The Destruction Of Babylon In Isaiah 46–47 -- By: Gary V. Smith
JETS 58:3 (September 2015) p. 527
The Destruction Of Babylon In Isaiah 46–47
* Gary Smith is retired from Union University, and may be contacted at 5329 Cedarwood Court, St. Paul, MN 55110.
Isaiah 46:1–2 announces the astonishing news that the gods of Babylon (Bel and Nebo) will bow down in defeat and will be forcibly taken away into captivity on the backs of weary animals. Isaiah 47:1–15 provides additional images to this picture of humiliation by describing the personified woman Babylon sitting on the ground in the dirt because she will be driven from her royal throne (47:1). She will be shamed, deprived of her kingdom, no longer a queen, and working like a commoner or a slave.1 These rhetorical claims suggest that this will happen to Babylon because God will punish this city for oppression, excessive pride, wickedness, love of pleasure, delusions, and a false sense of security (47:1–11). This destruction will come suddenly (47:11), and she will be helpless and impotent, with no one to save her from the enemy (47:14–15). The spells of her priests, the astrological wisdom of her star-gazers, and her magicians will not be able to rescue Babylon from this terrible fate. Thus Babylon will be childless, without allies, and destroyed (47:12–15).
This study will investigate: (1) when this prophecy was fulfilled; and (2) how this message about the fall of Babylon fits into the surrounding context of Isaiah 40–55.2 Do these graphic descriptions of the defeat of Babylon portray a dramatic change in the physical stature of the city, the loss of its political status, and the useless abilities of Babylon’s religious authorities, or something quite different from the images of defeat found in Isaiah 46–47? Many commentators suggest that the destruction of Babylon in Isaiah 46–47 was fulfilled when Koresh (Cyrus) the Persian “subdued nations” and “stripped kings of their robes” (Isaiah 45:1),3 although
JETS 58:3 (September 2015) p. 528
this connection with Cyrus is nev...
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