This is the message that the LORD spoke about Babylon and the land of the Babylonians through the prophet Jeremiah.
"Announce this among the nations, and spread the news. Raise a flag, and announce it. Don't hide anything. Say, 'Babylon will be captured. Bel will be put to shame. Marduk will be filled with terror. Babylon's statues will be put to shame. Its idols will be filled with terror.'
A nation from the north will attack Babylon and destroy its land so that no one will live in it. People and animals will run away.
"In those days and at that time," declares the LORD, "the people of Israel and Judah will cry as they go together to seek the LORD their God.
They will ask which road goes to Zion and turn in that direction. They will go there to make a permanent agreement with the LORD. It will not be forgotten.
My people have been lost sheep. Their shepherds have led them astray. They wander around on the mountains. They go from mountains to hills. They have forgotten their resting place.
Everyone who finds them eats them. Their enemies say, 'We're not guilty. They have sinned against the LORD, their true pasture. They have sinned against the LORD, the hope of their ancestors.'
"Run away from Babylon. Leave the land of the Babylonians. Be like the male goats that lead the flock.
I am going to stir up an alliance of strong nations from the north and bring it against Babylon. Those nations will take up positions against Babylon. Babylon will be captured from the north. Its enemy's arrows will be like skilled soldiers who don't come back empty-handed.
The Babylonians will become the prize. All who loot them will get everything they want," declares the LORD.
"You are happy and excited. You have looted the people who belong to me. You dance around like calves on the grass and neigh like stallions.
But your mother will be greatly ashamed. The woman who gave birth to you will be disgraced. Babylon, you will be the least important nation. You will become a parched desert.
No one will live in Babylon because of the LORD's anger. It will be completely abandoned. Everyone who passes by Babylon will be horrified and hiss at all its wounds.
"Take up your positions around Babylon, all you archers with bows. Shoot at it; don't save any arrows, because the people of Babylon have sinned against the LORD.
Shout a war cry against them on every side. They'll surrender. Their towers will fall and their walls will be torn down. Since this is the LORD's vengeance, take revenge against them. Do to them what they did to others.
Don't allow anyone in Babylon to plant or harvest. Everyone will turn to his own people and flee to his own homeland because of the enemies' swords.
"The people of Israel are like scattered sheep that lions have chased. The first to devour them was the king of Assyria. The last to gnaw at their bones was King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon.
"This is what the LORD of Armies, the God of Israel, says: I am going to punish the king of Babylon and his land as I punished the king of Assyria.
I will bring the people of Israel back to their pastures. They will eat on Mount Carmel and Mount Bashan. They will eat until they are full on the mountains of Ephraim and Gilead.
In those days and at that time," declares the LORD, "people will look for Israel's crimes, but they will find none. They will look for Judah's sins, but none will be found. I will forgive the faithful few whom I have spared.
"Attack the land of Merathaim and the people who live in Pekod. Claim them for me by killing them with a sword," declares the LORD. "Do everything I commanded you.
The noise of battle and great destruction fills the land.
The hammer of the whole earth is broken and shattered. See how desolate Babylon is of all the nations!
I will set traps for you, Babylon. You will be caught, but you won't know it. You will be found and captured because you have opposed the LORD.
The LORD will open his armory and bring out the weapons of his fury, because the Almighty LORD of Armies has a job to do in the land of the Babylonians.
Attack them from a distance, open their storehouses, pile up their corpses like piles of grain, claim them for me by destroying them, and don't leave anyone behind.
Kill all their young bulls. Let them go to be slaughtered. How horrible it will be for them when their time has come, the time for them to be punished.
Listen! Fugitives and refugees from Babylon are coming to Zion to tell about the vengeance of the LORD our God, the vengeance for his temple.
"Call together the archers, the soldiers with bows, against Babylon. Set up blockades around it. Don't let anyone escape. Pay the people of Babylon back for what they have done. Do to them what they did to others. They have disobeyed the LORD, the Holy One of Israel.
That is why their young men will die in the streets, and all their soldiers will be silenced that day," declares the LORD.
"I'm against you, you arrogant city," declares the Almighty LORD of Armies. "Your day has come, the time when I will punish you.
Those arrogant people will stumble and fall, and there will be no one to help them get up. I will light a fire in their cities that will burn up everything around them."
This is what the LORD of Armies says: All the people of Israel and Judah are oppressed. All their enemies have captured them. They refuse to let them go.
Their defender is strong. His name is the LORD of Armies. He will certainly take up their cause in order to bring rest to the land of Israel and unrest to the people who live in Babylon.
"A sword will kill the Babylonians and everyone who lives in Babylon," declares the LORD. "A sword will kill their officials and their wise men.
A sword will kill the false prophets. They will become fools. A sword will kill their soldiers and defeat them.
A sword will kill their horses, their chariots, and all the foreigners within their ranks. They will become women. A sword will destroy their treasures, and they will be looted.
A drought will diminish their water supply, and it will dry up. Babylon is a land of idols, statues that will go crazy with fear.
That is why desert animals will live with hyenas. Desert owls will also live there. It will no longer be inhabited or lived in for generations.
Babylon will be like Sodom, Gomorrah, and their neighboring cities when I, God, destroyed them. No one will live there. No human will stay there," declares the LORD.
"People are going to come from the north. A great nation and many kings will rise from the ends of the earth.
They will take hold of bows and spears. They will be cruel and have no compassion. They will sound like the sea when it roars. They will ride horses. They are ready for war, ready to attack you, people of Babylon.
The king of Babylon has heard reports about them, and he loses courage. Anguish will grip him as pain grips a woman in labor.
I will suddenly chase them from their places like a lion coming out of the jungle along the Jordan River into pastureland. I will appoint over Babylon whomever I choose. Who is like me? Who can challenge me? Is there any leader who can stand up to me?
Listen to the plans that the LORD is making against Babylon and the things he intends to do to the land of the Babylonians. He will surely drag away the little ones of the flock. He will surely destroy the pasture because of the Babylonians.
The earth will quake at the news that Babylon has been captured. Its cry will be heard among the nations."