1This is what the Lord says:
‘See, I will stir up the spirit of a destroyer
against Babylon and the people of Leb Kamai.#51:1 Leb Kamai is a cryptogram for Chaldea, that is, Babylonia.
2I will send foreigners to Babylon
to winnow her and to devastate her land;
they will oppose her on every side
in the day of her disaster.
3Let not the archer string his bow,
nor let him put on his armour.
Do not spare her young men;
completely destroy#51:3 The Hebrew term refers to the irrevocable giving over of things or persons to the Lord, often by totally destroying them. her army.
4They will fall down slain in Babylon,#51:4 Or Chaldea
fatally wounded in her streets.
5For Israel and Judah have not been forsaken
by their God, the Lord Almighty,
though their land#51:5 Or Almighty, / and the land of the Babylonians is full of guilt
before the Holy One of Israel.
6‘Flee from Babylon!
Run for your lives!
Do not be destroyed because of her sins.
It is time for the Lord’s vengeance;
he will repay her what she deserves.
7Babylon was a gold cup in the Lord’s hand;
she made the whole earth drunk.
The nations drank her wine;
therefore they have now gone mad.
8Babylon will suddenly fall and be broken.
Wail over her!
Get balm for her pain;
perhaps she can be healed.
9‘ “We would have healed Babylon,
but she cannot be healed;
let us leave her and each go to our own land,
for her judgment reaches to the skies,
it rises as high as the heavens.”
10‘ “The Lord has vindicated us;
come, let us tell in Zion
what the Lord our God has done.”
11‘Sharpen the arrows,
take up the shields!
The Lord has stirred up the kings of the Medes,
because his purpose is to destroy Babylon.
The Lord will take vengeance,
vengeance for his temple.
12Lift up a banner against the walls of Babylon!
Reinforce the guard,
station the watchmen,
prepare an ambush!
The Lord will carry out his purpose,
his decree against the people of Babylon.
13You who live by many waters
and are rich in treasures,
your end has come,
the time for you to be destroyed.
14The Lord Almighty has sworn by himself:
I will surely fill you with troops, as with a swarm of locusts,
and they will shout in triumph over you.
15‘He made the earth by his power;
he founded the world by his wisdom
and stretched out the heavens by his understanding.
16When he thunders, the waters in the heavens roar;
he makes clouds rise from the ends of the earth.
He sends lightning with the rain
and brings out the wind from his storehouses.
17‘Everyone is senseless and without knowledge;
every goldsmith is shamed by his idols.
The images he makes are a fraud;
they have no breath in them.
18They are worthless, the objects of mockery;
when their judgment comes, they will perish.
19He who is the Portion of Jacob is not like these,
for he is the Maker of all things,
including the people of his inheritance –
the Lord Almighty is his name.
20‘You are my war club,
my weapon for battle –
with you I shatter nations,
with you I destroy kingdoms,
21with you I shatter horse and rider,
with you I shatter chariot and driver,
22with you I shatter man and woman,
with you I shatter old man and youth,
with you I shatter young man and young woman,
23with you I shatter shepherd and flock,
with you I shatter farmer and oxen,
with you I shatter governors and officials.
24‘Before your eyes I will repay Babylon and all who live in Babylonia#51:24 Or Chaldea; also in verse 35 for all the wrong they have done in Zion,’ declares the Lord.
25‘I am against you, you destroying mountain,
you who destroy the whole earth,’
declares the Lord.
‘I will stretch out my hand against you,
roll you off the cliffs,
and make you a burnt-out mountain.
26No rock will be taken from you for a cornerstone,
nor any stone for a foundation,
for you will be desolate for ever,’ declares the Lord.
27‘Lift up a banner in the land!
Blow the trumpet among the nations!
Prepare the nations for battle against her;
summon against her these kingdoms:
Ararat, Minni and Ashkenaz.
Appoint a commander against her;
send up horses like a swarm of locusts.
28Prepare the nations for battle against her –
the kings of the Medes,
their governors and all their officials,
and all the countries they rule.
29The land trembles and writhes,
for the Lord’s purposes against Babylon stand –
to lay waste the land of Babylon
so that no-one will live there.
30Babylon’s warriors have stopped fighting;
they remain in their strongholds.
Their strength is exhausted;
they have become weaklings.
Her dwellings are set on fire;
the bars of her gates are broken.
31One courier follows another
and messenger follows messenger
to announce to the king of Babylon
that his entire city is captured,
32the river crossings seized,
the marshes set on fire,
and the soldiers terrified.’
33This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says:
‘Daughter Babylon is like a threshing-floor
at the time it is trampled;
the time to harvest her will soon come.’
34‘Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon has devoured us,
he has thrown us into confusion,
he has made us an empty jar.
Like a serpent he has swallowed us
and filled his stomach with our delicacies,
and then has spewed us out.
35May the violence done to our flesh#51:35 Or done to us and to our children be on Babylon,’
say the inhabitants of Zion.
‘May our blood be on those who live in Babylonia,’
36Therefore this is what the Lord says:
‘See, I will defend your cause
and avenge you;
I will dry up her sea
and make her springs dry.
37Babylon will be a heap of ruins,
a haunt of jackals,
an object of horror and scorn,
a place where no-one lives.
38Her people all roar like young lions,
they growl like lion cubs.
39But while they are aroused,
I will set out a feast for them
and make them drunk,
so that they shout with laughter –
then sleep for ever and not awake,’
declares the Lord.
40‘I will bring them down
like lambs to the slaughter,
like rams and goats.
41‘How Sheshak#51:41 Sheshak is a cryptogram for Babylon. will be captured,
the boast of the whole earth seized!
How desolate Babylon will be
among the nations!
42The sea will rise over Babylon;
its roaring waves will cover her.
43Her towns will be desolate,
a dry and desert land,
a land where no-one lives,
through which no-one travels.
44I will punish Bel in Babylon
and make him spew out what he has swallowed.
The nations will no longer stream to him.
And the wall of Babylon will fall.
45‘Come out of her, my people!
Run for your lives!
Run from the fierce anger of the Lord.
46Do not lose heart or be afraid
when rumours are heard in the land;
one rumour comes this year, another the next,
rumours of violence in the land
and of ruler against ruler.
47For the time will surely come
when I will punish the idols of Babylon;
her whole land will be disgraced
and her slain will all lie fallen within her.
48Then heaven and earth and all that is in them
will shout for joy over Babylon,
for out of the north
destroyers will attack her,’
declares the Lord.
49‘Babylon must fall because of Israel’s slain,
just as the slain in all the earth
have fallen because of Babylon.
50You who have escaped the sword,
leave and do not linger!
Remember the Lord in a distant land,
and call to mind Jerusalem.’
51‘We are disgraced,
for we have been insulted
and shame covers our faces,
because foreigners have entered
the holy places of the Lord’s house.’
52‘But days are coming,’ declares the Lord,
‘when I will punish her idols,
and throughout her land
the wounded will groan.
53Even if Babylon ascends to the heavens
and fortifies her lofty stronghold,
I will send destroyers against her,’
declares the Lord.
54‘The sound of a cry comes from Babylon,
the sound of great destruction
from the land of the Babylonians.#51:54 Or Chaldeans
55The Lord will destroy Babylon;
he will silence her noisy din.
Waves of enemies will rage like great waters;
the roar of their voices will resound.
56A destroyer will come against Babylon;
her warriors will be captured,
and their bows will be broken.
For the Lord is a God of retribution;
he will repay in full.
57I will make her officials and wise men drunk,
her governors, officers and warriors as well;
they will sleep for ever and not awake,’
declares the King, whose name is the Lord Almighty.
58This is what the Lord Almighty says:
‘Babylon’s thick wall will be levelled
and her high gates set on fire;
the peoples exhaust themselves for nothing,
the nations’ labour is only fuel for the flames.’
59This is the message Jeremiah the prophet gave to the staff officer Seraiah son of Neriah, the son of Mahseiah, when he went to Babylon with Zedekiah king of Judah in the fourth year of his reign. 60Jeremiah had written on a scroll about all the disasters that would come upon Babylon – all that had been recorded concerning Babylon. 61He said to Seraiah, ‘When you get to Babylon, see that you read all these words aloud. 62Then say, “Lord, you have said you will destroy this place, so that neither people nor animals will live in it; it will be desolate for ever.” 63When you finish reading this scroll, tie a stone to it and throw it into the Euphrates. 64Then say, “So will Babylon sink to rise no more because of the disaster I will bring on her. And her people will fall.” ’
The words of Jeremiah end here.