The future fall of Babylon (Jer 51:47-51:49)

“‘Assuredly

The days are coming

When I will punish

The images of Babylon.

Her whole land

Shall be put to shame.

All her slain

Shall fall in her midst.

Then the heavens,

With the earth,

As well as all that is in them,

Shall shout for joy

Over Babylon.

The destroyers

Shall come against them

Out of the north.’

Says Yahweh.

‘Babylon must fall

For the slain of Israel.

The slain of all the earth

Have fallen

Because of Babylon.’”

Babylon would fall. Yahweh was going to put the Babylonians with their images to shame. Many of them would die. Thus there would be shouts of joy from heaven and earth. These new destroyers, like the ones of old, would come out of the north. Babylon was going to fall because Babylon had killed many of the Israelites. This punishment was definitely coming to Babylon.

Yahweh and the battle in Babylon (Jer 51:11-51:14)

“Sharpen the arrows!

Fill the quivers!

Yahweh has stirred up

The spirit of the kings

Of the Medes.

His purpose concerning Babylon

Is to destroy it.

That is the vengeance of Yahweh,

That is the vengeance

For his temple.

Raise a standard

Against the walls of Babylon!

Make the watch strong!

Post sentinels!

Prepare the ambushes!

Yahweh has both planned

As well as done

What he spoke

Concerning the inhabitants

Of Babylon.

You who live

By mighty waters,

Rich in treasures,

Your end has come.

The thread of your life

Is cut.

Yahweh of hosts

Has sworn by himself.

Surely I will fill you

With troops,

Like a swarm of locusts.

They shall raise

A shout of victory

Over you.”

Here there is a serious of commands from Yahweh, via Jeremiah. The warriors were to have their quivers ready full of arrows. Yahweh has stirred up the Medes, the people to the north of Babylon with the Persians. They were going to destroy Babylon because of Yahweh’s vengeance for what the Babylonians had done to his temple in Jerusalem. There was going to be an invasion of Babylon with wise watchmen and sentinels as well as strong ambushes. Yahweh had planned and carried out his word against Babylon, the land of mighty waters such as the Euphrates and the Tigris, with all their treasures. Their end has come. The thread of their life has been cut. There will be troops in Babylon, like swarms of locusts, shouting about victory.

The defeat of Babylon (Jer 51:3-51:4)

“Let not the archer

Bend his bow!

Let him not array himself

In his coat of mail!

Do not spare

Her young men!

Utterly destroy

Her entire army!

They shall fall down slain

In the land

Of the Chaldeans,

Wounded

In her streets.”

In this battle with Babylon, the Babylonian archers with their bows and arrows would be useless. Those who put on armored coats of mail would also find little protection. The invaders were to utterly destroy the young men and the army of the Babylonians. They were to defeat the Chaldeans in their own streets, even letting the wounded ones lay there.

The plan against Babylon (Jer 50:45-50:46)

“Therefore hear the plan

That Yahweh has made

Against Babylon!

Hear the purposes

That he has formed

Against the land

Of the Chaldeans!

Surely the little ones

Of the flock

Shall be dragged away.

Surely their fold

Shall be appalled

At their fate.

At the sound

Of the capture

Of Babylon,

The earth shall tremble.

Her cry shall be heard

Among the nations.”

Once again, this is the like the preceding chapter against the Edomites. Instead of the Edom, Babylon is inserted. Yahweh clearly wants to get rid of the Chaldeans.   Even the little ones would be dragged away. The shepherds and the sheep would be appalled at what was happening. The fall of the Babylonians would be so loud that the earth would tremble like an earthquake. The sounds of their cries from Babylon would be heard among all the nations.

The weakened king of Babylon (Jer 50:41-50:43)

“Look!

A people

Is coming

From the north.

A mighty nation

With many kings

Is stirring

From the farthest parts

Of the earth.

They lay hold of bow.

They have spears.

They are cruel.

They have no mercy.

Their sound is

Like the roaring sea.

They ride on horses.

They are equipped

Like a warrior for battle,

Against you.

O daughter!

Babylon!

The king of Babylon

Heard news of them.

His hands fall helpless.

Anguish seized him.

He had pain

Like a woman in labor.’”

This section is almost word for word from chapter 6 of this work about the coming invasion of Israel. Yahweh here tells the Babylonians that an invasion is coming from the northern country, but it was actually the eastern Persians. This invader was a great nation coming from far away, but it actually was right next to them. They had bows and arrows along with spears. They were a cruel merciless well equipped group whose horses made the sounds of a roaring sea. When the king of the Babylonians heard the news of this invasion, he felt helpless and anguished. He had pains like a woman in labor. Yahweh called Babylon “daughter,” a name that he had called Israel earlier in this work.

The fugitives from Babylon (Jer 50:28-50:28)

“Listen!

The fugitives,

The refugees

From the land

Of Babylon,

Are coming

To declare in Zion

The vengeance

Of Yahweh,

Our God,

Vengeance

For his temple.”

As the people return from Babylon to Jerusalem, Zion, they are happy that God had brought his vengeance against the Babylonians. After all, the Babylonians had destroyed their Temple. Now the vengeance of Yahweh was destroying the Babylonian temples.

The sacking of Babylon (Jer 50:26-50:27)

“Come against her

From every quarter!

Open her granaries!

Pile her up

Like heaps of grain!

Destroy her utterly!

Let nothing be left of her!

Kill all her bulls!

Let them go down

To the slaughter!

Woe to them!

Their day has come!

The time

Of their punishment!”

There was to be a complete destruction in Babylon. They were to come from every side. They were to open up the Babylonian granaries. Let them be piled up like heaps of grain. Nothing should be left of the Babylonians. They were to slaughter all the Babylonian bulls. The day of punishment would come upon the Babylonians.

The punishment of Babylon (Jer 50:18-50:18)

“Therefore,

Thus says Yahweh of hosts!

The God of Israel!

I am going to punish

The king of Babylon

With his land,

Just as I punished

The king of Assyria.”

Yahweh, the God of Israel, was going to punish the king of Babylon and his country just as he had punished the king of Assyria and his country. The Assyrians had captured Israel in 724 BCE, while the Babylonians had captured Judah in 587 BCE. The Assyrian Empire fell apart in 599 BCE just as the Babylonian Empire was increasing, while the Babylonian Empire fell apart in 539 BCE.

The fierce successful attack on Babylon (Jer 50:14-50:16)

“Take up your positions

Around Babylon!

All you that bend the bow!

Shoot at her!

Spare no arrows!

She has sinned

Against Yahweh.

Raise a shout

Against her

From all sides!

She has surrendered!

Her bulwarks have fallen!

Her walls are thrown down!

This is the vengeance

Of Yahweh.

Take vengeance on her!

Do to her

As she has done!

Cut off from Babylon

The sower with

The wielder of the sickle

In the time of harvest.

Because of the destroying sword,

All of them shall return

To their own people.

All of them shall flee

To their own land.”

The attack on Babylon would be successful. The archers with their great arrows would take their positions and shoot at the Babylonians. They would raise great shouts of joy from all sides. Babylon had sinned against Yahweh. Finally, Babylon would surrender. The fortresses and the walls would come tumbling down, because this was the vengeance of Yahweh at work. Babylon was done. There would be nobody to plant. No one would be there to cut down the harvest, since there would be no harvest. Everyone would return and flee to their own lands. Thus the destruction of Babylon in 539 BCE was described here some 60 years previous to the event. Is that an indication of a later composition?

Against Babylon (Jer 50:1-50:1)

“The word

That Yahweh spoke

Concerning Babylon,

Concerning the land

Of the Chaldeans,

By the prophet Jeremiah.”

Now there is a switch in tone. Prior to this, Jeremiah and the oracles of Yahweh had said to obey the Babylonian king. Now there are a series of oracles against the Babylonians or the Chaldeans. Eventually Babylon would fall in 539 BCE, long after the death of Jeremiah (582 BCE) and King Nebuchadnezzar (562 BCE). In the Septuagint Greek translation, this is chapter 27, not chapter 50 as here.