Passage: Jeremiah 50, 51 (RSV)

Jeremiah 50

1The word which the LORD spoke concerning Babylon, concerning the land of the Chalde'ans, by Jeremiah the prophet:
2"Declare among the nations and proclaim, set up a banner and proclaim, conceal it not, and say: `Babylon is taken, Bel is put to shame, Mer'odach is dismayed. Her images are put to shame, her idols are dismayed.'
3"For out of the north a nation has come up against her, which shall make her land a desolation, and none shall dwell in it; both man and beast shall flee away.
4"In those days and in that time, says the LORD, the people of Israel and the people of Judah shall come together, weeping as they come; and they shall seek the LORD their God.
5They shall ask the way to Zion, with faces turned toward it, saying, `Come, let us join ourselves to the LORD in an everlasting covenant which will never be forgotten.'
6"My people have been lost sheep; their shepherds have led them astray, turning them away on the mountains; from mountain to hill they have gone, they have forgotten their fold.
7All who found them have devoured them, and their enemies have said, `We are not guilty, for they have sinned against the LORD, their true habitation, the LORD, the hope of their fathers.'
8"Flee from the midst of Babylon, and go out of the land of the Chalde'ans, and be as he-goats before the flock.
9For behold, I am stirring up and bringing against Babylon a company of great nations, from the north country; and they shall array themselves against her; from there she shall be taken. Their arrows are like a skilled warrior who does not return empty-handed.
10Chalde'a shall be plundered; all who plunder her shall be sated, says the LORD.
11"Though you rejoice, though you exult, O plunderers of my heritage, though you are wanton as a heifer at grass, and neigh like stallions,
12your mother shall be utterly shamed, and she who bore you shall be disgraced. Lo, she shall be the last of the nations, a wilderness dry and desert.
13Because of the wrath of the LORD she shall not be inhabited, but shall be an utter desolation; every one who passes by Babylon shall be appalled, and hiss because of all her wounds.
14Set yourselves in array against Babylon round about, all you that bend the bow; shoot at her, spare no arrows, for she has sinned against the LORD.
15Raise a shout against her round about, she has surrendered; her bulwarks have fallen, her walls are thrown down. For this is the vengeance of the LORD: take vengeance on her, do to her as she has done.
16Cut off from Babylon the sower, and the one who handles the sickle in time of harvest; because of the sword of the oppressor, every one shall turn to his own people, and every one shall flee to his own land.
17"Israel is a hunted sheep driven away by lions. First the king of Assyria devoured him, and now at last Nebuchadrez'zar king of Babylon has gnawed his bones.
18Therefore, thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Behold, I am bringing punishment on the king of Babylon and his land, as I punished the king of Assyria.
19I will restore Israel to his pasture, and he shall feed on Carmel and in Bashan, and his desire shall be satisfied on the hills of E'phraim and in Gilead.
20In those days and in that time, says the LORD, iniquity shall be sought in Israel, and there shall be none; and sin in Judah, and none shall be found; for I will pardon those whom I leave as a remnant.
21"Go up against the land of Meratha'im, and against the inhabitants of Pekod. Slay, and utterly destroy after them, says the LORD, and do all that I have commanded you.
22The noise of battle is in the land, and great destruction!
23How the hammer of the whole earth is cut down and broken! How Babylon has become a horror among the nations!
24I set a snare for you and you were taken, O Babylon, and you did not know it; you were found and caught, because you strove against the LORD.
25The LORD has opened his armory, and brought out the weapons of his wrath, for the Lord GOD of hosts has a work to do in the land of the Chalde'ans.
26Come against her from every quarter; open her granaries; pile her up like heaps of grain, and destroy her utterly; let nothing be left of her.
27Slay all her bulls, let them go down to the slaughter. Woe to them, for their day has come, the time of their punishment.
28"Hark! they flee and escape from the land of Babylon, to declare in Zion the vengeance of the LORD our God, vengeance for his temple.
29"Summon archers against Babylon, all those who bend the bow. Encamp round about her; let no one escape. Requite her according to her deeds, do to her according to all that she has done; for she has proudly defied the LORD, the Holy One of Israel.
30Therefore her young men shall fall in her squares, and all her soldiers shall be destroyed on that day, says the LORD.
31"Behold, I am against you, O proud one, says the Lord GOD of hosts; for your day has come, the time when I will punish you.
32The proud one shall stumble and fall, with none to raise him up, and I will kindle a fire in his cities, and it will devour all that is round about him.
33"Thus says the LORD of hosts: The people of Israel are oppressed, and the people of Judah with them; all who took them captive have held them fast, they refuse to let them go.
34Their Redeemer is strong; the LORD of hosts is his name. He will surely plead their cause, that he may give rest to the earth, but unrest to the inhabitants of Babylon.
35"A sword upon the Chalde'ans, says the LORD, and upon the inhabitants of Babylon, and upon her princes and her wise men!
36A sword upon the diviners, that they may become fools! A sword upon her warriors, that they may be destroyed!
37A sword upon her horses and upon her chariots, and upon all the foreign troops in her midst, that they may become women! A sword upon all her treasures, that they may be plundered!
38A drought upon her waters, that they may be dried up! For it is a land of images, and they are mad over idols.
39"Therefore wild beasts shall dwell with hyenas in Babylon, and ostriches shall dwell in her; she shall be peopled no more for ever, nor inhabited for all generations.
40As when God overthrew Sodom and Gomor'rah and their neighbor cities, says the LORD, so no man shall dwell there, and no son of man shall sojourn in her.
41"Behold, a people comes from the north; a mighty nation and many kings are stirring from the farthest parts of the earth.
42They lay hold of bow and spear; they are cruel, and have no mercy. The sound of them is like the roaring of the sea; they ride upon horses, arrayed as a man for battle against you, O daughter of Babylon!
43"The king of Babylon heard the report of them, and his hands fell helpless; anguish seized him, pain as of a woman in travail.
44"Behold, like a lion coming up from the jungle of the Jordan against a strong sheepfold, I will suddenly make them run away from her; and I will appoint over her whomever I choose. For who is like me? Who will summon me? What shepherd can stand before me?
45Therefore hear the plan which the LORD has made against Babylon, and the purposes which he has formed against the land of the Chalde'ans: Surely the little ones of their flock shall be dragged away; surely their fold shall be appalled at their fate.
46At the sound of the capture of Babylon the earth shall tremble, and her cry shall be heard among the nations."

Jeremiah 51

1Thus says the LORD: "Behold, I will stir up the spirit of a destroyer against Babylon, against the inhabitants of Chalde'a;
2and 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.
3Let not the archer bend his bow, and let him not stand up in his coat of mail. Spare not her young men; utterly destroy all her host.
4They shall fall down slain in the land of the Chalde'ans, and wounded in her streets.
5For Israel and Judah have not been forsaken by their God, the LORD of hosts; but the land of the Chalde'ans is full of guilt against the Holy One of Israel.
6"Flee from the midst of Babylon, let every man save his life! Be not cut off in her punishment, for this is the time of the LORD's vengeance, the requital he is rendering her.
7Babylon 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.
8Suddenly Babylon has fallen and been broken; wail for her! Take balm for her pain; perhaps she may be healed.
9We 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.
10The LORD has brought forth our vindication; come, let us declare in Zion the work of the LORD our God.
11"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.
12Set 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.
13O you who dwell by many waters, rich in treasures, your end has come, the thread of your life is cut.
14The 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.
15"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.
16When 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 lightnings for the rain, and he brings forth the wind from his storehouses.
17Every 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.
18They are worthless, a work of delusion; at the time of their punishment they shall perish.
19Not 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.
20"You are my hammer and weapon of war: with you I break nations in pieces; with you I destroy kingdoms;
21with you I break in pieces the horse and his rider; with you I break in pieces the chariot and the charioteer;
22with 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 maiden;
23with 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.
24"I will requite Babylon and all the inhabitants of Chalde'a before your very eyes for all the evil that they have done in Zion, says the LORD.
25"Behold, I am against you, O destroying mountain, says 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.
26No stone shall be taken from you for a corner and no stone for a foundation, but you shall be a perpetual waste, says the LORD.
27"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, Ar'arat, Minni, and Ash'kenaz; appoint a marshal against her, bring up horses like bristling locusts.
28Prepare the nations for war against her, the kings of the Medes, with their governors and deputies, and every land under their dominion.
29The land trembles and writhes in pain, for the LORD's purposes against Babylon stand, to make the land of Babylon a desolation, without inhabitant.
30The 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.
31One 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;
32the fords have been seized, the bulwarks are burned with fire, and the soldiers are in panic.
33For 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."
34"Nebuchadrez'zar 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 belly with my delicacies, he has rinsed me out.
35The violence done to me and to my kinsmen be upon Babylon," let the inhabitant of Zion say. "My blood be upon the inhabitants of Chalde'a," let Jerusalem say.
36Therefore 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;
37and Babylon shall become a heap of ruins, the haunt of jackals, a horror and a hissing, without inhabitant.
38"They shall roar together like lions; they shall growl like lions' whelps.
39While they are inflamed I will prepare them a feast and make them drunk, till they swoon away and sleep a perpetual sleep and not wake, says the LORD.
40I will bring them down like lambs to the slaughter, like rams and he-goats.
41"How Babylon is taken, the praise of the whole earth seized! How Babylon has become a horror among the nations!
42The sea has come up on Babylon; she is covered with its tumultuous waves.
43Her 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.
44And 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.
45"Go out of the midst of her, my people! Let every man save his life from the fierce anger of the LORD!
46Let 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.
47"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.
48Then 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, says the LORD.
49Babylon must fall for the slain of Israel, as for Babylon have fallen the slain of all the earth.
50"You that have escaped from the sword, go, stand not still! Remember the LORD from afar, and let Jerusalem come into your mind:
51`We are put to shame, for we have heard reproach; dishonor has covered our face, for aliens have come into the holy places of the LORD's house.'
52"Therefore, behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will execute judgment upon her images, and through all her land the wounded shall groan.
53Though Babylon should mount up to heaven, and though she should fortify her strong height, yet destroyers would come from me upon her, says the LORD.
54"Hark! a cry from Babylon! The noise of great destruction from the land of the Chalde'ans!
55For the LORD is laying Babylon waste, and stilling her mighty voice. Their waves roar like many waters, the noise of their voice is raised;
56for a destroyer has come upon her, upon Babylon; her warriors are taken, their bows are broken in pieces; for the LORD is a God of recompense, he will surely requite.
57I will make drunk her princes and her wise men, her governors, her commanders, and her warriors; they shall sleep a perpetual sleep and not wake, says the King, whose name is the LORD of hosts.
58"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 nought, and the nations weary themselves only for fire."
59The word which Jeremiah the prophet commanded Serai'ah the son of Neri'ah, son of Mahsei'ah, when he went with Zedeki'ah king of Judah to Babylon, in the fourth year of his reign. Serai'ah was the quartermaster.
60Jeremiah wrote in a book all the evil that should come upon Babylon, all these words that are written concerning Babylon.
61And Jeremiah said to Serai'ah: "When you come to Babylon, see that you read all these words,
62and say, `O LORD, thou hast said concerning this place that thou wilt cut it off, so that nothing shall dwell in it, neither man nor beast, and it shall be desolate for ever.'
63When you finish reading this book, bind a stone to it, and cast it into the midst of the Euphra'tes,
64and say, `Thus shall Babylon sink, to rise no more, because of the evil that I am bringing upon her.'" Thus far are the words of Jeremiah.

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