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A Prophecy against Babylon

50 This is the message that the Lord spoke about Babylon and the land of the Babylonians through the prophet Jeremiah.

“Announce this among the nations, and spread the news.
Raise a flag, and announce it.
Don’t hide anything.
Say, ‘Babylon will be captured.
Bel will be put to shame.
Marduk will be filled with terror.
Babylon’s statues will be put to shame.
Its idols will be filled with terror.’
A nation from the north will attack Babylon
and destroy its land so that no one will live in it.
People and animals will run away.

“In those days and at that time,” declares the Lord,
“the people of Israel and Judah will cry as they go together
to seek the Lord their God.
They will ask which road goes to Zion and turn in that direction.
They will go there to make a permanent agreement with the Lord.
It will not be forgotten.
My people have been lost sheep.
Their shepherds have led them astray.
They wander around on the mountains.
They go from mountains to hills.
They have forgotten their resting place.
Everyone who finds them eats them.
Their enemies say, ‘We’re not guilty.
They have sinned against the Lord, their true pasture.
They have sinned against the Lord, the hope of their ancestors.’

“Run away from Babylon.
Leave the land of the Babylonians.
Be like the male goats that lead the flock.
I am going to stir up an alliance of strong nations from the north
and bring it against Babylon.
Those nations will take up positions against Babylon.
Babylon will be captured from the north.
Its enemy’s arrows will be like skilled soldiers
who don’t come back empty-handed.
10 The Babylonians will become the prize.
All who loot them will get everything they want,”
declares the Lord.

11 “You are happy and excited.
You have looted the people who belong to me.
You dance around like calves on the grass
and neigh like stallions.
12 But your mother will be greatly ashamed.
The woman who gave birth to you will be disgraced.
Babylon, you will be the least important nation.
You will become a parched desert.
13 No one will live in Babylon because of the Lord’s anger.
It will be completely abandoned.
Everyone who passes by Babylon will be horrified
and hiss at all its wounds.

14 “Take up your positions around Babylon, all you archers with bows.
Shoot at it; don’t save any arrows,
because the people of Babylon have sinned against the Lord.
15 Shout a war cry against them on every side.
They’ll surrender.
Their towers will fall and their walls will be torn down.
Since this is the Lord’s vengeance, take revenge against them.
Do to them what they did to others.
16 Don’t allow anyone in Babylon to plant or harvest.
Everyone will turn to his own people and flee to his own homeland
because of the enemies’ swords.

17 “The people of Israel are like scattered sheep that lions have chased.
The first to devour them was the king of Assyria.
The last to gnaw at their bones was King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon.

18 “This is what the Lord of Armies, the God of Israel, says:

I am going to punish the king of Babylon and his land
as I punished the king of Assyria.
19 I will bring the people of Israel back to their pastures.
They will eat on Mount Carmel and Mount Bashan.
They will eat until they are full
on the mountains of Ephraim and Gilead.
20 In those days and at that time,” declares the Lord,
“people will look for Israel’s crimes, but they will find none.
They will look for Judah’s sins, but none will be found.
I will forgive the faithful few whom I have spared.
21 Attack the land of Merathaim
and the people who live in Pekod.
Claim them for me by killing them with a sword,”
declares the Lord.
“Do everything I commanded you.
22 The noise of battle and great destruction fills the land.
23 The hammer of the whole earth is broken and shattered.
See how desolate Babylon is of all the nations!
24 I will set traps for you, Babylon.
You will be caught, but you won’t know it.
You will be found and captured
because you have opposed the Lord.
25 The Lord will open his armory
and bring out the weapons of his fury,
because the Almighty Lord of Armies
has a job to do in the land of the Babylonians.
26 Attack them from a distance,
open their storehouses,
pile up their corpses like piles of grain,
claim them for me by destroying them,
and don’t leave anyone behind.
27 Kill all their young bulls.
Let them go to be slaughtered.
How horrible it will be for them when their time has come,
the time for them to be punished.
28 Listen! Fugitives and refugees from Babylon
are coming to Zion to tell about
the vengeance of the Lord our God, the vengeance for his temple.

29 “Call together the archers, the soldiers with bows, against Babylon.
Set up blockades around it. Don’t let anyone escape.
Pay the people of Babylon back for what they have done.
Do to them what they did to others.
They have disobeyed the Lord, the Holy One of Israel.
30 That is why their young men will die in the streets,
and all their soldiers will be silenced that day,”
declares the Lord.

31 “I’m against you, you arrogant city,”
declares the Almighty Lord of Armies.
“Your day has come, the time when I will punish you.
32 Those arrogant people will stumble and fall,
and there will be no one to help them get up.
I will light a fire in their cities
that will burn up everything around them.”

33 This is what the Lord of Armies says:

All the people of Israel and Judah are oppressed.
All their enemies have captured them.
They refuse to let them go.
34 Their defender is strong.
His name is the Lord of Armies.
He will certainly take up their cause
in order to bring rest to the land of Israel
and unrest to the people who live in Babylon.

35 “A sword will kill the Babylonians and everyone who lives in Babylon,”
declares the Lord.
“A sword will kill their officials and their wise men.
36 A sword will kill the false prophets.
They will become fools.
A sword will kill their soldiers and defeat them.
37 A sword will kill their horses, their chariots,
and all the foreigners within their ranks.
They will become women.
A sword will destroy their treasures, and they will be looted.
38 A drought will diminish their water supply, and it will dry up.
Babylon is a land of idols, statues that will go crazy with fear.
39 That is why desert animals will live with hyenas.
Desert owls will also live there.
It will no longer be inhabited or lived in for generations.
40 Babylon will be like Sodom, Gomorrah, and their neighboring cities
when I, God, destroyed them.
No one will live there.
No human will stay there,” declares the Lord.

41 “People are going to come from the north.
A great nation and many kings will rise from the ends of the earth.
42 They will take hold of bows and spears.
They will be cruel and have no compassion.
They will sound like the sea when it roars.
They will ride horses.
They are ready for war, ready to attack you, people of Babylon.
43 The king of Babylon has heard reports about them, and he loses courage.
Anguish will grip him as pain grips a woman in labor.
44 I will suddenly chase them from their places
like a lion coming out of the jungle
along the Jordan River into pastureland.
I will appoint over Babylon whomever I choose.
Who is like me? Who can challenge me?
Is there any leader who can stand up to me?
45 Listen to the plans that the Lord is making against Babylon
and the things he intends to do to the land of the Babylonians.
He will surely drag away the little ones of the flock.
He will surely destroy the pasture because of the Babylonians.
46 The earth will quake at the news that Babylon has been captured.
Its cry will be heard among the nations.”

51 This is what the Lord says:

I will stir up a destructive wind against Babylon
and against the people who live in Leb Kamai.
I will send people to winnow [a] Babylon,
to winnow it and strip its land bare.
They will attack it from every direction on the day of trouble.
Have the archers bend their bows.
Have them put on their armor.
Don’t spare Babylon’s young men.
Completely destroy its whole army.
Babylon’s soldiers will fall down badly wounded in their streets.
They will lie dead in their own land.

Israel and Judah haven’t been abandoned by their God, the Lord of Armies, although their land is guilty of abandoning the Holy One of Israel.

Run away from Babylon!
Run for your lives!
You shouldn’t die because of Babylon’s crimes.
This is the time for the vengeance of the Lord.
He will pay the people of Babylon back for what they have done.
Babylon was a golden cup in the Lord’s hand.
It made the whole world drunk.
The nations drank its wine.
That is why the nations have gone insane.
Babylon will suddenly fall and be shattered.
Cry for it.
Bring medicine for its pain.
Maybe it can be healed.
We wanted to heal Babylon, but it couldn’t be healed.
Let’s abandon it and go to our own land.
God has judged Babylon.
Its judgment is complete.

10 The Lord has brought about our victory.
Let’s announce in Zion what the Lord our God has done.

11 Sharpen the arrows; fill the quivers.
The Lord will stir up the spirit of the kings of the Medes
because his plan is to destroy Babylon.
The Lord will avenge his temple.
12 Raise your battle flag in front of the walls of Babylon.
Strengthen the guards.
Station watchmen.
Prepare ambushes.
The Lord will carry out his plans
against the people who live in Babylon.
13 Babylon, you live beside many rivers and are rich with treasures,
but your end has come.
The thread of your life has been cut off.
14 The Lord of Armies has taken an oath on himself:
“I will certainly fill you with many enemy armies.
They will swarm like locusts.
People will shout their victory over you.”

15 The Lord made the earth by his power.
He set up the world by his wisdom.
He stretched out heaven by his understanding.
16 When he thunders, the water in the sky roars.
He makes clouds rise from the ends of the earth.
He sends lightning with the rain.
He brings wind out of his storehouses.

17 Everyone is stupid and ignorant.
Metalsmiths are put to shame by their idols.
Their statues are false ⌞gods⌟.
18 They can’t breathe.
They are worthless jokes.
When they are punished, they will disappear.
19 Jacob’s God isn’t like them.
He made everything,
and Israel is the tribe that belongs to him.
His name is the Lord of Armies.

20 “You are my war club and my weapon for battle.
I will use you to crush nations.
I will use you to destroy kingdoms.
21 I will use you to crush horses and their riders.
I will use you to crush chariots and their drivers.
22 I will use you to crush men and women.
I will use you to crush the old and the young.
I will use you to crush young men and women.
23 I will use you to crush shepherds and their flocks.
I will use you to crush farmers and their oxen.
I will use you to crush governors and officials.

24 “In your presence I will pay back Babylon
and all the people who live in Babylon
for all the evil things that they did in Zion,”
declares the Lord.

25 “I am against you, Babylon, you destructive mountain.
You have destroyed the whole earth,” declares the Lord.
“I will use my power against you,
roll you off the cliffs,
and make you a scorched mountain.
26 People won’t find any stones in you to use as a cornerstone.
They won’t find any stones in you to use for a foundation.
You will become permanent ruins,” declares the Lord.

27 Raise your battle flag throughout the world.
Blow the ram’s horn among the nations.
Prepare nations to attack Babylon.
Tell the kingdoms of Ararat, Minni, and Ashkenaz to attack it.
Appoint a commander to lead the attack.
Bring up horses like a swarm of locusts.
28 Prepare nations to attack Babylon.
Prepare the king of the Medes, their governors, all their deputies,
and all the countries that they rule.
29 The earth trembles and writhes in pain.
The Lord carries out his plans against Babylon
to make Babylon a wasteland so that no one will live there.
30 The warriors of Babylon have stopped fighting.
They stay in their fortified cities.
Their strength has failed. They have become women.
Their buildings are set on fire.
The bars across their gates are broken.
31 Runners run to meet runners.
Messengers follow messengers.
They inform the king of Babylon that his entire city is captured.
32 The river crossings have been taken.
The enemy has burned its marshes,
and its soldiers are terrified.

33 This is what the Lord of Armies, the God of Israel, says:

The people of Babylon are like a threshing floor [b]
at the time it is trampled.
Their harvest time will come soon.

34 King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon has devoured us.
He has thrown us into confusion.
He has turned us into empty jars.
He has swallowed us like a monster.
He has filled his belly with our delicacies.
Then he spit us out.
35 The people who live in Zion say,
“May the violence done to us be done to Babylon.”
Jerusalem says,
“May the people of Babylon be held responsible for our deaths.”

36 This is what the Lord says:

I am going to take up your cause and get revenge for you.
I will dry up Babylon’s sea and make its springs dry.
37 Babylon will become piles of rubble.
It will become a dwelling place for jackals,
something horrible, and an object of contempt,
where no one lives.
38 Its people are like roaring lions and growling lion cubs.
39 When they are excited,
I will prepare a feast for them
and make them drunk so that they will shout and laugh.
They will fall into a deep sleep and never wake up again,
declares the Lord.
40 I will take them to be slaughtered like lambs, rams, and male goats.

41 “Sheshach has been captured.
Babylon, the city that the whole world praised, has been taken captive.
42 What a horrifying sight Babylon will be to the nations!
The sea will rise over Babylon,
and its roaring waves will cover it.
43 Its cities will be ruined.
It will become a desert, a land where no one lives
and where no human travels.
44 I will punish Bel in Babylon.
I will make Bel spit out everything that it has swallowed.
Nations will no longer stream to Babylon,
and its walls will fall.

45 “Leave it, my people!
Run for your lives!
Run from the burning anger of the Lord.
46 Don’t lose courage or be afraid when rumors are heard in the land.
One rumor comes one year; another rumor comes the next year.
Rumors of violence are in the land.
Rumors that one ruler will fight against another are in the land.
47 That is why the days are coming when I will punish Babylon’s idols.
The whole country will be put to shame,
and all its soldiers will lie dead.
48 Then heaven and earth and everything in them will rejoice over Babylon,
because destroyers from the north will attack it,”
declares the Lord.

49 Because the people of Babylon have killed many Israelites
and because they have killed many people throughout the earth,
Babylon must fall.
50 You people who escaped from the sword, leave!
Don’t just stand there.
Remember the Lord in a distant land, and think about Jerusalem.
51 We have been put to shame, and we have been disgraced.
Shame covers our faces, because foreigners have gone
into the holy places of the Lord’s temple.

52 “That is why the days are coming,” declares the Lord,
“when I will punish their idols,
and those who are wounded will moan everywhere in the land.
53 The people of Babylon might go up to heaven.
They might fortify their strongholds.
But destroyers will still come from me against them,”
declares the Lord.

54 Cries of agony are heard from Babylon.
Sounds of terrible destruction are heard
from the land of the Babylonians.
55 The Lord will destroy Babylon.
He will silence the loud noise coming from it.
Waves of enemies will come roaring in like raging water.
The noise will be heard everywhere.
56 A destroyer will attack Babylon,
its soldiers will be captured,
and their bows and arrows will be broken.

“I, the Lord, am a God who punishes evil.
I will certainly punish them.
57 I will make their officials and wise men drunk,
along with their governors, officers, and soldiers.
They will fall into a deep sleep and never wake up,”
declares the king, whose name is the Lord of Armies.

58 This is what the Lord of Armies says:

The thick walls of Babylon will be leveled,
and its high gates will be set on fire.
People exhaust themselves for nothing.
The nations wear themselves out only to have a fire.

59 This is the message that the prophet Jeremiah gave to Seraiah, son of Neriah and grandson of Mahseiah, when Seraiah went to Babylon with King Zedekiah of Judah in the fourth year of Zedekiah’s rule. (Seraiah was the quartermaster.)

60 Jeremiah wrote on a scroll all the disasters that would happen to Babylon. He wrote all these things that have been written about Babylon. 61 Jeremiah said to Seraiah, “When you come to Babylon, see that you read all this. 62 Then say, ‘Lord, you have threatened to destroy this place so that no person or animal will live here, and it will become a permanent ruin.’ 63 When you finish reading this scroll, tie a stone to it and throw it into the middle of the Euphrates River. 64 Say, ‘Babylon will sink like this scroll. It will never rise again because of the disasters that I will bring on it.’ ”

The words of Jeremiah end here.

Footnotes

  1. 51:2 Winnowing is the process of separating husks from grain.
  2. 51:33 A threshing floor is an outdoor area where grain is separated from its husks.

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