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Chapter 50

The First Oracle Against Babylon. The word the Lord spoke against Babylon,[a] against the land of the Chaldeans, through Jeremiah the prophet:(A)

Proclaim this among the nations, announce it!
    Announce it, do not hide it, but say:
Babylon is captured, Bel[b] put to shame, Marduk terrified;
    its images are put to shame, its idols shattered.
A nation from the north advances against it,
    making the land desolate
So that no one can live there;
    human beings and animals have fled.(B)
In those days and at that time—oracle of the Lord
    Israelite and Judahite shall come together,
Weeping as they come, to seek the Lord, their God;(C)
They shall ask for Zion,
    seeking out the way.
“Come, let us join ourselves to the Lord
    in an everlasting covenant, never to be forgotten.”(D)
Lost sheep were my people,
    their shepherds misled them,
    leading them astray on the mountains;
From mountain to hill they wandered,
    forgetting their fold.(E)
Whoever happened upon them devoured them;
    their enemies said, “We are not guilty,
Because they sinned against the Lord,
    the abode of justice, the hope of their ancestors.”(F)
Flee from the midst of Babylon,
    leave the land of the Chaldeans,
    be like rams at the head of the flock.(G)
See, I am stirring up against Babylon
    a band of great nations from the land of the north;
They are arrayed against her,
    from there she shall be taken.
Their arrows are like the arrows of a skilled warrior
    who never returns empty-handed.(H)
10 Chaldea shall become plunder;
    all its plunderers shall be enriched—
    oracle of the Lord.
11 Yes, rejoice and exult,
    you that plunder my heritage;
Frisk like calves on the grass,
    neigh like stallions!
12 Your mother will indeed be put to shame,
    she that bore you shall be abashed;
See, the last of the nations,
    a wilderness, a dry wasteland.(I)
13 Because of the Lord’s wrath it shall be uninhabited,
    become an utter wasteland;
Everyone who passes by Babylon will be appalled
    and hiss at all its wounds.(J)
14 Take your posts encircling Babylon,
    you who bend the bow;
Shoot at it, do not spare your arrows,(K)
15     raise the war cry against it on every side.
It surrenders, its bastions fall,
    its walls are torn down:[c]
This is retribution from the Lord! Take retribution on her,
    as she has done, do to her;
    for she sinned against the Lord.(L)
16 Cut off the sower from Babylon
    and those who wield sickles at harvest time!
Before the destroying sword,
    all of them turn back to their own people,
    all flee to their own land.(M)
17 Israel was a stray sheep
    that lions pursued;
The king of Assyria once devoured him;
    now Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon gnaws his bones.(N)
18 Therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel:
I will punish the king of Babylon and his land,
    as I once punished the king of Assyria;(O)
19 But I will bring Israel back to its pasture,
    to feed on Carmel and Bashan,
And on Mount Ephraim and Gilead,
    until they have their fill.(P)

20 In those days, at that time—oracle of the Lord:

The guilt of Israel may be sought, but it no longer exists,
    the sin of Judah, but it can no longer be found;
    for I will forgive the remnant I preserve.(Q)
21 Attack the land of Merathaim,
    and those who live in Pekod;[d]
Slaughter and put them under the ban—oracle of the Lord
    do all I have commanded you.
22 Battle alarm in the land,
    great destruction!
23 How the hammer of the whole earth
    has been cut off and broken!
What an object of horror
    Babylon has become among the nations!(R)
24 You ensnared yourself and were caught,
    Babylon, before you knew it!
You were discovered and seized,
    because you challenged the Lord.(S)
25 The Lord opens his armory,
    brings out the weapons of his wrath;
The Lord God of hosts has work to do
    in the land of the Chaldeans.(T)
26 Come upon them from every side,
    open their granaries,
Pile them up in heaps and put them under the ban;
    do not leave a remnant.
27 Slay all the oxen,
    take them down to slaughter;
Woe to them! their day has come,
    the time of their punishment.
28 Listen! the fugitives, the refugees
    from the land of Babylon:
They announce in Zion
    the retribution of the Lord, our God.(U)
29 Call archers out against Babylon,
    all who bend the bow;
Encamp around them;
    let no one escape.
Repay them for their deeds;
    what they have done, do to them,
For they insulted the Lord,
    the Holy One of Israel.(V)
30 Therefore their young men shall fall in the squares,
    all their warriors shall be stilled on that day—
    oracle of the Lord.(W)
31 I am against you, O Insolence—
    oracle of the Lord God of hosts;
For your day has come,
    the time for me to punish you.
32 Insolence stumbles and falls;
    there is no one to raise him up.
I will kindle a fire in his cities
    to devour everything around him.
33     Thus says the Lord of hosts:
Oppressed are the people of Israel,
    together with the people of Judah;
All their captors hold them fast
    and refuse to let them go.
34 Strong is their Redeemer,
    whose name is Lord of hosts,
The sure defender of their cause,
    who gives rest to their land,
    but unrest to those who live in Babylon.(X)
35 A sword upon the Chaldeans—oracle of the Lord
    upon the inhabitants of Babylon, her princes and sages!
36 A sword upon the soothsayers,
    and they become fools!
A sword upon the warriors,
    and they tremble;
37 A sword upon their motley throng,
    and they become women!
A sword upon their treasures,
    and they are plundered;(Y)
38 A drought upon the waters,
    and they dry up!
For it is a land of idols,
    soon made frantic by phantoms.(Z)
39 Hence, wildcats shall dwell there with hyenas,
    and ostriches occupy it;
Never again shall it be inhabited or settled,
    from age to age.(AA)
40 As happened when God overturned Sodom
    and Gomorrah and their neighbors—oracle of the Lord
No one shall dwell there,
    no mortal shall settle there.(AB)
41 See, a people comes from the north,
    a great nation, and mighty kings
    rising from the ends of the earth.(AC)
42 Bow and javelin they wield,
    cruel and pitiless are they;
They sound like the roaring sea,
    as they ride forth on horses,
Each in place for battle
    against you, daughter Babylon.
43 The king of Babylon hears news of them,
    and his hands hang helpless;
Anguish takes hold of him,
    like the pangs of a woman giving birth.(AD)
44 As happens when a lion comes up from a thicket of the Jordan
    to permanent pasture,
So I, in an instant, will chase them off,
    and establish there whomever I choose!
For who is like me? Who can call me to account?
    What shepherd can stand against me?(AE)
45 Therefore, hear the strategy of the Lord,
    which he has devised against Babylon;
Hear the plans drawn up
    against the land of the Chaldeans:
They shall be dragged away, even the smallest sheep;
    their own pasture aghast because of them.(AF)
46 At the cry “Babylon is captured!” the earth quakes;
    the outcry is heard among the nations.(AG)

Footnotes

  1. 50:1–51:58 A collection of miscellaneous oracles against Babylon introducing the story in 51:59–64.
  2. 50:2 Bel: originally the title of the god of Nippur in Mesopotamia, later associated with Merodach (Marduk), chief god of Babylon (cf. Is 46:1).
  3. 50:15 Its walls are torn down: the prophet describes the downfall of Babylon in conventional language. Babylon surrendered peacefully to the Persians in 539 B.C.
  4. 50:21 Merathaim…Pekod: “twice bitter,” “punishment,” symbolic terms for Babylon that recall the names of regions in the country.

A Message About Babylon(A)

50 This is the word the Lord spoke through Jeremiah the prophet concerning Babylon(B) and the land of the Babylonians[a]:

“Announce and proclaim(C) among the nations,
    lift up a banner(D) and proclaim it;
    keep nothing back, but say,
‘Babylon will be captured;(E)
    Bel(F) will be put to shame,(G)
    Marduk(H) filled with terror.
Her images will be put to shame
    and her idols(I) filled with terror.’
A nation from the north(J) will attack her
    and lay waste her land.
No one will live(K) in it;
    both people and animals(L) will flee away.

“In those days, at that time,”
    declares the Lord,
“the people of Israel and the people of Judah together(M)
    will go in tears(N) to seek(O) the Lord their God.
They will ask the way(P) to Zion
    and turn their faces toward it.
They will come(Q) and bind themselves to the Lord
    in an everlasting covenant(R)
    that will not be forgotten.

“My people have been lost sheep;(S)
    their shepherds(T) have led them astray(U)
    and caused them to roam on the mountains.
They wandered over mountain and hill(V)
    and forgot their own resting place.(W)
Whoever found them devoured(X) them;
    their enemies said, ‘We are not guilty,(Y)
for they sinned against the Lord, their verdant pasture,
    the Lord, the hope(Z) of their ancestors.’

“Flee(AA) out of Babylon;(AB)
    leave the land of the Babylonians,
    and be like the goats that lead the flock.
For I will stir(AC) up and bring against Babylon
    an alliance of great nations(AD) from the land of the north.(AE)
They will take up their positions against her,
    and from the north she will be captured.(AF)
Their arrows(AG) will be like skilled warriors
    who do not return empty-handed.
10 So Babylonia[b] will be plundered;(AH)
    all who plunder her will have their fill,”
declares the Lord.

11 “Because you rejoice and are glad,
    you who pillage my inheritance,(AI)
because you frolic like a heifer(AJ) threshing grain
    and neigh like stallions,
12 your mother will be greatly ashamed;
    she who gave you birth will be disgraced.(AK)
She will be the least of the nations—
    a wilderness, a dry land, a desert.(AL)
13 Because of the Lord’s anger she will not be inhabited
    but will be completely desolate.(AM)
All who pass Babylon will be appalled;(AN)
    they will scoff(AO) because of all her wounds.(AP)

14 “Take up your positions around Babylon,
    all you who draw the bow.(AQ)
Shoot at her! Spare no arrows,(AR)
    for she has sinned against the Lord.
15 Shout(AS) against her on every side!
    She surrenders, her towers fall,
    her walls(AT) are torn down.
Since this is the vengeance(AU) of the Lord,
    take vengeance on her;
    do to her(AV) as she has done to others.(AW)
16 Cut off from Babylon the sower,
    and the reaper with his sickle at harvest.
Because of the sword(AX) of the oppressor
    let everyone return to their own people,(AY)
    let everyone flee to their own land.(AZ)

17 “Israel is a scattered flock(BA)
    that lions(BB) have chased away.
The first to devour(BC) them
    was the king(BD) of Assyria;
the last to crush their bones(BE)
    was Nebuchadnezzar(BF) king(BG) of Babylon.”

18 Therefore this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says:

“I will punish the king of Babylon and his land
    as I punished the king(BH) of Assyria.(BI)
19 But I will bring(BJ) Israel back to their own pasture,
    and they will graze on Carmel and Bashan;
their appetite will be satisfied(BK)
    on the hills(BL) of Ephraim and Gilead.(BM)
20 In those days, at that time,”
    declares the Lord,
“search will be made for Israel’s guilt,
    but there will be none,(BN)
and for the sins(BO) of Judah,
    but none will be found,
    for I will forgive(BP) the remnant(BQ) I spare.

21 “Attack the land of Merathaim
    and those who live in Pekod.(BR)
Pursue, kill and completely destroy[c] them,”
declares the Lord.
    “Do everything I have commanded you.
22 The noise(BS) of battle is in the land,
    the noise of great destruction!
23 How broken and shattered
    is the hammer(BT) of the whole earth!(BU)
How desolate(BV) is Babylon
    among the nations!
24 I set a trap(BW) for you, Babylon,
    and you were caught before you knew it;
you were found and captured(BX)
    because you opposed(BY) the Lord.
25 The Lord has opened his arsenal
    and brought out the weapons(BZ) of his wrath,
for the Sovereign Lord Almighty has work to do
    in the land of the Babylonians.(CA)
26 Come against her from afar.(CB)
    Break open her granaries;
    pile her up like heaps of grain.(CC)
Completely destroy(CD) her
    and leave her no remnant.
27 Kill all her young bulls;(CE)
    let them go down to the slaughter!(CF)
Woe to them! For their day(CG) has come,
    the time(CH) for them to be punished.
28 Listen to the fugitives(CI) and refugees from Babylon
    declaring in Zion(CJ)
how the Lord our God has taken vengeance,(CK)
    vengeance for his temple.(CL)

29 “Summon archers against Babylon,
    all those who draw the bow.(CM)
Encamp all around her;
    let no one escape.(CN)
Repay(CO) her for her deeds;(CP)
    do to her as she has done.
For she has defied(CQ) the Lord,
    the Holy One(CR) of Israel.
30 Therefore, her young men(CS) will fall in the streets;
    all her soldiers will be silenced in that day,”
declares the Lord.
31 “See, I am against(CT) you, you arrogant one,”
    declares the Lord, the Lord Almighty,
“for your day(CU) has come,
    the time for you to be punished.
32 The arrogant(CV) one will stumble and fall(CW)
    and no one will help her up;(CX)
I will kindle a fire(CY) in her towns
    that will consume all who are around her.”

33 This is what the Lord Almighty says:

“The people of Israel are oppressed,(CZ)
    and the people of Judah as well.
All their captors hold them fast,
    refusing to let them go.(DA)
34 Yet their Redeemer(DB) is strong;
    the Lord Almighty(DC) is his name.
He will vigorously defend their cause(DD)
    so that he may bring rest(DE) to their land,
    but unrest to those who live in Babylon.

35 “A sword(DF) against the Babylonians!”(DG)
    declares the Lord
“against those who live in Babylon
    and against her officials and wise(DH) men!
36 A sword against her false prophets!
    They will become fools.
A sword against her warriors!(DI)
    They will be filled with terror.(DJ)
37 A sword against her horses and chariots(DK)
    and all the foreigners in her ranks!
    They will become weaklings.(DL)
A sword against her treasures!(DM)
    They will be plundered.
38 A drought on[d] her waters!(DN)
    They will dry(DO) up.
For it is a land of idols,(DP)
    idols that will go mad with terror.

39 “So desert creatures(DQ) and hyenas will live there,
    and there the owl will dwell.
It will never again be inhabited
    or lived in from generation to generation.(DR)
40 As I overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah(DS)
    along with their neighboring towns,”
declares the Lord,
“so no one will live there;
    no people will dwell in it.(DT)

41 “Look! An army is coming from the north;(DU)
    a great nation and many kings
    are being stirred(DV) up from the ends of the earth.(DW)
42 They are armed with bows(DX) and spears;
    they are cruel(DY) and without mercy.(DZ)
They sound like the roaring sea(EA)
    as they ride on their horses;
they come like men in battle formation
    to attack you, Daughter Babylon.(EB)
43 The king of Babylon has heard reports about them,
    and his hands hang limp.(EC)
Anguish has gripped him,
    pain like that of a woman in labor.(ED)
44 Like a lion coming up from Jordan’s thickets(EE)
    to a rich pastureland,
I will chase Babylon from its land in an instant.
    Who is the chosen(EF) one I will appoint for this?
Who is like me and who can challenge me?(EG)
    And what shepherd can stand against me?”

45 Therefore, hear what the Lord has planned against Babylon,
    what he has purposed(EH) against the land of the Babylonians:(EI)
The young of the flock will be dragged away;
    their pasture will be appalled at their fate.
46 At the sound of Babylon’s capture the earth will tremble;(EJ)
    its cry(EK) will resound among the nations.

Footnotes

  1. Jeremiah 50:1 Or Chaldeans; also in verses 8, 25, 35 and 45
  2. Jeremiah 50:10 Or Chaldea
  3. Jeremiah 50:21 The Hebrew term refers to the irrevocable giving over of things or persons to the Lord, often by totally destroying them; also in verse 26.
  4. Jeremiah 50:38 Or A sword against

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