Make sharp the arrows; hold firm the shields: Jehovah hath stirred up the spirit of the kings of the Medes; because his purpose is against Babylon, to destroy it: for it is the vengeance of Jehovah, the vengeance of his temple. (ASV)
Jeremiah falsely prophesies the imminent destruction of Babylon (which surrendered to the Persians without a fight and was left intact). Here, he identifies the Medes as the agents of that destruction.
History didn't work out as Jeremiah imagined it would. The Medes were conquered/absorbed by the rising Persian Empire (under Cyrus the Great), which then took Babylon.
This error is probably the origin of the fictional "Darius the Mede" in the Book of Daniel (Daniel 5:31): writing centuries later, the author of Daniel may simply have assumed that Jeremiah's prophecy came true, and that the Medes took Babylon before it was then taken by the Persians.
Other references in Jeremiah to the supposed destruction of Babylon are Jeremiah 50:39, Jeremiah 51:26, Jeremiah 51:29, Jeremiah 51:37, Jeremiah 51:43, Jeremiah 51:62 and Jeremiah 51:64. According to these verses, Babylon would never again be inhabited: yet it continued to thrive for many centuries after this. Alexander the Great later visited Babylon. It gradually fell into decline, due primarily to the accumulation of salt in the fields as a result of centuries of irrigation. However, even in the modern era, Saddam Hussein had to evict thousands of residents to clear the site for his replica of Nebuchadrezzar's palace.
Isaiah makes similar false prophesies against Babylon. Again, the Medes (Isaiah 13:17) will permanently destroy Babylon, which shall "never be inhabited" again (Isaiah 13:20). --Robert Stevens 11:17, 27 Jul 2006 (CDT)
There are many prophecies in the Bible which were if/then prophecies. This does not say clearly that there would be no hope if Babylon showed some form of repentance. After all, the king of Babylon repented and submitted to God. The verse says God's Spirit was against Babylon and wanted to destroy it, but he certainly could have chosen not to do so if the city or its king repented. This was a warning, as were many prophecies in the Bible. They were basically "If you don't stop, I'll ...". He doesn't say that he will do it no matter what. --Austin
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