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Isaiah 47:1–15 Babylon Will Be Destroyed
These verses pertain to (1) Babylon the great, the ancient Mesopotamian city, and to (2) Babylon the symbol of the world and wickedness—“Go ye out from among the nations, even from Babylon, from the midst of wickedness, which is spiritual Babylon” (Doctrine and Covenants 133:14). Babylon, figuratively, is portrayed as a woman—hence, Lady Babylon, the personification of all evil, is in direct opposition to Lady Zion, the personification of all good. Many terms present Babylon as feminine: “virgin” (47:1; is the Lord mocking Babylon with this term?), “daughter” (47:1, 5), “tender and delicate” (47:1), “veil” (47:2), “mistress” (47:5, 7), and “widow” (47:8–9). Additionally, the Hebrew language uses several feminine verbs that are lost in the English translation. In John’s Revelation, Babylon is also feminine: “whore” (17:1, 15–16); “woman” (17:3–4, 6–7, 9, 18), “mother of harlots” (17:5), “queen” (18:7), and “widow” (18:7).
Lady Babylon, once famous among the nations, has lost her throne, so she comes down from her throne and is now enslaved (to the Persians). She sits in the dust, grinding flour with millstones, the work of slaves (Judg. 16:21; Lamentations 5:11–13). To conduct this menial labor, she has to remove her veil and her robe and uncover her legs so that her skirt does not hinder her work. In a spiritual sense, Babylon (wickedness) is enslaved to Satan, her master.
Your nakedness will be uncovered. In addition to the slave imagery in verses 1–2, verse 3 seems to suggest that Babylon was engaged in infidelity in the sense of worshipping false gods (compare also the imagery in Revelation 17).
Our Redeemer—the Lord of Hosts. The speaker throughout this section is the Redeemer, Jesus Christ.
Lord of Hosts. “Hosts” generally refer to the Lord’s hosts of angels.
My people/My inheritance. Refer to God’s covenant people; He permitted Babylon to conquer His people, but Babylon “showed them no mercy.”
“I will be a mistress forever.” Ancient Babylon thought that she would rule forever as a mighty empire; wickedness (Babylon), too, does not often consider that her pleasures will come to an end. Instead, she was a “lover of pleasures.” She said, “I am, and there is no one besides me” (also repeated in verse 10). This phrase is a truth that God says of Himself (45:5–6, 18, 21–22), so Babylon is essentially stating that she is God.
Babylon will be destroyed quickly (“in one day” and “suddenly”). you will not be able to make atonement. When “evil” and “disaster” come to Babylon, she cannot help herself. She has no power to make an atonement for herself; only God can make an atonement. As it states in verse 15, “There is no one to save [her]” because she ignored the Savior.
your enchantments/your many sorceries. Babylon called on various sorcerers and sorceresses, magicians, astrologers, and the like, but these will not help her at the time of her destruction. Rather, they will be easily destroyed, just as fire consumes dry wood.
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