The Gods of Babylon
1Bel bows down, Nebo* stoops,
their idols set upon beasts and cattle;
They must be borne upon shoulders,
a load for weary animals.
2They stoop and bow down together;
unable to deliver those who bear them,
they too go into captivity.
3Hear me, O house of Jacob,
all the remnant of the house of Israel,
My burden from the womb,
whom I have carried since birth.a
4Even to your old age I am he,
even when your hair is gray I will carry you;
I have done this, and I will lift you up,
I will carry you to safety.
5To whom would you liken me as an equal,
compare me, as though we were alike?
6There are those who pour out gold from a purse
and weigh out silver on the scales;
They hire a goldsmith to make it into a god
before which they bow down in worship.
7They lift it to their shoulders to carry;
when they set it down, it stays,
and does not move from the place.
They cry out to it, but it cannot answer;
it delivers no one from distress.
8Remember this and be firm,
take it to heart, you rebels;
9remember the former things, those long ago:
I am God, there is no other;
I am God, there is none like me.
10At the beginning I declare the outcome;
from of old, things not yet done.
I say that my plan shall stand,
I accomplish my every desire.
11I summon from the east a bird of prey,*
from a distant land, one to carry out my plan.
Yes, I have spoken, I will accomplish it;
I have planned it, and I will do it.
12Listen to me, you fainthearted,
far from the victory of justice:
13I am bringing on that victory, it is not far off,
my salvation shall not tarry;
I will put salvation within Zion,
give to Israel my glory.
* [46:1–4] Bel…Nebo: gods of Babylon; their complete helplessness is here contrasted with God’s omnipotence; whereas they must be carried about, the Lord carries Israel as a parent does a child.
* [46:11] From the east a bird of prey: Cyrus; cf. 41:2–4.