Jeremiah 51-52 (Listen)
The Utter Destruction of Babylon
Thus says the Lord:
“Behold, I will stir up the spirit of a destroyer
against the inhabitants of Leb-kamai,
and I will send to Babylon winnowers,
and they shall winnow her,
and they shall empty her land,
when they come against her from every side
on the day of trouble.
Let not the archer bend his bow,
and let him not stand up in his armor.
Spare not her young men;
devote to destruction all her army.
They shall fall down slain in the land of the Chaldeans,
and wounded in her streets.
For Israel and Judah have not been forsaken
by their God, the Lord of hosts,
but the land of the Chaldeans is full of guilt
against the Holy One of Israel.
“Flee from the midst of Babylon;
let every one save his life!
Be not cut off in her punishment,
for this is the time of the Lord's vengeance,
the repayment he is rendering her.
Babylon was a golden cup in the Lord's hand,
making all the earth drunken;
the nations drank of her wine;
therefore the nations went mad.
Suddenly Babylon has fallen and been broken;
wail for her!
Take balm for her pain;
perhaps she may be healed.
We would have healed Babylon,
but she was not healed.
Forsake her, and let us go
each to his own country,
for her judgment has reached up to heaven
and has been lifted up even to the skies.
The Lord has brought about our vindication;
come, let us declare in Zion
the work of the Lord our God.
“Sharpen the arrows!
Take up the shields!
The Lord has stirred up the spirit of the kings of the Medes, because his purpose concerning Babylon is to destroy it, for that is the vengeance of the Lord, the vengeance for his temple.
“Set up a standard against the walls of Babylon;
make the watch strong;
set up watchmen;
prepare the ambushes;
for the Lord has both planned and done
what he spoke concerning the inhabitants of Babylon.
O you who dwell by many waters,
rich in treasures,
your end has come;
the thread of your life is cut.
The Lord of hosts has sworn by himself:
Surely I will fill you with men, as many as locusts,
and they shall raise the shout of victory over you.
“It is he who made the earth by his power,
who established the world by his wisdom,
and by his understanding stretched out the heavens.
When he utters his voice there is a tumult of waters in the heavens,
and he makes the mist rise from the ends of the earth.
He makes lightning for the rain,
and he brings forth the wind from his storehouses.
Every man is stupid and without knowledge;
every goldsmith is put to shame by his idols,
for his images are false,
and there is no breath in them.
They are worthless, a work of delusion;
at the time of their punishment they shall perish.
Not like these is he who is the portion of Jacob,
for he is the one who formed all things,
and Israel is the tribe of his inheritance;
the Lord of hosts is his name.
“You are my hammer and weapon of war:
with you I break nations in pieces;
with you I destroy kingdoms;
with you I break in pieces the horse and his rider;
with you I break in pieces the chariot and the charioteer;
with you I break in pieces man and woman;
with you I break in pieces the old man and the youth;
with you I break in pieces the young man and the young woman;
with you I break in pieces the shepherd and his flock;
with you I break in pieces the farmer and his team;
with you I break in pieces governors and commanders.
“I will repay Babylon and all the inhabitants of Chaldea before your very eyes for all the evil that they have done in Zion, declares the Lord.
“Behold, I am against you, O destroying mountain,
declares the Lord,
which destroys the whole earth;
I will stretch out my hand against you,
and roll you down from the crags,
and make you a burnt mountain.
No stone shall be taken from you for a corner
and no stone for a foundation,
but you shall be a perpetual waste,
declares the Lord.
“Set up a standard on the earth;
blow the trumpet among the nations;
prepare the nations for war against her;
summon against her the kingdoms,
Ararat, Minni, and Ashkenaz;
appoint a marshal against her;
bring up horses like bristling locusts.
Prepare the nations for war against her,
the kings of the Medes, with their governors and deputies,
and every land under their dominion.
The land trembles and writhes in pain,
for the Lord's purposes against Babylon stand,
to make the land of Babylon a desolation,
The warriors of Babylon have ceased fighting;
they remain in their strongholds;
their strength has failed;
they have become women;
her dwellings are on fire;
her bars are broken.
One runner runs to meet another,
and one messenger to meet another,
to tell the king of Babylon
that his city is taken on every side;
the fords have been seized,
the marshes are burned with fire,
and the soldiers are in panic.
For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel:
The daughter of Babylon is like a threshing floor
at the time when it is trodden;
yet a little while
and the time of her harvest will come.”
“Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon has devoured me;
he has crushed me;
he has made me an empty vessel;
he has swallowed me like a monster;
he has filled his stomach with my delicacies;
he has rinsed me out.
The violence done to me and to my kinsmen be upon Babylon,”
let the inhabitant of Zion say.
“My blood be upon the inhabitants of Chaldea,”
let Jerusalem say.
Therefore thus says the Lord:
“Behold, I will plead your cause
and take vengeance for you.
I will dry up her sea
and make her fountain dry,
and Babylon shall become a heap of ruins,
the haunt of jackals,
a horror and a hissing,
“They shall roar together like lions;
they shall growl like lions' cubs.
While they are inflamed I will prepare them a feast
and make them drunk, that they may become merry,
then sleep a perpetual sleep
and not wake, declares the Lord.
I will bring them down like lambs to the slaughter,
like rams and male goats.
“How Babylon is taken,
the praise of the whole earth seized!
How Babylon has become
a horror among the nations!
The sea has come up on Babylon;
she is covered with its tumultuous waves.
Her cities have become a horror,
a land of drought and a desert,
a land in which no one dwells,
and through which no son of man passes.
And I will punish Bel in Babylon,
and take out of his mouth what he has swallowed.
The nations shall no longer flow to him;
the wall of Babylon has fallen.
“Go out of the midst of her, my people!
Let every one save his life
from the fierce anger of the Lord!
Let not your heart faint, and be not fearful
at the report heard in the land,
when a report comes in one year
and afterward a report in another year,
and violence is in the land,
and ruler is against ruler.
“Therefore, behold, the days are coming
when I will punish the images of Babylon;
her whole land shall be put to shame,
and all her slain shall fall in the midst of her.
Then the heavens and the earth,
and all that is in them,
shall sing for joy over Babylon,
for the destroyers shall come against them out of the north,
declares the Lord.
Babylon must fall for the slain of Israel,
just as for Babylon have fallen the slain of all the earth.
“You who have escaped from the sword,
go, do not stand still!
Remember the Lord from far away,
and let Jerusalem come into your mind:
‘We are put to shame, for we have heard reproach;
dishonor has covered our face,
for foreigners have come
into the holy places of the Lord's house.’
“Therefore, behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord,
when I will execute judgment upon her images,
and through all her land
the wounded shall groan.
Though Babylon should mount up to heaven,
and though she should fortify her strong height,
yet destroyers would come from me against her,
declares the Lord.
“A voice! A cry from Babylon!
The noise of great destruction from the land of the Chaldeans!
For the Lord is laying Babylon waste
and stilling her mighty voice.
Their waves roar like many waters;
the noise of their voice is raised,
for a destroyer has come upon her,
her warriors are taken;
their bows are broken in pieces,
for the Lord is a God of recompense;
he will surely repay.
I will make drunk her officials and her wise men,
her governors, her commanders, and her warriors;
they shall sleep a perpetual sleep and not wake,
declares the King, whose name is the Lord of hosts.
“Thus says the Lord of hosts:
The broad wall of Babylon
shall be leveled to the ground,
and her high gates
shall be burned with fire.
The peoples labor for nothing,
and the nations weary themselves only for fire.”
The word that Jeremiah the prophet commanded Seraiah the son of Neriah, son of Mahseiah, when he went with Zedekiah king of Judah to Babylon, in the fourth year of his reign. Seraiah was the quartermaster. Jeremiah wrote in a book all the disaster that should come upon Babylon, all these words that are written concerning Babylon. And Jeremiah said to Seraiah: “When you come to Babylon, see that you read all these words, and say, ‘O Lord, you have said concerning this place that you will cut it off, so that nothing shall dwell in it, neither man nor beast, and it shall be desolate forever.’ When you finish reading this book, tie a stone to it and cast it into the midst of the Euphrates, and say, ‘Thus shall Babylon sink, to rise no more, because of the disaster that I am bringing upon her, and they shall become exhausted.’”
Thus far are the words of Jeremiah.
The Fall of Jerusalem Recounted
Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Hamutal the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah. And he did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, according to all that Jehoiakim had done. For because of the anger of the Lord it came to the point in Jerusalem and Judah that he cast them out from his presence.
And Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon. And in the ninth year of his reign, in the tenth month, on the tenth day of the month, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came with all his army against Jerusalem, and laid siege to it. And they built siegeworks all around it. So the city was besieged till the eleventh year of King Zedekiah. On the ninth day of the fourth month the famine was so severe in the city that there was no food for the people of the land. Then a breach was made in the city, and all the men of war fled and went out from the city by night by the way of a gate between the two walls, by the king's garden, and the Chaldeans were around the city. And they went in the direction of the Arabah. But the army of the Chaldeans pursued the king and overtook Zedekiah in the plains of Jericho, and all his army was scattered from him. Then they captured the king and brought him up to the king of Babylon at Riblah in the land of Hamath, and he passed sentence on him. The king of Babylon slaughtered the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes, and also slaughtered all the officials of Judah at Riblah. He put out the eyes of Zedekiah, and bound him in chains, and the king of Babylon took him to Babylon, and put him in prison till the day of his death.
The Temple Burned
In the fifth month, on the tenth day of the month—that was the nineteenth year of King Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon—Nebuzaradan the captain of the bodyguard, who served the king of Babylon, entered Jerusalem. And he burned the house of the Lord, and the king's house and all the houses of Jerusalem; every great house he burned down. And all the army of the Chaldeans, who were with the captain of the guard, broke down all the walls around Jerusalem. And Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard carried away captive some of the poorest of the people and the rest of the people who were left in the city and the deserters who had deserted to the king of Babylon, together with the rest of the artisans. But Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard left some of the poorest of the land to be vinedressers and plowmen.
And the pillars of bronze that were in the house of the Lord, and the stands and the bronze sea that were in the house of the Lord, the Chaldeans broke in pieces, and carried all the bronze to Babylon. And they took away the pots and the shovels and the snuffers and the basins and the dishes for incense and all the vessels of bronze used in the temple service; also the small bowls and the fire pans and the basins and the pots and the lampstands and the dishes for incense and the bowls for drink offerings. What was of gold the captain of the guard took away as gold, and what was of silver, as silver. As for the two pillars, the one sea, the twelve bronze bulls that were under the sea, and the stands, which Solomon the king had made for the house of the Lord, the bronze of all these things was beyond weight. As for the pillars, the height of the one pillar was eighteen cubits,its circumference was twelve cubits, and its thickness was four fingers, and it was hollow. On it was a capital of bronze. The height of the one capital was five cubits. A network and pomegranates, all of bronze, were around the capital. And the second pillar had the same, with pomegranates. There were ninety-six pomegranates on the sides; all the pomegranates were a hundred upon the network all around.
The People Exiled to Babylon
And the captain of the guard took Seraiah the chief priest, and Zephaniah the second priest and the three keepers of the threshold; and from the city he took an officer who had been in command of the men of war, and seven men of the king's council, who were found in the city; and the secretary of the commander of the army, who mustered the people of the land; and sixty men of the people of the land, who were found in the midst of the city. And Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard took them and brought them to the king of Babylon at Riblah. And the king of Babylon struck them down and put them to death at Riblah in the land of Hamath. So Judah was taken into exile out of its land.
This is the number of the people whom Nebuchadnezzar carried away captive: in the seventh year, 3,023 Judeans; in the eighteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar he carried away captive from Jerusalem 832 persons; in the twenty-third year of Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard carried away captive of the Judeans 745 persons; all the persons were 4,600.
Jehoiachin Released from Prison
And in the thirty-seventh year of the exile of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the twelfth month, on the twenty-fifth day of the month, Evil-merodach king of Babylon, in the year that he began to reign, graciously freed Jehoiachin king of Judah and brought him out of prison. And he spoke kindly to him and gave him a seat above the seats of the kings who were with him in Babylon. So Jehoiachin put off his prison garments. And every day of his life he dined regularly at the king's table, and for his allowance, a regular allowance was given him by the king, according to his daily needs, until the day of his death, as long as he lived.