Tag Archives: Babylon

Babylon – index of articles

The Babylonian Empire was relatively short lived (626–539 B.C.), but it played a large role in biblical history. We have written about all of the Babylonian kings mentioned in the Bible. In this post I am pulling together an index collection of these articles to make it easy for one studying about the Babylonian captivity to locate all of them in one convenient place.

Dragon made of chrome brick on the Ishtar Gate. (Museum of the Ancient Near East, Berlin). The dragon is a composite creature with the head of a fire-spewing dragon, body and tail of a serpent, front feet of a feline, and back feet of a bird. This provides a good illustration of the apocalyptic language found in the Old Testament prophets. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The dragon made of chrome brick on the Ishtar Gate from ancient Babylon was an emblem of Marduk (Museum of the Ancient Near East, Berlin). The dragon is a composite creature with the head of a fire-spewing dragon, body and tail of a serpent, front feet of a feline, and back feet of a bird. This provides a good illustration of the apocalyptic imagery found in the Old Testament prophets and the book of Revelation. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The articles below, especially those with an * after the title, are considered minor references. They still might provide some helpful material and photos for the Bible student and teacher.

I trust this list will be helpful to students and teachers alike.

In the future, when I write something about Babylon I will try to remember to include a link in this index. I would appreciate learning if you find this index helpful.

Babylon’s Procession Street and Ishtar Gate

German archaeologists, under the direction of Robert Koldeway, excavated at ancient Babylon in Iraq, between 1899 and 1917. The Procession Street ran from the Ishtar Gate to the bridge over the Euphrates River. A 250 meter [820 feet] section of the street was excavated by the German expedition. Only a short section is reconstructed in the Museum in Berlin. The section here is 30 meters [98 feet] long and 8 meters [26 feet] wide. Original fragments were used in the reconstruction. The street was originally 20 to 24 meters [54-79 feet] wide. (See Fant & Reddish, Lost Treasures of the Bible, 199-205.)

The Procession Street from Babylon. Berlin. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Procession Street from Babylon. Berlin. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Ishtar Gate was constructed during the reign of Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar (605-562 B.C.). All of these lions, bulls, and dragons were excavated from the mound of ancient Babylon, and eventually taken to Berlin in 1926. Even under the Communist government of East Germany this gate was preserved. I saw it several times before the Berlin Wall came down.

The Babylon Ishtar Gate. Berlin. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Babylon Ishtar Gate. Berlin. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Procession Street and Ishtar Gate are reconstructed in the Pergamum Museum in Berlin, but technically, this wing of the museum is called the Vorderasiatisches Museum (Museum of the Ancient Near East).

Babylon was once the greatest city of the world when the Neo-Babylonian Empire reigned supreme in the Ancient Near East (626-539 B.C.). The prophet Daniel was active in Babylon from 605 B.C. until after the fall of the city to the Persians (The prophecy of Daniel).  I can not imagine that he failed to see this gate.

Nebuchadnezzar was a megalomaniac. His pride is evident in the statement recorded by the prophet Daniel.

The king uttered these words: “Is this not the great Babylon that I have built for a royal residence by my own mighty strength and for my majestic honor?” (Daniel 4:30 NET Bible)

Visualizing Isaiah 39: Hezekiah showed all his treasures

It seems to be a common human failing to reveal too much about ourselves, even to people we do not know very well. This is a mistake made by King Hezekiah when he was visited by Merodach-baladan, king of Babylon.

And Hezekiah had very great riches and honor, and he made for himself treasuries for silver, for gold, for precious stones, for spices, for shields, and for all kinds of costly vessels; storehouses also for the yield of grain, wine, and oil; and stalls for all kinds of cattle, and sheepfolds. He likewise provided cities for himself, and flocks and herds in abundance, for God had given him very great possessions. (2 Chronicles 32:27-29 ESV)

I would think that Hezekiah would have shown the Babylonian monarch his gold and silver treasures, but he may have shown him some of the storehouses where various significant goods were stored. We know that Lachish was a place for the storage of wheat and oil.

Three contiguous storehouse units to the right of the gate were excavated by archaeologists under the direction of Prof. Yohanan Aharoni at Beersheba. Aharoni says,

At Beer-sheba one found many storage vessels in every one of the two side chambers of each storehouse and also a Hebrew ostracon recording the shipment of quantities of a certain commodity (wine?) from two places near Beersheba, (El)tolad and (Beth-)Jamam (Joshua 15:26, 30; 19:4; 1 Chron. 4:29. (The Archaeology of the Land of Israel, p. 223)

These storehouses are dated to the 8th century B.C., the time of Isaiah and Hezekiah.

Storehouses at Beersheba. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Storehouses at Beersheba. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Visualizing Isaiah 21: a watchtower

Isaiah 21 contains oracles concerning Babylon, Edom, and Arabia. The watchman is to describe what he sees. From his watchtower where he stood day and night he was able to announce the fall of Babylon.

For thus the Lord said to me: “Go, set a watchman; let him announce what he sees. When he sees riders, horsemen in pairs, riders on donkeys, riders on camels, let him listen diligently, very diligently.” Then he who saw cried out: “Upon a watchtower I stand, O Lord, continually by day, and at my post I am stationed whole nights. (Isa 21:6-8 ESV)

More information about the role of the watchman may be found in Ezekiel 3 and 33. The photo below shows a watchtower reminiscent of Biblical times.

Watchtower at the Ibex Garden, Yad Hashmona. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Watchtower at the Ibex Garden, Yad Hashmona. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Visualizing Isaiah 13:19-22 – Babylon, never inhabited

Edward Chiera, of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, excavated at Nuzi in 1927 and at Khorsabad in 1928, 29. On one of his visits in Mesopotamia he wrote a letter to his wife in which he described Babylon. This letter is included in his book They Wrote on Clay, xi-xv. The following excerpts describe vividly the fulfillment of the prophecies.

“On all sides is desert…. The large network of canals…is now represented by a series of small mounds of dirt, running in all directions. Even the Euphrates has abandoned this land by changing its course… The sun has just now disappeared and a purple sky smiles, unmindful of this scene of desolation…

“A dead city. I have visited Pompeii and Ostia, and I have taken walks along the empty corridors of the Palatine. But those cities are not dead; they are only temporarily abandoned… Here only is real death. Not a column or an arch still stands to demonstrate the permanency of human work. Everything has crumbled into dust…

“Under my feet are some holes which have been burrowed by foxes and jackals… It is beginning to be really dark, and the plaintive song of the Arab has ceased. Nothing breaks the deathly silence…”

Now read the prophecy of Isaiah regarding Babylon.

And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the splendor and pomp of the Chaldeans, will be like Sodom and Gomorrah when God overthrew them. It will never be inhabited or lived in for all generations; no Arab will pitch his tent there; no shepherds will make their flocks lie down there. But wild animals will lie down there, and their houses will be full of howling creatures; there ostriches will dwell, and there wild goats will dance. Hyenas will cry in its towers, and jackals in the pleasant palaces; its time is close at hand and its days will not be prolonged. (Isaiah 13:19-22 ESV)

In 1970, eight years before Saddam Hussein began his rule, I had the opportunity to take a group of Christians to Iraq. The photo below is my favorite one of the mound of ancient Babylon. I sometimes show it with a caption from Jeremiah 51:27 – “Babylon shall become a heap of ruins.”

The mound of ancient Babylon in 1970. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The mound of ancient Babylon in 1970. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

As a little flash from the past I thought I would share this 1970 photo made in front of a small Ishtar gate replica that served as the entry to the ruins of Babylon.

Ferrell Jenkins and Ferrell Jenkins, Jr. at the entry to ancient Babylon.

Ferrell Jenkins and Ferrell Jenkins, Jr. at the entry to ancient Babylon.

Notice that the tour was 21 days long. We visited Rome, Greece, Egypt, Lebanon, Iraq, Israel, London, and Lisbon. The cost from New York, including all meals was — drum roll — $1,198!

Isaiah 13: jackals & hyenas in the palaces of Babylon

Babylon would not become the dominant power of the ancient near east until about 626 B.C. (The Assyrian capital of Nineveh fell in 612 B.C., and Assyria was finished at the battle of Carchemish in 605 B.C.). But Isaiah looks ahead to the overthrow of Babylon, an event which would occur in 539 B.C. at the hands of the Medes and Persians.

It will never be inhabited or lived in for all generations; no Arab will pitch his tent there; no shepherds will make their flocks lie down there. But wild animals will lie down there, and their houses will be full of howling creatures; there ostriches will dwell, and there wild goats will dance. Hyenas will cry in its towers, and jackals in the pleasant palaces; its time is close at hand and its days will not be prolonged. (Isaiah 13:20-22 ESV)

Persian interest in Babylon declined by the end of the 5th century B.C. With capitals already at Susa and Persepolis why did they need a third? Alexander the Great first came to Babylon in 331 B.C. intending to make Babylon the capital of a new commercial empire. The great conqueror died in Babylon in June, 323 B.C. His successor in the region, Antiochus I, built a new capital at Seleucia on the Tigris River. This is the region near modern Baghdad.

The palaces where once the leaders of Babylon strolled past the windows were to be occupied by the wild animals of the area.

Jackal at Haibar Wildlife Reserve. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Jackal at Hai-Bar Wildlife Reserve. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The second photo is of a hyena, another of the wild animals that would inhabit the empty palaces and towers of Babylon.

A hyena at Hai Bar Nature Reserve. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

A hyena at Hai-Bar Nature Reserve. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

A series of articles on the major kings of Babylon are available at the following links.

Visualizing Isaiah 11: the River

Immediately upon looking at Isaiah 11 I think of the reference to the Messiah –  “a shoot from the stump of Jesse.” Look back to chapter 4 for an illustration for that.

I could show you individual photos of many of the animals mentioned in verses 6-7, but I do not have the wild and vicious with the tame and gentle. It doesn’t happen in the animal kingdom, but it is true in the kingdom of the Messiah. See, for example, Colossians 3:11 where there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythians, salve, free. In Christ these distinctions are broken down.

Here I have chosen to concentrate on the promise of the return of a remnant from captivity, an event that took place initially in 536 B.C.

And the LORD will utterly destroy the tongue of the Sea of Egypt, and will wave his hand over the River with his scorching breath, and strike it into seven channels, and he will lead people across in sandals. And there will be a highway from Assyria for the remnant that remains of his people, as there was for Israel when they came up from the land of Egypt. (Isaiah 11:15-16 ESV)

The Euphrates is the largest, longest and most important river of Western Asia. It is nearly 1800 miles long and was the northeastern boundary of the land promised to Abraham (Genesis 15:18). The empires of Assyria and Babylon, the greatest enemies of Israel, were east of the Euphrates. The Old Testament prophets often put the Euphrates by metonymy for these countries to designate the place from which the punishment of God would come (Isaiah 7:20; 8:7; Jeremiah 46:10

The Euphrates was so significant in the history of Israel that the phrase “the River” is used frequently in the Old Testament to indicate the Euphrates.

View north of the Euphrates River at Berecik, Turkey. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Euphrates River, looking north, at Birecik, Turkey. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The LORD said that He would bring “the waters of the River, the king of Assyria and all his glory” like a flood to rise to the neck of His people (Isaiah 8:6-8). Now He promises to strike the River and allow His people to return from the exile in sandals. In fact, He says, “there will be a highway from Assyria for the remnant that remains of his people” 11:16).

When Assyrian kings stated in their annals that they crossed the river Euphrates they mean that they went to war against nations west of the River.