Signal for people to pay attention! 2
Declare the news! Do not hide it! Say:
‘Babylon will be captured.
Bel 3 will be put to shame.
Marduk will be dismayed.
Babylon’s idols will be put to shame.
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.” 6
1 tn The verbs are masculine plural. Jeremiah is calling on other unnamed messengers to spread the news.
2 tn Heb “Raise a signal flag.”
3 sn Bel was originally the name or title applied to the Sumerian storm god. During the height of Babylon’s power it became a title that was applied to Marduk who was Babylon’s chief deity. As a title it means “Lord.” Here it is a poetical parallel reference to Marduk mentioned in the next line.
4 tn The Hebrew word used here (גִּלּוּלִים, gillulim) is always used as a disdainful reference to idols. It is generally thought to have originally referred to “dung pellets” (cf. KBL 183 s.v. גִלּוּלִים). It is only one of several terms used in this way, such as “worthless things” (אַלִילִים, ’alilim), “vanities,” or “empty winds” (הֲבָלִים, havalim).
5 tn The verbs here are all in the tense that views the actions as though they were already done (the Hebrew prophetic perfect). The verbs in the next verse are a mixture of prophetic perfects and imperfects which announce future actions.
sn This refers to the fact that the idols that the Babylonians worshiped will not be able to protect them, but will instead be carried off into exile with the Babylonians themselves (cf. Isa 46:1-2).
6 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.