The Pronouncement of Judgment on the Nations

Discovery for Students

The Pronouncement of Judgment on the Nations


Jeremiah 46:1 through 52:34

“Therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will punish the king of Babylon and his land, as I have punished the king of Assyria.” (Jeremiah 50:18)


God had called Jeremiah to be a “prophet unto the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5). For more than forty years he had ministered to the Southern Kingdom of Judah. In chapters 46 through 51, Jeremiah pronounced God’s judgment on the pagan nations of Egypt, Philistia, Moab, Ammon, Edom, Damascus, Kedar, Hazor, Elam, and Babylon.

In chapter 46, Jeremiah declared God’s judgment on Egypt. The text begins with a graphic description of Pharaoh-necho’s defeat by Nebuchadnezzar in the Battle of Carchemish. Pharaoh-necho was the second ruler of the twenty-sixth dynasty in Egypt. He was considered one of their greatest kings, and had killed Judah’s King Josiah at Megiddo in 608 B.C. Jeremiah described the army of Pharaoh-necho as very large and confident (verse 8). However, just as God had revealed, they were utterly defeated.

Philistia was the next nation to receive a pronouncement. Chapter 47 employs very descriptive imagery to declare the judgments that would come to this long-time contender with God’s people. Many scholars believe the Philistines originally came from Crete (called Caphtor in verse 4). They were primarily sea merchants, with most of their major cities located on the southeastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea. Jeremiah described Babylon’s army as an “overflowing flood” that would overtake their land (verse 2). The noise of the advancing army would be so terrifying that the “fathers shall not look back to their children,” indicating that in their attempt to flee, they would leave their children behind (verse 3). The word “baldness” used in verse 5 indicates a funeral-like mourning for the judgment and destruction of their cities.

God’s judgment of the nations continues in chapter 48, and is directed in this passage against Moab. The Moabites were descendants of Lot through his incestuous relationship with his eldest daughter. Moab had a confrontational relationship with the Children of Israel; however, Judah formed an alliance with Moab and Ammon in an ill-conceived attempt to defeat Nebuchadnezzar’s army. This nation was condemned for pride (verse 29). Moab had been famous for vineyards and wine production. Jeremiah’s prophecy gives imagery of the nation as a winemaker sitting on a stock of wine, allowing it to sit and age without being poured from vessel to vessel, which would cause it to lose value. Because of their pride and contentment in their own accomplishments, destruction would come to the Moabites by way of Babylon and their wine would be emptied from vessel to vessel. Then the vessels would be broken.

Chapter 49 records the judgments against Ammon, Edom, Damascus, Kedar, Hazor, and Elam. The Ammonites descended from Benammi, a son of Lot conceived through incest with his youngest daughter. The Ammonites inhabited an area east of the Jordan River, having moved into the Northern Kingdom of Israel after Assyria took Israel away captive in 722 B.C. The Ammonites had placed their trust in their god, Molech, and the natural protection of the surrounding mountains. Jeremiah prophesied that their trust would turn to fear and they would be driven out.

The Edomites were descendants of Esau. During the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem they supported Nebuchadnezzar and rejoiced when the city eventually fell. Teman and Dedan (verses 7 and 8) were at opposite ends of the country, so these verses show the completeness of the promised destruction.

The final four judgments in chapter 49 were against Damascus, Kedar, Hazor, and Elam. Syria’s capital was the city of Damascus. Kedar and Selam were two nomadic Arabian tribes. Elam was a neighbor east of Babylon that bordered Assyria and Media.

Chapters 50 and 51 contain the judgments against Babylon. God had used Babylon as an instrument to chasten His people, Judah, and to execute His judgment on other nations. However, the Babylonians had celebrated the destruction of God’s people and His Temple (Jeremiah 50:11), and Jeremiah prophesied that the destruction of Babylon would be complete and final. Not even one stone from Babylon’s buildings would be taken and used to build somewhere else, but the city would remain desolate forever. Jeremiah underscored the finality of this judgment by instructing Seraiah, the son of Neriah, to read the judgments against Babylon when he arrived there. When the reading was complete, Seraiah was told to “bind a stone” to the book and cast it into the Euphrates River as an object lesson to the people, symbolizing that Babylon, too, would sink.

The last chapter of this book corresponds with Jeremiah 39, 2 Kings 25, and 2 Chronicles 36. These chapters record the fall of Jerusalem, its destruction, the captivity of the people of Judah, and the deportation to Babylon.


  1. Why do you think God had Jeremiah prophesy judgment against Judah’s neighboring countries?
  2. In Jeremiah 46:25, whom did God direct the prophet to say would be punished? Why do you think God identified each entity separately rather than simply grouping them as a nation?
  3. Philistia was located in a portion of the Promised Land west of Judah, along the southeastern end of the Mediterranean Sea. Chapter 47 prophesies of its final destruction at the time when Judah would go into captivity. What lesson can we learn from the fact that Israel never removed that nation from the Promised Land after their conquest of it?
  4. Although judgment was proclaimed against both Moab and Ammon, they, like Israel, were told that someday there would be a return to their lands (see Jeremiah 48:47 and 49:6). These prophecies may relate in part to an end-time restoration. However, some of the Moabites and Ammonites were allowed to return to their lands under the edict of Cyrus. What does this indicate to us about God’s use of judgment?
  5. Read Jeremiah 49:7 and 13-17. What was to be the final state of the country of Edom? How did this differ from Moab and Ammon?  
  6. God had used Babylon as an instrument of justice in pouring out divine retribution upon Judah and the nations identified in this lesson. However, chapters 50 and 51 describe in detail the pronouncement of doom upon this once-mighty nation. Bel and Merodach, mentioned in Jeremiah 50:2, are names referring to a single deity, the chief god of Babylon. What did the Prophet Jeremiah say would happen to this god, and to the other idols of Babylon? What spiritual truth is revealed by this pronouncement?
  7. Jeremiah 52:2 says that Zedekiah, Judah’s last king, “did that which was evil in the eyes of the Lord.” His leadership resulted in the siege of Jerusalem, the spoiling of the city and Temple, and the killing and enslavement of the people of Judah. What was God’s punishment upon Zedekiah? Jeremiah 52:10-11
  8. What qualities in the life and ministry of Jeremiah might help us as we attempt to live for God in a spiritually challenging society?


God judged the nations along with His own people for rebelling against Him and not heeding His Word. As we purpose to live righteously and obediently before God, we can avoid facing the judgment of God that will certainly fall upon those who persist in refusing His mercy and rebelling against Him.