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Jeremiah 51 New English Translation (NET Bible)

51 The Lord says:
“I will cause a destructive wind[a] to blow
against[b] Babylon and the people who inhabit Babylonia.[c]
I will send people to winnow Babylonia like a wind blowing away chaff.[d]
They will winnow her and strip her land bare.[e]
This will happen when[f] they come against her from every direction,
when it is time to destroy her.[g]
Do not give her archers time to string their bows
or to put on their coats of armor.[h]
Do not spare any of her young men.
Completely destroy[i] her whole army.
Let them fall[j] slain in the land of Babylonia,[k]
mortally wounded in the streets of her cities.[l]
“For Israel and Judah will not be forsaken[m]

by their God, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.[n]
For the land of Babylonia is[o] full of guilt
against the Holy One of Israel.[p]
Get out of Babylonia quickly, you foreign people.[q]
Flee to save your lives.
Do not let yourselves be killed because of her sins,
for it is time for the Lord to wreak his revenge.
He will pay Babylonia[r] back for what she has done.[s]
Babylonia had been a gold cup in the Lord’s hand;
she had made the whole world drunk.
The nations had drunk from the wine of her wrath,[t]
so they have all gone mad.[u]
But suddenly Babylonia will fall and be destroyed.[v]
Cry out in mourning over it!
Get medicine for her wounds;
perhaps she can be healed!
Foreigners living there will say,[w]
‘We tried to heal her, but she could not be healed.
Let’s leave Babylonia[x] and each go back to his own country.
For judgment on her will be vast in its proportions.
It will be like it is piled up to heaven, stacked up into the clouds.’[y]
10 The exiles from Judah will say,[z]
‘The Lord has brought about a great deliverance for us![aa]
Come on, let’s go and proclaim in Zion
what the Lord our God has done!’
11 “Sharpen[ab] your arrows!

Fill your quivers![ac]
The Lord will arouse a spirit of hostility in[ad] the kings of Media,[ae]
for he intends to destroy Babylonia.
For that is how the Lord will get his revenge—
how he will get his revenge for the Babylonians’ destruction of his temple.[af]
12 Give the signal to attack Babylon’s wall![ag]
Bring more guards;[ah]
post them all around the city.[ai]
Put men in ambush,[aj]
for the Lord will do what he has planned.
He will do what he said he would do to the people of Babylon.[ak]
13 “You who live along the rivers of Babylon,[al]

the time of your end has come.
You who are rich in plundered treasure,
it is time for your lives to be cut off.[am]
14 The Lord of Heaven’s Armies[an] has solemnly sworn,[ao]
‘I will fill your land with enemy soldiers.
They will swarm over it like locusts.[ap]
They will raise up shouts of victory over it.’
15 He is the one who[aq] by his power made the earth.
He is the one who by his wisdom fixed the world in place,
by his understanding he spread out the heavens.
16 When his voice thunders, the waters in the heavens roar.
He makes the clouds rise from the far-off horizons;
he makes the lightning flash out in the midst of the rain.
He unleashes the wind from the places where he stores it;
17 all idolaters will prove to be stupid and ignorant.
Every goldsmith will be disgraced by the idol he made.
For the image he forges is merely a sham;
there is no breath in any of those idols.
18 They are worthless, objects to be ridiculed.
When the time comes to punish them, they will be destroyed.
19 The Lord, who is the portion of the descendants of Jacob, is not like them.
For he is the one who created everything,
including the people of Israel whom he claims as his own.[ar]
His name is the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.[as]
20 “Babylon,[at] you are my war club,[au]

my weapon for battle.
I used you to smash nations.[av]
I used you to destroy kingdoms.
21 I used you to smash horses and their riders.[aw]
I used you to smash chariots and their drivers.
22 I used you to smash men and women.
I used you to smash old men and young men.
I used you to smash young men and young women.
23 I used you to smash shepherds and their flocks.
I used you to smash farmers and their teams of oxen.
I used you to smash governors and leaders.”[ax]
24 “But I will repay Babylon

and all who live in Babylonia
for all the wicked things they did in Zion
right before the eyes of you Judeans,”[ay]
says the Lord.[az]
25 The Lord says,[ba] “Beware! I am opposed to you, Babylon![bb]
You are like a destructive mountain that destroys all the earth.
I will unleash my power against you;[bc]
I will roll you off the cliffs and make you like a burned-out mountain.[bd]
26 No one will use any of your stones as a cornerstone;
no one will use any of them in the foundation of his house.
For you will lie desolate forever,”[be]
says the Lord.[bf]
27 “Raise up battle flags throughout the lands.
Sound the trumpets calling the nations to do battle.
Prepare the nations to do battle against Babylonia.[bg]
Call for these kingdoms to attack her:
Ararat, Minni, and Ashkenaz.[bh]
Appoint a commander to lead the attack.[bi]
Send horses[bj] against her like a swarm of locusts.[bk]
28 Prepare the nations to do battle against her.[bl]
Prepare the kings of the Medes.
Prepare their governors and all their leaders.[bm]
Prepare all the countries they rule to do battle against her.[bn]
29 The earth will tremble and writhe in agony;[bo]
for the Lord will carry out his plan.
He plans to make the land of Babylonia[bp]
a wasteland where no one lives.[bq]
30 The soldiers of Babylonia will stop fighting.
They will remain in their fortified cities.
They will lose their strength to do battle.[br]
They will be as frightened as women.[bs]
The houses in her cities will be set on fire.
The gates of her cities will be broken down.[bt]
31 One runner after another will come to the king of Babylon;
one messenger after another will come bringing news.[bu]
They will bring news to the king of Babylon
that his whole city has been captured.[bv]
32 They will report that the fords have been captured,
the reed marshes have been burned,
the soldiers are terrified.[bw]
33 For the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says,
‘Fair Babylon[bx] will be like a threshing floor
that has been trampled flat for harvest.
The time for her to be cut down and harvested
will come very soon.’[by]
34 “King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon

devoured me and drove my people out.
Like a monster from the deep he swallowed me.
He filled his belly with my riches;
he made me an empty dish.
He completely cleaned me out.”[bz]
35 The person who lives in Zion says,
“May Babylon pay for the violence done to me and to my relatives.”
Jerusalem says,
“May those living in Babylonia pay for the bloodshed of my people.”[ca]
36 Therefore the Lord says,
“I will stand up for your cause.
I will pay the Babylonians back for what they have done to you.[cb]
I will dry up their sea;
I will make their springs run dry.[cc]
37 Babylon will become a heap of ruins.
Jackals will make their home there.[cd]
It will become an object of horror and of hissing scorn,
a place where no one lives.[ce]
38 The Babylonians are all like lions roaring for prey;
they are like lion cubs growling for something to eat.[cf]
39 When their appetites are all stirred up,[cg]
I will set out a banquet for them.
I will make them drunk
so that they will pass out,[ch]
they will fall asleep forever,
they will never wake up,”[ci]
says the Lord.[cj]
40 “I will lead them off to be slaughtered
like lambs, rams, and male goats.[ck]
41 “See how Babylon[cl] has been captured!

See how the pride of the whole earth has been taken!
See what an object of horror
Babylon has become among the nations![cm]
42 The sea has swept over Babylon.
She has been covered by a multitude[cn] of its waves.[co]
43 The towns of Babylonia have become heaps of ruins.
She has become a dry and barren desert.[cp]
No one lives in those towns any more;
no one even passes through them.[cq]
44 I will punish the god Bel in Babylon.
I will make him spit out what he has swallowed.
The nations will not come streaming to him any longer.
Indeed, the walls of Babylon will fall.[cr]
45 “Get out of Babylon, my people!

Flee to save your lives
from the fierce anger of the Lord![cs]
46 Do not lose your courage or become afraid
because of the reports that are heard in the land.
For a report will come in one year.
Another report will follow it in the next.
There will be violence in the land
with ruler fighting against ruler.
47 “So the time will certainly come[ct]

when I will punish the idols of Babylon.
Her whole land will be put to shame.
All her mortally wounded will collapse in her midst.[cu]
48 Then heaven and earth and all that is in them
will sing for joy over Babylon.
For destroyers from the north will attack it,”
says the Lord.[cv]
49 “Babylon must fall[cw]
because of the Israelites she has killed,[cx]
just as the earth’s mortally wounded fell
because of Babylon.[cy]
50 You who have escaped the sword,[cz]
go, do not delay.[da]
Remember the Lord in a faraway land.
Think about Jerusalem.[db]
51 ‘We[dc] are ashamed because we have been insulted.[dd]
Our faces show our disgrace.[de]
For foreigners have invaded
the holy rooms[df] in the Lord’s temple.’
52 Yes, but the time will certainly come,”[dg] says the Lord,[dh]
“when I will punish her idols.
Throughout her land the mortally wounded will groan.
53 Even if Babylon climbs high into the sky[di]
and fortifies her elevated stronghold,[dj]
I will send destroyers against her,”[dk]
says the Lord.[dl]
54 Cries of anguish will come from Babylon,

the sound of great destruction from the land of the Babylonians.
55 For the Lord is ready to destroy Babylon,
and put an end to her loud noise.
Their waves[dm] will roar like turbulent[dn] waters.
They will make a deafening noise.[do]
56 For a destroyer is attacking Babylon.[dp]
Her warriors will be captured;
their bows will be broken.[dq]
For the Lord is a God who punishes;[dr]
he pays back in full.[ds]
57 “I will make her officials and wise men drunk,
along with her governors, leaders,[dt] and warriors.
They will fall asleep forever and never wake up,”[du]
says the King whose name is the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.[dv]

58 This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies[dw] says,

“Babylon’s thick wall[dx] will be completely demolished.[dy]
Her high gates will be set on fire.
The peoples strive for what does not satisfy.[dz]
The nations grow weary trying to get what will be destroyed.”[ea]

59 This is the order Jeremiah the prophet gave to Seraiah son of Neriah, son of Mahseiah, when he went to King Zedekiah of Judah in Babylon during the fourth year of his reign.[eb] (Seraiah was a quartermaster.)[ec] 60 Jeremiah recorded[ed] on one scroll all the judgments[ee] that would come upon Babylon—all these prophecies[ef] written about Babylon. 61 Then Jeremiah said to Seraiah, “When you arrive in Babylon, make sure[eg] you read aloud all these prophecies.[eh] 62 Then say, ‘O Lord, you have announced that you will destroy this place so that no people or animals live in it any longer. Certainly it will lie desolate forever!’ 63 When you finish reading this scroll aloud, tie a stone to it and throw it into the middle of the Euphrates River.[ei] 64 Then say, ‘In the same way Babylon will sink and never rise again because of the disaster I am ready to bring upon her; they will grow faint.’”

The prophecies of Jeremiah end here.[ej]


  1. Jeremiah 51:1 sn The destructive wind is a figurative reference to the “foreign people” who will “winnow” Babylon and drive out all the people (v. 2). This figure has already been used in 4:11-12 and in 49:36. See the study note on 4:11-12 and the translator’s notes on 22:22 and 49:36.
  2. Jeremiah 51:1 tn Or “I will arouse the spirit of hostility of a destroying nation”; Heb “I will stir up against Babylon…a destroying wind [or the spirit of a destroyer].” The word רוּחַ (ruakh) can refer to either a wind (BDB 924 s.v. רוּחַ 2.a) or a spirit (BDB 925 s.v. רוּחַ 2.g). It can be construed as either a noun followed by an adjectival participle (so, “a destroying wind”) or a noun followed by another noun in the “of” relationship (a construct or genitival relationship; so, “spirit of a destroyer”). The same noun with this same verb is translated “stir up the spirit of” in 1 Chr 5:26; 2 Chr 21:16; 36:22; Hag 1:14; and most importantly in Jer 51:11, where it refers to the king of the Medes. However, the majority of the exegetical tradition (all the commentaries consulted and all the English versions except NASB and NIV) opt for the “destructive wind,” primarily because of the figure of winnowing that is found in the next verse. The translation follows the main line exegetical tradition here for that same reason.
  3. Jeremiah 51:1 sn Heb “the people who live in Leb Qamai.” “Leb Qamai” is a code name for “Chaldeans” formed on the principle of substituting the last letter of the alphabet for the first, the next to the last for the second, and so on. This same principle is used in referring to Babylon in 25:26 and 51:41 as “Sheshach.” See the study note on 25:26, where further details are given. There is no consensus on why the code name is used. The terms Babylon and Chaldeans (= Babylonians) have appeared regularly in this prophecy or collection of prophecies.
  4. Jeremiah 51:2 tn Or “I will send foreign people against Babylonia.” The translation follows the reading of the Greek recensions of Aquila and Symmachus and the Latin version (the Vulgate). That reading is accepted by the majority of modern commentaries and several of the modern versions (e.g., NRSV, REB, NAB, and God’s Word). It fits better with the verb that follows it than the reading of the Hebrew text and the rest of the versions. The difference in the two readings is again only the difference in vocalization, the Hebrew text reading זָרִים (zarim) and the versions cited reading זֹרִים (zorim). If the Hebrew text is followed, there is a wordplay between the two words, “foreigners” and “winnow.” The words “like a wind blowing away chaff” have been supplied in the translation to clarify for the reader what “winnow” means.sn Winnowing involved throwing a mixture of grain and chaff (or straw) into the air and letting the wind blow away the lighter chaff, leaving the grain to fall on the ground. Since God considered all the Babylonians chaff, they would all be “blown away.”
  5. Jeremiah 51:2 tn Or “They will strip her land bare like a wind blowing away chaff.” The alternate translation would be necessary if one were to adopt the alternate reading of the first line (the reading of the Hebrew text). The explanation of “winnow” would then be necessary in the second line. The verb translated “strip…bare” means literally “to empty out” (see BDB 132 s.v. בָּקַק Polel). It has been used in 19:7 in the Qal of “making void” Judah’s plans in a wordplay on the word for “bottle.” See the study note on 19:7 for further details.
  6. Jeremiah 51:2 tn This assumes that the particle כִּי (ki) is temporal (cf. BDB 473 s.v. כִּי 2.a). This is the interpretation adopted also by NRSV and G. L. Keown, P. J. Scalise, T. G. Smothers, Jeremiah 26-52 (WBC), 349. J. Bright (Jeremiah [AB], 345) and J. A. Thompson (Jeremiah [NICOT], 747, n. 3) interpret it as asseverative or emphatic: “Truly, indeed.” Many of the modern English versions merely ignore it. Reading it as temporal makes it unnecessary to emend the following verb as Bright and Thompson do (from הָיוּ [hayu] to יִהְיוּ [yihyu]).
  7. Jeremiah 51:2 tn Heb “in the day of disaster.”
  8. Jeremiah 51:3 tc The text and consequent meaning of these first two lines are uncertain. The Masoretic reads literally, “Against let him string. Let him string, the one who strings his bow, and against let him raise himself up in his coat of armor.” This makes absolutely no sense, and the ancient versions and Hebrew mss did not agree in reading this same text. Many Hebrew mss and all the versions, as well as the Masoretes themselves (the text is left unpointed with a marginal note not to read it), delete the second “let him string.” The LXX (or Greek version) left out the words “against” at the beginning of the first two lines. It reads, “Let the archer bend his bow, and let the one who has armor put it on.” The Lucianic recension of the LXX and some Targum mss supplied the missing object “it” and thus read, “Let the archer ready his bow against it, and let him array himself against it in his coat of mail.” This makes good sense but does not answer the question of why the Hebrew text left off the suffix on the preposition twice in a row. Many Hebrew mss and the Syriac, Targum, and Vulgate (the Latin version) change the pointing of “against” (אֶל [ʾel]) to “not” (אַל [ʾal]) and thus read, “Let the archer not string the bow, and let him not array himself in his armor.” However, many commentators feel that this does not fit the context because it would apparently be addressed to the Babylonians, not the enemy, which would create a sudden shift in addressee with the second half of the verse. However, if it is understood in the sense taken here, it refers to the enemy not allowing the Babylonian archers to get ready for the battle, i.e., a surprise attack. This sense is suggested as an alternative in J. Bright, Jeremiah (AB), 346, n. u-u, and J. A. Thompson, Jeremiah (NICOT), 747, n. 5, and is the interpretation adopted in TEV, and probably also in NIrV.
  9. Jeremiah 51:3 sn For the concept underlying this word, see the study note on “utterly destroy” in Jer 25:9 and compare the usage in 50:21, 26.
  10. Jeremiah 51:4 tn The majority of English versions and the commentaries understand the vav (ו) consecutive + perfect as a future here: “They will fall.” However, it makes better sense, in the light of the commands in the previous verse, to understand this as an indirect third person command (= a jussive; see GKC 333 §112.q, r), as REB and NJPS do.
  11. Jeremiah 51:4 tn Heb “the land of the Chaldeans.” See the study note on 21:4 for explanation.
  12. Jeremiah 51:4 tn The words “cities” is not in the text. The text merely says “in her streets,” but the antecedent is “land” and must then refer to the streets of the cities in the land.
  13. Jeremiah 51:5 tn Heb “widowed” (cf. BDB 48 s.v. אַלְמָן, an adjective occurring only here but related to the common word for “widow”). It is commonly translated as has been done here.sn The verses from v. 5 to v. 19 all speak of the Lord in the third person. The prophet, who is the spokesman for the Lord, (50:1) thus is speaking. However, the message is still from God because this was all what he spoke “through the prophet Jeremiah.”
  14. Jeremiah 51:5 tn Heb “Yahweh of Armies.” For an explanation of this rendering see the study note on 2:19.
  15. Jeremiah 51:5 tn Or “all, though their land was…” The majority of the modern English versions think the land here refers to the land of Israel and Judah (the text reads “their land,” and Israel and Judah are the nearest antecedents). In this case, the particle כִּי (ki) is concessive (cf. BDB 473 s.v. כִּי 2.c[b]). Many of the modern commentaries understand the referent to be the land of the Chaldeans/Babylonians. However, most of them feel that the line is connected as a causal statement to 51:2-4 and see the line as either textually or logically out of place. However, it need not be seen that way. It is parallel to the preceding and gives a second reason why they are to be destroyed. It also forms an excellent transition to the next lines, where the exiles and other foreigners are urged to flee and not get caught up in the destruction that is coming “because of her sin.” It might be helpful to note that both the adjective “widowed” and the suffix on “their God” are masculine singular, looking at Israel and Judah as one entity. The “their” then goes back not to Israel and Judah of the preceding lines but to the “them” in v. 4. This makes for a better connection with the following and understands the particle כִּי in its dominant usage, not an extremely rare one (see the comment in BDB 473 s.v. כִּי 2.c[b]). This interpretation is also reflected in RSV.
  16. Jeremiah 51:5 sn See the note on the phrase “the Holy One of Israel” in 50:29.
  17. Jeremiah 51:6 tn The words “you foreign people” are not in the text, and many think the referent is the exiles of Judah. While this is clearly the case in v. 45, the referent seems broader here, where the context speaks of every man going to his own country (v. 9).
  18. Jeremiah 51:6 tn Heb “her.”
  19. Jeremiah 51:6 tn Heb “paying to her a recompense [i.e., a payment in kind].”
  20. Jeremiah 51:7 tn The words “of her wrath” are not in the Hebrew text but are supplied in the translation to help readers who are not familiar with the figure of the “cup of the Lord’s wrath.”sn The figure of the cup of the Lord’s wrath, invoked in Jer 25:15-29, is invoked again here, and Babylon is identified as the agent through which the wrath of the Lord is visited on the other nations. See the study note on 25:15 for explanation and further references.
  21. Jeremiah 51:7 tn Heb “Upon the grounds of such conditions the nations have gone mad.”
  22. Jeremiah 51:8 tn The verbs in this verse and the following are all in the Hebrew perfect tense, a tense often referring to a past action, or a past action with present results. However, as the translator’s notes have indicated, the prophets use this tense to view actions as if they were as good as done (the Hebrew prophetic perfect). The stance here is ideal, viewed as already accomplished.
  23. Jeremiah 51:9 tn The words “Foreigners living there will say” are not in the text but are implicit from the third line. These words are generally assumed by the commentaries and are explicitly added in TEV and NCV, which are attempting to clarify the text for the average reader.
  24. Jeremiah 51:9 tn Heb “Leave/abandon her.” However, it is smoother in the English translation to make this verb equivalent to the cohortative that follows.
  25. Jeremiah 51:9 tn This is an admittedly very paraphrastic translation that tries to make the figurative nuance of the Hebrew original understandable for the average reader. The Hebrew text reads, “For her judgment [or punishment (cf. BDB 1078 s.v. מִשְׁפָּט 1.f) = ‘execution of judgment’] touches the heavens and is lifted up as far as the clouds.” The figure of hyperbole, or exaggeration, is being used here to indicate the vastness of Babylon’s punishment, which is the reason to escape (vv. 6, 9c). For this figure see Deut 1:28 in comparison with Num 13:28, and see also Deut 9:1. In both of the passages in Deut it refers to an exaggeration about the height of the walls of fortified cities. The figure also may be a play on Gen 11:4, where the nations gather in Babylon to build a tower that reaches to the skies. The present translation has interpreted the perfects here as prophetic, because the punishment has not happened yet or they would not be encouraging one another to leave and escape. For the idea here compare 50:16.
  26. Jeremiah 51:10 tn The words “The exiles from Judah will say” are not in the text but are implicit from the words that follow. They are supplied in the translation to clearly identify for the reader the referent of “us.”
  27. Jeremiah 51:10 tn There is some difference of opinion as to the best way to render the Hebrew expression here. Literally it means “brought forth our righteousnesses.” BDB 842 s.v. צְדָקָה 7.b interprets this of the “righteous acts” of the people of Judah and compares the usage in Isa 64:6; Ezek 3:20; 18:24; 33:13. However, Judah’s acts of righteousness (or more simply, their righteousness) were scarcely revealed in their deliverance. Most of the English versions and commentaries refer to “vindication,” i.e., the Lord has exonerated or proven Israel’s claims to be true. However, that would require more explanation than the idea of “deliverance,” which is a perfectly legitimate usage of the term (cf. BDB 842 s.v. צְדָקָה 6.a, and compare the usage in Isa 46:13; 51:6, 8; 56:1). The present translation interprets the plural form here as a plural of intensity or amplification (GKC 397-98 §124.e), and the suffix as a genitive of advantage (IBHS 147 §9.5.2e). This interpretation is also reflected in REB and God’s Word.
  28. Jeremiah 51:11 sn The imperatives here and in v. 12 are directed to the soldiers in the armies of the kings from the north (here identified as the kings of Media [see also 50:3, 9; 51:27-28]). They have often been addressed in this prophecy as though they were a present force (see 50:14-16; 50:21 [and the study note there]; 50:26, 29; 51:3), though the passage as a whole is prophetic of the future. This gives some idea of the ideal stance that the prophets adopted when they spoke of the future as though already past (the use of the Hebrew prophetic perfect which has been referred to often in the translator’s notes).
  29. Jeremiah 51:11 tn The meaning of this word is debated. The most thorough discussion of this word, including etymology and usage in the OT and Qumran, is in HALOT 1409-10 s.v. שֶׁלֶט, where the rendering “quiver” is accepted for all the uses of this word in the OT. For a discussion more readily accessible to English readers, see W. L. Holladay, Jeremiah (Hermeneia), 2:422-23. The meaning “quiver” fits better with the verb “fill” than the meaning “shield” that is adopted in BDB 1020 s.v. שֶׁלֶט. “Quiver” is the meaning adopted also in NRSV, REB, NAB, and NJPS.
  30. Jeremiah 51:11 tn Heb “The Lord has stirred up the spirit of…” The verb is rendered here as a prophetic perfect. The rendering “arouse a spirit of hostility” is an attempt to render some meaning to the phrase and not simply ignore the word “spirit,” as many of the modern English versions do. For a fuller discussion, including cross references, see the translator’s note on v. 1.
  31. Jeremiah 51:11 sn Media was a country in what is now northwestern Iran. At the time this prophecy was probably written, they were the dominating force in the northern region, the most likely enemy to Babylon. By the time Babylon fell in 538 b.c., the Medes had been conquered and incorporated in the Persian empire by Cyrus. However, several times in the Bible this entity is known under the combined entity of Media and Persia (Esth 1:3, 4, 18, 19; 10:2; Dan 5:28; 6:8, 12, 15; 8:20). Dan 5:31 credits the capture of Babylon to Darius the Mede, which may have been either another name for Cyrus or the name by which Daniel refers to a Median general named Gobryas.
  32. Jeremiah 51:11 tn Heb “For it is the vengeance of the Lord, vengeance for his temple.” As in the parallel passage in 50:28, the genitival construction has been expanded in the translation to clarify for the English reader what the commentaries in general agree is involved.sn Verse 11c-f appears to be a parenthetical or editorial comment by Jeremiah to give some background for the attack that is summoned in vv. 11-12.
  33. Jeremiah 51:12 tn Heb “Raise a banner against the walls of Babylon.”
  34. Jeremiah 51:12 tn Heb “Strengthen the watch.”
  35. Jeremiah 51:12 tn Heb “Station the guards.”
  36. Jeremiah 51:12 tn Heb “Prepare ambushes.”sn Commands are addressed to the kings of the Medes to fully blockade the city by posting watchmen and setting soldiers in ambush to stop people from escaping the city (cf. 2 Kgs 25:4).
  37. Jeremiah 51:12 tn Heb “For the Lord has both planned and done what he said concerning the people living in Babylon,” i.e., “he has carried out what he planned.” Here is an obvious case where the perfects are to be interpreted as prophetic; the commands imply that the attack is still future.
  38. Jeremiah 51:13 sn Babylon was situated on the Euphrates River and surrounded by canals (also called “rivers”).
  39. Jeremiah 51:13 tn Heb “You who live upon [or beside] many waters, rich in treasures, your end has come, the cubit of your cutting off.” The sentence has been restructured and paraphrased to provide clarity for the average reader. The meaning of the last phrase is debated. For a discussion of the two options see W. L. Holladay, Jeremiah (Hermeneia), 2:423. Most modern commentaries and English versions see an allusion to the figure in Isa 38:12, where the end of life is compared to a tapestry suddenly cut off from the loom. Hence, NRSV renders the last line as “the thread of your life is cut,” and TEV translates, “its thread of life is cut.” That idea is accepted also in HALOT 141 s.v. בצע Qal.1.
  40. Jeremiah 51:14 tn Heb “Yahweh of Armies.” For an explanation of this rendering see the study note on 2:19.
  41. Jeremiah 51:14 tn Heb “has sworn by himself.” See the study note on 22:5 for background.
  42. Jeremiah 51:14 tn Heb “I will fill you with men like locusts.” The “you” refers to Babylon (Babylon is both the city and the land it ruled, Babylonia), which has been alluded to in the preceding verses under descriptive titles. The words “your land” have been used because of the way the preceding verse has been rendered, indicating people rather than the land or city. The “men” are, of course, enemy soldiers, compared to locusts both for their quantity and their destructiveness (see Joel 1:4). For the use of the particles כִּי אִם (ki ʾim) to introduce an oath, see BDB 475 s.v. כִּי אִם 2.c, and compare usage in 2 Kgs 5:20; one would normally expect אִם לֹא (cf. BDB 50 s.v. אִם 1.b[2]).
  43. Jeremiah 51:15 tn The Hebrew participle here is intended to be connected with “Lord who rules over all” in the preceding verse. The passage is functioning to underline the Lord’s power to carry out what he has sworn, in contrast to the impotence of their idols, who will be put to shame and be dismayed (50:2).
  44. Jeremiah 51:19 tn Heb “For he is the former of all [things] and the tribe of his inheritance.” This is the major exception to the verbatim repetition of 10:12-16 in 51:15-19. The word “Israel” appears before “the tribe of his inheritance” in 10:16. It is also found in a number of Hebrew mss, in the Lucianic recension of the LXX (the Greek version), the Aramaic Targums, and the Latin Vulgate. Most English versions and many commentaries assume it here. However, it is easier to explain why the word is added in a few of the versions and some Hebrew than to explain why it was left out. It is probable that the word is not original here because the addressees are different and the function of this hymnic piece is slightly different (see the study note on the next line for details). Here it makes good sense to understand that the Lord is being called the creator of the special tribe of people he claims as his own property (see the study note on the first line of 10:16).
  45. Jeremiah 51:19 sn With the major exception discussed in the translator’s note on the preceding line, vv. 15-19 are a verbatim repetition of 10:12-16, with a few minor variations in spelling. There the passage was at the end of a section in which the Lord was addressing the Judeans and trying to convince them that the worship of idols was vain—the idols were impotent, but he is all powerful. Here the passage follows a solemn oath by the Lord who rules over all and is apparently directed to the Babylonians, emphasizing the power of the Lord to carry out his oath.
  46. Jeremiah 51:20 tn Or “Media.” The referent is not identified in the text; the text merely says, “You are my war club.” Commentators in general identify the referent as Babylon because Babylon has been referred to as a hammer in 50:23, and Babylon is referred to in v. 25 as a “destroying mountain” (compare v. 20d). However, S. R. Driver, Jeremiah, 317, n. c maintains that v. 24 speaks against this. It does seem a little inconsistent to render the vav consecutive perfect at the beginning of v. 24 as future while rendering those in vv. 20b-23 as customary past. However, change in person from second masculine singular (vv. 20b-23) to the second masculine plural in “before your very eyes,” and its position at the end of the verse after “which they did in Zion,” argue that a change in address occurs there. Driver has to ignore the change in person and take “before your eyes” with the verb “repay” at the beginning to maintain the kind of consistency he seeks. The vav (ו) consecutive imperfect can be used for either the customary past (GKC 335-36 §112.dd, with cross reference back to GKC 331-32 §112.e) or the future (GKC 334 §112.x). Hence the present translation has followed the majority of commentaries (and English versions like TEV, NCV, CEV, NIrV) in understanding the referent as Babylon and v. 24 as a transition to vv. 25-26 (cf., e.g., J. Bright, Jeremiah [AB], 356-57, and J. A. Thompson, Jeremiah [NICOT], 756-57). If the referent is understood as Media, then the verbs in vv. 20-23 should all be translated as futures. See also the translator’s note on v. 24.
  47. Jeremiah 51:20 tn This Hebrew word (מַפֵּץ, mappets) only occurs here in the Hebrew Bible, but its meaning is assured from the use of the verbs that follow, which are from the same root (נָפַץ, nafats), and there is a cognate noun מַפָּץ (mappats) that occurs in Ezek 9:2 in the sense of weapon of “smashing.”
  48. Jeremiah 51:20 tn Heb “I smash nations with you.” This same structure is repeated throughout the series in vv. 20c-23.
  49. Jeremiah 51:21 tn Heb “horse and its rider.” However, the terms are meant as generic or collective singulars (cf. GKC 395 §123.b) and are thus translated by the plural. The same thing is true of all the terms in vv. 21-23b. The terms in vv. 20c-d, 23c are plural.
  50. Jeremiah 51:23 tn These two words are Akkadian loan words into Hebrew that often occur in this pairing (cf. Ezek 23:6, 12, 23; Jer 51:23, 28, 57). BDB 688 s.v. סָגָן (sagan) gives “prefect, ruler” as the basic definition for the second term, but neither works very well in a modern translation because “prefect” would be unknown to most readers, and “ruler” would suggest someone along the lines of a king, which these officials were not. The present translation has chosen “leaders” by default, assuming there is no other term that would be any more appropriate in light of the defects noted in “prefect” and “ruler.”
  51. Jeremiah 51:24 tn Or “Media, you are my war club…I will use you to smash…leaders. So before your very eyes I will repay…for all the wicked things they did in Zion.” For explanation see the translator’s note on v. 20. The position of the phrase “before your eyes” at the end of the verse after “which they did in Zion,” and the change in person from second masculine singular in vv. 20b-23 (“I used you to smite”) to second masculine plural in “before your eyes,” argue that a change in referent/addressee occurs in this verse. To maintain that the referent in vv. 20-23 is Media/Cyrus requires that this position and change in person be ignored; “before your eyes” then is attached to “I will repay.” The present translation follows J. A. Thompson (Jeremiah [NICOT], 757) and F. B. Huey (Jeremiah, Lamentations [NAC], 423) in seeing the referent as the Judeans who had witnessed the destruction of Zion/Jerusalem. The word “Judean” has been supplied for the sake of identifying the referent for the modern reader.
  52. Jeremiah 51:24 tn Heb “Oracle of the Lord.”
  53. Jeremiah 51:25 tn Heb “Oracle of the Lord.”
  54. Jeremiah 51:25 tn The word “Babylon” is not in the text but is universally understood as the referent. It is supplied in the translation here to clarify the referent for the sake of the average reader.
  55. Jeremiah 51:25 tn Heb “I will reach out my hand against you.” See the translator’s note on 6:12 for explanation.
  56. Jeremiah 51:25 tn Heb “I am against you, oh destroying mountain that destroys all the earth. I will reach out my hand against you and roll you down from the cliffs and make you a mountain of burning.” The interpretation adopted here follows the lines suggested by S. R. Driver, Jeremiah, 318, n. c and reflected also in BDB 977 s.v. שְׂרֵפָה. Babylon is addressed as a destructive mountain because it is being compared to a volcano. The Lord, however, will make it a “burned-out mountain,” i.e., an extinct volcano that is barren and desolate. This interpretation seems, to this translator, to fit the details of the text more consistently than alternative ones, which separate the concept of “destroying/destructive” from “mountain,” explain the figure of the mountain as symbolizing the dominating political position of Babylon, and take the “mountain of burning” to be a “burned [or burned over] mountain.” The use of similes in place of metaphors makes it easier for the modern reader to understand the figures. It also more easily incorporates the dissonant figure of “rolling you down from the cliffs,” which involves the figure of personification.sn The figure here involves comparing Babylon to a destructive volcano that the Lord makes burned-out, i.e., he will destroy her power to destroy. The figure of personification is also involved because the Lord addresses the mountain and rolls her off the cliffs, an act normally inapplicable to a mountain.
  57. Jeremiah 51:26 tn This is a fairly literal translation of the original, which reads, “No one will take from you a stone for a cornerstone or a stone for foundations.” There is no unanimity in the commentaries, with many feeling that the figure of the burned mountain continues, and others feeling that the figure here shifts to a burned city whose stones are too burned to be used in building. The latter is the interpretation adopted here (see, e.g., F. B. Huey, Jeremiah, Lamentations [NAC], 423; W. L. Holladay, Jeremiah [Hermeneia], 2:426; NCV).sn The figure here shifts to that of a burned-up city whose stones cannot be used for building. Babylon will become a permanent heap of ruins.
  58. Jeremiah 51:26 tn Heb “Oracle of the Lord.”
  59. Jeremiah 51:27 tn Heb “Raise up a standard on the earth. Blow a ram’s horn among the nations. Consecrate nations against her.” According to BDB 651 s.v. נֵס 1, the raising of a standard was a signal of a war—a summons to assemble and attack (see usage in Isa 5:26; 13:2; Jer 51:12). The “blowing of the ram’s horn” was also a signal to rally behind a leader and join in an attack (see Judg 3:27; 6:34). For the meaning of “consecrate nations against her,” see the study note on 6:4. The usage of this phrase goes back to the concept of holy war, where soldiers had to be consecrated for battle by the offering of a sacrifice. The phrase has probably lost its ritual usage in later times and become idiomatic for making necessary preparations for war.
  60. Jeremiah 51:27 sn Ararat, Minni, and Ashkenaz were three kingdoms located in the Lake Van-Lake Urmia region that are now parts of eastern Turkey and northwestern Iran. These kingdoms were conquered and made vassal states by the Medes in the early sixth century. The Medes were the dominant country in this region from around 590 b.c. until they were conquered and incorporated into the Persian empire by Cyrus in 550 b.c.
  61. Jeremiah 51:27 tn The translation of this line is uncertain because it includes a word only occurring here and in Nah 3:17, where it is found in parallelism with a word used only once and likewise uncertain in meaning. The word here is probably related to the Akkadian word tupsharru, which refers to a scribe (Heb “a tablet writer”). The exact function of this official is disputed. KBL 356 s.v. טִפְסָר relates it to a “recruiting officer,” a sense which is reflected in NAB. The majority of modern English versions render “commander” or “marshal,” following the suggestion of BDB 381 s.v. טִפְסָר. G. L. Keown, P. J. Scalise, T. G. Smothers (Jeremiah 26-52 [WBC], 351) translate “recruiter (scribe)” but explain the function (on p. 371) as that of recording the plunder captured in war. The rendering here follows that of TEV and God’s Word and is the nuance suggested by the majority of modern English versions, who rendered “appoint a marshal/commander against it.”
  62. Jeremiah 51:27 sn This is probably a poetic or shorthand way of referring to the cavalry and chariotry where horse is put for “rider” and “driver.”
  63. Jeremiah 51:27 tn Heb “Bring up horses like bristly locusts.” The meaning of the Hebrew word “bristly” (סָמָר, samar) is uncertain because the word only occurs here. It is generally related to a verb meaning “to bristle” that occurs in Job 4:15 and Ps 119:120. Exactly what is meant by “bristly” in connection with “locust” is uncertain, though most relate it to a stage of the locust in which its wings are still encased in a rough, horny casing. J. A. Thompson (Jeremiah [NICOT], 759) adds that this is when the locust is very destructive. However, no other commentary mentions this. Therefore the present translation omits the word because it is of uncertain meaning and significance. For a fuller discussion of the way the word has been rendered, see W. L. Holladay, Jeremiah (Hermeneia), 2:427.
  64. Jeremiah 51:28 tn See the first translator’s note on 51:27 and compare also 6:4 and the study note there.
  65. Jeremiah 51:28 tn See the translator’s note at 51:23 for the rendering of the terms here.
  66. Jeremiah 51:28 tc The Hebrew text has a confusing switch of possessive pronouns in this verse: “Consecrate the nations against her, the kings of the Medes, her governors and prefects, and all the land of his dominion.” This has led to a number of different resolutions. The LXX (the Greek version) renders the word “kings” as singular and levels all the pronouns to “his,” paraphrasing the final clause and combining it with “king of the Medes” to read “and of all the earth.” The Latin Vulgate levels them all to the third masculine plural, and this is followed by the present translation, as well as a number of other modern English versions (NASB, NIV, NRSV, TEV, NCV). The ASV and NJPS understand the feminine to refer to Media, i.e., “her governors and all her prefects,” and understand the masculine in the last line to be a distributive singular referring back to the lands each of the governors and prefects ruled over. This is probably correct, but since governors and prefects refer to officials appointed over provinces and vassal states, it amounts to much the same interpretation that the Latin Vulgate, the present translation, and other modern English versions have given.
  67. Jeremiah 51:29 sn The figure here, common in the poetic tradition, is of the Lord going forth to do battle against his foes, and the earth’s reaction to it is compared to a person trembling with fear and writhing in agony, agony like that of a woman in labor (cf. Judg 5:4; Nah 1:2-5; Hab 3:1-15 [especially v. 6]).
  68. Jeremiah 51:29 tn Heb “For the plans of the Lord have been carried out to make the land of Babylon…” The passive has been turned into an active and the sentence broken up to better conform with contemporary English style. For the meaning of the verb קוּם (qum) in the sense used here, see BDB 878 s.v. קוּם 7.g and compare the usage in Prov 19:21 and Isa 46:10.
  69. Jeremiah 51:29 tn The verbs in this verse and v. 30 are all in the past tense in Hebrew, in the tense that views the action as already as good as done (the Hebrew prophetic perfect). The verb in v. 31a, however, is imperfect, viewing the action as future; the perfects that follow are all dependent on that future. Verse 33 looks forward to a time when Babylon will be harvested and trampled like grain on the threshing floor, and the imperatives imply a time in the future. Hence the present translation has rendered all the verbs in vv. 29-30 as future.
  70. Jeremiah 51:30 tn Heb “Their strength is dry.” This is a figurative nuance of the word “dry” that BDB 677 s.v. נָשַׁת Qal.1 explains as meaning “fails.” The idea of “strength to do battle” is implicit from the context and is supplied in the translation here for clarity.
  71. Jeremiah 51:30 tn Heb “They have become women.” The metaphor has been turned into a simile and the significance of the comparison drawn out for the sake of clarity. See 50:37 for the same figure.
  72. Jeremiah 51:30 tn Heb “Her dwelling places have been set on fire. Her bars [i.e., the bars on the gates of her cities] have been broken.” The present translation has substituted the word “gates” for “bars” because the intent of the figure is to show that the bars of the gates have been broken, giving access to the city. “Gates” makes it easier for the modern reader to understand the figure.
  73. Jeremiah 51:31 tn Heb “Runner will run to meet runner and…” The intent is to portray a relay of runners carrying the news that follows on in vv. 31d-33 to the king of Babylon. The present translation attempts to spell out the significance.
  74. Jeremiah 51:31 tn Heb “Runner will run to meet runner, and messenger to meet messenger, to report to the king of Babylon that his city has been taken in [its] entirety.” There is general agreement among the commentaries that the first two lines refer to messengers converging on the king of Babylon from every direction, bringing news the sum total of which is reported in the lines that follow. For the meaning of the last phrase see BDB 892 s.v. קָצֶה 3 and compare the usage in Gen 19:4 and Isa 56:11. The sentence has been broken down and restructured to better conform with contemporary English style.
  75. Jeremiah 51:32 tn The words “They will report that” have been supplied in the translation to show the linkage between this verse and the previous one. This is still a part of the report of the messengers. The meaning of the word translated “reed marshes” has seemed inappropriate to some commentators because it elsewhere refers to “pools.” However, all the commentaries consulted agree that the word here refers to the reedy marshes that surrounded Babylon. (For a fuller discussion regarding the meaning of this word and attempts to connect it with a word meaning “fortress,” see W. L. Holladay, Jeremiah [Hermeneia], 2:427.)sn Babylon was a city covering over a thousand acres that was surrounded by two walls, the inner one 21 feet (6.3 m) thick and the outer one 11 feet (3.3 m) thick. To provide the city further security, other walls were built to its south and east, and irrigation ditches and canals to it north and east were flooded to prevent direct access. The “fords” were crossings for the Euphrates River, which ran right through the city, and for the ditches and canals. The “reed marshes” were low-lying areas around the city where reeds grew. Burning them would deprive any fugitives of places to hide and flush out any who had already escaped.
  76. Jeremiah 51:33 sn Heb “Daughter Babylon.” See the study note at 50:42 for explanation.
  77. Jeremiah 51:33 tn Heb “Daughter Babylon will be [or “is”; there is no verb, and the tense has to be supplied from the context] like a threshing floor at the time one tramples it. Yet a little while and the time of the harvest will come for her.” It is generally agreed that there are two figures here: one of leveling the threshing floor and stamping it into a smooth, hard surface, and the other of the harvest, where the grain is cut, taken to the threshing floor, threshed by trampling the sheaves of grain to loosen the grain from the straw, and finally winnowed by throwing the mixture into the air (cf., e.g., J. A. Thompson, Jeremiah [NICOT], 760). The translation has sought to convey those ideas as clearly as possible without digressing too far from the literal.sn There are two figures involved here: one of the threshing floor being leveled and stamped down hard and smooth, and the other of the harvest. At harvest time the stalks of grain were cut down, gathered in sheaves, and taken to the harvest floor, where the grain was loosened from the husk by driving oxen and threshing sleds over them. The grain was then separated from the mixture of grain, straw, and husks by repeatedly throwing it in the air and letting the wind blow away the lighter husks and ground-up straw. The figure of harvest is often used of judgment in the OT. See, e.g., Joel 3:13 (4:13 HT) and Hos 6:11, and compare also Mic 4:12-13 and Jer 51:2, where different steps in this process are also used figuratively in connection with judgment. Babylon will be leveled to the ground and its people cut down in judgment.
  78. Jeremiah 51:34 tn This verse is extremely difficult to translate because of the shifting imagery, the confusion over the meaning of one of the verbs, and the apparent inconsistency of the pronominal suffixes here with those in the following verse, which everyone agrees is connected with it. The pronominal suffixes are first common plural, but the versions all read them as first common singular, which the Masoretes also do in the Qere. That reading has been followed here for consistency with the next verse, which identifies the speaker as the person living in Zion and as the personified city of Jerusalem. The Hebrew text reads, “Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon devoured me [cf. 50:7, 17] and threw me into confusion. He set me down an empty dish. He swallowed me like a monster from the deep [cf. BDB 1072 s.v. תַּנִּין 3 and compare usage in Isa 27:1; Ezek 29:3; 32:2]. He filled his belly with my dainties. He rinsed me out [cf. BDB s.v. דּוּח Hiph.2 and compare the usage in Isa 4:4].” The verb “throw into confusion” has proved troublesome because its normal meaning does not seem appropriate. Hence various proposals have been made to understand it in a different sense. The present translation has followed W. L. Holladay (Jeremiah [Hermeneia], 2:428) in understanding the verb to mean “disperse” or “rout” (see NAB). The last line has seemed out of place and has often been emended to read, “He has spewed me out” (so NIV and NRSV, a reading that presupposes הִדִּיחָנִי [hiddikhani] for הֱדִיחָנִי [hedikhani]). The reading of the MT is not inappropriate if it is combined with the imagery of an empty jar and hence is retained here (see F. B. Huey, Jeremiah, Lamentations [NAC], 425, n. 59; H. Freedman, Jeremiah [SoBB], 344; NJPS). The lines have been combined to keep the imagery together.sn The speaker in this verse and the next is the personified city of Jerusalem. She laments her fate at the hands of the king of Babylon and calls down a curse on Babylon and the people who live in Babylonia. Here Nebuchadnezzar is depicted as a monster of the deep that has devoured Jerusalem, swallowed her down, and filled its belly with her riches, leaving her an empty dish that has been rinsed clean.
  79. Jeremiah 51:35 tn Heb “‘The violence done to me and to my flesh be upon Babylon,’ says the one living in Zion. ‘My blood be upon those living in Chaldea,’ says Jerusalem.” For the usage of the genitive here in the phrase “violence done to me and my relatives,” see GKC 414 §128.a (a construct governing two objects) and IBHS 303 §16.4d (an objective genitive). For the nuance of “pay” in the sense of retribution, see BDB 756 s.v. עַל 7.a(b) and compare the usage in Judg 9:24. For the use of שְׁאֵר (sheʾer) in the sense of “relatives,” see BDB 985 s.v. שְׁאֵר 2 and compare NJPS. For the use of “blood” in this idiom, see BDB 197 s.v. דָּם 2.k and compare the usage in 2 Sam 4:11 and Ezek 3:18, 20. The lines have been reversed for better English style.
  80. Jeremiah 51:36 tn Heb “I will avenge your vengeance [= I will take vengeance for you; the phrase involves a verb and a cognate accusative].” The meaning of the phrase has been spelled out in more readily understandable terms.
  81. Jeremiah 51:36 tn Heb “I will dry up her [Babylon’s] sea and make her fountain dry.” “Their” has been substituted for “her” because the word “Babylonians” has been inserted in the previous clause and is easier to understand than “her” as a personification of Babylon.sn The referent for their sea is not clear. Most interpreters take it as a figure for the rivers and canals surrounding Babylon. But some apply it to the reservoir that the wife of Nebuchadnezzar, Queen Nictoris, had made.
  82. Jeremiah 51:37 tn Heb “a heap of ruins, a haunt for jackals.” Cf. 9:11.
  83. Jeremiah 51:37 tn Heb “without an inhabitant.”
  84. Jeremiah 51:38 tn Heb “They [the Babylonians] all roar like lions. They growl like the cubs of lions.” For the usage of יַחְדָו (yakhdav) meaning “all,” see Isa 10:8; 18:6; 41:20. The translation strives to convey in clear terms what is the generally accepted meaning of the simile (cf., e.g., J. Bright, Jeremiah [AB], 358, and J. A. Thompson, Jeremiah [NICOT], 762).
  85. Jeremiah 51:39 tn Heb “When they are hot.”
  86. Jeremiah 51:39 tc The translation follows the suggestion of KBL 707 s.v. עָלַז and a number of modern commentaries (e.g., Bright, J. A. Thompson, and W. L. Holladay) in reading יְעֻלְּפוּ (yeʿullefu), in the sense of “swoon away” or “grow faint” (see KBL 710 s.v. עָלַף Pual), instead of יַעֲלֹזוּ (yaʿalozu; “they will exult”). The former appears to be the verb read by the LXX (the Greek version) when they translated καρωθῶσιν (karōthōsin, “they will be stupefied”). For parallel usage KBL cites Isa 51:20. This fits the context much better than the Masoretic reading.
  87. Jeremiah 51:39 sn The central figure here is the cup of the Lord’s wrath (cf. 25:15-29, especially v. 26). The Babylonians have been made to drink it so deeply that they fall into a drunken sleep from which they will never wake up (i.e., they die, death being compared to sleep [cf. Pss 13:3 (13:4 HT); 76:5 (76:6 HT); 90:5]). Cf. Jer 51:57 for this same figure.
  88. Jeremiah 51:39 tn Heb “Oracle of the Lord.”
  89. Jeremiah 51:40 tn Heb “I will bring them down like lambs to be slaughtered, like rams and he-goats.”sn This statement is highly ironic in light of the fact that the Babylonians were compared to lions and lion cubs (v. 38). Here they are like lambs, rams, and male goats that are to be led off to be slaughtered.
  90. Jeremiah 51:41 sn Heb “Sheshach.” The study note on Jer 25:26 explains the use of this name for Babylon; see a similar phenomemon in a note on 51:1. Babylon is here called “the pride of the whole earth” because it was renowned for its size, its fortifications, and its beautiful buildings.
  91. Jeremiah 51:41 tn Heb “How Sheshach has been captured, and the pride of the whole earth has been seized! How Babylon has become an object of horror among the nations!” For the usage of “How” here, see the translator’s note on 50:23.sn This is part of a taunt song (see Isa 14:4) and assumes prophetically that the city has already been captured. The verbs in vv. 41-43a are all in the Hebrew tense that the prophets often use to look at the future as “a done deal” (the so-called prophetic perfect). In v. 44, which is still a part of this picture, the verbs are in the future. The Hebrew tense has been retained here and in vv. 42-43, but it should be remembered that the standpoint is prophetic and future.
  92. Jeremiah 51:42 tn For the meaning “multitude” here rather than “tumult,” see BDB 242 s.v. הָמוֹן 3.c, which says that this refers to a great throng of people under the figure of an overwhelming mass of waves. The word is used of a multitude of soldiers, or a vast army, in 1 Sam 14:16 and 1 Kgs 20:13, 18 (cf. BDB 242 s.v. הָמוֹן 3.a for further references).
  93. Jeremiah 51:42 tn Heb “The sea has risen up over Babylon. She has been covered by the multitude of its waves.”sn This is a poetic and figurative reference to the enemies of Babylon, the foe from the north (see 50:3, 9; 51:27-28), which has attacked Babylon in wave after wave. This same figure is used in Isa 17:12. In Isa 8:7-8 the king of Assyria (and his troops) are compared to the Euphrates, which rises up and floods over the whole land of Israel and Judah. This same figure, but with application to Babylon, is assumed in Jer 47:2-3. In Jer 46:7-8 this figure is employed in a taunt of Egypt, which had boasted that it would cover the earth like the flooding of the Nile.
  94. Jeremiah 51:43 tn Heb “a land of dryness (צִיָּה, tsiyyah) and an arid rift valley (עֲרָבָה, ʿaravah).” The translation combines these overlapping terms to emphasize the core of the imagery. See the note on these terms at Isa 35:1.
  95. Jeremiah 51:43 tn Heb “Her towns have become a desolation, a dry land and a desert, a land any man does not live in them [i.e., “her towns”] and a son of man [= human being] does not pass through them.” Here the present translation has followed the suggestion of BHS and a number of the modern commentaries in deleting the second occurrence of the word “land,” in which case the words that follow are not a relative clause but independent statements. A number of modern English versions appear to ignore the third plural feminine suffixes that refer back to the cities and apply the statements that follow to the land.
  96. Jeremiah 51:44 tn Heb “And I will punish Bel in Babylon…And the nations will not come streaming to him anymore. Yea, the walls of Babylon have fallen.” The verbs in the first two lines are vav consecutive perfects, and the verb in the third line is an imperfect, all looking at the future. That indicates that the perfect that follows and the perfects that precede are all prophetic perfects. The translation adopted seemed to be the best way to make the transition from the pasts, which were adopted in conjunction with the taunting use of אֵיךְ (ʾekh) in v. 41, to the futures in v. 44. For the usage of גַּם (gam) to indicate a climax, “yea” or “indeed,” see BDB 169 s.v. גַּם 3. It seemed to be impossible to render the meaning of v. 44 in any comprehensible way, even in a paraphrase.sn In the ancient Near East the victory of a nation over another nation was attributed to its gods. The reference is a poetic way of referring to the fact that God will be victorious over Babylon and its chief god, Bel/Marduk (see the study note on 50:2 for explanation). The reference to the disgorging of what Bel had swallowed is to captured people and plundered loot that had been taken to Babylon under the auspices of the victory of Bel over the foreign god (cf. Dan 5:2-4). The plundered treasures and captive people will be set free, and nations will no longer need to pay homage to Bel because Babylon will be destroyed.
  97. Jeremiah 51:45 tn Heb “Go out from her [Babylon’s] midst, my people. Save each man his life from the fierce anger of the Lord.” The verb has been paraphrased to prevent gender specific terms.sn Cf. Jer 50:8-10; 51:6, where the significance of saving oneself from the fierce anger of the Lord is clarified.
  98. Jeremiah 51:47 tn Heb “That being so, look, days are approaching.” לָכֵן (lakhen) often introduces the effect of an action. That may be the case here, the turmoil outlined in v. 46 serving as the catalyst for the culminating divine judgment described in v. 47. Another possibility is that לָכֵן here has an asseverative force (“certainly”), as in Isa 26:14 and perhaps Jer 5:2 (see the note there). In this case the word almost has the force of “for, since,” because it presents a cause for an accompanying effect. See Judg 8:7 and the discussion of Isa 26:14 in BDB 486-87 s.v. כֵּן 3.d.
  99. Jeremiah 51:47 tn Or “all her slain will fall in her midst.” In other words, her people will be overtaken by judgment and be unable to escape. The dead will lie in heaps in the very heart of the city and land.
  100. Jeremiah 51:48 tn Heb “Oracle of the Lord.”
  101. Jeremiah 51:49 tn The infinitive construct is used here to indicate what is about to take place. See IBHS 610 §36.2.3g.
  102. Jeremiah 51:49 tn Heb “the slain of Israel.” The words “because of” are supplied in the translation for clarification. The preceding context makes it clear that Babylon would be judged for its atrocities against Israel (see especially 50:33-34; 51:10, 24, 35).
  103. Jeremiah 51:49 tn The juxtaposition of גַםגַם (gam…gam), often “both…and,” here indicates correspondence. See BDB 169 s.v. גַּם 4. Appropriately, Babylon will fall slain just as her victims, including God’s covenant people, did.
  104. Jeremiah 51:50 sn God’s exiled people are told to leave doomed Babylon (see v. 45).
  105. Jeremiah 51:50 tn Heb “don’t stand.”
  106. Jeremiah 51:50 tn Heb “let Jerusalem go up upon your heart.” The “heart” is often viewed as the seat of one’s mental faculties and thought life.
  107. Jeremiah 51:51 sn The exiles lament the way they have been humiliated.
  108. Jeremiah 51:51 tn Heb “we have heard an insult.”
  109. Jeremiah 51:51 tn Heb “disgrace covers our face.”
  110. Jeremiah 51:51 tn Or “holy places, sanctuaries.”
  111. Jeremiah 51:52 tn Heb “that being so, look, days are approaching.” Here לָכֵן (lakhen) introduces the Lord’s response to the people’s lament (v. 51). It has the force of “yes, but” or “that may be true.” See Judg 11:8 and BDB 486-87 s.v. כֵּן 3.d.
  112. Jeremiah 51:52 tn Heb “Oracle of the Lord.”
  113. Jeremiah 51:53 tn Or “ascends [into] heaven.” Note the use of the phrase in Deut 30:12; 2 Kgs 2:11; Amos 9:2.
  114. Jeremiah 51:53 tn Heb “and even if she fortifies her strong, elevated place.”
  115. Jeremiah 51:53 tn Heb “from me destroyers will go against her.”
  116. Jeremiah 51:53 tn Heb “Oracle of the Lord.”
  117. Jeremiah 51:55 tn The antecedent of the third masculine plural pronominal suffix is not entirely clear. It probably refers back to the “destroyers” mentioned in v. 53 as the agents of God’s judgment on Babylon.
  118. Jeremiah 51:55 tn Or “mighty waters.”
  119. Jeremiah 51:55 tn Heb “and the noise of their sound will be given.”
  120. Jeremiah 51:56 tn Heb “for a destroyer is coming against her, against Babylon.”
  121. Jeremiah 51:56 tn The Piel form (which would be intransitive here, see GKC 142 §52.k) should probably be emended to Qal.
  122. Jeremiah 51:56 tn Or “God of retribution.”
  123. Jeremiah 51:56 tn The infinitive absolute emphasizes the following finite verb. Another option is to translate, “he certainly pays one back.” The translation assumes that the imperfect verbal form here describes the Lord’s characteristic actions. Another option is to take it as referring specifically to his judgment on Babylon, in which case one should translate, “he will pay (Babylon) back in full.”
  124. Jeremiah 51:57 sn For discussion of the terms “governors” and “leaders,” see the note at Jer 51:23.
  125. Jeremiah 51:57 sn See the note at Jer 51:39.
  126. Jeremiah 51:57 tn For the title “Yahweh of Armies” see the study note on Jer 2:19.
  127. Jeremiah 51:58 sn See the note at Jer 2:19.
  128. Jeremiah 51:58 tn The text has the plural “walls,” but many Hebrew mss read the singular “wall,” which is also supported by the ancient Greek version. The modifying adjective “thick” is singular as well.
  129. Jeremiah 51:58 tn The infinitive absolute emphasizes the following finite verb. Another option is to translate, “will certainly be demolished.”
  130. Jeremiah 51:58 tn Heb “for what is empty.”
  131. Jeremiah 51:58 tn Heb “and the nations for fire, and they grow weary.”
  132. Jeremiah 51:59 sn This would be 582 b.c.
  133. Jeremiah 51:59 tn Heb “an officer of rest.”
  134. Jeremiah 51:60 tn Or “wrote.”
  135. Jeremiah 51:60 tn Or “disaster”; or “calamity.”
  136. Jeremiah 51:60 tn Heb “words” (or “things”).
  137. Jeremiah 51:61 tn Heb “see [that].”
  138. Jeremiah 51:61 tn Heb “words” (or “things”).
  139. Jeremiah 51:63 tn The word “River” is not in the Hebrew text but has been supplied for clarity.
  140. Jeremiah 51:64 sn The final chapter of the book of Jeremiah does not mention Jeremiah or record any of his prophecies.
New English Translation (NET)

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Jeremiah 51 New International Version (NIV)

51 This is what the Lord says:

“See, I will stir up the spirit of a destroyer
    against Babylon and the people of Leb Kamai.[a]
I will send foreigners to Babylon
    to winnow her and to devastate her land;
they will oppose her on every side
    in the day of her disaster.
Let not the archer string his bow,
    nor let him put on his armor.
Do not spare her young men;
    completely destroy[b] her army.
They will fall down slain in Babylon,[c]
    fatally wounded in her streets.
For Israel and Judah have not been forsaken
    by their God, the Lord Almighty,
though their land[d] is full of guilt
    before the Holy One of Israel.

“Flee from Babylon!
    Run for your lives!
    Do not be destroyed because of her sins.
It is time for the Lord’s vengeance;
    he will repay her what she deserves.
Babylon was a gold cup in the Lord’s hand;
    she made the whole earth drunk.
The nations drank her wine;
    therefore they have now gone mad.
Babylon will suddenly fall and be broken.
    Wail over her!
Get balm for her pain;
    perhaps she can be healed.

“‘We would have healed Babylon,
    but she cannot be healed;
let us leave her and each go to our own land,
    for her judgment reaches to the skies,
    it rises as high as the heavens.’

10 “‘The Lord has vindicated us;
    come, let us tell in Zion
    what the Lord our God has done.’

11 “Sharpen the arrows,
    take up the shields!
The Lord has stirred up the kings of the Medes,
    because his purpose is to destroy Babylon.
The Lord will take vengeance,
    vengeance for his temple.
12 Lift up a banner against the walls of Babylon!
    Reinforce the guard,
station the watchmen,
    prepare an ambush!
The Lord will carry out his purpose,
    his decree against the people of Babylon.
13 You who live by many waters
    and are rich in treasures,
your end has come,
    the time for you to be destroyed.
14 The Lord Almighty has sworn by himself:
    I will surely fill you with troops, as with a swarm of locusts,
    and they will shout in triumph over you.

15 “He made the earth by his power;
    he founded the world by his wisdom
    and stretched out the heavens by his understanding.
16 When he thunders, the waters in the heavens roar;
    he makes clouds rise from the ends of the earth.
He sends lightning with the rain
    and brings out the wind from his storehouses.

17 “Everyone is senseless and without knowledge;
    every goldsmith is shamed by his idols.
The images he makes are a fraud;
    they have no breath in them.
18 They are worthless, the objects of mockery;
    when their judgment comes, they will perish.
19 He who is the Portion of Jacob is not like these,
    for he is the Maker of all things,
including the people of his inheritance
    the Lord Almighty is his name.

20 “You are my war club,
    my weapon for battle—
with you I shatter nations,
    with you I destroy kingdoms,
21 with you I shatter horse and rider,
    with you I shatter chariot and driver,
22 with you I shatter man and woman,
    with you I shatter old man and youth,
    with you I shatter young man and young woman,
23 with you I shatter shepherd and flock,
    with you I shatter farmer and oxen,
    with you I shatter governors and officials.

24 “Before your eyes I will repay Babylon and all who live in Babylonia[e] for all the wrong they have done in Zion,” declares the Lord.

25 “I am against you, you destroying mountain,
    you who destroy the whole earth,”
declares the Lord.
“I will stretch out my hand against you,
    roll you off the cliffs,
    and make you a burned-out mountain.
26 No rock will be taken from you for a cornerstone,
    nor any stone for a foundation,
    for you will be desolate forever,”
declares the Lord.

27 “Lift up a banner in the land!
    Blow the trumpet among the nations!
Prepare the nations for battle against her;
    summon against her these kingdoms:
    Ararat, Minni and Ashkenaz.
Appoint a commander against her;
    send up horses like a swarm of locusts.
28 Prepare the nations for battle against her—
    the kings of the Medes,
their governors and all their officials,
    and all the countries they rule.
29 The land trembles and writhes,
    for the Lord’s purposes against Babylon stand—
to lay waste the land of Babylon
    so that no one will live there.
30 Babylon’s warriors have stopped fighting;
    they remain in their strongholds.
Their strength is exhausted;
    they have become weaklings.
Her dwellings are set on fire;
    the bars of her gates are broken.
31 One courier follows another
    and messenger follows messenger
to announce to the king of Babylon
    that his entire city is captured,
32 the river crossings seized,
    the marshes set on fire,
    and the soldiers terrified.

33 This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says:

“Daughter Babylon is like a threshing floor
    at the time it is trampled;
    the time to harvest her will soon come.

34 “Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon has devoured us,
    he has thrown us into confusion,
    he has made us an empty jar.
Like a serpent he has swallowed us
    and filled his stomach with our delicacies,
    and then has spewed us out.
35 May the violence done to our flesh[f] be on Babylon,”
    say the inhabitants of Zion.
“May our blood be on those who live in Babylonia,”
    says Jerusalem.

36 Therefore this is what the Lord says:

“See, I will defend your cause
    and avenge you;
I will dry up her sea
    and make her springs dry.
37 Babylon will be a heap of ruins,
    a haunt of jackals,
an object of horror and scorn,
    a place where no one lives.
38 Her people all roar like young lions,
    they growl like lion cubs.
39 But while they are aroused,
    I will set out a feast for them
    and make them drunk,
so that they shout with laughter—
    then sleep forever and not awake,”
declares the Lord.
40 “I will bring them down
    like lambs to the slaughter,
    like rams and goats.

41 “How Sheshak[g] will be captured,
    the boast of the whole earth seized!
How desolate Babylon will be
    among the nations!
42 The sea will rise over Babylon;
    its roaring waves will cover her.
43 Her towns will be desolate,
    a dry and desert land,
a land where no one lives,
    through which no one travels.
44 I will punish Bel in Babylon
    and make him spew out what he has swallowed.
The nations will no longer stream to him.
    And the wall of Babylon will fall.

45 “Come out of her, my people!
    Run for your lives!
    Run from the fierce anger of the Lord.
46 Do not lose heart or be afraid
    when rumors are heard in the land;
one rumor comes this year, another the next,
    rumors of violence in the land
    and of ruler against ruler.
47 For the time will surely come
    when I will punish the idols of Babylon;
her whole land will be disgraced
    and her slain will all lie fallen within her.
48 Then heaven and earth and all that is in them
    will shout for joy over Babylon,
for out of the north
    destroyers will attack her,”
declares the Lord.

49 “Babylon must fall because of Israel’s slain,
    just as the slain in all the earth
    have fallen because of Babylon.
50 You who have escaped the sword,
    leave and do not linger!
Remember the Lord in a distant land,
    and call to mind Jerusalem.”

51 “We are disgraced,
    for we have been insulted
    and shame covers our faces,
because foreigners have entered
    the holy places of the Lord’s house.”

52 “But days are coming,” declares the Lord,
    “when I will punish her idols,
and throughout her land
    the wounded will groan.
53 Even if Babylon ascends to the heavens
    and fortifies her lofty stronghold,
    I will send destroyers against her,”
declares the Lord.

54 “The sound of a cry comes from Babylon,
    the sound of great destruction
    from the land of the Babylonians.[h]
55 The Lord will destroy Babylon;
    he will silence her noisy din.
Waves of enemies will rage like great waters;
    the roar of their voices will resound.
56 A destroyer will come against Babylon;
    her warriors will be captured,
    and their bows will be broken.
For the Lord is a God of retribution;
    he will repay in full.
57 I will make her officials and wise men drunk,
    her governors, officers and warriors as well;
they will sleep forever and not awake,”
    declares the King, whose name is the Lord Almighty.

58 This is what the Lord Almighty says:

“Babylon’s thick wall will be leveled
    and her high gates set on fire;
the peoples exhaust themselves for nothing,
    the nations’ labor is only fuel for the flames.”

59 This is the message Jeremiah the prophet gave to the staff officer Seraiah son of Neriah, the son of Mahseiah, when he went to Babylon with Zedekiah king of Judah in the fourth year of his reign. 60 Jeremiah had written on a scroll about all the disasters that would come upon Babylon—all that had been recorded concerning Babylon. 61 He said to Seraiah, “When you get to Babylon, see that you read all these words aloud. 62 Then say, ‘Lord, you have said you will destroy this place, so that neither people nor animals will live in it; it will be desolate forever.’ 63 When you finish reading this scroll, tie a stone to it and throw it into the Euphrates. 64 Then say, ‘So will Babylon sink to rise no more because of the disaster I will bring on her. And her people will fall.’”

The words of Jeremiah end here.


  1. Jeremiah 51:1 Leb Kamai is a cryptogram for Chaldea, that is, Babylonia.
  2. Jeremiah 51:3 The Hebrew term refers to the irrevocable giving over of things or persons to the Lord, often by totally destroying them.
  3. Jeremiah 51:4 Or Chaldea
  4. Jeremiah 51:5 Or Almighty, / and the land of the Babylonians
  5. Jeremiah 51:24 Or Chaldea; also in verse 35
  6. Jeremiah 51:35 Or done to us and to our children
  7. Jeremiah 51:41 Sheshak is a cryptogram for Babylon.
  8. Jeremiah 51:54 Or Chaldeans
New International Version (NIV)

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