• Akiva Murguia

Isaiah 47 - G-d Deals with Babylon


"Get down, sit on the dust, virgin of Babylon! Sit on the ground, dethroned, kingdom of Chaldea! No more shall they call you tender and pampered." - Isaiah 47:1

Babylon shall "go down" and lose not only their world dominion, but even their own independence, their kingdom of Chaldea. The "pampered" and "virgin" people that never been conquered by another shall be forced to sit on the ground. The nation responsible for the Jewish people sitting to mourn on the ground, shall now, themselves, mourn on the ground.

"Our Redeemer, the Lord of Hosts is His Name, the Holy One of Israel." - Isaiah 47:4

Babylon will receive what she gave: As they led Jewish women through the deserts and waters, forcing them to pick up their clothes, so shall be done to her women. As they forced Jewish women into hard labor ("grinding flour"), exposed, so shall be done to her women. As they laid bare Jewish women to sell them as slaves, so shall be done to her women. As these humiliations were so great to the pampered Jewish women, shall they be great to Babylon's pampered ones. G-d, the Redeemer of Israel, shall mete out this revenge, and will not be interceded by prayers for Babylon - not even those of the righteous Daniel.

"I fumed at My people, I desecrated My inheritance and handed them over to you. But you showed them no compassion, overburdening even the elderly." - Isaiah 47:6

When G-d will bring Babylon to justice, they will say, "You handed them over to us!" G-d will answer, "True, I was fuming, but you should have had compassion on them. They are My inheritance and you should have treated them appropriately, but you did not even treat them as human beings," For this, Babylon shall be destroyed.

"You said, "Forever shall I be Mistress," paying yet no attention to this, forgetting what would be your end." - Isaiah 47:7

But Babylon thought that she would always be Mistress - master to the Jewish people. She gave no thought that in the end, G-d would mete out judgment upon them. This arrogance of theirs was itself enough to earn their deserved destruction.

"But these two things shall come upon you, simultaneously on one day: bereavement and widowhood. In their totalities shall they come upon you, despite all your sorcery and countless spells." - Isaiah 47:9

What Babylon was sure would never come, indeed came upon her. Despite the sorcerers foretelling Babylon's invincibility, Babylon fell to the Medes. On one fateful night, King Belshazzar was murdered and the Persians and Medes captured the city. Babylon was widowed of her king and bereaved of her people simultaneously.

"You placed your trust in your evil ways, saying, "No one sees me." It was your knowledge and wisdom that led you astray, saying to yourself, "I and nothing besides me!" But an evil you cannot fathom shall come upon you, a disaster you cannot appease shall befall you and a catastrophe you did not foresee shall suddenly come upon you." - Isaiah 47:10-11

Babylon relied on their sorcery, their "evil ways," to become arrogantly complacent. So secure did they feel, that they felt that even G-d could not see them. But the evil to befall them they cannot foresee, and even if they can, they cannot "appease" it, prevent it. And even once it will come, they will not fathom it and will be unable to do anything about it. Beginning with the unfathomable Handwriting on the wall to the rebellion of Belshazzar's own generals, to the catastrophe brought upon them by the Persians and Medes, Babylon was paralyzed.

"Indeed, they became like straw, fire consumed them, they could not save themselves from the flame. They left no coal to warm themselves by, nor any light to sit in front of." - Isaiah 47:14

The stargazers shall be as useless as straw before a flame, which cannot protect itself. It is burnt so immediately and utterly that it provides no light or warmth to those around.

"This is what shall happen to all your toil: Your merchants from your youth shall blunder in a different direction - no one can save you!" - Isaiah 47:15

Babylon, in her "youth," her early days, had hired the best of sorcerers and stargazers to aid her and foretell the future - they became wealthy merchants from their fees! But when the test came and they failed dismally, they all fled in different directions. There was no one left who could save Babylon!

Commentary by Meam Loez


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