The First Oracle Against Babylon. 1The word the LORD spoke against Babylon,* against the land of the Chaldeans, through Jeremiah the prophet:a
2Proclaim this among the nations, announce it!
Announce it, do not hide it, but say:
Babylon is captured, Bel* put to shame, Marduk terrified;
its images are put to shame, its idols shattered.
3A 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
4In 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
5They 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
6Lost sheep were my people,
their shepherds misled them,
leading them astray on the mountains;
From mountain to hill they wandered,
forgetting their fold.e
7Whoever 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
8Flee from the midst of Babylon,
leave the land of the Chaldeans,
be like rams at the head of the flock.g
9See, 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
10Chaldea shall become plunder;
all its plunderers shall be enriched—
oracle of the LORD.
11Yes, rejoice and exult,
you that plunder my heritage;
Frisk like calves on the grass,
neigh like stallions!
12Your 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
13Because 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
14Take your posts encircling Babylon,
you who bend the bow;
Shoot at it, do not spare your arrows,k
15raise the war cry against it on every side.
It surrenders, its bastions fall,
its walls are torn down:*
This is retribution from the LORD! Take retribution on her,
as she has done, do to her;
for she sinned against the LORD.l
16Cut 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
17Israel was a stray sheep
that lions pursued;
The king of Assyria once devoured him;
now Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon gnaws his bones.n
18Therefore, 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
19But 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
20In 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
21Attack the land of Merathaim,
and those who live in Pekod;*
Slaughter and put them under the ban—oracle of the LORD—
do all I have commanded you.
22Battle alarm in the land,
23How the hammer of the whole earth
has been cut off and broken!
What an object of horror
Babylon has become among the nations!r
24You ensnared yourself and were caught,
Babylon, before you knew it!
You were discovered and seized,
because you challenged the LORD.s
25The 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
26Come upon them from every side,
open their granaries,
Pile them up in heaps and put them under the ban;
do not leave a remnant.
27Slay all the oxen,
take them down to slaughter;
Woe to them! their day has come,
the time of their punishment.
28Listen! the fugitives, the refugees
from the land of Babylon:
They announce in Zion
the retribution of the LORD, our God.u
29Call 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
30Therefore their young men shall fall in the squares,
all their warriors shall be stilled on that day—
oracle of the LORD.w
31I am against you, O Insolence—
oracle of the Lord GOD of hosts;
For your day has come,
the time for me to punish you.
32Insolence stumbles and falls;
there is no one to raise him up.
I will kindle a fire in his cities
to devour everything around him.
33Thus 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.
34Strong 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
35A sword upon the Chaldeans—oracle of the LORD—
upon the inhabitants of Babylon, her princes and sages!
36A sword upon the soothsayers,
and they become fools!
A sword upon the warriors,
and they tremble;
37A sword upon their motley throng,
and they become women!
A sword upon their treasures,
and they are plundered;y
38A drought upon the waters,
and they dry up!
For it is a land of idols,
soon made frantic by phantoms.z
39Hence, wildcats shall dwell there with hyenas,
and ostriches occupy it;
Never again shall it be inhabited or settled,
from age to age.a
40As happened when God overturned Sodom
and Gomorrah and their neighbors—oracle of the LORD—
No one shall dwell there,
no mortal shall settle there.b
41See, a people comes from the north,
a great nation, and mighty kings
rising from the ends of the earth.c
42Bow 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.
43The 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.d
44As 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?e
45Therefore, 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.f
46At the cry “Babylon is captured!” the earth quakes;
the outcry is heard among the nations.g
* [50:1–51:58] A collection of miscellaneous oracles against Babylon introducing the story in 51:59–64.
* [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).
* [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.
* [50:21] Merathaim…Pekod: “twice bitter,” “punishment,” symbolic terms for Babylon that recall the names of regions in the country.
a. [50:1] Jer 51:1; Is 13:1–14; 21:1–10.
b. [50:3] Jer 51:48; Is 13:17.
g. [50:8] Jer 51:6, 45; Is 48:20.
i. [50:12] Jer 51:43; Is 13:20–22.
k. [50:14] Jer 51:11; Is 21:2.
l. [50:15] Jer 51:11, 44, 58; Ps 137:8.
n. [50:17] 2 Kgs 17:24; 18:14.
o. [50:18] Is 10:12; 14:24–25.
p. [50:19] Jer 23:3; Ez 34:13–14.
q. [50:20] Jer 31:34; Is 43:25; Mi 7:19.
r. [50:23] Jer 51:20; Is 14:6.
t. [50:25] Jer 51:11–12; Is 13:5.
y. [50:37] Jer 51:30; Na 3:13.
a. [50:39] Jer 51:37; Is 13:21–22.