Many sources (eg. Bible glosses, articles) state that Jeremiah used Atbash Cipher to hide true meaning of certain names. According to these sources, name "Sheshakh" (ששך) really means "Babylon" (בבל). But why did Jeremiah use both encrypted and original name in 51:41?

Jeremiah 51:41

How is Sheshach taken! and how is the praise of the whole earth surprised! how is Babylon become an astonishment among the nations!

  • Possible duplicate of Why Jeremiah writes in codes in chapter 25:26
    – bach
    Feb 27, 2019 at 15:00
  • @Bach, how can a question asked earlier be a duplicate of a question asked later? Feb 27, 2019 at 15:21
  • @Bach, also these are different questions! This one is about using both encrypted and original name in his text (which defeats the purpose of hiding something) and the other one is about using general reasons to hide proper names in texts. Answers to these questions are totally different. Feb 27, 2019 at 15:26
  • Kowalski because the other question has attracted better and superior quality answers than this one. It is not a matter of who's first and who's second. That is my not-so-humble opinion.
    – bach
    Feb 28, 2019 at 0:45

2 Answers 2


The verse is Hebrew poetry. Hebrew poetry isn't like English poetry, relying on rhyme and meter. Instead Hebrew poetry relies on parallels and rhythm of ideas. This site already has an answer with the basics of Hebrew poetry. The second line of a couplet will restate the first in a slightly different manner. This verse has a triplet.

How is Sheshach taken!

and how is the praise of the whole earth surprised!

how is Babylon become an astonishment among the nations!

In the first line, we are told that Sheshach is taken. The second line balances "taken" with "surprised" and expands Sheshach with "the praise of the whole earth." The third line puts "Babylon" in parallel to "Sheshach" and "the praise of the whole earth." To keep the balance, "surprised" and "taken" are expanded to "become an astonishment among the nations."

So he uses both to keep from exact repetition.

  • I've seen some possible explanations on the Internet and in various articles but this is the most convincing explanation I've seen! So simple! Thanks! May 6, 2014 at 19:53
  • Wow! You are the man! Wonderful answer. Wonderful question. May 7, 2014 at 8:21

Jeremiah 25:1]. Perhaps it's a dual prophecy and sheshack is present day. 490 years no rest every Sunday from the land so they were given 70 years captivity. Come to today. 49 years since roe vs wade until 2023 overturn. 7 year judgement coming to sheshach..

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