This is the Lord's message that he told Jeremiah the prophet to give about Babylon and the country of Babylonia.*
Tell everyone the news! Hold up a sign and shout it out, don't hold back! Tell them, Babylon has fallen! Her†
god Bel is humiliated; the power of her god Marduk is broken; all Babylon's idols are humiliated and their power is broken.
3 A northern nation will come and attack her and turn the country into a wasteland. No one will live there—both people and animals will desert it. 4 That's the time when the people of Israel and Judah will join together, weeping as they go to worship the Lord their God, declares the Lord. 5 They will ask the way to Zion, and start going in that direction. They will arrive and commit themselves to the Lord in an everlasting agreement that won't ever be forgotten.
6 My people are sheep that are lost, led astray by their shepherds, making them wander aimlessly in the mountains. They go from place to place in the mountains and hills, forgetting where they used to rest. 7 All those who came across them attacked them. Their enemies declared, “We're not to blame! They're the ones who sinned against the Lord, their true resting place; the Lord who was the hope of their forefathers.” 8 Run away from the city of Babylon; get away from the country of Babylonia! Lead the way like the male goats that lead the flock.
9 Look! I'm assembling a coalition of strong northern nations who will come and attack Babylon. They will line up in battle against her; she will be conquered from the north. Their arrows will be like the best warriors—they don't miss! 10 Babylonia will be plundered—everyone who plunders her will have plenty of loot, declares the Lord.
11 Though for now you Babylonians celebrate and sing triumphantly as you plunder my special people, though for now you jump around like a frisky young cow treading out the grain, and neigh like stallions, 12 you are going to bring shame on your mother, you are going to disgrace the one who gave birth to you. Watch as she becomes the least important of all the nations, a wilderness, a dry desert land. 13 Because of Lord's angry punishment, she will be deserted, completely desolate. Everyone who passes by will be horrified at what has happened to Babylon, and sneer at all her wounds.
14 All you archers, line up ready for battle around Babylon. Shoot at her! Don't save your arrows, because she has sinned against the Lord. 15 Shout war-cries against her from every side! She holds up her hands in surrender. Her towers have collapsed; her walls are demolished. This is the Lord paying her back, so you too can pay her back—do the same to her as she did to others. 16 Stop the sower from sowing in the country of Babylon, and stop the harvester swinging the sickle to reap the grain. Under the threat of the enemies' swords, everyone runs home to their own people, they go back to where they came from.
17 The Israelites are a flock that's been chased and scattered by lions. The first on the attack was the king of Assyria; then lastly Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon crushed their bones.
18 So this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: I'm going to punish the king of Babylon and his country just like I punished the king of Assyria. 19 I will lead the Israelites back to their pasturelands, to feed on Carmel and Bashan, to satisfy their appetites on the hills of Ephraim and Gilead. 20 This will be when the guilt and the sins of Israel and Judah will be looked for, but none will be found, because I will forgive those people who remain that I'm looking after, declares the Lord.
Go and attack the land of Merathaim, and the people living in Pekod.‡
Kill them with swords, set them apart for destruction,§
along with everything they leave behind. Make sure you do everything I have ordered you to do, declares the Lord.
22 The noise of battle is heard in the country, the noise of terrible destruction. 23 See how the hammer of the whole earth is lying broken in pieces in the ground! The nations look with horror on what Babylon has become! 24 Babylon, I set a trap for you, and you were caught before you realized it. You were hunted down and captured because you fought against the Lord. 25 In his anger the Lord opened his armory to bring out his weapons, for this is what the Lord God Almighty is doing in the country of Babylonia.
Come and attack her from every side! Open her granaries; collect the loot you take from her like piles of grain. Set her apart for destruction; don't leave any survivors. 27
Kill all her young bulls*
with the sword; let them be slaughtered. What a disaster for them, because their time has come when they're punished.
28 (Listen to the refugees and survivors who have returned from Babylonia, announcing in Zion, “The Lord our God is paying them back for what happened to his Temple.”)
29 Call up the archers to attack Babylon, yes, all of them! Completely surround her—don't let anyone escape. Pay her back for what she's done, because in her pride she defied the Lord, Israel's Holy One. 30 As a result her young men will be killed in the streets; all her soldiers will die that day, declares the Lord. 31 Watch out, because I'm against you, you arrogant people! declares the Lord God Almighty. Your time has come when I will punish you. 32 You arrogant people will trip and fall. Nobody will be there to pick you up. I'm going to set fire to your towns and burn up everything around you.
33 This is what the Lord Almighty says: The people of Israel and Judah are being mistreated. All who captured them are holding onto them, refusing to let them go. 34 But the one who rescues them is powerful; the Lord Almighty is his name. He will defend them and their cause, so he may bring peace on earth, but trouble to the people of Babylon.
35 A sword is raised to attack the Babylonians, declares the Lord, ready to attack those who live in Babylon, and her officials and wise men. 36 A sword is raised to attack her false prophets, and they will become fools. A sword is raised to attack her soldiers, and they will be terrified. 37 A sword is raised to attack her horses and chariots, along with all the foreign soldiers with her, and they will become like frightened women. A sword is raised to attack her stores of treasure, and they will be plundered. 38 A drought has hit her rivers, and they will dry up. For it's a country full of pagan images. These horrible idols drive their worshipers mad. 39 Consequently desert animals and hyenas will live there, and it will be a home for owls. It will be uninhabited forever—it won't be lived in from one generation to the next. 40 In the same way that God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah and their neighboring towns, declares the Lord, no one will live there, no one will stay there.
41 Look! An army is advancing from the north. A great nation and many kings are coming against you from the distant lands. 42 They're carrying bows and javelins. They are cruel and merciless. When they shout it's like the sea roaring. They ride on horses and attack in formation against you, people of Babylon. 43 The king of Babylon has heard the news and he's terrified. He's overcome with fear, in pain like a woman in labor.
I'm going to come like a lion from the tangled undergrowth beside the Jordan to attack the animals grazing‡
the green pasture. In fact I'm going to chase the Babylonians from their land very quickly.
Who will I choose to conquer them? Who is like me? Who can challenge me? Which leader§
could oppose me? 45
So listen to what the Lord has planned to do to Babylon and the country of Babylonia: Their children will be dragged away like lambs from the flock, and because of them their pasture will become a wasteland. 46
The sound of Babylon's capture will make the earth shake; their cries will be heard throughout the nations.