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Babylon Will Be Punished

13 This is the message[a] that I was given about Babylon:

From high on a barren hill
give a signal, shout the orders,
    and point the way
to enter the gates
    of Babylon’s proud rulers.
The Lord has commanded
    his very best warriors
and his proud heroes
    to show how angry he is.

Listen to the noisy crowds
    on the mountains!
Kingdoms and nations
    are joining forces.
The Lord All-Powerful
is bringing together
    an army for battle.
From a distant land
the Lord is coming
    fierce and furious—
he brings his weapons
    to destroy the earth.

Cry and weep!
    The day is coming
when the mighty Lord
    will bring destruction.
All people will be terrified.
Hands will grow limp;
    courage will melt away.
Everyone will tremble with pain
    like a woman giving birth;
they will stare at each other
    with horror on their faces.

There Will Be No Mercy

I, the Lord,
will show no mercy or pity
    when that time comes.
In my anger I will destroy
the earth
and every sinner
    who lives on it.
10 Light will disappear
    from the stars in the sky;
the dawning sun will turn dark,
and the moon
    will lose its glow.

11 I will punish this evil world
and its people
    because of their sins.
I will crush the horrible pride
    of those who are cruel.
12 Survivors will be harder to find
    than the purest gold.
13 I, the Lord All-Powerful,
    am terribly angry—
I will make the sky tremble
    and the earth shake loose.

14 Everyone will run
    to their homelands,
just as hunted deer run,
and sheep scatter
    when they have no shepherd.
15 Those who are captured
    will be killed by a sword.
16 They will see their children
    beaten against rocks,
their homes robbed,
    and their wives abused.

17 The Medes[b] can’t be bought off
    with silver or gold,
and I’m sending them
    to attack Babylonia.
18 Their arrows will slaughter
    the young men;
no pity will be shown
    to babies and children.

The Lord Will Destroy Babylon

19 The city of Babylon
is glorious and powerful,
    the pride of the nation.
But it will be like the cities
    of Sodom and Gomorrah
after I, the Lord,
    destroyed them.
20 No one will live in Babylon.
Even nomads won’t camp nearby,
    and shepherds won’t let
    their sheep rest there.
21 Only desert creatures,
    hoot owls, and ostriches
will live in its ruins,
    and goats[c] will leap about.
22 Hyenas and wolves will howl
from Babylon’s fortresses
    and beautiful palaces.
Its time is almost up!

The Lord’s People Will Come Home

14 The Lord will have mercy on Israel and will let them be his chosen people once again. He will bring them back to their own land, and foreigners will join them as part of Israel. Other nations will lead them home, and Israel will make slaves of them in the land that belongs to the Lord. Israel will rule over those who once governed and mistreated them.

Death to the King of Babylonia!

The Lord will set you free from your sorrow, suffering, and slavery. Then you will make fun of the King of Babylonia by singing this song:

That cruel monster is done for!
    He won’t attack us again.[d]
The Lord has crushed the power
    of those evil kings,
who were furious
and never stopped abusing
    the people of other nations.

Now all the world is at peace;
its people are celebrating
    with joyful songs.
King of Babylonia,
    even the cypress trees
and the cedars of Lebanon
    celebrate and say,
“Since you were put down,
no one comes along
    to chop us down.”

The world of the dead
    eagerly waits for you.
With great excitement,
the spirits of ancient rulers
    hear about your coming.
10 Each one of them will say,
“Now you are just as weak
    as any of us!
11 Your pride and your music
have ended here
    in the world of the dead.
Worms are your blanket,
    maggots are your bed.”

12 You, the bright morning star,
    have fallen from the sky!
You brought down other nations;
    now you are brought down.
13 You said to yourself,
    “I’ll climb to heaven
and place my throne
    above the highest stars.
I’ll sit there with the gods
    far away in the north.
14 I’ll be above the clouds,
    just like God Most High.”

15 But now you are deep
    in the world of the dead.
16 Those who see you will stare
    and wonder,
“Is this the man
who made the world tremble
    and shook up kingdoms?
17 Did he capture every city
    and make earth a desert?
Is he the one who refused
    to let prisoners go home?”

18 When kings die, they are buried
    in glorious tombs.
19 But you will be left unburied,
just another dead body
    lying underfoot
    like a broken branch.
You will be one of many
killed in battle
and gone down
    to the deep rocky pit.[e]
20 You won’t be buried with kings;
you ruined your country
    and murdered your people.

You evil monster!
We hope that your family
    will be forgotten forever.
21 We will slaughter your sons
to make them pay
for the crimes
    of their ancestors.
They won’t take over the world
or build cities
    anywhere on this earth.

22 The Lord All-Powerful has promised to attack Babylonia and destroy everyone there, so that none of them will ever be remembered again. 23 The Lord will sweep out the people, and the land will become a swamp for wild animals.

Assyria Will Be Punished

24 The Lord All-Powerful
    has made this promise:
Everything I have planned
    will happen just as I said.
25 I will wipe out every Assyrian
    in my country,
and I will crush those
    on my mountains.
I will free my people
from slavery
    to the Assyrians.
26 I have planned this
    for the whole world,
and my mighty arm
    controls every nation.
27 I, the Lord All-Powerful,
have made these plans.
    No one can stop me now!

The Philistines Will Be Punished

28 This message came from the Lord
    in the year King Ahaz died:[f]
29 Philistines, don’t be happy
    just because the rod
that punished you
    is broken.
That rod will become
a poisonous snake,
and then
    a flying fiery dragon.

30 The poor and needy will find
pastures for their sheep
    and will live in safety.
But I will starve some of you,
    and others will be killed.

31 Cry and weep in the gates
of your towns,
    you Philistines!
Smoke blows in from the north,[g]
    and every soldier is ready.
32 If a messenger comes
from a distant nation,
    you must say:
“The Lord built Zion.
Even the poorest of his people
    will find safety there.”

Moab Will Be Punished

15 This is a message about Moab:

The towns of Ar and Kir
were destroyed in a night.
    Moab is left in ruins!
Everyone in Dibon has gone up
to the temple[h] and the shrines
    to cry and weep.
All of Moab is crying.
Heads and beards are shaved[i]
    because of what happened
    at Nebo and Medeba.
In the towns and at home,
everyone wears sackcloth
    and cries loud and long.
From Heshbon and Elealeh,
    weeping is heard in Jahaz;
Moab’s warriors scream
    while trembling with fear.

Pity Moab

I pity Moab!
Its people are running to Zoar
    and to Eglath-Shelishiyah.
They cry on their way up
    to the town of Luhith;
on the road to Horonaim
    they tell of disasters.
The streams of Nimrim
and the grasslands
    have dried up.
Every plant is parched.

The people of Moab are leaving,
    crossing over Willow Creek,
taking everything they own
    and have worked for.
In the towns of Eglaim
    and of Beerelim
and everywhere else in Moab
    mournful cries are heard.
The streams near Dimon
    are flowing with blood.
But the Lord will bring
    even worse trouble to Dimon,[j]
because all in Moab who escape
    will be attacked by lions.

More Troubles for Moab

16 Send lambs[k] as gifts
    to the ruler of the land.
Send them across the desert
    from Sela[l] to Mount Zion.
The women of Moab
    crossing the Arnon River
are like a flock of birds
    scattered from their nests.
Moab’s messengers say
    to the people of Judah,
“Be kind and help us!
Shade us from the heat
    of the noonday sun.
Hide our refugees!
    Don’t turn them away.
Let our people live
in your country
    and find safety here.”

Moab, your cruel enemies
    will disappear;
they will no longer attack
    and destroy your land.
Then a kingdom of love
    will be set up,
and someone from David’s family
    will rule with fairness.
He will do what is right
    and quickly bring justice.

Moab’s Pride Is Destroyed

We have heard of Moab’s pride.
Its people strut and boast,
    but without reason.
Tell everyone in Moab
    to mourn for their nation.
Tell them to cry and weep
for those fancy raisins[m]
    of Kir-Hareseth.

Vineyards near Heshbon
and Sibmah
    have turned brown.
The rulers of nations
    used to get drunk
on wine
from those vineyards[n]
    that spread to Jazer,
then across the desert
    and beyond the sea.

Now I mourn like Jazer
for the vineyards
    of Sibmah.
I shed tears for Heshbon
    and for Elealeh.
There will be no more
    harvest celebrations
10 or joyful and happy times,
    while bringing in the crops.
Singing and shouting are gone
    from the vineyards.
There are no joyful shouts
where grapes were pressed.
    God has silenced them all.

11 Deep in my heart I hurt
    for Moab and Kir-Heres.
12 It’s useless for Moab’s people
    to wear themselves out
by going to their altars
    to worship and pray.

13 The Lord has already said all of this about Moab. 14 Now he says, “The contract of a hired worker is good for three years, but Moab’s glory and greatness won’t last any longer than that. Only a few of its people will survive, and they will be left helpless.”

Damascus Will Be Punished

17 This is a message about Damascus:

Damascus is doomed!
    It will end up in ruins.
The villages around Aroer[o]
    will be deserted,
with only sheep living there
    and no one to bother them.
Israel[p] will lose its fortresses.
The kingdom of Damascus
    will be destroyed;
its survivors will suffer
    the same fate as Israel.
The Lord All-Powerful
    has promised this.

Sin and Suffering

When that time comes,
the glorious nation of Israel
    will be brought down;
its prosperous people
    will be skin and bones.
Israel will be like wheat fields
in Rephaim Valley
    picked clean of grain.
It will be like an olive tree
    beaten with a stick,
leaving two or three olives
    or maybe four or five
on the highest
    or most fruitful branches.
The Lord God of Israel
    has promised this.

At that time the people will turn and trust their Creator, the holy God of Israel. They have built altars and places for burning incense to their goddess Asherah, and they have set up sacred poles[q] for her. But they will stop worshiping at these places.

Israel captured powerful cities and chased out the people who lived there. But these cities will lie in ruins, covered over with weeds and underbrush.[r]

10 Israel, you have forgotten
    the God who saves you,
the one who is the mighty rock[s]
    where you find protection.
You plant the finest flowers
    to honor a foreign god.
11 The plants may sprout
and blossom
    that very same morning,
but it will do you no good,
because you will suffer
    endless agony.

God Defends His People

12 The nations are a noisy,
    thunderous sea.
13 But even if they roar
    like a fearsome flood,
God will give the command
    to turn them back.
They will be like dust,
    or like a tumbleweed
blowing across the hills
    in a windstorm.
14 In the evening
    their attack is fierce,
but by morning
    they are destroyed.
This is what happens to those
    who raid and rob us.

Footnotes

  1. 13.1 message: See the note at 1.1.
  2. 13.17 Medes: People of a nation northeast of Babylonia, which became part of the Persian Empire.
  3. 13.21 goats: Or “demons.”
  4. 14.4 He. . . again: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  5. 14.19 deep rocky pit: The world of the dead.
  6. 14.28 King Ahaz died: 715 B.C.
  7. 14.31 north: The Assyrian and Babylonian attacks came from the north.
  8. 15.2 Everyone. . . temple: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  9. 15.2 Heads. . . shaved: As a sign of sorrow and mourning.
  10. 15.9 Dimon. . . Dimon: The Standard Hebrew Text; the Dead Sea Scrolls and one ancient translation have Dibon. . . Dibon.
  11. 16.1 lambs: The main product of Moab.
  12. 16.1 Sela: A town in Edom.
  13. 16.7 fancy raisins: The Hebrew text has “raisin-cakes,” which could mean either the rich produce or the prosperous farmers.
  14. 16.8 The rulers. . . vineyards: Or “The rulers of nations have destroyed those vineyards.”
  15. 17.2 Aroer: Either a city near Damascus with the same name as the Moabite city or the Moabite city itself, here used as an example of what will happen to Damascus.
  16. 17.3 Israel: The Hebrew text has “Ephraim,” another name for the northern kingdom.
  17. 17.8 sacred poles: Or “trees,” used as symbols of Asherah, the goddess of fertility.
  18. 17.9 covered. . . underbrush: Hebrew; one ancient translation “like the cities of the Hivites and the Amorites.”
  19. 17.10 mighty rock: The Hebrew text has “rock,” which is sometimes used in poetry to compare the Lord to a mountain where his people can run for protection from their enemies.