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.” 1
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. 3
“when I will punish her idols.
Throughout her land the mortally wounded will groan.
1 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.
2 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.
3 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.
4 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.
5 tn Heb “Oracle of the