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Saturday, June 21, 2014

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The Chaldeans were the descendants of Nahor, Abraham’s brother, who first lived in Ur of the Chaldeans. Later they moved south, conquered the city of Babylon, and made it their capital. Therefore, in this chapter the place where the Chaldeans lived in the land of Babylon and in the near-by places is called “Chaldea” (v.24).

Jeremiah (vs. 3-4) says, “Do not spare the young men of Babylon, utterly destroy all its host.”  Cyrus conquered Babylon and killed Belshazzar the king, but did not destroy the city of Babylon, and did not kill the soldiers. The prophecy of God is always conditional.  If the Babylonian army had resisted and not surrendered to Medes, Cyrus might have destroyed all the Babylonian soldiers. The city of Babylon continued until the time of Seleucus Nicator.  After he built the city of Selucia near Babylon, the people moved from Babylon to Selucia and the city of Babylon became a ruin as foretold by Jeremiah (vs. 26, 29).   

One reason for the divine punishment of the Babylonian kingdom was the needless atrocities against Judah and its city Jerusalem (v. 35).  Another reason was the sin committed against the Holy One of Israel (v. 5). The Babylonian soldiers, who obviously were not priests, went into the holy places of God’s temple in Jerusalem, and took many utensils.

God used the kings of the Medes to fight against Babylon (v. 11).  This message is the repetition of Isaiah 13:7.  God allowed Babylon to punish Judah, but Babylon was not to exercise cruelty against Judah which would be forgiven by God (50:20).  They oppressed the people of Judah, and did not let them go back to their homeland for 70 years (Jeremiah 50:33).

In (vs. 59-64) we have the long prophecy against Babylon. In the fourth year of King Zedekiah, Jeremiah entrusted the scroll of this prophecy against Babylon to Seraiah, the quarter-master, asking him to read it when the people were in Babylon and tie a stone to it and throw it into the Euphrates River.  It meant that “Babylon shall sink and shall not rise again.”

Even for Babylon, the destruction of the city was postponed, because the warning was conditional.  Likewise God is gracious and merciful to us, waiting for our repentance to save us from our sinful condition.

Yoshitaka Kobayashi, Ph.D., Japan