❖ Jeremiah 51:1 — “…the heart of the one rising [against] me…”
There is a fascinating and strange element in this verse. In rabbinic literature, it is called an atbash (אתבש). An atbash is a type of code where the first letter of the alphabet is switched with the last, the second with the second to last, and so on. So in English it would be: A=Z, B=Y, C=X, and so forth. The name atbash comes from alef-tav, bet-shin (the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet is alef א, the last tav ת; the second bet ב, and the second-to-last is shin ש, so אתבש)
In Jeremiah 51:1 there is a phrase:
“…v’el yoshev lev qamay”—”and to those dwelling, a heart rising [against] me.”
It’s a weird phrase in Hebrew, which draws attention to the atbash. In Hebrew, a consonantal text, the phrase ‘a heart rising [against] me’ is ‘lv qmy‘ which when switched using atbash is ‘ksdym.’ This is the Hebrew for Kasdiym, another word for the Babylonians, translated “Chaldeans” in most English versions.
An atbash also occurs in Jeremiah 25:26:
“…all the kings of the north, the far and the near, a man to his brother, and all the kingdoms of the land that are on the face of the soil. And the king of Sheshakh shall drink after them.” (Jeremiah 25:26 emphasis added)
In this case, Sheshakh is an atbash referring directly to Babel (sh=b, sh=b, kh=l => bbl || ש=ב, ש=ב, ב=ל => בבל).
❖ Jeremiah 51:11 “…the kings of the Medes…“