Brueggemann on the disobedience of Assyria and Babylon

As in Isa 10: 6 with Assyria, Babylon did not stay within its mandate from Yahweh. Babylon failed to show the mercy required (cf. Jer 40: 9, 42: 11– 12). As a consequence, Babylon, a power willed to proximate power by Yahweh, forfeits power by overstepping Yahwistic restraint. The pivotal notion is mercy. Of course, no mention of showing mercy had been made to Babylon (as no mention had been made to Assyria in Isaiah 10). Indeed this invading people is initially summoned for “no mercy” (Jer 6: 23). But, according to Israel’s testimony, Nebuchadnezzar should have known. He was, after all, dealing with Yahweh and with Yahweh’s beloved people. Yahweh was angry (qṣph) to be sure, but anger is not Yahweh’s final intention. Nebuchadnezzar was not told; but he should have known. For not knowing, the “glory and grandeur” that was Babylon must end.

Brueggemann, Walter. Theology of the Old Testament: Testimony, Dispute, Advocacy (p. 512). Fortress Press. Kindle Edition.

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