Jeremiah 50


After prophesying against the other nations, Jeremiah now prophesies against mighty Babylon. This and the next Chapter, Jeremiah 51, will prophesy Babylon’s fall, and there are also, in these two chapters, references to the deliverance of God’s people from their captivity.

These two chapters cannot really be outlined. You will have noticed that the whole book of Jeremiah is somewhat haphazard, as I warned you before we even started our study of Jeremiah. These two chapters are also haphazard. I suppose you could call them a collection of prophecies.

There are two main themes in these two chapters, there is the fall of Babylon, and there is the return of God’s people from exile. Babylon may have been used as God’s rod to chasten the other nations, but they too had it coming to them. God would put ‘Bel’ to shame, make ‘him’ lose his face. He was supposed to be the strongest deity in the Middle East.

The king in power at the fall of Babylon would be Evil-Merodach. He would be dismayed and unable to believe it.

‘A nation from the north will attack her’. This phrase, out of the north, is used to indicate the nation that will be used to bring Babylon down. And the only nation capable of this task would be the Medo-Persians. The reason for her fall is because of her over-zealous cruelty They didn’t leave a thing in Judah, Jeremiah 50:17. Jeremiah must have felt great pleasure at telling them this, in a way, Judah is vindicated.

‘This is the word the LORD spoke through Jeremiah the prophet concerning Babylon and the land of the Babylonians: ‘Announce and proclaim among the nations, lift up a banner and proclaim it; keep nothing back, but say, ‘Babylon will be captured; Bel will be put to shame, Marduk filled with terror. Her images will be put to shame and her idols filled with terror.’ A nation from the north will attack her and lay waste her land. No one will live in it; both people and animals will flee away. ‘In those days, at that time,’ declares the LORD, ‘the people of Israel and the people of Judah together will go in tears to seek the LORD their God. They will ask the way to Zion and turn their faces toward it. They will come and bind themselves to the LORD in an everlasting covenant that will not be forgotten. ‘My people have been lost sheep; their shepherds have led them astray and caused them to roam on the mountains. They wandered over mountain and hill and forgot their own resting place. Whoever found them devoured them; their enemies said, ‘We are not guilty, for they sinned against the LORD, their verdant pasture, the LORD, the hope of their ancestors.’ ‘Flee out of Babylon; leave the land of the Babylonians, and be like the goats that lead the flock. For I will stir up and bring against Babylon an alliance of great nations from the land of the north. They will take up their positions against her, and from the north she will be captured. Their arrows will be like skilled warriors who do not return empty-handed. So, Babylonia will be plundered; all who plunder her will have their fill,’ declares the LORD.’ Jeremiah 50:1-10

Verse 2 says that ‘her Idols are filled with terror.’ You might find it interesting to know that the Hebrew word here literally means ‘dung balls’. Perhaps you already knew that Ezekiel used the word 38 times when speaking of pagan idols.

I am sure you will remember that Judah was warned that ‘a nation from the north’, would come against them, and Babylon was north of Judah. But this is also true of Babylon, because ‘out of the north,’ came the Medes. They were actually northwest of Babylon. Cyrus was said to have captured the city of Babylon by diverting the Euphrates out of its normal channel, and this diversion took place north of Babylon. Babylon will be totally destroyed.

‘Because you rejoice and are glad, you who pillage my inheritance, because you frolic like a heifer threshing grain and neigh like stallions, your mother will be greatly ashamed; she who gave you birth will be disgraced. She will be the least of the nations—a wilderness, a dry land, a desert. Because of the LORD’s anger she will not be inhabited but will be completely desolate. All who pass Babylon will be appalled; they will scoff because of all her wounds. ‘Take up your positions around Babylon, all you who draw the bow. Shoot at her! Spare no arrows, for she has sinned against the LORD. Shout against her on every side! She surrenders, her towers fall, her walls are torn down. Since this is the vengeance of the LORD, take vengeance on her; do to her as she has done to others. Cut off from Babylon the sower, and the reaper with his sickle at harvest. Because of the sword of the oppressor let everyone return to their own people, let everyone flee to their own land.’ Jeremiah 50:11-16

We see the reasons for God’s anger here. God says, you rejoiced and were glad when you pillaged my people. The Babylonians were having a great time destroying Judah, they are compared to a heifer threshing corn, to be neighing like stallions.

Despite the promises here that Babylon would be destroyed, the prophesy isn’t going to happen immediately. In fact, it is believed that there was a long period of decline.

Verse 12 tells us that she will be a wilderness, a dry land, and a desert. Many years would have to go by before this prophecy was fulfilled.

‘Israel is a scattered flock that lions have chased away. The first to devour them was the king of Assyria; the last to crush their bones was Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon.’ Therefore, this is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: ‘I will punish the king of Babylon and his land as I punished the king of Assyria. But I will bring Israel back to their own pasture, and they will graze on Carmel and Bashan; their appetite will be satisfied on the hills of Ephraim and Gilead. In those days, at that time,’ declares the LORD, ‘search will be made for Israel’s guilt, but there will be none, and for the sins of Judah, but none will be found, for I will forgive the remnant I spare.’ Jeremiah 50:17-20

This section refers to two events, the destruction of the Northern Kingdom by Assyria in 722 B.C., and the first wave of captives taken into Babylon in 597 B.C. The message here seems to be, that just as God destroyed the king of Assyria at Nineveh, so God will destroy the Babylonians.

‘Attack the land of Merathaim and those who live in Pekod. Pursue, kill and completely destroy them,’ declares the LORD. ‘Do everything I have commanded you. The noise of battle is in the land, the noise of great destruction! How broken and shattered is the hammer of the whole earth! How desolate is Babylon among the nations! I set a trap for you, Babylon, and you were caught before you knew it; you were found and captured because you opposed the LORD. The LORD has opened his arsenal and brought out the weapons of his wrath, for the Sovereign LORD Almighty has work to do in the land of the Babylonians. Come against her from afar. Break open her granaries; pile her up like heaps of grain. Completely destroy her and leave her no remnant. Kill all her young bulls; let them go down to the slaughter! Woe to them! For their day has come, the time for them to be punished. Listen to the fugitives and refugees from Babylon declaring in Zion how the LORD our God has taken vengeance, vengeance for his temple.’ Jeremiah 50:21-28

The context returns to judgment upon Babylon. Merathaim and Pekod were symbolic names for Babylon to portray her sin. She was the hammer that broke the nations. She is now broken and shattered. God opened the armoury of His weapons that He uses against the nations. He unleashed His weapons upon the nation that had tormented and destroyed so many other nations. Babylon was a warrior nation, and thus God was a strong warrior against her.

As Babylon had snared other nations, so she was snared. The city of Babylon fell to the Medes and Persians with very little struggle. The Babylonian Empire capitulated without any major battle, though she had been built as a result of victories in great battles.

‘How broken and shattered is the hammer of the whole earth.’ This is an interesting term of reference, that Babylon should be called ‘the hammer of the whole earth.’ This is a term used to describe the victory of Judas Maccabaeus over Syria, and even one of the kings of England, Edward 1, has inscribed on his tomb in Westminster Abbey the same words, ‘hammer of the Scots’, only they are written in Latin.

Babylon’s destruction of the temple was to the Babylonians a sign that they had overcome the God of the Jews. Thus, judgment on Babylon was God’s vengeance on them for thinking that they had defeated the God of the Jews. Those in Jerusalem, therefore, would rejoice when the announcement would be made that Babylon had fallen.

‘Summon archers against Babylon, all those who draw the bow. Encamp all around her; let no one escape. Repay her for her deeds; do to her as she has done. For she has defied the LORD, the Holy One of Israel. Therefore, her young men will fall in the streets; all her soldiers will be silenced in that day,’ declares the LORD. ‘See, I am against you, you arrogant one,’ declares the Lord, the LORD Almighty, ‘for your day has come, the time for you to be punished. The arrogant one will stumble and fall, and no one will help her up; I will kindle a fire in her towns that will consume all who are around her.’ Jeremiah 50:29-32

Verse 30 here is the same as Jeremiah 49:26. There are other occasions when Jeremiah repeated his words in this book. Babylon was to be rewarded for her work. As she had done to others, so it would be done to her. As she took other nations out of existence, so she would be taken out of existence. As she was proud and arrogant against others, other nations were called to humble her.

‘This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘The people of Israel are oppressed, and the people of Judah as well. All their captors hold them fast, refusing to let them go. Yet their Redeemer is strong; the LORD Almighty is his name. He will vigorously defend their cause so that he may bring rest to their land, but unrest to those who live in Babylon.’ Jeremiah 50:33-34

Israel is encouraged by her deliverance. Israel was in bondage from which she could not deliver herself. Only God could work among the nations in order to release her from her captivity. Through God’s grace, therefore, Israel was released from bondage and brought back to her homeland.

However, it took the destruction of her captors in order to accomplish the freedom of His people. And so, it has happened in reference to the Christian’s deliverance from the kingdom of Satan, Ephesians 4:7-10.

‘A sword against the Babylonians!’ declares the LORD—’ against those who live in Babylon and against her officials and wise men! A sword against her false prophets! They will become fools. A sword against her warriors! They will be filled with terror. A sword against her horses and chariots and all the foreigners in her ranks! They will become weaklings. A sword against her treasures! They will be plundered. A drought on her waters! They will dry up. For it is a land of idols, idols that will go mad with terror. ‘So, desert creatures and hyenas will live there, and there the owl will dwell. It will never again be inhabited or lived in from generation to generation. As I overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah along with their neighbouring towns,’ declares the LORD, ‘so no one will live there; no people will dwell in it.’ Jeremiah 50:35-40

As the Babylonians had used the sword to amass their empire, so the sword will devour the nation. All the leaders, princes and priests alike, would suffer from the strike of the sword. Those mercenaries who were in allegiance with the Babylonians, would forsake their commitment and allow the empire to fall.

Though their soldiers were fierce against those they conquered, they would become feeble as women. She would be plundered of her riches and made ashamed of her idols, which idol gods would not deliver her in her day of calamity.

As the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah ceased to exist, so would the Babylonian Empire. People continue to exist who make up empires, but the government, kings and princes, cease, no longer to rise again.

Since many of the ancient empires were based on the leadership of a predominant king, and his son or sons who reigned after him, when the dynasty was terminated, the empire ceased to exist. So, it would be with the Babylonian Empire. The people of the empire would continue under the control of a new empire.

‘Look! An army is coming from the north; a great nation and many kings are being stirred up from the ends of the earth. They are armed with bows and spears; they are cruel and without mercy. They sound like the roaring sea as they ride on their horses; they come like men in battle formation to attack you, Daughter Babylon. The king of Babylon has heard reports about them, and his hands hang limp. Anguish has gripped him, pain like that of a woman in labour. Like a lion coming up from Jordan’s thickets to a rich pastureland, I will chase Babylon from its land in an instant. Who is the chosen one I will appoint for this? Who is like me and who can challenge me? And what shepherd can stand against me?’ Therefore, hear what the LORD has planned against Babylon, what he has purposed against the land of the Babylonians: The young of the flock will be dragged away; their pasture will be appalled at their fate. At the sound of Babylon’s capture the earth will tremble; its cry will resound among the nations.’ Jeremiah 50:41-46

A coalition between the Medes and Persians took over the Babylonian Empire in 539 B.C. As Babylon had shown no mercy to the nations she conquered, no mercy would be shown to her. In reference to the King of Babylon, read Daniel 5 where Belshazzar was given a sign of his doom.

The fall of the Babylonian Empire caused great joy among all the nations who had succumbed to her might. All those exiles who had been taken from their homelands rejoiced over the empire that had decimated their homelands. There was no remorse over the fall of the Babylonian Empire.

This prophecy against the Babylonians continues into the next chapter, Jeremiah 51. The next chapter is the longest chapter in the book, with 64 verses. These two chapters combined consist of 110 verses.

They are, together, the longest single prophecy of Jeremiah’s. Perhaps that gives some indication of the extent of God’s anger against them.

Go To Jeremiah 51