The Babylonian Captivity with Map
Archaeology and the Babylonian
Archaeological Evidence and the Captivity in
is solid evidence in historical writings and in archaeology for the events
involved in the Babylonian Captivity.
Among the many
archaeological discoveries that confirm the account written in the Bible, here
are a few that stand out.
The Lachish Letters
Important light has
been revealed regarding the last days of Judah by the discovery in 1935 of
eighteen ostraca (clay tablet with writing in ink) written in an ancient cursive
script belonging to the seventh century B.C.
discovered at Lachish (Tell ed-Duweir) among the ruins of a small guard room
just outside the city gate. Then a few years later three inscribed potsherds
were also found at the site, and like the others, they contained names and lists
from the period just before the fall of Jerusalem in 586 B.C.
Most of the letters
were dispatches from a Jewish commander named Hoshaiah who was stationed at an
outpost north of Lachish, who apparently was responsible for interpreting the
signals from Azekah and Lachish during the time when the:
Jer 34:7 "when the king of Babylon's army fought against Jerusalem and all the
cities of Judah that were left, against Lachish and Azekah; for only these
fortified cities remained of the cities of Judah."
communications which mentioned the political and religious turmoil of the last
days of Judah reveal the intensity of this time period and confirm that which
was written in the Bible by the prophet Jeremiah.
The Babylonian Chronicles
Chronicles make it possible to assign the fall of Jerusalem to the Second of
Adar (March 16) in 597 B.C. with complete accuracy, confirming the Biblical
accounts of Babylonian attacks on Jerusalem in 597 and 586 B.C.
"In the seventh month (of Nebuchadnezzar-599 BC.) in the month Chislev (Nov/Dec)
the king of Babylon assembled his army, and after he had invaded the land of
Hatti (Syria/Palestine) he laid seige to the city of Judah. On the second day of
the month of Adara ( 16th of March) he conquered the city and took the king (Jehoiachin)
prisoner. He installed in his place a king (Zedekiah) of his own choice, and
after he had received rich tribute, he sent (them) forth to Babylon."
When comparing this
text from ancient Babylon with the record of the Babylonian invasion in the Book
of II Kings 24:7-17 they demonstrate very clearly the accuracy of the Biblical
The Striding Lion
The Striding Lion
Iraq: Babylon, Processional Avenue north of the Ishtar Gate
Reign of Nebuchadnezzar II, ca. 604-562 B.C.
Molded brick with polychrome glaze
90.3 cm H, 230.5 cm W
Purchased in Berlin, 1931
Oriental Institute, Chicago
striding lion of glazed brick with its mouth opened in a threatening roar, once
decorated a side of the 'Processional Way' in ancient Babylon. 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.
No doubt that any
of the Jewish captives that entered Babylon would have seen these lions.
The Ishtar Gate
Gate at Babylon
Reconstruction Glazed Brick
Total Height?47 Feet, Width-32 Feet
7th?6th Centuries BC
Dedicator: Nebuchadnezzar II
Date of Excavation: 1899-1914
Staatliche Museen , Berlin
Dept. of the Near East
"Is this not Babylon that I have built?" ?Daniel 4:30
The Ishtar Gate,
one of the eight gates of the inner city of Babylon, was built during the reign
of Nebuchadnezzar II (604- 562 BC). Only the foundations of the gate were found,
going down some 45 feet, with molded, unglazed figures. The gateway has been
reconstructed in the Pergamon Museum, Berlin, from the glazed bricks found, so
its original height is different in size. Reconstructed height is 47 feet.
It was one of the
eight gates of the inner city of Babylon. It was built in about 575 BC, the
eighth fortified gate in the city. It is one of the most impressive monuments
rediscovered in the ancient Near East. The Ishtar gate was decorated with glazed
brick reliefs, in tiers, of dragons and young bulls. The gate itself was a
double one, and on its south side was a vast antechamber. Through the gatehouse
ran a stone-and brick-paved avenue, the so-called Processional Way, which has
been traced over a length of more than half a mile.
II of Babylon dedicated the great Ishtar Gate to the goddess Ishtar. It was the
main entrance into Babylon. King Nebuchadnezzar II performed elaborate building
projects in Babylon around 604-562 BC.
Inscription on the Ishtar Gate reads:
"Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, the faithful prince appointed by the will of
Marduk, the highest of princely princes, beloved of Nabu, of prudent counsel,
who has learned to embrace wisdom, who fathomed their divine being and reveres
their majesty, the untiring governor, who always takes to heart the care of the
cult of Esagila and Ezida and is constantly concerned with the well-being of
Babylon and Borsippa, the wise, the humble, the caretaker of Esagila and Ezida,
the firstborn son of Nabopolassar, the King of Babylon?"
This is one of the
clay tablets that reveal the presence of the Judean royal house as prisoners in
Babylon. They were excavated from an arched building near the Ishtar Gate of
ancient Babylon. The cuneiform texts, which are dated between 595 and 570 B.C.,
contain lists of rations of barley and oil issued to the captive princes and
artisans, including "Yaukin, king of the land of Yahud." This is a direct
reference to Jehoiachin, and some of the other tablets also mentioned his 5 sons
who accompanied him to Babylon. (Staatliche Museum, Berlin).
This seal bears the
inscription "The property of Eliakim, steward of Jehoiakin." It is from Debir
(Tell Beit Mirsim) located 13 miles southwest of Hebron. It was excavated by
William F. Albright in 1926.
This seal was found
at Lachish and bears the inscription "Gedaliah, who is over the house." Gedaliah
was the name of the man who the Babylonians had appointed as governor of Judah
after the destruction of Jerusalem.
Nabonidus was known
to be the king on the throne at the time of the Medo-Persian conquest of
Babylon. However, in 1854 archaeologist Sir Henry Rawlinson found an
inscription, while excavating at ancient Ur, which stated that Nabonidus
associated with him on his throne his eldest son, "Bel-shar-usur", and allowed
him the royal title.
"...I am Cyrus. King of the world. When I entered Babylon...I did not allow
anyone to terrorize the land...I kept in view the needs of the people and all
its sanctuaries to promote their well-being...I put an end to their misfortune.
The Great God has delivered all the lands into my hand; the lands that I have
made to dwell in a peaceful habitation..."
On the site of
Babylon, archaeologists discovered the Cyrus Cylinder, a clay cylinder with
inscriptions which record details about the capture of Babylon by the Persian
king Cyrus (539 B.C.).
According to the
cuneiform on the Cyrus Cylinder, he was favored by Marduk and the other gods who
purposed for Nabonidus and Belshazzar to be dethroned and divine help would be
given to Cyrus. Cyrus reestablished their religious practices and was a very
benevolent and gracious ruler. He was responsible for the return of the Jews to
Jerusalem and the rebuilding of their temple.
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