The LORD's Judgment on Babylon
51 1 There's more. God says more: "Watch this: I'm whipping up A death-dealing hurricane against Babylon - 'Hurricane Persia' - against all who live in that perverse land. 2 I'm sending a cleanup crew into Babylon. They'll clean the place out from top to bottom. When they get through there'll be nothing left of her worth taking or talking about. They won't miss a thing. A total and final Doomsday! 3 Fighters will fight with everything they've got. It's no holds barred. They will spare nothing and no one. It's final and wholesale destruction - the end! 4 Babylon littered with the wounded, streets piled with corpses. 5 It turns out that Israel and Judah are not widowed after all. As their God, God-of-the-Angel-Armies, I am still alive and well, committed to them even though They filled their land with sin against Israel's most Holy God. 6 "Get out of Babylon as fast as you can. Run for your lives! Save your necks! Don't linger and lose your lives to my vengeance on her as I pay her back for her sins. 7 Babylon was a fancy gold chalice held in my hand, Filled with the wine of my anger to make the whole world drunk. The nations drank the wine and they've all gone crazy. 8 Babylon herself will stagger and crash, senseless in a drunken stupor - tragic! Get anointing balm for her wound. Maybe she can be cured." 9 "We did our best, but she can't be helped. Babylon is past fixing. Give her up to her fate. Go home. The judgment on her will be vast, a skyscraper-memorial of vengeance. Your Lifeline Is Cut 10 "God has set everything right for us. Come! Let's tell the good news Back home in Zion. Let's tell what our God did to set things right. 11 "Sharpen the arrows! Fill the quivers! God has stirred up the kings of the Medes, infecting them with war fever: 'Destroy Babylon!' God's on the warpath. He's out to avenge his Temple. 12 Give the signal to attack Babylon's walls. Station guards around the clock. Bring in reinforcements. Set men in ambush. God will do what he planned, what he said he'd do to the people of Babylon. 13 You have more water than you need, you have more money than you need - But your life is over, your lifeline cut." 14 God-of-the-Angel-Armies has solemnly sworn: "I'll fill this place with soldiers. They'll swarm through here like locusts chanting victory songs over you." 15 By his power he made earth. His wisdom gave shape to the world. He crafted the cosmos. 16 He thunders and rain pours down. He sends the clouds soaring. He embellishes the storm with lightnings, launches the wind from his warehouse. 17 Stick-god worshipers look mighty foolish! god-makers embarrassed by their handmade gods! Their gods are frauds, dead sticks - deadwood gods, tasteless jokes. 18 They're nothing but stale smoke. When the smoke clears, they're gone. 19 But the Portion-of-Jacob is the real thing; he put the whole universe together, With special attention to Israel. His name? God-of-the-Angel-Armies! They'll Sleep and Never Wake Up 20 God says, "You, Babylon, are my hammer, my weapon of war. I'll use you to smash godless nations, use you to knock kingdoms to bits. 21 I'll use you to smash horse and rider, use you to smash chariot and driver. 22 I'll use you to smash man and woman, use you to smash the old man and the boy. I'll use you to smash the young man and young woman, 23 use you to smash shepherd and sheep. I'll use you to smash farmer and yoked oxen, use you to smash governors and senators. 24 "Judeans, you'll see it with your own eyes. I'll pay Babylon and all the Chaldeans back for all the evil they did in Zion." God's Decree. 25 "I'm your enemy, Babylon, Mount Destroyer, you ravager of the whole earth. I'll reach out, I'll take you in my hand, and I'll crush you till there's no mountain left. I'll turn you into a gravel pit - 26 no more cornerstones cut from you, No more foundation stones quarried from you! Nothing left of you but gravel." 27 "Raise the signal in the land, blow the shofar-trumpet for the nations. Consecrate the nations for holy work against her. Call kingdoms into service against her. Enlist Ararat, Minni, and Ashkenaz. Appoint a field marshal against her, and round up horses, locust hordes of horses! 28 Consecrate the nations for holy work against her - the king of the Medes, his leaders and people. 29 "The very land trembles in terror, writhes in pain, terrorized by my plans against Babylon, Plans to turn the country of Babylon into a lifeless moonscape - a wasteland. 30 Babylon's soldiers have quit fighting. They hide out in ruins and caves - Cowards who've given up without a fight, exposed as cowering milksops. Babylon's houses are going up in flames, the city gates torn off their hinges. 31 Runner after runner comes racing in, each on the heels of the last, Bringing reports to the king of Babylon that his city is a lost cause. 32 The fords of the rivers are all taken. Wildfire rages through the swamp grass. Soldiers desert left and right. 33 I, God-of-the-Angel-Armies, said it would happen: 'Daughter Babylon is a threshing floor at threshing time. Soon, oh very soon, her harvest will come and then the chaff will fly!' 34 "Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon chewed up my people and spit out the bones. He wiped his dish clean, pushed back his chair, and belched - a huge gluttonous belch. 35 Lady Zion says, 'The brutality done to me be done to Babylon!' And Jerusalem says, 'The blood spilled from me be charged to the Chaldeans!' 36 Then I, God, step in and say, 'I'm on your side, taking up your cause. I'm your Avenger. You'll get your revenge. I'll dry up her rivers, plug up her springs. 37 Babylon will be a pile of rubble, scavenged by stray dogs and cats, A dumping ground for garbage, a godforsaken ghost town.' 38 "The Babylonians will be like lions and their cubs, ravenous, roaring for food. 39 I'll fix them a meal, all right - a banquet, in fact. They'll drink themselves falling-down drunk. Dead drunk, they'll sleep - and sleep, and sleep . . . and they'll never wake up." God's Decree. 40 "I'll haul these 'lions' off to the slaughterhouse like the lambs, rams, and goats, never to be heard of again. 41 "Babylon is finished - the pride of the whole earth is flat on her face. What a comedown for Babylon, to end up inglorious in the sewer! 42 Babylon drowned in chaos, battered by waves of enemy soldiers. 43 Her towns stink with decay and rot, the land empty and bare and sterile. No one lives in these towns anymore. Travelers give them a wide berth. 44 I'll bring doom on the glutton god-Bel in Babylon. I'll make him vomit up all he gulped down. No more visitors stream into this place, admiring and gawking at the wonders of Babylon. The wonders of Babylon are no more. 45 Run for your lives, my dear people! Run, and don't look back! Get out of this place while you can, this place torched by God's raging anger. 46 Don't lose hope. Don't ever give up when the rumors pour in hot and heavy. One year it's this, the next year it's that - rumors of violence, rumors of war. 47 Trust me, the time is coming when I'll put the no-gods of Babylon in their place. I'll show up the whole country as a sickening fraud, with dead bodies strewn all over the place. 48 Heaven and earth, angels and people, will throw a victory party over Babylon When the avenging armies from the north descend on her." God's Decree! Remember God in Your Long and Distant Exile 49 "Babylon must fall - compensation for the war dead in Israel. Babylonians will be killed because of all that Babylonian killing. 50 But you exiles who have escaped a Babylonian death, get out! And fast! Remember God in your long and distant exile. Keep Jerusalem alive in your memory." 51 How we've been humiliated, taunted and abused, kicked around for so long that we hardly know who we are! And we hardly know what to think - our old Sanctuary, God's house, desecrated by strangers. 52 "I know, but trust me: The time is coming" - God's Decree - "When I will bring doom on her no-god idols, and all over this land her wounded will groan. 53 Even if Babylon climbed a ladder to the moon and pulled up the ladder so that no one could get to her, That wouldn't stop me. I'd make sure my avengers would reach her." God's Decree. 54 "But now listen! Do you hear it? A cry out of Babylon! An unearthly wail out of Chaldea! 55 God is taking his wrecking bar to Babylon. We'll be hearing the last of her noise - Death throes like the crashing of waves, death rattles like the roar of cataracts. 56 The avenging destroyer is about to enter Babylon: Her soldiers are taken, her weapons are trashed. Indeed, God is a God who evens things out. All end up with their just deserts. 57 "I'll get them drunk, the whole lot of them - princes, sages, governors, soldiers. Dead drunk, they'll sleep - and sleep and sleep . . . and never wake up." The King's Decree. His name? God-of-the-Angel-Armies! 58 God-of-the-Angel-Armies speaks: "The city walls of Babylon - those massive walls! - will be flattened. And those city gates - huge gates! - will be set on fire. The harder you work at this empty life, the less you are. Nothing comes of ambition like this but ashes."
59 Jeremiah the prophet gave a job to Seraiah son of Neriah, son of Mahseiah, when Seraiah went with Zedekiah king of Judah to Babylon. It was in the fourth year of Zedekiah's reign. Seraiah was in charge of travel arrangements. 60 Jeremiah had written down in a little booklet all the bad things that would come down on Babylon. 61 He told Seraiah, "When you get to Babylon, read this out in public. 62 Read, 'You, O God, said that you would destroy this place so that nothing could live here, neither human nor animal - a wasteland to top all wastelands, an eternal nothing.' 63 "When you've finished reading the page, tie a stone to it, throw it into the River Euphrates, and watch it sink. 64 Then say, 'That's how Babylon will sink to the bottom and stay there after the disaster I'm going to bring upon her.'"
The Reign of Zedekiah
52 1 Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he started out as king. He was king in Jerusalem for eleven years. His mother's name was Hamutal, the daughter of Jeremiah. Her hometown was Libnah. 2 As far as God was concerned, Zedekiah was just one more evil king, a carbon copy of Jehoiakim. 3 The source of all this doom to Jerusalem and Judah was God's anger. God turned his back on them as an act of judgment.
The Fall of Jerusalem
4 Nebuchadnezzar set out for Jerusalem with a full army. He set up camp and sealed off the city by building siege mounds around it. 5 He arrived on the ninth year and tenth month of Zedekiah's reign. The city was under siege for nineteen months (until the eleventh year of Zedekiah). 6 By the fourth month of Zedekiah's eleventh year, on the ninth day of the month, the famine was so bad that there wasn't so much as a crumb of bread for anyone. 7 Then the Babylonians broke through the city walls. Under cover of the night darkness, the entire Judean army fled through an opening in the wall (it was the gate between the two walls above the King's Garden). They slipped through the lines of the Babylonians who surrounded the city and headed for the Jordan into the Arabah Valley, 8 but the Babylonians were in full pursuit. They caught up with them in the Plains of Jericho. But by then Zedekiah's army had deserted and was scattered. 9 The Babylonians captured Zedekiah and marched him off to the king of Babylon at Riblah in Hamath, who tried and sentenced him on the spot. 10 The king of Babylon then killed Zedekiah's sons right before his eyes. The summary murder of his sons was the last thing Zedekiah saw, for they then blinded him. The king of Babylon followed that up by killing all the officials of Judah. 11 Securely handcuffed, Zedekiah was hauled off to Babylon. The king of Babylon threw him in prison, where he stayed until the day he died.
The Captivity of Judah
12 In the nineteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon on the seventh day of the fifth month, Nebuzaradan, the king of Babylon's chief deputy, arrived in Jerusalem. 13 He burned the Temple of God to the ground, went on to the royal palace, and then finished off the city. He burned the whole place down. 14 He put the Babylonian troops he had with him to work knocking down the city walls. 15 Finally, he rounded up everyone left in the city, including those who had earlier deserted to the king of Babylon, and took them off into exile. 16 He left a few poor dirt farmers behind to tend the vineyards and what was left of the fields. 17 The Babylonians broke up the bronze pillars, the bronze washstands, and the huge bronze basin (the Sea) that were in the Temple of God, and hauled the bronze off to Babylon. 18 They also took the various bronze-crafted liturgical accessories, as well as the gold and silver censers and sprinkling bowls, used in the services of Temple worship. 19 The king's deputy didn't miss a thing. He took every scrap of precious metal he could find. 20 The amount of bronze they got from the two pillars, the Sea, the twelve bronze bulls that supported the Sea, and the ten washstands that Solomon had made for the Temple of God was enormous. They couldn't weigh it all! 21 Each pillar stood twenty-seven feet high with a circumference of eighteen feet. The pillars were hollow, the bronze a little less than an inch thick. 22 Each pillar was topped with an ornate capital of bronze pomegranates and filigree, which added another seven and a half feet to its height. 23 There were ninety-six pomegranates evenly spaced - in all, a hundred pomegranates worked into the filigree.
24 The king's deputy took a number of special prisoners: Seraiah the chief priest, Zephaniah the associate priest, three wardens, 25 the chief remaining army officer, seven of the king's counselors who happened to be in the city, the chief recruiting officer for the army, and sixty men of standing from among the people who were still there. 26 Nebuzaradan the king's deputy marched them all off to the king of Babylon at Riblah. 27 And there at Riblah, in the land of Hamath, the king of Babylon killed the lot of them in cold blood. Judah went into exile, orphaned from her land. 28 3,023 men of Judah were taken into exile by Nebuchadnezzar in the seventh year of his reign. 29 832 from Jerusalem were taken in the eighteenth year of his reign. 30 745 men from Judah were taken off by Nebuzaradan, the king's chief deputy, in Nebuchadnezzar's twenty-third year. The total number of exiles was 4,600.
Jehoiachin Released and Honored in Babylon
31 When Jehoiachin king of Judah had been in exile for thirty-seven years, Evil-Merodach became king in Babylon and let Jehoiachin out of prison. This release took place on the twenty-fifth day of the twelfth month. 32 The king treated him most courteously and gave him preferential treatment beyond anything experienced by the political prisoners held in Babylon. 33 Jehoiachin took off his prison garb and from then on ate his meals in company with the king. 34 The king provided everything he needed to live comfortably for the rest of his life.