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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, again, God declares that enemies would come and overthrow the monarchy of Babylon; but what has been before referred to is here more clearly expressed. For he says, first, that he would be the leader of that war — that the Persians and Medes would fight under his authority. I, he says (the pronoun אנכי, anki, is here emphatical,) I am he, says God, who rouse and bring, and then he adds, an, assembly of great nations The Chaldeans, as we know, had devoured many kingdoms, for Babylon had subjugated all the neighboring nations. Except, then, this had been distinctly expressed, they might have disregarded the prophetic threatenings. But Jeremiah speaks here of the assembly of great nations, lest the Chaldeans, relying on their power, the largeness of the monarchy, and the multitude of their men, should promise themselves victory, and thus lie asleep in their indulgences. God then, in these words, shortly intimates that there would be ready at hand those who in number and power would surpass the Chaldeans.

He afterwards adds, They will set in order against her. Something is to be here supplied — that they would set the battle in order. Now, by this expression, the Prophet sets forth the boldness of the Persians and Medes, as they would be immediately ready for the conflict; they would not long consult, but quickly advance to the fight. In short, he refers to the quickness and boldness of the Persians and Medes, when he says, They shall set in order against her; for they who distrust their own strength, take convenient positions, or contrive ambushes, or withdraw for a time until they know all the plans of their enemies; but the Prophet says that the Persians would by no means be such, because they would be prepared for battle at the first onset, and have the army set in order against the Babylonians.

It follows, thence taken shall be Babylon. The word משם, mesham, means from that place. But the Prophet intimates that the Persians would become conquerors by one battle only, so that the Chaldeans would no more dare to resist. We indeed know that those once put to flight, do often prepare new forces and renew the battle; this is indeed usually the case, and it seldom happens that any one is conquered in one battle. But the Prophet here declares that Babylon would be taken at one time; as soon, he says, as the fight begins, the enemies shall not only overcome, but shall by one assault take Babylon, so as to make it captive.

We now, then, perceive the design of the Prophet; but, doubtless, this prophecy was a derision to the unbelieving, for he seemed to speak of a thing impossible: thus he sang a fable to the deaf. But God, however, did not without reason predict that Babylon would be so taken, that it would, as it were, in one moment fall into the hands of enemies. We said, indeed, yesterday, that it was long besieged and taken by treachery in the night; but we also said that this prophecy is not to be confined to one period; for Babylon was often taken. It was taken through the contrivance of Zopyrus, as we said yesterday, when it thought itself sufficiently strong to resist, and Darius had nearly despaired. We shall therefore find nothing inconsistent in this prophecy, when we consider how great and how supine was the security of that people even at the time when they were suddenly overthrown.

He now adds, Its arrows as of a valiant man; some render it, as of a bereaving man, because some put the point on the right side and some on the left. The word שכל, shecal, means to act prudently, to be prosperous, and also to be bereaved. But I agree with those who take the first sense, for it immediately follows, it shall not return in vain Those who render the word “bereaved,” understand thereby that the arrows of the Persians would be deadly or fatal. But the context does not correspond, for an explanation is afterwards given, that it would not return in vain. It seems, then, that by this word Jeremiah denotes their dexterity, as though he had said that the Persians would be so skillful in throwing arrows, that they would not discharge one arrow in vain; as those who are well exercised in that art always aim directly at an enemy, and never shoot their arrows here and there without effect. So then the Prophet says that the arrows of the Persians would be those of men shooting skillfully, who know how to take a right aim. 5555     Their arrows, like those of a skilful warrior — Blayney. In the next line there is an instance of לא being in the sense of none, — “None shall return empty,” or void; i.e., without effecting its purpose. See Isaiah 55:11. — Ed. And he calls them valiant or strong; for it is not enough to send arrows straight against an enemy, except there be also nerve and strength to shoot them; for arrows might touch one, but not penetrate into his body, or hardly hurt his skin. But the Prophet refers to both these things — that arrows would be hurled with sufficient force to strike and wound the Chaldeans — and that they would also have always a direct aim, so that no one would miss its object. It afterwards follows, —

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