51:30 The soldiers of Babylonia will stop fighting.
They will remain in their fortified cities.
They will lose their strength to do battle. 1
They will be as frightened as women. 2
The houses in her cities will be set on fire.
The gates of her cities will be broken down. 3
51:31 One runner after another will come to the king of Babylon.
One messenger after another will come bringing news. 4
They will bring news to the king of Babylon
that his whole city has been captured. 5
51:32 They will report that the fords have been captured,
the reed marshes have been burned,
the soldiers are terrified. 6
51:33 For the Lord God of Israel who rules over all says,
‘Fair Babylon 7 will be like a threshing floor
which has been trampled flat for harvest.
The time for her to be cut down and harvested
will come very soon.’ 8
51:34 “King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon
devoured me and drove my people out.
Like a monster from the deep he swallowed me.
He filled his belly with my riches.
He made me an empty dish.
He completely cleaned me out.” 9
51:35 The person who lives in Zion says,
“May Babylon pay for the violence done to me and to my relatives.”
“May those living in Babylonia pay for the bloodshed of my people.” 10
51:36 Therefore the Lord says,
“I will stand up for your cause.
I will pay the Babylonians back for what they have done to you. 11
I will dry up their sea.
I will make their springs run dry. 12
51:37 Babylon will become a heap of ruins.
Jackals will make their home there. 13
It will become an object of horror and of hissing scorn,
a place where no one lives. 14
51:38 The Babylonians are all like lions roaring for prey.
They are like lion cubs growling for something to eat. 15
I will set out a banquet for them.
I will make them drunk
so that they will pass out, 17
they will fall asleep forever,
they will never wake up,” 18
says the Lord. 19
51:40 “I will lead them off to be slaughtered
like lambs, rams, and male goats.” 20
See how the pride of the whole earth has been taken!
See what an object of horror
Babylon has become among the nations! 22
51:42 The sea has swept over Babylon.
51:43 The towns of Babylonia have become heaps of ruins.
She has become a dry and barren desert.
No one lives in those towns any more.
No one even passes through them. 25
51:44 I will punish the god Bel in Babylon.
I will make him spit out what he has swallowed.
The nations will not come streaming to him any longer.
Indeed, the walls of Babylon will fall.” 26
51:45 “Get out of Babylon, my people!
Flee to save your lives
from the fierce anger of the Lord! 27
51:46 Do not lose your courage or become afraid
because of the reports that are heard in the land.
For a report will come in one year.
Another report will follow it in the next.
There will be violence in the land
with ruler fighting against ruler.”
when I will punish the idols of Babylon.
Her whole land will be put to shame.
All her mortally wounded will collapse in her midst. 29
51:48 Then heaven and earth and all that is in them
will sing for joy over Babylon.
For destroyers from the north will attack it,”
says the Lord. 30
because of the Israelites she has killed, 32
just as the earth’s mortally wounded fell
because of Babylon. 33
go, do not delay. 35
Remember the Lord in a faraway land.
Think about Jerusalem. 36
Our faces show our disgrace. 39
For foreigners have invaded
the holy rooms 40 in the Lord’s temple.’
“when I will punish her idols.
Throughout her land the mortally wounded will groan.
and fortifies her elevated stronghold, 44
I will send destroyers against her,” 45
says the Lord. 46
51:54 Cries of anguish will come from Babylon,
the sound of great destruction from the land of the Babylonians.
51:55 For the Lord is ready to destroy Babylon,
and put an end to her loud noise.
They will make a deafening noise. 49
Her warriors will be captured;
their bows will be broken. 51
For the Lord is a God who punishes; 52
he pays back in full. 53
51:57 “I will make her officials and wise men drunk,
along with her governors, leaders, 54 and warriors.
They will fall asleep forever and never wake up,” 55
says the King whose name is the Lord who rules over all. 56
Her high gates will be set on fire.
The peoples strive for what does not satisfy. 60
The nations grow weary trying to get what will be destroyed.” 61
1 tn Heb “Their strength is dry.” This is a figurative nuance of the word “dry” which BDB 677 s.v. נָשַׁת Qal.1 explain as meaning “fails.” The idea of “strength to do battle” is implicit from the context and is supplied in the translation here for clarity.
3 tn Heb “Her dwelling places have been set on fire. Her bars [i.e., the bars on the gates of her cities] have been broken.” The present translation has substituted the word “gates” for “bars” because the intent of the figure is to show that the bars of the gates have been broken giving access to the city. “Gates” makes it easier for the modern reader to understand the figure.
4 tn Heb “Runner will run to meet runner and…” The intent is to portray a relay of runners carrying the news that follows on in vv. 31d-33 to the king of Babylon. The present translation attempts to spell out the significance.
5 tn Heb “Runner will run to meet runner and messenger to meet messenger to report to the king of Babylon that his city has been taken in [its] entirety.” There is general agreement among the commentaries that the first two lines refer to messengers converging on the king of Babylon from every direction bringing news the sum total of which is reported in the lines that follow. For the meaning of the last phrase see BDB 892 s.v. קָצֶה 3 and compare the usage in Gen 19:4 and Isa 56:11. The sentence has been broken down and restructured to better conform with contemporary English style.
6 tn The words “They will report that” have been supplied in the translation to show the linkage between this verse and the previous one. This is still a part of the report of the messengers. The meaning of the word translated “reed marshes” has seemed inappropriate to some commentators because it elsewhere refers to “pools.” However, all the commentaries consulted agree that the word here refers to the reedy marshes that surrounded Babylon. (For a fuller discussion regarding the meaning of this word and attempts to connect it with a word meaning “fortress” see W. L. Holladay, Jeremiah [Hermeneia], 2:427.)
sn Babylon was a city covering over a thousand acres. The city itself was surrounded by two walls, the inner one 21 feet (6.3 m) thick and the outer 11 feet (3.3 m) thick. To provide further security, walls were built to the south and east of the city and irrigation ditches and canals north and east of the city were flooded to prevent direct access to the city. The reference to “fords” here is to the river crossings of the Euphrates River which ran right through the city and the crossings at the ditches and canals. The reference to the “reed marshes” refers to the low lying areas around the city where reeds grew. The burning of the reed marshes would deprive any fugitives of places to hide and flush out any who had already escaped.
8 tn Heb “Daughter Babylon will be [or is; there is no verb and the tense has to be supplied from the context] like a threshing floor at the time one tramples it. Yet a little while and the time of the harvest will come for her.” It is generally agreed that there are two figures here: one of leveling the threshing floor and stamping it into a smooth, hard surface and the other of the harvest where the grain is cut, taken to the threshing floor, and threshed by trampling the sheaves of grain to loosen the grain from the straw, and finally winnowed by throwing the mixture into the air (cf., e.g., J. A. Thompson, Jeremiah [NICOT], 760). The translation has sought to convey those ideas as clearly as possible without digressing too far from the literal.
sn There are two figures involved here: one of the threshing floor being leveled and stamped down hard and smooth and the other of the harvest. At harvest time the stalks of grain were cut down, gathered in sheaves, taken to the harvest floor where the grain was loosened from the husk by driving oxen and threshing sleds over them. The grain was then separated from the mixture of grain, straw and husks by repeatedly throwing it in the air and letting the wind blow away the lighter husks and ground-up straw. The figure of harvest is often used of judgment in the OT. See, e.g., Joel 3:13 (4:13 Hebrew text) and Hos 6:11 and compare also Mic 4:12-13 and Jer 51:2 where different steps in this process are also used figuratively in connection with judgment. Babylon will be leveled to the ground and its people cut down in judgment.
9 tn This verse is extremely difficult to translate because of the shifting imagery, the confusion over the meaning of one of the verbs, and the apparent inconsistency of the pronominal suffixes here with those in the following verse which everyone agrees is connected with it. The pronominal suffixes are first common plural but the versions all read them as first common singular which the Masoretes also do in the Qere. That reading has been followed here for consistency with the next verse which identifies the speaker as the person living in Zion and the personified city of Jerusalem. The Hebrew text reads: “Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon devoured me [cf. 50:7, 17] and threw me into confusion. He set me down an empty dish. He swallowed me like a monster from the deep [cf. BDB 1072 s.v. תַּנִּין 3 and compare usage in Isa 27:1; Ezek 29:3; 32:2]. He filled his belly with my dainties. He rinsed me out [cf. BDB s.v. דּוּח Hiph.2 and compare the usage in Isa 4:4].” The verb “throw into confusion” has proved troublesome because its normal meaning does not seem appropriate. Hence various proposals have been made to understand it in a different sense. The present translation has followed W. L. Holladay (Jeremiah [Hermeneia], 2:428) in understanding the verb to mean “disperse” or “route” (see NAB). The last line has seemed out of place and has often been emended to read “he has spewed me out” (so NIV, NRSV, a reading that presupposes הִדִּיחָנִי [hiddikhani] for הֱדִיחָנִי [hedikhani]). The reading of the MT is not inappropriate if it is combined with the imagery of an empty jar and hence is retained here (see F. B. Huey, Jeremiah, Lamentations [NAC], 425, n. 59; H. Freedman, Jeremiah [SoBB], 344; NJPS). The lines have been combined to keep the imagery together.
sn The speaker in this verse and the next is the personified city of Jerusalem. She laments her fate at the hands of the king of Babylon and calls down a curse on Babylon and the people who live in Babylonia. Here Nebuchadnezzar is depicted as a monster of the deep who has devoured Jerusalem, swallowed her down, and filled its belly with her riches, leaving her an empty dish, which has been rinsed clean.
10 tn Heb “‘The violence done to me and to my flesh be upon Babylon,’ says the one living in Zion. ‘My blood be upon those living in Chaldea,’ says Jerusalem.” For the usage of the genitive here in the phrase “violence done to me and my relatives” see GKC 414 §128.a (a construct governing two objects) and IBHS 303 §16.4d (an objective genitive). For the nuance of “pay” in the sense of retribution see BDB 756 s.v. עַל 7.a(b) and compare the usage in Judg 9:24. For the use of שְׁאֵר (shÿ’er) in the sense of “relatives” see BDB 985 s.v. שְׁאֵר 2 and compare NJPS. For the use of “blood” in this idiom see BDB 197 s.v. דָּם 2.k and compare the usage in 2 Sam 4:11; Ezek 3:18, 20. The lines have been reversed for better English style.
11 tn Heb “I will avenge your vengeance [= I will take vengeance for you; the phrase involves a verb and a cognate accusative].” The meaning of the phrase has been spelled out in more readily understandable terms.
12 tn Heb “I will dry up her [Babylon’s] sea and make her fountain dry.” “Their” has been substituted for “her” because “Babylonians” has been inserted in the previous clause and is easier to understand than the personification of Babylon = “her.”
sn The reference to their sea is not clear. Most interpreters understand it to be a figurative reference to the rivers and canals surrounding Babylon. But some feel it refers to the reservoir that the wife of Nebuchadnezzar, Queen Nictoris, had made.
14 tn Heb “without an inhabitant.”
15 tn Heb “They [the Babylonians] all roar like lions. They growl like the cubs of lions.” For the usage of יַחְדָו (yakhdav) meaning “all” see Isa 10:8; 18:6; 41:20. The translation strives to convey in clear terms what is the generally accepted meaning of the simile (cf., e.g., J. Bright, Jeremiah [AB], 358, and J. A. Thompson, Jeremiah [NICOT], 762).
16 tn Heb “When they are hot.”
17 tc The translation follows the suggestion of KBL 707 s.v. עָלַז and a number of modern commentaries (e.g., Bright, J. A. Thompson, and W. L. Holladay) in reading יְעֻלְּפוּ (ye’ullÿfu) for יַעֲלֹזוּ (ya’alozu) in the sense of “swoon away” or “grow faint” (see KBL 710 s.v. עָלַף Pual). That appears to be the verb that the LXX (the Greek version) was reading when they translated καρωθῶσιν (karwqwsin, “they will be stupefied”). For parallel usage KBL cites Isa 51:20. This fits the context much better than “they will exult” in the Hebrew text.
18 sn The central figure here is the figure of the cup of the
19 tn Heb “Oracle of the
20 tn Heb “I will bring them down like lambs to be slaughtered, like rams and he goats.”
sn This statement is highly ironic in light of the fact that the Babylonians were compared to lions and lion cubs (v. 38). Here they are like lambs, rams, and male goats which are to be lead off to be slaughtered.
21 sn Heb “Sheshach.” For an explanation of the usage of this name for Babylon see the study note on Jer 25:26 and that on 51:1 for a similar phenomenon. Babylon is here called “the pride of the whole earth” because it was renowned for its size, its fortifications, and its beautiful buildings.
22 tn Heb “How Sheshach has been captured, the pride of the whole earth has been seized! How Babylon has become an object of horror among the nations!” For the usage of “How” here see the translator’s note on 50:23.
sn This is part of a taunt song (see Isa 14:4) and assumes prophetically that the city has already been captured. The verbs in vv. 41-43a are all in the Hebrew tense that the prophets often use to look at the future as “a done deal” (the so-called prophetic perfect). In v. 44 which is still a part of this picture the verbs are in the future. The Hebrew tense has been retained here and in vv. 42-43 but it should be remembered that the standpoint is prophetic and future.
23 tn For the meaning “multitude” here rather than “tumult” see BDB 242 s.v. הָמוֹן 3.c, where reference is made that this refers to a great throng of people under the figure of an overwhelming mass of waves. The word is used of a multitude of soldiers, or a vast army in 1 Sam 14:16; 1 Kgs 20:13, 18 (cf. BDB 242 s.v. הָמוֹן 3.a for further references).
24 tn Heb “The sea has risen up over Babylon. She has been covered by the multitude of its waves.”
sn This is a poetic and figurative reference to the enemies of Babylon, the foe from the north (see 50:3, 9, 51:27-28), which has attacked Babylon in wave after wave. This same figure is used in Isa 17:12. In Isa 8:7-8 the king of Assyria (and his troops) are compared to the Euphrates which rises up and floods over the whole land of Israel and Judah. This same figure, but with application to Babylon, is assumed in Jer 47:2-3. In Jer 46:7-8 the same figure is employed in a taunt of Egypt which had boasted that it would cover the earth like the flooding of the Nile.
25 tn Heb “Its towns have become a desolation, [it has become] a dry land and a desert, a land which no man passes through them [referring to “her towns”] and no son of man [= human being] passes through them.” Here the present translation has followed the suggestion of BHS and a number of the modern commentaries in deleting the second occurrence of the word “land,” in which case the words that follow are not a relative clause but independent statements. A number of modern English versions appear to ignore the third feminine plural suffixes which refer back to the cities and refer the statements that follow to the land.
26 tn Heb “And I will punish Bel in Babylon…And the nations will not come streaming to him anymore. Yea, the walls of Babylon have fallen.” The verbs in the first two lines are vav consecutive perfects and the verb in the third line is an imperfect all looking at the future. That indicates that the perfect that follows and the perfects that precede are all prophetic perfects. The translation adopted seemed to be the best way to make the transition from the pasts which were adopted in conjunction with the taunting use of אֵיךְ (’ekh) in v. 41 to the futures in v. 44. For the usage of גַּם (gam) to indicate a climax, “yea” or “indeed” see BDB 169 s.v. גַּם 3. It seemed to be impossible to render the meaning of v. 44 in any comprehensible way, even in a paraphrase.
sn In the ancient Near East the victory of a nation over another nation was attributed to its gods. The reference is a poetic way of referring to the fact that God will be victorious over Babylon and its chief god, Bel/Marduk (see the study note on 50:2 for explanation). The reference to the disgorging of what Bel had swallowed is to captured people and plundered loot that had been taken to Babylon under the auspices of the victory of Bel over the foreign god (cf. Dan 5:2-4). The plundered treasures and captive people will be set free and nations will no longer need to pay homage to him because Babylon will be destroyed.
27 tn Heb “Go out from her [Babylon’s] midst, my people. Save each man his life from the fierce anger of the
sn Compare Jer 50:8-10; 51:6 where the significance of saving oneself from the fierce anger of the
28 tn Heb “That being so, look, days are approaching.” לָכֵן (lakhen) often introduces the effect of an action. That may be the case here, the turmoil outlined in v. 46 serving as the catalyst for the culminating divine judgment described in v. 47. Another possibility is that לָכֵן here has an asseverative force (“certainly”), as in Isa 26:14 and perhaps Jer 5:2 (see the note there). In this case the word almost has the force of “for, since,” because it presents a cause for an accompanying effect. See Judg 8:7 and the discussion of Isa 26:14 in BDB 486-87 s.v. כֵּן 3.d.
29 tn Or “all her slain will fall in her midst.” In other words, her people will be overtaken by judgment and be unable to escape. The dead will lie in heaps in the very heart of the city and land.
30 tn Heb “Oracle of the
31 tn The infinitive construct is used here to indicate what is about to take place. See IBHS 610 §36.2.3g.
32 tn Heb “the slain of Israel.” The words “because of” are supplied in the translation for clarification. The preceding context makes it clear that Babylon would be judged for its atrocities against Israel (see especially 50:33-34; 51:10, 24, 35).
33 tn The juxtaposition of גַם…גַם (gam...gam), often “both…and,” here indicates correspondence. See BDB 169 s.v. גַּם 4. Appropriately Babylon will fall slain just as her victims, including God’s covenant people, did.
35 tn Heb “don’t stand.”
36 tn Heb “let Jerusalem go up upon your heart.” The “heart” is often viewed as the seat of one’s mental faculties and thought life.
37 sn The exiles lament the way they have been humiliated.
38 tn Heb “we have heard an insult.”
39 tn Heb “disgrace covers our face.”
40 tn Or “holy places, sanctuaries.”
41 tn Heb “that being so, look, days are approaching.” Here לָכֵן (lakhen) introduces the Lord’s response to the people’s lament (v. 51). It has the force of “yes, but” or “that may be true.” See Judg 11:8 and BDB 486-87 s.v. כֵּן 3.d.
42 tn Heb “Oracle of the
44 tn Heb “and even if she fortifies her strong elevated place.”
45 tn Heb “from me destroyers will go against her.”
46 tn Heb “Oracle of the
48 tn Or “mighty waters.”
49 tn Heb “and the noise of their sound will be given,”
50 tn Heb “for a destroyer is coming against her, against Babylon.”
51 tn The Piel form (which would be intransitive here, see GKC 142 §52.k) should probably be emended to Qal.
52 tn Or “God of retribution.”
53 tn The infinitive absolute emphasizes the following finite verb. Another option is to translate, “he certainly pays one back.” The translation assumes that the imperfect verbal form here describes the
58 tn The text has the plural “walls,” but many Hebrew
59 tn The infinitive absolute emphasizes the following finite verb. Another option is to translate, “will certainly be demolished.”
60 tn Heb “for what is empty.”
61 tn Heb “and the nations for fire, and they grow weary.”