“Attack 2 the land of Merathaim
and the people who live in Pekod! 3
Pursue, kill, and completely destroy them! 4
Do just as I have commanded you! 5
There is the sound of great destruction.
50:23 Babylon hammered the whole world to pieces.
But see how that ‘hammer’ has been broken and shattered! 7
See what an object of horror
Babylon has become among the nations!
50:24 I set a trap for you, Babylon;
you were caught before you knew it.
You fought against me.
So you were found and captured. 8
I have brought out the weapons for carrying out my wrath. 10
For I, the Lord God who rules over all, 11
have work to carry out in the land of Babylonia. 12
Open up the places where she stores her grain!
Do not leave anyone alive! 16
Let them be slaughtered! 18
the time for them to be punished.”
50:28 Listen! Fugitives and refugees are coming from the land of Babylon.
They are coming to Zion to declare there
how the Lord our God is getting revenge,
getting revenge for what they have done to his temple. 21
Summon against her all who draw the bow!
Set up camp all around the city!
Do not allow anyone to escape!
Pay her back for what she has done.
Do to her what she has done to others.
For she has proudly defied me, 23
the Holy One of Israel. 24
50:30 So her young men will fall in her city squares.
All her soldiers will be destroyed at that time,”
says the Lord. 25
says the Lord God who rules over all. 27
the time when I will punish you. 30
50:32 You will stumble and fall, you proud city;
no one will help you get up.
I will set fire to your towns;
it will burn up everything that surrounds you.” 31
“The people of Israel are oppressed.
So too are the people of Judah. 33
All those who took them captive are holding them prisoners.
They refuse to set them free.
He is known as the Lord who rules over all. 35
He will strongly 36 champion their cause.
As a result 37 he will bring peace and rest to the earth,
“They will come against the people who inhabit Babylonia,
against her leaders and her men of wisdom.
they will be shown to be fools! 43
Destructive forces will come against her soldiers;
they will be filled with terror! 44
Destructive forces will come against all the foreign troops within her; 46
they will be as frightened as women! 47
Destructive forces will come against her treasures;
they will be taken away as plunder!
50:38 A drought will come upon her land;
her rivers and canals will be dried up. 48
All of this will happen because her land is filled with idols. 49
50:39 Therefore desert creatures and jackals will live there.
But no people will ever live there again.
No one will dwell there for all time to come. 54
50:40 I will destroy Babylonia just like I did
Sodom and Gomorrah and the neighboring towns.
No one will live there. 55
No human being will settle in it,”
says the Lord. 56
50:41 “Look! An army is about to come from the north.
A mighty nation and many kings 57 are stirring into action
in faraway parts of the earth.
50:42 Its soldiers are armed with bows and spears.
They are cruel and show no mercy.
They sound like the roaring sea
as they ride forth on their horses.
Lined up in formation like men going into battle,
they are coming against you, fair Babylon! 58
when he hears news of their coming. 60
Anguish will grip him,
agony like that of a woman giving birth to a baby. 61
50:44 “A lion coming up from the thick undergrowth along the Jordan
scatters the sheep in the pastureland around it.
So too I will chase the Babylonians off of their land.
Then I will appoint over it whomever I choose.
For there is no one like me.
There is no one who can call me to account.
There is no ruler that can stand up against me.
50:45 So listen to what I, the Lord, have planned against Babylon,
what I intend to do to the people who inhabit the land of Babylonia. 62
Their little ones will be dragged off.
I will completely destroy their land because of what they have done.
50:46 The people of the earth will quake when they hear Babylon has been captured.
Her cries of anguish will be heard by the other nations.” 63
1 tn Heb “Oracle of the
2 sn The commands in this verse and in vv. 26-27 are directed to the armies from the north who are referred to in v. 3 as “a nation from the north” and in v. 9 as a “host of mighty nations from the land of the north.” The addressee in this section shifts from one referent to another.
3 sn Merathaim…Pekod. It is generally agreed that the names of these two regions were chosen for their potential for wordplay. Merathaim probably refers to a region in southern Babylon near where the Tigris and Euphrates come together before they empty into the Persian Gulf. It was known for its briny waters. In Hebrew the word would mean “double rebellion” and would stand as an epithet for the land of Babylon as a whole. Pekod refers to an Aramean people who lived on the eastern bank of the lower Tigris River. They are mentioned often in Assyrian texts and are mentioned in Ezek 23:23 as allies of Babylon. In Hebrew the word would mean “punishment.” As an epithet for the land of Babylon it would refer to the fact that Babylon was to be punished for her double rebellion against the
4 tn Heb “Smite down and completely destroy after them.” The word translated “kill” or “smite down” is a word of uncertain meaning and derivation. BDB 352 s.v. III חָרַב relates it to an Aramaic word meaning “attack, smite down.” KBL 329-30 s.v. II חָרַב sees it as a denominative from the word חֶרֶב (kherev, “sword”), a derivation which many modern commentaries accept and reflect in a translation “put to the sword.” KBL, however, gives “to smite down; to slaughter” which is roughly the equivalent of the meaning assigned to it in BDB. The word only occurs here and in v. 27 in the Qal and in 2 Kgs 3:23 in the Niphal where it means something like “attacked one another, fought with one another.” Many commentators question the validity of the word “after them” (אַחֲרֵיהֶם, ’akharehem) which occurs at the end of the line after “completely destroy.” The Targum reads “the last of them” (אַחֲרִיתָם, ’akharitam) which is graphically very close and accepted by some commentators. The present translation has chosen to represent “after them” by a paraphrase at the beginning “pursue them.”
sn For the concept underlying the words translated here “completely destroy” see the study note on Jer 25:9.
5 tn Heb “Do according to all I have commanded you.”
6 tn The words “of Babylonia” are not in the text but are implicit from the context. They have been supplied in the translation to clarify the referent.
sn The verbs in vv. 22-25 are all descriptive of the present, but all of this is really to take place in the future. Hebrew poetry has a way of rendering future actions as though they were already accomplished. The poetry of this section makes it difficult, however, to render the verbs as future, as has been done regularly in the present translation.
7 tn Heb “How broken and shattered is the hammer of all the earth!” The “hammer” is a metaphor for Babylon who was God’s war club to shatter the nations and destroy kingdoms just like Assyria is represented in Isa 10:5 as a rod and a war club. Some readers, however, might not pick up on the metaphor or identify the referent, so the translation has incorporated an identification of the metaphor and the referent within it. “See how” and “See what” are an attempt to capture the nuance of the Hebrew particle אֵיךְ (’ekh) which here expresses an exclamation of satisfaction in a taunt song (cf. BDB 32 s.v. אֵיךְ 2 and compare usage in Isa 14:4, 12; Jer 50:23).
8 tn Heb “You were found [or found out] and captured because you fought against the
9 tn Or “I have opened up my armory.”
10 tn Heb “The
sn The weapons are the nations which God is bringing from the north against them. Reference has already been made in the study notes that Assyria is the “rod” or “war club” by which God vents his anger against Israel (Isa 10:5-6) and Babylon a hammer or war club with which he shatters the nations (Jer 50:23; 51:20). Now God will use other nations as weapons to execute his wrath against Babylon. For a similar idea see Isa 13:2-5 where reference is made to marshaling the nations against Babylon. Some of the nations that the
12 tn The words “of Babylonia” are not in the text but are implicit from the context. They have been supplied in the translation to clarify the referent.
sn The verbs in vv. 22-25 are all descriptive of the present but, all of this is really to take place in the future. Hebrew poetry has a way of rendering future actions as though they were already accomplished. The poetry of this section makes it difficult, however, to render the verbs as future as the present translation has regularly done.
13 tn Heb “Come against her from the end.” There is a great deal of debate about the meaning of “from the end” (מִקֵּץ, miqqets). Some follow the suggestion of F. Giesebrecht in BDB 892 s.v. קָצֶה 3 and emend the text to מִקָּצֶה (miqqatseh) on the basis of the presumed parallel in Jer 51:31 which is interpreted as “on all sides,” i.e., “from every quarter/side.” However, the phrase does not mean that in Jer 51:31 but is used as it is elsewhere of “from one end to another,” i.e., in its entirety (so Gen 19:4). The only real parallel here is the use of the noun קֵץ (qets) with a suffix in Isa 37:24 referring to the remotest part, hence something like from the end (of the earth), i.e., from a far away place. The referent “her” has been clarified here to refer to Babylonia in case someone might not see the connection between v. 25d and v. 26.
14 tn Heb “Pile her up like heaps.” Many commentators understand the comparison to be to heaps of grain (compare usage of עֲרֵמָה (’aremah) in Hag 2:16; Neh 13:15; Ruth 3:7). However, BDB 790 s.v. עֲרֵמָה is more likely correct that this refers to heaps of ruins (compare the usage in Neh 4:2 [3:34 HT]).
17 tn Heb “Kill all her young bulls.” Commentators are almost universally agreed that the reference to “young bulls” is figurative here for the princes and warriors (cf. BDB 831 s.v. פַּר 2.f, which compares Isa 34:7 and Ezek 39:18). This is virtually certain because of the reference to the time coming for them to be punished; this would scarcely fit literal bulls. For the verb rendered “kill” here see the translator’s note on v. 21.
18 tn Heb “Let them go down to the slaughter.”
20 tn The words “of reckoning” are not in the text but are implicit from the context. They are supplied in the translation for clarity.
21 tn Heb “Hark! Fugitives and refugees from the land of Babylon to declare in Zion the vengeance of the
sn This verse appears to be a parenthetical exclamation of the prophet in the midst of his report of what the
22 tn For this word see BDB 914 s.v. III רַב and compare usage in Prov 26:10 and Job 16:12 and compare the usage of the verb in Gen 49:23. Based on this evidence, it is not necessary to emend the form to רֹבִים (rovim) as many commentators contend.
23 tn Heb “for she has acted insolently against the
24 sn The Holy One of Israel is a common title for the
25 tn Heb “Oracle of the
26 tn Heb “Behold, I am against you, proud one.” The word “city” is not in the text but it is generally agreed that the word is being used as a personification of the city which had “proudly defied” the
28 tn The particle כִּי (ki) is probably asseverative here (so J. A. Thompson, Jeremiah [NICOT], 739, n. 13, and cf. BDB 472 s.v. כִּי 1.e for other examples). This has been a common use of this particle in the book of Jeremiah.
29 tn The words “of reckoning” are not in the text but are implicit from the context. They are supplied in the translation for clarity.
31 tn Heb “And the proud one will fall and there will be no one to help him up. I will start a fire in his towns and it will consume all that surround him.” The personification continues but now the stance is indirect (third person) rather than direct (second person). It is easier for the modern reader who is not accustomed to such sudden shifts if the second person is maintained. The personification of the city (or nation) as masculine is a little unusual; normally cities and nations are personified as feminine, as daughters or mothers.
33 tn Heb “Oppressed are the people of Israel and the people of Judah together,” i.e., both the people of Israel and Judah are oppressed. However, neither of these renderings is very poetic. The translation seeks to achieve the same meaning with better poetic expression.
34 sn Heb “their redeemer.” The Hebrew term “redeemer” referred in Israelite family law to the nearest male relative who was responsible for securing the freedom of a relative who had been sold into slavery. For further discussion of this term as well as its metaphorical use to refer to God as the one who frees Israel from bondage in Egypt and from exile in Assyria and Babylonia see the study note on 31:11.
36 tn Or “he will certainly champion.” The infinitive absolute before the finite verb here is probably functioning to intensify the verb rather than to express the certainty of the action (cf. GKC 333 §112.n and compare usage in Gen 43:3 and 1 Sam 20:6 listed there).
37 tn This appears to be another case where the particle לְמַעַן (lÿma’an) introduces a result rather than giving the purpose or goal. See the translator’s note on 25:7 for a listing of other examples in the book of Jeremiah and also the translator’s note on 27:10.
38 tn Heb “he will bring rest to the earth and will cause unrest to.” The terms “rest” and “unrest” have been doubly translated to give more of the idea underlying these two concepts.
39 tn This translation again reflects the problem often encountered in these prophecies where the
40 tn Heb “the Chaldeans.” For explanation of the rendering see the study note on 21:4. There is no verb in this clause. Therefore it is difficult to determine whether this should be understood as a command or as a prediction. The presence of vav (ו) consecutive perfects after a similar construction in vv. 36b, d, 37c, 38a and the imperfects after “therefore” (לָכֵן, lakhen) all suggest the predictive or future nuance. However, the vav consecutive perfect could be used to carry on the nuance of command (cf. GKC 333 §112.q) but not in the sense of purpose as NRSV, NJPS render them.
sn Heb “A sword against the Chaldeans.” The “sword” here is metaphorical for destructive forces in the persons of the armies of the north (vv. 3, 9) which the
41 tn Heb “Oracle of the
42 tn The meaning and the derivation of the word translated “false prophets” is uncertain. The same word appears in conjunction with the word for “diviners” in Isa 44:25 and probably also in Hos 11:6 in conjunction with the sword consuming them “because of their counsel.” BDB 95 s.v. III בַּד b sees this as a substitution of “empty talk” for “empty talkers” (the figure of metonymy) and refer to them as false prophets. KBL 108 s.v. II בַּד emends the form in both places to read בָּרִים (barim) in place of בַּדִּים (baddim) and defines the word on the basis of Akkadian to mean “soothsayer” (KBL 146 s.v. V בָּר). HALOT 105 s.v. V בַּד retains the pointing, derives it from an Amorite word found in the Mari letters, and defines it as “oracle priest.” However, G. L. Keown, P. J. Scalise, and T. G. Smothers (Jeremiah 26-52 [WBC], 368) call this identification into question because the word only occurs in one letter from Mari and its meaning is uncertain there. It is hazardous to emend the text in two places, perhaps even three, in light of no textual evidence in any of the passages and to define the word on the basis of an uncertain parallel. Hence the present translation opts here for the derivation and extended definition given in BDB.
44 tn The verb here (חָתַת, khatat) could also be rendered “be destroyed” (cf. BDB 369 s.v. חָתַת Qal.1 and compare the usage in Jer 48:20, 39). However, the parallelism with “shown to be fools” argues for the more dominant usage of “be dismayed” or “be filled with terror.” The verb is found in parallelism with both בּוֹשׁ (bosh, “be ashamed, dismayed”) and יָרֵא (yare’, “be afraid”) and can refer to either emotion. Here it is more likely that they are filled with terror because of the approaching armies.
45 tn Hebrew has “his” in both cases here whereas the rest of the possessive pronouns throughout vv. 35-37 are “her.” There is no explanation for this switch unless the third masculine singular refers as a distributive singular to the soldiers mentioned in the preceding verse (cf. GKC 464 §145.l). This is probably the case here, but to refer to “their horses and their chariots” in the midst of all the “her…” might create more confusion than what it is worth to be that pedantic.
46 tn Or “in the country,” or “in her armies”; Heb “in her midst.”
47 tn Heb “A sword against his horses and his chariots and against all the mixed company [or mixed multitude] in her midst and they will become like women.” The sentence had to be split up because it is too long and the continuation of the second half with its consequential statement would not fit together with the first half very well. Hence the subject and verb have been repeated. The Hebrew word translated “foreign troops” (עֶרֶב, ’erev) is the same word that is used in 25:20 to refer to the foreign peoples living in Egypt and in Exod 12:38 for the foreign people that accompanied Israel out of Egypt. Here the word is translated contextually to refer to foreign mercenaries, an identification that most of the commentaries and many of the modern English versions accept (see, e.g., J. Bright, Jeremiah [AB], 355; NRSV; NIV). The significance of the simile “they will become like women” has been spelled out for the sake of clarity.
48 tc Heb “a drought against her waters and they will dry up.” Several of the commentaries and modern English versions accept the emendation proposed by BHS and read here “sword” (חֶרֶב [kherev] in place of חֹרֶב [khorev], the change of only one vowel) in keeping with the rest of the context. According to BHS this reading is supported by the Lucianic and Hexaplaric recensions of the LXX (the Greek version) and the Syriac version. In this case the drying up of the waters (of the canals) is attributed to neglect brought about by war conditions. However, it is just as likely that these versions are influenced by the repetition of the word “sword” as the Hebrew and the other versions are influenced by the concept of “drying up” of the waters to read “drought.” Hence the present translation, along with the majority of modern English versions, retains the Hebrew “drought.”
49 tn Heb “for it is a land of idols.” The “for,” however, goes back to the whole context not just to the preceding prediction (cf. BDB 473-74 s.v. כִּי 1.c and compare usage in Isa 21:6 listed there).
50 tc Or “Her people boast in.” This translation is based on the reading of the majority of Hebrew
51 tn Heb “by the terrors.” However, as HALOT 40 s.v. אֵימָה indicates these are “images that cause terror” (a substitution of the effect for the cause). The translation of this line follows the interpretation of the majority of modern English versions and all the commentaries consulted. NIV, NCV, and God’s Word reflect a different syntax, understanding the subject to be the idols just mentioned rather than “her people” which is supplied here for the sake of clarity (the Hebrew text merely says “they.”) Following that lead, one could render “but those idols will go mad with terror.” This makes excellent sense in the context which often refers to effects (vv. 36b, d, 37c, 38b) of the war that is coming. However, that interpretation does not fit as well with the following “therefore/so,” which basically introduces a judgment or consequence after an accusation of sin.
52 tn The identification of this bird has been called into question by G. R. Driver, “Birds in the Old Testament,” PEQ 87 (1955): 137-38. He refers to this bird as an owl. That identification, however, is not reflected in any of the lexicons including the most recent, which still gives “ostrich” (HALOT 402 s.v. יַעֲנָה) as does W. S. McCullough, “Ostrich,” IDB 3:611. REB, NIV, NCV, and God’s Word all identify this bird as “owl/desert owl.”
53 tn Heb “Therefore desert creatures will live with jackals and ostriches will live in it.”
54 tn Heb “It will never again be inhabited nor dwelt in unto generation and generation.” For the meaning of this last phrase compare the usage in Ps 100:5 and Isaiah 13:20. Since the first half of the verse has spoken of animals living there, it is necessary to add “people” and turn the passive verbs into active ones.
55 tn Heb “‘Like [when] God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah and the neighboring towns,’ oracle of the
sn Compare Jer 49:18 where the same prophecy is applied to Edom.
56 tn Heb “Oracle of the
57 sn A mighty nation and many kings is an allusion to the Medo-Persian empire and the vassal kings who provided forces for the Medo-Persian armies.
58 tn Heb “daughter Babylon.” The word “daughter” is a personification of the city of Babylon and its inhabitants.
60 tn Heb “The king of Babylon hears report of them and his hands hang limp.” The verbs are translated as future because the passage is prophetic and the verbs may be interpreted as prophetic perfects (the action viewed as if it were as good as done). In the parallel passage in 6:24 the verbs could be understood as present perfects because the passage could be viewed as in the present. Here it is future.
61 sn Compare Jer 6:22-24 where almost the same exact words as 50:41-43 are applied to the people of Judah. The repetition of prophecies here and in the following verses emphasizes the talionic nature of God’s punishment of Babylon; as they have done to others, so it will be done to them (cf. 25:14; 50:15).
62 tn The words “of Babylonia” are not in the text but are implicit from the context. They have been supplied in the translation to clarify the referent.
sn The verbs in vv. 22-25 are all descriptive of the present, but all of this is really to take place in the future. Hebrew poetry has a way of rendering future actions as though they were already accomplished. The poetry of this section makes it difficult, however, to render the verbs as future as the present translation has regularly done.
63 tn Heb “among the nations.” With the exception of this phrase, the different verb in v. 46a, the absence of a suffix on the word for “land” in v. 45d, the third plural suffix instead of the third singular suffix on the verb for “chase…off of,” this passage is identical with 49:19-21 with the replacement of Babylon or the land of the Chaldeans for Edom. For the translation notes explaining the details of the translation here see the translator’s notes on 49:19-21.
sn This passage is virtually identical with Jer 49:19-21 with the replacement of Babylon, land of Babylonia for Edom. As God used Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians to destroy Edom, so he would use Cyrus and the Medes and Persians and their allies to destroy Babylon (cf. 25:13, 14). As Nebuchadnezzar was God’s servant to whom all would be subject (25:9; 27:6), so Cyrus is called in Isaiah “his anointed one,” i.e., his chosen king whom he will use to shatter other nations and set Israel free (Isa 45:1-4).