1This is what the Lord says:
“I will stir up a destroyer against Babylon
and the people of Babylonia.#51:1 Hebrew of Leb-kamai, a code name for Babylonia.
2Foreigners will come and winnow her,
blowing her away as chaff.
They will come from every side
to rise against her in her day of trouble.
3Don’t let the archers put on their armor
or draw their bows.
Don’t spare even her best soldiers!
Let her army be completely destroyed.#51:3 The Hebrew term used here refers to the complete consecration of things or people to the Lord, either by destroying them or by giving them as an offering.
4They will fall dead in the land of the Babylonians,#51:4 Or Chaldeans; also in 51:54.
slashed to death in her streets.
5For the Lord of Heaven’s Armies
has not abandoned Israel and Judah.
He is still their God,
even though their land was filled with sin
against the Holy One of Israel.”
6Flee from Babylon! Save yourselves!
Don’t get trapped in her punishment!
It is the Lord’s time for vengeance;
he will repay her in full.
7Babylon has been a gold cup in the Lord’s hands,
a cup that made the whole earth drunk.
The nations drank Babylon’s wine,
and it drove them all mad.
8But suddenly Babylon, too, has fallen.
Weep for her.
Give her medicine.
Perhaps she can yet be healed.
9We would have helped her if we could,
but nothing can save her now.
Let her go; abandon her.
Return now to your own land.
For her punishment reaches to the heavens;
it is so great it cannot be measured.
10The Lord has vindicated us.
Come, let us announce in Jerusalem#51:10 Hebrew Zion; also in 51:24.
everything the Lord our God has done.
11Sharpen the arrows!
Lift up the shields!#51:11 Greek version reads Fill up the quivers.
For the Lord has inspired the kings of the Medes
to march against Babylon and destroy her.
This is his vengeance against those
who desecrated his Temple.
12Raise the battle flag against Babylon!
Reinforce the guard and station the watchmen.
Prepare an ambush,
for the Lord will fulfill all his plans against Babylon.
13You are a city by a great river,
a great center of commerce,
but your end has come.
The thread of your life is cut.
14The Lord of Heaven’s Armies has taken this vow
and has sworn to it by his own name:
“Your cities will be filled with enemies,
like fields swarming with locusts,
and they will shout in triumph over you.”
A Hymn of Praise to the Lord
15The Lord made the earth by his power,
and he preserves it by his wisdom.
With his own understanding
he stretched out the heavens.
16When he speaks in the thunder,
the heavens roar with rain.
He causes the clouds to rise over the earth.
He sends the lightning with the rain
and releases the wind from his storehouses.
17The whole human race is foolish and has no knowledge!
The craftsmen are disgraced by the idols they make,
for their carefully shaped works are a fraud.
These idols have no breath or power.
18Idols are worthless; they are ridiculous lies!
On the day of reckoning they will all be destroyed.
19But the God of Israel#51:19 Hebrew the Portion of Jacob. See note on 5:20. is no idol!
He is the Creator of everything that exists,
including his people, his own special possession.
The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is his name!
Babylon’s Great Punishment
20“You#51:20 Possibly Cyrus, whom God used to conquer Babylon. Compare Isa 44:28; 45:1. are my battle-ax and sword,”
says the Lord.
“With you I will shatter nations
and destroy many kingdoms.
21With you I will shatter armies—
destroying the horse and rider,
the chariot and charioteer.
22With you I will shatter men and women,
old people and children,
young men and young women.
23With you I will shatter shepherds and flocks,
farmers and oxen,
captains and officers.
24“I will repay Babylon
and the people of Babylonia#51:24 Or Chaldea; also in 51:35.
for all the wrong they have done
to my people in Jerusalem,” says the Lord.
25“Look, O mighty mountain, destroyer of the earth!
I am your enemy,” says the Lord.
“I will raise my fist against you,
to knock you down from the heights.
When I am finished,
you will be nothing but a heap of burnt rubble.
26You will be desolate forever.
Even your stones will never again be used for building.
You will be completely wiped out,”
says the Lord.
27Raise a signal flag to the nations.
Sound the battle cry!
Mobilize them all against Babylon.
Prepare them to fight against her!
Bring out the armies of Ararat, Minni, and Ashkenaz.
Appoint a commander,
and bring a multitude of horses like swarming locusts!
28Bring against her the armies of the nations—
led by the kings of the Medes
and all their captains and officers.
29The earth trembles and writhes in pain,
for everything the Lord has planned against Babylon stands unchanged.
Babylon will be left desolate without a single inhabitant.
30Her mightiest warriors no longer fight.
They stay in their barracks, their courage gone.
They have become like women.
The invaders have burned the houses
and broken down the city gates.
31The news is passed from one runner to the next
as the messengers hurry to tell the king
that his city has been captured.
32All the escape routes are blocked.
The marshes have been set aflame,
and the army is in a panic.
33This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies,
the God of Israel, says:
“Babylon is like wheat on a threshing floor,
about to be trampled.
In just a little while
her harvest will begin.”
34“King Nebuchadnezzar#51:34 Hebrew Nebuchadrezzar, a variant spelling of Nebuchadnezzar. of Babylon has eaten and crushed us
and drained us of strength.
He has swallowed us like a great monster
and filled his belly with our riches.
He has thrown us out of our own country.
35Make Babylon suffer as she made us suffer,”
say the people of Zion.
“Make the people of Babylonia pay for spilling our blood,”
The Lord’s Vengeance on Babylon
36This is what the Lord says to Jerusalem:
“I will be your lawyer to plead your case,
and I will avenge you.
I will dry up her river,
as well as her springs,
37and Babylon will become a heap of ruins,
haunted by jackals.
She will be an object of horror and contempt,
a place where no one lives.
38Her people will roar together like strong lions.
They will growl like lion cubs.
39And while they lie inflamed with all their wine,
I will prepare a different kind of feast for them.
I will make them drink until they fall asleep,
and they will never wake up again,”
says the Lord.
40“I will bring them down
like lambs to the slaughter,
like rams and goats to be sacrificed.
41“How Babylon#51:41 Hebrew Sheshach, a code name for Babylon. is fallen—
great Babylon, praised throughout the earth!
Now she has become an object of horror
among the nations.
42The sea has risen over Babylon;
she is covered by its crashing waves.
43Her cities now lie in ruins;
she is a dry wasteland
where no one lives or even passes by.
44And I will punish Bel, the god of Babylon,
and make him vomit up all he has eaten.
The nations will no longer come and worship him.
The wall of Babylon has fallen!
A Message for the Exiles
45“Come out, my people, flee from Babylon.
Save yourselves! Run from the Lord’s fierce anger.
46But do not panic; don’t be afraid
when you hear the first rumor of approaching forces.
For rumors will keep coming year by year.
Violence will erupt in the land
as the leaders fight against each other.
47For the time is surely coming
when I will punish this great city and all her idols.
Her whole land will be disgraced,
and her dead will lie in the streets.
48Then the heavens and earth will rejoice,
for out of the north will come destroying armies
against Babylon,” says the Lord.
49“Just as Babylon killed the people of Israel
and others throughout the world,
so must her people be killed.
50Get out, all you who have escaped the sword!
Do not stand and watch—flee while you can!
Remember the Lord, though you are in a far-off land,
and think about your home in Jerusalem.”
51“We are ashamed,” the people say.
“We are insulted and disgraced
because the Lord’s Temple
has been defiled by foreigners.”
52“Yes,” says the Lord, “but the time is coming
when I will destroy Babylon’s idols.
The groans of her wounded people
will be heard throughout the land.
53Though Babylon reaches as high as the heavens
and makes her fortifications incredibly strong,
I will still send enemies to plunder her.
I, the Lord, have spoken!
Babylon’s Complete Destruction
54“Listen! Hear the cry of Babylon,
the sound of great destruction from the land of the Babylonians.
55For the Lord is destroying Babylon.
He will silence her loud voice.
Waves of enemies pound against her;
the noise of battle rings through the city.
56Destroying armies come against Babylon.
Her mighty men are captured,
and their weapons break in their hands.
For the Lord is a God who gives just punishment;
he always repays in full.
57I will make her officials and wise men drunk,
along with her captains, officers, and warriors.
They will fall asleep
and never wake up again!”
says the King, whose name is
the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
58This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says:
“The thick walls of Babylon will be leveled to the ground,
and her massive gates will be burned.
The builders from many lands have worked in vain,
for their work will be destroyed by fire!”
Jeremiah’s Message Sent to Babylon
59The prophet Jeremiah gave this message to Seraiah son of Neriah and grandson of Mahseiah, a staff officer, when Seraiah went to Babylon with King Zedekiah of Judah. This was during the fourth year of Zedekiah’s reign.#51:59 The fourth year of Zedekiah’s reign was 593 b.c. 60Jeremiah had recorded on a scroll all the terrible disasters that would soon come upon Babylon—all the words written here. 61He said to Seraiah, “When you get to Babylon, read aloud everything on this scroll. 62Then say, ‘Lord, you have said that you will destroy Babylon so that neither people nor animals will remain here. She will lie empty and abandoned forever.’ 63When you have finished reading the scroll, tie it to a stone and throw it into the Euphrates River. 64Then say, ‘In this same way Babylon and her people will sink, never again to rise, because of the disasters I will bring upon her.’”
This is the end of Jeremiah’s messages.