Thus says the Lord, I mean to let loose on Babylon, and the whole of Defiance-land,✻ a destroying blast;
winnowers of mine shall reach Babylon and fall to winnowing it, till all the heaps are gone; an ill day for Babylon, cut off on every side.
Let not a man live to bend bow again, or don breastplate for battle; never a warrior spare, army she must have none left.
Everywhere in country-side and street of Chaldaea the mangled corpses lie;
Juda’s God, the Lord of hosts, has not altogether forsaken her, and to that holy One of Israel the whole land is forfeit.
Flee away from the confines of Babylon, flee for your lives; would you meekly accept her punishment? The time has come when the Lord will take vengeance on her, he it is that sends this retribution.
Babylon, that was once a golden cup in the Lord’s hand, for a whole world’s bemusing! Drank nations of that cup, how they reeled and tottered!
And now, all in a moment, Babylon herself falls to her ruin. Raise the dirge, go find balm to heal those wounds of hers!
Alas, we sought a cure for Babylon, but curing her there was none; time it is we left her, and went back each to his own land; towers heaven-high the measure of her punishment, and is lost among the clouds.
Come, then, since he has given us the redress we needed, recount we in Sion the great doings of the Lord our God.
Whet arrow, and fill quiver; the Lord has put a resolve into the heart of the Median king; he will have Babylon overthrown. The Lord shall be avenged, his temple shall be avenged!
Against Babylon’s walls display the standard, keep strict watch, post sentinels, lay ambush; the doom of its folk, long since devised, long since denounced, he will execute.
Land by all those tributary streams so enriched, thy end is reached, thy thread is spun.
By his own honour the Lord of hosts has sworn it, thy enemies shall swarm about thee like locusts, raising their vintage-song.
His the power that made the earth,✻ the wisdom that orders nature, the foresight that spread out the heavens.
At the sound of his voice, what mustering of the waters overhead! He summons up the cloud-wrack from the world’s end, turning the lightning into a rain-storm, bringing the winds out of his store-house;
how puny, then, is man’s skill, how sorry a thing is the metal-caster’s workmanship; after all his labour at the forge, only a lifeless counterfeit!
Fond imaginations, fantastic figures, when the time comes for reckoning, they will be heard of no more.
Not such the worship that is the heirloom of Jacob’s line; their God is the God who made all things, Israel his patrimony, the Lord of hosts, his name.
Great conqueror, the weapon I wield! By thy means I crush the nations, undo empires;✻
crush horse and rider, crush chariot and charioteer,
crush man and woman, crush old and young, crush lad and lass,
crush shepherd and flock, crush ploughman and team, crush prince and ruler!
And now I mean to repay Babylon, and all the people of Chaldaea, for the wrongs they did, says the Lord, and your eyes shall see it.
Have at thee, stronghold of ruin, the Lord says, a whole world’s ruin! My hand is raised to smite thee, and tear thee from thy rocky bed; a calcined heap thou shalt be,
that never corner-stone, never foundation-stone shall yield; the Lord dooms thee to lie for ever desolate.
Display your standard for all the world to see, sound the trumpet far and wide, enrol the nations against her; make tryst with the kings of Ararat, Menni, and Ascenez, and count Taphsar among her enemies; like locusts in bristling array swarm your cavalry.
Plight all the nations to make war on her, the kings of Media with their chieftains and satraps, all their wide dominion;
a whole world in turmoil and travail with the stir of the divine resolve to crush Babylon, make Babylon an empty desert.
See how her warriors quit the field, to garrison their strongholds, how their valour dies away and grows womanish, how her roofs blaze, the bars of her gates are shattered!
Courier meets courier, post to post hands the tidings on; tell the king of Babylon how his capital has fallen, length and breadth of it,
the fords occupied, the reed-beds aflame, dismayed the defenders.
Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Babylon is a threshing-floor time has worn smooth; wait but a little, and it is ready for harvest.
Nabuchodonosor king of Babylon, how he has preyed on me, feasted on me, left me but an empty shell; a devouring monster that with kernel fills his maw, throws husk away!
Thus Sion, for her torn flesh, thus Jerusalem, for her blood spilt, arraigns Babylon and all yonder Chaldaean folk;
and now the Lord of hosts promises to maintain their quarrel, to redress their wrongs. I will turn her sea into desert sand, he tells you, dry up her flow of waters;
Babylon shall remain a heap of ruins, a lair for serpents, a thing of wonder and derision, and never a soul to dwell in it.
What though they rage like roaring lion, like young lion that tosses his mane?
I have a medicine for this thirst of theirs, to bemuse them and steal away their senses; they shall sleep on, the Lord says, with that eternal sleep from which there is no waking.
Never was lamb led to the slaughter-house, never ram or buck-goat, so unsuspecting.
Sesach✻ taken, the paragon of kingdoms fallen! Babylon turned into a sight of horror for all the world to see!
Babylon foundered and gone, the waste waves closing over her!
All her cities a picture of desolation, an empty desert, uninhabited, untrodden by mortal foot.
Bel, too, the God of Babylon, I will call to account, and make him disgorge his treasures; no more shall pilgrims flock into his temple from distant lands; Babylon’s defences are down.
You that are my own people, separate yourselves from her, flee all of you from the Lord’s venegeance;
else you shall be ever faint with alarms,✻ ever daunted by the news that reaches you, each year a fresh rumour of wrongs done in this land, of rulers struggling for preeminence.
A time is coming when I mean to have a reckoning with the idols of Babylon; the land will learn that they have played it false, when corpses lie thick in the heart of it.
Heaven and earth, and all they contain, will be triumphing over Babylon, says the Lord, as they see the spoilers marching against her from the north country;
through Babylon so many slain in Israel, of Babylon so many slain, in every corner of their land!
Come, linger not, you that have escaped the sword; exiled far away, bethink you still of the Lord, still let the thought of Jerusalem return to your hearts.
Alas, we are all confusion; what taunts we must listen to, shame-faced, now that the Lord’s holy temple by alien intruders is defiled!✻
A time is coming, the Lord says, when I mean to have a reckoning with those false gods of hers. Everywhere in Chaldaea there shall be wounded men a-groaning;
let Babylon scale the skies, fortify her walls heaven-high, they shall yet find their way in, the spoilers that do my errand, the Lord says.
Babylon shall be all lament, Chaldaea a crash of ruin;
the mighty stir of the city will be drowned, when the Lord lays it waste, by the surge of armies, wave upon wave, and the noise of their shouting.
The spoiler has come upon Babylon; her warriors are caught in a trap, their bows are useless now; the Lord’s vengeance is irresistible, and he pays full measure.
Bemused they shall be, prince and councillor and chieftain and ruler and warrior; all shall sleep eternally the sleep from which there is no waking; such is the decree of that King whose name is the Lord of hosts.
That wide wall of Babylon, says the Lord of hosts, shall be dismantled at last, those high gates burnt. So men labour for nothing; so the toil of nations perishes in the fire.✻
And now Jeremias had an errand for Saraias, son of Nerias, son of Maasias. When king Sedecias departed to Babylon, in the fourth year of his reign, Saraias went with him as his principal spokesman.✻
Jeremias had written down on a single scroll all the doom that was to befall Babylon, all the prophecy against Babylon aforegoing.
When thou reachest Babylon, he told Saraias, be sure thou readest all this.
And say, in reading it: Lord, thou dost threaten this place with destruction; man nor beast shall dwell there, it shall lie desolate for ever.
Then, when thou hast finished reading the scroll, tie a stone to it and sink it in the midst of Euphrates;
and this add: Thus Babylon shall sink, and rise no more out of the calamity I mean to bring upon it; Babylon shall melt away.✻ Here ends the prophecy of Jeremias.
The Holy Bible