Jeremiah 50 Commentary

A message concerning Babylon (50:1-46)

Finally, Jeremiah sees that the nation that God used to punish Judah will itself be punished. Bel, or Merodach (Marduk), the chief god of Babylon, will be powerless to save Babylon when the attack comes (50:1-3).

Since the Judeans will by this time have humbly repented before God, the downfall of Babylon will give them the opportunity to return to the land where their ancestors once lived (4-5). (When Cyrus of Persia conquered Babylon in 539 BC, he promptly gave permission to the Jews to return; see 2 Chron 36:22-23.)

Judah’s leaders have been guilty, for they have led the nation astray (6), but the Babylonians have also been guilty (in spite of their denials), for they have done to Judah as they wished (7). Therefore, while the Jews will return from Babylon (in fact, they will be the first of the captive nations to find freedom), Babylon itself will be punished (8-10).

Arrogant self-confident Babylon boasted that it had conquered and plundered Judah, the people of Yahweh (11). Now Babylon will be disgraced, as the wrath of God is poured out upon it (12-13). The attackers will be as ferocious against Babylon as Babylon has been against others. Once it has been defeated, the nations it has held captive will escape to their own lands (14-16).

The northern kingdom Israel had been conquered by Assyria, then Assyria by Babylon, so that the exiled people of Israel as well as those of Judah eventually came under Babylon’s power. But now Babylon will fall. Israel and Judah will return to their land, a united and forgiven people (17-20).


Continuing with his pictures of the downfall of Babylon, the prophet sees the attackers being urged to go up and attack its various cities (21-22). Like a hammer Babylon had smashed others, but now Babylon itself will be smashed. Its stores of food will be destroyed and its soldiers killed (23-27). The captive Judeans will return home, where they will praise God for justly punishing their oppressor (28), but the arrogant Babylonians will be left with no one to help them (29-32). God redeems those who are oppressed but punishes those who oppress them (33-34).

No matter how wise Babylon’s rulers, how clever its sorcerers or how strong its soldiers, all alike will be killed. The nation’s chariot forces will be destroyed and its treasures plundered (35-37). Through drought and war the land will be ruined and left unsuitable for human habitation (38-40).

The prophet pictures the fear of Babylon’s king as he hears the news of the onrushing conquest by Persia and its allies (41-43). When God acts against Babylon there is no hope of escape. Babylon is likened to a flock of sheep attacked by a lion. In terror it cries out as it comes to a cruel and bitter end (44- 46).

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