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Detail of the Ancient Lion of Babylon
This Painting reveals a close up view of the lions head. The striding lion of Babylon was made of molded brick with polychrome glaze and appeared along the side of the 'Processional Way' in ancient Babylon in 604-562 B.C.
When Jerusalem was conquered by king Nebuchadnezzar, the Jewish prisoners were led to Babylon, the land of idolatry. They must of had many thoughts when they saw all these lions in their approach into the city. The lion represented Ishtar, the warfare-deity. It was believed in ancient Babylon that Ishtar, the queen of heaven was not only the giver of life but the goddess of warfare. In one myth she forced her way through the gates of the underworld:
"If thou openest not the gate to let me enter, I will break the door, I will wrench the lock, I will smash the door-posts, I will force the doors. I will bring up the dead to eat the living. And the dead will outnumber the living." - Ishtar, Babylonian Myth
The ancient lion of Babylon on the Ishtar Gate was made of molded brick with polychrome glaze and appeared along the side of the 'Processional Way' in Babylon around 604-562 B.C. The 'Processional Way' led out of the city through the massive Ishtar Gate, the lion was the symbol of Ishtar, the goddess of war and fertility. There were some 120 lions such as this one decorated along the walls. This painting is from a wall relief at the Oriental Institute, University of Chicago. It is 90.3 cm high and 230.5 cm wide. It was purchased in Berlin in 1931. The Hebrew captives entered Babylon, the city of idols, and as they saw this lion deity there is no doubt that many of them believed that God had forsaken them, or perhaps God had been defeated by this war deity. But God had forewarned the Jews continually through His prophets. He spoke through Jeremiah that they would only be captives in Babylon for 70 years. Ezekiel spoke about Israel's future and Isaiah spoke about the ultimate defeat of Babylon.
"I hunted and killed ten powerful male elephants in the
country of Harran and on the banks of the Chaboras. I
also captured alive four elephants; and brought the hides
and the tusks of the ten, together with the live elephants,
to my city Asshur. At' the bidding of Ninib, who loves
me, with a stout heart, I killed on foot one hundred and
twenty lions with courageous attack. From my chariot
I slew as many as eight hundred lions; and also laid low
as trophies (? of my chase) all kinds of beasts of the field
and of winged birds soaring aloft." - Tiglath pileser I
Neo Babylonian Empire. Under Nabopolassar, Babylon threw off Assyrian rule in 612 BC and became the capital of the Neo-Babylonian (sometimes and possibly erroneously called Chaldean) Empire. With the recovery of Babylonian independence, a new era of architectural activity ensued, and his son Nebuchadnezzar II (604561 BC) made Babylon into one of the wonders of the ancient world. Nebuchadnezzar ordered the complete reconstruction of the imperial grounds, including rebuilding the Etemenanki ziggurat and the construction of the Ishtar Gate the most spectacular of eight gates that ringed the perimeter of Babylon. A reconstruction of The Ishtar Gate is located in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin. All that was ever found of the Original Ishtar gate was the foundation and scattered bricks. Nebuchadnezzar is also credited with the construction of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon (one of the seven wonders of the ancient world), said to have been built for his homesick wife Amyitis. Whether the gardens did exist is a matter of dispute. Although excavations by German archaeologist Robert Koldewey are thought to reveal its foundations, many historians disagree about the location, and some believe it may have been confused with gardens in the Assyrian capital, Nineveh. Chaldean rule did not last long and it is not clear if Neriglissar and Labashi-Marduk were Chaldeans or native Babylonians, and the last ruler Nabonidus and his son and regent Belshazzar were Assyrians from Harran. [Wikipedia]
"For I will rise up against them," says the LORD of hosts, "And cut off from Babylon the name and remnant, And offspring and posterity," says the LORD. "I will also make it a possession for the porcupine, And marshes of muddy water; I will sweep it with the broom of destruction," says the LORD of hosts. Isaiah 14:22-23
Material - Molded brick with polychrome glaze
Reign of Nebuchadnezzar II
Date: 604-562 BC.
Height: 90.3 cm (35.5511811 inches)
Width: 230.5 cm (90.7480315 inches)
Babylon, southern Iraq
Excavated by: Robert Koldeway 1899-1914
Purchased in Berlin, 1931
Location: Oriental Institute, Chicago
Item: OIM A7481
Oriental Institute Excerpt
This colorful striding lion, its mouth opened in a threatening roar, once decorated a side of the 'Processional Way' in ancient Babylon (the Biblical city of Babel). The 'Processional Way' led out of the city through a massive gate named for the Mesopotamian goddess of love and war, Ishtar, whose symbol was the lion. Each year, during the celebration of the great New Year Festival, the images of the city's deities were carried out through the Ishtar Gate and along the 'Processional Way' past some 120 lions such as this one to a special festival house north of the city.
Oriental Institute, University of Chicago
The Ishtar Gate (Arabic: بوابة عشتار) was the eighth gate to the inner city of Babylon. It was constructed in about 575 BC by order of King Nebuchadnezzar II on the north side of the city. Dedicated to the Babylonian goddess Ishtar, the gate was constructed using a rare blue stone called lapis lazuli with alternating rows of bas-relief muḫuu (dragons) and aurochs. The roof and doors of the gate were of cedar, according to the dedication plaque. Through the gate ran the Processional Way, which was lined with walls covered in lions on glazed bricks (about 120 of them). Statues of the deities were paraded through the gate and down the Processional Way each year during the New Year's celebration. Originally the gate, being part of the Walls of Babylon, was considered one of the Seven Wonders of the world until, in the 6th century AD, it was replaced by the Lighthouse of Alexandria. A reconstruction of the Ishtar Gate and Processional Way was built at the Pergamon Museum in Berlin out of material excavated by Robert Koldewey and finished in the 1930s. It includes the inscription plaque. It stands 47 feet high and 100 feet wide (14 meters by 30 meters). The excavation ran from 19021914, and, during that time, 45 feet of the foundation of the gate was uncovered. The gate was in fact a double gate. The part that is shown in the Pergamon Museum today is only the smaller, frontal part, while the larger, back part was considered too large to fit into the constraints of the structure of the museum. It is in storage.. [Wikipedia]
"In order to make the decorations
splendid with stones hewn by the stone-cutter I
built and adorned the gate. Doors of cedar and cypress,
in pairs, whose entrance brings blessing and whose fra-
grance arouses the heart, I bound with a rim of zahalu-
metal and bright metal and hung in the gateway. Lions
and bull-colossi, whose forms were exceedingly artistic and
clothed with splendour, I made to hold the entrances and
set them up as objects of wonder. I laid thresholds of
Im-tu stone and alabaster beneath them and made the en-
trance bright. I also built a statue to keep guard over
the great gods; I surrounded the sides with the product
of the ocean depths and I invested it with terror."
- Tiglath pileser I
Image from The five great monarchies of the ancient eastern world By George Rawlinson
The favourite occupation of the king in peace was the chase of the lion. In the early times he usually started on a hunting expedition in his chariot, dressed as when he went out to war, and attended by his charioteer, some swordsmen, and a groom holding a led horse. He carried a bow and arrows, a sword, one or two daggers, and a spear, which last stood in a rest made for it at the back of the chariot.8 Two quivers, each containing an axe and an abundant supply of arrows, hung from the chariot transversely across its right side, while a shield armed with teeth was suspended behind. When a lion was found, the king pursued it in his chariot, letting fly his arrows as he went, and especially seeking to pierce the animal about the heart and head. Sometimes he transfixed the beast with three or four shafts before it succumbed. Occasionally the lion attacked him in his chariot, and was met with spear and shield,' or with a fresh arrow, according to the exigencies of the moment, or the monarch's preference for one or the other weapon. On rare occasions the monarch descended to the ground, and fought afoot He would then engage the lion in close combat with no other weapon but a short sword, which he strove to plunge, and often plunged, into its heart. - Rawlinson
Kings of the Bible
The Kings of Israel (all wicked)
Jeroboam I (933-911 BC) twenty-two years
Nadab (911-910) two years
Baasha (910-887) twenty-four years
Elah (887-886) two years
Zimri (886) seven days
Omri (886-875) twelve years
Ahab (875-854) twenty-two years
Ahaziah (855-854) two years
Jehoram (Joram) (854-843) twelve years
Jehu (843-816) twenty-eight years
Jehoahaz (820-804) seventeen years
Jehoash (Joash) (806-790) sixteen years
Jeroboam II (790-749) forty-one years
Zechariah' (748) six months
Shallum (748) one month
Menahem (748-738) ten years
Pekahiah (738-736) two years
Pekah (748-730) twenty years
Hoshea (730-721) nine years
The Kings of Judah (8 were good)
Rehoboam (933-916 BC) seventeen years
Abijam (915-913) three years
Asa (Good) (912-872) forty-one years
Jehoshaphat (Good) (874-850) twenty-five years
Jehoram (850-843) eight years
Ahaziah (843) one year
Athaliah (843-837) six years
Joash (Good) (843-803) forty years
Amaziah (Good) (803-775) 29 years
Azariah (Uzziah) (Good) (787-735) fifty-two years
Jotham (Good) (749-734) sixteen years
Ahaz (741-726) sixteen years
Hezekiah (Good) (726-697) 29 years
Manasseh (697-642) fifty-five years
Amon (641-640) two years
Josiah (Good) (639-608) thirty-one years
Jehoahaz (608) three months
Jehoiachim (608-597) eleven years
Jehoiachin (597) three months
Zedekiah (597-586) eleven years
Some Scriptures mentioning the name "Babylon"
24:7 - And the king of Egypt came not again any more out of
his land: for the king of Babylon had taken from the
river of Egypt unto the river Euphrates all that pertained to the
king of Egypt.
Ezra 6:5 - And also let the golden and silver vessels of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar took forth out of the temple which [is] at Jerusalem, and brought unto Babylon, be restored, and brought again unto the temple which [is] at Jerusalem, [every one] to his place, and place [them] in the house of God.
2 Kings 25:27 - And it came to pass in the seven and thirtieth year of the captivity of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the twelfth month, on the seven and twentieth [day] of the month, [that] Evilmerodach king of Babylon in the year that he began to reign did lift up the head of Jehoiachin king of Judah out of prison;
Jeremiah 52:31 - And it came to pass in the seven and thirtieth year of the captivity of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the twelfth month, in the five and twentieth [day] of the month, [that] Evilmerodach king of Babylon in the [first] year of his reign lifted up the head of Jehoiachin king of Judah, and brought him forth out of prison,
Jeremiah 21:7 - And afterward, saith the LORD, I will deliver Zedekiah king of Judah, and his servants, and the people, and such as are left in this city from the pestilence, from the sword, and from the famine, into the hand of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, and into the hand of their enemies, and into the hand of those that seek their life: and he shall smite them with the edge of the sword; he shall not spare them, neither have pity, nor have mercy.
Jeremiah 50:2 - Declare ye among the nations, and publish, and set up a standard; publish, [and] conceal not: say, Babylon is taken, Bel is confounded, Merodach is broken in pieces; her idols are confounded, her images are broken in pieces.
Jeremiah 44:30 - Thus saith the LORD; Behold, I will give Pharaohhophra king of Egypt into the hand of his enemies, and into the hand of them that seek his life; as I gave Zedekiah king of Judah into the hand of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, his enemy, and that sought his life.
Micah 4:10 - Be in pain, and labour to bring forth, O daughter of Zion, like a woman in travail: for now shalt thou go forth out of the city, and thou shalt dwell in the field, and thou shalt go [even] to Babylon; there shalt thou be delivered; there the LORD shall redeem thee from the hand of thine enemies.
Jeremiah 32:4 - And Zedekiah king of Judah shall not escape out of the hand of the Chaldeans, but shall surely be delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon, and shall speak with him mouth to mouth, and his eyes shall behold his eyes;
Jeremiah 20:6 - And thou, Pashur, and all that dwell in thine house shall go into captivity: and thou shalt come to Babylon, and there thou shalt die, and shalt be buried there, thou, and all thy friends, to whom thou hast prophesied lies.
Jeremiah 38:23 - So they shall bring out all thy wives and thy children to the Chaldeans: and thou shalt not escape out of their hand, but shalt be taken by the hand of the king of Babylon: and thou shalt cause this city to be burned with fire.
Jeremiah 36:29 - And thou shalt say to Jehoiakim king of Judah, Thus saith the LORD; Thou hast burned this roll, saying, Why hast thou written therein, saying, The king of Babylon shall certainly come and destroy this land, and shall cause to cease from thence man and beast?
Ezra 5:17 - Now therefore, if [it seem] good to the king, let there be search made in the king's treasure house, which [is] there at Babylon, whether it be [so], that a decree was made of Cyrus the king to build this house of God at Jerusalem, and let the king send his pleasure to us concerning this matter.
Jeremiah 52:17 - Also the pillars of brass that [were] in the house of the LORD, and the bases, and the brasen sea that [was] in the house of the LORD, the Chaldeans brake, and carried all the brass of them to Babylon.
2 Kings 25:13 - And the pillars of brass that [were] in the house of the LORD, and the bases, and the brasen sea that [was] in the house of the LORD, did the Chaldees break in pieces, and carried the brass of them to Babylon.
Jeremiah 25:1 - The word that came to Jeremiah concerning all the people of Judah in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, that [was] the first year of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon;
Jeremiah 35:11 - But it came to pass, when Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon came up into the land, that we said, Come, and let us go to Jerusalem for fear of the army of the Chaldeans, and for fear of the army of the Syrians: so we dwell at Jerusalem.
Ezekiel 29:18 - Son of man, Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon caused his army to serve a great service against Tyrus: every head [was] made bald, and every shoulder [was] peeled: yet had he no wages, nor his army, for Tyrus, for the service that he had served against it:
Esther 2:6 - Who had been carried away from Jerusalem with the captivity which had been carried away with Jeconiah king of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away.
Jeremiah 39:9 - Then Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard carried away captive into Babylon the remnant of the people that remained in the city, and those that fell away, that fell to him, with the rest of the people that remained.
Jeremiah 34:2 - Thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel; Go and speak to Zedekiah king of Judah, and tell him, Thus saith the LORD; Behold, I will give this city into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall burn it with fire:
Matthew 1:12 - And after they were brought to Babylon, Jechonias begat Salathiel; and Salathiel begat Zorobabel;
Jeremiah 46:2 - Against Egypt, against the army of Pharaohnecho king of Egypt, which was by the river Euphrates in Carchemish, which Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon smote in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah.
Jeremiah 51:34 - Nebuchadrezzar the king of Babylon hath devoured me, he hath crushed me, he hath made me an empty vessel, he hath swallowed me up like a dragon, he hath filled his belly with my delicates, he hath cast me out.
Jeremiah 27:18 - But if they [be] prophets, and if the word of the LORD be with them, let them now make intercession to the LORD of hosts, that the vessels which are left in the house of the LORD, and [in] the house of the king of Judah, and at Jerusalem, go not to Babylon.
Daniel 5:7 - The king cried aloud to bring in the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers. [And] the king spake, and said to the wise [men] of Babylon, Whosoever shall read this writing, and shew me the interpretation thereof, shall be clothed with scarlet, and [have] a chain of gold about his neck, and shall be the third ruler in the kingdom.
Isaiah 14:22 - For I will rise up against them, saith the LORD of hosts, and cut off from Babylon the name, and remnant, and son, and nephew, saith the LORD.
Daniel 3:12 - There are certain Jews whom thou hast set over the affairs of the province of Babylon, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego; these men, O king, have not regarded thee: they serve not thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.
Jeremiah 40:5 - Now while he was not yet gone back, [he said], Go back also to Gedaliah the son of Ahikam the son of Shaphan, whom the king of Babylon hath made governor over the cities of Judah, and dwell with him among the people: or go wheresoever it seemeth convenient unto thee to go. So the captain of the guard gave him victuals and a reward, and let him go.
Jeremiah 51:11 - Make bright the arrows; gather the shields: the LORD hath raised up the spirit of the kings of the Medes: for his device [is] against Babylon, to destroy it; because it [is] the vengeance of the LORD, the vengeance of his temple.
Babylonia in the Bible Encyclopedia - ISBE
Babylonia is a plain which is made up of the alluvial deposits of
the mountainous regions in the North, where the Tigris and Euphrates
have their source. The land is bounded on the North by Assyria and
Mesopotamia; on the East by Elam, separated by the mountains of
Elam; on the South by the sea marshes, and the country Kaldu (Chaldaea);
and on the West by the Syrian desert. Some of the cities of the
lower country were seaport towns in the early period, but now are
far inland. This land-making process continues even at the present
time at the rate of about 70 ft. a year. This plain, in the days
when Babylonia flourished, sustained a dense population. It was
covered with a network of canals, skillfully planned and regulated,
which brought prosperity to the land, because of the wonderful
fertility of the soil. The neglect of these canals and doubtless,
also, the change of climate, have resulted in altered conditions in
the country. It has become a cheerless waste. During some months of
the year, when the inundations take place, large portions of the
land are partially covered with swamps and marshes. At other times
it looks like a desolate plain. 1. Mounds: Throughout the land there
are seen, at the present time, ruin-hills or mounds of accumulation
of debris, which mark the site of ancient cities. Some of these
cities were destroyed in a very early era, and were never rebuilt.
Others were occupied for millenniums, and their history extends far
into the Christian era. The antiquities generally found in the upper
stratum of the mounds which were occupied up to so late a period,
show that they were generally inhabited by the Jews, who lived there
after the Babylonians had disappeared. 2. Explorations: The
excavations conducted at various sites have resulted in the
discovery, besides antiquities of almost every character, of
hundreds of thousands of inscriptions on clay and stone, but
principally on the former material. At Tello more than 60,000
tablets were found, belonging largely to the administrative archives
of the temple of the third millennium BC. At Nippur about 50,000
inscriptions were found, many of these also belonging to temple
archives. But about 20,000 tablets and fragments found in that city
came from the library...
Babylon in Naves Topical Bible
1. CITY OF Built by Nimrod Ge 10:10 In the land of Shinar Ge 10:10;
11:2 Tower of Ge 11:1-9 Capital of the kingdom of Babylon Da 4:30;
2Ki 25:13; 2Ch 36:6,7,10,18,20 Gates of Isa 45:1,2; Jer 51:58 Walled
Jer 51:44,58 Splendor of Isa 14:4 Peter writes from 1Pe 5:13
Prophecies concerning Ps 87:4; 137:8,9; Isa 13; 14:4-26; 21:1-10;
46:1,2; 47; 48:14,20; Jer 21:4-10; 25:12-14; 27:1-11; 28:14; 32:28;
34:2,3; 42:11,12; 43; 46:13-26; 49:28-30; 50; 51; Eze 21:19; 26;
29:17-20; 30:10; 32:11; Da 2:21-38; 4:10- 26; 5:25-29; 7; Hab
1:5-11; Zec 2:7-9 -FIGURATIVE Re 14:8; 16:19; 17; 18 -2. EMPIRE OF
Founded by Nimrod Ge 10:10 Called LAND OF SHINAR Ge 10:10; 11:2;
14:1,9; Isa 11:11; Da 1:2; Zec 5:11 SHESHACH Jer 25:26; 51:41
MERATHAIM Jer 50:21 Called also CHALDEA, which see Divisions of 2Ki
17:24; 24:7; Isa 23:12,13; Da 3:1; Ac 7:4 Extent of, at the time of
Nebuchadnezzar Da 2:37,38; 4:1; 6:1 At the time of Ahasuerus Es 1:1;
8:9; 9:30 Armies of, invade ancient Canaan Ge 14 Samaria 2Ki 17:5-24
Judah 2Ki 24:1-16 Jews carried to 2Ki 25; 1Ch 9:1; 2Ch 33:11;
36:17-21; Jer 32:2; 39; 52 Colonists from, sent to Samaria Ezr
4:9,10; with 2Ki 17:29-32 Conquest of Egypt by 2Ki 24:7 Prophecies
of conquests by 2Ki 20:16-19; Jer 20:4-7; 21; 22; 25:1-11; 27; 28;
29; 32:28,29; 34; 36:29; 38:17,18; 43:8-13; 46:13-26; Eze 12; 17;
19; 21; 24; 26; 29:18-20; 30; 32 Prophetic denunciations against Ps
137:8,9; Isa 13; 14:21; 43:14-17; 47; Jer 50; 51 GOVERNMENT OF A
limited monarchy Es 1:13-19; 8:8; Da 6:8,14,17 Tyrannical Es 3:7-15;
Babel in Fausset's Bible Dictionary
Babel (Hebrew) means Babylon; so that "the tower" should be
designated "the tower of Babel." Capital of the country Shinar
(Genesis), Chaldea (later Scriptures). The name as given by Nimrod
(Genesis 10:10), the founder, means (Bab- il), "the gate of the god
Il," or simply "of God." Afterward the name was attached to it in
another sense (Providence having ordered it so that a name should be
given originally, susceptible of another sense, signifying the
subsequent divine judgment), Genesis 11:9; Babel from baalal, "to
confound; .... because the Lord did there confound the language of
all the earth," in order to counteract their attempt by a central
city and tower to defeat God's purpose of the several tribes of
mankind being "scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth,"
and to constrain them, as no longer "understand one another's
speech," to dispel The Talmud says, the site of tower of Babel is
Borsippa, the Bits Nimrud, 7 1/2 miles from Hillah, and 11 from the
northern ruins of Babylon. The French expedition found at Borsippa a
clay cake, dated the 30th day of the 6th month of the 16th year of
Nabonid. Borsippa (the Tongue Tower) was a suburb of Babylon, when
the old Babel was restricted to the northern ruins. Nebuchadnezzar
included it in the great circumvallation of 480 stadia. When the
outer wall was destroyed by Darius Borsippa became independent of
Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar's temple or tower of Nebo stood on the
basement of the old tower of Babel. He says in the inscription, "the
house of the earth's base (the basement substructure), the most
ancient monument of Babylon I built and finished; I exalted its head
with bricks covered with copper ... the house of the seven lights
(the seven planets); a former king 42 ages ago built, but did not
complete its head. Since a remote time people had abandoned it,
without order expressing their words; the earthquake and thunder had
split and dispersed its sun-dried clay." The substructure had a
temple sacred to Sin, god of the mouth (Oppert). The substructure is
600 Babylonian ft. broad, 75 high; on it Nebuchadnezzar built seven
other stages. God had infatuated His will that "the earth should be
divided," the several tribes taking different routes, in the days of
Peleg ("division"), born 100 years after the flood (Genesis 10:25;
Genesis 10:32; Deuteronomy 32:8). Another object the Babel builders
sought was to "make themselves a name"; self-relying pride setting
up its own will against the will of God, and dreaming of ability to
defeat God's purpose, was their snare. Also their "tower, whose top
(pointed toward, or else reached) unto heaven," was designed as a
self-deifying, God-defying boast. Compare Isaiah 14:13; God alone
has the right to "make Himself a name" (Isaiah 63:12; Isaiah 63:14;
Jeremiah 32:20). They desired to establish a grand central point of
unity. They tacitly acknowledge they have lost the inward spiritual
bond of unity, love to God uniting them in love to one another. They
will make up for it by an outward forced unity; the true unity by
loving obedience to God they might have had, though dispersed. Their
tower toward heaven may have marked its religious dedication to the
heavens (sabeanism, worship of the tsaba, the hosts of heaven), the
first era in idolatry; as also the first effort after that universal
united empire on earth which is to be realized not by man's
ambition, but by the manifestation of Messiah, whose right the
kingdom is (Ezekiel 21:27). "The Lord came down to see the city and
the tower, which the children of men builded," i.e. (in
condescension to human language), Jehovah took judicial cognizance
of their act: their "go to, let us," etc. (Genesis 11:3-4), Jehovah
with stern irony meets with His "Go to, let us," etc....
Babel in Hitchcock's Bible Names confusion; mixture
Babylon in Easton's Bible Dictionary the Greek form of BABEL; Semitic form Babilu, meaning "The Gate of God." In the Assyrian tablets it means "The city of the dispersion of the tribes." The monumental list of its kings reaches back to B.C. 2300, and includes Khammurabi, or Amraphel (q.v.), the contemporary of Abraham. It stood on the Euphrates, about 200 miles above its junction with the Tigris, which flowed through its midst and divided it into two almost equal parts. The Elamites invaded Chaldea (i.e., Lower Mesopotamia, or Shinar, and Upper Mesopotamia, or Accad, now combined into one) and held it in subjection. At length Khammu-rabi delivered it from the foreign yoke, and founded the new empire of Chaldea (q.v.), making Babylon the capital of the united kingdom. This city gradually grew in extent and grandeur, but in process of time it became subject to Assyria. On the fall of Nineveh (B.C. 606) it threw off the Assyrian yoke, and became the capital of the growing Babylonian empire. Under Nebuchadnezzar it became one of the most splendid cities of the ancient world. After passing through various vicissitudes the city was occupied by Cyrus, "king of Elam," B.C. 538, who issued a decree permitting the Jews to return to their own land (Ezra 1). It then ceased to be the capital of an empire. It was again and again visited by hostile armies, till its inhabitants were all driven from their homes, and the city became a complete desolation, its very site being forgotten from among men. On the west bank of the Euphrates, about 50 miles south of Bagdad, there is found a series of artificial mounds of vast extent. These are the ruins of this once famous proud city. These ruins are principally (1) the great mound called Babil by the Arabs. This was probably the noted Temple of Belus, which was a pyramid about 480 feet high. (2) The Kasr (i.e., "the palace"). This was the great palace of Nebuchadnezzar. It is almost a square, each side of which is about 700 feet long. The little town of Hillah, near the site of Babylon, is built almost wholly of bricks taken from this single mound. (3) A lofty mound, on the summit of which stands a modern tomb called Amran ibn-Ali. This is probably the most ancient portion of the remains of the city, and represents the ruins of the famous hanging-gardens, or perhaps of some royal palace. The utter desolation of the city once called "The glory of kingdoms" (Isa.13:19) was foretold by the prophets (Isa.13:4- 22; Jer. 25:12; 50:2, 3; Dan. 2:31-38). The Babylon mentioned in 1 Pet. 5:13 was not Rome, as some have thought, but the literal city of Babylon, which was inhabited by many Jews at the time Peter wrote. In Rev. 14:8; 16:19; 17:5; and 18:2, "Babylon" is supposed to mean Rome, not considered as pagan, but as the prolongation of the ancient power in the papal form. Rome, pagan and papal, is regarded as one power. "The literal Babylon was the beginner and supporter of tyranny and idolatry...This city and its whole empire were taken by the Persians under Cyrus; the Persians were subdued by the Macedonians, and the Macedonians by the Romans; so that Rome succeeded to the power of old Babylon. And it was her method to adopt the worship of the false deities she had conquered; so that by her own act she became the heiress and successor of all the Babylonian idolatry, and of all that was introduced into it by the immediate successors of Babylon, and consequently of all the idolatry of the earth." Rome, or "mystical Babylon," is "that great city which reigneth over the kings of the earth" (17:18).
Archaeology Discoveries and the Ancient Biblical World
The Black Obelisk. In the 1840's a British man named Austen Henry Layard had a desire to travel to the Middle East and dig around some of the strange looking mounds near the City of Mosul. He had heard many tales about things being found in these mounds. He was looking for any trace of evidence that would lead him to the lost city of Nineveh, the capital of the ancient Assyrian Empire. Little did he know that one of his discoveries would turn Europe upside down with excitement. He discovered a black limestone monument which is known today as The Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III. This discovery brought a new authenticity and historicity to some of the stories in the Bible. It also gained him the support of the British Museum, and all the finances he needed to continue his excavations, and become known as "The Father of Assyriology."
The Pilate Inscription. It wasn't long ago when many scholars were questioning the actual existence of a Roman Governor with the name of Pontius Pilate, the procurator who ordered Jesus' crucifixion. In June 1961 Italian archaeologists led by Dr. Frova were excavating an ancient Roman amphitheatre near Caesarea-on-the-Sea (Maritima) and uncovered this interesting limestone block. On the worn face is a monumental inscription which is part of a larger dedication to Tiberius Caesar which clearly says that it was from "Pontius Pilate, Prefect of Judea."
The Megiddo Seal Bearing King Jeroboam's Name. It is very interesting that the Jasper Seal, found at Tel Megiddo bearing the name of King Jeroboam who ruled in the Northern Kingdom of Israel, would contain the symbol for their rival, the Southern Kingdom of Judah. But in examining all of the circumstances involved and seeing what the Bible says it is no wonder that the prosperous and victorious Northern Kingdom of Israel would boast with a symbol of their enemy.
The Tomb of Cyrus the Great. An inscription on the tomb of the great Persian monarch read: "O man, whoever you are and wherever you come from, for I know that you will come--I am Cyrus, son of Cambyses, who founded the Empire of the Persians and was king of the East. Do not grudge me this spot of earth which covers my body." - Cyrus". Is it true that Isaiah the Hebrew prophet mention Cyrus by name almost 200 years before he was born?
Sennacherib's Hexagonal Prism. This amazing discovery excavated in Nineveh in the 1830 records the Assyrian king Sennacherib's 8th campaign, which includes his siege of Jerusalem during the reign of "Hezekiah the Judahite" in 701 BC. There are 500 lines of writing in the Akkadian language on this magnificent clay prism. Is the story true that it was purchased by an American from an antiquities dealer in Baghdad?
Coming Soon The Ishtar Gate of Babylon. During the last days of the southern kingdom of Judah the Jews were taken captive to a distant land called Babylon at the latter part of the 6th century BC. They passed through a beautiful entrance gate made of mud brick masonry and glazed skin which stood 47 feet tall, commonly referred to as the Ishtar Gate since its discovery at the turn of the 20th century near modern Baghdad, Iraq. The tall gate was dedicated to the gods by Nebuchadnezzar King of Babylonia who reigned from 605—562 BC). Is it true that Hitler had it transported to Berlin? Where is the Ishtar Gate now?
[Next] The Remains of Solomon's Temple
The Bible mentions many things about people, places and events that happened in history. The Bible also gives an accurate chronology of those people, places and events. What is amazing is that modern archaeology has confirmed that the Bible has never made one error, or given any clear contradictions in all of its text in matters of historical fact. The paintings and illustrations below of archaeological discoveries and ruins illustrate this emphatically.
Paintings By Bjanikka Ben and Maliyah Weston
(More to come)
Bible History A
growing database of images and sketches of the ancient world.
Bible Maps A growing database of maps for study and teaching.
Reconstructions Sketches of ancient cities & monuments from archaeology.
The Popular Handbook of Archaeology and the Bible by Holden and Geisler. 352 Pages, 2012
The Story of the Bible
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