Thursday, January 18, 2024

Babylon’s Destruction (18.9–19)


And the earth’s kings—those who commited sexual immorality with her and indulged—will lament and mourn for her when they see the smoke of her burning. They will stand far away in fear of her torture, saying, ‘Woe, woe to the great city Babylon, the strong city, because judgment came to you in one hour.’

And the earth’s merchants will lament and mourn for her, because no one buys their cargo anymore: cargo of gold and silver and precious stone and pearls and fine linen and purple and silk and scarlet and all cedar wood and every ivory object and every expensive object of wood and bronze and iron and marble and cinnamon and spice and incenses and myrrh and frankincense and wine and oil and fine flour and wheat and livestock and sheep and horses and chariots and slaves and souls of men. ‘And the ripe fruit your soul desired has left you, and all the bright and shiny things are lost from you, and they will never be found again.’

The merchants of these things, who were enriched from her, will stand far away in fear of her torture, lamenting and mourning, saying, ‘Woe, woe to the great city dressed in fine linen and purple and scarlet and gilded in gold and precious stone and pearl, because such wealth was desolated.’

And every captain and everyone sailing places, and sailors, and anyone who works with the sea, will stand far away and yell at seeing the smoke of her burning, saying, ‘What was like the great city?’

And they threw dust on their heads and yelled, lamenting and mourning, saying, ‘Woe, woe to the great city—all who have ships in the sea were enriched by her wealth—because she was desolated in one hour.


All of chapter 18 is a lament for the fall of Rome, written from the perspective of those who benefited from its tyranny. The chapter is based closely on Ezekiel 26–28, which features a similar lament for the city Tyre. Woven into the lament for Rome are insults and criticisms derived mainly from Jeremiah’s prophecies against the historical Babylon, which this book uses as a codename for Rome due to both empires having destroyed Jerusalem and its temple.



26.21 I will bring you to a dreadful end, and you shall be no more; though sought for, you will never be found again, says the Lord Yhwh.

27.12–25, 29–32 Tarshish did business with you out of the abundance of your great wealth; silver, iron, tin, and lead they exchanged for your wares. Javan, Tubal, and Meshech traded with you; they exchanged human beings and vessels of bronze for your merchandise. Beth-togarmah exchanged for your wares horses, war-horses, and mules. The Rhodians traded with you; many coastlands were your own special markets; they brought you in payment ivory tusks and ebony. Edom did business with you because of your abundant goods; they exchanged for your wares turquoise, purple, embroidered work, fine linen, coral, and rubies. Judah and the land of Israel traded with you; they exchanged for your merchandise wheat from Minnith, millet, honey, oil, and balm. Damascus traded with you for your abundant goods—because of your great wealth of every kind—wine of Helbon, and white wool. Vedan and Javan from Uzal entered into trade for your wares; wrought iron, cassia, and sweet cane were bartered for your merchandise. Dedan traded with you in saddlecloths for riding. Arabia and all the princes of Kedar were your favoured dealers in lambs, rams, and goats; in these they did business with you. The merchants of Sheba and Raamah traded with you; they exchanged for your wares the best of all kinds of spices, and all precious stones, and gold. Haran, Canneh, Eden, the merchants of Sheba, Asshur, and Chilmad traded with you. These traded with you in choice garments, in clothes of blue and embroidered work, and in carpets of coloured material, bound with cords and made secure; in these they traded with you. The ships of Tarshish travelled for you in your trade. […] The mariners and all the pilots of the sea stand on the shore and wail aloud over you, and cry bitterly. They throw dust on their heads and wallow in ashes; they make themselves bald for you, and put on sackcloth, and they weep over you in bitterness of soul, with bitter mourning. In their wailing they raise a lamentation for you, and lament over you: ‘Who was ever destroyed like Tyre in the midst of the sea?’


2.12 When they saw him from a distance, they did not recognize him, and they raised their voices and wept aloud; they tore their robes and threw dust in the air upon their heads.

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