Payback TimeBy Rabbi Jack Abramowitz
G-d spoke to Jeremiah about the fate of Babylonia. Tell all the nations of the fall of Babylonia; their idols Bel and Merodach have been overthrown. Persia and Media will conquer Babylonia, doing to them as they did to so many others. When this happens, the refugees of Israel and Judah will cry (presumably with joy) as they return from exile and seek G-d. They will give each other directions back to their land and they will encourage one another to join with G-d in an eternal covenant. The people were like lost sheep, whose shepherds (the kings) led them astray. They were consumed by their enemies, who absolved themselves of any responsibility, saying that the Jews were punished for disobeying G-d. The Jews will walk out of Babylonia without fear or hesitation.
Babylonia will be attacked by a consortium of nations, who will fire arrows at them with great accuracy. The land of the Chaldeans will be plundered, satisfying the invaders. Just as the Babylonians rejoiced when they conquered nations, other will rejoice in subduing them. The start of Babylonia was great, but their end will be the desert. Because they rebelled against G-d, Babylonia will become desolate. The attacking armies will surround the Babylonians, casting stones, firing arrows, and shouting to create chaos in their ranks; it’s payback time.
The Babylonian farmer, who wields a sickle, will be cut off from the land. (This may be a metaphor for the Babylonian king, who wields a sword.) All of the exiles living under Babylonian dominion will run to their homelands. The people of Israel are like sheep, scattered by attacking lions, Assyria and Babylonia. G-d will repay Babylonia for their evil as he did to Assyria. The Jews will return to the land of Israel and their sins will be forgiven and forgotten.
G-d tells Cyrus (who was foretold by Isaiah in chapters 44-45 of that prophet’s Book) to march against Babylonia. Babylonia, the hammer that shattered the rest of the world, is now broken itself. G-d opened up His armory and took out the weapons He would use against them. The Babylonians will end up being threshed like grain.
The Jewish refugees who will flee from Babylonia (in the time of Darius) will tell of G-d’s vengeance. The Babylonians will be repaid for their deeds, their youths and warriors falling in battle. G-d opposes evil people; He will cause them to fall and there will be nobody to pick them up.
The people of Israel and Judah were taken hostage; now G-d will redeem them. The world will finally rest and have peace, except for Babylonia. The sword is coming upon the Babylonians, the Chaldeans, their officers and sorcerers, their horses and chariots, and any allies among them. Their treasuries will be emptied and their water will dry up because they are a land of idolatry. Animals will inhabit the ruins of their buildings and those cities will never be inhabited again, like Sodom and Gemorrah.
The Persians and Medes are coming for the Babylonians from the north, as are Darius and Cyrus from the east. They will have no mercy on them. Belshazzar, then king of Babylonia, will be unable to defend against them.
When G-d brings this about, no one will be able to prevent it because nobody can thwart His will. So heed the plan of G-d regarding Babylonia, who will be conquered by the youngest. (Persia is descended from the youngest of the sons of Japheth, as we mentioned in the previous chapter.) The world will tremble when they hear the fate of Babylonia.