Now You Are Nothing
14 1-2 But not so with Jacob. God will have compassion on Jacob. Once again he’ll choose Israel. He’ll establish them in their own country. Outsiders will be attracted and throw their lot in with Jacob. The nations among whom they lived will actually escort them back home, and then Israel will pay them back by making slaves of them, men and women alike, possessing them as slaves in God’s country, capturing those who had captured them, ruling over those who had abused them.
3-4 When God has given you time to recover from the abuse and trouble and harsh servitude that you had to endure, you can amuse yourselves by taking up this satire, a taunt against the king of Babylon:
4-6 Can you believe it? The tyrant is gone!
The tyranny is over!
God has broken the rule of the wicked,
the power of the bully-rulers
That crushed many people.
A relentless rain of cruel outrage
Established a violent rule of anger
rife with torture and persecution.
7-10 And now it’s over, the whole earth quietly at rest.
Burst into song! Make the rafters ring!
Ponderosa pine trees are happy,
giant Lebanon cedars are relieved, saying,
“Since you’ve been cut down,
there’s no one around to cut us down.”
And the underworld dead are all excited,
preparing to welcome you when you come.
Getting ready to greet you are the ghostly dead,
all the famous names of earth.
All the buried kings of the nations
will stand up on their thrones
With well-prepared speeches,
royal invitations to death:
“Now you are as nothing as we are!
Make yourselves at home with us dead folks!”
11 This is where your pomp and fine music led you, Babylon,
to your underworld private chambers,
A king-size mattress of maggots for repose
and a quilt of crawling worms for warmth.
12 What a comedown this, O Babylon!
Daystar! Son of Dawn!
Flat on your face in the underworld mud,
you, famous for flattening nations!
13-14 You said to yourself,
“I’ll climb to heaven.
I’ll set my throne
over the stars of God.
I’ll run the assembly of angels
that meets on sacred Mount Zaphon.
I’ll climb to the top of the clouds.
I’ll take over as King of the Universe!”
15-17 But you didn’t make it, did you?
Instead of climbing up, you came down—
Down with the underground dead,
down to the abyss of the Pit.
People will stare and muse:
“Can this be the one
Who terrorized earth and its kingdoms,
turned earth to a moonscape,
Wasted its cities,
shut up his prisoners to a living death?”
18-20 Other kings get a decent burial,
honored with eulogies and placed in a tomb.
But you’re dumped in a ditch unburied,
like a stray dog or cat,
Covered with rotting bodies,
murdered and indigent corpses.
Your dead body desecrated, mutilated—
no state funeral for you!
You’ve left your land in ruins,
left a legacy of massacre.
The progeny of your evil life
will never be named. Oblivion!
21 Get a place ready to slaughter the sons of the wicked
and wipe out their father’s line.
Unthinkable that they should own a square foot of land
or desecrate the face of the world with their cities!
22-23 “I will confront them”—Decree of God-of-the-Angel-Armies—“and strip Babylon of name and survivors, children and grandchildren.” God’s Decree. “I’ll make it a worthless swamp and give it as a prize to the hedgehog. And then I’ll bulldoze it out of existence.” Decree of God-of-the-Angel-Armies.
Who Could Ever Cancel Such Plans?
24-27 God-of-the-Angel-Armies speaks:
“Exactly as I planned,
it will happen.
Following my blueprints,
it will take shape.
I will shatter the Assyrian who trespasses my land
and stomp him into the dirt on my mountains.
I will ban his taking and making of slaves
and lift the weight of oppression from all shoulders.”
This is the plan,
planned for the whole earth,
And this is the hand that will do it,
reaching into every nation.
God-of-the-Angel-Armies has planned it.
Who could ever cancel such plans?
His is the hand that’s reached out.
Who could brush it aside?
28-31 In the year King Ahaz died, this Message came:
Hold it, Philistines! It’s too soon to celebrate
the defeat of your cruel oppressor.
From the death throes of that snake a worse snake will come,
and from that, one even worse.
The poor won’t have to worry.
The needy will escape the terror.
But you Philistines will be plunged into famine,
and those who don’t starve, God will kill.
Wail and howl, proud city!
Fall prostrate in fear, Philistia!
On the northern horizon, smoke from burned cities,
the wake of a brutal, disciplined destroyer.
32 What does one say to
outsiders who ask questions?
Tell them, “God has established Zion.
Those in need and in trouble find refuge in her.”
Poignant Cries Reverberate Through Moab
15 1-4 A Message concerning Moab:
Village Ar of Moab is in ruins,
destroyed in a night raid.
Village Kir of Moab is in ruins,
destroyed in a night raid.
Village Dibon climbs to its chapel in the hills,
goes up to lament.
Moab weeps and wails
over Nebo and Medba.
Every head is shaved bald,
every beard shaved clean.
They pour into the streets wearing black,
go up on the roofs, take to the town square,
Everyone in tears,
everyone in grief.
Towns Heshbon and Elealeh cry long and loud.
The sound carries as far as Jahaz.
Moab sobs, shaking in grief.
The soul of Moab trembles.
5-9 Oh, how I grieve for Moab!
Refugees stream to Zoar
and then on to Eglath-shelishiyah.
Up the slopes of Luhith they weep;
on the road to Horonaim they cry their loss.
The springs of Nimrim are dried up—
grass brown, buds stunted, nothing grows.
They leave, carrying all their possessions
on their backs, everything they own,
Making their way as best they can
across Willow Creek to safety.
Poignant cries reverberate
all through Moab,
Gut-wrenching sobs as far as Eglaim,
heart-racking sobs all the way to Beer-elim.
The banks of the Dibon crest with blood,
but God has worse in store for Dibon:
A lion—a lion to finish off the fugitives,
to clean up whoever’s left in the land.
A New Government in the David Tradition
16 1-4 “Dispatch a gift of lambs,” says Moab,
“to the leaders in Jerusalem—
Lambs from Sela sent across the desert
to buy the goodwill of Jerusalem.
The towns and people of Moab
are at a loss,
New-hatched birds knocked from the nest,
At the banks of the Arnon River,
unable to cross:
‘Tell us what to do,
help us out!
Give the refugees from Moab
sanctuary with you.
Be a safe place for those on the run
from the killing fields.’”
4-5 “When this is all over,” Judah answers,
“the tyrant toppled,
The killing at an end,
all signs of these cruelties long gone,
A new government of love will be established
in the venerable David tradition.
A Ruler you can depend upon
will head this government,
A Ruler passionate for justice,
a Ruler quick to set things right.”
* * *
6-12 We’ve heard—everyone’s heard!—of Moab’s pride,
world-famous for pride—
Arrogant, self-important, insufferable,
full of hot air.
So now let Moab lament for a change,
with antiphonal mock-laments from the neighbors!
What a shame! How terrible!
No more fine fruitcakes and Kir-hareseth candies!
All those lush Heshbon fields dried up,
the rich Sibmah vineyards withered!
Foreign thugs have crushed and torn out
the famous grapevines
That once reached all the way to Jazer,
right to the edge of the desert,
Ripped out the crops in every direction
as far as the eye can see.
I’ll join the weeping. I’ll weep right along with Jazer,
weep for the Sibmah vineyards.
And yes, Heshbon and Elealeh,
I’ll mingle my tears with your tears!
The joyful shouting at harvest is gone.
Instead of song and celebration, dead silence.
No more boisterous laughter in the orchards,
no more hearty work songs in the vineyards.
Instead of the bustle and sound of good work in the fields,
silence—deathly and deadening silence.
My heartstrings throb like harp strings for Moab,
my soul in sympathy for sad Kir-heres.
When Moab trudges to the shrine to pray,
he wastes both time and energy.
Going to the sanctuary and praying for relief
is useless. Nothing ever happens.
13-14 This is God’s earlier Message on Moab. God’s updated Message is, “In three years, no longer than the term of an enlisted soldier, Moab’s impressive presence will be gone, that splendid hot-air balloon will be punctured, and instead of a vigorous population, just a few shuffling bums panhandling handouts.”