Jeremiah 51

Chapter 51

Another Prophecy against Babylon

1 Thus says the Lord:
Against Babylon and the inhabitants of Chaldea
I will rouse a destructive wind.
2 I will send foreigners to Babylon
to winnow her and lay waste her land.
They will besiege her from all sides
on the day of disaster.
3 Let no archer draw his bow
or array himself in his coat of armor.
Do not spare her young men;
completely destroy her entire army.
4 Let them be slain in the land of the Chaldeans,
lying mortally wounded in her streets.
5 For Israel and Judah have not been forsaken
by their God, the Lord of hosts,
although their land is full of guilt
that will not be ignored by the Holy One of Israel.
6 Flee from Babylon!
Save your lives, each one of you!
Do not perish for her guilt.
This is the time of vengeance for the Lord;
he will exact full recompense for their deeds.
7 Babylon was a golden cup
in the hand of the Lord,
and she made the entire earth drunk.
The nations drank her wine,
and now they have gone mad.
8 Suddenly Babylon has fallen and is shattered.
Wail for her.
Fetch balm for her wounds;
perhaps she can be cured.
9 We tried to heal Babylon,
but she cannot be healed.
Leave her and let us depart,
each one to his own land.
For her judgment reaches up to heaven
and touches the clouds.
10 The Lord has made clear our vindication.
Come, let us proclaim in Zion
what the Lord, our God, has done.
11 Sharpen the arrows;
fill the quivers.
The Lord has stirred up
the spirit of the kings of the Medes
because he is determined to destroy Babylon.
This will be the vengeance of the Lord,
vengeance for his temple.
12 Raise the standard against the walls of Babylon.
Strengthen the watch.
Post sentinels and prepare ambushes,
for the Lord has both planned and will carry out
his threat against the inhabitants of Babylon.
13 You lands that lie on the shores of abundant waters
and are rich in treasures,
your end has now come,
the cessation of your power.
14 The Lord of hosts has sworn by himself,
“I will fill you with enemies
as numerous as a swarm of locusts,
and they will raise a shout of victory over you.”
15 By his power, he made the earth;
by his wisdom, he established the world;
by his discernment, he stretched out the heavens.
16 When he thunders,
there is a tumult of waters in the heavens,
and he causes the clouds to rise
from the farthest ends of the earth.
He sends forth lightning with the rain,
and he brings out the wind from his storehouses.
17 Everyone is stupid and lacking in knowledge;
goldsmiths are put to shame by their idols,
for the images they cast are a sham,
with no breath of life in them.
18 They devise worthless objects of mockery;
at the time of judgment, they will perish.
19 Not like these is the portion of Jacob,
for he is the Creator of all things,
and Israel is the tribe of his inheritance;
the Lord of hosts is his name.
20 You are my war club,
my weapon in battle.
With you I shatter nations,
with you I destroy kingdoms.
21 With you I crush horse and rider,
with you I crush chariot and charioteer.
22 With you I crush man and woman,
with you I crush old and young,
with you I crush youth and maiden.
23 With you I crush shepherd and flock,
with you I crush the plowman and his team,
with you I crush governors and magistrates.
24 Thus will I repay Babylon
and all the inhabitants of Chaldea
for all the wrongs that they have done in Zion
before your very eyes, says the Lord.
25 I am against you, O mountain of destruction,
destroyer of the entire earth, says the Lord.
I will stretch forth my hand against you,
send you tumbling down from the cliffs,
and make you a burned-out mountain.
26 No rock will be taken from you
to be used for a cornerstone,
nor any stone for a foundation,
for you will be forever desolate,
says the Lord.
27 Raise a standard throughout the earth.
Blow the trumpet among the nations.
Consecrate nations for war against her.
Summon against her these kingdoms:
Ararat,[a] Minni, and Ashkenaz.
Appoint a commander against her.
Bring forward horses bristling like locusts.
28 Consecrate nations for war against her:
the kings of Media,
its governors and magistrates,
and all the lands under their rule.
29 The earth trembles and writhes
as the Lord’s plan against Babylon is carried out,
turning the land of Babylon into a desert waste.
30 The warriors of Babylon have ceased to fight;
they remain in their strongholds.
Their courage has failed;
they are now like women.
Their buildings have been set on fire,
and their gates are shattered.
31 One courier appears after another,
and one messenger follows another,
to inform the king of Babylon
that his entire city has been taken.
32 The river crossings have been seized,
the marshes have been set afire,
and the soldiers are overcome with terror.

33 For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel:

The daughter of Babylon is like a threshing floor
at the time it is being trodden.
Yet it will only be a short while
before the time of her harvest will come.
34 “King Nebuchadnezzar has devoured us;
he has routed us
and set us aside like an empty dish.
Like a serpent he has swallowed us,
filled his stomach with our delicacies,
and then spewed us out.
35 May our torn flesh be avenged on Babylon,”
the inhabitants of Zion say.
“May my blood be avenged
on the inhabitants of Chaldea,”
Jerusalem says.
36 Therefore, thus says the Lord:
I will take up your cause
and ensure that you will be avenged.
I will dry up her sea[b]
and cause her springs to run dry.
37 Babylon will become a heap of ruins,
a haunt of jackals,
an object of horror and scorn,
where no one lives.
38 Like lions they roar together
and growl like lion cubs.
39 But when they are afflicted with fever,
I will set a drink before them
and cause them to become drunk
so that they will sink into an unending sleep,
never to awaken again, says the Lord.
40 I will bring them down like lambs to the slaughter,
like rams and goats.
41 Babylon has been seized and conquered,
she who was the pride of the entire world.
What an object of horror
has Babylon become among the nations.
42 The sea has surged over Babylon,
covering her with its roaring waves.
43 Her cities have become desert wastelands,
nothing more than parched and arid land,
an area in which no one lives
and through which no one passes.
44 I will punish Bel in Babylon
and compel him to spew out what he has swallowed.
The nations will no longer stream to him;
the wall of Babylon has fallen.
45 Leave her, my people.
Save your lives, each one of you,
from the fierce anger of the Lord.
46 Do not become faint-hearted or fearful
at various rumors that are heard in the land.
One year a certain rumor will spread,
the next year another one,
with rumors of possible violence in the land
and of conflicts between rulers.
47 But behold, the days are coming
when I will punish the idols of Babylon;
her entire territory will be put to shame,
and all her slain warriors
will lie fallen within her borders.
48 The heavens and the earth
and all that are in them
will shout for joy in regard to Babylon,
for marauders will descend from the north
and attack her, says the Lord.
49 Babylon, too, must fall
because of the slain of Israel,
just as the slain of all the earth
have fallen at the hands of Babylon.
50 You who have escaped the sword,
leave and do not linger.
Remember the Lord from afar,
and let Jerusalem remain in your thoughts.
51 We have been put to shame
because of the insults we have endured.
Our faces were covered in confusion
because foreigners have dared to enter
the holy places of the Lord’s house.
52 However, the days are surely coming,
says the Lord,
when I will punish her idols,
and the wounded will groan
throughout all her land.
53 Even if Babylon were to scale the heavens
and reinforce her inaccessible citadel,
I would send forth destroyers,
and they would come to her.
54 Agonized cries can be heard from Babylon,
and sounds of great destruction
from the land of the Chaldeans.
55 For the Lord is laying waste to Babylon
and stilling her loud cries of anguish.
Massive waves of enemies will roar like mighty waters,
and their clamor will be heard from afar.
56 A destroying force is moving against Babylon;
her warriors are captured,
and their bows are broken.
For the Lord is a God of retribution,
and he never fails to repay in full.
57 I will make her princes and her wise men drunk,
as well as her governors,
her prefects and her warriors.
They will sink into an unending sleep,
never to awaken again,
says the King whose name is the Lord of hosts.
58 [c]Thus says the Lord of hosts:
The thick walls of Babylon will be leveled to the ground,
and her lofty gates will be destroyed by fire.
Thus the peoples exhaust themselves for nothing,
and the nations weary themselves only for the flames.

59 Destruction of Babylon Foretold. This is the message that the prophet Jeremiah gave to the quartermaster Seraiah,[d] the son of Neriah, the son of Mahseiah, when he went to Babylon with King Zedekiah of Judah in the fourth year of his reign.

60 Jeremiah had enumerated on a scroll all of the disasters that would befall Babylon—everything that had been recorded in regard to Babylon. 61 He said to Seraiah, “When you reach Babylon, make sure that you read all these words aloud. 62 Then say, ‘O Lord, you yourself declared your firm resolve to destroy this place so that neither man nor beast will ever live here again; it will be a desolate waste forever.’

63 “When you have finished reading this scroll, tie a stone to it and cast it into the middle of the Euphrates. 64 Then say, ‘In the same way will Babylon sink, never again to rise because of the disaster I intend to inflict upon her.’ ”

Thus far are the words of Jeremiah.


  1. Jeremiah 51:27 Ararat and Minni are regions of Armenia. Ashkenaz refers to the Scythians.
  2. Jeremiah 51:36 The sea and the springs are the Euphrates and its branches.
  3. Jeremiah 51:58 Although the preceding collection of oracles cannot be attributed directly to Jeremiah, there is no serious reason for not attributing to him this symbolic action which is very much in his style. The editor decided to place this story after the lengthy prophecy that precedes.
  4. Jeremiah 51:59 Seraiah: brother of Baruch; see Bar 1:1.

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