Jeremiah 51

Listen to Jeremiah 51

The Utter Destruction of Babylon

1 Thus says the LORD: "Behold, I will stir up 1the spirit of a destroyer against Babylon, against the inhabitants of Leb-kamai,[a]
2 and I will send to Babylon winnowers, and 2they shall winnow her, and they shall empty her land, when they come against her from every side 3on the day of trouble.
3 4Let not the archer bend his bow, and let him not stand up in his armor. Spare not her young men; 5devote to destruction[b] all her army.
4 They shall fall down slain in the land of the Chaldeans, 6and wounded in her streets.
5 7For Israel and Judah have not been forsaken by their God, the LORD of hosts, but the land of the Chaldeans[c] is full of guilt against the Holy One of Israel.
6 8"Flee from the midst of Babylon; let every one save his life! 9Be not cut off in her punishment, 10for this is the time of the LORD's vengeance, the repayment he is rendering her.
7 Babylon was 11a golden cup in the LORD's hand, 12making all the earth drunken; 13the nations drank of her wine; therefore the nations went mad.
8 14Suddenly Babylon has fallen and been broken; 15wail for her! 16Take balm for her pain; perhaps she may be healed.
9 We would have healed Babylon, but she was not healed. 17Forsake her, and 18let us go each to his own country, for 19her judgment has reached up to heaven and has been lifted up even to the skies.
10 20The LORD has brought about our vindication; 21come, let us declare in Zion the work of the LORD our God.
11 22"Sharpen the arrows! Take up the shields!23The LORD has stirred up the spirit of the kings of 24the Medes, because 25his purpose concerning Babylon is to destroy it, 26for that is the vengeance of the LORD, the vengeance for 27his temple.
12 28"Set up a standard against the walls of Babylon; 29make the watch strong; set up watchmen; prepare the ambushes; 30for the LORD has both planned and done what he spoke concerning the inhabitants of Babylon.
13 31O you who dwell by many waters, rich in treasures, your end has come; the thread of your life is cut.
14 32The LORD of hosts has sworn by himself: Surely I will fill you with men, 33as many as locusts, 34and they shall raise the shout of victory over you.
15 35"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.
16 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.
17 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.
18 They are worthless, a work of delusion; at the time of their punishment they shall perish.
19 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.
20 "You are my hammer and weapon of war: with you I 36break nations in pieces; with you I destroy kingdoms;
21 with you I break in pieces the horse and his rider; with you I break in pieces the chariot and the charioteer;
22 with you I break in pieces man and woman; with you I break in pieces 37the old man and the youth; with you I break in pieces 38the young man and the young woman;
23 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 39governors and commanders.
24 40"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.
25 "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, 41and make you a burnt mountain.
26 No 42stone shall be taken from you for a corner and no stone for a foundation, but you shall be 43a perpetual waste, declares the LORD.
27 44"Set up a standard on the earth; 45blow the trumpet among the nations; 46prepare 47the nations for war against her; summon against her 48the kingdoms, 49Ararat, Minni, and 50Ashkenaz; appoint a 51marshal against her; 52bring up horses like bristling locusts.
28 53Prepare 54the nations for war against her, the kings of 55the Medes, 56with their governors 57and deputies, and every 58land under their dominion.
29 59The land trembles and writhes in pain, 60for the LORD's purposes against Babylon stand, to make the land of Babylon a desolation, without inhabitant.
30 The warriors of Babylon have ceased fighting; they remain in their strongholds; their strength has failed; 61they have become women; 62her dwellings are on fire; 63her bars are broken.
31 One 64runner runs to meet another, and one messenger to meet another, to tell the king of Babylon that his city is taken on every side;
32 the fords have been 65seized, the marshes are burned with fire, and the soldiers are in panic.
33 For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: 66The daughter of Babylon is like 67a threshing floor at the time when it is trodden; yet a little while and 68the time of her harvest will come."
34 "Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon 69has devoured me; he has crushed me; he has made me an empty vessel; 70he has swallowed me like 71a monster; he has filled his stomach with my delicacies; he has rinsed me out.[d]
35 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.
36 Therefore thus says the LORD: "Behold, 72I will plead your cause and take vengeance for you. 73I will dry up her sea and 74make her fountain dry,
37 and Babylon shall become 75a heap of ruins, 76the haunt of jackals, 77a horror 78and a hissing, without inhabitant.
38 79"They shall roar together 80like lions; they shall growl like lions' cubs.
39 81While they are inflamed 82I will prepare them a feast and 83make them drunk, that they may become merry, 84then sleep a perpetual sleep and not wake, declares the LORD.
40 I will bring them down like lambs to the slaughter, like rams and male goats.
41 "How 85Babylon[e] is taken, 86the praise of the whole earth 87seized! How Babylon has become a horror among the nations!
42 88The sea has come up on Babylon; she is covered with its tumultuous waves.
43 Her cities have become a horror, 89a land of drought and a desert, 90a land in which no one dwells, and through which no son of man passes.
44 And I will punish 91Bel in Babylon, and 92take out of his mouth 93what he has swallowed. 94The nations shall no longer flow to him; 95the wall of Babylon has fallen.
45 "Go out of the midst of her, 96my people! Let every one save his life from 97the fierce anger of the LORD!
46 Let not your heart faint, and be not fearful 98at the report heard in the land, 99when a report comes in one year and afterward a report in another year, and violence is in the land, 100and ruler is against ruler.
47 "Therefore, behold, the days are coming when 101I will punish the images of Babylon; 102her whole land shall be put to shame, and all her slain shall fall in the midst of her.
48 103Then the heavens and the earth, and all that is in them, shall sing for joy over Babylon, 104for the destroyers shall come against them out of the north, declares the LORD.
49 Babylon must fall for the slain of Israel, 105just as for Babylon have fallen the slain of all the earth.
50 106"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:
51 107'We are put to shame, for we have heard reproach; 108dishonor has covered our face, 109for foreigners have come into the holy places of the LORD's house.'
52 "Therefore, behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when 110I will execute judgment upon her images, 111and through all her land the wounded shall groan.
53 Though Babylon should 112mount up to heaven, and though she should 113fortify her strong height, yet destroyers would come from me against her, declares the LORD.
54 114"A voice! A cry from Babylon! The noise of great destruction from the land of the Chaldeans!
55 For the LORD is laying Babylon waste and stilling her mighty voice. 115Their waves roar like many waters; the noise of their voice is raised,
56 for a destroyer has come upon her, upon Babylon; her warriors are taken; their bows are broken in pieces, 116for the LORD is a God of recompense; he will surely repay.
57 117I will make drunk her officials and her wise men, 118her governors, her commanders, and her warriors; they shall sleep a perpetual sleep and not wake, declares 119the King, whose name is the LORD of hosts.
58 "Thus says the LORD of hosts: The broad 120wall of Babylon shall be leveled to the ground, 121and her high gates shall be burned with fire. 122The peoples labor for nothing, and 123the nations weary themselves only for fire."
59 The word that Jeremiah the prophet commanded Seraiah 124the son of Neriah, son of Mahseiah, when he went with Zedekiah king of Judah to Babylon, 125in the fourth year of his reign. Seraiah was the quartermaster.
60 126Jeremiah wrote in a book all the disaster that should come upon Babylon, 127all these words that are written concerning Babylon.
61 And Jeremiah said to Seraiah: "When you come to Babylon, see that you read all these words,
62 and say, 'O LORD, you have said concerning this place that you will cut it off, so 128that nothing shall dwell in it, neither man nor beast, and it shall be 129desolate forever.'
63 When you finish reading this book, tie a stone to it 130and cast it into the midst of the Euphrates,
64 and say, 131'Thus shall Babylon sink, to rise no more, because of the disaster that I am bringing upon her, 132and they shall become exhausted.'"Thus far are the words of Jeremiah.

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.

Cross References 132

Footnotes 5

  • [a]. A code name for Chaldea
  • [b]. That is, set apart (devote) as an offering to the Lord (for destruction)
  • [c]. Hebrew their land
  • [d]. Or he has expelled me
  • [e]. Hebrew Sheshach, a code name for Babylon

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

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.