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In light of Rev. 18-19, we must view Babylon as an actual pagan nation that will ultimately be overthrown in the end times, as well as symbolical of the powerful pagan world system that will also meet its demise (both near and far fulfillment of prophecy).

Brian Bell: In scripture Babylon symbolizes “man’s worldly system” organized in opposition to God.

1.2.1. Babel (confusion) Gen.11. {Babel in Greek is Babylon}. Founded in about 3000 BC by Nimrod.

1.2.2. Babylon is the capital city of Shinar (Gen), later to be called Chaldea.

1.2.3. Dealt w/again in the End times, esp. Rev.17,18 where “Babylon the Great” symbolizes the anti-God system that controls the end of the world. Babylon is both a city & a system! – Like we speak of Wall Street & Madison Ave. – They are actual streets, but also stand for the financial or advertising enterprises.

1.2.4. Note also: The city of Babylon always stands in contrast w/the city of Jerusalem! The proud city of man, vs. the Holy city of God! The earthly city of human splendor, opposing the heavenly city that Glorifies God!

Gregg Allen: Babylon was God’s instrument of judgment. It was His “hammer” – His “battle-ax” and His “weapons of war” – which He used to break nations to pieces (51:20-23). But it was also a proud and arrogant instrument; and so promises in these two chapters to break His “hammer” into pieces (50:23). It’s a reminder to us that it is God Himself who ordains all that occurs; and that all nations – even the greatest – are but a drop in a bucket to Him (Isa. 40:15).

At the same time, we also see clearly that – even in judgment – God does not abandon the people to whom He pledged Himself (50:4-7). They had lost their way; but they were never out of His sight or out of His care.

Mackay: Both the immediate policy prescription of submission to Babylon and the longer term prediction of the overthrow of Babylon may be integrated as parts of one scenario arising out of the Lord’s purposes for his people. That, at the end of the day, is the abiding reality; the Lord, his jurisdiction, power and purpose.



“The word which the LORD spoke concerning Babylon,

the land of the Chaldeans, through Jeremiah the prophet:”

Parunak: Rev. 18-19 makes extensive use of this prophecy in its description of the apostasy of the last times.

1) Fits well with our conclusion that the destruction of Babylon here described is still future.

2) Also cautions us that we should not be too eager to spiritualize Babylon into the Roman Catholic organization, though undoubtedly all ungodly religion will play an important role in that last rebellion.

H. A. Ironsides: In no other city did idolatry assume so fearful a form and so dreadful an aspect as in the great city Babylon. She was, as before pointed out, the mother of almost every heathen system. From her, too, mystical Babylon borrowed far more than many have any conception. Almost every unscriptural practice in the great Romish apostasy can be traced back to the Babylonish rites and ceremonies.

A. (:2-3) Babylon Conquered by Nation from the North

1. (:2) Shocking Capture

“Declare and proclaim among the nations.

Proclaim it and lift up a standard.

Do not conceal it but say,

‘Babylon has been captured,

Bel has been put to shame, Marduk has been shattered;

Her images have been put to shame, her idols have been shattered.’”

Parunak: God’s victory against Babylon is explicitly a defeat and shame to her idols.

Mackay: The day was going to come when the whole political order of the world would be turned upside down, and what seemed to be the abiding contours of the international landscape would be dramatically reshaped. At that time the religious beliefs of the empire would be exposed as without substantive basis.

2. (:3) Shameful Condition

“For a nation has come up against her out of the north; it will make her land an object of horror, and there will be no inhabitant in it. Both man and beast have wandered off, they have gone away!”

B. (:4-5) Chosen People Renew Everlasting Covenant Relationship

1. (:4) Reuniting of Israel and Judah in Seeking Covenant Relationship

“‘In those days and at that time,’ declares the LORD, ‘the sons of Israel will come, both they and the sons of Judah as well; they will go along weeping as they go, and it will be the LORD their God they will seek.’”

Mackay: Seeking the Lord involves turning from wicked ways and worshipping him in humility, and is the response of those who have renewed their covenant pledge of loyalty to the Lord and now desire to know his will for every aspect of their living. Those who approach the Lord in such a manner are recognized by him as his own and are blessed by him.

2. (:5) Renewal of Everlasting Covenant

“They will ask for the way to Zion, turning their faces in its direction; they will come that they may join themselves to the LORD in an everlasting covenant that will not be forgotten.”

Constable: Israel has not yet experienced the changes that the New Covenant promised (e.g. Jeremiah 32:40). She did not enter into this covenant with God after Babylon fell to the Persians.

Mackay: Unlike the Exodus in which the people are now found, the situation that is envisaged is one that will not come to an end. Dislocation, disruption and disharmony will be permanently banished. This vision therefore combines union between the two parts of the divided peoples with repentance and genuine desire to restore their relationship with the Lord in an enduring covenant bond (32:40).

C. (:6-7) Israel’s History Demonstrates Vulnerability to Abuse

1. (:6) Abused by Their Spiritual Leaders Who Should Have Nurtured Them

“My people have become lost sheep;

Their shepherds have led them astray.

They have made them turn aside on the mountains;

They have gone along from mountain to hill

And have forgotten their resting place.”

Bad shepherds are more concerned with how they can benefit from the flock rather than how they can protect and nurture the flock under their charge.

2. (:7) Abused by Enemy Nations Who Justify Their Actions

“All who came upon them have devoured them;

And their adversaries have said, ‘We are not guilty,

Inasmuch as they have sinned against the LORD

who is the habitation of righteousness,

Even the LORD, the hope of their fathers.’”

Constable: Enemies had devoured these “sheep,” but had rationalized their sin by saying that the Israelites deserved what they got because they had sinned against their God.

Longman: With such bad leaders, the people of God were like sheep without a shepherd. They not only got lost but they were devoured by their enemies who acted like wolves that prey on sheep. They had wandered from their true pasture, the Lord, where the shepherds were supposed to keep them for their safety, and they were eaten. The picture of God as the pasture of the people means that he is the source of their security and the one who supplies their needs.

D. (:8-10) Command to Flee Babylon in Anticipation of Plundering Attack

1. (:8) Depart While There is Still Time

“Wander away from the midst of Babylon

And go forth from the land of the Chaldeans;

Be also like male goats at the head of the flock.”

Thompson: Once the sheepfold was opened the male goats would rush to leave the enclosure first. So Judah would be in the forefront of captive peoples breaking loose from Babylon to return home.

2. (:9) Devastation is Coming

“For behold, I am going to arouse and bring up against Babylon

A horde of great nations from the land of the north,

And they will draw up their battle lines against her;

From there she will be taken captive.

Their arrows will be like an expert warrior

Who does not return empty-handed.”

3. (:10) Destruction Will Be Comprehensive

“‘Chaldea will become plunder;

All who plunder her will have enough,’ declares the LORD.”


A. (:11-13) Babylon Shamed

1. (:11) Reason: Taking Pleasure in Pillaging Israel

“Because you are glad, because you are jubilant,

O you who pillage My heritage,

Because you skip about like a threshing heifer

And neigh like stallions,”

Mackay: Babylon had acted with unrestrained, reckless abandon, acknowledging no limits to what they did in devastating countries they conquered.

2. (:12-13) Result: Utter Humiliation

“Your mother will be greatly ashamed,

She who gave you birth will be humiliated.

Behold, she will be the least of the nations,

A wilderness, a parched land and a desert.

Because of the indignation of the LORD she will not be inhabited,

But she will be completely desolate;

Everyone who passes by Babylon will be horrified

And will hiss because of all her wounds.”

B. (:14-16) Babylon Sacked

1. (:14) Her Offense – Why the Command to Attack Babylon?

“Draw up your battle lines against Babylon on every side,

All you who bend the bow;

Shoot at her, do not be sparing with your arrows,

For she has sinned against the LORD.”

2. (:15) Her Opponent – Vengeance of the Lord

“Raise your battle cry against her on every side!

She has given herself up, her pillars have fallen,

Her walls have been torn down.

For this is the vengeance of the LORD:

Take vengeance on her;

As she has done to others, so do to her.”

Mackay: This theological statement (re Retribution) shows that the ultimate standard of conduct is not what empires think they can get away with, but what the Lord mandates as right and appropriate. There will be a correspondence between sin and punishment (e.g. Obad. 15; Lev. 24:19).

3. (:16) Her Oppression

“Cut off the sower from Babylon

And the one who wields the sickle at the time of harvest;

From before the sword of the oppressor

They will each turn back to his own people

And they will each flee to his own land.”

Constable: The agricultural cycle would end, from sowing to reaping, because of the fighting of Babylon’s enemy. The enemy soldiers would return to their own lands when they finished their job.


A. (:17) Israel Disciplined by Pagan Nations

“Israel is a scattered flock, the lions have driven them away. The first one who devoured him was the king of Assyria, and this last one who has broken his bones is Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon.”

B. (:18) Israel Vindicated by the Punishment of Her Enemies

“Therefore thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: ‘Behold, I am going to punish the king of Babylon and his land, just as I punished the king of Assyria.’”

C. (:19) Israel Restored to Prosperity in the Promised Land

“And I will bring Israel back to his pasture and he will graze on Carmel and Bashan, and his desire will be satisfied in the hill country of Ephraim and Gilead.”

D. (:20) Israel Pardoned at the End

“‘In those days and at that time,’ declares the LORD, ‘search will be made for the iniquity of Israel, but there will be none; and for the sins of Judah, but they will not be found; for I will pardon those whom I leave as a remnant.’”

Feinberg: This short paragraph (17-20) summarizes the biblical interpretation of Israel’s history. The sufferings of Israel are stated (v. 17), then the judgment God will bring on those who inflicted such sufferings on Israel (v. 18), next her return to her land in peace and plenty (v. 19), and, finally, the greatest blessing of all – the pardon of Israel’s iniquity (v. 20). All these will be realized in messianic times, as v. 20 declares.


A. (:21-22) Destruction Orchestrated by the Lord

1. (:21) Divine Command

“’Against the land of Merathaim, go up against it,

And against the inhabitants of Pekod.

Slay and utterly destroy them,’ declares the LORD,

‘And do according to all that I have commanded you.’”

“Merathaim” means “double rebellion”

“Pekod” means “visitation”

Mackay: This presents the key to interpreting what the invading force are called on to do: they are to act under direct divine instructions. It is the Lord who controls what happens to Babylon and authorizes its overthrow.

2. (:22) Divine Destruction

“The noise of battle is in the land,

And great destruction.”

B. (:23-24) Trap Set by the Lord

1. (:23) Powerful Nation Reduced to Object of Derision

“How the hammer of the whole earth

Has been cut off and broken!

How Babylon has become

An object of horror among the nations!”

2. (:24) Babylon Captured Unawares by the Lord

“I set a snare for you and you were also caught, O Babylon,

While you yourself were not aware;

You have been found and also seized

Because you have engaged in conflict with the LORD.”

Constable: The Lord described Babylon as a wild animal snared in a trap, and as a thief caught unexpectedly-because she had conflicted with Him. Previously Babylon had ensnared other nations.

C. (:25-26) Weapons Unleashed by the Lord

1. (:25) Weapons of Divine Vengeance

“The LORD has opened His armory

And has brought forth the weapons of His indignation,

For it is a work of the Lord GOD of hosts

In the land of the Chaldeans.”

2. (:26) Complete Devastation

“Come to her from the farthest border;

Open up her barns,

Pile her up like heaps

And utterly destroy her,

Let nothing be left to her.”

D. (:27-28) Death and Flight as a Result of Divine Vengeance

1. (:27) Death of Strong Warriors

“Put all her young bulls to the sword;

Let them go down to the slaughter!

Woe be upon them, for their day has come,

The time of their punishment.”

2. (:28) Flight of Remaining Fugitives

“There is a sound of fugitives and refugees from the land of Babylon,

To declare in Zion the vengeance of the LORD our God,

Vengeance for His temple.”


A. (:29) Punishment for Arrogance Deserved

“Summon many against Babylon,

All those who bend the bow:

Encamp against her on every side,

Let there be no escape.

Repay her according to her work;

According to all that she has done, so do to her;

For she has become arrogant against the LORD,

Against the Holy One of Israel.”

Mackay: “Defiled” sums up the presumption and arrogance with which Babylon has behaved as a militaristic empire. In Jeremiah “Holy One” (qados) as an epithet of God occurs only here and in 51:5, though it is very common in Isaiah. Possibly this indicates the extent to which the prophecies of the earlier prophet were in Jeremiah’s mind at this time. The term reflects the distance between the Lord and all possible competitors. He is supreme in power and ethically superior to all hypothetical deities. He is the eternal being who is the focus of Israel’s worship, and those who set themselves up against him bring doom upon themselves.

B. (:30) Punishment for Arrogance Described

“‘Therefore her young men will fall in her streets,

And all her men of war will be silenced in that day,’ declares the LORD.”

C. (:31-32) Punishment for Arrogance Destined

1. (:31) Day Has Come

“‘Behold, I am against you, O arrogant one,’

Declares the Lord GOD of hosts,

‘For your day has come,

The time when I will punish you.’”

2. (:32) No Deliverer

“The arrogant one will stumble and fall

With no one to raise him up;

And I will set fire to his cities

And it will devour all his environs.”


A. (:33-34) Redeemer Executes Divine Vengeance

1. (:33) Israel Oppressed by Babylon

“Thus says the LORD of hosts,

‘The sons of Israel are oppressed,

And the sons of Judah as well;

And all who took them captive have held them fast,

They have refused to let them go.’”

Mackay: The problem is often raised of how the Lord could here be punishing Babylon for the role she played in the fall of Jerusalem, when Jeremiah had told Zedekiah that Babylon was performing the will of God in coming against the city (37:7-10; 38:18). One must distinguish between God’s overruling of man’s evil intentions to work out divine purposes and the accountability of individuals and nations for their attitudes and actions.

2. (:34) Divine Redeemer Will Attack Babylon to Free His People

“Their Redeemer is strong, the LORD of hosts is His name;

He will vigorously plead their case

So that He may bring rest to the earth,

But turmoil to the inhabitants of Babylon.”

MacArthur: The OT concept of kinsman-redeemer included the protection of a relative’s person and property, the avenging of a relative’s murder, the purchase of alienated property, and even the marriage of his widow (cf. Lv 25:25; Nu 35:21; Ru 4:4).

Mackay: The divine designation is deliberately used to assert not only God’s willingness to act on behalf of his own, but also to indicate the resources at his disposal to ensure that his actions are effective.

B. (:35-38) Divine Vengeance Pictured as a Conquering Sword

1. (:35) Summary

“‘A sword against the Chaldeans,’ declares the LORD,

‘And against the inhabitants of Babylon

And against her officials and her wise men!’”

2. (:36a) Directed Against Her Priests

“A sword against the oracle priests, and they will become fools!”

3. (:36b) Directed Against Her Mighty Men

“A sword against her mighty men, and they will be shattered!”

4. (:37a) Directed Against Her Military Machine and Foreign Mercenaries

“A sword against their horses and against their chariots

And against all the foreigners who are in the midst of her,

And they will become women!”

5. (:37b) Directed Against Her Material Wealth

“A sword against her treasures, and they will be plundered!”

6. (:38) Directed Against Her Natural Resources on Account of Idolatry

“A drought on her waters, and they will be dried up!

For it is a land of idols,

And they are mad over fearsome idols.”

Alternate reading is a “sword” against her waters – to continue this same repetition of thought – just requires the changing of one vowel.

Constable: The city of Babylon depended on waterways for irrigation and agriculture, just as the whole nation relied on the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers and their tributaries and canals.

C. (:39-40) Divine Vengeance Makes Babylon Uninhabitable

“‘Therefore the desert creatures will live there along with the jackals;

The ostriches also will live in it,

And it will never again be inhabited

Or dwelt in from generation to generation.

As when God overthrew Sodom

And Gomorrah with its neighbors,’ declares the LORD,

‘No man will live there,

Nor will any son of man reside in it.’”


A. (:41) Identified as a Great Nation from the North

“Behold, a people is coming from the north,

And a great nation and many kings

Will be aroused from the remote parts of the earth.”

B. (:42) Characterized as Powerful, Cruel and Unstoppable

“They seize their bow and javelin;

They are cruel and have no mercy.

Their voice roars like the sea;

And they ride on horses,

Marshalled like a man for the battle

Against you, O daughter of Babylon.”

C. (:43) Feared by the King of Babylon

“The king of Babylon has heard the report about them,

And his hands hang limp;

Distress has gripped him,

Agony like a woman in childbirth.”


A. (:44) Grand Incoronation of Divine Majestic Sovereignty

“Behold, one will come up like a lion from the thicket of the Jordan to a perennially watered pasture; for in an instant I will make them run away from it, and whoever is chosen I will appoint over it. For who is like Me, and who will summon Me into court? And who then is the shepherd who can stand before Me?”

David Guzik: There was no shepherd, no king, no leader who could stand against Him and His coming judgment.

B. (:45) Gruesome Intentions of the God of Vengeance

“Therefore hear the plan of the LORD which He has planned against Babylon, and His purposes which He has purposed against the land of the Chaldeans: surely they will drag them off, even the little ones of the flock; surely He will make their pasture desolate because of them.”

C. (:46) Global Impact of the Capture of Babylon

“At the shout, ‘Babylon has been seized!’ the earth is shaken, and an outcry is heard among the nations.”