: I am going to punish the king of Babylon and his land, as I punished the king of Assyria. 19I will restore Israel to its pasture, and it shall feed on Carmel and in Bashan, and on the hills of Ephraim and in Gilead its hunger shall be satisfied. 20In those days and at that time, says the L ord, the iniquity of Israel shall be sought, and there shall be none; and the sins of Judah, and none shall be found; for I will pardon the remnant that I have spared.



Go up to the land of Merathaim;

go up against her,

and attack the inhabitants of Pekod

and utterly destroy the last of them,

says the L ord;

do all that I have commanded you.


The noise of battle is in the land,

and great destruction!


How the hammer of the whole earth

is cut down and broken!

How Babylon has become

a horror among the nations!


You set a snare for yourself and you were caught, O Babylon,

but you did not know it;

you were discovered and seized,

because you challenged the L ord.


The L ord has opened his armory,

and brought out the weapons of his wrath,

for the Lord G od of hosts has a task to do

in the land of the Chaldeans.


Come against her from every quarter;

open her granaries;

pile her up like heaps of grain, and destroy her utterly;

let nothing be left of her.


Kill all her bulls,

let them go down to the slaughter.

Alas for them, their day has come,

the time of their punishment!


28 Listen! Fugitives and refugees from the land of Babylon are coming to declare in Zion the vengeance of the L ord our God, vengeance for his temple.


29 Summon archers against Babylon, all who bend the bow. Encamp all around her; let no one escape. Repay her according to her deeds; just as she has done, do to her—for she has arrogantly defied the L ord, the Holy One of Israel. 30Therefore her young men shall fall in her squares, and all her soldiers shall be destroyed on that day, says the L ord.



I am against you, O arrogant one,

says the Lord G od of hosts;

for your day has come,

the time when I will punish you.


The arrogant one shall stumble and fall,

with no one to raise him up,

and I will kindle a fire in his cities,

and it will devour everything around him.


33 Thus says the L ord of hosts: The people of Israel are oppressed, and so too are the people of Judah; all their captors have held them fast and refuse to let them go. 34Their Redeemer is strong; the L ord of hosts is his name. He will surely plead their cause, that he may give rest to the earth, but unrest to the inhabitants of Babylon.



A sword against the Chaldeans, says the L ord,

and against the inhabitants of Babylon,

and against her officials and her sages!


A sword against the diviners,

so that they may become fools!

A sword against her warriors,

so that they may be destroyed!


A sword against her horses and against her chariots,

and against all the foreign troops in her midst,

so that they may become women!

A sword against all her treasures,

that they may be plundered!


A drought against her waters,

that they may be dried up!

For it is a land of images,

and they go mad over idols.


39 Therefore wild animals shall live with hyenas in Babylon, and ostriches shall inhabit her; she shall never again be peopled, or inhabited for all generations. 40As when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah and their neighbors, says the L ord, so no one shall live there, nor shall anyone settle in her.



Look, a people is coming from the north;

a mighty nation and many kings

are stirring from the farthest parts of the earth.


They wield bow and spear,

they are cruel and have no mercy.

The sound of them is like the roaring sea;

they ride upon horses,

set in array as a warrior for battle,

against you, O daughter Babylon!



The king of Babylon heard news of them,

and his hands fell helpless;

anguish seized him,

pain like that of a woman in labor.


44 Like a lion coming up from the thickets of the Jordan against a perennial pasture, I will suddenly chase them away from her; and I will appoint over her whomever I choose. For who is like me? Who can summon me? Who is the shepherd who can stand before me? 45Therefore hear the plan that the L ord has made against Babylon, and the purposes that he has formed against the land of the Chaldeans: Surely the little ones of the flock shall be dragged away; surely their fold shall be appalled at their fate. 46At the sound of the capture of Babylon the earth shall tremble, and her cry shall be heard among the nations.


Here the same word is used in a different sense: he had often before used the word חרב, chereb, “sword;” but now by changing only a point, he uses it in the sense of waste, or drought. 7474     It is so rendered by the Vulg. and the Targ., omitted by the Sept., and rendered “sword” by the Syr., and also by Blayney and Henderson. The same incongruity exists as to the treasures; but the sword here, means those who wielded it, the soldiers of Cyrus: they spoiled the treasures, they turned the streams of the rivers. — Ed. But as he mentions waters, the Prophet, no doubt, means drought; nor was it without reason that he mentioned this, because the Euphrates, as it is well known, flowed near the city, and it was also divided into many streams, so that there were many islands, as it were, made by the skill and hand of men. Thus the city was in no ordinary way fortified, for it was difficult of access, being on one side surrounded by so large a river: it had also trenches full of water, and it had many channels. But Cyrus, as Xenophon relates, when attempting to take the city, used the same contrivance, and imitated those who had fortified Babylon, but for a different purpose; for he diverted the streams, so that the river might be forded. Thus, then, he dried up that great river, which was like a sea; so that Babylon was taken with no great trouble. Cyrus, indeed, entered in by night, and unexpectedly invaded Babylon, while they were securely feasting, and celebrating a festival, as we find in the book of Daniel. However, the way by which Cyrus contrived to take the city was, by dividing the Euphrates into many streams. Hence it was, that the Prophet, in order that the Jews might see, as it were, with their own eyes, spoke nothing without reason, having not only predicted the slaughter and destruction of the city, but showed also the very way in which it was done, as though the event had been portrayed before them.

The reason is added, because it is the land of carvings, or gravings. God, indeed, took vengeance on Babylon for other things, as it has before appeared; but the Prophet here speaks of carvings, that the Israelites might know that there is no certain salvation anywhere else except in the one true God, who had revealed himself to them. Jeremiah, in short, means, that when any country is destitute of God’s help, though it may excel in arms, in number, in wealth, and in wisdom, yet everything under heaven is of no avail without the blessing and favor of God. He has spoken of princes and of wise men, and he has named chariots, horses, and treasures, — all these have been mentioned for the purpose I have just stated, even to show, that were we supplied with all that may seem necessary to defend us, except God protected us, whatever the world may offer would be all in vain; for we shall at length find, that without God neither arms, nor chariots, nor wisdom nor counsel, nor any other helps, can avail us anything.

It follows, that Chaldea gloried in images The word אימים, aimim, means terrors, and giants are called by this name in Deuteronomy 2:10, because they inspire terror by their aspect. But this name is no doubt applied to images, because they are only bugbears, des epovantailz, as we say in French. 7575     That the Babylonians had large idols or images, which were of terrific size, is evident from Daniel 3:1Ed. As then they are mere scarecrows, which only frighten children, they are called אימים, aimim. And he says, that they gloried in, or doted on them — for הלל, elal, means both, in Hithpael, as it is found here. It means to boast or to elate one’s-self, and also to be mad or to dote. Either sense would not be unsuitable to this place; for the unbelieving gloried in their idols, and at the same time were mad: yet the first meaning seems to me the best, that they gloried in their idols, as it is said in Psalm 47:7,

“Let them perish who trust in images and glory in them.”

Though the verb there is indeed different, yet the meaning is the same.

It was not, indeed, without reason, that the Prophet reproaches the Chaldeans, that they gloried in their idols, because they thereby robbed God of his honor; for what is ascribed to idols is taken away from God. He intimates, in short, that the Chaldeans would be justly punished as guilty of sacrilege, because they had impiously transferred the glory of God to their own idols. And this passage teaches us, that when God is purely worshipped among us, and when true religion flourishes, it will be our best protection. We shall then be more impregnable than if we had all the power and wealth of the world: nothing can hurt us, if we give to God his due honor, and strive to worship him in sincerity and truth. It now follows, —

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