Jeremiah 51

1 The LORD proclaims: I'm stirring up a violent wind against Babylon and those who live in Leb-qamai.
2 I will send mercenaries to Babylon who will sift her and clear out her land. They will surround her on the day of disaster.
3 Let the archers draw their bows; let them prepare their armor. Show no mercy to her young men; wipe out her entire company!
4 They will fall wounded in the land of Babylon, struck down in her streets.
5 God, the LORD of heavenly forces, hasn't abandoned Israel and Judah, even though they live in a land filled with guilt before the holy one of Israel.
6 Escape from Babylon; each of you run for your lives! Don't perish because of her guilt, because this is the time for the LORD's retribution, a day of reckoning for all that Babylon has done.
7 Babylon was a gold cup in the LORD's hand; it made the whole earth drunk. The nations drank her wine and went mad.
8 But suddenly Babylon fell and shattered into pieces. Wail for her! Bring medicine for her pain; perhaps she will recover.
9 We tried to cure Babylon, but she was beyond help. Let's depart from her and return to your own country, each of you. Her punishment reaches to heaven and extends to the clouds.
10 The LORD has come to our defense, so let's declare in Zion what the LORD our God has done!
11 Sharpen your arrows; prepare your shields. The LORD is stirring up the spirit of kings from Media. He intends to destroy Babylon; this is the LORD's retribution, a day of reckoning for his temple.
12 Set up a flag on the walls of Babylon, fortify the guards, post watchmen, prepare an ambush, because the LORD has a plan against the inhabitants of Babylon. He will accomplish it, just as he said he would.
13 You live beside a great river, and you are rich in treasures. But your time has come; your cruelty has caught up with you.
14 The LORD of heavenly forces has sworn by his own name: I'm going to fill your cities with soldiers like a swarm of locusts; they will celebrate their victory over you.
15 God made the earth by his might, shaped the world by his wisdom, and crafted the skies by his knowledge.
16 At the sound of God's voice, the heavenly waters roar. God raises the clouds from the ends of the earth. He makes lightning for the rain and sends the wind from his treasuries.
17 Everyone is too foolish to understand; every smith is shamed by his idols, for their images are shams; they aren't alive.
18 They are a delusion, a charade; at the appointed time they will be ruined!
19 But the portion of Jacob is utterly different, for he has formed all things, including his very own tribe; the LORD of heavenly forces is his name!
20 You are my hammer, my weapon of war. With you I will crush the nations. With you I will destroy kingdoms.
21 With you I will crush horse and rider. With you I will crush chariot and driver.
22 With you I will crush men and women. With you I will crush old and young. With you I will crush young men and young women.
23 With you I will crush shepherds and flocks. With you I will crush farmers and oxen. With you I will crush governors and officials.
24 I will repay Babylon and all its inhabitants for the terrible things they have done to Zion in your sight, declares the LORD.
25 I'm against you, you mountain of destruction, declares the LORD, you destroyer of the whole earth! I will reach out against you; I will topple you from your heights; I will turn you into a rubbish heap.
26 They will never remove a cornerstone or a foundation stone from you. You will be a wasteland forever, declares the LORD.
27 Set up a flag in the land; sound the alarm among the nations! Prepare them for war against her; summon kingdoms against her— Ararat, Minni, and Ashkenaz. Appoint a commander against her; call up the troops, like swarms of locusts!
28 Prepare the nations for war against her, the kings of Media, its governors, all its officials, and all the countries they rule.
29 The earth quakes and trembles because the LORD's plans against Babylon are fulfilled: to reduce Babylon to a wasteland, with no one left in it.
30 Babylon's warriors quit fighting; they hide in their fortifications. Their strength is worn out; their courage is gone! Babylon's houses are burned down, and its gates are smashed.
31 Courier joins courier, messenger joins messenger to relate the news to the king of Babylon that his entire city has fallen.
32 The river crossings are blocked; the marshes are on fire; the soldiers are terrified.
33 The LORD of heavenly forces, the God of Israel, proclaims: Daughter Babylon is like a threshing floor ready to be trampled down. In a little while her harvest will come.
34 Babylon's King Nebuchadnezzar has eaten us alive; he's drained us of strength; he's left us for dead. He's gobbled us up like a great sea monster; he's filled his belly with our treasures; and he's spit us out.
35 May Babylon be violated as our bodies were, say the inhabitants of Zion. May our blood be on the Babylonians, say those from Jerusalem.
36 Therefore, the LORD proclaims: I'm going to defend your cause; I'll turn the tables on your attacker. I'll dry up her sea; I'll shut up her springs.
37 Babylon will become a heap of ruins, a den of wild dogs, a wasteland with no one left in it.
38 Like lions they will roar together; they will growl like lions' cubs.
39 They are ready to devour, so I'll prepare the feast and mix the drinks! But after their noisy drunkenness, they will fall fast asleep. They will sleep forever, never to get up, declares the LORD.
40 I'll lead them off like lambs for slaughter, like rams and goats.
41 How Sheshach has been defeated, the pride of the whole earth taken captive! How Babylon has become a wasteland among the nations!
42 The sea has risen over Babylon; its pounding waves overwhelm her.
43 Her towns are devastated; her land is scorched and barren, a place where no one lives or dares to pass through.
44 I will punish Bel in Babylon; I will force him to vomit what he's consumed. Then nations will no longer stream to him, and Babylon's walls will collapse!
45 Get out of Babylon, my people! Run for your lives from the LORD's fierce anger.
46 Don't be distracted or frightened by the rumors you hear in the land. Sometimes you hear one thing and another time something else: rumors of violence and uprisings.
47 The time is coming when I will deal with Babylon's idols; the whole land will be disgraced, and her wounded will fall in her midst.
48 Then all creation will rejoice over Babylon, because out of the north destroying armies will come to attack her, declares the LORD.
49 Babylon must fall for the dead in Israel, as the dead of all the earth have fallen to Babylon.
50 You survivors of war, leave now; don't delay! Remember the LORD, from a faraway land. Keep Jerusalem alive in your hearts.
51 We're humiliated by their taunts; we're disgraced that strangers have violated the sacred places of the LORD's temple.
52 The time is coming, declares the LORD, when I will deal with her idols, and the wounded in her land will groan.
53 Even if Babylon scales the heavens and strengthens its towering defenses, the destroying armies will still come against her, at my command, declares the LORD.
54 Listen to the cries for help from Babylon, signs of massive devastation in the land, declares the LORD.
55 The LORD is destroying Babylon and silencing her outcry, whose roar is like the crushing waves, a deafening crash.
56 He certainly comes against her; the destroyer comes against Babylon. Her warriors are captured; their bows are broken. The LORD is an exacting God who repays in full.
57 I'll make her leaders and sages drunk, her governors, officials, and warriors as well. They will sleep forever, never to get up, declares the king, whose name is the LORD of heavenly forces.
58 The LORD of heavenly forces proclaims: Babylon's massive walls will come down, down to the ground; and its high gates will be burned to the ground. People labor in vain; nations toil for nothing but ashes!
59 This is what the prophet Jeremiah instructed the staff officer Seraiah, Neriah's son and Mahseiah's grandson, when Seraiah went to Babylon with Judah's King Zedekiah in the fourth year of his rule. Jeremiah's words end here.
60 Jeremiah wrote down in a single scroll all the disasters that would happen to Babylon—all these things concerning Babylon.
61 Jeremiah said to Seraiah: When you get to Babylon, see to it that you read all these words.
62 Then say, "LORD, you declared that this place will be destroyed and nothing will remain in it—neither human nor animal; that it will forever be a wasteland!"
63 When you finish reading the scroll, tie a stone to it and throw it into the Euphrates River.
64 Then say, "In the same way, Babylon will sink and never rise again because of the disaster I'm bringing against it."

Jeremiah 51 Commentary

Chapter 51

Babylon's doom; God's controversy with her; encouragements from thence to the Israel of God. (1-58) The confirming of this. (59-64)

Verses 1-58 The particulars of this prophecy are dispersed and interwoven, and the same things left and returned to again. Babylon is abundant in treasures, yet neither her waters nor her wealth shall secure her. Destruction comes when they did not think of it. Wherever we are, in the greatest depths, at the greatest distances, we are to remember the Lord our God; and in the times of the greatest fears and hopes, it is most needful to remember the Lord. The feeling excited by Babylon's fall is the same with the New Testament Babylon, ( revelation 18:9 revelation 18:19 ) . The ruin of all who support idolatry, infidelity, and superstition, is needful for the revival of true godliness; and the threatening prophecies of Scripture yield comfort in this view. The great seat of antichristian tyranny, idolatry, and superstition, the persecutor of true Christians, is as certainly doomed to destruction as ancient Babylon. Then will vast multitudes mourn for sin, and seek the Lord. Then will the lost sheep of the house of Israel be brought back to the fold of the good Shepherd, and stray no more. And the exact fulfilment of these ancient prophecies encourages us to faith in all the promises and prophecies of the sacred Scriptures.

Verses 59-64 This prophecy is sent to Babylon, to the captives there, by Seraiah, who is to read it to his countrymen in captivity. Let them with faith see the end of these threatening powers, and comfort themselves herewith. When we see what this world is, how glittering its shows, and how flattering its proposals, let us read in the book of the Lord that it shall shortly be desolate. The book must be thrown into the river Euphrates. The fall of the New Testament Babylon is thus represented, ( Revelation 18:21 ) . Those that sink under the weight of God's wrath and curse, sink for ever. Babylon, and every antichrist, will soon sink and rise no more for ever. Let us hope in God's word, and quietly wait for his salvation; then we shall see, but shall not share, the destruction of the wicked.

Footnotes 8

  • [a]. Or the inhabitants of Leb qamai, a reference to Chaldea (Babylonia); or those who rise up against me
  • [b]. Or foreigners
  • [c]. Or she or it
  • [d]. Heb uncertain
  • [e]. Heb lacks cities.
  • [f]. Or He’s made us an empty container.
  • [g]. Sheshach is a name for Babylon.
  • [h]. Or officer of rest, often translated as quartermaster

Chapter Summary


The former part of this chapter is a continuation of the prophecy of the preceding chapter, concerning the destruction of Babylon, Jer 51:1-58; the latter part of it contains a prophecy of Jeremiah sent to the captives in Babylon by the hand of Seraiah, with the copy of the above prophecy against Babylon, and an order to fasten a stone to it, and cast it into the river Euphrates, as a sign, confirming the utter and irreparable ruin of Babylon, Jer 51:59-64.

Jeremiah 51 Commentaries

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