51 The Lord says: I will stir up a destroyer against Babylon, against that whole land of the Chaldeans, and destroy it. 2 Winnowers shall come and winnow her and blow her away; they shall come from every side to rise against her in her day of trouble. 3 The arrows of the enemy shall strike down the bowmen of Babylon and pierce her warriors in their coats of mail. No one shall be spared; both young and old alike shall be destroyed. 4 They shall fall down slain in the land of the Chaldeans, slashed to death in her streets. 5 For the Lord Almighty has not forsaken Israel and Judah. He is still their God, but the land of the Chaldeans[a] is filled with sin against the Holy One of Israel.
6 Flee from Babylon! Save yourselves! Don’t get trapped! If you stay, you will be destroyed when God takes his vengeance on all of Babylon’s sins. 7 Babylon has been as a gold cup in the Lord’s hands, a cup from which he made the whole earth drink and go mad. 8 But now, suddenly Babylon too has fallen. Weep for her; give her medicine; perhaps she can yet be healed. 9 We would help her if we could, but nothing can save her now. Let her go. Abandon her and return to your own land, for God is judging her from heaven. 10 The Lord has vindicated us. Come, let us declare in Jerusalem all the Lord our God has done.
11 Sharpen the arrows! Lift up the shields! For the Lord has stirred up the spirit of the kings of the Medes to march on Babylon and destroy her. This is his vengeance on those who wronged his people and desecrated his Temple. 12 Prepare your defenses, Babylon! Set many watchmen on your walls; send out an ambush, for the Lord will do all he has said he would concerning Babylon. 13 O wealthy port, great center of commerce, your end has come; the thread of your life is cut. 14 The Lord Almighty has taken this vow and sworn to it in his own name: Your cities shall be filled with enemies, like fields filled with locusts in a plague, and they shall lift to the skies their mighty shouts of victory.
15 God made the earth by his power and wisdom. He stretched out the heavens by his understanding. 16 When he speaks, there is thunder in the heavens, and he causes the vapors to rise around the world; he brings the lightning with the rain and the winds from his treasuries. 17 Compared to him, all men are stupid beasts. They have no wisdom—none at all! The silversmith is dulled by the images he makes, for in making them he lies; for he calls them gods when there is not a breath of life in them at all! 18 Idols are nothing! They are lies! And the time is coming when God will come and see, and shall destroy them all. 19 But the God of Israel is no idol! For he made everything there is, and Israel is his nation; the Lord Almighty is his name.
20 Cyrus is[b] God’s battleaxe and sword. I will use you, says the Lord, to break nations in pieces and to destroy many kingdoms. 21 With you I will crush armies, destroying the horse and his rider, the chariot and the charioteer— 22 yes, and the civilians too, both old and young, young men and maidens, 23 shepherds and flocks, farmers and oxen, captains and rulers; 24 before your eyes I will repay Babylon and all the Chaldeans for all the evil they have done to my people, says the Lord.
25 For see, I am against you, O mighty mountain, Babylon, destroyer of the earth! I will lift my hand against you, roll you down from your heights, and leave you, a burnt-out mountain. 26 You shall be desolate forever;[c] even your stones shall never be used for building again. You shall be completely wiped out.
27 Signal many nations to mobilize for war on Babylon. Sound the battle cry; bring out the armies of Ararat, Minni, and Ashkenaz. Appoint a leader; bring a multitude of horses! 28 Bring against her the armies of the kings of the Medes and their generals, and the armies of all the countries they rule.
29 Babylon trembles and writhes in pain, for all that the Lord has planned against her stands unchanged. Babylon will be left desolate without a living soul. 30 Her mightiest soldiers no longer fight; they stay in their barracks. Their courage is gone; they have become as women. The invaders have burned the houses and broken down the city gates. 31 Messengers from every side come running to the king to tell him all is lost! 32 All the escape routes are blocked; the fortifications are burning, and the army is in panic.
33 For the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Babylon is like the wheat upon a threshing floor; in just a little while the flailing will begin.
34-35 The Jews in Babylon say, “Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, has eaten and crushed us and emptied out our strength; he has swallowed us like a great monster and filled his belly with our riches; he has cast us out of our own country. May Babylon be repaid for all she did to us! May she be paid in full for all our blood she spilled!”
36 And the Lord replies: I will be your lawyer; I will plead your case; I will avenge you. I will dry up her river, her water supply, 37 and Babylon shall become a heap of ruins, haunted by jackals, a land horrible to see, incredible, without a living soul. 38 In their drunken feasts, the men of Babylon roar like lions. 39 And while they lie inflamed with all their wine, I will prepare a different kind of feast for them and make them drink until they fall unconscious to the floor, to sleep forever, never to waken again, says the Lord. 40 I will bring them like lambs to the slaughter, like rams and goats.
41 How Babylon is fallen—great Babylon, lauded by all the earth! The world can scarcely believe its eyes at Babylon’s fall! 42 The sea has risen upon Babylon; she is covered by its waves. 43 Her cities lie in ruins—she is a dry wilderness where no one lives nor even travelers pass by. 44 And I will punish Bel, the god of Babylon, and pull from his mouth what he has taken. The nations shall no longer come and worship him; the wall of Babylon has fallen.
45 O my people, flee from Babylon; save yourselves from the fierce anger of the Lord. 46 But don’t panic when you hear the first rumor of approaching forces. For rumors will keep coming year by year. Then there will be a time of civil war as the governors of Babylon fight against each other. 47 For the time is surely coming when I will punish this great city and all her idols; her dead shall lie in the streets. 48 Heaven and earth shall rejoice, for out of the north shall come destroying armies against Babylon, says the Lord. 49 Just as Babylon killed the people of Israel, so must she be killed. 50 Go, you who escaped the sword! Don’t stand and watch—flee while you can! Remember the Lord and return to Jerusalem far away!
51 “We are ashamed because the Temple of the Lord has been defiled by foreigners from Babylon.”
52 Yes, says the Lord. But the time is coming for the destruction of the idols of Babylon. All through the land will be heard the groans of the wounded. 53 Though Babylon be as powerful as heaven, though she increase her strength immeasurably, she shall die, says the Lord.
54 Listen! Hear the cry of great destruction out of Babylon, the land the Chaldeans rule! 55 For the Lord is destroying Babylon; her mighty voice is stilled as the waves roar in upon her. 56 Destroying armies come and slay her mighty men; all her weapons break in her hands, for the Lord God gives just punishment and is giving Babylon all her due. 57 I will make drunk her princes, wise men, rulers, captains, warriors. They shall sleep and not wake up again! So says the King, the Lord Almighty. 58 For the wide walls of Babylon shall be leveled to the ground, and her high gates shall be burned; the builders from many lands have worked in vain—their work shall be destroyed by fire!
59 During the fourth year of Zedekiah’s reign, this message came to Jeremiah to give to Seraiah (son of Neriah, son of Mahseiah), concerning Seraiah’s capture[d] and exile to Babylon along with Zedekiah, king of Judah. (Seraiah was quartermaster of Zedekiah’s army.) 60 Jeremiah wrote on a scroll all the terrible things God had scheduled against Babylon—all the words written above— 61-62 and gave the scroll to Seraiah and said to him, “When you get to Babylon, read what I have written and say, ‘Lord, you have said that you will destroy Babylon so that not a living creature will remain, and it will be abandoned forever.’ 63 Then, when you have finished reading the scroll, tie a rock to it, and throw it into the Euphrates River, 64 and say, ‘So shall Babylon sink, never more to rise, because of the evil I am bringing upon her.’”
(This ends Jeremiah’s messages.)
- Jeremiah 51:5 the land of the Chaldeans, implied.
- Jeremiah 51:20 Cyrus is, literally, “You are,” Cyrus was used of God to conquer Babylon. See also Isaiah 44:28; 45:1.
- Jeremiah 51:26 You shall be desolate forever. This complete destruction of the city of Babylon was accomplished by later Persian kings. Jeremiah here sees the long-range picture of the city’s history, and does not confine himself to Cyrus.
- Jeremiah 51:59 concerning Seraiah’s capture. This event occurred six years after this prophecy.